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How did you prepare for this interview?

Many of the interview tips tell people to prepare for the interview – research the company, understand the job, and if possible learn about people at the company. There’s a practical reason, which is it allows you to shade your answers to the company’s needs. But it also shows the interviewer that you’re interested enough in the opportunity to have researched. If you can mention some information from other people, it also shows you’re “in” the profession with a strong network.

Heard about the job, wanted to know more:
“When I heard about this job I went right to the web site to learn about you’re company. One of my friends is a vendor here, and she tells me she loves doing business here.”

If you didn’t like what researched revealed, then you probably shouldn’t take the interview. But if it’s a tough time and any job is better than none, try one of these two options:

Spin it positively:
“I did a lot of research about the company, and see you’ve closed a lot of stores. It’s more important than ever to make sure the work force is efficient. I look forward to helping turn things around.”

Ask a question:
“I talked to a lot of my friends in business, and there seems to be a lot of staff turnover here. I think I’m the type of worker who will stick around for a long time, but can you tell me why so many people have departed?”

That’s a bad answer if good research would have revealed the follow up answer, such as “Low sales have forced the company to have a quick trigger when it comes to sales people who don’t meet quotas.” But if you’re confident in your information gathering skills, asking questions shows more interest in the company.

Another good answer is to highlight your career and skills:
“Qualifications and experience prepare someone for an interview. Of course I looked at your web site, and talked to some people about the company, but I think 10 successful years in this business has prepared me not only for this interview, but for the job as well.”

If there’s a unique way you’ve prepared, such as a unique connection only you have, work that into the answer. Don’t brag, but don’t hesitate to highlight unique skills.

Former Client:
“I worked with one of your suppliers for a long time, so I’m very familiar with your company. I always thought I’d love to work here, and now I have the chance.”

It’s best to avoid an answer like this. “I asked my wife to call after 30 minutes so I don’t waste too much time here, oh, there’s the phone.”

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