The following is the fifth article in the series, "Living Your Personal Brand," in which marketing master Jim Joseph discusses practical ways to build your brand daily and use it to advance your personal and professional lives.
A job interview is perhaps the most important occasion to put your personal brand to use. This is the time you need to shine -- presumably because you are striving for the next phase in your career and life. It's important to be focused, determined and consistent so that you can convince the interviewer that your personal brand is a perfect match for their needs.
It all starts with your resume, most likely because it's what got you to this spot. The interviewer is likely to have a copy in front of them. Your resume should be an accurate reflection of your brand, and it should be very easy to figure out what you are all about.
Don't make the reader work hard.
Start with a quick positioning statement that succinctly describes what you offer, a brief summary of your qualifications and then a highly-organized and bullet point listing of all your major accomplishments. A potential employer should be able to swiftly scan your resume and have a solid sense of your fit, and be intrigued enough to read it again for more detail.
Clarity and desire are the two goals of your resume.
As the online version of your resume, your LinkedIn profile should mirror your resume with the same goals in mind. Make sure the rest of your social presence is consistent as well -- people do check, trust me.
Social media is often the place where first impressions are initially formed, well before the first glance in a live interview. Be prepared to use Skype as well, so that you can easily and impressively interview for jobs outside of your hometown efficiently.
When you're in the interview, you should consciously put your personal brand into action. Make the interviewer pleased that they chose to meet with you and that this is time well spent. The obvious firm handshake and eye contact are givens, as is a lot of energy and a big smile. These are the things that immediately sell the interviewer on your personal brand.
Honestly, I've noticed a lack of personal style in many of my interviews through the years. Give some thought to the clothes and accessories you wear for each unique job interview. While you may not need to wear a suit, make sure your clothing reflects not only your brand but also an acknowledgement that this interview is important to you.
Even casual wear, while appropriate once you have the job, should be dialed up for the interview. I can't tell you how many guys walk into my office with jeans and a scrappy shirt for an interview. It's an immediate disappointment. For women, clothes you might wear at night or on the boardwalk should never appear in a job interview. I kid you not.
What's the secret to getting off on the right foot?
The first question is often something such as "tell me about yourself." Most people blow it on the first round because they talk for minutes on end with a chronological listing of every job they've ever had. No! That's what a resume is for!
Simply make a focused statement (a positioning statement, if you will) of who you are as a professional and what you've accomplished. Two or three sentences max. Hook them in to start a line of questioning where you can weave in what you want them to know.
Remember to let the interviewer take control.
It's their meeting and you are there to impress them based on what they want to know. The key is to make sure you've woven your carefully crafted message points about what you will do for them into the format of the questions they've decided to ask.
When they ask if you have any questions, don't ask if they like working there. You'll never hear the truth anyway. Ask two questions that will allow you to prove you are right for the job. Reinforce their answer with a quick confirmation. Stick to two or three focused and specific questions at most.
How do you lose a job prospect in 10 seconds?
Badly groomed nails. It shows a complete lack of hygiene, taste and commitment. Do your nails!
If you want to nail a tough interview and score a killer job, let your personal brand guide you on a focused presentation of why you will fulfill the employer's needs.