14 Feb Always be interview ready!
Interview-ready in the dead of night?
You have been thinking about finally giving it a go and applying for the role that’s been on your mind for a while now.
Or, you are perfectly happy where you are and in no rush to change industry or career, when a message comes through with an opportunity that starts to plant a seed in your head.
Whatever the context, does it ever feel like from an ordinary person, you suddenly have this pressure to become superhuman?
Interview prep can be daunting and often is very stressful. But it needn’t be, and here are some tips that I hope might inspire you to take action, and bridge that gap between the “every-day you” and the “interview-ready you”:
1) Spend one evening (skip literally just one episode of a Netflix show) thinking about what makes you successful. It is interesting how many interviewees find this question (one of my all-time favourites) somewhat surprising. They are assuming/ guessing more than answering with conviction.
Here is some guidance:
- What are you passionate about? What gives you a great sense of joy and why?
- Why do clients come back to you for repeated business?
- Why do colleagues flock to your desk for guidance every day?
- Why does your Manager put you on a shortlist for a promotional move?
- Why did you get a raise in the last performance review cycle?
The answer you come up with will form the basis of your strengths. That’s another one many candidates seem unsure of (though will pick that question over the “weakness” one, every single time)
1) Keep a “feel-good folder”. Call-outs from colleagues, clients, partners, “thank you” notes from customers; anything that reminds you of the impact, big or small, you have on people’s lives, goes in there.
Apart from being useful (“tell me about the last time you received positive feedback”), it can be the best go-to place on a disheartening day (I know all too well!)
2) Make it a regular enough habit to ask for feedback. Ask your best friends, better still – ask your trusted colleagues (they will know the professional you – that might be helpful).
No need to make it a serious and formal affair, just simply ask people you are comfortable with, for their perception of how you do business, how you talk on the phone, how you speak in front of a larger group of people, how you behave at networking events, etc. This might give you food for thought in terms of what you would want to improve or change. “What is one area, in your current role, you would like to be better at?” – just picture how ready you are to tackle this if you had that feedback chat yesterday!? (versus never really thought about it…)
3) Write. Things. Down. The good and the ugly. In your email at work or your notebook at home. Even better – in your draft copy of your CV.
You will forget, 100%. I got a message from TA Director in my early days of recruiting, with a call-out for decreasing TTH (time to hire) in Ad Operations by… Exactly. No idea by how much, I would need to be making this up now.
With current CV trends (the more quantitative, the stronger) you need to have this information at your fingertips. Save yourself the panic of consulting just about everyone and everywhere, in search of any credible data supporting your performance.
4) Keep learning about yourself, the way you would about your favourite subject. Notice what gives you joy and when you feel happiest, observe what frustrates you, register how you respond to it. Be familiar with, and aware of, your natural tendencies to deal with situations. With that awareness, you go into an interview and you comfortably discuss how you typically respond to new situations, how you analyze a problem, how you learn new things. These are all areas that often come up in interviews, at all levels.
5) Be proactive about your plans. Start the course you have been planning to register for. Ask for the mentoring you have been promising yourself you would. Publish the blog you have been procrastinating over (yep, that’s me).
The difference in confidence you will feel and exude when you say “I have registered, I have started, I have published”, as opposed to “I’m planning to…”, will be substantial. Not only that, but it will add to your experience and make you a stronger candidate! You are already one step closer…
6) Follow companies/ employees you admire and stay on top of industry news. Just like that, out of habit, not because an interview is looming. Read articles, updates and stay in the know within the area you are, or that you are targeting.
Take a look at these two scenarios:
a) “I absolutely loved the ad you published last week, about how people make payment decisions! It was spot on and immediately resonated with me” I got even more excited about coming for the interview today, this really is the company I want to represent”
b) “Well, you were established by XYZ, your HQ is located in XYZ, your services are available in XYZ countries, your turnover last year was XYZ, …”
The question asked was this: “Why do you want to join the company?”
Based on this sample answer, which candidate, in your view, impresses the interviewer more? Which answer is more engaging, fresh, interesting? Most importantly, which candidate is likely to be a stronger ambassador for the business?
Over the years, I have been a recipient of all sorts of answers for the motivational type of questions and believe me – one of the two above will always carry you further!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you are looking for further tips or any other advice regarding interviews!