Here's the first in our series of tips for folks preparing for job interviews. This first set of tips will be useful a bit in advance, and will help you get into the right mindset as well. We know, though, that employers may be reading this as well, so you'll have the inside scoop.
Do your homework. It’s not just the interviewer interviewing you. You’re also interviewing the organization. Make sure that you know your prospective employer as deeply as you can. Have you researched the organization, their mission, vision and what kind of impact they have? Review their website, their social media, and their publications. What do you really know about this organization as a workplace? Consider how this fits into the kind of work you hope to be doing, from the angle of the position you’re aspiring to fill. Go through the website as carefully as you can, looking closely at the staff page (with bios) to learn about how the organization is structured, and consider all of the various content you might uncover. See if they’ve been in the news lately, produced any publications or reports, or had recent success stories that you can reference in the interview. It shows you’re serious about the job, and on their end, it’s flattering to know that you put in the time to get to know them. This also helps to level the playing field psychologically, enabling you to come best prepared for dialogue. Bring an equity lens to your homework: What is visible to you, and what (or who) might be missing? What is, then, invisible? What do you need to learn in your interview that isn’t available via the website (providing you with an opportunity to ask in the interview)? Do some counting. Who do you see, and who do you not see? You may want to wonder about the makeup of the staff, the makeup of a volunteer board or council, and even whose voices are represented in testimonials and whose images are represented on the website.
Review the job posting carefully. Note that many job postings are gigantic and edge toward job descriptions over simpler and clearer job listings, with lots of content that nods toward a detailed outline of goals and objectives and a fuller description of the portfolio. Many folks skip this review of the job posting in preparation for interviews, although it is useful for generating additional questions. Your review can then lead you to generating clear examples to offer in your interview. Bring an equity lens to your review by closely examining the language used, what qualifications are listed, or seem evident in the assumptions the employer is bringing and the specific skills necessary to get the job done. Recall that typically, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. Do you meet the qualifications, and does this matter?
Get to know your interviewer. Make sure that you’re familiar with the person or people who will be interviewing you, and where they sit in the organization’s hierarchy, what role they play, their portfolio, and their tenure. This brings a relational lens to your interview, and helps you to locate your dialogue in the human story that is an important component of the interview process. Get to know them with a look at their bio on the organization’s website, or via LinkedIn, but don’t cyberstalk them. Your knowledge of this person will make a good impression, and help you to prepare for the interview, too. From an equity perspective, this human story is a vital part of building relational connection in every interview–not with just one or two of your favorite candidates. Modeling it for your interviewer helps you to weave this perspective into your work, and make it visible that a human and relational story is one of the important components of a holistic interview process.