As promised, it’s time to wrap up our discussion of how to be an interviewing rock S.T.A.R.! Last time we spoke about not underestimating the need to prepare in order to impress on interview day. Interviewing is more than showing up and dressing to impress, it’s being able to
effectively demonstrate through specific example which professional skills and successes you possess and how they will translate into a good fit for the open position. Without forethought, your ability to draw these parallels is compromised – so avoid the late term realization that “I should have told them this…” by continuing to prepare for interview success with these final must do tips:
- Prepare Questions About the Role, Training Opportunities, Career Path, Culture, Etc.: An interview should be a two way street, not just you cataloging your experiences and regurgitating facts from your resume. To understand if a role is a fit you need to ask question about the opportunity that simply aren’t in the posted job description. Like why is this position open? Is it new? Why did the last person leave? To whom or what business units are the incumbent and their subsequent work responsible? What does success look like in this role? What type of jobs do people progress to after mastering this function? Intelligent questioning not only denotes interest, but it’s the only way you can get a good picture of the opportunity and seeing if it’s a path you truly want to pursue.
- Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready: Nine out of 10 interviewers will likely open an interview with “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” Ok that’s not a scientific fact, but this lame question gets asked a lot and many people fail to provide the right type of response. No one cares if you’re a mother of two, play co-ed softball on the weekends, could cook Gordon Ramsey under the table or cosplay Dr. Who every time Comic Con comes to town. Likewise recapitulating your resume is neither the right approach. This is the time to answer with your own personal elevator pitch. Think of it as having 60 seconds to tell someone who you are professionally. And whatever you do, practice this personal elevator pitch! Why? If you don’t, I guarantee it will come out lame. Practice makes perfect, allowing you to both ace this question and line things up to highlight your aptitude for this career opportunity.
- Ready Your Game Day Gear: No you and your swanky duds are not the only thing needed at the interview! Not to be forgotten are extra copies of your resume, a pen and paper to take notes during the interview and a post-it-note with a big fat reminder to turn off your phone before the interview! Also, have directions mapped out in advance (print them out or preset your Google Maps), check traffic conditions the day of your interview and plan accordingly so you can arrive approximately 15-20 minutes early. This gives you plenty of time to fill out paperwork if necessary while not making you look desperate by showing up way too early. P.S. while you are waiting in the lobby on interview day, don’t sit around playing on your smart phone, use the last extra couple of minutes to review all this great preparation you’ve been up to!
- Practice Answering Interview Questions with the S.T.A.R. Technique: Answering question is easy if I’ve done all this preparation, right? Not necessarily, some people tend to jabber away when they are nervous or conversely clam up. To make sure you hit the mark, try using the S.T.A.R. technique to ensure you provide adequate information without going overboard when responding (by the way this is a charm for those behavioral interview questions). So in responding to questions use the following structure:
b) Action: Then progress by detailing the specific steps or actions you took to move towards the desired end goal and why this was your approach.
c) Result: Last but not least, what happened? Make sure you quantify this result and point out any lessons learned if applicable.
- Be Ready to Ask for Business Cards for the Thank You Note Follow Up: You can’t send the ever impressive (seriously, hardly anyone sends them anymore) thank you note or email if you don’t have someone’s contact information. Ask for their business card at the conclusion of your interview. And once the job selection is complete send a LinkedIn Connection invite – it’s never the wrong time to continue to grow your network! So why is this in the interview prep section? You’ll have a lot on your mind during the interview, so in your prep phase use an extra post-it-note to remind yourself to make this end of interview ask.
- Sell Yourself – There is Only One Awesome You! Did I mention that the interview is not the time to be bashful? Now I’m not saying to come off like a cocky you know what, but no one is going to sing your praises if you don’t promote your own unique skills and experiences in an interview. But have you ever noticed that some of us struggle when it comes to talking about our accomplishments in a professionally appropriate way? This is common, so what’s the cure? Preparation of course! Now that you’ve spent time reviewing your strongest skills, experiences and relevant examples, you are queued up to take the time concisely package these professional highlights for use during the interview.
Phew! I bet you didn’t realize there was so much that goes into a proper interview preparation. It’s really not as daunting as it may seem, you can truly do a thorough prep in about an hour. If you’re interviewing more frequently this process will get shorter as you become more confident and remember the best professional highlights that you want to use during subsequent interviews. The bonus to all this preparation is that you will also consequently be a much better networker. The same type of professional content and self-promotion can be used both in in-person networking events and on LinkedIn when connecting with other. Never be at a loss for words again – interview preparation really comes in handy and will help usher you into a great new career.
This blog was written by Cindy Lombardo. With nine years of experience in the staffing industry having worked in the capacities of recruitment, project management, training and marketing, Cindy currently focuses on developing and implementing digital strategies that target and attract talent across all industry sectors for both national and international employment opportunities. She is passionate about following emerging applicant trends as well as educating others about both the growing talent deficit and strategies that can drive better recruitment efficiencies and return on investment. When she’s not working on candidate marketing strategies, Cindy spends her time outside of work running a non-profit opera company, practicing judo and playing with her crazy dog Scruffy.