Executing the Interview Strategy

When it comes to landing the job and securing the next role, too many candidates make the fatal error of not adequately preparing and executing their interview strategy. Here are a few things that we’ve seen in the industry that will help job seekers nail it. 

1.Attention to Details—From shining your shoes to buttoning your shirt, presentation matters. This includes carefully learning and recording names and contact information of those you meet, arriving early and finding the exact meeting location at least 15 minutes prior to the interview. (Go ahead and find parking and sit in your car for 30 minutes, we don’t mind at all.) When these details are attended to, you are free to bring your best self forward. 

2. Document Refinement—Carrying the ‘attention to details’ theme right into document refinement, including your electronic version. Your LinkedIn profile should be up to date with a background image, current photo, and job information completed. The hard documents presented should be clean, clear, and updated as well. Spelling, font, or grammatical errors are terrible indicators of a sloppy work effort and lack of attention to detail. If you’ve had your resume reworked, make sure that buzz words are not repeated or overused, and you have avoided industry jargon and abbreviations to avoid confusion. Ensure that descriptions of your positions tell the story that your prospective employer needs to see. 

3. Interview Preparation—This is perhaps the easiest thing to miss when you’re a candidate. Beyond the typical “Tell me about yourself” and “Take me through your resume” questions, applicants who become candidates have opportunities to demonstrate value through thorough preparation for the interview:

  • Behavior-Based – These interviews allow candidates to demonstrate past performance through storytelling using the “CAR” or “STAR” methods. CAR: Context, Actions Taken by You, and Results Achieved; STAR: Situation, Timeline, Actions Taken by You, and Results Achieved. By practicing responses to behavioral interview questions in this manner, candidates can demonstrate career successes (and struggles) methodically taking the interviewer through the story with enough detail to ensure it is a compelling one showcasing their skillset. Why do interviewers want this? Not only does it get to the crux of the work a person has done, but it also demonstrates communication skills and the ability to follow processes.
  • Consultative – Those with experience in project management and leadership roles should have no problem navigating this form of interviewing. Often the part of the interview that begins with “What questions do you have for us” is a good opportunity to demonstrate consultative prowess and skill. The best consultative interview results come from asking questions to discover pain points that you can uniquely offer solutions for. 
  • Presentation – Other leadership and sales positions look to assess an individual’s comfort level with teaching, presenting, and selling. The presentation interview requires preparation and communication from the interviewee to the coordinating parties. This is a great test of preparedness and anticipation of needs, as well as practical skill in presenting. The smart candidate will be over-prepared, establish rapport with those involved, and leave behind something meaningful. 

4. Openings and Closings—Beyond the strong handshake and thank you notes, which ARE still important, lies the openings and closings. The introductory statement is of importance as it gives those in the room insights into personal motivations and the value proposition that you as a candidate can bring. Similarly, a strong closing summarizes why you would want to be part of an organization, what you are excited about, and identifies a next step. A well-rehearsed schtick is less important than demonstrating this as a habit in these kinds of professional conversation.  
5. Make it easy for the interviewers—Perhaps this is the most overlooked and important part of the process. As a candidate, you are rightly under the watchful eye and scrutiny of those involved in the interview process. How are you presenting yourself and accommodating those involved? Take the seat in the corner. Bring additional copies and your own pen. Ask for and write down names and titles of those present. Answer the questions you are being asked concisely and accurately. Be courteous. Make it easy for them to choose you because your value was so clearly represented.