It’s an awkward one, but at some point in your career it’s likely you will be faced with the question: “Did you prepare for this interview?”
It’s almost like a test from the employer to sort the good from the great, and so it’s important that you’re able to answer it well.
Consider the employer’s point of view
When you read between the lines, the question isn’t about if you have or haven’t prepared, because no-one turns up unprepared for an interview! What the employer really wants to understand is how motivated are you. How much do you want this job? The more you have put into the interview preparation, the more you want the job.
Don’t skip the basics
It might sound obvious, but it is important to cover off the basic stuff first. A thorough examination of both the job description and the information on the company’s website should be first and foremost. You would be surprised how many people are desperate to impress with the above and beyond research, and end up leaving out the crucial basic information that forms the foundations.
But with that said, it’s also important to not stop there. Don’t be limited by the ‘safe’ options. Go beyond what’s expected! If the company is holding a seminar, go along and talk about it in the interview. If they’ve released a whitepaper or a blog series, read it and take notes, then bring it up at interview. And don’t just say ‘I loved the seminar’, actually focus in on something that you can expand on.
Tailor your answer to the role
This means when you talk about the preparation you did and your methods, try to link back in to the skills and qualities referred to in the job description for the role. For example, if you’re applying for a sales base role, you will be expected to have spent longer researching the product, the target market and the unique selling points of the business.
When preparing for an interview, you really can’t do too much. But if you’re given a short time frame to prepare in, then try to pick something unexpected but relevant and focus your time and efforts on that. It will show you’re motivated and are serious about the role, and will make you stand out as a great candidate.