BEING PREPARED TAKES MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK. A LOT MORE.

Scott Passeser

Like many of us, you may be in a job-hunting mode these days. So imagine you wake up Monday morning and check your email. A company wants to interview you! You break into your happy dance but…you still have work to do to be prepared. A lot.
            The question I pose to you is simple: With stiff competition for fewer jobs, how much time should you invest in interview preparation? Statistics show that 60% of all job hunters prepare four hours or less. Many people actually prepare considerably less. Some believe that no more than an hour is all you need. I know one job hunter who does nothing but study a company’s website while he’s in the parking lot of a potential employer, 15 minutes before the interview.
          To answer this question, ask yourself, “Is getting a job more or less important than getting a good grade on a college paper or exam?” If you’d spend 5 to 10 hours or more writing papers, doesn’t it make sense to spend as much time preparing for a job interview? Or look at it this way. The average American spends 120 hours in the process of buying a house. That might seem like a lot of time, but if you started a new job tomorrow and kept it for six years, you would probably earn more from that job than the total value of your home. So yes, thorough interview prep is time-consuming, but the more you know, the more knowledgeable, relevant, focused and confident you become.
            Gather as much information as you can about the company, including history, mission, strategy, accomplishments, M&A, product offerings, philanthropy and even their tagline. The best way to get such info is to actually connect with company employees—a task easily accomplished with a LinkedIn search for the company name and a thorough review of your personal network.  Connecting with employees of target companies can yield inside information not available on the web, like the personalities, likes and dislikes of hiring managers.  
           Next, investigate the company’s social media. Look at the company’s Glassdoor page, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram account and YouTube videos. This will give you a snapshot of the how company wishes to be perceived and can help you frame your answers to critical interview questions. Take neat, copious notes that can be transformed into a job proposal or distilled into  talking points.
           Pore over the company website. Look at their job openings to get a window into the company’s growth. Study the company financials, if public, so you can talk about the bottom line.  Analyze the company’s press releases to further explore how the company has positioned itself. This takes time—hours. But there’s more. Your next step is to investigate and analyze the company’s competitors. This can help you determine market share and best practices, and it’s also one of the best ways to show an employer how far you are willing to go to succeed.
             Now, put it all together. Start formulating how your skills and experience fit into the company’s offerings, not based solely on your resume, but on what you have learned. Prepare a statement that addresses, “Why do you want to work for our company?” Detailed answers, chock full of examples and told with historical perspective demonstrate the time you have invested, and it will evoke a far better response from employers.
           So, don’t go on the interview just yet. Plan and invest your time, become a sponge for knowledge. And don’t look at the clock.

Scott Passeser is Senior Vice President of Executive Alliance, a national recruiting firm.  A recognized innovator in the staffing field, Scott created and hosted News 12 Long Island’s “Jobline” weekly TV show for more than 24 years and today he continues as host of  “Jobline” on LI News Radio (103.9  FM / www.LInewsradio.com).

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