Being invited to a job interview is an exciting thing. It means you are one of the top prospects for the position.
To save time, employers do not interview every job candidate who submits a resume. Instead, they carefully select a few candidates to talk to. So, congrats! You made it to next stage in the job search process.
But this new stage can be a stressful. There is a lot hanging on the interview. You will meet face-to-face with a hiring manager or a supervisor for a relatively short time period. You don't have much time to prove yourself. If you impress the interviewer, you have a great chance of landing the job. However, if you blow it, you'll probably have to look for another job.
There are many things you can do to leave a good impression in a job interview. For example, you can dress for the part, research your employer, speak clearly, and exude confidence. But based on my experience and from the material I've read, the best thing you can do is tell relevant stories about yourself.
You can tell all the stories you want but if they are not relevant to the job, you waste your time and the interviewer's time.
Here are some ways to determine what the employer is looking for.
First, consider why you got the interview. Did you get a good referral from a friend who works in the company? Ask your friend about the company and what they are looking for in the position.
If you don't know anybody in the company, then there was something in your resume that attracted them to you. Look at your resume again and figure out which sections may have caused them to give you a chance. Then, reinforce and elaborate those sections with stories.
For example, when I graduated from college, I got an interview with a company where I had no previous connection. The best parts of my resume were a strong GPA and a successful accounting internship.
During the interview, I talked about how I cut out excessive partying and avoided less ambitious students to focus on my studies and stay motivated to meet a GPA goal.
Also, I elaborated on my internship. I talked about reconciling a messy bank account that had not been reconciled in months even though multiple accountants had tried working on it.
I was offered the job the next day.
Second, look at the qualifications on the job posting. Think of stories that demonstrate that you meet those qualifications.
For example, if the company wants a marketer who is innovative, tell the story of the successful marketing campaign you created that surprised your boss and co-workers.
If the company is looking for a people-person to sell their products, tell the anecdote when you used your social skills to develop friendships with customers that they started coming to the store more often.
Using the story format is important for at least two reasons.
First, stories are memorable. The interviewer may be interviewing 7 or more people and it's hard to remember every interviewee. Many interviewers don't take notes for reference sake. They may not be in the right mindset during the interview. They may not be fully engaged because they are tired or distracted.
Stories are much easier to remember than general statements. For example, there are two people interviewing for a physical therapist position. Both of them are asked, "What is your greatest strength?"
Candidate A says, "I'm an encouraging person."
Candidate B says, "I'm an encouraging person. I remember a car accident victim who came to our clinic. He was pretty discouraged with his injuries. He had a long way to go before recovery. He would often get depressed but I never gave up on him. I encouraged him and gave him hope. He eventually found the motivation to work hard on the rehabilitation. We had a nice celebration when when he recovered fully."
Which candidate do you think will be more memorable?
Second, stories help the interviewer visualize what it would be like to have you as an employee. Stories give the company an opportunity to see your strengths more clearly.
Recall the Bright Spots
Before your interview, take some time to recall the best moments from your work experience. Choose the most relevant ones and share them at the interview.
More than likely, you will impress the interviewer and cause him to realize that you are a great candidate for the job.
This is a guest post by Dee Barizo. Dee helps run The Best Degrees, an online degree site covering the top online programs. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 2002.
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