Thursday, June 23, 2011

5 Tips to Giving Better Interview: Don't Cost Nothin'

I think college taught me a lot.

And there is no better movie than Animal House to capture the college experience...for some.

"Grab a brew...don't cost nothin" - ah so true, and like those brews, I think some advice should also be free.

Not because it has no value but because we can all benefit.

In the past few months due to graduation season, I find myself giving some basic advice repeatedly. Though fundamental, these tips work. I like to remind myself of these things and everyone seems to appreciate them - or people are too polite to me. ;)

Regardless, here are five basic but effective tips to giving better interview:

1) Do your homework.
Read the last ten press releases, the upfront of their last annual report, check out competitors and use this wicked awesome tool called "google". The information should inform your questions, your story and frame up why you are interested or not. The interview is about them - not you.

2) Use a mirror.
OK, applies to phone interviews. If you are asked to do a phone interview, ask for SKYPE. If denied, do the call in front of a mirror. You need to smile and be conscious of your non-verbal communications. Your non-verbal communication WILL be 'seen' via phone, promise. SMILE. :)

3) Create key messages.
PR people media train (sorry, had to link) politicians, celebrities, athletes and business folks everyday. It is all rehearsed. So rehearse. As much as possible. And create talking points you want to cover including questions, your story points and other cues. This is NOT a script but a list of words which will trigger your brain and you can tick them off as you go. Can be done with small type in person or with a mental picture.

4) Answer with S-A-R.
Answer questions - especially case based - but all questions using the simple SAR framework. Stole this from DPSU days - Go DP! Be a Pepper! S = Situation A = Action R = Result. The framework allows you to effectively communicate your answers, quickly. Time is ticking so efficiency wins. This is HUGE for me as I can get excited and go too long on answers. Mistake. Give them what they need and then shut it. The more they talk - the better you will look. Just works that way.

5. Cater to them.
Yes, I mean be polite, well dressed and send prompt thank you communications. But help them get their goals achieved. Interviewers often have a "score card" to complete and on the phone they will be filling it out as they go. Always ask "did I answer you question?" or "did I give you what you needed?" or "was that what you were looking for?" The majority of the time you will be ticking one thing off but have missed what they wanted. And they will tell you. Help them get what they need and allow yourself to optimize on the fly with their verbal and non-verbal feedback.

There you have it. Like 5 fast tips to better abs, you now have five fast tips to giving better interview.

Pass it along.

Interview well and if this fails, well... go be awesome.