There is so much contradictory advice about what’s expected at a job interview that it can confuse you. And you want to demonstrate certainty in a job interview, not confusion. There is one thing that will make you stand out and be remembered by potential employers. A vivid message about yourself.
1. The first page of your resume
The front page of your resume is a great opportunity. It’s your billboard! Unfortunately most people ignore this golden opportunity and have a front page with basic details. There are a 100 resumes on a manager’s desk. Make yours grab attention with a vivid message that outlines your key skills.
2. Craft your message for the interview
The key focus of your preparation is to craft your message. How? First, make sure it’s aligned to your key skills or strengths. Second, do your research on the organisation and the job role you are applying for. Remember, employers are interested in what you can do for them. You don’t have to be something you’re not. Just be clear. For example: ‘I’m a great designer who lives by 2 things: 1) Listening to the brief and using my creativity to meet client needs, not play with my own ego and 2) working to a deadline so everyone in the organisation can achieve their goals.’ Shorter message examples: ‘I am the quintessential project manager’ or, ‘I convince non-technical people to fund and support science projects’. Or something corny if you think it’s appropriate, like ‘I’m the Dark Lord of Wireless Gateway Design’ or ‘Social Media Trailblazer’ or ‘I’m witty, fun-loving and persuasive’. But remember, don’t just be cute, the emphasis should be on clearly communicating the value you bring to the role.
3. How to start the interview
As soon as you get the chance, deliver your core message. For example, I was interviewing a woman about a executive assistant role. I started by explaining the kind of environment we work in. Creative and busy, where priorities can change at short notice. Our executive assistant needs to able to comfortably adapt to those changes. She simply said, ‘Great, I love to be the organised person in a creative environment.’ I wanted to hire her then and there! That’s exactly what we needed and her message was delivered in such a clear way. A single sentence – then silence. No waffle to clutter the message. Of course, we still went through the rest of the interview, checked references, etc. But that message was what I repeated to colleagues when we discussed applicants for the role. She went straight to the top of the list.
4. What to do during the interview
Even though it’s called an ‘interview’, it’s better to think of it as a conversation – a peer-level conversation. Most people see it as a one-way, question and answer session. Remember that the purpose of the conversation is to find out whether your skills match the job on offer. The two of you play equal parts in this conversation. You explain your skill set and they explain the role. Give great explanations that expand on your message and paint a picture of how you will handle the role.
5. Questions you should ask
Ask questions about the role and the team. Remember, a job interview is a rich, two-way conversation. Bring up anything non-••negotiable for you. For example: Do you mind being contacted on weekends? It’s better for everybody to agree on this stuff at interview stage.
A vivid message is the basis of your personal brand. It leverages your skills, education and experience. Without this message, your skills look lifeless on paper. The best way to have influence in the job interview is to have a rich, 2-way conversation. Focus your preparation on your message and the stories that bring the message to life.
By Cam Barber, speaking coach to Jules Lund and Steve Waugh, and founder of Vivid Method