“The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.”

Legendary Hall of Fame football coach, Vince Lombardi echoed those famous words to his players over a half century ago, but the message is timeless.

Preparation mitigates fear, and a methodical game plan will ensure you aren’t being blindsided by anything unexpected. An interview is a tool designed to determine if your skills and personality meet, or exceed, a company’s expectations. Your window of opportunity is small, especially for highly coveted positions.

Think of this as your personal Super Bowl. People work their entire lives for a shot at a moment that can catapult them to the next level. You may not be on national television in front of tens of millions of people, but your level of preparation, focus and attention to detail needs to be the same.

Nervous businessman sitting next to confident businesswoman

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of making an effort to apply these suggestions to your interview preparation.

  • Research the company by looking up their web site. Educate yourself about who they are and what they do, their size, sales volume etc.
  • Be very aware of your appearance and hygiene. Even if the working environment is casual, always dress in the appropriate business attire.
  • Be sure to arrive five to ten minutes early. Tardiness will likely take you out of the running before the interview starts.
  • Be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Think in terms of short and long-term goals, perhaps one and five years.
  • Maintain a friendly, positive attitude and good eye contact.
  • Take notes during the course of the interview. Be sure to write down the names and titles of everyone that you meet with.

You’re likely to be asked, “tell me about a time when you…”

  • Were unable to complete a project on time?
  • Handled a difficult situation with a co-worker?
  • Had to fire a friend?
  • Were forced to make an unpopular decision?

Ad-lib rambling doesn’t bode too well for demonstrating your value as you answer these questions. Be prepared to tell stories. We’re inherently social creatures and storytelling evokes a strong neurological response so develop true stories about your experience ahead of time that you can share in response to relevant questions.

Remember, an interview is a two-way street – you’re evaluating the manager and the company as much as they’re evaluating you.

Plan your work and work your plan by downloading our comprehensive checklist for winning the interview game.