There is a lot of information about on how to prepare for an interview, some of it is great – some of it is the same old content reworded. That is why I enjoyed reading Jeff Haden’s article ‘The Perfect Job Interview in 8 Simple Steps’
All of the 8 steps that Haden details are important, a few however really stood out for me in terms of where I most commonly see candidates fall down.
• Point 5 – Know what you can offer immediately
• Point 6 – Don’t create negative sound bites
In relation to point 5, you would be surprised how many candidates cannot articulate what they have to offer the prospective employer. Having done a similar job before is not enough, nor are giving vague generic answers. This is where mock interviews and role plays are effective. Haden’s take away from this point is to ‘just think about what makes you special and show the benefits to the company.
Point 6 highlights the need to create positive messages that stay with the interviewer, not negative sound bites. Most of us will have questions thrown at us that are challenging, particularly those asked about a specific skill or experience where we may not be strong. The language and phrases you select to respond can turn a small amount or no experience around from a negative to a positive. Haden’s take away from this point is “basically, never say, “I can’t,” or “I haven’t,” or “I don’t.” Share applicable experience and find the positives in what you have done.”
I would add to this that there are only so many messages you can leave with an interviewer. Decide before you go into the interview what the three key messages are you want to leave. This will help shape and focus how you respond to questions. Regardless of what many think, as the interviewee you do have an element of control in the interview. This is why interview preparation is paramount. Without it you are left with minimal control.
If you find that you are falling down in interviews, consider engaging the support of a career coach.