REHEARSAL is Vital for Great Interviews
Many executives who are in meetings all day feel that when they go on an interview, they can “wing it” and successfully ad lib. This is very dangerous. Interview settings increase the tension, and you may not always be at your best when “on the spot.”
If you enjoy movies or theater, and you’ve seen an actor really embody a role, really own the character, you know they don’t just walk out and ad lib. They memorize lines, and rehearse, until what they say is congruently “natural.”
This tactic works wonders in interviews.
If you know anything about the job, and especially when you have a good job description, with the objectives for the position laid out, you can completely prepare in advance, and are well advised to do so.
Good stories are concise, and have a story “arc” – a beginning, a middle and an end. Create brief stories that illustrate your capability to do the job. Stories should follow this pattern: Situation / Action (your actions) / Results, and should be one minute long (7 sentences). Build about 8-10 such stories around specific accomplishments or major events. Make sure they show key leadership skills that might be asked in a “Behavioral” interview: Initiative, Drive, Problem-Solving, Managing Others, Dealing with Stress, Dealing with Missing a Goal, etc.
Don’t plan on reading notes during an interview – distill your stories down to 14 words – 2 words to “cue” you for each sentence. Example: Your Situation statement is: “The company’s major client was ready to walk away, due to dissatisfaction with our services.” Your “cue” would be: “Client dissatisfaction.” In this way, you can memorize your stories, then memorize your cues, and you will be ready to tell smoothly flowing, natural, compelling and meaningful stories. Don’t worry if they come out the same each time. Actors are memorizing someone else’s lines – someone else’s story – but this is your story, your history, and you will remember the essence of it if you’ve prepared properly. Mock interviews, with a family member or even into a mirror, may help you prepare too.
Most execs tell us they wish they had prepared better for interviews. That is why we give them several tips like this one – so they can take their own truth and portray it to their best advantage. Employers benefit from this too, because they find out more meaningful things about the candidate, when the candidate is bettered prepared with full and complete information.
By the way, I’ve been told that a major aerospace firm advises its Senior Program Managers to brief their higher-ups with this “Situation / Action / Results” format – and to be very concise.
Hope this helps you win your next big job!