Congratulations! You’ve been called to schedule your on-site interview. This will be the next and possibly the final step on your path to a job offer. Take time in advance to prep for what you will be doing to make your interview day a productive day. Follow these steps:
1. Know the employer.
If you haven’t yet done your deep dive into the employer, now is the time. Read all of the materials you can find, but not only at their website. Research what others are saying about the employer from the outside. Start thinking about the employer with a sense of ownership. Not: "If I work here…" but rather: "When I work here…" Think like an owner.
2. Know your schedule.
Many employers will keep their plans for the interview day somewhat vague on purpose. Why? Because they may vary the interview schedule based on how the candidate does in the initial interviews. Yet nearly every employer will provide at least the initial calendar. Ask how many interviews are planned. If the employer gives you a variable number ("Well, it could be anywhere from 1 to 4 interviews…"), ask this: "How much time should I set aside on my calendar that day as the maximum potential amount of time?" Make sure you eat before you arrive and if you are offered water along the way, take it, even if you think you don’t need it. And don’t be afraid to ask for bathroom breaks if/when needed throughout the day. If the interviews are going the entire day, it is customary to include a lunch interview at the midpoint.
3. Know your interviewers.
Ask for names. The employer may or may not give you specific names (you might just get titles instead), but you can always ask. "With whom will I be interviewing?" Then ask: "What can you tell me about _____?" The answer may be that they cannot (or will not) tell you anything, but you can always ask. And yet you might be surprised with the level of candor and insight given to you by an ambitious Recruiter (or Recruiting Coordinator) who wants to help you do well in your interviews by helping you prep in advance. Then Google the person to see what else you can find online. It’s sometimes surprising what you can find with the simple combination of a name and employer.
4. Know yourself.
Have at least one extra copy of your resume prepared in advance for each interviewer. Don’t be surprised if your beautifully formatted resume gets eaten, chewed up and spit out looking like an unformatted text file. That’s what happens when your resume runs the gauntlet with most corporate applicant tracking systems. So have your resume available to offer to the interviewer if they are struggling with your now ill-formatted resume. And have a copy ready for those interviewers who do not have your resume with them. Yet just having your printed resume available is only one very small step. You need to know every detail of that resume and how each part of that resume can launch into a behavioral interview answer, giving example after example of how you exhibited a particular competency or skill. You know you better than anyone else. Your challenge will be to convey that knowledge in a way that is custom to the employer and custom to the role.
5. Know the interview questions (and answers) in advance.
OK, this is one area where you cannot actually ask the employer in advance. But that doesn’t mean you cannot review and practice answering many of the interview questions you will be asked. Look through our extensive list of tough interview questions and answers at CollegeGrad.com to review in detail why the interviewer is asking the question, the best way to answer, and sample answers for both experienced and entry level job seekers. Then customize to make each new answer your own. You need to own your personal and individual response to each one of the questions in advance. Have a ready-to-use example which behaviorally answers each question in detail.
Being competitively prepped for your on-site interview in advance will help you to present the very best you in the interview.