By George Bernocco, CPRW
No pressure, but the interview is what makes or breaks the job for you. You’ve completed a stellar cover letter and resume, now it’s time to meet face to face. There is always debate about which questions the employer will ask, which are more important, and what are the most difficult questions. There is no doubt that the employer called you in for one reason: To learn about you and what you can do for them. The question asking about who you are may come up, but even if somehow it doesn’t (unlikely), the interview itself is for the employer to figure you out. It’s your job to assist them in recognizing your potential. So how do you give out the right amount of information? How do you sell yourself, without selling yourself short? Where does your story end so it doesn’t go to long? Here are some thoughts you should consider before the interview:
Imagine you are getting on an elevator with a recruiter. You have about 20 seconds before he gets off on his floor and you go your separate ways. What would you tell them to get their attention? You would definitely have to tell them what you’ve done, and what you are looking forward to doing. Maybe emphasize the most important skills you have, and then apply them to a potential position at their company. Finally you might need to end it with hoping to hear back from them, or contacting them to check in. All these components of an “Elevator Speech” answer the question “Tell me about yourself.”
At the interview you need to be prepared mentally. Bringing information to help you remember what to say can help. The best way to have information about some of the questions that will be asked is bringing a resume. Your resume should be stellar already because you are sitting there with it at the interview. Hopefully you have a Profile/Summary or maybe an Objective on it. These sections are the answers, much like taking a test with the answer sheet right next to you. You may not want to repeat verbatim what you wrote, but you definitely can follow the profile or objective’s example of a short snapshot into your life. If you do not have the profile or objective, consider the whole resume as the answer to the question. It’s your job to perform a brief review during the interview.
Much like your stellar resume, you want to try to avoid too much information. No one wants a PowerPoint presentation with paragraphs on it, no human resource manager wants to read a five page resume and no recruiter wants to listen to an entire life story. Write out your answer to the question if you do not already have a Profile on your resume. Practice your answer with family, friends, and/or career specialists. Remember to focus on your career, experience, skills and career objectives.
Every industry has its own vocabulary. Whether you’re in Accounting or Zoology, your industry focuses on certain words that others in your industry will comprehend. When you apply for a job within your industry, it is important to demonstrate what you know by how you describe what you’ve done. Using industry keywords in your response, called “jargon”, will show the employer in more than one way that you are knowledgeable about your career. Research your jargon, and that can be as simple as pulling up job postings for your industry and looking for keywords.
An interview is not the time to be modest. There needs to be self confidence that you are elite in your field. Interviewers are trained in spotting those who demonstrate they could do the job. The recruitment process is much easier for the recruiter when they interview someone who demonstrates self-assurance. René Descartes once wrote “I think therefore I am” which is entirely true for an interview. If you believe you are the person for the job, the interviewer will believe it too.
Once all the above are true, you now have the tools to sell yourself. You are the product; the company is the consumer. Why should they “purchase” you? What makes you stand out from the rest? All these can lead into different interview questions, but it is important to incorporate the answers into telling the employer about you. When you successfully sell yourself, you are now the front runner. The employer now knows who you are, and therefore you’ve answered their question while capturing their interest.