Career advice... Preparing for an interview is a bit like gold mining
Q: I have an interview coming up. There are not many opportunities like this in the current climate and I need to do well. I understand research and preparation are crucial. But what else would it take to get to be the chosen one? (BC, email).
A: It is harder to be called for an interview now, so well done. You are right about concentrating in your preparation. If you get the call, you need to make the most of that precious opportunity, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
My work as a career coach involves a lot of time helping professionals through interview preparation. It’s intense and draining work, but badly needed. We can all struggle with what we need to highlight in an interview.
It is my job to try to help the candidate find gold. By gold I mean those bits of information that will make you stand out and be remembered. But this is something that you can do on your own if you pay close attention.
So where should you look? Everywhere, but let’s start with two areas:
First, your research. I am assuming you know that researching for a role goes way beyond checking the company website. We should search for information most candidates won’t look for.
Examples could be a Twitter message from a company director; an insight an employee has shared on LinkedIn; a press release on new research or product development that relates to the role.
Those valuable bits of information need to be used wisely during the interview. Sprinkle the gold here and there. By doing this, you will show your knowledge and preparation. They will also boost your confidence by giving you a clear picture of the company, industry and culture.
Second, your own background and experience. This one can be a bit trickier. Sometimes candidates will tell me a long list of things they have done and achieved. The problem is that they are not aware of which ones to highlight and concentrate on.
The risk of answering something in the form of a ‘shopping list’ is not going to help you. It will just dilute the real gold. The reason for this difficulty is that we find very difficult to acknowledge our value and the real impact of our work.
So, what do we do? The answer is similar to gold panning, where miners separate gold from other materials like sand and gravel. We don’t need any sand in our answers. And we certainly don’t need any fool’s gold, which broke the heart of so many during the gold rush.
Ask yourself, when did one of my ideas created real change in my team? What feedback did I get? Which was my most successful project? What impact did my work have on company revenue?
That is the gold you need. Once found, your first step is to believe it is yours. Then structure your stories to clearly communicate your value and how it can be applied to the new role and company.
That combined information will help sell your potential. It is there: you just have to find and present it in the best possible light in the interview.
Slí Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com