Interview authentically and strategically. These are the “yin and yang” of good interviewing.
Actually, these aren’t truly opposites. The real opposite of strategy is randomness, or carelessness, which sometimes comes wrapped in the flag of “just being real.”
Many job candidates fail to be strategic. They interview in an honest and straightforward way, but without really communicating a unique selling proposition. They haven’t thought through what their key messages are, or how to convey them convincingly. That can take a lot of preparation.
Let’s say one of your key messages is that you have exceptional communication skills. Just saying “I have great communication skills” is unconvincing. Instead, demonstrate those skills by planning key talking points and stories that provide evidence. For example, you could talk about:
- The time when you diplomatically sorted out a misunderstanding and kept a client from leaving.
- The fact that you were sought out to provide coaching or training to new hires – especially if you were the only member of the team tapped for that.
- The documentation you wrote that reduced service calls 50%.
Other candidates don’t seem authentic. They give “right” answers that reflect what they believe the interviewer wants to hear, but sound over-rehearsed and make the interviewer wonder what they’re hiding. This can happen when your answers are memorized, word for word.
The best interview communication is savvy yet real.
Think through your interview answers carefully, but don’t memorize them. Instead of scripting them, write bulleted “talking points” outlines to practice with.
Be well prepared yet natural, and let the interviewer see the best of who you really are.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.