They want you to come in for an interview. After the elation wears off, you start sweating.
What are they going to ask? How can I best prepare for this? What if I prepare for the wrong things?
1) Treat the interview like a discussion – This is a two-way conversation, not an interrogation. You should be looking forward to finding out about the organization and role as much as they are looking forward to picking the right candidate. Looking at it this way will help put you at ease and allow them to get to know you better.
2) Review your own history – specific examples and stories from your past are the best way to illustrate you know what you are talking about. It’s good to review your illustrative “stories” and have them fresh in your mind so you can call upon them on a whim. If they ask a “what would you do if…” question, try to respond with a specific example that closely relates and illustrate how you ACTUALLY did handle it, and what you learned from it.
3) Come with questions – Of course you want to know a lot about the company beforehand, but not to impress them with your ability to google. I think of at least 5 insightful questions and write them down beforehand. Remember, this is a conversation. More questions arise as our conversation progresses too, but it’s good to have a short list of relevant, probing questions. I like to ask specifically about their organizational structure, business model, how project management is viewed within the organization (who are the proponents and detractors of viewing it as a formal discipline), etc.
4) Come with at least 3 copies of a portfolio – The resume and coverletter sometimes get stripped down to ugly, malformed text by the time it gets to the hiring manager. I always bring a portfolio in a professional report cover including things like my resume and a personalized cover letter for each interviewer and 1 spare generic one in case of a last-minute addition (always ask for full names and titles when setting up the interview!). I also include letters of recommendation from previous employers/professors, a print-out of my LinkedIn.com recommendations, academic credentials if applicable, example artifacts from my previous work that are not confidential, etc.
Portfolios are custom-made for each interview and can contain very different materials. I give my portfolio to each interviewer at the end of the interview as something for them to keep that will give them an even fuller view of who I am as a candidate.
Everyone, please contribute your own comments!!!