Job interviews, whether in front of a panel of employers or one to one interviews, are the combining of a personal presentation with our knowledge as professionals. While the structure of the interview can be very diverse, depending on the company, the field and also the recruiters themselves, there are universal paths that we can follow to transmit a clear and confident message, by preparing our speech accordingly.
We should be prepared to strategically use our soft skills that we consider to be the most relevant. There are frequent requests in this recruitment context. “tell us about yourself”; “what do you consider to be your strongest point?”; “what is your added value to the company”; “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. These are examples of questions in which we always explore our most important skills to transmit our message and try to captivate the audience, in this case the employer or employers.
When we dive into our answers using the aimed soft skills, we should not limit ourselves to them, rather explore how we have used those soft skills at work, volunteering or academic life to overcome challenges that may come along the way. We should not just say that we have certain skills, rather explore how we have used those skills at work, volunteering or academic life to overcome obstacles that may have come along the way. We should not just refer to our persuasive characteristics, rather explain how that helped us to overcome different professional or even personal situations:
- • We can rather say: “the fact of having persuasion skills helped me to close up to 100 deals in the companies where I have worked”.
- • Instead of saying “I am proactive, caring, and client focused”, we can tell that the fact that we are proactive and trying to find the best solutions to our client, has led us to become confident and differentiated professionals (we can also illustrate with one or two personal examples in one of our previous roles).
Aspects to consider for the success in job interviews
Knowing everything that is written in our CV is essential, as the recruiter will use this support as the conducting wire of the interview, by doing a chronological reading and questioning in what way our past work experiences have enriched us. May it be work experience, the fact that we have double nationality and can speak two languages fluently, the fact that we have lived in different countries or even if, for example, beyond being a good lawyer, we are successful writers.
Overcoming challenges – Storytelling
Just as for Public Speaking techniques, we should create a personal story where we present a challenge and how we overcame it, in order to impress recruiters with how creative and audacious we can be when dealing with misfortunes we may had using our soft skills.
Stories about overcoming challenges allow to give our audience the idea that nothing is impossible, all depends on the effort to make our goals come true.
When we talk about challenges, we are referring to situation in which we struggled, may it be searching for jobs, in the job itself, applications for universities, during our volunteering times or any other personal challenge. We can – and should – provide examples telling our success story in overcoming a challenge:
- • ”I had 2 academic interviews to access two different master courses. The fact that I am organized and methodic led to the possibility of choosing the one I wanted. I was not happy with just being accepted in one, because I was not able to demonstrate my personal value and skills during the interview. As such, I was chosen for both and could select the one that was more in tune with my interests.”
- • ”It was hard to access the volunteering association that I was aiming for, however by showing my time management and team spirit skills, I was accepted. Soon after, my leadership skills were highlighted and I am today the head of human logistics department.”
- • At work, we receive many projects continuously, which considerably increased the work flow. The fact that I am flexible in terms of schedule and to adapt my needs to the company led to having two of these projects as our biggest clients.
Logical and sequential report
Building our presentation in an involving way helps us to captivate our recruiters interest, while simultaneously allowing the recruiters to captivate our essence as humans. When we do a good interview preparation, we can easily demonstrate all positive aspects and create a good dynamic. This will help us to achieve any audience who we want to reach. By reporting facts or achievements, we should follow the STAR method – situation, task, action, result. By following this order we will transmit a clear idea of how we proceeded in a certain situation without forgetting to refer important aspects.
- • Situation: describe it and specify.
- • Task: Show what was our task.
- • Actions: What we did in the specific situation. How did we react or skills used to obtain the proposed results.
- • Result: the consequence of our action. Both to us and to the company/institution where this situation occurred.
In public speaking, preparation and organization are extremely important, and the STAR method allows us to organize our line of thought i describing specific situations.
Although STAR is the only communication technique for excellence in job interviews, this strategy can be used in different occasions, may it be for academia, recruitment for artistic groups or within the work market. It allows us to do a more correct organization of the situation, which consequently allows us to narrate the event as it was, without losing the conducting wire. This mental organization of the narration allows us, in an organized way, to focus on the essential points that may help to highlight ourselves, such as:
- • Our capability of resolving problems and issues;
- • How we deal with stress;
- • How we deal with unpredictable situations;
- • How we work non-stop;
- • What are our contributes for a company;
- • What are our benefits for a team;
We will demonstrate all of these with practical examples following this train of thought. I will not just say: ”I am very important for a team”, rather I am going to show it. I should say that, for example, in a situation with overloudness of tasks for the team I was leading, my action (my power of organizing and distributing tasks) led to – even if there was this obstacle of overloudness of tasks – the project was still delivered on time.
Thus, we turn from words in theory to something more practical. I am not just saying that I consider myself to be extremely organized, rather I am giving examples of it, showing how that helped me and my team.
Use, if applicable, statistics
These will help us illustrate how we overcame challenges and achieved great results. If the soft skills helped us to deal with challenges throughout or life experiences, then the obvious conclusion are the results that can be demonstrated with numbers. We should turn the numbers personal, showing how proud we are of what we have obtained.
A statistic support allows us to demonstrate achievements in factual terms.
In job interviews, we should not lose focus on ourselves, neither on our path. We can refer that the team that we worked with was selling very well, but we need to highlight ourselves, which means that, beyond the fact that the team was selling very well, I knew I was one of the biggest responsible for it. When possible, we can demonstrate this with numbers, reports, recommendation letters. We can, for example, have a graphic or a table where our name really distinguishes itself.
Answering naturally, in an honest and clear way
We should not avoid to show the real us when we are faced with difficult questions related to, for example, the request to explain complicated moments that we had dealing with a certain task or with what we considered to be our weaknesses. By referring to weaknesses, we should not consider it as negative, we should rather demonstrate that we do not allow those weaknesses to affect our overall performance:
- • We should not say: “I am a extremely anxious person and I get stressed when I have too much work”. We can replace this for: “even though I may not be the most relaxed person in the world, I have been learning how to deal in a. more controlled way with the stress associated to my job”.
- • We should not say (as a non-native English, not comfortable with the language that has become the universal language): “I am horrible at speaking English, I have no talent for it and I do not understand it”. We should instead replace it for “even though speaking English is not one of my strongest points, I do a daily effort to learn something new. May it be in movies, songs, or talking with friends.”
Bu talking like this, we are not focusing on the problem, but rather highlighting the way how we try to solve it. We could here use some adverbs such as:
- • Despite;
- • Even though;
- • However;
- • Nevertheless;
What this means is that we present the problem and also the solution, We should ensure that our answer reflects how we are working to overcome the specific difficulty we have. In case we are not organized, or in the case that we are not great at dealing with people, or we can get easily distracted, we can always show how we are working on those less strong aspects.
Preparation for a job interview does not mean hiding away our negative points and highlighting only the positive ones. It means, most of al, being ourselves in a way that the company understands that there is a connection between their needs ad what we can offer as professionals.
Adapting to the recruiter
All of us are different, and also the recruiters differ. There are some recruiters that are more relaxed, but also others that are more formal and serious. We should try to identify their style fast and adapt to it.
Knowing the company
Many times, we send CVs and we end up not remembering of every CV we sent and to which roles we have applied. There are recruitment processes that last long until the candidates are contacted, as the companies are waiting to reunite a higher amount of CVs to start the interviews. This delay can result in us forgetting about the application.
It is very important for us to decode our recruiters style to adapt to him fast.
However, after we are contacted, and before we go to the interview, we should look for more information about the company and the specific role we have applied to.
Showing that for us the company is not relevant enough – by not studying it carefully – will affect our performance negatively. However, demonstrating the opposite will result in the positive effect that we aim for.
Technical skills – Soft skills
Technical skills depend of what we have learned throughout our path that brought us to the specific job interview. We should not just focus on the technical skills in quantity, rather focus on those that are strongly connected to soft skills that we chose to present – such as resilience, dynamism, creativity or persistence.
We should previously select the. skills that we wat to refer, ad that we consider to be important for the role that we are applying to..
If we know how to use Photoshop and Illustrator, foe example, we should show how that technical skill has helped us boost our creativity in creating more digital content. If we know about programming, we should show how, having an idea of the importance of that same skill in the market had, served us as a basis for our persistence in learning about the tool.
We have, in previous articles, referred to the importance of adopting an adequate posture to the situation where we encounter ourselves.
Our body, as well as our voice, represent an important part of our speech. What we are going to say can be very structured and positive, however:
- • if we say it with a shaky voice;
- • not looking directly to he person;
- • with an inadequate posture;
We will not transmit the idea of confidence. In this article, we refer to the importance of non verbal communication.
The way we behave, our gestures and our posture are part of no verbal communication, and when being done incorrectly, they will project our fears and insecurities.
In job interviews, the time that we have to present ourselves is normally not very expense, and as such we should guarantee that, in the specific period, we can transmit correctly our message, in a confident way, without showing fear of public speaking. We should always remember that:
“There is no second opportunity for a first impression”
This being said, beyond arriving on time for the interview, we should present ourselves carefully, and respond to the expectations of the company (as per role´s description).
We should follow some etiquette rules to not having the risk of projecting an inadequate image to the specific situation.
If we are personal trainers and we go to an interview to work in a gym, maybe it does not justify that we dress ourselves as if we were going to an interview to work for a bank. This would not be adequate.
A good presentation allied with the knowledge of public speaking techniques will be key for our job interview to be a success and consequently help us to being the hired candidate!