Clients regularly come to me for job interview tips because they don’t feel confident at interview.  I’ve seen everything from ‘I can’t talk about or sell myself’ to ‘I fall apart and completely lose all brain power’.  Let’s face it, job interviews are not the most natural of scenarios!  When you add the fact that you may have learned it’s bad to boast, it can make for a tricky situation.  Having the right techniques to rely on can shift you from nightmare experience to successful candidate for a new job or promotion.

How to feel prepared for your interview

Undoubtedly, What can really help is feeling well prepared.  Thinking out potential questions and answers is one of the ways you can put your mind at rest.  Here I’m going to share with you a simple way to structure your answers that’s memorable and delivers what the recruiter is looking for.

These days job interviews tend to be competency or behavioural, as this type of question brings out your experience rather than just knowledge.  So rather than ask ‘what would you do if…’, they tend to be ‘tell us about a time when…’

Let’s Get Started!

One of the most valuable job interview tips, is that you are going to need at least 5-7 great stories that you can draw on.  These should be applicable to multiple situations. All things considered, it can be challenging to start with a blank sheet of paper, which is why I encourage you map out your career story.

A powerful way to capture your stories is to mindmap them (like the picture below).  It’s a visual way of capturing the essence of the example so you can remember all the key components.  It also gives you structure.  And makes it easily to visualise when you need to recall it.  I see a lot of clients writing scripts for themselves.  That’s the route to panic.  You end up tying yourself in knots trying to remember the script.  The process of drawing them also helps in jogging your memory.

STARRT for Success

STARRT provides a structure to tell your story in a way that shows the recruiters that you’re the right person for the job.

S – Situation

This is a brief explanation of the situation that lead you to take on the project, or the context that necessitated the course of action that followed.

T – Task

Given the situation, what was the outcome that was being looked for?  What’s the scope of the task to begin with?

A – Action

What were the actions you took to complete the project or resolve the issue?  This is your HOW and what they’re really looking for.  You need to demonstrate that you know how to deal with the challenges that they are facing.

R – Result

This is your next big measure of credibility.  You demonstrate that you got the outcomes you wanted, and where possible quantify it.  You should also communicate the secondary gains.  For example, a key outcome might be to bring complete a project within the deadline.  As a result a secondary gain might be that your approach increased employee engagement in the related teams by 15%.

R – Reflection

This looks at what did you learn? And how have you continued to improve?  Specifically You are demonstrating your capacity to grow, to be analytical, to be reflective, and to improve in everything you do.

T – Traits

This helps you identify what traits/ skills/ competences (in line with the job description and requirements) are demonstrated.  When a question comes up on leadership and communication, you know which is your best example for it.  It also helps you to think out the story in a recruiter-like way.  Examine what is it they are looking for, and how does my scenario deliver that?

How it works in Practice

Whether the interviewer asks an experience based question or not, it’s always best to answer with an example.  For arguments sake, they may ask…

What leadership skills would you need to bring a multi-million pound project back on deadline?

“To bring the project back to the deadline, I would need to consider…resourcing, the current plan, identifying the issues that have caused the plan to drift, team relationships (and whatever else you believe is important).  I have experienced a similar situation with…[bring in your example], and here’s how I approached it:

The Situation was…

The Task therefore needed to be…

The Actions I took were…

The Results I got were…

And on Reflection, I learned…

So, if I were to be faced with a similar situation, here’s what I would do differently…

In conclusion, you are demonstrating that you know what to do AND that you’ve already done it, bought the T-shirt, and kicked ass whilst wearing it!

More Information

If you want to learn more great job interview tips, including secrets that help my clients manage their nerves, sign up here.

Other blogs you might find helpful are:

Advice on how to tame your inner imposter

Getting your language right at interview

Taming your inner critic