art of interviewing

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Interview success is important not only for your job prospects but for your self-confidence during the job hunt.

Ensuring you have a positive, successful interview process is important as you continue your job search.

Do Your Homework

A successful interview comes with a lot of preparation. Who will you be speaking with in the interview?  What are your common denominators?  Look up this person (or panel) on LinkedIn. Were you in the same field, university, former companies, or community groups?  Also, conduct your research on the company.  What do you know about them? Have you also read their social media feeds? What do they post / tweet about?  Read the articles they have written – be prepared to sprinkle in some of that info during your meeting.

Prepare Your Questions to Pose to Your Interviewer

There will be moments in the interview when clearly the next question belongs to you. Think about this like a date! You wouldn’t want your date to start asking you “hardball” questions right out of the gate.  Consider some nice “softball” questions during the first ten-minutes such as: “Ms. Smith, tell me how this position came about?”; or “I recently saw a press release that your company is about to ___. What is this department doing to help that transition?”; etc.  These opening questions show interest, research, and some high level thought processes.  As the interview progresses, consider “hardball” questions like: “What are your challenges”; “How do you define success for this role?”; etc.  I consider these “hardball” questions because your interviewer needs to trust you, or certainly be considering you before laying out their current challenges.

Prepare your Answers for the Interviewers Questions

Use the job posting like an open book test. Review the responsibilities for the position.  If you could turn that responsibility into a question (and a follow up question), what would they be? How would you answer?  I find that if candidates can do this – they are probably ready for 80% of the interview!

Have Validation Stories Ready

Validation Stories are KEY for your interview success.  You want to be able to share what you have done at past companies, why it was important, how you did it, what the outcomes were, and (the best part) how it relates back to this company’s needs.  If you could have 5 validation stories at your fingertips for each interview, even if you are only able to use three of them, you will be in excellent shape!

Prepare your Value Proposition

(It’s not an ELEVATOR SPEECH! You’re not an elevator!) This is about showing WHY you are the candidate of choice!  You have 2 to 3 minutes to present your Value Proposition in the early moments of the interview.  Use it to set the tone of the entire hour that is about to unfold!  This shows them why YOU are the person that was invited in!  If the interviewer doesn’t say: “Tell me about yourself” – Please volunteer it, jump in and say: Ms. Smith, before we begin, let me tell you about myself!”  They will appreciate your executive confidence and realize that this is a great way to start the conversation.  I often wonder as a career coach, if this is the one question that we know will be asked 90% of the time – why aren’t candidates ready for it? Promote it during the opening moments of the interview.

The Thank You Note of Their Dreams

Follow up with 24 – 36 hours with a GREAT Thank You note.  In the note, DO mention several challenges you heard them speak about and then note how you have handled each area in the past with success.  Back it up using action verbs, metrics, outcomes, etc.   A thank you note like this goes beyond the obligatory thank you for seeing me, but rises to an executive piece that clearly shows you distinguishing yourself from other candidates.

Let’s get to work!

– Linda

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or [email protected]