Just a quick thought on prepping for a successful interview, but first…
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” – Sun Tzu
There are a lot good, pithy sayings out there, but none really captures the essense of what you need to know and must do as well as this saying from the Art of War.
Not to overdramatize the situation – but – when you step into that room with an interviewer; you are stepping into the battlezone. Now, don’t get wrong me here, or misinterpret what I am saying. The interviewer is not a combatant, nor is the interview a fight you must win (well, it’s not literally a fight – but you do have to win it).
The interview is a give and take session where you both feel each other out – to assess whether moving forward is mutually beneficial or not.
That said, Sun Tzu’s advice is dead on. Your state of mind going into an interview is all your own. You can choose to be nervous. You can choose to be confident. You can choose to hope for the best.
But really, is “hoping for the best” the best state of mind to be in? Not if you want to win – according to Sun Tzu.
And it comes down to preparation.
In two parts.
Your work history.
- You must be able to speak smoothly and effortlessly about every aspect of your work history. Should be easy, yes. Still, I’ve seen folks stumble and meander on about gaps, layoffs, and reasons for being let go. And there is no excuse for having a mindcramp about a particular job or responsibility.
- The only issue is knowing your resume backwards and forward with supporting statements. Here’s a flash of brilliance – write your own resume and do not embellish. The more you embellish, the harder it is to speak naturally about it.
- A good tool is the Guerrilla Resume Process. It’s pricier than getting a book at the library, or even a how-to resume book at Barnes & Noble, but being able to drill down to testimonies, comments, etc. would be priceless in that interview.
Your interview preparation.
- Based on whether you are speaking with an HR rep or a hiring manager, you must have a tailored set of questions that you either ask throughout the interview (would be best) or toward the end – if it’s an “interrogation” style interview. This is critical, HR folks have a different viewpoint than hiring managers. HR needs to know whether you can fit in or not. They need to assess the issue of whether you would be a good hire or not.
- A Hiring manager basically wants to know if you can solve her problems.
- You need to formulate and ask those questions smoothly and effortlessly.
If you are not practicing your interview skills with a critical friend or mentor, you are the defeated warrior going into an interview and hoping for the best.
Practice, practice, practice.
With a fellow human being who is willing to give you hard, honest feedback. And you are willing to accept.
Be the victorious warrior – do everything you can to ensure that you win first – then sit down with the interviewer.