As I emerge from another important coaching session helping a very talented individual prepare themselves better at an upcoming interview, I am struck again by some very simple but critical observations.
Most people who are pursuing a new role normally have a strong professional competency - this is rarely in doubt. Most individuals don’t normally apply for jobs that are outside their range of professional capabilities.
However in many cases, they do find it difficult to express accurately just how their capabilities might match the job in front of them. Distilling what you are very good at and focusing it down on a number of highly relevant examples and powerful stories is often the toughest challenge for anyone at interview. So in coaching preparation sessions this is one of the elements that we work on most, i.e. how succinctly to get across what you are really good at and (most importantly) show how relevant this competency is to the advertised role. It is all about focus, technique and, of course, intensive practice.
And then there is delivery and impact. How you put your message across in response to interview questions will invariably have a crucial bearing on how competent and confident you come across to any interviewer. And in preparation this is all about feedback, self-awareness and (yet again) practice. One of the reasons that we use video playback at our coaching preparation sessions is so that individuals can starkly (and yes, often uncomfortably) see how they come across when responding to tough questioning.
It is attention to those little, often subtle, personal mannerisms and habits that can make all the difference to the final delivery and performance at interview. Whether it is an over-quick pace and unvarying tone of voice, repetitive arm or head movements, variable eye contact, verbal hesitancy (errm) or other repeated habits, we all have aspects of our behaviour than can detract from the importance of what we are saying or convey an impression about ourselves that we do not really intend.
However the good news is that by observing yourself on video and seeing how these personal habits play-out, and with the help of feedback from a coach, you can quickly raise your own self-awareness and begin to minimise or eliminate the most unhelpful behaviours. By focusing specifically on one or two of these most distracting habits at a time, it often still surprises me how quickly individuals can make a marked improvement in their overall demeanour, confidence and interview performance. With concentration, technique and practice, focusing on small but manageable changes, we can all positively change important aspects of our behaviour to project a more confident and positive image of ourselves. The little things really do matter.
If you would like help in preparing for your next important interview, please contact Tim Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.