In part one of this post on the interview process, we discussed some things you can do to find the best opportunities and prepare for interviews ahead of time.
In this part, we’re going to assume that you’ve nailed it so far. Let’s say you have the opportunity to meet five amazing companies, all of whom have expressed interest in you. Would you meet all of them? How?
- Control Your Time — You call the shots
Is your interview a phone call or face-to-face meeting? While both methods have their pros and cons, sometimes you are not given a phone-call or Skype interview as a choice unless you explicitly ask for it. It’s important to eventually meet with the company, but mixing in a couple of phone calls could save you more than a few minutes. Lunch is a great time during working hours to slip out of the office and go have a quickie interview. Even better, how about a breakfast interview before work?
Employers might give you a time frame of 1-2pm and are only free to meet one day out of the week. After trying to re-arrange your schedule to no avail, you can push back with the following: “Thank you so much for giving me this great opportunity to meet with you. However, it’s going to be quite difficult for me to get off of work at that time. Is there any way we can do breakfast @8:30 am on Wednesday or Friday, or after 6:30 pm? Alternatively, I can do a phone call at noon on those days instead of a face-to-face meeting.” Hiring managers are like potential bae: If they really want to meet you, they will make time (even midnight at Denny’s) . I have seen the busiest of VPs compromise for the hires they really want.
2. Prioritize Interviews Well
Make time in your schedule. Take an afternoon, morning or whole day off work to complete several rounds of meetings – sometimes there is no getting around this. I especially recommend doing this during final interviews to allow yourself mental/physical time to prepare for the grand finale.
Let’s take this to the next level.
Let’s say you’ve to several jobs and suddenly have five interview requests. While you’ve taken the tips outlined above to heart, somehow you still can’t fit all of it into your schedule. The questions now are, “Should I meet with several companies? Or should I stick to one? What companies are really worth meeting? How do I decide what to prioritize?”
To answer these questions, list out your priorities and your career goals. Then ask yourself if the company (not specific “job description”) could help you get there. You can use the formula below to eliminate a couple of companies from your list:
- If your interest level is 50/50 or higher, go to the interview.
- If you are 99% sure you’ll never take the job, take it off your list of priorities and save it for a later date
Do not base your decision off of a job description… because they are generally meaningless! The real clarity will come from actually meeting with the company, the people that work there and hearing out the needs of the job first-hand. We tend to have an “image” of a company, basing our opinions on hearsay that is not necessarily based in fact. Typically, the way we think of a company as consumers of a product or business is very different from what working there would actually be like. It doesn’t become real until you meet with a hiring manager in person.
Another benefit of considering multiple options is better leverage when negotiating salary and benefits. “Company X offered me this, so I expect to get at least X or more.” Remember you’re not committing to anything by going to an interview. Saying yes or no, and signing on the dotted line comes later.
Lastly, stay realistic and positive
We have a tendency to get over excited by good news — getting a job interview request is definitely good news! It’s flattering. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee you will pass the first step or that you’re even the person they are looking for after many steps. Stay positive and focus on what’s in front of you, namely, preparation for the next interview.
The takeaway here is that you should meet with enough companies to maximize your opportunities without sacrificing time for quality preparation. Doing this will focus your time on the right opportunities.
Good luck, and happy job hunting.