Career Strategy 6: Effective Interviewing

Great Job! Your Job Search Strategy is paying off. You’ve been invited for an in-person interview. Now, here is where you have to really shine. At this point, they want you. The job is there for the taking. To successfully cross this finish line, you need a strategy. Here is what I recommend:

  1. Prepare sufficiently beforehand
  2. Show confidence
  3. Be your best self
  4. Maintain honesty
  5. Tell great, short stories
  6. Ask real questions
  7. Show your interest
  8. Determine cultural fit

Preparation

The recruiter will often send you a list of who you will be meeting with. Take the time to do research on the people, the company, and the position. When you spoke with the recruiter previously, you should have received a solid understanding of how the position fits in the company. You can learn about the company through the website, the news, or by reaching out directly to people within the company. You can find information about the people on LinkedIn.

I like to write up specific questions for each of those people and say their names over and over in my head so that when I meet them, I am ready to have engaging conversations.

Additionally, you should have a great answer prepared for all the standard interview questions. They may try to surprise you with something unexpected, but most questions follow the standard list.

Confidence

There is a difference between confidence and cockiness. You don’t want to be the guy who assumes he has the job and speaks down to people he meets with. You do want to be the person who smiles, shakes hands, and carries on an intelligent conversation without stumbling over his words.

Stand up straight, look people in the eye, and smile.

Be your Best Self

You need to be yourself, but you want to be your best self. Let your personality shine through, but if you have traits that rub people the wrong way, do what you can to keep those in check. Ask a friend or family member what you do that can irritate people, and they will be happy to share it with you.

Honesty

Don’t make up stories or lie about your qualifications. I know managers whose number one criterion for hiring people is whether they can be trusted. People can tell if you are making things up, and it will get you a pass right out the door.

Tell great, short stories

Some questions lead you to tell a great true story. We as humans love stories. Take your answers to the above standard questions and add in a story when you overcame hardships, were successful at your job, or helped someone out.

Keep it short, but try to get them to feel something; success, overcoming odds, compassion. These are all great elements for a good story.

Ask Real Questions

In your planning beforehand, write out questions that you want to understand before you join the company. Here are some good ones:

  1. I like what I have seen so far about the team, what is your vision for where it is going?
  2. How does this job fit into the bigger picture for the company?
  3. How can I be successful quickly at this job? What types of people have succeeded here?
  4. Is there anything you wish you knew before you started here that would have helped you?

Tailor it to the interviewer. Bring up things from earlier in the conversation and try to dig a little deeper into it. (EX: I like your vision. How does my role fit into it?)

You don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. It should feel like a natural discussion where you are going back and forth and building rapport. (Some companies require a canned list of interview questions so you may have to hold your questions.)

Show Genuine Interest

Throughout the interview, show interest in the position. Interviewing is like dating. The hiring manager doesn’t want to commit to you if they feel like you aren’t even interested in the position. Say “Wow, this looks like a great position. I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

As the interview ends, you can even say, “I would love working here, and I feel like I’m a great fit. I look forward to continuing the conversation.”

Determine your Cultural Fit

When you leave the interview, think back on your time with them.

  • Did you like the people you spoke with?
  • Would you be able to work well with these people?
  • Does the position seem like it has growth potential?
  • Does your manager care about the success of their team?

The role may not have everything you want, and that is ok. You want to go into the role with full knowledge of what to expect.

Good luck on your interviewing! Let me know how it goes.

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