The Insider Interview Prep Technique

The very best thing you can do to prepare for an interview with a specific company is to interview someone who is already on the inside. There are two basic methods of finding this person. The first is to use your network. If the interview was the result of a network contact, call to offer your thanks for helping you set up the interview, then ask for assistance in preparing for the interview. If you don't have anyone on your first level who works at the company, ask your first-level contacts if they know anyone who is working there. The second alternative is to seek out an alum. Check with either the Career Center or the Alumni Office (or both) to find out if any former grads are working at the company. The ideal is an individual who went straight out of your college into the company—the more recent, the better.

When you think you know all there is to know about the employer, you are only halfway there. Ask someone on the inside to give you a reality check.

If and when you have located this contact, call as far in advance of the interview as possible. Make sure you have done your homework so your contact doesn't have to give you all the laborious details you should already know. Ask about the person (or persons) with whom you will be interviewing. Personality? Likes? Dislikes? Any hot buttons (good or bad)? Next, ask them about the company. What are the primary issues of focus within the company? Profitability? Quality control and improvement? Global markets? Finally, ask about the interview process. What are the basic steps in the process?

Note that the range of questions you can ask this person is far greater than what you can ask in the course of the interview. And it will give you insider information that can make you a standout in the interview.