I learned recently that during an average round of golf at the professional level, the actual amount of time the golf ball is in contact with the club face is less than 2 seconds per round (sometimes less). Eighteen holes of golf with scores between 65 and 75 result in ball contact of a small amount time. Remarkable.

The same ratio of contact to length of an athletic contest likely holds true with other sports where there is an instrument striking an object (hockey, baseball, tennis immediately come to mind). Now think of all of the time these professional athletes spent over the course of their lives practicing, staying fit, coaching hours and so on to perfect, as much as possible, the technique and muscle memory to execute a swing for such a sliver of contact time.

This analogy represents the small amount of time you spend interviewing relative to the total amount of work hours over the course of your career.

Let’s do some math: Assume you work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year (2 weeks a year for vacation and personal time off). This totals 2000 hours of work time a year.

Assume that you will work for 50 years – as a society we are choosing to work longer into our lives. Therefore, your total number of career working hours is 100,000 hours. A little staggering when you think about it.

Statically speaking, the average professional could have as many as 10 jobs over the course of their career (for some it could be more, some less, but 10 is representative in today’s free agent market and it make the math work smoother).

Assume that it takes 25 hours of total interviewing time to secure a new position. This includes the interviewing process for the job you got as well as all of the positions you interviewed for that did not work out. And, we know that interviewing processes have been lengthened for a variety of reasons.

So, 10 jobs that took 25 hours of interviewing per job equals 250 hours of interviewing time over the course of your career. The ratio of 250 interviewing hours for 100,000 of career work time gets you .0025 percent. When viewed this way, those interviewing hours take on more importance. It is such a small amount of time that affects your livelihood and career enjoyment. And, we’re not done!

Consider the financial impact an outstanding interview can have on your career and personal life. Assume that you were on average able to improve your compensation by $10,000 every time you changed jobs (It is recognized that there are a plethora of circumstances that affect this generalization. There could be times when it is more or it could be less, but on average, assume an improvement of $10,000 per job change – play along with me here. It’s all to prove a point.).

So, 10 jobs over the course of your career with an increase of $10,000 equals $100,000 multiplied over a career of 50 years get you $5,000,000.

Okay, if you find yourself thinking about these numbers, the analogy, and they ways you could shoot holes in the analysis, you would be right! The numbers and the analogy are not perfect. If you thought hard enough, you could shoot as many holes in it as a block of Swiss cheese.

But, you would be missing the point! The point of the illustration is to impress upon you that interviews are critically important to your career enjoyment and financial well-being. Approaching interviews with a cavalier attitude or “flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” is professionally foolish. There’s simply too much at stake.

Therefore, when preparing for an interview, follow these simple guidelines:

1. Research the company

Learn as much as you can. Get on the company’s website and LinkedIn. Check out Glassdoor.com.

2. Research the position

Read the job description, if there is one. Call colleagues that may have useful information, especially if a colleague works for the employer you are interviewing with.

3. Research the hiring executive(s)

Get on LinkedIn and research the background of the hiring executive(s). Understand their career history and look for any common ground. Having something in common, either professionally or personally, creates personal chemistry.

4. Research the industry

This is particularly important if you are changing industries.

Research trends—these are the hot topics that are shaping and impacting the industry. What is the future outlook for the industry? Get educated.

5. Script answers

Take the time to script the answers to known or reasonably anticipated questions you will receive. Put yourself in the hiring executive’s chair and think of the likely questions you would ask and script your answers.

6. Prepare questions

Prepare questions to ask based on your research about the company, position, the hiring executive, and the executive’s area of responsibility.

7. Brush up on your interviewing and job search skills

What worked last time or “back-then” may not get you as far in getting a new job this time. Find a source of information about job searching, interviewing, and other job search topics. Read up.

When it comes to interviewing for a job, take it seriously.

Prepare!

A stellar interview performance is worth a lot of money and it means a lot to your career, your family, and you.

Written By
Brian Howard is the author of the recently released job search books, The Motivated Job Search and The Motivated Networker. He is a Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC), a Certified Job Search Strategist (CJSS), a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), an actively practicing executive recruiter.

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