We may be in a recession but there are still job opportunities around.  In the past few months I have coached many clients as they prepare for job interviews or promotion boards.  For this Newsletter therefore I thought I would share with you some of my top interview tips.  What tip would you offer to those lucky enough to have a job interview?  I would love to hear from you.

1.       Mindset.  First I suggest you make the shift from thinking about the interview as a performance or test to thinking about it as having a conversation.  ‘Re-framing’ the interview in this way will change your mindset.  You will give yourself permission to behave differently – more relaxed, confident and at ease.

2.        The Power of Three.  There are three things you need to prove in an interview:

  • That you have the skills and experience for the job
  • That you want the job i.e. you have the motivation
  • That you are a good fit for the culture

For every job that you consider applying for, ask yourself, ‘How do I rate myself on a scale of 1 – 10 for a) skills b) motivation and c) fit?’  If you score less than 10, what action could you take to raise your score?

3.       Do Your Homework.  Before the interview – get to grips with the job description and ensure you stack up evidence of achievements against each criterion/competence:

  • Collect quantitative data about the organisation – history, structure, accounts, competitors etc.  Also gather qualitative information e.g. culture, reputation, career paths
  • Find out about the nature of the interview and about the panel
  • Use your network to help you gather this information and to dig underneath the job description and person specification to seek out who and what they are really looking for.

4.       Personal Checklist:

  • Identify three key things you want the interview panel to remember about you –the essence of your personal brand
  • Identify three things you want to know about the job –research these before the interview if you can to gauge whether the job really is a good fit for you
  • Write down the three questions you most dread – your blind spots.  What in your CV are your potential weak areas?  Now prepare answers to deal with these –for example identifying any compensating experience or skills.

5.       On The Day:

  • Dress professionally, and fairly neutrally, in something that makes you feel good, that reflects your brand and yet fits the culture of the organisation
  • Remember you are being watched as soon as you walk through the door, however informal the interview.  Secretaries or support staff may be asked how you treated them – so be friendly, professional and polite – to everyone!

6.       Have your Elevator Pitch ready – have in your head a few words on:

  • Who you are and where you are now – the essence of your brand
  • Where you have come from – your track record
  • Where you want to go – why you want the job and are a good fit for it.

7.        The Interview Exchange:

  • Remember you are in charge – it’s a conversation about you
  • Listen carefully and answer the question
  • But steer it back to your strengths
  • If they do not appear to be good interviewers you might wish to help them e.g. ‘would it help at this point for me to tell you about my experience as…’
  • Include stories – bring to life your CV.  Offer a summary – allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions.  Don’t give lengthy responses to every question
  • Acknowledge any gaps or weaknesses – be honest if you were out of work and, if you don’t fit the specification exactly, be ready with any semi-relevant experience.

8.       After the interview

  • Whilst not generally appropriate for internal interviews, in other cases I recommend sending a short customised follow-up note.  Say thank you for the interview and why you are uniquely qualified for the role.
  • If you decide you don’t want the job, say so sooner rather than later
  • And whether or not you get the job, take any opportunity to get full feedback and use this to reflect on what you can learn from the experience.

If you would like further assistance with a forthcoming job interview, need help with a major leadership or life transition, or feel the time is right to step back and take stock of your career, you might consider working with a professional coach.  For a free informal chat about coaching with Pathway mail me at [email protected] or complete the enquiry form