How to Prepare for Your Next Job Interview, with Jessica Smith

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Transcript

Mac Prichard: Hi, this is Mac from Mac’s List. Before we start the show, I want to tell you about my new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. I’ve been helping job seekers find meaningful, well-paying work since 2001, and now I’ve put all my best advice into one easy-to-use guide. My book shows you how to make your resume stand out in a stack of applications, where you can find the hidden jobs that never get posted, and what you need to do to ace your next job interview. Get the first chapter now for free. Visit MacsList.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag and Jessica Black from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about how to prepare for your next job interview.

It’s always exciting to get asked to interview for a job. Now you need to get ready. Our guest expert this week is Jessica Smith. She says, “You need to do plenty of homework ahead of time.”  Jessica and I talk later in the show about what you need to do to before you walk into the interview.

If you use LinkedIn everyday like we do at Mac’s List, you may have noticed the site just got a makeover, and one new feature allows you to indicate that you’re open to new opportunities. In a moment, Ben Forstag will tell us about the pros and cons of telling people you want to change jobs.

How long should you wait after a job interview before following up with a hiring manager? That’s our question of the week. It comes from Chris Mitchell in Portland, Oregon. Jessica Black offers her advice shortly.

First as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team. We’re here in the studio, in downtown Portland, and our topic, Jessica and Ben, is how to prepare for a job interview. Now we’ve done a number of shows about job interviews, but our focus today is that… what to do when you hang up the phone after, or open an email rather, after getting that invitation, because who calls anybody anymore for a job interview, and what kind of research have you two done before you’ve walked into an interview, in your own job searches, when you’ve been preparing for interviews.

Jessica Black: Yeah, it’s an interesting topic, and a really important one, also. I always… I’m a researcher, I like to sort of check in about the company culture, and do a lot of Google searching, and looking on the website specifically. I look at what…how they talk about themselves, sort of the verbiage they use, which also just helps get an idea about what specifically their mission is, what their focus is, sort of at the…maybe at the moment, or if there’s various programs that they’re championing at the moment. And just kind of doing some news searches. You know you can, if you just do a google search, you’ll see recent articles, or things that they have posted lately to kind of get an idea of what’s happening in their world currently. So it’s kind of a good way to be in the know, so that you’re prepared for the interview.

Mac Prichard: Good, and a lot of people do that. And employers obviously are Google searching us when we’re candidates for a jobs too. What about you, Ben?

Ben Forstag: So, like Jessica, I like to do a lot of research. For me, I’ve tried to focus on how does the organization make it’s money, because I think if you can figure that out, you can usually position yourself pretty well as a solution maker for that organization. In my background in the nonprofit world, that meant always trying to find the 990 forms for nonprofits, and you can find those on Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/), and GuideStar (https://www.guidestar.org/Home.aspx). The 990 is just the IRS filing that the nonprofit has to make. It’s a public record and it gives you a breakdown of where the organization is getting its money, whether it’s through donations or earned income, or other areas. So I’d spend some time getting to research that.

Mac Prichard: And I think, doesn’t the 990 tell you who the highest paid member of the staff is?

Ben Forstag: It has to tell you certain staff folks; like I think the executive director is almost always there, and then if there’s anyone else making over a certain threshold. There’s certain rules about who needs to have their income disclosed and who doesn’t.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, I do recall pulling those files too and it was always fascinating. It gave you a sense of what the salary ranges were like at those organizations.

Ben Forstag: Yeah, it just gives you a sense of how viable the organization is financially. You can see their budget, how much money they’re bringing in, how much money they’re spending. And I thought that was a real valuable thing to know before you even go into that interview; to get a sense of, you know, what the organization is like, what your expectations are gonna be as an employee there. Also, I think it tells you a lot about the culture as well.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, agreed. Well you two were much better prepared than I was in my twenties because I, I’m embarrassed to say, would actually wing it and walk into interviews not knowing all that much about the organization and usually almost nothing about the people I was meeting with.

Jessica Black: I think we’ve all had that experience at one point or another.

Mac Prichard: Yeah.

Jessica Black: It’s how you learn.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, you do, and it can be a painful lesson as you suffer through those interviews.

Jessica Black: Yeah.

Ben Forstag: And to be fair, it was a different time as well. I mean, the internet has made research a whole lot easier than it was thirty or forty years ago.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, but we’ll hear from Jessica just how much you can do before you get into an interview;  learn about the company, and the people you’re gonna meet, but also how that can help you stand out as a candidate, and ultimately help you get a job offer.

Now before we talk to Jessica, let’s turn to you, Ben, because every week you’re out there, exploring the internet on behalf of our listeners; looking for those websites, books, tools and other resources people can use in their job search and careers. So what have you uncovered for listeners this week, Ben?

Ben Forstag: So this week I’m going to talk about a new feature I found on Linkedin, which solves one of these ongoing problems I hear from job seekers; which is, when people are looking for work some people believe you should always put in your LinkedIn status, “Open to new opportunities”. And other people say, “never do that.” And it’s just like, I’m not sure there’s a right answer there.  But it ends up there’s this new feature on LinkedIn that allows you to essentially wave a little flag for recruiters and employers saying, “I’m available for new opportunities” without actually saying it in your headline.

Mac Prichard: And can anybody see this declaration of interest in changing jobs or is it only visible to employers and recruiters?

Ben Forstag: It is only visible to recruiters. That’s the cool thing about this.

Mac Prichard: Okay, so can your boss find out?

Ben Forstag: Well I was gonna ask you at the end of my segment, Mac, if you noticed anything different about my profile. I turned it on just to see what happened, and if you haven’t noticed anything different, and I know you’re a lurker on LinkedIn, then it must work. But I want to give a hat tip to two folks who were on one of our recent webinars, Larry Garrarah, and Tenley Proudfoot. They actually turned me onto this resource. I did not know about it until they mentioned it. So if you go to the jobs tab on LinkedIn, and then under Preferences, there’s a little button at the bottom of the page, called Open Candidates and you literally just flip a switch, and all it does is it sends out a little secret beacon to recruiters saying, “This person is available to be recruited for opportunities.” Now I don’t know how effective this is as a job search tool; it’s certainly a very passive job search tool, but it is an interesting option that people should think about when they’re putting together those LinkedIn profiles.

Jessica Black: Do you know if there is a search feature that the recruiters are using for that? Is that the way that they’re finding them?

Ben Forstag: Yeah, I mean, recruiters have their own special version of LinkedIn, where they pay for like, a subscription to it, and this is one of the features they get when they pay for that subscription. Now again, I think this is a pretty passive approach to a job search, and I wouldn’t make this the be all, end all, of your search. And I believe one of our past guests recently even said, “Recruiters- they’re looking for skills, they’re not looking for your availability, and if you’ve got the right skills, they’re going to recruit you whether you’re actively looking for a job or not.” But again this is another one of these little tools that exist that you should probably turn on if you are looking for new opportunities cuz it can’t hurt.

Mac Prichard: Great, well I know that LinkedIn launched a new makeover of its site in January, and they’ve been rolling it out. I just got the new version about a week ago… I don’t know if you two have seen it.

Ben Forstag: I’ve had it for about a month now. Have you?

Jessica Black: I have. Yes, I’ve had it also for about a month and I did notice, Mac, that I had it before you had it, which was very…I thought that was curious.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, it could be alphabetical order, I don’t know.

Jessica Black: Who knows? I’d be curious to know.

Mac Prichard: I’m sure we’ll uncover more new features like this as we get to know the new version of the site, and if listeners have uncovered other hacks like the one that our webinar listeners shared with us, please share them with us.

Ben Forstag: And so I will actually have a link to a LinkedIn blog that talks about this feature, and the link will be in the shownotes.

Mac Prichard: Okay, well thank you, Ben. Now if you’ve got a suggestion for Ben, please write him. He’d love to hear from you. His address is (ben@macslist.org), and we’d love to feature your idea on the show.

And now let’s turn to you, our listeners, and Jessica Black is here to answer one of your questions. What’s in the mailbag…what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week? That’s becoming a tongue twister.

Jessica Black: It is a little bit. There are a lot of Ms in there.

Mac Prichard: Yeah.

Jessica Black: We have a question this week from Chris Mitchell here in Portland, Oregon, and he is gonna ask some things related to interviewing, also, so let’s listen to what his question is.

Chris Mitchell: “Hi, my name is Chris, from Portland here, and I interviewed for a job recently. I thought that it went really, really well, but I haven’t heard back. It’s been about two weeks, and I’m wondering what your thoughts on following up are. Should I have done that already? Or at this point should I just move on? How long is appropriate to wait to do that? Thanks.”

Jessica Black: Alright Chris, that’s a great question, it’s… your question is about when do you follow up after your interview, and that’s such a tricky, tricky question because a lot of times employers are just really busy and they get bogged down with all of the things related to…you know, usually when someone is searching for a candidate, there are a lot of other things happening in the office as well. They’re usually down a person and so they’re picking up slack as well, and so, I think a lot of times emails just don’t get… the follow-up just doesn’t happen as quickly or as efficiently as they would like or you would like.

So I think that there is really…there’s no harm in sending just a nice, check-in email, of, “Hey, following up on our interview.” Likely, after your interview, you sent a follow up as well (that’s good etiquette), with either an email, and definitely a handwritten note is always great, especially if that was an in person interview.

But just a brief note saying, “Checking in on if you’ve made any decisions. I’m still very interested in the job. I would love to connect with you.” Leaving it very…letting them know you’re still interested, but very mellow tone. That you’re not being pushy, or just checking in to see if they have any information, or if you can answer any questions. Maybe don’t offer that but kind of just let them know that you’re still around.

What do you guys think?

Ben Forstag: So I think first, hopefully you did send that follow up email and note, immediately after the interview; that would be the first round of follow up. I would say it’s completely fine to follow up with them as well if it’s been two weeks. But ideally in the interview you asked, “What is your time table about next steps? When can I expect to hear back from you with your decision either way?” And that should give you some time frame to think about…you know, when an appropriate time to follow up is. They might say, like, “Oh you know, I’m actually going on vacation for three weeks so…” That tells you don’t expect an answer in three weeks.

But if they said, We’ll get back to you next week,  and next week has come and gone, yeah, write them an email.

Jessica Black: Yeah, that’s a really good note.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, I agree. And it is frustrating, Jessica, to your point, because when you’re the candidate, this is often one of the most important things on your plate, and if you’re the hiring manager, you’re probably juggling a lot of things. It’s not that it’s not important, it’s just one of the many priorities that you’re facing. Yeah, so I think having some patience and yes, don’t leave the room ideally, in an interview without asking when…what the next step is and what the date is, and how best to follow up. And whether or not you ask that question, I’m a big believer, I think listeners know, the rule of three, you know, always three attempts.

So, send that first thank you note. If you don’t hear anything, say within a week or two weeks time, send a second note, and then maybe two weeks after that a third. And then just in that final communication, say, “I don’t want to be a pest. I remain very interested, I’ll wait to hear from you.” And most people respond after the second note.

Jessica Black: Yeah, that’s a good note and I speak from a bit of experience, not personally, but knowing several friends who have gone through that process as well where they just were heartbroken because they didn’t hear anything back after feeling really great about the interview, and it really was just because the employers were overrun and they just didn’t have the time to follow up.

My friend had a lot of pride, and didn’t want to follow up with them because they were like, “No that obviously means that I am…that they didn’t want me”…or whatever. So again, to your point, when you’re the candidate it’s the most important thing to you and your mind just kind of goes crazy, so be patient, do a little follow up after if you don’t hear anything, and likely you will hear something.

Mac Prichard: Great. Well thank you, Jessica, for that excellent advice, and if you have a question for Jessica, please email her. Her address is easy to remember; it’s jessica@macslist.org. Or call our listener line. That number is area code 716-JOB-TALK. That’s 716-562-8255. If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of our new book Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. And we’ll be dropping one in the mail to Chris this week. So thank you, Chris, for that question.

We’ll be back in a moment, and when we return I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Jessica Smith, about what you need to do to prepare for your next job.

Most people struggle with job hunting. The reason is simple; most of us learn the nuts and bolts of looking for work by trial and error.

That’s why I produce this podcast, to help you master the skills you need to find a great job. It’s also why I wrote my new book Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. For 15 years of Mac’s List, I’ve helped people in Portland, Oregon, find meaningful, well paying, and rewarding jobs that they love. Now, I’ve put all of my job hunting secrets in one book that can help you no matter where you live.

You’ll learn how to get clear about your career goals, find hidden jobs that never get posted, and ace your next job interview. For more information and to download the first chapter for free, visitMacslist.org/anywhere.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Jessica Smith.

Jessica Smith is a wellness and career consultant for twenty-somethings. Her coaching philosophy centers on the idea that everybody has an internal voice of wisdom that can help you live with more flow, confidence, and joy. Jessica is the author of the forthcoming book, Your Twenties (http://www.jessnessrequired.com/your-twenties/), scheduled for publication later this year. She also hosts a weekly podcast, Career Coaching with Jessness (http://www.jessnessrequired.com/career-coaching-with-jessness-podcast/). Jessica joins us today from San Jose, California.

Jessica, thanks for being on the show.

Jessica Smith: Thanks for having me. I’m really excited.

Mac Prichard: We’re excited to have you as a guest. Now our topic this week is something I know you know a lot about. It’s how best to prepare for a job interview, and what we’re really focusing on, Jessica, is what do you do when you open up that email, and you’ve been invited, and you’ve accepted an invitation to interview for a job, and before you walk into the actual interview. I know you’re a big believer in preparation. Especially researching the employer and the hiring process. Jessica, why is it important to research a company before you walk into an interview?

Jessica Smith: Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s…interviewing is such a broad and big thing that I think it’s…you know the prep can really help break it down into compartments and make it a little bit more bite sized? So, it’s important to prep because in a way I think a lot of people get stuck into the mindset of, every interview is the same. I’m gonna share the same examples, the same background, and just, you know, hope that resonates with them. But if you do some of that background prep beforehand and look at the website, and maybe they have a page about who we like to hire, or the culture there. And you can pull out some of the buzzwords that they have on their website and then relate it to relevant work experience that you have, can help make the interview much more easy to tackle.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, you mentioned looking at the company’s website, and beginning to understand its culture. What are some other areas that you recommend people research when they’re…when they want to learn more, both about the employer and the job itself?

Jessica Smith: So, a couple things, you know, what I always like to point out is your resume is really meant to share your technical and tangible skills. The objective of a resume to get an interview. And then an interview is really meant to showcase not only what you do but who you are. And so the objective is to share the human behind the resume. I’m so big on that, because at the end of the day it’s not what we do, it’s who we are, and it’s how we do the work. So one of the ways that you can keep that human aspect and that human connection in the interview, which can sometimes feel a little bit transactional at times, is you can research the people that you’re gonna be meeting with. So get the list of people you’re gonna be meeting with. Look at their LinkedIn profile and you can start to notice, you know, maybe you went to the same school, or maybe you worked at a previous company, or they have a recommendation from someone that you know. It’s…the world is getting smaller and smaller, so outside of the website, the using LinkedIn as a platform to research the people individually is really, really helpful.

Mac Prichard: I can imagine listeners saying, “Gosh I was so excited to get the invitation, but I didn’t ask about the interview panel.” How do you recommend people find out who’s gonna be in the room when you walk into that conversation?

Jessica Smith: Yeah, I think…it’s funny you bring that up, because you just simply ask, you know, you can ask, and I think a lot of the times, when someone is going through the interview process they think that, “Well I’m the interviewee, so I just kind of go along the way and that’s that.” But it really should be a two way thing. You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you to make sure that you’re a good fit. So you can ask the recruiter, if that’s who’s coordinating. A majority of the times, they should be sending a list of people, but if they don’t, just simply ask or give a call to their main line and you can ask for the recruiting or HR department and they can help you out that way.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, I’m glad you’re making that point, Jessica, because it’s about…it’s a two way street. You don’t just have to wait to be told to do things. And I’ve found that candidates who do reach out to an employer and ask that question, that hiring managers will tell me that they appreciate that, because they can tell that the person is preparing and it’s gonna be a better conversation as a result.

Jessica Smith: Absolutely.

Mac Prichard: Yeah. Now we’re talking about preparation and you mentioned knowing who’s in the room knowing something about them looking for that human connection, you know, a shared background, or interests, or schools. What about tough questions though? How important is it, Jessica, to prepare for tough questions and how do you go about doing that?

 

Jessica Smith: That’s a big question there. It’s a question about questions, which is funny. But you know, my biggest piece of advice for this is really, you know, people always come to me and say, “How do I figure out what work experience I’m gonna share and how do I put that all together?” So what you can do is you can look through your background and pick out a project, or a process, something that has a start-to-an-end, something that has a clear objective, or goal.

So then you can, from that example, you can build out, and I know this is gonna sound super cliche, and everyone reads this online, but the star method…but my version of the star method is a little bit more in depth. So the star method, for those who are new to that option is, situation. So you’re explaining your experience, from, you know, first you start with the situation, and then the task at hand, and then the action that was taken, and then the result of that task that was move forward.

But then what you can do is really make sure that you’re speaking from an I perspective. A lot of times I find that people say, “we as a team. Us. Them”.  You know, “we accomplished this.” Make sure that you’re speaking in “I”. That’s one of the main tips that you can use for preparing for tough questions. Because if you explain it from that “I” perspective right off the bat, the interviewer is gonna know that you are directly hands on involved and they know that you have an active role.

Now the other little piece of this that I like to put a spin on it, is again, that human connection. Not just, “Hey here’s what I do, and here’s the task that I can carry out.” But the human, and the how you do the work. You can add in to the star method, how you went about completing each task, or maybe why you chose one method of planning over another. Or how you approached that problem or maybe the thought process behind something. And that can really beef up that typical star method of answering questions and it can really create a well rounded example of your previous work experience. Typically the hard questions, they’re just looking for a lot of detail.

So if you do that detail work up front, and really prep for those, those kinds of questions won’t be as tough anymore.

Mac Prichard: What’s your best advice, Jessica, about just choosing the examples that you might share at an interview, because, particularly if you’re mid career, you walk into that room and you might have dozens of examples of things you’ve accomplished that you could bring up. How do you chose the one that’s going to be the most effective?

Jessica Smith: Yeah, that’s a really good question. So one of the things that I…you know, you wanna stay relevant of course. And how do you make sure you’re relevant sharing the right stuff from your background? You really need to look over the job description, and it’s…a lot of the times, job descriptions are quite vague. But you have to really look at,  “Okay, where are they talking about in this job description? Performance measurements? Or key initiatives that this person’s gonna be helping drive?” when they get into the role. Or maybe they’re working on a specific project. And look for those tangible things in between some of the job descriptions. Bullet points that may say, “We’re looking for a collaborative person.”

You know, you want something to grab onto. And look back from your work experience and see if you have any that match with those examples that they have in the job description. Because they’re there, but I think a lot of times, people don’t…once they get the interview, they kind of never look back at that job description. So use that as a guide, at least to pull out relevant examples from your past work experience.

Mac Prichard: So, I love that because I think that you’re right, many people get so excited about the opportunity they don’t go back and revisit the job description, and think about…not only the role and the responsibilities but the employer’s needs. How have you seen, in the candidates you’ve worked with, Jessica, people figure out what is keeping the employer awake at night, or what their biggest problems or challenges are? Because it goes back to your first point about the importance of research and preparation. It’s almost kind of a detective game isn’t, it?

Jessica Smith: Yep, for sure.

Mac Prichard: How do you see people do that well when they walk into a room? How do they either know in advance what matters to the hiring manager or how do they draw that out in a conversation?

Jessica Smith: Yeah, for sure. So typically, at least most processes have an initial phone screen, and the phone screen isn’t as in depth; usually you’re talking either to a recruiter, or you’re talking to a recruiter and then have a chat with the hiring manager and then you go on site. But there’ll always be asking you throughout every step of the way, you know, “What questions do you have for me?” And that’s really an opportunity for people to ask those tough questions back to the employer, and ask them. You know, “What…why…is this a new position? Is this a replacement?” You know, “Are there key initiatives that this department is working on right now that I would be contributing to?”

Because it can not only help you get out some of those pain points and some of those key goals of the department and company that you can speak to if you have experience helping with some of the things that they’re working on. But you can also find out some of the more meaty info that’s not typically in the job description. Because some of those…you know, “What keeps you up at night?”…those are some important questions to ask. I mean, let’s be real, everybody likes to talk about themselves, so if you ask…whether you ask the recruiter that works internally at the company or that hiring manager, if someone is showing a vested interest in the problems that he’s facing without him even being in the seat officially, he’s probably gonna think, “Okay, well this person is definitely serious about the position, putting themselves in the role and picturing themselves coming in and helping and making an impact right away.

So it’s…you know, don’t be afraid to ask those questions throughout the way and use that opportunity to…when they ask, “What questions do you have for me?” to showcase your seriousness about the role and interest in something a little bit more than just, “Hey what’s your vacation policy?” You know, you’d be shocked at the questions that are asked, but use those opportunities for your own benefit and keep just a notepad of all of the lists of information you found out, right? Like a detective would, you know, all of the pieces of info so that you can use that along with the website and job description before the main onsite interview.

And really you’ll have a solid piece of info to kind of go off, and jump forward and prepare for that interview.

Mac Prichard: Great. And what about rehearsals, Jessica? We’re talking today about preparation, you’ve talked about research, and having your own questions ready. What kind of rehearsing or roleplaying do you recommend to the people you work with that they do before they walk into that interview room?

Jessica Smith: One of the things that I like to recommend, and it’s similar…it’s staying on kind of the same vein as staying relevant. When you pick out what work experience you want to highlight, you’ll want to roleplay answering or explaining that work experience to two different people for instance. So you want to be relevant to that individual interviewer that’s asking you the question. So for instance, a CFO; if they’re asking you, you know, “Tell me about your work experience”, they’re gonna be caring about something very different than maybe a recruiting manager, an HR director because, you know, because their roles are very different.

So you have to kind of be flexible in the work examples that you’re sharing. Roleplay answering that same example to two different people within the company. And I’ve found that if you stay relevant and you alter and you have that flexibility, in being able to explain your work experience in a way that would really resonate with that interviewer, I find that even if it’s the same exact example, it goes a long way because you’re speaking their language. They’ll identify that as a positive… as a “wow this person can really come in and impact my department.”

Mac Prichard: Well, great. Well it’s been a great conversation, Jessica. Now tell us what’s coming up next for you.

Jessica Smith: Oh my gosh. Well, I have obviously my podcast, you announced that, that’s a weekly thing that I’m having a really fun time with. We’re already up to fifty plus episodes, so it’s just, it’s so fun. My book, you know, there’s a couple different things on my website that are free for people. I’ve created free career success guides that people can download and it helps people with following up after interviews, interview prep, there’s an outline there, and there’s a couple other email templates for really how to stand out and create your personal brand in the market.

You can sign up for those on my website, and there’s also a book bonus series where it’s exclusive content that’s gonna be…it’s already being released right now but it goes along with my book and some additional resources for people, which…from each of the chapters in my book, so those are two things that I’m…that are live, that I’m excited about sharing with your audience if they’re interested but…thank you so much for having me. I had a blast.

Mac Prichard: Well great, it’s been a pleasure having you, and we’ll be sure to include links to those resources in the shownotes, and I know people can also learn more about you and your work by visiting your website. That url is (http://www.jessnessrequired.com/). Jessica, thanks for being on the show.

Jessica Smith: Okay, thanks so much. Have a good one.

Mac Prichard: Well, we’re back in the Mac’s List studio, with Jessica and Ben. I enjoyed that conversation with Jessica Smith. Tell me, Jessica Black what were your thoughts?

Jessica Black: Well, I in general loved all of her points, but especially I liked her point about the asking in the interview itself. This was towards the end of the interview, about…do you have any questions for me? We talk about that a lot here, but having that as a way to be able to show your interest and dig a little deeper. She sort of mentioned it as a…instead of just asking about the vacation pay, but actually learn about the company culture. I think it was related to phone interviews before the actual in person interview, but I really liked that point and I think it’s a really good tip that not everybody uses or thinks about so I think that that is really good. In addition to the research that you do of the website and the people that work there beforehand, that’s another good way to ask specific questions that you may want to know.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, I agree, and it also it supports another point that Jessica Smith made which was that, it’s a conversation, and you have an opportunity to ask your own questions and you’re also shopping. It’s not…you’re trying to figure out if this is a good fit or not.

Jessica Black: Absolutely. And that actually touches on another point that I liked about her focus on customization, of your resume and not going in there having sort of a memorized speech of what you’re gonna say because you have to have a more personalized conversation and it has to sort of…you have to be able to speak to anyone in the organization and have that resonate. If you’re so focused on specific verbiage, or specific wording, you may get lost in that and it won’t land for everybody.

Mac Prichard: Great, well Ben, what are your thoughts?

Ben Forstag: I want to go back to something she said at the beginning of the interview, which was, reading through an organization’s website and their marketing materials to get a sense of their language. Because I think this is a really under-appreciated piece of research that you can do and I think it’s especially true for folks who are trying to make a transition into a different sector. The idea on the top of my mind is people who are in the for profit sector trying to go into the nonprofit sector which we hear a lot about. Frankly, they’re just like two complete different lexicons those industries use and reading about how an organization talks about itself gives you a real strong sense of the kind of language they use, and the more you can mimic that language and bring that into your presentation in the interview, the better fit you’re gonna look like. You know, I’ve talked in the past about how, if you’re a salesman and you go in for a job as a fundraiser at a nonprofit and you’re talking about sales and, you know, leads, and things like that, it just doesn’t resonate with the nonprofit folk. You need to know their language so that they can see very clearly that you can fit into this organization.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, I like that because it goes back to another one of her points, which is you need to know the people in the room and you need to know who they are and a little bit about what makes them tick. You’re not doing extensive background checks here, but it’s really..there’s no excuse, not only to know who you’re meeting with but to know something about them. It’s just so easy to research, and your advantages if you do that, you’ll not only have a more productive conversation and you’ll stand out, but you’ll probably be head and shoulders above so many other candidates because I still don’t think a lot of people do the kind of research that she recommends.

Jessica Black: Yeah, I agree, I think you’re right.

Mac Prichard: Great. Well thank you both, and thank you, Jessica Smith, for joining us this week and you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job. If you like what you hear, please sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

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The job interview is your first, and sometimes only, opportunity to make a positive personal impression with an employer. You don’t want to wing it or walk into the meeting unprepared. You need to have a solid game plan and good talking points to make the most of this opportunity.

In other words, you need to prepare for a job interview!

However, it’s important to note that all interviews are not created equal. Every organization has its own needs and internal culture; every hiring manager has a unique personality and history that you need to consider.

This is why it is so important that you research an organization and the people you’ll meet before you walk into an interview. Don’t use your one-hour meeting as a discovery session. Instead, do your homework ahead of time and come in as an informed candidate with some ideas of how you can address the employer’s challenges.

This week’s guest, Jessica Smith, lays out a plan for how you can best prepare for your next interview. Read the company’s website, find commonalities between the job description and your skills, and view the LinkedIn profiles of the internal recruiter or hiring manager you’ll be meeting with. Figuring out who the company likes to hire, and knowing the organization’s buzzwords gives you instant credibility.

This Week’s Guest

Jessica Smith is a career and wellness coach for 20-somethings. Her coaching philosophy centers around the idea that everybody has an internal voice of wisdom that can help you live with more flow, confidence, and joy. Jessica is the author of  Your Twenties. She is also the host of the weekly podcast, Career Coaching with Jessness.

Jessica has free career success guide for listeners on her website, Jessness Required.

Resources from this Episode