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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Talking Points

A client pretty much blew my mind last night when, in the midst of our prep session for a big interview she has coming up, she said, cheerily (...and I'm paraphrasing...)," I just have to turn [the interviewer's] questions around, so the interview reflects my agenda and I stay in control." I was literally sputtering with amazement, not least since this particular client is not even 28. I have clients in their 50s who look at me as if I have two heads when I attempt to suggest that they can guide a job interview to highlight their strengths, instead of their weaknesses. Not going to lie, I almost got emotional when this client revealed that she at one with this
crucial point. Oh, they grow up so fast...

One tip I did share with her, and now with you, is that no matter how awesome you are before an interview, it never hurts to write out a list of talking points, and take that awesomeness to the next level. Especially for a phone interview, when you can't read the interviewer's body language and facial expressions, and a simple silence can (unfortunately) be misinterpreted as negative judgement, which can then throw your entire confidence off. And really, without confidence, forget it. You'll end up like Koko the gorilla, muttering, "Me...want...job...yes? Vote Romney?"  Don't do it. Write out your talking points, a day or two before the interview and have someone you trust, who supports you, go over these points with you. Have someone who knows you are smart enough to get the job, you just need a little TLC.

I'll tell you exactly how you figure out your talking points: place yourself in the mind of the interviewer. They're looking for intelligent, experienced, confident people, with related experience who can immediately benefit the company. Think about the skills and experience you have which are of (relevant) value to the company. Think about what you want the interviewer to know about you: your education, your commitment to your industry, your skills, your passion. I'm going to blow your mind (again), but if your boyfriend/girlfriend can't read your mind, your interviewer probably can't either, so if you don't articulate in a clear, concise and relevant way exactly what makes you a strong candidate...*crickets.* #whompwhomp If people don't know about your skills, they are going to assume you don't have them. So research the company you're applying for; research the person who will be conducting the interview: where did he or she go to school, what type of experience do they have, do you have any connections, etc. etc. The more you know, the more prepared you will be.

Because crucially, if you are having an interview, it's highly likely you have the job. People in business are busy. They're busy wasting time on Facebook...whoa, where'd that come from? I'm sorry, I meant, they're busy making money for their employers. So if you have an interview, it means people want to know what you are like. They want to know if you'd be a smart asset to their team, who will show up every day smiling and passionate about the product...or are you a bad Gothic novel in the making. So yes, you need to sell...but it's hard to sell, right, if your thoughts are disorganized and you're listening to silence on the other end of the phone and about 5 seconds from a Judy Garland-inspired cocktail of vodka, vodka, Seconal and okay twist my arm, a wee bit more vodka. On the other hand, if you've researched and written up and rehearsed your talking points, then you can be confident. Then it becomes not so much an interview, as a very interesting conversation. And then, the good guys win. (P.S.: That's you!)

Want some more specific hints on how to stay golden, Ponyboy? (#ohyesIdid!) Email me @, and become a fan of my Facebook page, "Carlotaworldwide Creativity Yenta."

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