Over the 20 years or so that I have been successfully coaching and helping candidates ‘b the best they can be’ at their interviews or assessments centres, one thing usually is apparent – that they leave their preparation as late as possible.
This ‘just in time’ approach is, let’s be generous here, not the most effective or productive method and makes a difficult process even harder. I honesty will never understand this approach but hey, I’m not the one taking the interview!
Only when an interview is actually booked in do most candidates press the ‘start’ button and usually only then as they are in a state of panic. They then try to remember six or seven standout pieces of work that they have done over the years, that they think will match the competencies from the framework that are being assessed (this in itself is going about things in the wrong way and the fix for this is explained in Key Element 2 of our 5 Key Elements for a High Scoring Answer Model).
The problem here is that, at best, our memory of such past events is never really that clear or detailed in nature and, at worse, you can only recall the very basic information. Most candidates I speak with say this is a significant challenge to them and possibly the hardest part of the process. I know for myself I can’t remember what I was doing yesterday most of the time, never mind 2 years ago.
What tends to happen is it’s just really hard to remember exactly what you did, who was involved, what were the key obstacles in that situation and any great detail and depth of what actually happened – which is exactly what you need in your interview and is invariably left out. So, your example answers are consequently vague, light weight and not really an accurate representation of the facts. This lack of detail may even make your answers sound unbelievable (and not in the good way) to the assessors as you can’t supply any specifics and nuance to make them believe it was you that actually did the work.
“Where you really there? Was it really your colleague that drove this?” Hmmm, not sure… fail.
In our opinion and experience you need a much more planned and organised approach.
Painful and laborious though it may be, you need to start planning for success NOW, wherever you are currently in your career or job hunt. This planning should not just be for your next interview but for all future interviews in your career. You need to be prepared, ready to go at the drop of a hat, as you never truly know when an interview will be scheduled and how short the lead time may be. I have spoken to many candidates over the last few weeks who have had just a few days from application to interview – harsh but that’s reality sometimes.
So, the solution is to start to build a comprehensive portfolio of preprepared answers for all the competencies that are relevant for the roles that you are applying for that you can call on and use when the whenever you secure an interview. Start ASAP. Start today. Start now!
From now on, each time you complete a piece of appropriate work you should allocate time to reflect on it and then record your experience in fine detail. Do remember though, the more straightforward situations are, the better, as they are less complicated to explain to the assessors. In your write up include all the points that you will no doubt forget as time goes by. Don’t leave information out at this point – it’s always better to have more than less.
To help you identify which competency these situations are best suited to and to help you write them up in the most effective way you really need to then use the bselected 3 Pillars of Success Model: Content, Structure and Delivery, on which all of our interview coaching programmes is based. This will ensure that you focus on the relevant content that the assessors will expect from you (not just what you think is relevant or important), that you structure your evidence it in a way that is easy for you to verbalise and that is easy for the assessors to understand where you are trying to take them.
Using this approach, when the time comes and you have secured an interview, 90% of the hard work is already done. You can then select the best situations from your portfolio that evidence the required competencies for your interview without the ball ache of having to recall what you did way back when. Winner.
Once selected you can concentrate on learning your answers and improving the delivery of them – which in our expert opinion is arguably the most important pillar of success. Your aim here to be as authentic as possible and not slip into being an interview robot – ‘b more normal’ as we say here at bselected Towers.
Maintaining this portfolio of evidence should be the first stage of your interview preparation and be a core part of your ongoing continuous professional development. The examples in your portfolio should be continually updated and improved as you do more complex pieces of work and your experience of certain situations increases, ensuring that the examples are always role appropriate.
To find out more how we can help you ‘b’ the best you can be at interview, give us a call on 0161 327 2126. We are always happy to have a chat, or take a look at our coaching options here