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?
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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