The 4 Steps You Need to Take to Prepare for an Interview
We get it. You got the call back from the recruiter. The appointment is scheduled for your interview. It’s the best moment followed by an immediate moment of dread.
Interviewing is one of the hardest things that we have to do as humans. It’s even harder when you don’t have a current job. Whether you’ve been laid off or furloughed, the pressure is on to not only kill it at the interview, but to score that incredible offer you really need.
My goal here today is to help take the pressure off and rethink how we look at interviewing.
The Rockstarr Framework
I am one of those crazy people who absolutely 100% love interviewing. If you ask my husband what my favorite thing in life to do is (besides go to concerts, help my clients, be silly with my dog Biggie), he would simply respond “interview.”
My framework will help you rethink the interview process, reduce some of the pressure and help boost your confidence.
Want to know my trick?
Most people look at interviewing as a one-sided conversation. Rockstarrs look at interviewing as dating. (Stop groaning and hear me out!) An interview is not one-sided. This is a two-sided, equally weighted conversation; and it’s just a conversation. They need to impress you as much as you need to impress them.
This does not mean that you can show up unprepared or sloppy. It doesn’t mean that you can slack off.
You’ve already captured their attention. They want to know more. They want to see if you are compatible.
Rethinking the framework gives you permission to ask questions, learn more and accept responsibility for an equally weighted conversation. You need to know if you can work with this person or team. You need to understand the culture. Just as they are determining if you are a good fit for the team, you should be doing the same. Do they value their employees? Will you be happy there?
The Rockstarr Warm Up
A day or two before the scheduled interview, I do a few things to help make sure that I’m completely prepared for this conversation. (Keep the mantra: it’s just a conversation. It’s just a conversation.)
Step 1: Re-read the job description
The time between submitting the application and getting the interview is normally pretty substantial. So substantial, in fact, that you’ve probably applied to a large number of jobs after hitting that send button.
You need to know what you are preparing for and what skills you need to highlight.
Step 2: Have 3-5 interesting stories about yourself ready to tell at a moment’s notice
I’m a person who keeps a handful of stories ready to go in my back pocket for any occasion. The stories are key to keeping the conversation going while providing enough intrigue that the person on the other end has to learn more. Not only that, if you tell an incredible enough (true) story, no one will be able to forget your interview.
This is just another example of basic marketing. Good marketing tells a story, captures your audience’s interest and keeps them wanting more.
This is an example that I love to use while interviewing for a role in marketing when asked to give some information about myself (not business related) or sometimes I’ll add this if asked for an example of branding.
Believe it or not, I met my husband at a User Conference for technology in Vegas. With only three days’ notice, I was forced by my company to go to this conference to get the MIS system I was building out for my department fixed. I avoided Vegas like the plague because I was worried that I would wake up married like some Carrie Underwood song.
The best part of the trip was that I invited my husband on a bar crawl that evening with my team. Jon missed the first part of the bars and met us at bar five.
Once Jon settled in, he asked us how the night had gone so far. I relayed that I was disappointed that we couldn’t get into one of the first places we tried because it was closed for a corporate party. However, it had the best smelling BBQ and I really wanted to go back.
Then it hit me. Brimming with excitement, I exclaimed “wait. I could get in with you. You look like you are the most famous country singer nobody’s ever heard of and I can talk my way into any venue with a story like this.”
Thinking he had me, he responded “I’d need a name.”
Immediately Jon Black came to mind. “Jon Black is the most famous country singer nobody’s ever heard of. I can talk my way into anything with this. Let’s go try it out.”
I was declined politely but the name Jon Black (JB for short) stuck. It stuck so well that when I announced our engagement to my family and friends, they thought my last name would be Black. Most even wondering how I could post on Facebook that I was engaged to some guy named Minion.
(If asked for more info, I may drop that our first date was a month later in Germany)
Hearing this short one-minute story in an animated fashion ensures no one in the room will forget me.
Have some canned work stories ready to go as well as a few personal stories. You never know what you will be asked in the heat of the moment.
Step 3: Know Your Audience
Start by stalking the company’s careers page as well as social media pages. Ok. Stalk isn’t the right word. However, you need to do a deep dive into the company’s career page as well as their social media.
The goal is to gather an idea of the types of content this company is posting with regard to employees, culture and tone. Some companies value culture enough to make videos about it and post it to these channels. Those videos are incredibly important because it will give you a sense of who the company is, what they stand for and the type of people who will fit in with their culture. The more you understand about the culture, the more you will know your audience and know how to speak to that audience.
I once interviewed at a company where I had to walk around a ping pong table to get to the conference room. A few team members were playing and didn’t seem bothered by someone who looked like a client walking by. This told me that not only was I overdressed, but I needed to tone down my “corporate speak” for the conversation I was about to have.
Step 4: Ask Great Questions
The secondary intent of gathering information is to help you prepare informed questions to ask during this conversation. Create a list of questions about the job, culture, reporting structure, a day in the life, KPIs (metrics that you need to know to measure your success), as well as what success looks like in this role.
The goal is to have 5-10 questions prepared knowing you most likely won’t get through them all. The excess questions (if relevant after the interview) are great to ask in a follow up note to the interviewer.
Once you have all of these components together, you are ready. Don’t forget that this is a two-sided conversation. Now that you have the framework, we know you will bring down the house.
Make sure you send a follow up note within a few hours of the interview. Most people say 24 hours from your interview, but you are a Rockstarr who goes over and above!
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