It’s no secret that today’s job market is an extremely competitive one. A four year degree is now the norm so what else can you offer to a potential employer? One of the biggest downfalls that I observe every day from job seekers is they don’t know their own story. You can no longer rely on your college degree to get you through the first step of a company’s interview process. You must stand out and one way to effectively do this is to know your story and be able to convey that story to someone that doesn’t know you. Think of “your story” as being your own personalized elevator speech. If you were to get on an elevator with the CEO of your dream company to work for what would you say to sell yourself?
The first step in preparing to tell your story to a hiring manager is to research and analyze some commonly asked interview questions. If you have already had the opportunity to participate in a few interviews you should begin to recognize a common trend in interview questions. Of course companies, recruiters, and hiring managers will have different personalities and different styles so naturally interview questions will be worded differently but if you peel back the layers and get down to the core of each question you should be able to find that common theme in the question.
As an example, to help get the wheels turning, you might recognize questions like “Tell me about yourself?”, “What makes you unique?”, “What are your three biggest weaknesses”, or “Tell me about your biggest failure?”
Ultimately, if you come to an interview and are not prepared to answer commonly asked interview questions and are not able to tell your story, you will inevitably bomb the interview. Below are some simple tips to help you get prepared for an interview and hopefully help you land your dream job!
1. Research and write down the top 50 most frequently asked questions.
2. Spend time answering each question in the same manner in which you would deliver it in an interview.
3. When answering questions think about how your response will or could be perceived from a potential hiring manager. Simply put, put yourself in their shoes. If you were going to interview and potentially hire “you” what would be an appropriate response.
4. Use real time examples from your personal life or past work experience. Avoid hypotheticals.
5. Practice telling your story and answering interview questions out loud and in front of a mirror and repeat until you feel comfortable.
6. Last but not least, this may sound a little strange but have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview with you. Assuming you have completed step #5 you should be able to fluently, without stuttering, looking at notes, or using that pesky “uh” filler word be able to give a great interview that genuinely describes who you are and what you can offer to a potential employer.