Practice makes perfect.
In reality, practice may not produce perfection but it usually produces much better results for those who engage than those who do not.
This is certainly the case in interviewing. One of the frequently asked questions is, What should I do to prepare for an interview? I wish more people would ask it, and those that do would follow through. There is a night and day difference between candidates who
are prepared and ready to tell their story in the context of the client’s needs versus those who are not. It is the difference between an interesting conversation and and listening to someone scratch their fingernails across the blackboard.
There are three broad categories you should address.
- Be prepared to link your relevant accomplishments with the needs of the client. Think specifically about the strengths you have, the quantifiable proof that they ARE a strength, and practice working that information into answers. While candidates should not be too aggressive in trying to control the interview, being prepared to take questions and provide the requested information with your own
“spin” is not only permissible, it is something I recommend. There typically is a certain amount of equality in the interview process, it is not a function that candidates or the interviewers have a lot of experience with, so take advantage where you can to ensure you make your value proposition known.
- While there are dozens upon dozens of books covering the subject of interviewing, and the 50 or 100 most commonly asked interview questions, my recommendation is Topgrading, a seminal work by Bradford Smart, PhD. He is the guy who helped Jack Welch build that extraordinary team at General Electric in the 1980s. This books focuses not only on the process, but it provides a list of the most effective behavior and values questions, This book is the equivalent of the take-home-test and offers candidates an opportunity to select questions, prepare answer,s and practice. I recommend candidates buy 5×7 index cards and prepare draft answers.
- Now it is time to practice. Stand or sit in front of a mirror and practice delivering your answers. Be sure you include the questions that give candidates the most pause:
- What are your weaknesses?
- Describe your biggest mistake, what happened and what lessons did you learn?
With regard to those two famously negative questions, be truthful but quickly pivot to how you overcame adversity and reintroduce a relevant example from your value proposition.
As you practice your answers remember this: the first answer you wrote can always be improved, so tweak the content as well as your delivery. Learn this material, do not memorize. Make it a part of who you are, your all important success story.
You must prepare. You must practice, and you must be authentic.