First published in NBC’s Grow
Your ultimate goal with any interview process is to speak their language and show how you fit.
I’m a marketing professional with 25 years of experience in Silicon Valley, and I have interviewed, mentored, advised, and hired hundreds of job candidates.
Very often, it’s easy to look at a career in terms of a series of individual job searches, rather than a long-term strategy. Personally, I’ve found that one of the best ways to prepare yourself for job interviews is to articulate what your dream job is.
Once you know that ultimate goal, you can work backwards and plot out the skills you’ll need to acquire and the path you’ll need to take to get there. If there are specific companies you’re targeting, start watching what they’re doing and who they’re hiring.
I always keep a list of the companies I want to work for. Even if the jobs you’re up for are not at those top businesses on your list, having that overarching goal in mind can help you stay focused on the roles that are right for you.
Here are my best interviewing tips to help you land the job of your dreams.
Do your research and know your audience
Your goal with any interview process is to speak their language and show how you fit. Take the time to map your talking points and accomplishments to the decision-makers in a way that relates to them and shows that you are someone who can help them meet their needs.
My best advice is to find the names of anyone you can that’s involved in the decision-making process and get some background on LinkedIn and social media to get a sense of who they are and the problems they are working to solve. Then approach the interview from this perspective.
I once interviewed with a CEO for another marketing job I really wanted. It would have been fun for me to talk about the campaigns I’d worked on. But having done my research about who I would be speaking with, I honed in on the issues I knew would matter to a chief executive.
So, having read about how they were losing customers to their competition, I made sure to discuss the pipeline I created, the revenue I generated, and how I reduced churn in my other roles. I had a job offer the next day.
Understand your impact and value
Very often, you may not have all the qualifications listed on a job posting. No one does. Don’t let that stop you from applying for a role. By arming yourself with information and feeling comfortable talking about yourself, you can proactively address any gaps and present a plan for how you can achieve the overall goals of the position.
Before you go in for an interview, analyze the accomplishments on your resume and go through and classify them as either a standard job function or a measure of your impact and value.
I once interviewed a woman for a marketing manager role. She had listed producing a webinar as an accomplishment on her resume, which taken at face value, seems a fairly straightforward job function.
But when I asked her for more details, she mentioned they had only ever done one other webinar, and that brought in a mere 100 leads. The one she produced brought in 1,500. By flipping the accomplishment from seemingly mundane and technical to one that created measurable impact, we got a better understanding of the type of value she could bring to our company. Very often, you may not have all the qualifications listed on a job posting. No one does. Don’t let that stop you from applying for a role.
Project professionalism and confidence
Once you take note of the social media channels your dream companies use, see that as a chance to be where they are. And if you don’t already, set up some profiles on those sites. Follow your interviewers, and share articles and information on your account that would be relevant to your work at that company.
On the day of the interview, come prepared, dress in a way that projects professionalism and confidence, even on a Zoom call, and show your enthusiasm. And then follow up with everyone you meet.
Send a thank-you email or letter, reiterate your interest, and include examples of how your skills align with the role, and why your passion for the product and company would make you a good fit.
One way to boost your confidence is to try this exercise: Before you have your interview, write down what your core message is. This is a short paragraph that tells people who you are, what your passion is, what you have accomplished, and what you bring to the table. Then jump ahead a few years and articulate what you hope your career will look like.
When you know how you see yourself, and how you want others to see and understand you, you can’t go wrong.
A great interview helped me land my dream job
In 2019, I got the chance to go for my dream job, a head of marketing position at Autodesk, a company I had wanted to work for since I was a teenager, as it was founded in my hometown. I was fascinated by the products they made and I admired their management team.
When the opportunity arose to go in for the interview, I made a plan. I read up on my interviewers, did a deep dive on the company’s social media, read recent press releases, past annual reports, and attended some of the webinars the company offers to the public.
When I met with the hiring managers, I was up to speed on the things that were most important to the company, so I was able to go in with a better understanding of how to position myself. I felt confident on the day, and in the end the preparation paid off: I got the job.