Are you doing all you can to prepare for a job interview?

Preparation: noun: the activity or process of making something ready or of becoming ready for something.

The underlying principles of every business are focused on delivering value and driving growth. If you’re heading into a job interview – how well prepared are you to answer and cite specific examples on how you can contribute to both?

Preparation will mitigate fear. Whether you’re Peyton Manning going into a critical AFC championship game or giving a keynote speech at a conference – preparation will provide all the backend work so you can focus on a successful result.

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

– Alexander Graham Bell

Consider these five areas of preparation before ever stepping foot in the interview room.

  1. Have you provided a counterattack?

Preparing your counterattack, so to speak, in the sense that you have methodically conducted your research around the organizational goals and can effectively display genuine interest into learning more about what they do. That means demonstrating you know whom their key stakeholders are, customers’ pain points, what makes the product or service unique and the key messaging conducted throughout their external communications plans. By articulating this, it helps create an informative, two-way dialogue.

  1. Do you have stories to cite as examples?

Put yourself in your interviewer’s position. Anyone can make claims that they are a great leader, or they learn well from their mistakes – but it’s hard to take these statements for face value when you can’t substantiate them with any examples. Stories are the intangible bridges that connect people – but it doesn’t mean you need to go off on a full life story tangent to help prove a point. Create a list of 6 or 7 good examples that you can draw on that are succinct and demonstrate your value within a few points. 

  1. Can you display yourself as an effective problem solver? 

This is one of the most pertinent skills that you can portray in an interview. Problem solving is what propels human ingenuity and innovation. Demonstrate that you are capable of creative thinking, and can work outside the box – better yet, prove that you never confine yourself within the limits of a box. This is where you equip yourself with examples to back up your claim. They don’t have to be earth shattering, but can be as simple as how your fresh perspective helped realign a challenged team dynamic in previous roles. Make sure there are direct connections to how this will pertain to the role you’re interviewing for. 

  1. Have you prepared for any trick questions?

It’s inevitable that some form of curveball will be thrown amidst an interview process – and adjusting quickly and effectively suggests that you aren’t just a fastball hitter and can think on your feet.

Questions such as: How would you best describe yourself in one word? Name 3 of your strengths and weaknesses, or, why do you want to leave your current role – are all challenging in the sense that they are designed to peel back the layers to get to the real you. (This article from Business Insider will help you prepare for this tricky line of questioning.)

Picture yourself as a media relations representative standing in front of a sea of microphones as you fearlessly take on a gauntlet of arrows flung by reporters. The trick is remaining calm, sticking to your key messaging, demonstrating your value and how well you can turn around an answer that portrays your company (or in this case, yourself) in the best light. By being able to respond to these trick questions, it proves there aren’t any discrepancies between your statements. Be wary of how far an interviewer will go with challenging inquiries – it could be enough to push top talent out the door.

  1. Can you work well on a team?

Lets go back to a football example as a reference point here. Wide receivers (not all, but some) are labelled as prima donna’s because of how they let their egos get in the way of achieving the team goals. Whereas running backs are, by and large considered to be the workhorses of the team with their trademark determination to play any role to help the team achieve success.

I am a big believer in teamwork and see small teams playing an increasingly dominant role in the future of business. The challenge for many leaders today is how to manage and motivate several small teams working together to produce something larger.

Charles Galda, CIO of technology centers and services at GE Capital.

How well can you work in a creative and collaborative setting, while conducting constructive criticism (alliteration aside) and working in a group setting that emphasizes team success? Leadership in a group environment is a core competency that needs to be properly highlighted throughout the interview process – while also demonstrating that you are fully capable of working solo.

An effective Product Manager is vital to the lifespan of your product – meaning you’re investing in a candidate for the long-term. Learn how to adapt your hiring process for this hybrid role with these 9 industry tips