Every conversation is a presentation, and no conversation has higher stakes than a job interview. To succeed, you need to convince a potential employer you are the right person for the job.
Over the past year, I have been coaching people in the art of the effective job interview – with a 100% success rate so far. This is probably due to the fact that so many aspects of presenting yourself to a future employer rely on presenting and public speaking skills – my areas of expertise.
Here are some tips essential to effective presenting that can be applied to the job interview.
Put yourself in the shoes of the your audience
Look at every question from the employer’s perspective and do your homework. This means doing a detailed research of the company and what their needs are both today and in the future. With this information, you can explain your assessment of their challenges and opportunities and why you can help them meet them.
For example, when asked why are you interested in the job, you could reply:
“I’ve had twelve years in customer service positions, with four years managing the whole department. Your position clearly demands a strong service component in areas where I have expertise.”
Highlight the benefits to the audience
What is in it for them? This is very important to spell out when presenting and indeed training, but especially so in a job interview. They are hiring you to meet a new challenge or solve a problem. You need to show them you are the ideal solution.
Often the first question in a job interview is along the lines of present yourself/tell us about yourself or what do you do?
You need to mention what you do but also highlight the value it brings to them.
If I were to do this for my business to a prospective client working for an international organisation, I would say:
“I am a former BBC journalist, UN spokeswoman and head of media at WWF International,(features) with more than 15 years as a trainer helping international organisations communicate more effectively (benefits). This means I can advise you on how to better influence policy decisions on X in Y country (added value).
This technique can also be used at a networking event when you have to present yourself and your business. In this instance, you may want to create interest and provide a potential hook by saying something intriguing to encourage them to ask more. It is known as an elevator pitch in that you should be able to deliver it to your dream prospect that you bump into by the time the elevator has gone from the top to ground floor.
Back up your assertions with proof points
In an interview you will often be asked about why you are the right person for the job. Here you need to identify what makes you stand out from the competition.
The easiest way to do this is to make a point and then give an example.
“I have an excellent track record in helping manufacturing companies make a profit. My team looks to see where they can cut costs or increase their margins. With a typical client, we can boost their profits by 7% in the first year. With one car manufacturer we worked with a couple of years ago we recommended a lot of changes and their first-year profit went up by 15%.”
These types of answers need to be prepared before but delivered as if this is the first time you have said them. Strange as it may seem, this means you need to practice delivering them in front of the mirror or even better film yourself on your smart phone. You also have to make sure that your tone and body language give a positive impression.
In future blogs, I shall share how to use the right non-verbal communication, apply storytelling techniques and handle some of the trickier questions that you may be asked in a job interview.