No Matter if this was your first job after graduation or you are a seasoned professional who is planning their next move. Job interviews are always tricky and they are not easy most of the time, and preparing for them – if done properly- demand a lot of energy (mentally, and psychologically).
This week’s tip can be useful for any week, and in any year; at the end of each year, I do the exercise of reviewing my profile as if there’s a big opportunity lined up for me, the exercise itself is very valuable. You really don’t need to have an interview to do it, you just need to have an on-going interest in growing yourself and your potential.
Of course, there are many books on the topic, and the below list is not exhaustive and is not meant to cover every single aspect of Job interviews, but at least here are 5 things to remember when you are preparing for your next job interview (or just do that periodically like myself).
1. Customize your CV for the Job
There’s no one CV that fits every position no matter how diverse your background is, your CV must shout one profile, or at least one direction; and it has to be the direction and profile that matches the job.
Get the habit of making multiple versions of your resume, 2 to 3, first because you never know when the opportunity presents itself, so being prepared to quickly adjust your resume is far more important than just attach the same version of your resume you used last year… (If you think there isn’t anything to add or change in your resume in over a year… You have a Bigger problem than you think.)
Craft your resume according to the job position you are applying to, use the proper keywords, and add the relevant experience and information and trim the points that are great but not very relevant.
Make it as personal as possible, you don’t want to show the interviewer that you are using the same exact resume and cover letter to 20 other recruiters and that you spend the least time working on your CV, hence your interest in their company is not that High.
I normally use the naming convention of Samer Chidiac’s Profile 2019 (<Job title >, May Refresh) in the name of the file, and in the Footer of the resume, I add (MAY 2019 UPDATE) <JOB TITLE> – Candidate | Samer Chidiac .
If you think there isn’t anything to add or change in your resume in over a year… You have a Bigger problem than you think.Samer Chidiac
2. Prepare and Practice for common questions
Every interview is different, some can be very straight forward, and some can take the most interesting forms (like a dinner invitation or so); The first rule here, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE ANY FORM… And just because you got invited to lunch or dinner doesn’t make it less formal and that you should relax…
Despite how different the interview can be, there are some common questions that the interviewer can immediately take a solid impression on who you are, and to begin with a simple one: “Tell me a little bit about yourself”
I can’t stress enough, on the importance of this particular question, it may sound like an ice breaker, but in reality, it’s the abstract of your entire interview, and probably the single most important part.
To answer this question, you just need proper preparation, (it sounds silly, but trust me, you have no idea how many candidates oversimplify this and just start speaking random things about them in a poor flow, or they simply repeat their CV.
You need to properly write down a solid introduction about you, starting from a glimpse of who you are, what does your profile project, your experience (in a nutshell), your education, and state a paragraph of a particular interest with the role you are applying for, and finally end it with who you are after work.
It will be a few minutes, but this will lay the foundation to the interviewer that you are sharp, know who you are, know what you want and structured. (and that’s very helpful)
Another question that you need to prepare for, even if it wasn’t specifically asked in the interview: “Why are you the best candidate for this job?”
Think about the answer to his question as your bullet points for your entire interview… The more points you include there would be giving you more chances in other questions… (Try to keep it from 3 to 5 points only)
Finally on this one, you need to PRACTICE & REHEARSE! I write down my answers on Microsoft OneNote (mostly handwritten via tablet), and then I rehearse myself talking them out to the interviewer… I can literally repeat the process of speaking out loud the answers like 5-6 times, and before the interview, I normally spend time in a cafe nearby (an hour earlier) and review my notes and what I have prepared and have a final rehearsal.
3. Review and adjust your strong & weak points
There are no perfect candidates, those who were born to do this job and been practicing this all their lives… Trust me that can only be found in movies (and mostly about assassins…); and if you insist that you are simply the perfect candidate, one can argue that if the job role or function changed in the future, you may suddenly become obsolete.
So, in general, your strength and weakness are important to highlight, however, when you are preparing for that list, just remember that the points that are not directly relevant to the job description are not important to state here… (How many hot dog you can eat or how much you can hold your breath underwater may not be very relevant strong points..)
If you do the exercise properly, this exercise would be very helpful *Check-point* for you, to see where you need to improve and which strength are under-valuated. And remember, the group of regular points can produce an immense strong point, per example, you may be a lawyer who studied programming/coding and who loves cars, and you finally could end up writing legislation for Autonomous driving for a Government.
Finally on this subject, when you are preparing your weak spots, buckle them with learning and keep them relevant; you may have had an office job for the past 10 years and the role you are applying requires different types of commitments (like traveling a lot), you will need to highlight how (while you had a desk job, you were doing extra-activities like volunteering, that gave you the opportunity to exercise more than just a desk job.)
Always remember, that you don’t need to hide what the interviewer can easily spot from your resume… If it’s a weakness, they will ask you – directly or indirectly – on it, and you need to acknowledge it and match it with learning… (I don’t have a diploma in this field, but I studied online and took extra courses / read books about the topic, and I’m planning to continue in this… etc)
4. Identify & Highlight your added value
Best candidates are judged based on the value they will be bringing to the role and to the organization; you may have an exceptional past performance, but it might not be as relevant as you may think towards the future of the company, so you need to show how you can add value to the role you are applying for by mapping your strengths to the company and to the role, and have a clear value proposition.
After all, when you are hired and challenges are faced, you can talk as much as you want about your past victories and successes, but they can mean nothing if you can’t leverage them and apply them to the current situation.
Remember: Your Past performance is very important but not nearly as important as your future one.
5. Match your path with the role you are applying for
One of the other common questions in an interview that you need to prepare for (re-check step#2), is “Why are you applying for this job?”, and it includes 3 elements that you will be answering, Your Past, Your Present and Your Future.
Your Past: Your experience is relevant, you have passion for that.
Your Present: Your current position allowed you to learn this and that, and now it’s time to move to the next step.
Your Future: Your ambition and passion making you look to a future where you can make an impact in _______ and that’s why you have chosen this line of business (or want to change into), and if given the opportunity, this job will be a very important step in that future.
Saying stuff like “It’s my dream to work in _____ ” is nice (but lame as well), but let’s say if you were given the opportunity to work in a much bigger organization, you would still consider it, so it’s better to state that your plan/path, is to create an impact in the _____ field and you are exploring opportunities within entities that share the same values and ambitions as you and that it would be a Win-Win for both.
Have a wonderful week and may you find success in your next interview.
Samer Chidiac is a Strategic Innovation Advisor, a Business Psychologist, a Philanthropist, an Author and a Speaker.