Heads up on the interview panel: use it or lose it

Sometimes when you are called for interview, you will be given the names of the interview panel. This is very common in the public sector, but also happens in the private sector from time to time. But, what should you do with this information? Plenty, writes SABINA TRENCH, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

As you are studying away and preparing for your interview, you get an email to let you know the names on the interview panel. Aargh, information overload. However, this information could be the very thing to set you apart from everyone else, and you really need to make the most of it. So, here’s what you do...

Google – get on it, and Google each one to see who they are, where they are from, and their background details. For example, are they an employee of the company, a board member, or a director? Maybe they are a complete outsider, and that’s good to know too. You need to find out where the person is coming from professionally and what level of knowledge they may have of the organisation and/or the role.

LinkedIn – see if you can get some more detail on their profile, previous roles held, articles written or even where they went to college. Establish their particular area of expertise by checking out their endorsements from their LinkedIn network.

The purpose of this exercise is also to identify any commonalities and opportunities for you to refer to some of this information at interview (as long as it is relevant ). A word of warning though, they may get a notification that you have viewed their LinkedIn profile. So make sure that your profile is up to scratch, as they may decide to review you too.

Connecting the dots – with the information you have unearthed, it is now important for you to identify where some of it could be weaved into your interview. For example, maybe you did the same college course, what about that great project they oversaw that you could replicate in this job, or even some common professional connections you may share with one or more on the panel.

Use it – when you get to interview, make sure you use this information to best effect. If you are referring to one of the panel’s previous companies or successes, make sure you let them know where you got this information. It’s a good indication of your deep level of pre-interview research and preparation, and something that not all candidates will do.

Professional not personal – When you are doing your detective work, what if you come up with something more personal? My advice is to keep it to yourself. You are only looking for professionally-related information and leads.

If their Facebook settings are not as strict as they should be, and you get an insight into their Saturday night shenanigans, that’s their business. One thing it does show, however, is that we are all human.

Those people on the other side of the table are ordinary people like you and me, neither to be feared or (too highly ) revered. And maybe that in itself might be the main thing worth learning in this whole exercise.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Westport ), Limerick, Sligo, Enniscrone and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway

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