Interviewing: how to talk like a grown up
I've posted before on interviewing, but I'll share a few extra practical tips that I presented at a lecture I gave this week. 1) Keep your communication "authentic." That means you need to have done several bits of homework before the interview, including: a) Having re-written your CV/Resume with a preliminary "profile" section that gives one bullet to each of your major skill sets. In essence, each of these is a fundamental "I am" sentence. For instance, my own CV/Resume profile states:
● Executive Director--far exceeding sales and net income goals--for a nationally recognized legal services and legal recruiting company. ● Legal Recruiter and Manager of recruiters for a worldwide direct hire firm. ● Counselor and career coach to 100's of highly successful professionals in all fields of practice. ● Prolific author on professional development issues in the law and in business. ● 27 years experience as a motivational public speaker and educator.
b) Ensuring that you are able to articulate, by virtue of exploration of your profile statements and your supporting illustrative stories, what YOU can BRING to the job, the company, the organization. Don't make the interview guess what your strengths are: TELL THEM.
c) Ensure that you have thought through what your abilities and limitations are. In brief: You must "be somebody"--Otherwise you are "nobody." I've said that before but it bears repeating. You CANNOT go into an interview saying things like "I'm extremely adaptable," "I'm a hard worker," "I can learn new things quickly." YAWN.
d) You must have marshaled your success stories (Um, the ones on your RESUME!), as well as others. This way you ALWAYS have a way to answer all those dratted but now universally used "behavioral questions."
2) Keep your statements concise. No one particular sentence needs to be "short." However, the more you've done your above "homework," the better you will be able to communicate your abilities, questions and desires cogently, concisely, without RAMBLING. DON'T make the interviewer try to parse out your meaning. Tell them your conclusions about yourself, then tell little vignettes that DEMONSTRATE what you can do.
3) Try to remember that this is a DIALOGUE. Listen closely to the questions: answer them precisely, but always ensure that you are flavoring the discussion with your own "bullet points." Also, remember that at the beginning of the interview, YOU should be doing approximately 80% of the talking; the second half should be more like 40/60 to the interviewer: And YOUR input should be more stories, and QUESTIONS. Pertinent questions (NOT ABOUT SALARY OR BENEFITS--sheesh!), about what they are looking for, what has worked for them in the past, what their dreams are for growth, etc., etc.--ensuring of course that your questions make sense and are rooted specifically in statements made in their website or in their news releases. Do NOT quote outside sources--they may be sensitive about what OTHERS have said about them.
4) Stay calm. Never be afraid to take time to think. If you get a "toughie," acknowledge that, and then do your best to work through it.
5) Somewhat out of order: If there is something about your physical appearance (permanent or temporary) that is really standing out like a sore thumb, acknowledge it with humor, and move on. Stating the obvious about yourself will help the listener's observation feel validated, so he or she is then ready to LISTEN to you. If you fail to do that, the interview may be thinking the ENTIRE time, "What a mess his hair is!" "Why is he white as a ghost--is he sick?"
6) Remember, the ONLY way to judge the success of an interview is whether or not you delivered your "pitch." THE ONLY WAY. It doesn't matter how well the "rapport" is going. That can be a real trap. I won't give my full song on dance on that score, but just follow the advice.
7) Oh. And I always think that a nice sense of humor is great, BUT DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TELL A JOKE. For crying out loud. The stories are ALL supposed to be about your accomplishments.