It's just talking, right? But it feels like I'm talking to strangers when I'm in an interview. And the pressure mounts even more when there's not one interviewer but three or four!
And some of the questions they ask ... today they are not the typical ones you see online. Sometimes they throw me off my game and ask questions that really seem to require only a one-word answer.
And what about when they ask about weaknesses? I know you're supposed to turn it into a positive, but how does that work?
Oh! And follow-up questions. Sure, I can ask "What is a typical day like in this position?" or "Why do you like working here?" but what else can I ask that will make me sound like the one to hire?
These are the sentiments I've heard from professionals in recent weeks, and I want you to know one thing: I've got you covered. Check out 7 tips that are partially rooted in my philosophy on effective presentation skills because ... well ... an interview is you presenting on the best topic ever, yourself! This is how you show them you are an all-star and that you are unequivocally THE ONE to add to their team!
1. If they are not provided to you when the interview is initially arranged, request the names of the people who will be interviewing you. This way you can conduct a search, see pictures of them beforehand, and learn as much as you can about them (even if it’s just a few small details such as where they went to college or what previous positions they’ve held). Additionally, it doesn’t feel like they are total strangers when you walk into the interview, which can take some of the pressure and anxiety off you because now it feels more like you are sitting across from people you know or have seen before.
2. Use LinkedIn to your advantage. First, peruse your interviewers’ profiles. And if they do not have LI profiles, then check out Facebook. A simple Google search will reveal so much about a person. If you sense a lull in the interview or if you’re looking for an interesting way to start the conversation or end it, you can always pull from a little something from one of the profiles, e.g. “Oh! You’re from Michigan?! I used to have some cousins who lived in Sterling Heights, just north of downtown Detroit! What do you miss about Michigan? What brought you to California?” Second, create your own professional LinkedIn profile. People will learn about you online before they learn about you in person - social and professional acquaintances alike. Do not over-extend yourself with creating a profile right away - for instance, in time for an interview, but do put it at the top of your list of priorities. Your LinkedIn profile will position you to demonstrate yourself as an expert and as one who is in-the-know in his/her industry. Viewers can see what and who you follow and that you are abreast of industry trends and relevant names and companies in your profession. They can see the articles you post, the education you've attained, and matters that are important to you. To find the top profiles in your industry, which are the profiles that are most searched, use this link and plug in your title: www.linkedin.com/title/[YOUR TITLE] For instance, if you want to see the top 25 profiles in banking on LinkedIn, then you visit www.linkedin.com/title/banker And here's a great resource for creating your profile.
3. As you discuss yourself, use some of the same language in the job description, and always give examples to support your answers. If the description is looking for a self-starter, then say you’re a self-starter and give examples of instances where you took the initiative. When asked a closed-ended question, answer with “yes” or “no,” then follow-up with why the answer is a “yes” or a “no.” For instance, if you're asked if you use a calendar, sure, that sounds like an open-and-shut answer. The answer is "yes." However, you need to make the listener BELIEVE you use a calendar; as such, a better answer is "Yes, I use a calendar. I particularly like using it to schedule follow-up calls and appointments. That way, no one falls through the cracks. After I conclude calls or meetings, I put a quick note into my calendar on the date I promised to follow-up with the caller or meeting attendees." (And for kicks and giggles, I'll provide a recent example I used with a colleague: If asked “Do you exercise?” I can respond with “Yes, I exercise” or “Yes, I exercise, and some of my favorite exercises are burpees, sit-ups, and lunges!” The second response sounds more believable. Whether it's true or not, she sounds like she actually goes to the gym!)
4. Spend more time on how you improved than the weakness itself. When asked about a weakness, tell about the weakness but more importantly, spend more time on what you’ve done to overcome the weakness. For example, “A weakness I have is I’m a procrastinator, but how I’ve worked to improve that is I capitalize on technology and I use apps to create lists and reminders for myself, and I use my calendar to schedule follow-ups with clients.” Notice how I spend far more time discussing how I overcame the weakness ... how I worked to improve myself ... than I did on the weakness itself. Show you can get beyond the negative, limit harping on what's not working, and that you are committed to finding solutions.
5. Not only should you market and sell yourself, but also show how you can market and sell the company. Once upon a time, it was sufficient for a person to demonstrate he/she can do a job, which was evidenced by education, credentials, training, certifications, et cetera. Then showing a willingness to do a job was added to the list of requirements. (Will you show up on time? Do you have a can-do temperament? How well do you take direction?) Now, on top of ability and self-motivation, companies want to see that you will add value and bring more to the position than just what's listed in the job posting. (What will you say to others about the company? Can you be counted on to also serve as an unofficial spokesperson for the company? What energy will you bring to your colleagues and the overall work environment?) There are unwritten expectations that a person who fills a position will also be a brand/company ambassador. With your answers, companies are listening for whether you sound like you would represent the company in a good light at all times. They want to know you are adept at advocating for the company no matter the position you fill. Your prospective employer needs to have the impression you will hold out the company everywhere you go as a premier organization and THE place to work and conduct business. In short, are you able to represent the company's brand in the most favorable light? As often as possible, insert statements into your answers that demonstrate for the interviewer your intention to present the company as the absolute best in its industry.
6. Ask killer follow-up questions. Here are my favorite ones: What else do you need to find out from me to know for sure I’m the person for this position? What additional details can I provide you to help you determine I’m the person for this position? Notice I did not write “IF I’m the person for this position.” “If” is a word of doubt. Make the statement for them. Put the words in their minds that you ARE the person for the position. And with these questions, it gives you the opportunity to offer any points of clarification that will help them make a decision.
7. Toot your own horn, and engage in positive self-talk. Show how amazing you are, and believe it! You have accomplished so much, and no one will know it unless you tell people. Seriously. I’ve seen this propel people in their professions because they are quick to point out how unstoppable they are, what they are willing to do, how they are eager to roll up their sleeves and get the job done no matter what. Sell yourself like you’re the best thing to hit the shelves since Coca Cola, and others will believe it, too. Think about it. If someone says “Yeh. I do a pretty all right job,” then that’s what you think of that person. But if the exact same person said to someone else “I do amazing work and will always give my best," then … well you believe it! Sit in there thinking, “I’m going to show them how I’m am the perfect person who will do nothing but give this company the very best I have.” Show them they are getting a marketing person, a salesperson, and a PR person plus the actual position for which you are interviewing all in one! Who can say “no” to someone like that?!
You’ve got this!
Are you a professional woman who makes presentations as part of your job or as part of your business? Did you ever wish you could get personal and helpful guidance on improving your presentation skills? Get on the phone with me for a complimentary presentation skills analysis. It will involve only about 30 minutes of your time, and you will learn how to start making your presentations amazing once and for all! Schedule your call here. It’ll be the best 30 minutes you’ve ever spent working on your presentation skills. I guarantee it!
Photograph credit: Pixabay