5 simple ways to really WOW at interview

Recently I read Susan Scott’s “Fierce Conversations” and “Fierce Leadership” books – and she doesn’t mean fierce in a harsh way but for “fierce” read “meaningful”. And actually so few of the business conversations we have are really meaningful. Are they? I’m thinking about this at the moment because I’m recruiting. Someone, frankly, who’d be exciting to work with, challenging and who would have a passion for the environment. Not much to ask!

We’re an exciting bunch (but then I would say that!) but we are working hard to:

  • Really take responsibility for our own work and team support
  • Exceed client expectations
  • Innovate

Very few of our peers seem to be so I am struggling to have the “Fierce” conversation Susan said I would if I used the open questions in her book.

To wit:

“How is that project going for you?”
Oh the project is going really well. We expect to make lots of money and everyone will be happy” (I’m paraphrasing)

“Why are you leaving then, why don’t you see it through…?”
“It’s the company…the marketing team…the sales guys…the IT…the feng shui…something canine ate my work”

“Right, what have you done to change the situation, to make things better?”
“What’s your part in the process? How are you working with the business to improve things”
“What, me? But I can’t do anything because they….” 

“Why are you looking at our company”
I’ve done some XYZ, you do XYZ” “That’s it?”

“I’ve got great attention to detail”
Yes, you said that twice on your CV. With a typo.

What would Susan do?!

In the interest of making this blog useful, rather than a rant (!) I’d suggest:

1. Make the interviewer feel good about themselves – they must be at least slightly bought into the stuff their company does, so should you be too.

2. Be genuine. Easy for me to say find a job you love, but really do or at least find some skills your target job will use and be able to get excited about using them. 

3. See if you can find out where the interviewer’s pinch points are – if you’re in the same industry already, demonstrate how you would help the company do better. If you’re not, ask what the company’s big ambitions and goals are for the year then show the interviewer how you’d help them meet them (and look good to their own boss).

4. Be passionate, lively, vary your intonation, avoid trite generalisations “I want to work in management” “I want to grow” “I want to work for a bigger company” and focus on specifics “I want to manage people because I think I can teach people, motivate them and help them be more effective by….” “I want to learn how to do …….. and ….., I think those skills would help me be more effective to you as a business but I have already started looking into that and I am currently reading ….. in preparation” “I want to work for a company that has more professional training since I think that I have reached the limit of what I can do/I want to work for your company because I admire your work, I have seen that you are currently…… and I would be excited to bring my expertise on ….. and contribute to that project next time.

5. Be memorable, be unique. Tell the interviewer about how you, and only you can help them with your own unique and specific skill set.

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