Job seekers, I hope this season you are not only enjoying the magic of the holidays (including watching the classic It’s a Wonderful Life!), but you are also networking, applying for a handful of jobs, and prepping for future job interviews.
When it comes to job interview preparation, my hope is that you consider how to make every moment of the interview count to your advantage. From the confidence and friendliness you exude upon entering the room, to the way you engage the group, to the crafting of your responses, each second can indeed allow you to shine.
Showcase Your Potential
Here are five pointers to making each moment of the interview be one that showcases your potential:
- Learn effective story-telling techniques. When asked how you will effectively [fill in the blank with a career-specific task], you will want to capture your audience and demonstrate your strengths by telling a story (a good story) of how you excelled in the past. Invest the time now to learn the art of storytelling! Each story should be relevant to your audience, easy to follow, honest, engaging, include an element of surprise, and be detailed.
I was once told by my supervisor why I was chosen for a teaching position over another well qualified teacher: She remembered (and recited back right then, one year later) a detailed and tender story I recalled at my interview of teaching a young, red haired boy to independently eat after many were convinced it was impossible. She said it affected her and she wanted me on board after being convinced of my tenacity.
Now I didn’t know the specific questions I would be asked at that interview, but I did have a handful of influential stories ready to share; that’s a must, as is intentionally learning how to tell a memorable story.
I recommend reading Storytelling: The Secret Weapon to Wow a Hiring Manager and 9 Tips for Better Storytelling.
Seek common ground. From mirroring the interview panel’s enthusiasm and tone, to researching the goals of the company and acknowledging how they align with yours, to making casual conversation and identifying a mutual hobby or observation with the interview panel, consider every aspect of communication from the panel as a bid for agreement. Accept the bids and help the team realize you are on the same page and are practically already their partner.
Boldly declare what sets you apart. No question, you want common ground with your interview panel, but this doesn’t mean you want to imply “I’m exactly like you!”. You will want to define your own unique strengths and skill sets. I guarantee you, you have unique qualities and experiences and skills that can help any organization grow; know what they are in relation to the interviewing company and boldly proclaim them. Your goal here is, “It’s obvious we’ll get along great and be unified, and you’ll want me here to enhance the team.”
Practice your “I don’t know” answer. As much as we want to prepare for every potential interview question, we also want to prepare an answer if we’re stumped or get a little stage fright. For starters, rehearse saying something like, “Good question; I don’t know the answer, but I’ll get back to you.” Write the team an e-mail when you have a good response. If applicable, it’s also a good idea to let the team know you are knowledgeable on resources to find the answer. For example, “Ah, good question. I’m going to look through the [insert professional document] or talk with the [insert professional organization] and get back with you.” Remember, if you don’t know an answer to a rather obscure question, don’t worry at all. It’s the perfect opportunity to follow up.
Set the panel at ease. In a perfect world, all would understand people with visual impairments are normal people with hindered sight, diverse, and capable. This is not a perfect world—I hate to admit. Your job is to set the panel at ease if your visual impairment is obvious. You’ll want to spend a brief minute or two describing what you see, what accommodations you use, and sharing (through engaging stories of course!) how you’ve been successful in the past. Again, seeking common ground on mutual interests and hobbies is a great strategy for letting the panel know you are just a regular guy or gal with strengths that will benefit the organization.
To summarize, address the “elephant in the room” (an obvious visual impairment) briefly and move on to what you have in common and how you will bring a new skill set to the organization. To be memorable, show and tell your strengths with your excellent story telling skills.