Preparing for job interviews? Let’s assume you need no advice about grooming, being punctual or turning off your cell phone. Beyond those basics, here are the main things you need to do:
- Study up, don’t just wing it. Prepare well in advance, as soon as you start your job search. Review typical interview questions you find on the internet, as well as questions you can anticipate by looking at job postings, and plan your answers. Create minimalistic “talking points” outlines, not word-for-word scripts that will make you sound over-rehearsed. Do mock interviews with a friend or an interview coach, and get honest feedback about everything from your body language and appearance to the your specific answers.
- Know your “key selling points.” What is it about you that stands out, that makes you the right candidate for this job? Clues: What have others said about your work in performance reviews, LinkedIn recommendations or other kudos? What have your employers especially appreciated about you? What qualifications do you have that are hard to find?
- Use every answer (and the questions you ask) to get those key selling points across and show you’re the one. Stay on message. Don’t just answer questions as if you’re filling out a form. “Don’t just tell, sell!”
- Find the pain. Before and during the interview, determine what problems the business has that you can help solve. Ask what challenges the team is facing and what gives the hiring manager headaches (figuratively or literally). Relate your skills and accomplishments to these challenges.
- Hear the “questions behind the questions.” Example: “Describe your ideal boss.” Does the interviewer really want to know your preferences in supervisors, so they can coach your future boss on your care and feeding? Not likely! They want to know that you will adapt successfully to the imperfect human being who is going to be your boss. Make sure your answer speaks to that underlying concern.
- Go for dialogue, not monologue. When you’re talking, pause now and then, allow the interviewer to interject, and/or check in with a question like, “Am I covering what you wanted to know?”
If you’ve got an interview coming up, work on these six points now. Next week: tips 7-12, which are just as crucial to getting that job offer!