Preparing for Showtime: The Job Interview

Learn how to properly prepare for a job interview and perform well as you interview for new jobs.

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Preparing for Showtime: The Job Interview
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CEO and Author of Career Rehab
6 min read
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The following excerpt is from Kanika Tolver’s book Career Rehab. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Most traditional career coaches teach you to prepare for a job interview the usual way: Know your resume, research the company and review the job description. But I like to instruct my clients to tell their brand’s story in a way that displays their subject-matter expertise.

When a person is looking for a new home, they want unique community amenities, appliances and spaces that other homes don’t offer. When you show up at a job interview, your goal is to showcase what’s unique and special about you. You want to walk out leaving a memorable impression and with the panel feeling like you killed the interview.

“Showtime” during the job interview should be you talking about your work experience like it’s a movie. Acquaint the interview panel with your education, experience and expertise in a way that allows them to get to know you as a person, not just as a professional. If you have a special offering or skill set, describe your experience the same way you’d describe a great movie you just saw.

When you sell yourself in job interviews, sell your career experiences through storytelling. Use this “Job Interview Preparation Checklist” to create a winning impression:

  • Know your personal brand story intimately and be able to express it smoothly to the interview panel. They want to know who you are, where you were educated, where you’ve worked and where you’re going in the future.
  • Understand the methodologies and technologies listed in the job announcement. Become comfortable with analyzing pro­cesses and industry life cycles, and back that up with technol­ogy implementation.
  • Describe how you can add value to the company based on their offerings and mission. When a company offers a service and you have that expertise, explain how your expe­rience, education and expertise can help move the company forward.
  • Make sure your personality shines through your responses and questions for the panel. When you show your personal side, you get a feel for the company culture, and they get to learn about you as well.

As you prepare for showtime, rehearse with the people who can give you the best feedback. It’s a great idea to practice with a good friend, spouse, mentor, career coach, or former manager or colleague (if you remain on good terms). Select someone who’ll give you honest, raw feedback. I always practice my interview skills with my husband because he critiques my responses, my tech knowledge and how I deliver my questions to the panel. Start preparing for a job interview 72 hours ahead of time so the information will be fresh in your mind.

Related: How to Become a Brand, Not an Employee

Don’t bomb the job interview

One of the biggest fears most professionals have is performing poorly in a job interview. It’s not unlike when a home’s been on the market for a very long time: The owner starts to feel like their well-loved home is a horrible piece of property. It’s the same with us as professionals. But there are good reasons you might bomb a job interview. Some of the most common interview mistakes include not dressing for the part, having a limited knowledge of the company because you didn’t do your research, showing up late, forgetting to bring a hard copy of your resume, and not asking any questions about the company.

Of course, you may be running late through no fault of your own: Maybe a car accident caused a huge, unexpected traffic snarl. Life happens, but it’s vitally important to communicate your potential tardiness before you’re actually late. Call or email the point of contact to let them know the situation and see if you need to reschedule or if they still want you to come to the interview. Similarly, in this digital age, having a hard copy of your resume isn’t always necessary, but it’s better to be prepared than unprepared, so please bring your resume to the job interview.

When it comes to dressing for the interview, always try to dress for the company culture and add a few touches of personality. Don’t go over the top, because you want them to focus on your performance, not on what you’re wearing. If you don’t do the proper research, you may not dress correctly. For example, if you wear a suit to an interview at Rolling Stone magazine, it will be obvious that you didn’t research the company, because they don’t have a conservative culture.

It’ll be very clear to the interview panel if you don’t know anything about the company. Most of the time, the interview panel will give you a brief introduction to the organization, but they want to rate your interest in the company based on what you can tell them about their mission, products and services. So do a deeper dive in your research. Keeping up with the company’s new business announcements, blog posts, or clients will help you develop your list of questions for the interview panel. Try to ask questions that bring that “wow” factor to the conversation.

Related: Why You Need to Start Dating Jobs

Most professionals will ask standard questions about their role, the company culture and career growth. But you want to ask questions that hook into where you can add value or where they’re trying to go in the future. These may include:

  • Technical questions about the role and its responsibilities
  • General questions about the company culture, growth, diver­sity, or work-life balance
  • Wow-factor questions about a current event or business announcement regarding the company’s future

Has the company recently been in the news for a new innovation? Ask about it! Today, most companies are looking for creative professionals who can add value. As you go into your interview, think outside the box as you discuss your interest in the company. Job interviews are an opportunity to win the panel over with your savviness and business-driven ideas. So think about what type of employees the company would want representing their brand, then sell yourself as a fan or advocate for the company brand.

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