You’ve spent hours, days combing through your CV and painstakingly you have read it through so many times you are sick of reading another word about your achievements and how you are a “highly skilled multi-tasker”.
You have littered countless job roles with your treasured CV – so many ‘nos’, so many “you aren’t the right candidate at this time” but then you get that interview! It’s a step up – a higher salary, a great role with fantastic prospects…even the opportunity to work flexibly! The holy grail!
While you are doing a happy dance in your head thoughts quickly turn to the interview – Now you have to think on your feet and perform! You need to get in there and show them who you are and that you are the best candidate for the role.
It’s nerve-racking and let’s face it we are never that great at selling ourselves. No one wants to put themselves on a platform and be judged. Interviewing is like The X factor. Two people sitting opposite you – judging you on a 60 minute performance. One always pretending to be Simon Cowell and playing bad cop while the other seems like Cheryl / Nicole – good cop and trying to make you feel at ease.
The thing to remember with any interview is that it is a two-way street. They need to sell the job to you just as much as you need to sell your abilities to them. There is no point pretending to be the perfect candidate because a) usually most people can see through it and b) you start the job – then what? It’s only a finite amount of time before they discover the real you and then you look like a fraud.
So tip number 1: Be Yourself!
I am not saying you need to be your usual Saturday-night-with-your-friends ‘self’ but your professional work self. Keep a level of professionalism at all times but also keep your personality and if you don’t like wearing a suit to work – don’t apply for a job where you need to wear a suit and tie. If the same vein, if you don’t like to work in the office Monday-Friday, 9-5 then look for a job that offers some flexibility. DO NOT WORK SOMEWHERE THAT DOESN’T FIT WITH WHAT YOU WANT FROM A JOB!
2. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
Ever wanted something really badly like learning to drive? Then decided to book the test / exam without revising or practising? If so, what was the outcome?
If you really want this job – which I should hope so give that you applied for it (more on that another time). Then you need to research the company, research the job role and really look at what you can bring to the role as well as what the role can bring to you. You need to know what the company does, what their website looks like and use the ‘news’ function on google to find out what has been happening recently. It sets a great tone when you can mention a recent senior hire they have made, a project they have just won or completed or even an award they have just been nominated for.
3. Tell me about yourself
I love this question but how many people fall over when asked to talk about themselves. Do you have an elevator pitch? Mine is that “I am a career success coach, helping ambitious professionals transform their future.” I then can go on and tell them more if I need to, I can say “I have over 6 years of experience in professional services and that over the past 3 years I have helped over 100 professionals find success in their lives and careers.”
This is what you need, a tagline of your career, followed by a summary of what you have done. Look through your CV and sum it up. If you have 3 years of experience in marketing then start with that then discuss the disciplines you have learnt and follow up with a result – what big project have you recently completed?
This is usually asked at the beginning of the interview so start thinking about it now. This is also the same tagline you can use at networking events or whenever you meet someone for the first time and they ask what you do. Once you have this nailed you have a fantastic opener and you can start confident.
4. Be a STAR!
Heard of the STAR method? I hear groans everywhere but whether you love it or hate it you need to accept it is a great way to showcase what you do! I usually take a notebook into the interview with me with a couple of STAR examples. It means that I have really thought about a few case studies to showcase my experience. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. My go-to’s are a difficult client, a difficult work colleague, working in a team, communicating to a global audience, writing skills, influencing management but you can write STAR for anything really. You talk about the situation you were in, what you were asked to do / thought would work for the business, what you did and what the result was.
5. Difficult questions
How many times have you been in an interview – it’s all going well…possibly too well…then you get the question that knocks you over, you didn’t see it coming, you start sweating and your brain starts running at a million miles a second. You know the answer but you don’t know how to articulate it – you haven’t prepped this!!
Now this does go back to preparation but really these are questions that are there to throw you on purpose to see how you respond. These are questions such as, why should we hire you? Why are you leaving your old company? Why do you have gaps on your CV? What do you dislike about your current / old job? What would your best friend say about you? What would your worst enemy say about you?
These questions are a test – sure! But they are also there for the potential employer to get to know you better. So have fun with them – think about the questions and be ready. You may never get them in the interview but at least you have them Just. In. Case.
Better to be prepared!
I hope this helps with your preparation for the next interview. If you want more then join our ambitious community in the Future You – Life + Career Goals Facebook Group. A fantastic hub for goal-getters looking to transform their future.