The news headlines predict new jobs ahead. How and when is up for grabs. The good news is that there will be new jobs available in the near future. The bad news is that the numbers are large and the competition for the same jobs will continue to be fierce.
What can you do to prepare yourself for those upcoming interviews – NOW? How can you prepare yourself today for tomorrow’s interview?
There are a few basic rules and some preparation that will make the difference between you getting that job offer and not getting a job offer.
If you are thinking about putting your job search on hold for the holidays figuring no one is hiring during this time anyway, DON’T. You snooze – you lose. Second, this is a perfect time to do some research, networking, and most of all preparing in the event that you do receive that unexpected, but hoped for call.
Some Basic Preparation Steps to Take Before The Rush
In many ways, interviewing for a job is comparable to a sales person making a sale. If you were a sales person and were about to sell a product to a customer you would do some homework or research so that you could convince your customers that your product was the best product on the market to fill their needs.
If you apply this scenario to the job interview process you will find that it is a powerful tool to use for your interview preparation. What do you have to offer (as a product), to the customer (the employer)? What do you have that will fill their needs (the requirements of the job)? What can you bring that is unique or added value to the position/company? ( what makes you unique)?
What you have to offer
Let’s start with “what you have to offer.” Think of ways to present your key qualities throughout the job interview. An example of this technique is when interviewing for a position that requires “strong organizational skills.” You will want to let the interviewer know you are not only organized, but that your organizational skills have made a significant difference in your performance. Anyone can say that they have “strong organizational skills,” but not everyone can give a specific example of a time when they had a success using those skills. If you can give an example of a particular event that you organized and how your organizational skills made a difference in a past job you will make an even stronger sell.
Don’t tell them -“sell them”- with proof of a past experience or success. You must have examples or stories for anything you have claimed on your resume or that you say in an interview.
Let’s say you claimed you were very organized on your resume. A natural question for the interviewer would be: “Tell me about a time when you organized a project.” It is now your task to let the interviewer know that you have had success when organizing a project or event. In other words, prove what you said you did by providing an example – a story of a time when.
There are several methods and acronyms suggested for formatting your stories but the main point to remember is that any story has three key elements:
A beginning – “There was a time”
A middle – “The action steps I took were”
An Ending – “The end result was”
A savvy interviewer will be able to hear skills from the stories and judge your behavior from your past actions. Stories should be interesting and full of action. Give the interviewer something to remember about you. The more details and skills you can work into your story, the more convincing your story will be.
Preparing your stories before the interview will take the mystique out of behavioral interviewing and allow you to tell the success stories you want your interviewer to hear. Through your examples the interviewer will begin to get a clear picture of you and be able to decide whether you are the right person for the job based on your past experience and successes.
Next, begin to think about what the employer’s needs are and how your product (you) can fill those needs. You can accomplish this by studying the job description or posting.
Read through job postings to find out what your customer (the employer) is looking for – what is the need? By familiarizing yourself with the language of the job posting you will be able to not only read the words and the content, but you will be able to read between the lines.
Here’s an exercise that will help you find “gold” in the job posting and make good use of it once you discover it.
Look at the job postings and the ads to see what experiences, skills and traits are required for the type of position you are seeking. In fact, look at several job postings that would be of interest to you.
For this exercise, don’t limit yourself to geographical location. Look at jobs of interest located anywhere.
Some job postings will be more vague about what it takes to get the job done and will require reading between the lines to determine what other skills are necessary. Your objective is to find key words and phrases. When you have several postings, read each word and sentence carefully, taking notes as you do.
Read the job posting three times.
Read the first time for content.
Read the second time for words – vocabulary. What words appear consistently in almost every posting?
Read the third time and read between the lines – what would it take to get this job done? What are they looking for?
What You Can Bring?
Some postings will list additional skills required, which makes it easier for you to see what is important to them.Your next step is to add your uniqueness to the “What I have to offer” list.
Here is an example; “Must have excellent communications skills, strong organizational skills, and be a willing team player.”
If these words appear in most of your posting examples, then make sure that these are a part of your focus.
The Fit – What Makes You Unique?
The interviewer will be looking to see if you can do the job, but they will also be checking to see if you will be a good addition to the team. The last factor to prepare for your sale is to let the employer know that you have the ability to “fit in” and be a “team player.” Don’t dismiss your personal traits in your sales “pitch” preparation. Identify skills that make you unique such as “interpersonal skills,” “attitude,” and “willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.” These skills could make the difference between yourself and an equally qualified candidate getting the job offer.
By the time you leave the interview the interviewer should have a strong sense of what you have to offer and why they should hire you – why you are the best person for the job to fill their needs. When you take the time to prepare for the sale of the product – YOU – you will have a better chance of convincing the customer or buyer that you are just what they are looking for.
Before going to your next interview, check out Carole Martin’s interview tips, questions and answers at Job Interview Coaching Center. Ask for an Interview Analysis to see if you can “Ace Your Next Interview.” This and other unique content ‘interview skills’ articles are available with free reprint rights.