If you needed to convince someone that Girl Scout cookies are delicious or that rainbows were really beautiful, you'd have to first know what the cookies taste like and what rainbows look like—right? The same applies when it's time for you to sell yourself in an interview to strangers.
In a job interview, you need to know where you've been, what you've accomplished, and where you're headed.
On the one hand, that might sound really simple. They are your experiences, so you would be the best one to know how far you've come. Yet, how many times do we easily forget by Monday what we just did on Saturday and Sunday? How often do we make the same mistakes over and over because we failed to assess our experiences and extract the lessons learned so we don't repeat those mistakes?
These things happen often, only to leave us stumped and running in circles. The same thing can happen in a job interview if we don't take the time beforehand to really understand our past and know what we have to offer in the future.
Preparing for an interview is crucial to ensuring that you come across as a competent, potential employee. You need to be able to recount your previous work experiences as if they were yesterday. You need to be able to tell a future employer what you're good at; they aren't going to know yet, so you need to be able to tell them. You need to be able to show them that you think about the future and have goals and aspirations you're working towards. All of this requires you, the applicant, the interviewee, to know yourself first.
Below are some simple steps every job seeker should take before each interview to ensure they present their best self in the most confident way:
1. Review Your Past
- Where have you worked?
- What positions did you hold?
- How long were you in those positions?
- What unique responsibilities, experiences, or opportunities were you given from these positions?
- Ultimately, what did you learn from all of these?
2. Assess Your Present
- What is your current position?
- What are your current responsibilities?
- What are you doing now to improve yourself?
- If you were laid off or took a voluntary hiatus, how are you utilizing that time to your advantage?
3. Envision Your Future
- What are your goals?
- Do you plan to pursue more education?
- Would you ultimately like to achieve a leadership role in the new organization?
- What ideas might you have to propel the industry forward?
4. Know Who You Are
In addition to steps 1-3, know what you are good at and where you could stand to use improvement. Be confident (not cocky) when you tell the interviewers what your strengths and weaknesses are.
What current skills do you have that would easily crossover into a new role or industry? These are your transferable skills. Don't underestimate their value in your job interview.
Practice telling your stories. Which words sound good when you say them? Which words don't? What key elements do you want the employer to know and which are irrelevant? Be able to tell a story, hit all the key points, and don't bore the interviewer(s) in the process.
Have a friend conduct a mock interview with you so you get practice in front of another person. One caveat: Don't memorize anything. Just know what information you'd like to share and how you'd like to share it when the opportunity arises.
Remember, in the end, you are the one who needs or wants the job. As special as you are, the employer can easily find another person who will perform the same tasks.
By knowing who you are, you will be more readily able to express to the interviewer what you as a unique individual have to offer and why they need to hire you. By embracing all of who you are before the interview, you will have the tools you need to settle into a place of more confidence. When you exude this confidence and sense of knowing who you are, you'll present the image of an articulate, focused, and self-aware individual that employers will want to have on their team.
Now, who are you?
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.