Getting an appointment for an interview these days is an accomplishment. It indicates that you have a good resume, and/or that networking has paid off. Bravo. Now for the all-important in-person phase of the process.
There are hundreds of books out there with advice on this topic. I've read a lot of them. One I read recently, "201 Questions to Ask on Your Interview" by John Kador, hit a home run with me.
What particularly grabbed me was his discussion of 5 key attributes that need to be in evidence when you interview.
I'm continually telling my clients to ensure that the examples they use to highlight their accomplishments are specific. Explicit numbers, results and outcomes. Generic words are meaningless and have no heft. For example, instead of using the word "significant," use a number or percentage.
Beyond specific examples of past accomplishments are the behaviors that underlie these results. Now, to these 5 key attributes that should be at the foundation of your presentation.
You need to show the interviewer evidence of being: action-oriented, engaged with the long-term, zestful, curious and committed.
So, how do you do this?
Here are some tips:
Action-oriented. Not passive. What's an example from a past job where you drove the meeting, committee or project when it was languishing? Or when a deadline loomed, and you came up with a way to reach the goal? When you saw a way through the impasse or were able to streamline the process to make it happen?
Engaged with the long-term. When was the last time you were the one to envision the broader consequences of an action? When was the last time your contribution provided a strategic view of a project or action that no one had thought of? For example, by your selecting specific software to use, the company would perhaps save $50,000 within 2 years.
Zestful. Keen enjoyment or interest. Is there excitement in your voice and body language when you speak about your past work experiences? I'm not talking about nervous energy. I'm talking about the sparkle in your eyes, the animation of your movements and the tone of your voice that genuinely demonstrates your involvement and enthusiasm. This is especially critical for older job seekers. Avoid complacency in your presentation.
Curious. I love this one. It's great to be curious about the company you're interviewing with by asking terrific questions. But first, it's important to show how curiosity has served you well in a previous job. For example: when was the last time you knew there had to be a better way of performing a task, closing on a particular deal or making a sale to a recalcitrant client? How did your inquiring or questioning of the situation find a better solution that resulted in a success for you and your company? Did you do research? Talk to a colleague who had done this before? Wake up with an epiphany at 3 o'clock in the morning?
Committed. Dedicated or pledged to a cause. Not self-centered. When was the last time you sacrificed your own comfort, sleep or plans for the sake of a project? Okay, I'm not talking about saying you never had a life. But you need to show what commitment means to you. When was the last time you demonstrated your unswerving devotion to getting the job done?
So that's it.
The key to demonstrating all of these attributes is speaking in specifics. Use these 5 behaviors as a guide for preparing yourself and your list of accomplishments. You will engage the interviewer and increase your chances of being called back.
Dale Kurow, M.S., is an author and a career and executive coach in NYC. Dale works with clients across the U.S. and internationally, helping them to survive office politics, become better managers, and figure out their next career move. Visit Dale's web site at http://www.dalekurow.com/phone_ebook for information about her latest E-book, Phone Interview Skills Sharpened Right Here!