Most people approach job interviews with a reactionary mindset.
You expect that they'll ask the questions and you'll respond.
Which might get you over the line, but it probably won't wow the interview panel.
A much more effective strategy is to be proactive in a job interview.
So, what does being proactive look like? These are my top tips:
You need to treat the job interview like a 2-way conversation or meeting.
You need to sell yourself, even if you're not specifically asked to.
1: Tips to treat the interview like a 2-way conversation
A good way to approach a job interview is to treat it like a meeting or chat with colleagues or clients.
Start with small talk to try and develop rapport with the panel.
Then during the interview remember that you are interviewing them too! You want to find out if you would be a good fit for the role and organisation.
Ask insightful questions to find out more and establish if you would actually like working there.
It's helpful to plan out your questions to ask them in advance, then take your list in with you. Review their website and strategy documents so that your questions are insightful and that you have a mix of operational and strategic questions. (What does a typical working day look like? vs. How will the new X strategy impact this role and team?)
And just because you are going to treat it like a 2-way conversation, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still prepare for the expected questions.
You still need to plan and practice your responses to the introductory "tell us about yourself" questions and the expected behavioural questions based on the job selection criteria.
And be proactive during the formal questions too. Ask for clarification if a question is unclear. And after responding, you can ask them if you have answered their question, or if they would like another example.
2: Tips to sell yourself at the job interview
Most people only plan their responses to the behavioural questions (the tell us about a time when SAR/STAR type of questions) and neglect to prepare for the introductory questions - which is where you can take the opportunity to sell yourself - even if not specifically asked!
You need to plan how you will answer the 'Tell us about yourself and why you want this job (or why you would be a good fit for this job)' type question, and make sure your answer highlights your top skills (or unique selling points) and how they match what they are looking for.
You could phrase it like this (after providing some career background):
"I feel I'm a really good fit for this role as my top skills align with what you're looking for. The three main things I would bring to the role are my strong and empowering leadership skills (you could expand on this briefly), my project and change management skills (expand again if you want) and finally my research and analytical skills (which I use to...).'
You could also then sell how your values align with the organisation's, further making you a good fit.
And if they don't ask any introductory questions? You can do your sales pitch (what you would bring to the role and why you are a great fit) at the end of the interview, when they typically ask if you have any further questions.
You could say something like:
"I don't have any further questions, but I'd just like to reiterate that I'm really excited about this role and think I'm a great skills fit. I think the three main things I would bring to the role are my strong and empowering leadership skills, my project and change management skills and finally my research and analytical skills."
I hope these tips help you reduce stress and wow the job interview panel.
Need extra help with Job Interviews? Check out my new Job Interview Confidence online program!
Want to know the Top 5 Job Interview mistakes, and what to do instead? Download it here.