If you have an important meeting, phone call, discussion, planning session or speech to give then you have to prepare! You need to have your facts straight, your content clear and think of it like this: if you are in the spotlight then you had better know your material so well that no one can poke holes in it.
A client interview is no different. Find out as much as you can about the contract and the client before going into the interview. You need to know all of the facts about the company and avoid assumptions where possible. Your most reliable source for these facts is from people who actually work there or have first-hand experience working with the company. You need to get the inside scoop!
Who you gonna call?
The Ghost Busters probably won’t help you here. The obvious answer for the inside scoop on a client is current employees or contractors who are or who have been on assignment there. If you can’t think of anybody top-of-mind, search your LinkedIn network (if you don’t have LinkedIn, get on that today). You may be surprised to find an old colleague is currently or was recently working for the client. If you found the contract opportunity through a staffing agency, then the other perfect source for information is your Recruiter. Recruiters can often get specific answers directly from the hiring manager.
What to ask?
Now that you have found your golden contact, what do you need to know? There are two topics you want to cover: the company as a whole and the opportunity.
Knowing about the company will give you an opening conversation piece that shows that you did your homework. Even better, it will help you decide which past clients you should highlight through your interview. Some possible questions would be:
What are the current major projects/Initiative? What’s coming up?
What is the leadership team like?
What is the environment like? Is it contractor-friendly?
How many contractors do they have on-site?
Your competitors all saw the same basic job description that you saw, so it is entirely up to you to find out more information about the project. This will help you understand what kind of environment you’re going into and know which specific projects and tasks to highlight.
Who would you be working for and what is that person like?
What is the team’s mandate?
What are the challenges?
Who are the key personnel?
What’s the history of the project?
How deep do you dig inside a company before going into an interview? Do you have any other strategies?