After hours of scouring job listings, milking your rolodex, proofreading cover letters, and tweaking your resume, you’ve finally obtained a coveted job interview! Considering how competitive today’s marketplace is, it feels as though a minor miracle has taken place. But now that you’re in the door, what steps can you take to maximize your chances of securing employment?
To start, think of an interview not as a question and answer session, but rather a platform for you to convey your life story. The interviewer’s questions merely provide context for your compelling narrative. So, the key to success is to prepare your story for as wide a range of questioning as you can. Here are a few key preparation principles to help you succeed:
Conduct your research
The first step in preparing any story is research. Make sure you know as much as possible about the company and people conducting the interview. Familiarize yourself with the company’s past, present and future, the ins-and-outs of the position that you seek, and why the job is currently available. Great sleuthing tools include Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Now make a list of your discoveries and pair them up with personal characteristics and achievements. Use this list to craft 8-10 poignant excerpts from your life story. As a general example, if the job calls for leadership skills then you should prepare a leadership narrative. If the job requires selling skills create a sales story. The more specific your story is to the job requirement, the better.
Complete a self-analysis
Next, take your list of job characteristics and apply them to the questions below. Remember, these are simply providing you context.
· Why do you want this job?
· How is your work history applicable to this position?
· What makes you the best candidate?
· What are your strengths and weaknesses?
· What example can you offer of your ability to work effectively with a team?
· What is your biggest success and failure?
And don’t forget to prepare 3-4 questions to ask at the end of your interview. After all, you need to know for certain that you want to give your time and energy to this company.
Control your physical and vocal presentation
Keep in mind that the way you present your life story is equally as important as the anecdotes themselves. Practice your stories in the mirror or with a friend. Use confident body language. Sit-up straight, smile, gesture openly, look your interviewer in the eyes, do not fidget, and firmly shake hands before and after the interview.
While rehearsing the physical aspects of storytelling, you should also focus on vocal resonance and articulation. Tape record your responses (or leave yourself a voicemail) and listen for any quivering in the tone of your voice. Speak slowly and thoughtfully. Count the number of times you say “umm,” “like,” and “you know.” If you find yourself repeating these non-words, don’t get discouraged. Some of our most well known public figures are um-offenders as well.
Finally, make sure to send a thank-you note or email shortly after the interview, and follow up a week later by phone.
If you follow the steps above, your life story could very well land you the job of your dreams!
Here’s a helpful webinar: