A formula for interview success.
The interview process is about results. The rŽsumŽ should get you the coveted interview, and the interview should get you the coveted job. The first thing to know is the interview is not the place to exercise your impromptu speaking skills. If you think years of preparation, through attaining degrees, licenses, or certifications have prepared you to do the job you are applying for well, then don’t you think there should be some preparation that goes into the actual interview?
One of the major concerns I hear from recruiters is that the majority of people who interviewed for jobs don’t prepare for the interview. Preparing for a job interview requires doing research. This is not a quick process, but one that requires time and patience. Otherwise, your interview answers may consist of lots of “uh” or “um” answers, which tend to indicate that you don’t take the process seriously.
The first thing to remember is, don’t get discouraged if you’ve been on several interviews and you don’t have a job, yet. With each interview, you become more skilled at knowing what questions, in general, will be asked and how to best answer those questions.
Researching the company is one of the best ways to prepare for an interview. Study the company as if you were going to be asked to give a class presentation on the topic. Educate yourself on where the company is headquartered, how many offices it has, the products or services it provides, and its customer base.
Become aware of the company’s rank in its industry, its size, sales and profit trends, and who its competitors are. Read trade journals, check out the company’s Web site, visit professional association meetings, and ask the reference librarian how to find company information at the library. This type of legwork will serve you well when you get ready for your starring role.
The interview is your chance to make an indelible mark on the minds of the interviewers. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. One common interview technique used by many employers is called the behavioral interview technique. The purpose of this type of interview is to find out how the interviewee would behave in a particular situation.
For example, if an employer wants to know how you might exercise your leadership skills in a particular situation, they may ask you a behavioral interview question that will allow you to answer by giving a particular situation where you had to exhibit your leadership skills. It’s important for you to convey information that showcases your past experience and the successful results of your actions.
I suggest what’s called the S.T.A.R. technique (situation, task, action, results) for behavioral interviews:
Situation: Tell the employer what the specific leadership situation was; give details that set up the story.
Task: Tell what were you being asked to do, or explain what had to be done.
Action: Explain the action you took–what did you actually do to help solve the problem.
Results: Make the results quantifiable –through your actions, you saved the company 20 percent in profits, or you finished a project two weeks before deadline. These are the types of results that employers can understand, and they show evidence of what you can do for their company.
By using the S.T.A.R technique you can distinguish yourself above the crowd, increasing your chances of being the STAR chosen for the job.
Preparing for the interview, reflect on your accomplishments, save everything (certificates, rewards, thank-you letters from supervisors, etc.) that can help you recall your achievements, and use them to help yourself prepare for behavioral interviews.
As we continue to hear about companies laying off their workforce, taking these extra steps can help you stand out from the crowd. Using the S.T.A.R technique can increase the spotlight on you, as you position yourself for the starring role in the interview process.
Felicia H. Vaughn, M.Ed. ([email protected]), is a certified career management coach. She works as a career consultant for REA Career Services Inc. and is COO of VaughnElite Corp.