Preparing for an interview can be time-consuming and frustrating. In this episode, I show you a simple, five-step approach to help you convince the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job.
Hi and welcome to today’s episode. Many candidates have told me how frustrating and time-consuming interview preparation can be with countless articles, blog posts, and lists with the most common interview questions. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that complicated. But before we go into the details, it’s important to understand the four main aspects that most hiring decisions are based upon. The first is how well applicants can communicate the value they can bring to the company. The second is how well a cultural fit they are because even perfectly skilled candidates won’t be successful if their values are not aligned with the company’s. The third aspect is the applicant’s motivation. An employer wants to hire motivated people genuinely interested in the company and the role because they will most likely perform better and stay longer. And finally, successful candidates are good at building trust and connecting with the interviewer.
So how to consider these four aspects when preparing for an interview? Here comes a simple, five-step approach.
Step 1: Research the company.
Start by visiting the company’s website and read about their history, products, services, and business model. Because if you can’t tell what the company does and why it’s successful, how can you convincingly claim that it’s the right place for you to work? So make sure you can give a 30-second elevator pitch that you would use to introduce the company to a potential client.
Then read about the company’s culture. The aim is to understand its guiding principles and the kind of behavior the employer values. So try to list what it takes to be successful working there. Once you have this ready, add a second column and identify situations where you demonstrated these values. For instance, if “constant improvement” is one of them, maybe you have an example of where you previously made a process, product, service, or way of working better.
Step 2: Reverse-engineer the job description.
The job description reflects the employer’s view of the ideal candidate. Understanding their perspective is crucial to acing the interview. Start by reading the full job description with one simple question in mind:” what are the results that a successful person in that role will deliver for the company.” Almost always, it comes down to a direct or indirect contribution to the bottom-line business results. It might be through increased sales, innovation, improved efficiency, or higher customer satisfaction, to name a few examples. Once you have identified the value that the company expects their hire to create, it’s time to understand what it -according to them- takes to do so. So reread the job description and list all the desired skills, experiences, and qualifications. The question you want to answer is,” What enables a successful candidate to deliver the identified value?”
Step 3: Formulate your value proposition.
Look at the list of results that a successful candidate will deliver and ask yourself the following question: “If I get the job and everything works out perfectly, what value will I have created in one year from now?” Try to summarize your answer in one sentence. For example: “I establish and rapidly grow a profitable Professional service business in new regional markets.” Now ask yourself: “What will enable me to achieve this?” Again, this could be your strengths, skills, qualifications, and experiences. List as many things as possible, and then pick those five that best align with your findings from analyzing the job description. Finally, identify one example for each of those you have selected that demonstrates how you previously leveraged them to create value.
Step 4: Your motivation to join.
By now, you should have gathered all information needed to formulate a genuine answer to the question, “Why do you want this job?”. There is a separate 5-minute episode with a more detailed description of how to do that. But in short, you should include the following aspects: Why would it make you proud to work for the company? Why is it a good cultural fit? And why is this the right role for you?
Step 5: Prepare your examples.
After having done the previous steps, you should have a list of situations where you successfully utilized your strengths, skills, and experiences and demonstrated that your values align with the company’s. Now it’s time to structure your examples compellingly. For each of them, describe in 1-2 sentences when and where the situation occurred and why this was important. Then, add another 1-2 sentences to explain what your task was. After that, describe your actions and finalize your example by summarizing the results you have achieved. This structured approach, called the STAR method, is a very powerful story-telling technique. Please tune in to my episode about answering behavioral interview questions if you want to learn more.
These were the five steps. Well-done! You have now prepared around 80% of what’s needed to ace your interview. “Wait a minute,” you might think, “I haven’t prepared answers yet to all these interview questions I found on the internet.” Well, you are right. But it’s first now that I would recommend you start looking at these lists. Why?
Because first now, you can determine which questions you should prioritize. Namely, those focusing on the value a successful candidate creates, what it takes to do so, and the traits to be an excellent cultural fit. Also, you most likely already can answer many questions because you have prepared example situations that address these exact requirements, which makes your answers much more trustworthy and genuine and can help you connect with the interviewer.
That’s it for today. Thank you for listening.
That’s it for today. I hope this was helpful, and thank you for listening.