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How to Nail Your Next Job Interview

Most people don’t know how to effectively plan or prepare for an interview.  They work hard to find the job and land the interview, but then go into the interview blind and unprepared.  It’s unfortunate, as being prepared for an interview is really very simple.  And the most important thing you can do is actually the easiest!

RULE #1 – NEVER BE NEGATIVE

No one wants to be around a negative person.  Not in their personal lives and certainly not for hours a day on the job.  That’s why, from the very beginning of the interview, you want to be positive – in your demeanor, in your greeting, and certainly in the answers you give.

This doesn’t mean you need to be fake or phony, it simply means you should frame your answers in a positive way.  One of the unfortunate things I see in candidates all the time (which can cost them the job) is the inability to answer the question, “Why are you leaving your current role?”

When answering this question, the number one rule is never be negative about your current employer.  Or your past employers or your co-workers.  Also, resist the urge to be negative about the work you’re currently doing.  All of this negativity leaves a sour taste in the mouth of your prospective employer.  They would never want an employee to speak of them in that way, and negative responses make it easy to assume you would.

To answer truthfully without being negative, think about how you can positively frame your current experience and prepare an answer to this question in advance.  An example would be:

Interviewer: “Why do you want to leave your current role or company?”

Candidate: “Currently, I don’t get to interact with people all that much, and I’ve come to realize that I’m passionate about people.”

OR

Candidate: “There are some newer technologies (or skills) I’m not exposed to in my current role that I would really like to learn.”

You would never say, “Unfortunately, this company hasn’t given me a raise even though I deserve one,” or ” I don’t really get along with my current boss.” It might seem obvious, but when an appropriate response isn’t prepared in advance, these can be the answers given under pressure.

RULE #2 – Use the SAR Method to Outline Accomplishments

I have seen it many, many times. Even though finding the right job is vitally important (we do spend the better part of our lives at work), people often go into interviews completely unprepared.

I would encourage you to set aside time and prepare for an interview just like you might prepare to give a speech or take a test.  The best way to do that is to think of 6-8 examples of the most impactful things you have ever done in your career or personal life. Then I want you to write them down using the SAR Method (SAR stands for Situation, Action, Result).  Consider each scenario and then outline:

1) the Situation or the problem you faced,

2) the Action that you took to handle the problem, and

3) the tangible Result of your actions.

Each one should take no more than two to three minutes to explain to an interviewer.

Doing this work in advance helps you immensely.  It prevents long, awkward pauses or aimless rambling as you frantically consider questions surrounding your greatest accomplishments, your toughest projects, or how you respond in difficult situations.   Thoughtfully considering and being able to draw from these examples will be invaluable to you as you navigate the interview process.

RULE #3 – Interview the Interviewer

Finally, remember that your goal is to find a good fit for yourself as you pursue a new vocation or role.  That’s why it’s important that you be prepared to not only be interviewed, but to interview the interviewer. As a recruiter, this is very similar to what I do.  I interview the hiring managers I work with to understand their culture and how they manage to make sure they’re a good fit for my candidates.

You should do the same thing because Leadership matters.  Do you want to work for a micromanager or someone who won’t listen to what you need? Does your potential manager have good character and a clear vision?

And Culture matters.  Are you relaxed and easy-going?  How would you handle a more rigorous, formal culture?

And Expectations matter.  Are you in a stage of life when flexibility is key?  Does this role require long hours on site? Is that a good fit?

All of these things are vitally important to your job satisfaction.

To understand this potential environment more fully, you should have your own questions prepared.   Some things you might want to know are:

  • What is the company culture?
  • What sets them apart from other companies that do what they do?
  • Do they have a unique value proposition in the market?
  • What are their mission/vision statement/core values?
  • Are they making an impact in an area that’s important to you?
  • What is the leadership style?
  • Who else will be on your team?
  • How does the team function?
  • What are scheduling expectations?
  • What are the opportunities for growth?

 

These questions are just a sampling of things you might want to know before deciding if a role is the right fit.  Really take the time to research the company beforehand and prepare questions that are important and relevant to you in your career.

What it all really boils down to is just being intentional about your interview.   Intentionally positive, intentional about how and what you share, and intentional about learning as much as you can about the role.  Put in a little thought beforehand, and, no matter the outcome, you will walk away with a win.

Hopefully, these techniques will help you in your interview process as you are finding a career or a job that you love and are passionate about.

Want to learn more? Contact us at chad@affinitysearchpartners.com. We would be honored to partner with you as you search for a career you love.

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