Interested in FREE career advice and worksheets?
Right up there with public speaking, interviewing for a new job can elevate the nerves of even the calmest among us. As is common with all things, it helps to understand motivation. In other words, what is the interviewer looking for? They are considering many things that add up to their bottom line for hiring. Chief among them: Can this person do the job? What kind of value is this person bringing to the company? Additionally, they are wondering how long will it take for this person to get up to speed? Will this individual fit in with our company and culture? They are also wondering if they can afford to pay you what you are seeking. Be sure and always save the “pay conversation” for the negotiating period, not the initial interview(s).
We are all adjusting to a new normal with the coronavirus pandemic and interviewing is no exception. Virtual interviews are now the norm so you should be prepared for this new reality. Make sure your space for interviewing is free from distractions. Do a video check and make sure your camera and audio are working. If you have never communicated via your computer before, practice with a friend or work colleague.
Evaluate Company/Position Fit
We don’t often think like this but we should be interviewing the company as well. Is this a job I would enjoy doing? Does this company fit with my values and overall vision? Would I fit into the company culture? Do the day-to-day tasks play more to my professional strengths and less to my weaknesses?
If over fifty percent of the job tasks are going to fall under your “weakness attributes” even if you can perform them well chances are you are setting yourself up for burnout if you accept such a position. Pursue jobs that play to your strengths. There will always be aspects of jobs you are not crazy about but it shouldn’t involve the majority of your work.
When it comes to interviewing, preparedness is key. The more one prepares the more likely you are to shine and be ready for curveballs that may be thrown your way. Research the position and the company thoroughly so you can demonstrate your interest and commitment by being prepared to answer and ask questions that are relevant to their organization. This kind of preparedness will set you apart from other candidates.
Most interviews open with the softball question: “Tell me about yourself.” They are interested primarily in your professional life so you don’t have to worry about relaying the time your fourth-grade softball team won the championship. You should be ready and willing to go with your “elevator pitch.”
Effective Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch, as known as an elevator speech, is a brief synopsis of who you are, what you do and what you are looking for. It’s called an elevator pitch because it should be short enough to fit into a ride to the 15th floor. This keeps you focused on the best way to share your expertise and credentials quickly and effectively with people who don’t know you.
This short speech is designed to introduce yourself to career and business professionals in a compelling way. An elevator pitch is your chance to brag a little but be sure to do it without sounding boastful. A good example of an effective elevator pitch is “I’m a software engineer who specializes in the medical field. I help doctors who treat different types of cancer. I have been working in the medical field for ten years and am now interested in expanding into the financial sector.” Practice your elevator pitch but try and make sure it doesn’t sound too rehearsed.
S.O.A.R. Story Vignettes
What exactly should you be practicing? Career Strategist Ronda Ansted, at Be the Change Career Consulting (https://www.bethechangecareers .com) lays out the concept that you should be practicing three to five different vignettes for your interview. A vignette is an example of a work place situation or problem you have overcome for a previous employer that has added value to their organization.
In order to construct your vignette, you need to answer the following questions laid out by Ronda Ansted’s S.O.A.R. method. The S.O.A.R. method involves explaining S, which equals the Situation you found yourself in with a particular challenge. The O in S.O.A.R. means extrapolating the Obstacle you are faced with and the A in S.O.A.R. stands for the Action you took to resolve the Obstacle. The R in S.O.A.R, finally, stands for the Result of all these steps, preferably explained in a way that favorably quantifies the result you are explaining.
An effective example of S.O.A.R. is: “I was an outside salesperson for ABC company and I had just taken over a sales territory which was underperforming. There weren’t enough productive zip codes to support this particular area. Next, I conducted marketing research on some nearby unassigned zip codes. I was able to ascertain they would have a substantial positive impact on my sales results if added to my territory. I presented this idea to management and they approved adding them to my territory. This resulted in a 35% sales revenue increase over the next six months and provided me the greenlight to be in the Achievers Club of my company which involves representatives who make at least 115% or more of their sales quota.”
Having three to five of the vignettes will help create a narrative of why you are a competent, results-driven candidate who provides value to an organization. Including details about how you navigated your company policies and relationships can illustrate how well you work in a given company and team environment. The more time you invest in creating and practicing out loud in front of a mirror and try them on a support person the more prepared and confident you will feel going into your interview.
Common Interview Questions
Questions vary in interviews but two of the staples are “What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Make sure your strengths dovetail with the major requirement of your desired position and make sure your weaknesses are not key components of the job and frame them in a way that shows you have found solutions to make them work.
For example, you might say you get somewhat overwhelmed when you have a lot of things thrown at you at once but you’ve learned to be flexible and how to prioritize items with the help of technology. For example, using a group calendar and project software that allows you to fill in a to-do task list and deadlines.
There are many resources on the Internet that provide commonly asked questions in an interview. The following link provides a list of these (https://www.themuse.com/advice/interview-questions-and-answers). Review the list and be prepared for the top ten questions you feel would be most likely asked in your interview.
Practice, practice, practice
Part of an effective interview is practicing and rehearsing your answers to potential questions. A lot of rehearsal should take place before you practice with a friend, relative or colleague. You want your answers to sound confident and coherent but not monotone and over rehearsed. The trick to doing this is practicing to the point where you feel as if you have over practiced. Because you haven’t. It’s a good idea to practice the answers and vignettes you have been working on down to the point where you can relate them in a modulated, semi-spontaneous way. The best way to manage this type of delivery is to know your material so cold you can explain it in a relaxed enthusiastic way.
You have the interview lined up and that is exciting.
In order to nail it you have:
By engaging in this thorough interview preparation process, you will now find yourself confident and ready to take on your exciting job interview. As the old adage goes: “The world is your oyster.” And, you are a now a seafood connoisseur.