You will land interviews with a great resume and well-crafted LinkedIn profile, but it’s for naught if you don’t perform well at your job interviews. Interviews are a challenge because many of us are not in businesses where we get in front of other people to market our services. Yet, this is precisely what we are doing when we interview for work.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to prepare, including some traditional techniques, and some new ones, too. For example, we can:
- Think of the interview as “just another business meeting,”
- Prepare using your resume, LinkedIn profile, and job search letters, and
- Practice using traditional and new rehearsal techniques.
Think of the upcoming interview as a business meeting.
Most of us do not go to job interviews often so we find interviews stressful. But what is an interview? It’s a business meeting where the person or people we are speaking with need information from us to make a decision. We’re there to advocate for the decision we want.
Additionally, we want information from those we are meeting with so we can decide whether or not the job is right for us.
Most of us participate in numerous formal and informal meetings and discussions during our work week. We know what to expect and do our homework to prepare accordingly.
Our homework for a meeting at our job may consist of studying the file related to the person we are meeting with and the issue we will be discussing. We’ll strategize, and sometimes rehearse in advance with a co-worker.
A job interview is not that much different. You can research the people you will be meeting with and the organization they represent. Then you can gather your talking points and rehearse them in much the same way you would for any other important meeting or discussion.
Think of your assignment as finding work. Your task today is meeting with someone that can help you meet that goal.
Use your resume, LinkedIn profile and job search letters to prepare for interviews.
Often, we forget that the resume, LinkedIn profile, and letters we create during the job search process are not documents to be completed and forgotten. Put another way, our career marketing materials are not ends in themselves. We developed them to meet the goal of landing a better job.
You developed these career marketing materials to convince company representatives that they should interview you. So, isn’t it a good idea to be prepared for elaborating on the contents of these documents at the interview. Have a story prepared to explain each accomplishment bullet on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Develop additional stories around accomplishments you did not have room to include.
Think about your career marketing materials as your agenda for the meeting. The hiring manager may have their own agenda so you’ll have to “roll with the punches.” At a minimum, you’ll feel more confident when you walk in or sign on for the conversation.
Practice in person and online.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do once you have an interview scheduled is to practice. You can rehearse with other people and with online tools.
The classic way to practice is to work with a friend or coach that asks you questions, listens to your responses, and provides feedback. Typically, when I have led job clubs and job search classes, I have incorporated this practice by asking each participant to “tell me about yourself” at the beginning of our meeting. Frequently, this has been the first question posed in job interviews at all levels.
Chances are that the response to this question is right in front of you if your career marketing materials are landing interviews for you. The “About” section of your LinkedIn profile will probably contain all the talking points you need if you have made good use of the 2600 characters available in the dialogue box to make your pitch.
Responses to queries about your achievements at work come directly from elaborating on accomplishment bullets you have included in your resume.
In fact, your LinkedIn profile allows 2000 characters per job to explain your role and accomplishments. There is even a “Project” section you can use to provide even more information. These can provide your detailed talking points, and unlike your personal notes, they can serve as “leave behinds” you can refer to in follow-up correspondence.
Use LinkedIn to practice.
Recently, I found that LinkedIn has tools that can help you practice and prepare for your interview without attending a class or coaching session. There is an “interview tools” link under the “Work” menu that will let you record video responses to common questions, and get automated feedback on issues such as the number of “ums” and filler words you use in each response.
A quick scan of submenus in the section shows that your practice can go beyond the basics. LinkedIn includes some of the most common screening questions such as “tell me about yourself?” and “what is your greatest weakness?”
As the TV commercials say, there’s more! LinkedIn includes questions for specific career fields, such as investment banking, sales, accounting, and software development. This will help take your prep beyond the questions practiced at typical job club and job search class meetings. Now, nothing is better than ponding to questions in front of a live audience for feedback. The best practice, of course, is going to actual interviews. LinkedIn, though, should be a great starting point for your interview prep.