Do Job Interviews Stress You Out? 6 Key Things to Help You Stand Out

Do job interviews stress you out?  Over a series of posts, I’m going to detail my approach to interviewing.

They’re integral to a job search. In this economy where there’s a smaller pool of jobs and a larger pool of candidates, it’s imperative that you show up as engaging and memorable. The goal is to be the “HELL YES!” candidate, who stands out & prompts no question about your candidacy.  

So how do you do that? Everyone has a story and how you tell it is important. There are studies that show stories are more memorable than facts. I don’t enjoy watching CSPAN, but I’ll watch the movie version of what happened. We’re more engaged when listening to stories which means ability to build a better rapport with an interviewer. This is important as most aren’t professional interviewers and ask standard questions which elicit standard responses. They won’t bring out the golden nuggets that make you unique. You telling a story that builds on your experience and relevant achievements will allow you to show character, impact and solidify that you are THE right person for the role.

Your resume is like the back of a book cover. It should be a highlight reel and compelling enough to make the reader want to reach out and learn more. The interview will allow you to weave together the interesting details through the bullets to create the fabric that is your unique story. Your story should include why you do what you do and what motivates that behavior. What intrinsically motivates you can’t be seen on the surface. Being able to discuss and articulate from a place of authenticity will allow for a different level of insight into who you are. To quote @simonsinek “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

When prepping for interviews, I tell my clients to pretend they wrote their autobiography and they’re going on the talk show circuit. Build and tell an engaging story. There are certain things you’ll want to make sure you weave through your narrative: What experience; good, bad or otherwise is relevant, impactful and memorable to the role to which you are applying? How did you triumph over adversity?  How did you meet a challenge? Were you given tough feedback with which you did not agree? What did you do with it? What have you learned and how did you apply it in more recent situations? How did you make a transition from one job to another? Did you change careers? How did you get started in the industry? 

6 Key Things To Help You Stand Out

  1. Be concise – Or K.I.S.S. – Keep it short and simple.  Attention spans and interview time slots are pretty short, so start with the answer to the question, and then provide relevant and interesting details.
  2. Rehearse – There is that old adage practice makes perfect.  I advise my clients to rehearse whenever they possibly can: While cleaning the house, washing their face, getting dressed, in the car, with another person and in front of the computer with the camera on. This will help you feel more authentic when going through your story. It will come out and show up for the interviewer as more natural and confident.  And trust me, you will be more concise.
  3. Transitions are important – Don’t forget to talk about time between jobs, why did you make the change,  what prompted the change, a change of career or industry are critical and add color/interest to your story.  I learned this one the hard way. When I left Google and went to culinary school, I saw immediate similarities between what I had worked on previously and being in a kitchen. I worked in the culinary field in some capacity for three years. When I started to apply for jobs and get interviews, it became very clear very early on that I had to tell a captivating story and weave in the transferrable skills and how I was able to utilize them in a kitchen and what impact it had on my education and career.  I also had to talk through what prompted that change. Why did I leave one of the best companies to work for to pursue a very different life. Keep in mind that life isn’t a series of destinations, but a collection of individual happenings that are connected together by common threads.
  4. What Is Your Why –  “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”- Simon Sinek.  Having a clear understanding of why you do what you do is key. I advise people to create a spreadsheet with 4 headings: What do you love to do (which should include everything in your life), What can you take or leave, What are you good at and dislike immensely, and What do you absolutely hate to do.  From this, you will see themes emerge and will provide a better understanding of your why and perhaps open your eyes to a new career path. It did for me.
  5. Mention both the highs and the lows – Being able to talk through how you respond when things aren’t going well, where there was conflict, navigate a setback or a challenge or you were given some constructive feedback demonstrates to the interviewer your humility, vulnerability and resilience, which are important competencies. 
  6. Share the Results – When walking through your amazing background, don’t shy away from sharing results achieved.  Did you increase sales quarter over quarter or year over year, don’t just say you did that, but also include the amount in which you increased the sales.  Having concrete results and sharing the facts will help you stand out.

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