how to crack interview in 3 steps

Posted on 5th Jun 2013 23:20:24 in Interview

When preparing for a job search, candidates work on their branding, resumes, and online profiles. They fine-tune their conversational techniques and networking efforts. And the goal of all of this is to get the interview allowing them to sell themselves and land the job offer.

Interviewers ask all types of questions, but at the end of the day, theysummarize their decision with “Do you recommend this candidate for hire? Why or why not?” It all boils down to answering, “Why you?”

So how do you successfully prepare for an interview when there are thousands of interview questions and no idea of what will be asked? I am introducing a 3 step interview preparation methodology here to ensure you have the best chances for success.

Step 1: Analyze Your Career Aspiration and Itemize Preferred Competencies

Make a list of the technical, functional, and professional competencies, as well as values, needed that align with your career aspiration. Researching job descriptions and conducting informational interviews are fantastic sources to support this step in the process.

Step 2: Prepare the Interview Preparation Framework

Your goal is to have 10 to 12 stories prepared directly in response to the competencies and values listed in Step 1. This evidence is laid out in a worksheet ensuring nothing important is left out. Key story points include:

  • State what you did;
  • Explain why you did it - the “before” landscape;
  • Describe how you did it;
  • Define the results vs goal; and
  • Identify the longer-term impact.

This is a real-life example of the difference this framework can make. An interviewer asks: “Tell me about a goal you’ve set for yourself that you accomplished and are particularly proud of.” They are looking for a value of being a self-starter, someone with initiative.

Candidate Response 1: “I set a goal to complete an IronMan by the age of 26 and I accomplished this last year.”

Candidate Response 2: “I was a competitive high school athlete although not good enough to play college ball at a Big 10 university. So, after my college graduation in 2011, I realized how much I missed that athletic and competitive part of my life and set a goal to complete an IronMan by the age of 26. I took 2 years researching training programs, IronMan events, and saving $10,000 needed for training, and in 2013, I signed up for IronMan Arizona: 2014. I spent 12 months training while raising $8,000 for SmileTrain giving me extra motivation. I overcame 2 injuries including an accident where I totaled my bike but I’m proud to say I finished in 12.5 hours against my goal of 13. I’m committed to living a healthy lifestyle and have inspired many others to compete by sharing my experience.”

By fleshing this example out in the framework, a candidate won’t forget to mention that they overcame a hurdle, finished ahead of goal, researched and saved, or achieved a more positive outcome than expected.

Response 1 wows the interviewer as they probably know how difficult it must be to finish an IronMan.

But response 2 not only wows the interviewer but it tells them that this person has perseverance, is a self-starter, goal-oriented, committed, dependable, civic-minded, and so much more. They may be inspired to learn more about them. In fact, they may get the feeling that this is the type of person they want on their team.

Try to sketch this framework out on paper. The columns across the top will be Competency; What; Why; How; Result vs Goal; and Impact. The Rows along the left-hand side will be Technical; Functional; Professional; and Values.

You can see how this IronMan story might be laid out under the Values row.

  • What: Completed IronMan, AZ, November 2014;
  • Why: Missed competitive sports; Set a goal to finish;
  • How: Researched and saved $10K over 2 yrs; Trained for 12 months;
  • Result: Completed in 12.5 hours vs goal of 13;
  • Impact: Lifelong commitment to health and wellness; Inspiring others.

Step 3: Test Your Stories

Once you've built out this framework and have 10 or so stories laid out, ask yourself ANY interview question and see if a good example or story easily comes to mind. The IronMan example could be used to describe a goal, discuss conflicting time priorities, overcoming challenges, or many others.

If you follow this three step process of researching the position and identifying what the employer is looking for and then aligning it with your experiences, you will feel confident in answering any question that comes your way!

And finally, don’t short-change this preparation required to best market yourself in the interview. All of these stories will add up and build the case for the interviewer to answer YES when asked if you are the right person for this job!