When preparing for a job interview follow these next nine steps to make your journey to
work a smooth and successful one:
STEP 1 – Manager Shoes
Start to imagine what your future manager may be thinking about the prospect of hiring
you. Write down what you think his or her expectations are for the interview. Your interview
list might include the usual suspects: you turn up on time, you are suitably dressed, are
clearly spoken, courteous, you appear enthusiastic during the interview and seem genuinely
interested in the job. These you know already, try to think of something more bespoke for
the job you are going for.
STEP 2 – Second Guess
Now try to predict some of the questions you might be asked. With some thought you may
surprise yourself and second guess many of the questions that come up at the interview.
This way you can start to practice your answers; ask someone you know to help role play
this exercise if possible.
STEP 3 – Curve Balls
And now think of a few questions that you would prefer not to be asked. What questions
would put you on the spot and cause to potentially feel uncomfortable? Practice answering
those too, again role play can be very effective. You are now anticipating any ‘curve balls’
that might be thrown at you and instead of dodging them you are learning how to skilfully
STEP 4 – Perfect Employee
Put the manager shoes back on for a while and start to define what would be the perfect
employee from the manager’s point of view. Create two lists for this exercise: 1) ‘Essential
Qualities’ – i.e. those that you simply must have to stand a chance of getting the job and 2)
‘Impressive Attributes’ which will include additional qualities that might make you stand out
from the other interviewees. Your ‘essential’ list might start with the same items in the
interview list and might also include being receptive to criticism, hardworking, adaptable
etc. Your ‘impressive’ list might feature a local community project that you were involved in
or could just be the fact that if you find yourself in between tasks you always make a point Your Journey to Work by David Finney © 2012 – The Energy of Conversation Ltd
of asking those around you if they need any help. Include as many items as possible in both
STEP 5 – Super Critic
For the next phase write down your weaknesses and worst qualities. Don’t beat yourself up
too much but be very honest in this self-assessment. Your interviewer may well want to
know how you intend to make improvements in your areas of weakness, so be a super critic
and ask yourself ‘what can I do to improve this going forward?’ and produce a good answer.
Again practice saying the answer out loud until it feels more comfortable.
STEP 6 – Super Me
Now talk out loud for a few minutes about your strengths and best qualities. Do it with
confidence but in a fairly ‘matter of fact’ way. Although you might want to avoid clichés
such as ‘trustworthy’, ‘hard-working’ and ‘reliable’ etc.; do include these if they are true!
But don’t over-emphasise them or spend too long talking about qualities that might be
expected of you anyway, just include them as part of a list. Spend more time on those
special qualities that you have. If this proves difficult – i.e. you are not sure about your
special qualities – ask someone you know and trust to help you out.
STEP 7 – Case Studies
This step is about coming up with very real and specific examples that back up your
strengths. This is very important so that when you are asked (for example) to illustrate a
time when you showed ‘good leadership’ or demonstrated ‘good organisational skills’ you
have a readily prepared case study that backs up your strength.
STEP 8 – Cool Observations
Visit the company’s website and make one cool observation about them and remember it.
Keep it in your ‘back pocket’ during the interview – in other words produce this observation
at an opportune moment – e.g. “I noticed on your website you have developed your own
quality system which stood out to me as my understanding of quality management is that it
helps to ensure that customers get a consistently good service”. While on the company’s
website think of a great question to ask during the interview which may be linked to the
observation – e.g. “I noticed on your website you have developed your own quality system –
could you tell me a little more about that?” Another might be “If you were to choose me for
this position, what is the most important quality I should demonstrate in my role?”
STEP 9 – Profile Check
Take a close look at your CV and have one last think about how you might have come across
in your written application (before the interview) and what the interviewer may choose to Your Journey to Work by David Finney © 2012 – The Energy of Conversation Ltd
focus on. This is one last chance to wear the manager’s shoes and imagine any concerns
your prospective employers may have about you. If you can spot any areas of concern, how
can you allay their fears? For instance, they might say “you don’t seem to have much
experience in this field do you?” Your response might be “No I agree, but I am very
determined to make up for lost time and get up to speed” or “No but I am very keen to
learn and will study in my own time if necessary”. Everything you say during the interview
should be genuine; you must mean it!
Ok time out. Smile and give yourself a pat on the back as you now completed the
groundwork for your next interview. If you have already secured an interview, you have
done excellently to get this far. Irrespective of whether you get the job or not, see this
interview as an opportunity to become a better interviewee. That would be a very useful
long-term skill to develop in itself