Project 2012: Day 212
Ever totally bombed out of an interview? Whether that was an interview for a job, or interviewing a client for information?
Some times we think the interview went well, even when it didn’t because we felt so good. It turns out, however, that for whatever reason, we didn’t come across well, didn’t articulate our strengths, or sell our credibility and capability, to the interviewer.
Don’t forget, you cannot guarantee your interviewer is very good either. So you have to be able to build rapport, and sell yourself, even when the interviewer isn’t doing a good job of eliciting that information.
How do you do this?
Decompose the skill
Like flying an aeroplane, riding a bicycle, or designing the re-entry shield on the Space Shuttle, every skill is made up of activities, tasks, and processes to execute perfectly. You can learn these skills, and moreover, you want to practice them.
Here then are the top five ways I recommend you practice to perform at your best in every interview, no matter the skill of the interviewer:
1. Prepare Stories
Not fiction. But the stories that describe how you did act in certain scenarios. These should cover your technical (content) skills, whether that be hair dressing, accounting, sw development, or neuro-surgery. You should have at least 2 – 3 stories, experiences, that describe your achievements, or challenges you overcame (or learned from).
Also your inter-personal skills: Leadership, conflict resolution, teaming etc. Again 2 – 3 experiences that describe how you showed (or recognised) leadership, dealt with conflict, worked in or led a high-performing team.
The reason is that when you’re asked how you responded in a certain scenario, you can tell a personal story from the heart that shows how you did respond. Or learned when you responded inappropriately. For detail on how to frame such a story, check out my blog post here:
2. Time and Space
Diligently put aside the time to practice. That means schedule it into your calendar, and your friends (that you’ll practice with) calendars.
Don’t reschedule this commitment. No high performing individual: musician, athlete, soldier, or emergency personnel skimps on their practice. Neither should you.
You also need a conducive space to practice in. Athletes playing in stadiums for the first time can freeze in stage fright. So do musicians. Fighting a real fire is a lot scarier than a simulated one. So as much as you can, arrange a space very similar to a typical chat room or office. If you have a friend who works for a similar organisation, see if you can book one of their meetings rooms (through your friend of course) perhaps before work, or during lunch times.
3. Friends Feedback
This helps you identify, and most importantly, rectify your blind spots.
Get good friends that won’t let you off the hook, but will drill you like any interviewer worth their salt. Then after the entire interview, or at least their line of questioning, they should give you specific and conditional feedback
Speak to any musician, they’ve repeated their scales hundreds of times; racing car drivers repeat tracks over, and over, and over. This is one of the ways advertising is so successful, because they repeat the exact ad again and again.
So it is with your interview skills. Repeat answering tough questions, regaling your experiences, and asking insightful questions, again and again. These are your scales.
5. Interview Others
In medical surgery there is a concept of “See one, Do one, Teach one.”
The idea is that you’re not qualified to perform a procedure until you have taught someone else the same procedure.
I think that this is genius. When I became a dive instructor I had to learn the 6 components of clearing a mask. Something that I’d done a thousand or more times, unconsciously, in my years of diving.
The way this works is you have to break the whole into a logical sequence of consumable skills, hence you reinforce those skills in yourself.
The same is true for interviewing. As you practice asking questions to elicit information, and hear others answer (too short, too long, inappropriate, or brilliant) you’ll improve your ability to respond within interviews.
Also, you’ll be helping your mates to practice their skills.
Can you do this?
Is your next job worth the effort to practice these skills with your friends?
Thinking of your work experiences you want to share in answering questions; practice in a place and at a convenient time for your hosts, and supportive friends; constantly get conditional feedback about your interviewing skills, repeat regularly, and finally interview the friends that you’re working with.
I’d love to hear your personal interview stories (From either side of the desk).