Job Interviews: Don’t Stop Short!

Don't Stop Short

Since I began interview preparation coaching I’ve noticed a common trend in the responses that my clients often give, that is, they stop short in their responses. By this I mean that when my clients give a response to an interview question, they don’t often enough relate their experience, skills, and abilities back to the company they are interviewing with. For example:

Question: Tell me about yourself

Response: Since graduating college a decade ago I have had a very successful career in sales, being promoted and given progressively greater responsibilities. When I’m not working I love playing guitar, petting turtles, and reading books. I am very excited about this opportunity.

Analysis: While the above statement is of course made up, it is not far from the mark. What’s left out? Examples of key skills that can be attributed to a successful career in sales, a CAR (Challenge, Action, Result) example, and how this is important to the company you are interviewing for.

Note: It is important to remember that the organization at hand has a pain point. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be hiring anyone. So take the time to think about that before you head into your interview so you can tailor your responses to address their pain point. For example:

Question: Tell me about yourself

Response: Over the course of my career I have excelled in sales both as an individual contributor and as a sales team leader which has been demonstrated by my ability to identify and execute on effective sales strategies, utilizing data and market research to identify new business opportunities, and by my ability to transform individuals and sales teams to become top performers. An example of this would be when I was recruited for the Widget Company, who was experiencing a slump in their sales. I redirected their strategy after extensive market analysis, developed the way the sales team approached the sales process, and as a result reversed the trend and produced enough revenue to generate profits for the first time in several years. I am confident I can bring my extensive knowledge and experience to make a fast, positive impact for your company. I would be happy to share more examples with you if you’d like.

Analysis: Clearly this type of response is superior. We have immediately set the tone for being a sales leader and have identified 3 ways in which this can be supported. We then give the interviewer a quick CAR example and then relate this all back to the company at hand. Finally, we make the offer to provide more examples, which you should (and better) have ready!

By shifting the focus of your responses back to the company you are indicating to them that you are not in it as much for yourself (i.e. just there for earning potential), as you are making a positive contribution to the organization in which you are interested.

Tips On How To Prepare For A Job Interview

Interview Preparation

Think of it this way: the person who is most prepared for a job interview is likely going to be the top candidate for the position you are interviewing for.  Will that be you?

So, with that in mind, it is critical you take the time to prepare for your interview. Here are some keys to helping you prepare.

Understand the Need of the Organization

Many of the people I’ve worked with often look this critical element of preparation. Try to understand why the company is hiring.  What are they looking for? What about your role is critical to the success of the business as a whole? This is often touched on in the job description provided by the company. Read through it several times. Highlight what you think the need is. Then, take the time to write down how you can solve that need. What makes you better or more qualified than anyone else to fulfill that need?

Understand Yourself

Most of us find it challenging to talk about ourselves, or at least that is what I’ve observed from my years of resume writing and interview coaching. So let’s briefly guide you through a couple ideas to help know how to talk about yourself in your job interview.

  • Relate your experience to the position you are applying for. By keeping it relevant to the job at hand you are engaging your listener and giving them reason to believe you will do well in the new role.
  • Understand that it is OK to talk about yourself, your interviewer will be expecting it! This is your chance to sell yourself! Write down your accomplishments ahead of your job interview and review them before going into your interview so they are fresh in your mind.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Keep your strength focused on the job you are interviewing for. Keep your weakness away from the job.  Provide an example of something you are working on and make sure your weakness is not critical to the job. This is really important. If you are interviewing for a mattress salesman job and you tell your interviewer your weakness is talking to people then you are doomed! You get the idea.

Remember It Is A Conversation

While it is critical to prepare and rehearse for your interview, you want to make sure you don’t sound like a robot. With enough preparation, you will feel more comfortable with your responses and will be able to focus more on having an engaging conversation with your interviewer. Likeability is an important consideration for a new hire. Engage the interviewer with questions throughout the interviewer so they get a chance to talk about themselves. Just remember to keep it formal, you are not trying to make a best friend, you are making a strategic partnership.

Prepare Thoughtful Questions 

Demonstrate your professionalism and preparedness by bringing a list of thoughtful questions. Make it about the interviewer, the company, and the position. Also, remember that you are interviewing the company to make sure the job is a fit for you too. Here are some examples to consider:

  • What do you like most about working here?
  • What changes would you like to see within the organization?
  • What is the growth plan for the organization?
  • What is the typical succession within the company for people in the role I am interviewing for today?
  • What has made other people successful in the role I am interviewing for?

Conclusion

There is more information on how to prepare for a job interview than I can fit in this blog. Keep checking back for new information or contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your interview coaching or resume writing needs.