Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.
In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the important topic of interview preparation. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.
Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here today.
Sharita: Stacy, we’ve touched upon the topic of interview preparation before. However, what we discussed in that podcast episode is different from what we’ll be discussing today. In that podcast, we addressed how to prepare for an interview physically, mentally, and psychologically. Today, though, we’re going to tackle preparation differently. Can you elaborate on that?
Stacy: I sure can. We talked in a big-picture way about interview preparation before. In today’s podcast, we’re going to dive into some of the nitty-gritty details of preparing. The reason that we’re doing this is because the interview is one of the most important parts of the hiring process, from the perspective of both the candidate and the employer. It is nearly impossible to receive an offer of employment without interviewing well.
Sharita: Stacy, do candidates adequately prepare for the interview? Is that usually the case?
Stacy: Unfortunately, some candidates do not prepare adequately for their interview. In fact, I’ve had some candidates who barely prepped at all. Instead, they decided to do an “off the cuff” interview with one of my clients.
Sharita: I imagine that did not go well.
Stacy: No, it did not. In each instance, my client could tell that the candidate had not prepared. What was especially frustrating in a few of the situations is that the hiring manager genuinely liked the candidate. However, the fact the hiring manager liked the candidate was almost completely wiped out by the fact that the candidate was not properly prepared for the interview.
Sharita: Yes, I can see how that could be frustrating. So how would you like to start today’s discussion?
Stacy: Well, in our previous podcast episode about interview preparation, we talked at length about physical appearance, so we don’t need to discuss that too much here. To recap, a professional and conservative appearance is the best way to go. Not only that, but it’s recommended that you go easy on the perfume and the cologne.
So there are two main phases of preparation that I’d like to discuss today. The first phase is everything that’s included in the days leading up to the interview. The second phase is the actual day of the interview.
Sharita: So what’s involved in the days leading up to the interview?
Stacy: There are a number of things that are involved. The first is to make sure that your resume is prepared. This namely involves printing it out on quality paper and making sure that you have enough copies for the interview.
Sharita: How many copies are enough?
Stacy: You probably want to bring a portfolio folder that will allow you to have between five to 10 copies of your resume. You never know how many you’re going to need, but it’s always better to be prepared.
Sharita: What else should a person do in the days leading up to their interview?
Stacy: They should reach out to their references, if they haven’t already done so. These references should be aware of the fact that they might be contacted in the near future. You don’t want a reference to be caught off-guard if a potential new employer contacts them.
Sharita: Speaking of references, should a person prepare a list of those, as well?
Stacy: Absolutely. In fact, the hiring manager will already have a copy of the person’s resume. However, they won’t have a copy of their references. So bringing a copy of references is a must for the on-site interview. And if you have official letters of recommendation, then bring those, too, although they’re not mandatory. Anything that will illustrate your potential value as an employee is good to have.
This includes what I like to call a “brag book.” This can be examples of your work or tangible results of your work in a documented format. Some positions are more conductive to a “brag book” than others, but you should make it a point to document the success that you’ve had at your current employer or at previous employers in some fashion.
Sharita: What’s next on the list?
Stacy: Research is next. Find out as much as you can about the organization. The Internet is a tremendous resource in this area. You can find out information just by “Googling” the company. However, there is also a lot of information on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Be sure to check out the organization’s accounts on those three social media platforms, for sure. Read about the things that it shares and how its employees interact with others on social media.
Also research the people who might be conducting the interview, if that’s possible. Once again, you can probably uncover this information on the company’s website or through its social media presence, especially LinkedIn. This will give you an idea of who you will be talking with and what their background might be. Always err on the side of having more information than you need. The more information you have, the better, even if you don’t use all of it during the interview.
Sharita: All of that makes perfect sense. So what’s next?
Stacy: Next is all about questions, specifically about answering questions and asking them. First, you should be able to answer the most commonly asked interview questions, focusing on communicating the value that you could bring to the organization. Not only should you practice what you say, but you should also practice how you say it. Enlist the help of another person, if you have to. Whatever it takes to have a successful interview.
In addition, compile a list of questions that you have for those who are conducting the interview. Some of these questions may have to do with the job description. Others may have to do with the organization itself. Draw upon the research that you conducted to come up with questions that will both alleviate any concerns you might have and also show the interviewers that you are both serious and interested about the opportunity.
That really is the bottom line when it comes to interview preparation. When it’s obvious to company officials that you’re prepared, then it’s also obvious to them that you’re taking the opportunity seriously. If you’re not prepared, then they’re more likely to think that you’re not serious . . . even if you are.
Sharita: Let’s move on to the second phase of our conversation: the things that a professional should do on the day of the interview in order to prepare properly. What are those things, Stacy?
Stacy: Well, you should definitely know where you’re going. Most people have a smartphone these days with GPS capability. So you’ll need the company address, of course. Calculate how long it will take for you to get there and give yourself some additional time as a cushion in case traffic is an issue.
Next, make sure that you have the correct contact information. This includes the main phone number, as well as the direct line of the person whom you’ll be meeting. As we mentioned earlier, also bring copies of your resume, your references, your letters of recommendation if you have them, and any questions that you want to ask. In addition, bring a copy of the job description. You’ll want to have that in front of you, as well.
Sharita: What else should a person bring with them to the interview?
Stacy: Well, there are some obvious things, but they bear mentioning because people sometimes overlook the obvious things. That would be a notepad and pens. As always, it’s better to be more prepared than not prepared enough.
You should also bring any medication you might need, if you’re currently taking medication or prescription drugs. And something that people often forget is to bring breath mints of some kind. When you’re waiting for an interview, you can get nervous and that nervousness can affect your stomach, which can sometimes affect your breath. If you do bring some breath mints, such as Tic-Tacs, be sure to swallow them or get rid of them before the interview begins. You don’t want breath mints to be a distraction.
Sharita: Wow, it seems like there is a LOT of preparation involved with the interview, both in the days leading up to it and then on the day that it’s supposed to occur.
Stacy: There is certainly a lot of preparation involved, and that’s why candidates should not try to “wing” the interview. They should view it as an opportunity to make a great impression and to “sell” the organization on the value that they could bring. As a professional, you must take the face-to-face interview seriously and you must take it seriously in all aspects.
We’ve discussed this before, Sharita, but the #1 goal of the face-to-face interview is to get an offer of employment. But if you don’t prepare for the interview, that can damage your candidacy and drastically reduce the chances that you’re going to receive an offer.
Sharita: Before we wrap up today’s episode, is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Stacy: Yes, I’d like to encourage our listeners to check out the interview preparation tips that are on our recruiting firm’s website. Just go to www.thevetrecruiter.com and click on “Candidates,” then “Career Resources,” and then “Interview Tips.”
We also have a lot of newsletter articles and blog posts on the website that address the face-to-face interview. I invite our listeners to search through those articles, and I also invite them to sign up for our newsletter. We send out a newsletter every month with job search and hiring tips, as well as information about the employment marketplace and hot Animal Health jobs and Veterinary jobs that we’re currently working to fill. We believe our newsletter is a tremendous resource, and we’re glad that we can offer it to professionals working within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.
Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.
Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!