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Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room

Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room

Job interviews generally fall into one of two categories. They are either a complete waste of time or they can be something that leads you to greatness. If you are looking for the latter, then here is the plan that I follow in order to keep #winning at job interviews.

The Week Leading up to the Interview

When it comes to wanting to nail your next job interview, the first thing you should do is outline the company’s ideal interview profile, or as I like to call it their IIP. An IIP is not the same as Ideal Candidate Profile, which is based on your skills and work history. You see, those are the things that got you the call. What I’m talking about are the things that make you look amazing during the interview and beyond.

The IIP is where you research, visualize and bullet point important notes so you can focus on learning and producing exactly what the company wants. Note, the key to doing this is thinking long term; you don’t want to pull a fast one and just be this person for the interview only.

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Contrary to popular belief, picking out what you are going to wear to an interview should not be the first step in your plan. The first step needs to be a research phase because it’s nearly impossible to dress the part without knowing the details of the part you are up for!

During the research phase, you need to act like a super sleuth and find out as much as you can about the following things:

  • The person(s) who will be interviewing you. Specifically find out who they are, what job they do and what they like.
  • The previous person who held the position. Can you dig and find out why they left? Were they a shining star or kicked out?
  • What is the actual position that you are interviewing for? Try to find out if it is a new position or existing so you can see what are you up against.
  • The company, including the culture, mission, charity work and news.

This type of in-depth research takes more than just going to the company website and memorizing a mission statement. Doing that is a given, and these days with the job markets being so tight, it’s not something that you will get interview brownie points for. Also, in the research phase you can set up Google Alerts with the company name to see what kind of juicy info you can get.

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Once the research phase is completed, the next step is to create a visual plan. To do this, try to make a mind map or checklist so you can clearly see what needs to be completed. Also, I highly recommend that you grab a friend and use this list to do a few practice runs.

Think of it as an interview to-do list that helps you remember everything. You need to reserve your energy for the interview so doing this will help keep the stress to a minimum. When possible you need to try and do this at least a week out from the interview as it may take you some time to secure everything you need.

On the checklist, you are going to write down the following things:

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  1. What you need to study before the job interview.
  2. What you need to buy or find before the job interview.
  3. What you will be eating and drinking on the day of the job interview (think fresh breathe people!).
  4. What route you will be taking to the job interview.
  5. What follow-up process you will be using after the job interview.

Now compile your list and get to studying the important stuff. Don’t skimp; this isn’t cliff notes the interview version. You need to be able to uncover the things that may help you answer, or avoid, depending on what the interviewer asks of you.

Once I was invited to interview at a large animal rights organization for a dream job that I really wanted. When I made my checklist, I realized I had inherited a car with leather seats and while most people could care less about what you drive to an interview, this organization may actually care. So I looked their building up on Google Maps Street View in order to see if there was a security gate where someone would notice what I was driving. Then I was able to weigh my options and make any last minute changes to my strategy. If I hadn’t done the research, it could have ended up being pretty embarrassing for me.

The Night before the Interview

On the night before your interview, you are going to need to review your study notes again and be sure there isn’t anything left to prepare from your list. Go down the checklist slowly and again, don’t cut corners. If you followed all of the above instructions, you should have a good list of everything you need for the interview tomorrow. Pull the clothing you be wearing out of your closet and hang them in a spot where they won’t be disturbed. Be sure and grab your shoes, sock and other accessories too.

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It’s now crunch time and with careful planning, you are going to be able to be 100% ready for your interview tomorrow. Remember to eat well, avoiding any foods with strong odors and get a good night’s rest.

The Morning of the Interview

On the morning of the interview, you are going to want to get up early, eat a healthy meal and check your google alerts one last time along with your bullet points. It’s been proven that positive self-talk increases confidence, so remind yourself that you are ready for this job and that you will nail this job interview.

Review your notes once more and practice your quick witted, but highly educated answers. Stay calm and know that you’ve just upped your game, and you are now officially ready for the interview.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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