How to Kick it Up a Notch to Interview Your Best

April 26, 2009

Which One Are You?

Which One Are You?

You are competing against 12-15 other interviewees, are you different?

If you read about job interviews every day like I do you would quickly realize that most of the advice is really elementary including:

  • Good handshake
  • Eye contact
  • Be on time
  • Dress right
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Be ready to answer questions

All good suggestions,  but way too elementary to win an interview in this competitive environment. So here are some things you can do to really improve your interviewing.

sold-tag1Your interview is a sales call be prepared to sell
An interview is a sales call; be a sales person. Like any good sales person, do a needs analysis (research) about the company and hiring manager, understand the value you will contribute to the company, and be assertive about selling yourself in the interview. An interview will only be a question and answer interrogation if you let it happen. Go in with the mindset of any good sales person, you have important information to communicate and you won’t leave without telling your story. There is no reason to be pushy or arrogant, but being assertive is a great quality in any employee.

Pay attention to how sales people sell things to you. What works what does not? Read information and books about selling. You don’t need to be a professional sales person, but you should develop a sales orientation to kick your interviews up a notch.

presenting-cartoonBe a Presenter
When is the last time you were in a sales situation and the sales person did not have a prepared sales presentation? Be prepared to do a brief focused presentation in your interview, even if you have not been asked to prepare a presentation for the interview. Your presentation should focus on how you meet the job requirements and why you are an excellent candidate. (Go to for comprehensive interview presentation information). Just preparing to present will kick your interview up a notch.

personal-brandCommunicate your personal brand
Personal branding has become important for career management. What is your personal brand? Your brand is what people think and feel about you and it is what  makes you successful on the job. Determine what it is and be sure to talk about your brand in the interview. If you have successfully communicated your brand, when you leave the interview the interviewers will have your brand words in their mind. “That guy Joe is a really analytical team leader who is persistent and customer focused. We could use a person like him.”

strategic-planPrepare a Strategic Action Plan
Companies are all about performance. Tell them what you will achieve in the first 30 and 60 days to provide value to the company. A Strategic Action Plan displays knowledge about the company, the industry, the job and communicates interest and motivation. Think of it as the implementation part of your sales presentation. Don’t worry about being 100% accuarate just presenting a plan will kick your performance up a notch.

success-storiesPrepare success stories
People love to hear stories. Stories capture the imagination and stir emotions. Prepare stories of when you were at your best in you career and your life. Use these stories as responses to the questions you are asked in the interview. Question “Have you ever had to work with a challenging client?” Tell a story including what was the situation, what did you have to overcome, what actions did you take and what was the outcome. Don’t take more than two minutes to tell your story.

Many people ask me, “Are many job candidates doing these things?” My answer is “absolutely not” However, the candidates that are find themselves impressing hiring managers, acing interviews, and landing jobs!

Kick Your Interview Up a Notch

Kick Your Interview Up a Notch


Do You Know Your Key Message? You Should to Interview Your Best

April 26, 2009

passive participant

Passive Participant

Are you aware that you run your job interview? I bet your not! I bet you think you are the passive participant in a job interview controlled by the interviewer. If you think you are Passive Participant then you will be!

Consider this, who runs a news conference the President or the reporters? The reporters ask the tough questions and all the President does is answer the questions. But pay attention next time, the President has his Key Messages and he answers the questions in a way that communicates his Key Messages. He stays “on message” despite the questions just as you should in your interviews.

What is the most important point that you want to get across to your interviewer. This point is the your Key Message. Your Key Message addresses why you are an excellent candidate for the job and why hiring you is the smart choice.

Here are some important points for your Key Message-
MemoryWhat do you want your interviewers to remember from your interview?
When you walk out of the interview room and one interviewer turns to the other and asks, “So what do you think of ________?’ What do you want the response to be? That is your Key Message! Example ” I think _____ is a really experienced customer service rep and they are really dedicated to making customers happy. They would fit our customer service team really well.”


Keep it Simple

Make that Key Message simple and concrete:
Decide you main “selling point” the thing that best qualifies you for the job and may differentiate you from others. Write it down as a simple clear statement. ‘I am qualified for the position because I have have a dedication to customer service and I will work with a customer until they are satisfied”.


Repeat, repeat, repeat

Repeat your message:
Repetition reinforces your message and will help the interviewer fix your message in their mind. Inject your message into the interview whenever you can.

Have the interviewer focus on your Key Message:
You want the interviewer to be paying attention when you state your Key Message. You can do this by saying something like:

Here’s is an important thing about me. Then pause….then say your Key Message.

This called a flag because it’s like waving a flag to say pay attention to the next thing that your going to say.

Not too short

Just the right length

Keep your message short but not too short:
The shorter your key message the easier it will be for you to say, and for your interviewer to grasp and remember. However, it should not be so short that it does not communicate your benefit to their company.

Lock and key

Fit the message to the job

Match you Key Message to the job:
Be sure your you Key Message addresses the most important requirement of the job. To accomplish this make sure you know the job requirements and the value you bring to the job.


Be a story teller

Tell a story and end it with your Key Message:
People love stories, it engages them on an intellectual and emotional level. So tell stories in your interview, and finish them with your Key Message. Example, “Story/Story/Story/Story and that is an example of how I work with customers until they are satisfied.”

Focusing on communicating your Key Message will help you steer the interview and leave the interviewer with the message you want them to have registered in their thinking. The more memorable your Key Message the more convincing you will be. So, use your Key Message to be an Active Participant (AP) in the interview not a Passive Participant.

InterviewBest makes you active in an interview

Use an interview presentation to be active in an interview

Why Your Brain Keeps You From Interviewing Your Best

April 4, 2009

brainWe are all walking around with primitive brains more suited for surviving in caves than managing the demands of the 21st century (including interviews).

One of the things our primitive brain does is that when we get stressed it narrows our thinking. When extremely stressed we can only think of one of two things-fight or flight. However, even under lower levels of stress we lose full access to our creativity, memory, problem-solving skills, humor, and interpersonal skills. Here is some proof-have you ever been in a situation where you were in a heated or stressful discussion and the moment you leave the room you bang yourself on the forehead and say to yourself  “I should have said…” The moment you left the room you calmed down a bit, your thinking expanded, and you remembered what you could have said. I just spoke with a client that when driving home remembered a lot of things he wished he had said in his interview.

Interviews are stressful situations. Even if you do a great job of preparation, you will be nervous and your thinking will be diminished; know it plan for it. Here are a some suggestions for overcoming your primitive brain:

Remember this

Remember this

Prepare a list of reminders:
On a pad of paper write down the things you want to remember in the interview. Include things like smile, good eye contact, no ums, take a deep breath, and don’t fidget. Also include a list of questions to ask, a list of accomplishments, a reminder to ask for a business card, and the interviewer’s name(s). As you take notes on the pad you will see your reminders and remember to follow them.

swamiTake a deep breath
Swami’s have know for centuries that good breath control leads to calm. During your interview, about every 5 minutes, take a good deep diaphragmatic breath. This will calm you down and improve your thinking. Put this on your pad as one of the things to remember.

slow-signSlow down your answers
An interview is not a timed test. You do not have to have immediate answers for every question. Slow down and take some time to formulate your answers. By slowing down you will be less stressed and will think more clearly.

shiftShift your position
When under stress many people tend to tense their muscles which raises their heart beat. By shifting your position you will relax your muscles and you will calm down.

When your facial muscles are smiling it causes a calming effect. So smile in your interview. This will also invite the interviewer to smile and help relax her.

logo-14162Prepare an interview presentation
The best way to support your primitive brain is to have a written presentation to use during your interview. An interview presentation will insure you communicate all the information the interviewer needs to know about you to make a well informed hiring decision. Because all the information is written, none of it will be forgotten and you will be more confidant and relaxed.

You primitive brain does a couple of other unhelpful things including focusing on the negative and assuming the worst in the face of uncertainty. So you probably did better in your interview than you think and just because you haven’t heard yet it does not mean you did not get the job.

Help your brain with an interview presentation

Help your brain with an interview presentation