In my current role, when a job opening occurs on our team, I participate in a large number of in-person interviews. When an opening occurs, we really need to fill the position because we are short handed and the vacancy creates extra work for all of us. Listed are lessons I have recently learned from interviewing a number of candidates for a variety of openings.  

Don’t go negative with your career story. Frame your resume (career story) positively with what you’ve learned, appreciated and accomplished even in the midst of corporate layoffs. Showcase your resourcefulness and resilience, then quickly pivot to what you are looking forward to next. Intentionally create a compelling career story arc for the hearer to want to join. In a novel or movie, the hearer is engaged when you learn of the journey of the “traveler.” You become interested when you learn what the traveler gained from point A and then what problem she solved at point B. You stay engaged as she shares what she successfully overcame defeat at point C and you begin to anticipate what awaits her at point D. Yes, you may have been part of a number of awful corporate layoffs or break ups (I have and so have many others) but reassure your future employer you will not be carrying a big box of emotional baggage from past job losses. Share why we should be interested in joining your “story.” 

Eliminate the word “we” in describing your career accomplishments. The interviewer needs to know what YOU did and what skills you will bring to their job. Yes, it is great you are an engaged team player but your team is not coming with you. What can YOU do and what skills from the “we” did you learn? I regularly ask the question–“Give me an example of how you took a marketing plan from concept to completion and how you measured success.” Too often the response are successes of the interviewee’s team did and what their organization accomplished. This broad answer does not tell me what is the individual skillset of the interviewee and what I could expect of them in our position.

Practice, practice, practice your interviewing skills. Be concise, be polished and create hero stories with you being the star. Don’t suck the oxygen out of the room talking nonstop because you are nervous. Yes, we all are nervous in new situations but take a deep breath and be ready for this opportunity. You exhaust the interviewer and make them want to find an exit if you “trap” them with nonstop, incessant chatter. 

Study the company and the background of the interviewer. Speak of current news about the organization (do a quick google search and check their website) and connect with the interviewer by making a simple review of their LinkedIn profile (“I see we are both alums of the same university; we have a mutual friend in …”). It shows you’ve done your homework and highlights your interest in the job. It presents the image you are a go-getter and will be as an employee.

Give a clear answer why you are interested in making a job change. Paint the picture why this position is more compelling for your career than your current role. Don’t trash your current job (hate my boss, org is toxic, pay is bad) but if you’ve been in your current role a short time, explain why you won’t be a short timer in our position too. 

Interview us too. This is a two way conversation so bring questions you would like answered. What can we answer for you to reassure you this is a mutual fit. We want to win you over too so we can find the best fit for our position.

It always helps me to write out what I am learning. Hope this is a benefit to others. Godspeed.

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