If you don’t find out everything you can about the company and come to the interview armed with that knowledge, someone
less experienced but more informed than you will. Give your prospective employer a reason to hire you by showing up to the
interview with an idea of what the company’s about.
Being informed about a company means finding out specifically who they cater to (their target demographic), what their revenue stream
is (if they’re stalling, growing or surging, and how you can help change it), any awards they’ve gotten, notable
projects, and what the job consists of, both at the company and elsewhere.
If you attend an interview, you’re entering into an unspoken contract that you’re accepting being asked anything and everything. Most interviewers will stick to a basic set of questions, like asking you to describe your employment history and where you want to be, why you want to leave your current position, where you see yourself in 5-10 years time, what
your strengths and weaknesses are, and why you want this particular job.
An interview is a two-way street, and the people on the other side of the desk aren’t the only ones who are curious. By asking your own questions, like what the work environment is like, what the people are like who work there, what their ideal candidate looks like, and how they plan to progress in the future, shows greater interest on your part. It also indicates that you
really want to move ahead with the opportunity instead of just going through the motions.
The question of how much to get paid is a touchy one, as it’s actually a game of strategy and negotiation in disguise. Just like buying a car, a salary isn’t set in stone. Let the prospective employers quote a number first, then counter with you’re your own number (after you’ve done your research based on your skills, where you live, and what others are paid). Go a little higher than you’ll settle for, but keep it realistic: an entry-level sales position is never going to garner an
engineer’s salary, so don’t even try. It’ll kill your chances rather then strengthening your case.
Generally, the interview’s about to wrap up when you’re asked if you have any questions for them. At this point, you should have a list of two or three questions, such as what the people are like who work there or where the company hopes to go in the future. Keep in mind that you don’t want to spend too much time on your questions, as your interviewers took time out of their day to see you and have regular work to get back to.
Before you go, make one last “sales pitch”. It’s said that “last said, first remembered” is the most effective way of speaking, so apply that your interview, too. Mention your best skills—the ones that fit into the company’s mission and mold—and ask your interviewers if they have any concerns about your ability to do well in this job. This question is to discover if they see huge gaps or obstacles in you; if they don’t or if the ones they list are small, this is your last chance to explain how you would overcome them.
On your way out, make sure you shake hands with your interviewers and leave the door open for yourself. Firmly, but not in a pushy way, restate your desire to get the job, saying something along the lines of, “I hope you agree that this position has my name on it, as it requires [quality] and given my skills and experience, I can deliver that.” Thank them for taking the time to interview you, and remember to ask when you can expect to hear back.
Lastly, depending on the type of job you just interviewed for, send a follow up email or call, thanking them again for the interview. Subtly re-express your desire for the position, but don’t outright say so. Keep it brief, sign off, and wait for that call to come in.