For your "casting call" whether it's an interview for a job or with a potential client, you've got to make a great first impression. You already know that you need to dress the part and let your personality shine through. But equally important, you have to deliver your lines with conviction.
Many accomplished professionals become like shy children when it comes time to sell their qualifications to an interviewer or prospect. Maybe they've been brought up not to "toot your own horn" or perhaps they're just modest. As much as modesty is nice in personal relationships, a job interview or a client meeting is not the time to get tongue-tied about why you're the best one for the role.
This is the point in the preparation process where I find role-playing makes a huge difference. When I role-play with a client, I pretend to be the prospect or interviewer, and the client gets to relax and be herself/himself. We explore different questions and scenarios, looking for ways to help the client present herself/himself in the best possible light. We also role-play both parts, interviewer and interviewee until the client has a sense of her/his own voice.
Role-playing takes the pressure off the real interview, because now you're on familiar ground. You've got the kind of confidence that might take you dozens of interviews to achieve, and you gain that confidence without having made mistakes in front of people who could hire you. Role-playing with a coach means that if you fumble, you've got a trusted guide to help you back on the path. It also means that you've got an advocate who will help you tell your stories with more impact or phrase your comments for best results.
Here are some of my tips to help you get ready for your role-playing debut with your coach.
- Know the benefit and value you bring to the job, and how you would help improve the business of the company or client that hires you. Try writing this down and play with the wording to find something strong, accurate and natural to say.
- Get comfortable talking about yourself. Practice talking with energy and enthusiasm about your job successes, giving stories and examples and relating these accomplishments back to the values and mission of the company/client you hope to work for.
- Find your sweet spot. Identify opportunities where you can make a positive difference and be ready to point them out and support your position.
- Focus on what you love. When you focus on what you love to do and feel you do best, you'll radiate enthusiasm and your examples will have more impact.
- Have more examples than you're likely to need. Brainstorm a dozen or so examples that show a variety of ways you made a difference, finished a product, exceeded expectations, saved money or motivated others, and be comfortable sharing the stories when they fit the conversation. Don't be shy about quoting how others have praised your work.
- Emphasize your unique qualities, so that it's clear how your skills and perspective relate to the job description.
- Don't try to memorize your answers. You'll forget your lines when you're nervous, and you may appear to be uncertain. Instead, focus on remembering your list of examples and the top one or two things you emphasize for each example, and then share your story conversationally.
- Face your fears. Come up with a list of the questions you are most afraid to answer, and then figure out how you'll deal with them. This is especially true if there is a blemish on your resume or if your skills are not an obvious match for the position.
- Have several questions to ask the interviewer that show that you've done your homework about the company. Ask about the company future goals, their strategies, upcoming mergers, or the potential for career development. Show genuine interest and take the initiative to interview the interviewer!
Your next step puts you in the spotlight, as you take all that you've learned to do role-playing with your coach live.