Let’s check your interview skills. Chances are good you’re not doing all of the following. Are you…
…emphasizing your key selling points?
Do you know the top 3-5 facts about you that are most likely to make you stand out from the competition?
Clue: They aren’t basic requirements like having the required number of years of experience (unless that’s truly hard to find in your field), or having outstanding ethics (which is essential but assumed). A key selling point is something more, better or remarkable – the things job postings sometimes list as “desirable” but not required, or that special talent you were known for at your last job.
Or sometimes it’s just being a “purple squirrel,” that rare candidate who matches an unusual or exhaustive set of qualifications.
Once you know what makes you stand out, make a point of emphasizing it throughout the interview, especially at the beginning when the interviewer says something like “Tell me about yourself.”
…backing up intangible claims with evidence?
An interviewer will probably believe you when you say you have a master’s degree (although they’ll also do a background check). But they can’t take your word for it when you talk about your skills – especially those intangible soft skills like communication.
Don’t just claim it – prove it, demonstrate it. Refer to LinkedIn recommendations or letters of recommendation that vouch for it. And of course, a good example or story helps make any claim more believable.
…coming to the interview with plenty of stories?
I often encounter job seekers who feel they’re all set because they have five good stories about their accomplishments. Not enough! In a behavioral interview you could go through all five in the first 10 minutes. And what if there are multiple interviews?
This is a time-consuming but crucial part of your interview preparation. List and rehearse at least a dozen stories, preferably far more. Think SOAR: Situation, Obstacles, Actions and Results.
Mini-quiz: Which two of those four parts do you think most people neglect?
…being very specific about results?
Bingo. Most job seekers short-change themselves by neglecting to say enough about the results of their work: that the project was successful, that it saved money or time (how much?), that the boss loved it, or that their solution was copied in other departments. Be very complete about this – it’s the juiciest part of the story!
…telling how you overcame obstacles?
Let’s say you thought up a better process and you launched it with X marvelous results. Great. Was it easy? If you had to deal with huge resistance from staff, a ridiculously aggressive deadline or a shoestring budget, say so – and describe the skillful way you overcame the difficulties.
Do you digress, repeat yourself or waste time on unimportant details that don’t add value? (If you’re not sure, record a mock interview and listen to yourself – or work with an interview coach.) Overcome rambling tendencies by planning out the key points of your answers to likely questions.
…asking good questions?
When the interviewer asks “What questions do you have for me?”, you must have several good questions to ask that show that you’ve done your homework and have a serious interest in the job. You need to prepare about 10 good questions (written on a notepad or memorized), because several of them will probably be answered before you get a chance to ask.
…(at least) 100% ready to wow them?
Employers expect dedication. They’re looking for star employees who go above and beyond what’s required. Be more prepared than the competition. Nail every detail. Know more about the company and its environment. (Do your research not just online but by word of mouth as well. That takes time, and it’s one reason why you want to identify target companies and have these conversations in advance.)
Is there something extra you can offer to bring – a portfolio, a presentation? Some executive candidates prepare a 30/60/90-day plan to show how they would add value quickly after hire. What will you do to show you’re more motivated than the rest?
How many of these interview skills are you consistently applying? Nail them all and your job interviews will start resulting in offers. It’s challenging, I know! If you’d like an expert partner in all this, contact me. Interview coaching is an investment that pays off generously in career success.