Your resume and networking contacts have gotten you in the door and the company has extended an offer to interview, now it is up to you to close the deal and deliver a winning interview.
I like to approach interviewing like the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The resume application/networking phase is like the school spelling bee, the phone screen like the regional bee, and the office/final interview is like the national bee in D.C. In each phase one must compete against better competition. Also, in each phase, your accomplishments from the prior phase does not affect the outcome of the current phase. This means in each round of interviewing, one must re-establish his/her skills, cultural fit, and desire for the job – and against better competition!
If one has great networking contacts and a strong resume, but does not communicate well during the interview, he/she will not land the job. Each round of a spelling bee or interview segment must be won in and of itself, and in each round of the process, the competition increases significantly. Some tips for a winning interview:
With everything in life, preparation is key. Whether competing on an athletic field, taking an exam, giving a presentation at work, nothing can replace preparation. In interviewing terms, this means knowing your examples (strengths/weaknesses, leadership, driving change, etc.), knowing the company (products, services, history), and knowing industry (trends, issues, competition).
When a company is the hiring process, it has a problem. It could be that they have a shortage of staffing, need someone to implement solutions, need personnel to fix an issue/lead a team/etc.
Find out what is the problem the company is facing and how you can provide assistance. Be a problem solver.
In interviewing, employers will ask for examples of past performance/actions as employers see this as a predictors of future performance.
When providing examples, use the STAR techniques. In your answer, establish the Setting and the Task involved and do so concisely. What Action did you take to move/change results; what was your contribution? You must address your role/input in your answer. Finally, discuss the Results – this can be what was accomplished to what was learned in the experience.
More than 80% of communication is done without words…this is very true in the interview. Having positive energy (eye contact, smile, firm handshake, posture) will communicate just as much as your words. Be sure your words and non-verbal are aligned.
“Always be Closing” is a famous adage in sales. In interviewing, it is important to close the interview. Asking strong questions that show your interest and research. Questions allow you to evaluate if you are aligned with the company culture, to understand where the company is heading and what are the challenges this position will face.
Expressing a strong interest in the position during the interview closing communicates your are passion about the opportunity.
Finally, the interview process is not completed until thank you notes have been sent to everyone with whom you interacted during the interview and an update email is sent to pertinent networking contacts.