The One Document To Write Before Every Interview
Yes, you should have a CV, and yes, it should match the job specification you are responding to, but there is another document that everyone should write before going in for an interview. It is this document which will set you apart as a candidate and will clarify your thinking.
Let's call this document 'Why I would like to join you'. It is the culmination of all of the research you have done into the firm. It will no doubt impress the interviewer with your level of knowledge and the work that you have put into your interview prep. The interviewer will be on the lookout for genuine enthusiasm for the firm and what it stands for. This document will force you to do the work and will address four main issues:
What I know about you and the job. Here, you write for yourself a summary of the research that you have done on the firm. This will cover the mission, culture, brand, financials, news, ownership and the firm's performance relative to its competitors in the market, as well as its products and services. There is likely to be a great deal of information in the public domain and you can go further by talking to people who used to work at the firm if this is an option.
Why this firm and not their competition. In answering this question, you will be able to display your ability for critical thinking and your knowledge of the industry in which your target firm operates. You will need to be able to answer this question without being unfair to the competitors, but you will also need to highlight the differences between the firms.
In what ways do I match with what they are looking for. This assumes that you are in an interview process and you have a copy of the job spec, have been briefed by a recruiter, or you are working from what an ad described as the job requirements. In addition, you are still at an exploratory phase as you write this paragraph because you will only get a real grasp of what they are looking for once you have met them. Take their key requirements and match them with your value offers.
In what ways does this job and firm match with what I want. This will require you to have thought through carefully the elements of the work environment and job specifics that you are looking for. You can then, with the information that you have so far, write where there is a match and importantly where you lack data. This is crucial as it will enable you to prepare what questions you will pose to your interviewers.
Clarity is a powerful thing and writing these four paragraphs is a great way to collect your thoughts, and discipline your thinking and preparation for the interview at hand.