Tips and Articles from Our Experts
The Interview: Your Most Important Presentation
By Debbie Fay
You may not think of an interview as a presentation, mostly because there are usually only two of you in the room. Nevertheless, the very same rules that make for great presenters and presentations hold true for great interviews (and thus, great results.)
Let's begin with the importance of being YOU. Quite often in an interview situation we want the job so badly we start thinking about "who they want us to be" It's a lot like clients of mine who want to "be a presenter like" This is a bad news REALLY good news scenario. The bad news is, you cannot be "like" anyone else. And if you could, how long do you think you could effectively keep it up? Wouldn't you exhaust yourself trying? Especially at a job, a place you're going to spend the better part of your time, why in the world would you want to have to be anyone other than YOU?
Take a deep breath and realize that you deserve to work in an environment where YOU feel comfortable. In fact, the more comfortable you are being yourself, the more energy you'll have to do the work you've been hired to do. That's a win win.
Second, don't forget to turn your focus 180°; one of my favorite "bespeakisms". By that I mean that you must put yourself in the interviewer's seat. Whoever is interviewing you has a problem they need solved. The problem is that they have a slot open where a person should be, so important work either isn't getting done, or is getting done by someone with other important work he or she should be doing. YOU, the interviewee, are the answer to this problem. Your main objective in the interview is to let the person on the other side of the desk know that you have the skills, experience and desire to be the solution to his or her problem.
Ask yourself: What tasks will be required of the person who fills this position? What kinds of skills do you have that will ensure your success at performing these tasks? Think broadly about your past experience. Think about volunteer work you may have done that could be applicable. Just because you weren't paid to do it doesn't make the work any less real or valuable. Write down these examples. Know them. You should be able to find ways throughout the interview to talk about these skills easily and readily. Which brings me to my next point.
Like any really good presenter, you must practice, and you must practice out loud. From the most basic question, "Tell me something about yourself." To the more complicated, "Tell me about a time you were conflicted about carrying out an initiative." You should anticipate all kinds of questions and have the answers easily within your mental reach. I am NOT talking about memorizing things word for word; memorized answers will come off sounding stiff and disingenuous. Practice answering different questions, letting the answers come out as they will, and zoning in on key words and phrases.
So go forth and interview! Be YOU ("Everyone else is already taken" O Wilde). Keep turning your focus 180 degrees; make sure you are always keeping your interviewer's needs in mind. (Never forget; it's about solving their problem not yours.) And be sure to practice OUT LOUD, so you know you're giving a cogent compelling answer to each of the questions you're asked. Do these things and you will be heard. And be hired!
Debbie Fay is the founder of bespeak presentation solutions, llc, a public speaking coaching, training and presentation development company. From Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurs and start ups, Debbie helps her clients design and deliver presentations that get heard and get results. For more information go to; www.bespeakpresentations.com. Debbie will be presenting a webinar on November 15, 2011.