Let’s assume you’re in some type of career transition. Either you are interviewing for exciting new roles, eyeing a big promotion, researching new career possibilities, or simply pondering a change.
There are many talented candidates out there in the professional world. People often tell us when they apply for a position that they are amazed to find themselves in a large pool of highly qualified applicants.
What will you say to differentiate yourself?
Here’s a scenario: Lake County Finance (LCF) seeks a new senior vice president for their growing company. Beyond the need for certain qualifications, they are looking for the right candidate that will fit their culture, offer the financial and leadership experience that they need, and become a contributing member of their executive team.
Can LCF trust you to do what you say you can do? Do they believe that you can become an effective leader for them? Will you help them become stronger, smarter, swifter and more innovative? First things first—you have the advantage from the outset. You’ve been invited in to take the job. Now all you have to do is give them the reason to make you an offer. Advantage…YOU.
How can you prepare what you’re going to say in your upcoming meeting with the LCF’s COO and president?
Practice. We say this ALL THE TIME. Practice your skills, even when you aren’t interviewing. Practice telling memorable stories. Practice presenting and supporting your great ideas. Practice in the car, at the dinner table, or join a networking group to gain experience. Trust us on this: like a great athlete, the more you practice, the more likely your muscle memory will kick in when you really need it.
Drive home your main message. Successful political candidates are ones with well-honed messages that they repeat over and over so they come through clearly in all their communications. This is a great tactic for job interviews too. Do you want the LCF brass to know that you’re the right person for the job? Look for opportunities to weave in that statement when responding to questions, whether at the beginning (“I’m the right person for this role because…”), in the middle (“…and this unique experience makes me the ideal candidate for this job because…”) or at the end (“and based on all of these factors, I know that I’m the right choice to take on this role.”).
Know your sweet spot. Just as a great hitter pounces when they get the pitch they want, be prepared to swing hard when you get a chance to tell your most memorable stories, share your best experiences, or enlighten them on topics that demonstrate your expertise and industry knowledge. Make a list of the questions you want to answer, and make sure you get to express your best ideas during your interview.
Brush up on weak spots. We encourage our clients to write down all of the questions they hope will NOT be asked during the interview. Once you have the list, plan ahead for those questions, because some of them are bound to come out. What will you say? What examples will you use? Ask your recruiter, a trusted colleague or advisor to help you think through professional responses—in your own words—that will drive home the point and enhance your overall message.
Ask questions. Most interviewers understand that this is a two-way opportunity—you’re checking them out while they’re determining if you’re a good fit. When the time comes, asking questions will be seen as a sign of preparation, interest and confidence. To create a list of questions to ask, do your homework by thoroughly reviewing the job description, looking through their website, checking out recent press releases or finding articles they’ve posted.
Use all of these tips to help you plan what you’re going to say when you get that interview. In our next blog article, look for tips covering HOW to say it to make sure your confidence comes through every time.