Interviews are an art

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Giving interviews is an art. An art of story telling. For years I got feedback that I wasn’t great at selling my personal brand in an interview, till I changed this opinion for good. Want to know how? Then read on..

Go from STAR to STORY. The STAR format (Situation- Task-Action-Result) is an effective and universally accepted method to answer a competency based interview which most companies use today. However sticking to this format very rigidly in an interview might not be a great idea. Try to weave the STAR format into a story that you want to tell. We are more receptive to stories. Stories create an immersive experience for the listener. They create intrigue, generate emotions and story telling with numbers in itself is a great skill to showcase in any job. Tips: The situation(S) is often considered as just a context setting requirement ,but could be used effectively to create intrigue and interest in the rest of your answer. Many a times interviewers lose interest because of a very banal context setting( S and T) even if the A and the R were actually great. In certain cases your story might have a higher impact if you started with the Result rather than the Situation for example you may want to start by stating 'Let me tell you about a time when I increased the sales by 50 percent'

You are in control of the answers and not the questions. We cannot predict the questions in an interview but we are in control of our own narrative. It is not something we should be thinking of on the spot. Tips: Think of 4–5 success stories(and at least 1 story where you failed) you would (be almost adamant in your mind about it) want to certainly share with the interviewer(s) and then make sure you fit them into the questions asked. Prepare an excel of all the capabilities you think you could be judged on(the clues can be found in the JD) and map the stories you want to tell against them. Just write the key takeaway(or keywords) of that story and that can also serve as a reminder for you during the interview.

We hire humans and not robots(well we could be someday!): Interviews are about our strengths and capabilities and recovering and learning from failure is also a superpower. So make sure you do not craft your answers in a way that make you sound like a superhuman. But someone who is great at their job but even better at course-correcting when the going is not great. Do not be afraid to show your vulnerability and how you manage it. Sharing how you actively manage your mental health on a day to day basis is definitely appreciated. Because that’s what mentally resilient people do- they actively manage their mental health just like they manage their physical health. Tip: Share your story where you have failed but do not forget to follow it up what did you learnt from the failure and how you converted the failure into a development opportunity.

Be memorable: For a typical job posted on LinkedIn there are 20 to 30 applications for it. For making it to the interview round it is important to make your CV impactful and then, to cut through the several interviewed candidates it is important to make your interview memorable. The most memorable interviews are where the interviewee leaves the room(or zoom!) but their answers still linger on the interviewers mind. They energise the interviewer with their values, purpose, a bit of humor(it can be a double edged sword and has to be used very tactfully), establish a rapport, use numbers in their story to make them more powerful and not complicated and share great mix of some personal(relevant to the competencies) and professional stories

Your questions may become the answer to your success. Questions that you ask are as important as the answers you give in an interview. Great questions can a help you start a conversation and take the interview in a direction you want. By asking specific questions about the organisation strategy you can showcase that you have researched well. They are also a great way to showcase what matters to you especially when you ask questions about the values and purpose of the organisation or the team you are applying for. And most importantly an interview is a two-way process. You are choosing an organisation as much as it is choosing you. So be very well prepared with the questions which give you an insight into the job beyond the JD.

Think FAST but speak SLOW. This was one of the most basic tips I have - but a very important one. When I get passionate in my conversations I start talking too fast without being cognisant of the fact my story may not be understood at all. So make sure when you interview, speak slower than you normally would. I had to write the words SPEAK SLOW on my copy of the resume to remind myself! It doesn’t hurt to check-in with the interviewer if they are able to follow you(especially in international interviews). Also do not be afraid to ask the interviewer to slow down their questions if you are finding it difficult to follow.

So the next time you are preparing for an interview start by thinking what are the 3 things you want the interviewer(s) to remember about you and then start building your story from there. All the best!

Passionate Marketer. Mentor. Mother. Curiosity, Creativity and Courage define me.

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