Preparation and Perspective-taking Makes It Easier
by Leslie Rothman and Susan McClain
Does your stomach turn at the thought of an interview? Are you unsure how to most effectively showcase what you know and how you can contribute to a potential employer? You’re not alone. Interviewing can be hard because talking about ourselves is uncomfortable and our talents can be hard to identify and articulate. Also, we don’t know what to expect as there isn’t a consistent approach to interviewing across employers and even within organizations.
The reality is:
- Interviews vary in length and approach: formal, casual, panels, individual conversations
- The people interviewing have different levels of interviewing skill and experience
- Typically several people are involved in the process and they don’t always have aligned views of the role
Doing your research about the organization and who you’ll be speaking with is an important first step. Good preparation also includes gaining clarity about and conveying your unique value/contributions to the position.
Most people pore over lists of possible questions and answers, and commit them to memory. While this is helpful, you will gain an advantage by considering what is important from the hiring manager’s point of view:
1. What do you anticipate the manager cares most about in this role? What challenges might he/she be facing? Review the position posting to identify what is emphasized and apply your knowledge of common issues and goals for similar roles.
2. With this perspective in mind, what makes you uniquely qualified for this role? What relevant assets do you have that set you apart from other candidates? Both learned skills (competencies) and soft skills (how you get work done). Jot these down and think of specific examples from your work, school or outside activities that demonstrate these skills, attributes and knowledge.
3. With clarity about your most relevant assets, you’ll be able to answer many different questions such as:
- What do you bring to this position?
- What are your strengths?
- Why should we select you for this role?
- How would your boss or coworkers describe you?
4. Based on the job description and what you believe is most important to the hiring manager, identify 3 – 4 relevant accomplishments that highlight important skills for the position. Be able to speak briefly about them.
- What the task or assignment entailed
- Some of the challenges
- Your specific contributions
- Why it was an important accomplishment (impact and overall results)
5. Once you have identified relevant accomplishments, write up key bullet points and practice talking about them. Accomplishments can answer multiple questions such as:
- Tell me about your contributions in your last position
- What are you most proud of?
- What makes you qualified for this role?
With increased clarity about your relevant skills and accomplishments, you can focus more on what you want to convey about yourself and worry less about the types of questions you will be asked. In a more conversational interview, find opportunities to insert examples that highlight relevant experience and attributes.
You will be able to better articulate and convey what you want them to remember about you as a candidate. And you’ll be able to respond to different types of interview styles and questions with increased confidence. This change in perspective and preparation will make interviewing less difficult and you more successful!
To learn more about interviewing, check out our April mini Zoom Lunch & Learns described on our Helpful Info page.