You work so hard to get an informational meeting, a job interview or network meeting that may lead to a job. But how much time, in hours, are you spending to prepare for that meeting? Not enough. And if your answer is “enough” then double that time.
Here are the top meeting preparation bloopers:
- Not rehearsing the most basic interview questions.
- Not bringing copies of your resume, cover letter, and the job description you are discussing.
- Not bringing pad and pen to take notes (no, not a computer!)
- Not studying the company, the division that is hiring, and the job description in great detail.
- Not dressing appropriately, looking disheveled, disorganized or ready to work.
- Not knowing where you are going; therefore, being late.
As you see, meeting preparation is not just studying possible questions. It is important to lay out the items you need to take with you, leave early and more. You will be surprised how much more calm you are during the meeting and, as a result, will do better during the meeting.
Did you know that networking meetings, informational meetings and interviews are all the same? Regardless who you are meeting with, the person on the other side of the table or the phone is asking themselves the following:
- Are they someone I would recommend to someone I know?
- Are they someone who is showing the skills needed to be successful at work?
- Are they committed to the job search process and will follow through on next steps? Or are they just sniffing around?
- Are they passionate about the job or company or industry we are talking about?
So, here are the top 3 preparation steps you need to adopt to be successful:
Step 1: Interview Questions: Study the top 10 most common interview questions and write down no more than 3 bulleted answers to each one. Practice and repeat them. For phone interviews, you should have a “cheat sheet” in front of you. And it’s okay to bring in notes for your face-to-face meeting, too. Time estimate: 2 ½ – 3 hours at 15-20 minutes per question. Block the time in your calendar, find a quiet place, and do this well.
Step 2: Job Description and Your Resume: List the top 5 reasons why you are the best candidate for the job or company. These should be in the form of skills and experience you have to offer THEM and should not be a list of random skills you have that are irrelevant to the job or company. Memorize those and word them in terms of “You’re looking for XYZ and I have Y years of experience and Z skills”. Time estimate: 2 hours.
Step 3: Prepare to Meet: Make more than enough copies of your resume, your cover letter, any samples of your work and the job description. Organize them all in a neat-looking folder. Bring paper and a pen to take notes with (and take notes!). Lay out which clothes you are going to wear, try them on to assure all looks good. Print a Bing Maps (or other) and double the time you think it is going to take to get there. If you are not sure, then drive there days before to find the exact location or get there super early then go find a coffee shop to wait at. Finally, set two alarms if the meeting is in the morning.
In summary, be ultra-prepared and “Cut the Crap, Get a Job”. (pre-order my forthcoming book of the same title here)