How To Prepare For An Interview You Know Nothing About

 

Nobody’s perfect, and sometimes you might just be too busy killing it to realize you have an interview (in like, 5 minutes). It happens, girl. It happens.

The world may expect us to be immaculately organized, Filofax-toting interviewees with swooshy hair and crisp pencil skirts, but sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe you accidentally spilt nail varnish on your tights and had to scramble for a replacement pair (yep, that was me). Or perhaps your pet bunny is going hopping mad (sorry, I just had to) and desperately needs an intervention. Either way, emergencies happen.

I was once called upon to write up an urgent article only hours before my interview, leaving me unprepared and in a rush to get everything sent off in time. It was frantic, and I didn’t have much time to prepare. Yet somehow, I got through it. You can too.

Here’s how to deal with an interview you know absolutely nothing about:

Google is your best friend
If you have a couple of hours to spare before your interview, google the shit out of the company. Scribble down important (relevant) details on a notepad, and make sure you get a feel for the company’s culture and core values. What sector do they operate in? What products do they sell? How does their industry impact your ability to do the job? What will you need to understand or learn in order to give it your all?

Think strategically 
Spend as much time as you can researching the company, competitors, and role, and if you have any spare time after that, take a moment to think about your value as a professional, and what you specifically can bring to the role.

Clear your mind
Leave plenty of time to get to the interview, and stop thinking about it at least 15 minutes before you go in. Keep calm. If you go in frazzled and panicked by the knowledge of your own, this will affect their impressions of you, and will probably send you in a downwards spiral.

Take your time
If you don’t understand any of the questions, take your time to think about the answer carefully. If you don’t understand something, make sure you say so. There’s no crime in not knowing (unless it’s what the company actually does, of course!). I once admitted to having very little understanding of the (extremely complicated) field in which a company operated, and that did not deter them. If they like you, they’ll be willing to teach you.

Don’t overdo it
If you haven’t had time to prepare, please don’t pretend you know more than you do. I was recently talking to some hiring managers about this and they told me that the moment a candidate goes in for the “I could sell ice to the Eskimos”, it’s game over.

 

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  • Elishia Chave

    The first job interview I ever had was in retail (Fat Face) and they asked me about the company’s core values. I didn’t have a clue. I somehow got the job and then was given the best interview advice ever. Even if you think you know what the company is about, get to know their core values and the people they want to work with! I’m back in the job market… here we go again!!!

    http://www.englishgirlinnewyork.org

    • Great point Elishia! A company’s core values is always a good way to get to know about what the company cares about the most.
      P.S. good luck withbeing back in the job market again:)
      Lindsay; x

      • Elishia Chave

        Thanks! It is daunting, but I’m ready and raring to go x

        • That’s the spirit:) I’m sure it’ll all work out for you.
          P.S. Just checked out your blog – you have an eye for great photos:) I think it’s great how you’re sharing your experience of a Brit living in New York the way you do:) It’s amazing.x

          • Elishia Chave

            Thanks for checking it out, I love taking pictures, it gives me a wonderful sense of calm and with no job, the blog has been a really exciting to channel my energies into something productive, I can’t sit idle for any length of time :) x

    • You’ll get there Elishia! I always think of looking for a new job as a bit of fun. Think of it as a game: you’re just a player in the field trying to see how many interviews you can line up! <3

      • Elishia Chave

        What a wonderfully positive way of looking at it :) Thanks lovely!

  • haha I love this! I actually have interviews coming up and this was an amazing read for it. So true! Trying too hard doesn’t get anywhere :)

    xx, mel
    http://melinspired.com

  • This post is very, very important! I’ll sure be coming back to this some time in the future! Thank you for sharing :)

    http://poshpossibilities.blogspot.com

  • Hey Rashina; These are fantastic points to remember :)
    I find that the other thing to do is to make sure you prepair answering the most common interview question/request: ie “So, tell me about yourself” – as it’s ussually an interviewer’s most common opening request designed to suss out who you are professionally and what it is you do best. Plus the other thing to do would be to know your cv/resume and your work history of  by heart so that when asked about your previous roles; you’ll be able to appropriate your previous job accomplishments with a “in which I achieved x, y & z ” statement after each job tittle; that way; you’ll be letting the interviewer know that you’re results driven and that you’re always prone to doing a great job.

    Anyway; thanks again Rashina for a great post:)

    Lindsay;
    http://www.faithfullyme.co.uk

    • Hi Lindsay! I completely agree, it’s always good to have an answer to the ‘about me’ questions, especially since it’s one that comes up so often! I also agree that it’s good to know your CV backwards so that you can highlight not only the key accomplishments but your professional growth within any given role. I always find that in interviews, what tends to impress employers most is when you’re able to talk about the creative and mental challenges of a particular job and how you overcame them, so incorporating a narrative element into each job role can go a long way!
      Rashina xxx :)

  • Cassandra at AyeMiLady

    Great tips. Thanks!

  • Great idea to research the company before an interview. Something that I overlooked when I was younger. If you’re going to skip all the other tips, just make sure you google the company before the interview & look around their website.

    Jay – http://www.eclecticelite.com