After over a decade of conducting interviews and 6 years of running my career coaching business, I’ve come to realize one universal truth: preparing for interviews is not most people’s idea of a good time. So today I’m going to give you ONE single tip that will make preparing for interviews faster, easier, and more effective.
First, let’s talk about what NOT to do…
When most people prepare for an interview, they start by thinking of all the questions they might be asked. Then they try to prepare answers to all these questions. There are a few reasons this approach isn’t ideal, but the first is: we are not mind readers. When we try to guess what’s going on in another person’s head, our success rate is pretty dismal. The other downside of this approach is that you will be stumped and caught off guard if you get a question you weren’t expecting. I cant tell you how many times a very well-prepared candidate has totally blanked when I asked question they weren’t expecting. The result was awkward silence, mumbling, and even sometimes an angry “I wasn’t prepared for that question.” I’ve heard it all, and trust, me you don’t want to be that candidate.
Now let’s dive into my strategy for interview preparation that will save you time and preserve your sanity.
Think of 5-7 accomplishments you’ve had that are relevant to the job you’re applying to, and get comfortable telling the stories behind them.
Once you have your stories, there are a few other points to keep in mind to really nail your interview.
· Think about how you might flex these stories to work for different questions. Most good stories highlight several strengths and can be used to answer a variety of questions.
· Don’t just tell them what the problem was; tell them what your specific contribution was. So don’t just say… we had this challenge, it was resolved and the result was X.” Instead, structure your story like this: We had this CHALLENGE, I created my approach to HOW we would solve it, here’s WHY I approached it that way, here was the RESULT.
· Only give as much context about what was happening, as you need to explain what you contributed. They don’t need all the details about your old boss, coworker, project, etc. This is about you, not the ins and outs of your previous job.
I promise that this strategy will make you a happier and more effective interviewer.