Going for an interview usually daunts even the most confident person. This is particularly the case when it has been a while since you have interviewed for a new role.
As an experienced professional, there is little doubt that you have a wealth of experience and expertise to offer a new employer. However, unless you can articulate it clearly to the interviewer(s) then you won’t get very far. On the spot, you need to be able to clearly explain what you have worked on and demonstrate the skills used in the process to deliver a successful outcome. Of course, you also need to be able to deliver this in a positive way, building rapport with the interviewer(s) during the interview – more on this another time.
One of my recent clients indeed had a wealth of experience at a large corporate. However, when it came to the mock interview we did at the start of our work together, she struggled to articulate clearly to me what she had worked on and the skills she’d used and what the result was. From then on, one of the things we did was to work on two linked approaches:
- Firstly, I suggested she think about her answers in the following format Context, Action and Result. The key thing with this format is not to spend too long on the Context (as it demonstrates very little about you, although is important for setting the scene). Thinking about what you have worked on in this way forces you to think about what you actually did and the skills you used (whilst mentioning others is fine and not over-claiming your responsibility is important, make sure you focus on your role). It also makes sure, the interviewer(s) is clear about the outcome of your example.
- Secondly, we listed all her key projects/responsibilities over the last few years and went through them one-by-one, this got her into talking about them using the above CAR approach. With my questions and support, we were able to hone the key points and work on what she needed to articulate better and how. This means that if she is asked about a specific competence e.g. team working; she can quickly think of all the examples we had that referenced that and select one to talk through.
Could these approaches help you to prepare better for interviews?
You see the key thing to remember is when we have a lot of experience, we know it so well, we lived it and it is in our head. The challenge comes in pulling out what is important to relay to an interviewer(s) to make it meaningful. You may have heard a lot about storytelling lately and with good reason, after all, who doesn’t like a good story? That is essentially what you are doing with your interview answers that require a recall of previous experiences and an illustration of your expertise; to make them into a story that engages the interviewer(s), so they have a clear picture in their head of your capabilities. After all, the key thing about interview success is positive memorability – much of which comes from the ‘softer skills’ including rapport building, but which can also be added to from stories. Remember too, that the ‘story’ of our career also needs to be clear i.e. why you made the moves you did.
To read my guide to getting a new role, click here.