My tips for a successful interview…Part 2. Sell yourself!
Last week I shared how to prepare for the interview day, as if career coaching one of my clients: how to research the company/interviewer and practising appropriate answers to questions they may ask. Now the interview is upon you: how should you navigate your way?
1. Make a professional and confident initial impression. Whoever comes to collect you – whether they’re on the panel or not – shake hands, greet them and say who you are. Rather than make small talk, on subjects everyone else will be chatting about, such as the weather and perhaps ‘fishing’ to find out how many others are coming to interview, say something like: “I’m really looking forward to this interview because this job/company sounds great”. This will make an impression, as it shows enthusiasm and confidence. Similarly, when you’re ushered into the interview room, greet your interviewers with a firm handshake and your name. Repeat their names as they’re introduced: “Nice to meet you, Graham”. This will help you remember their names. For more tips on remembering names, see my earlier post.
2. ” Tell us a little about yourself.” A typical first question, and, from the interviewer’s point of view, it’s an easy one to start the conversation. Is it as good for you? Yes: as I tell all my career coaching clients, it’s an absolute gift of an opportunity. Don’t be tempted to talk about your personal or family circumstances; add this answer to the ones you rehearse beforehand, and include what you deem to be the top three attributes the successful applicant must have. Let’s say these are delivering results, managing a virtual team and project management. You would therefore say something like: ”I could tell you lots of things, but let me highlight just three things:
Firstly, I have a track record in my current post for consistently delivering results. Secondly, I have 10 years’ experience of managing virtual teams, and thirdly, I’ve managed multiple simultaneous projects, in budget and on schedule.”
As you say firstly, secondly, thirdly, count this off on your fingers to add even more impact. Physically delivering your points – in answers, speeches or presentations – is a well known method for increasing impact and memorability. Remember Tony Blair? “Education, education, education…”
3. We’ve already covered the CAR format, which you will have used to structure your answers. Tell me about a time when you…..What did you do…..What happened as a result……
Notice the question is in three parts. Another reason why I prefer CAR to the alternative STAR format: you’ll know when your answer is complete, I.e. “When I managed ABC team, I did XYZ and, as a result, QRS happened”. As soon as you’ve told them the results of your actions, your answer is complete.
Don’t be unnerved, if faced with enquiring looks for more detail, and equally, don’t be afraid to change their question to suit your preferred format. For example, if the panel ask a hypothetical question such as “What would you do if a member of your team wasn’t performing”, say, “Well, let me tell you about an instance where that actually happened: when I managed ABC team, I did XYZ and, as a result, QRS happened.”
4. Any questions? With this, the panel are signalling that the interview is almost over. I’d recommend you steer clear of questions to do with holidays, salary, and so on (you can find this information out later, if you’re invited to a final interview, or if they offer you the post); use this time for the following:
- Firstly – just like any other sale, you have an opportunity to invite any objections. “Before we finish the interview, are there any question marks in your mind about my suitability for this post?” This sounds brave, I know, but the good thing about asking this question is that it gives you the opportunity to address any lingering questions or concerns.
- Secondly – end on a high. Say something like “I realise we’re almost out of time; however, I would like to raise one question with you: I’ve heard some great things about this company and I’m really keen to join…what would you say are the best things about working here?”
5. Close, and follow up. Thank the panel as you shake their hands; tell them how much you’ve enjoyed meeting them and that you really appreciate the opportunity. When you get home, follow up by email to reiterate how much you enjoyed the interview, and that you’re even more interested in the post/company. Say that you look forward to hearing from them. This is important: it conveys how positive you are. The panel may have you level-pegging with one other candidate who seems equally suitable following their interview. This might just give you an edge.
There will be many reasons why the interviewers pick the successful candidate, and some may be subconscious ones that even they don’t know. If you find that you were unsuccessful, don’t let it put you off either reapplying for another position within that company, or for alternative roles elsewhere. Work through the same process as described in my last four blog posts and you will succeed.
For career coaching, CV evaluation and feedback on your presentation – and more – contact me on 01302 220221.
Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for use of the images.
- Posted in: Career Coaching ♦ Executive Coaching
- Tagged: CAR format, career coaching, CV evaluation, CV template download, executive coaching, interview preparation, making an impression in an interview, selling yourself in an interview, structured answers in interview, successful interview technique