In our coaching practice and on our personal effectiveness programmes we often help people who are getting ready for interviews. These could be interviews for new jobs, or meetings with new supporters, or pitches. Here, Yvette Gyles, =mc Director and coach explains how to prepare for such meetings with confidence.
Interviews are tough. They are also very strange. Interviewing people for new roles, or for new partnerships, or for consultancy, is a very common approach. This is despite the fact that interviews are often not very effective – its hard to get to know someone in a formal, nerve-inducing setting. These days, interviews tend to focus on structured, competency-based questions – designed to remove bias from the process by ensuring all applicants answer the same set of questions and are judged against the same set of criteria. Competency-based means assessing skills, knowledge and abilities rather than personality or personal characteristics. In other words, interviewers are looking to answer two fundamental questions: can you do this job, and do it well? Who is likely to do it the best? Therefore, your job as the interviewee is to make it easy for them to answer those questions – yes I can do the job and you should pick me. This is why you need to make an impact – to be memorable, and to stand out. We can do this by preparing well, answering questions well, and following up well.
To get ready for an interview, it is useful to do an assessment of yourself in relation to the specific job you are being interviewed for. Try the following steps:
List the qualities the interviewers are looking for, define them and then identify examples of how you demonstrate that quality. For example:
Now look at things from a different angle – what concerns might the interviewers have about you, or weaknesses you know about yourself and how will you address those. For example:
Repeat these steps for every quality and every concern.
The number one rule about answering questions is to answer the specific question that has been asked, not the one you were hoping would be asked. Identify whether the interviewer is asking about a task area and therefore your knowledge of that task. Or a process area, and therefore your skill and ability in delivering in that area. If it helps, write it down on a notepad. Use this structure to answer the question:
No matter what the outcome from your interview, you can use it as a learning experience. This helps you prepare for future interviews and even meetings. Always ask for feedback to help you develop your technique and build your confidence, ideally verbally so you can have a conversation with the interviewer. Try these questions:
Always end by thanking the interviewer for their time. You never know when you will meet again, so leave a lasting positive impression.
If you found this useful, and would like to know more about developing your confidence in interviewing, visit our page on Outplacement.
If you would like to discuss how we can support you on a one-to-one basis through coaching, call 020 7978 1516 to speak to one of our experienced coaches or email firstname.lastname@example.org.