Interviewing for a new job sucks. It’s stressful, scary, mercurial, and confusing. Whether you’re interviewing for a job at a new company or you’re vying for a bigger role in your existing organization, interviewing is still a painful process.
That said, there are a few basic tricks for nailing the interview and increasing the likelihood you’ll land the role.
For the sake of speed, I’m going to skip over all the resume stuff as I’ve covered it in depth many times in posts like THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS (I told you I’ve covered the subject a lot). Remember – all a resume does is get you invited to the party. Once you’re there it’s up to you to nail the interview.
Surprisingly, not a lot of what I’m going to share is earth shattering. That said, I’ve seen people blow it on these four things more often than a junkyard dog gets fleas. I’m not promising that if you do these four things that you’ll get the job but I will promise if you don’t do them you don’t really stand a chance of getting the role.
Write your stories
You’re going to get asked some pretty predictable questions in the interview. You can either blather on and spew some rambling stupidity from your mouth or you can offer a well-rehearsed and clearly thought out story. I suggest having ten to twelve stories at the ready. Your stories should have four major components each:
1. What was the situation when you found it? Briefly describe the challenge you faced.
2. What did you/your team do? What actions did you take and which actions were yours and which were your team’s? Be sure to balance between the you and the team part. If you talk all about the team, I’m left wondering if you did anything. If you only talk about you, I worry you might be an ass.
3. What was the result? Explain how the organization was a better place after you took action. Share metrics and numbers to give a sense for impact.
4. What did you learn from that experience and how does that learning apply to the role you’re applying for? Show you don’t just have impact – demonstrate you grow and apply your lessons.
Create interviewer prep sheets
For each interviewer, have a prep sheet with questions they’ll likely ask you. If it’s a finance guy, I’ll bet you he asks you something metrics-based. If she’s in marketing, I’ll bet there are some growth questions. If it’s a senior exec, she’ll probably ask you about leadership. For each interviewer, write down the questions you think they’ll ask and then map a story or two from trick #1 above to those questions. Ensure you have a good mix of stories across all interviewers. You don’t want to share the same story with every interviewer because when they compare notes, they’ll wonder if that one story is the only thing you’ve ever done.
Prepare your questions
More often than not, your interviewers will give you time to ask a question or two. Make it count. Make it germane to their area of expertise. Ask them what they expect of you in the role. Ask them what they think successful performance of the role entails. Ask about their preferred style for interacting if they’ll be your boss or a business partner. Put these questions on your interviewer prep sheets so you don’t just go with the moronic “what do you like about working here?” question. You sound like an idiot when you ask that.
I suggest writing each of your stories on an individual note card. Rehearse them ad nauseum. Have friends, family members, colleagues, and coaches ask you questions and you practice telling your stories. Be sure to hit all four components of the story when you tell it. If you rehearse enough, the stories will eventually come across like you haven’t rehearsed at all. They should be natural when you deliver them but ensure they’re concise and give the listener a sense of the impact you’ve had. When people grill you, have them offer some non-scripted questions and see how good you are at selecting a story appropriate for addressing that question.
If you have a nice, tight set of well rehearsed stories and you’ve appropriately evaluated and prepared for each of your interviewers your odds of getting the job are much higher than the person who doesn’t do such preparation. Sure, this takes time and discipline to write all these things down, think about them, and rehearse them. I know you’re too busy to put in all that work and you don’t have the time. Don’t worry – when you don’t get the job, you’ll have plenty of time to do the proper preparation before the next interview… Good luck getting those jobs folks! Prepare, prepare, prepare!
– Once you land the job and you’re looking to build a relationship with your new team you need to let them know who you are as a leader. If you want some help doing so, grab a copy of my book One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership and you’ll be well on your way.