The very best at what they do were not born that way. Behind every example of success and accomplishment you will find a story of hard work and preparation. One of the greatest actors of all time, it’s no shock that Robert De Niro leaves nothing to chance. To get ready for his role in “Taxi Driver,” De Niro applied for and received a NYC taxi cab license. He prepared for his role by driving an actual cab through the streets of NY. Before filming “Raging Bull,” De Niro fought in three real professional boxing matches. His reward: the Academy Award for Best Actor. Considered by many to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time Kobe Bryant will not leave practice without taking 400 jump shots. Over his 20-year career that’s over 1.6MM shots. The result: a 19 time All Star selection and 5 time NBA world champion. What do these two greats have in common: each achieved success through a maniacal focus on preparation.
This is exactly the attitude you should take into your interview. The average job opening attracts over 200 applicants who believe they (and not you) are the best fit for what the hiring manager is looking for. But they are wrong. You would not have gotten invited in for a face to face interview unless there was something about you and your candidacy that stood out from the others. If you do your job and prepare, the interview will validate you are the right person for the role. Much of your preparation should take the form of probing, thoughtful questions. In my 20+ years of interviewing people, the most memorable are those candidates who came in well prepared with questions for me. Their approach showed me they had genuine interest in my opportunity and were not just looking for a job. My advice:
Know who you are seeing and be ready:
• How long have they been with the company?
• What has been their career path both outside of and within the company?
• When they first began working there, why did they choose that company?
Prepare with questions that confirm your interest in the role as well as the organization:
• How would you describe the culture of the company?
• How does the company give back to the community?
• What Boards do your Senior Leaders sit on?
• How would you describe the leadership style of the company?
Perhaps most important are questions concerning “closing” the Manager on your candidacy:
• After our conversation today, do you have any concerns or reservations about my being a strong fit for this opportunity?
• What is the next step in your process? What is the appropriate way to follow up?
• Are there any other questions that I can answer for you today?
My message here is simple: Coming in well prepared with thought provoking questions will demonstrate your genuine interest in the opportunity and help distinguish your candidacy from other finalists. With the right amount of preparation, like Di Nero and Kobe you too will realize success!