Three Ways to Ace Your Next Interview

3 min read

Most hiring decisions are made within the first ten minutes of an interview, so it is important that you make every second count during an interview.

First impressions are critical, but playing some offense, telling stories, and being prepared for the interview are the three critical success factors to a successful interview. If you can do this, you will be on the hunt for the position that you covet.

Here are those three ways to ace your next interview:

Play Offense/Conversational Mapping: Don’t just sit there and let the interviewer take control. Don’t let the interviewer pin you up against the wall with a barrage of questions. Wait for a natural pause and start redirecting the conversation to your strengths. Behavioral scientists call this “conversational mapping.”

Intelligence officers use this technique to recruit their sources. Sure, it is a bit manipulative, but all is fair in love and war, right?

Conversational mapping is actively listening to what the interviewer is telling you, processing it, and clarifying it with the aim of directing or redirecting that conversation to your advantage. We do this all the time in our personal lives without even noticing it. Sales professionals tend to be very good at this too.

The point being is that you want to be able to get across your points of emphasis to the interviewer so that they know you are aligned with the position requirements.

Storytelling: Most people being interviewed respond to questions in bullet point fashion according to what their resume says. The interviewer already knows this.

When I recruited high-flying executives on Wall Street, I noticed a big difference in the way they performed in interviews and the way most other people do. After all, you don’t get to be a wealthy Wall Street banker by being stupid, right?

I noticed that they many times they responded to most interview questions with a mini-story or an interesting vignette. Vignettes are nothing more than a highlighted example of one specific accomplishment communicated very eloquently to the interviewer in the form of a short story. It is very powerful. Jesus Christ was a great storyteller and communicator. He used parables. Same thing.

Preparation: Chance really does favor the prepared mind. Make sure you research the website and company news; ask smart questions.

Make sure you read the position description and make notes on it.

Please take these notes to the interview and practice the anticipated questions that may be asked and your answers to those questions. Be sure to practice these steps out loud to yourself before the interview.

It is entirely appropriate, particularly, if you are doing a video interview to have a list of ten questions or so. Ask them at the appropriate time. See #1 above.

Here are some examples of good questions:

  • What are the duties and responsibilities of the position I’m applying for? This is an excellent icebreaker question for the hiring authority and a great start to a successful interview. What percentage of my job is dedicated to administration, supervisory, and technical? (This should = 100%.)
  • What is a “day in the life” of a __________ like?
  • What are the production or sales goals? What obstacles would prevent me from reaching my goals?
  • What made the previous person in this position successful AND unsuccessful?
  • What are the short and long-term goals set for the person in this position?
  • What is the one thing I can do for you within six months that will make you look really good?
  • What is your purpose and mission?

Do these three things and you will be far ahead of your peers when you interview.

Next week’s topic: Three Ways to Negotiate Your Next Raise

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