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Acing the Interview (before you leave home)

25765277 - business people shaking hands with their future patner in their office

Congratulations. You have risen to the top of the pool of applicants and have been invited in for an interview. Your resume has been successful in highlighting your key skills and accomplishments and matching them with the job description.   Now the company wants to get to know the person behind the qualifications.

Technical skills alone will not be the deciding factor for the job offer. Who you are as a person, how you fit in and the value that you bring to the company are equally, if not more important. After all, if the hiring manager does not like you, you will not get an offer.

How to best prepare for this? There are a myriad of potential interview questions available on line and in books to draw upon.   But rather than starting with the questions, begin by developing a mental picture of the person who is going to show up.   Who are you going to be? A self-confident business professional? A leader?

How do you generate the mindset to telegraph this inner self?   First generate a written outline of your best self. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Formulate your talent inventory.   Pull together your list of skills, talents, knowledge and experience. Be sure to include soft skills such as communication, collaboration, team building, adaptability, etc. Creating your talent inventory refreshes your memory and helps you remember experiences you would otherwise have forgotten during the interview.
  1. Prepare examples and accomplishments. Bring your talents to life by including specific examples and accomplishments in your inventory that demonstrate proficiency.   Be aware that the best demonstration of your soft skills is how you conduct yourself during the interview.   For example, if communication is one of your skills, be sure that your conversation reflects this talent.
  1. Show value. Check out the company website and know their history, growth and competitive advantage. Read through the job description again focusing on matching talents with key words. What value will you bring to this organization? What sets you apart from your competition?
  1. It’s a two-way street. What do you need to know about the company, its culture and your potential coworkers? The interview process is like dating. It’s the opportunity for both parties to check each other out for a match. What do you need to know to be sure that this is the right environment for you to thrive? What are the expectations for your performance? Think about your minimum conditions of satisfaction and how this opportunity matches them.

Once you have conducted this exhaustive self-review and committed your thoughts to paper, you will have the confidence to answer open-ended interview questions. The data is right there. You are now prepared to call upon it when answering situational and behavioral questions.   Next steps will be to review some specific questions that are likely to be encountered.

Remember that the best thing that you can take into an interview is energy, enthusiasm and a can-do attitude.




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