If you read my last post, then you know I can write a book about things I wish candidates would stop doing in an interview. This time I’m flipping the script and sharing two things I wish people would start doing. I could write a book on this discussion too, but here are three things I’d place at the top of the list.
Show up with a game plan. If you’re applying for any type of leadership role, develop a game plan of how you’d spend your first 6-9 months on the job. The First 90 Days, a book worth reading more than once, gives step by step guidance on how to approach the objectives of your role. Leadership requires vision, so after determining where you want to take the team you’re leading, develop actionable milestones for getting there. The most engaging interviews are those that center around a discussion of taking an organization from its current place to a future state of success. From my experience, it’s the candidates who show up ready to discuss solutions that stand out the most.
Focus your answer on the question that was asked. Don’t take me around the lake, through the woods, and up the mountain to land at your final answer. Be direct and to the point. Elaborate when necessary but make sure you actually answer the questions that you are asked. You should not have to be asked the same question three times before you finally answer it. When I am interviewed for jobs, I take a notebook so that I can take notes while I am being interviewed. I might think of a thought I want to come back to, or maybe I just want to note different aspects of a question so that I can address everything. The point of an interview is to examine you as a candidate. Failing to answer the questions will lead to you failing the test of whether or not you should be selected for the job.
Use the job description to prepare for the interview. A good job description will identify all the possible ways you can be examined. If the job requires strong leadership skills or business acumen, be prepared to talk about the experience you’ve gained in those areas. When I am interviewing for a job, I actually spend time thinking of past experiences I want to share. I’m a big fan of storytelling, and its ability to help people remember things. This is especially helpful in interviewing because people will more likely remember the candidate who described how she managed the diversification of a revenue model more than the candidate who is great with excel spreadsheets. Grab the stories from your experiences and be prepared to tell them.