How do you do well in a job interview?

The first 2 minutes are the key in doing well in an interview to get the role you are being interviewed for. The challenge is that if you don’t do well, it is very difficult to get to the second phase in the hiring process. I would suggest listening to this weeks podcast with William Jans. He is one of Canada’s foremost storytellers. From my perspective, a job interview is just that, a story telling opportunity. Whether through his commercial photography or his storytelling events, William is a master of persuasion. He has photographed such celebrities as Bill Cosby, The Clash and Michael J. Fox. William combines the travel slide show with videos, still photography and his own gift for storytelling, injecting his political and cultural perspectives. More than 20,000 people have seen his shows in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and other places across the country. He sold out an 847 seat theatre in Vancouver nine times and people waited in line for two to three hours for tickets. "Storytelling", William says, "is about you, but it isn’t personal. It is everything but the smell," he jokes. "Can you pull them in and make them understand what you are all about?" Here are some of the guiding principles for his shows:

  1. Prepare and Plan. One of William’s shows can be a year in the making. He invests hundreds of hours working out every detail, from the script and the choice of video clips right down to what he wears, and he’s still not finished. The show is constantly evolving and he tweaks it here and there to make improvements.
  2. Keep your language simple. William’s audiences tend to be looking for raw, simple images in his stories. "We are in an MTV generation where things happen really quickly. We live in a sound-bite world." William’s advice is to slow things down. Bring context into everything that you do. Make sure you don’t lose your audience. There needs to be a clear beginning, middle and end to your story, otherwise, it can all unravel in an instant. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
  3. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. As actors do, William spends many hours getting his lines down. Before an informational meeting or an interview, you need to get your career story down in a script format. This helps in a number of ways. I have conducted interviews in which the candidate got the timeline mixed up or forgot important details. If you can, get all the facts down into a compelling story. Get into a voice that you are comfortable with and practice so you do not sound like you’re reciting a script. Practice doesn’t really make perfect, but it does make for the smoothest possible presentation.
  4. Show and tell. William’s shows depend on a variety of elements, including a number of visual aids to tell the story. In an interview, there are many items you can use to help tell your story like e-mails and letters from clients and peers, awards, sales reports, performance reviews and media coverage. You can create a portfolio that incorporates the most pertinent information. Use different types of technology if you wish, but make sure it works.
  5. Be "The Real McCoy." In William’s words, "I get to say what I get to say!" That is, he gets to tell his story in a real and authentic way. For him, career success means not only pleasing an audience, but being happy with what he does, and William says he is ecstatic. "I still have pride in what I do."

We help to coach a number of clients before they head into an interview – it is part of our 90 day career search program. Send me an email alan@careerjoy.com to share your interview stories and you could win a copy of "Get the Right Job; Right now!" online and in fine books stores near you.

Along the road with you,

Alan Kearns