By Tom Davidson
The next step in strategically preparing for a contemporary job interview is to anticipate what you will be asked and think through which stories would be your best examples to use when the time comes. Here’s a few tips for what you can do!
In the first blog entry in this series, you learned the value of recording “stories” from your work history, actual and complete summaries of “significant events” from your experience that can be used in job interviews. Generating these stories in a personal log as they occur is the gold standard of interview preparation because they will be most complete and impressive when you need them.
Predict What You Will be Asked
The next step in strategically preparing for a contemporary job interview is to anticipate what you will be asked and think through which stories would be your best examples to use when the time comes. Here’s what you do:
• Gather – Collect all the intelligence you can on the job you are applying for. This means job announcements, job descriptions and even your personal notes from preliminary interviews, conversations with the incumbent or people you have found in similar positions.
• Analyze – Study the information you have collected, looking for significant patterns of the primary tasks that the job will require you to do. This information might be spelled out or it might be buried in jargon. In either case, it’s important that you dissect this information to come up with the best possible idea of the critical few “competencies” they are looking for in a candidate. Competencies are bundles of skills and behaviors such as “team building,” “presentations” or “change leadership.”
• Match – Once you have teased out five to seven of the most likely competency areas the interviewers will be looking for, you can go back to your stories and determine which of those will be the best match for each area of inquiry. Hopefully, you will find that several of your stories are related to each competency. It would also be beneficial if each of your stories can be used to exemplify more than one of the target competencies.
Don’t worry about the fact that you might be “wrong” in your predictions. If you’ve done your homework as described, you’ve done all you can to prepare. The interviewers and/or the people posting the job documents may not be as adroit as you, and the mumbo jumbo they published might not have been a very good representation of the target competencies.
As you will learn in the next blog of this series, your preparation can still be used in the interview. You’ll just have to be a little more nimble during the interview process itself!
Where else might you look for information about a job that you are interested in so that you can most accurately predict what the interviewers are looking for?