Today, I got a call from a family member/friend/professional associate: my sister, who was stressing out about a job interview that she had scheduled for tomorrow. Oh Dear… Now usually, if I were officially coaching someone on preparing for a job interview, I would suggest at least a one week window for preparation. With only a day to prepare, my tried and true 1-week program was just not going to work. I quickly leaned on my Lean/Agile coaching techniques to offer her value that would take her a long way before the interview tomorrow. Here I have laid out a 3 step strategy to assist her and anyone else who finds themselves in a time crunch to prepare for an interview and GET THE JOB! Let’s go.
Step 1: Do a Full Self-Assessment
In this step, it’s all about being honest with yourself. Review the job announcement for which you are interviewing, and honestly answer this question? Technically speaking, am I qualified to do this job? If your answer isyes (God help you, if your answer is No), make a list of any questions that you feel that an interviewer can ask that would trip you up. Think through these questions and put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. Now, focus this list of questions on technical know-how and behavioral patterns that the interviewer may want to know about YOU. Make the questions hard. For example, an interviewer may not directly ask you if you know how to do something, they may ask you to name two frameworks that you would use to lead an organizational transformation. In my case, since I am an IT Management Professional, the answer to this question may be that I would use the Kotter, 8-Step Process for Leading Change or the Lean IT Transformation Field Guide. Remember, this is just an example of a question. The point is for you to brainstorm questions that you should know the answer to, but without practice, you may get tripped up in an interview. The previous example is a technical question based on your particular role or career. This next example question type gages how you would behave in certain situations. Example: If you were presented with two employees who were bickering over work share, i.e., one is doing more than the other, what would you do to resolve the conflict? Remember, an answer to such a question is based on what you think your role is. The point is, know your role and how you should resolve conflict based on that role. A manager’s last response should be “notify senior management.” Get it. Good.
Step 2: Create a Lasting Bond with Your Interviewer
Never underestimate the power of a positive connection. Nothing and I repeat nothing, earns you favor better than allowing someone to talk about themselves. How do you do that, you say? Social Media, of course… Before I tell you the how, first understand, this is an interview and the point of it is to get you to talk about yourself. So it can be tricky to get your interviewer to talk about themselves. You will no doubt get the infamous question, “Tell us about yourself.” Most people cannot easily answer this question without some practice. I highly encourage you to practice your answer, with a twist. Here is a sneaky little trick that you MUST use in your open introduction. Before your interview and as soon as you know the name or names of who you are being interviewed by, LOOK THEM UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Facebook and LinkedIn will probably do the trick. Why not, I’m sure they have researched you. What you are looking for are shared interests between you and them. Once you find that shared interest, make sure to talk about your interest (there interest, too!) in your introduction. This creates a bond and allows them to chime in and share as well. Examples of shared interests that you want to look for are shared educations- institutions, similar degrees or courses of study, shared interest in the same sport, shared skills or even that you both may have kids… the list is endless. Your job is to expose at least one that gets the interviewer to say, I do or did that as well. The catch here is that you NEVER let on that you researched them, you have to introduce the shared interest as if you are talking about yourself, and you MUST act surprised and flattered that you both share this interest. The point of this technique is to get the interviewer in your corner. The payoff is that even when the interview is over, the interviewer or more than one in a group of interviewers, will remember your name and stand up for you in the event that there are multiple qualified candidates.
Step 3: Create Value
During the interview, usually at the end, you as the interviewee are expected to ask questions. Before going into the interview, I hope that you have done some research on the company for which you are interviewing. It is a strict NO-NO to not do so. You will come off as arrogant and not really interested in the job if the perception is that you know nothing about the company for which you are interviewing. In your research, formulate at least 3 or 4 questions that you would like your interviewers to answer about the organization. Listen intently to the answers as most people will answer these questions from their own experience, again, talking about themselves and things important to them. Your job here is to pick up on challenges that are being faced. You should pounce on any challenge and offer to help solve the problem within your first 30/60/90 days on the job!!! You just created value, and are now perceived as valuable. People fight for what they perceive is valuable…
There are several strategies that we could cover to help you better prepare for an interview. These are the top three that I recommend if you have a short time to prepare. The main thing to remember is be as prepared as possible and stay calm. I’d love to get your feedback on these steps. I would love it even more if you try them and share how they worked for you!
Let’s get you hired!
Writer: Cherlyn McIntee
Program Manager, Professor, Consultant and Blogger