Interview preparation before you attend a job interview isn’t just about bricks and mortar. It’s not just about where offices are located or numbers of employees. And it’s not only about studying the history books to real off the where and when of mergers, takeovers and acquisitions.
Give yourself a distinct advantage - start thinking about the here and now. More specifically the ‘who, here and now’. Because marketing yourself effectively at a job interview means thinking about other people.
Knowing the basics is great – the name of the interviewer, their job title, how long they have been at the company. But this really is the basics. It’s mandatory information that every Tom, Dick and Harry will have walked into an interview with, but doesn’t represent any intel for you to leverage to your advantage. No brownie points here!
You need to stand out from the crowd - by finding out about the crowd. Look to the existing employee population within a company to increase your knowledge, power and your ability to sell yourself as an attractive proposition. Here’s the science bit:
Holidays require annual leave, which becomes a headache for managers: Katie normally generates the finance reports, what if she’s sunning herself in the Caribbean? Misha’s at a wedding Italy, who can speak French to the Parisian clients? You get the gist. But in addition to the minor headaches caused by annual leave, employers have bigger challenges when it comes to keeping all the plates spinning. Even a company’s best employees have a horrible habit of handing in their notice at the most inopportune moments. And, when they eventually do, always cause some type of disruption. (The need to attract, recruit and train new staff, for instance).
HR departments try to navigate these employee departures beforehand by building “talent pipelines” – an HR term for planning the movement (sideways movement, promotion or departure) of the human capital within an organisation. Otherwise known as “resource planning” or “workforce planning”, this earmarking of employees to fit in with growth plans or future changes (such as mergers) can only do so much. An employee’s ability to be moved around an organisation, or to absorb additional duties at certain times, is often ascertained only after that employee has been with an organisation for a certain period of time.
This is were you can step in.
Before you attend a job interview start sussing out who’s who and what’s what. What’s the structure of the team that you will be working in? What are the roles and responsibilities of others in the team? What type of skill sets do they have? What type of systems and processes are they using? Look even further afield and try and understand about the wider organisation and the teams that it consists of. (Most organisations will share their organisational chart with you, but even those who don’t are often willing to let you see the section that relates to the team you could be moving into).
Once you have a sense of the roles and responsibilities of others, you can start thinking about how your skills may be of service when your colleagues are on holiday, unplanned absence or have jumped ship. Find out where your skills overlap with others in the organisation? You may find that you have relevant experience, a skill, a language or some technical knowledge that could plug a critical gap in the short or long term.
The next step is factoring all of this knowledge into the personal sales pitch you will use to sell your skills during a job interview (keep an eye on future Clear Cut Selection interview blog posts for more on this). With this approach you won’t just be a star candidate – you’ll look like a versatile asset who can fill the talent pipeline when others have jumped ship! And at the same time leave the other candidates walking the plank….