It is important for candidates to be prepared for the face-to-face meeting with the recruiter or the client. This is a pivotal moment in the search process. You want to be ready for the meeting, but take care. You are entering a danger zone.
Here are some important points to consider:
Do not show up for an interview without knowing something about the person who will be interviewing you. The bios of most executive recruiters are posted on the web — either on a corporate website or LinkedIn. If they do not know anything about the recruiter or the executive leading the interview, you have to question whether the candidate adequately prepares for important meetings. You may think this is a classic no-brainer, but you would be shocked at the number of candidates who know very little about the person who will be interviewing them. In a hyper-competitive job market, not taking every opportunity to get a leg up on the competition boggles the mind.
Do not try to prove that you are smarter than the person who is interviewing you. Recruiters and employers will push and probe, asking questions to see how you you react. Trying to outsmart them is your ego talking, not a candidate who is exercising good judgment. Arrogance is one of the least attractive qualities of a good leader.
Do your homework on the client, but be careful how you use that information. More than a few candidates have shot themselves in the foot by using information that is out of date or out of context.
Do practice your answers. Today, virtually every interview has the predictable core questions — from tell me about yourself, to why do you want to work for our company — job specific queries, and probes — those questions regarding job transitions, performance and subject matter expertise. Every honest candidate knows what these are and they can guess what the questions will be. Not being prepared with solid, authentic answers that have been carefully thought out is a sure way not to get chosen. Besides, it is unforgivable.
The bigger lesson is that successful careers do not happen. People achieve their goals because they establish a thoughtful career plan and execute. Hitting home runs in interviews is about executing.