In today’s blog I give you the transcript from an interview I did with the City CV Queen herself, Victoria McLean: 10 Powerful Tips To Ace Your Job Interview
So you’ve secured the interview, so far so good and then suddenly the panic sets in: THE INTERVIEW………..I’M GOING TO BE INTERVIEWED……….
Interviews are not particularly pleasant at the best of times, but in this blog post, Victoria who is a world leading expert in interview techniques, gives you 10 tips that are know are going to help you not only shine in your interview BUT get you the job.
It may seem laborious to scroll through a transcribed conversation BUT BUT BUT, the content is sooooooooooooooo good, I mean really really good, that I couldn’t rob you of the chance to digest every single word (well nearly) that was spoken.
I encourage you to read every word, but if you’re stuck for time, scroll down to the bottom and have a look at the summary section.
Are you ready?
Victoria City CV: Tip 1: Well of course I’m going to say it’s very similar to the CV in that it’s all about marketing. So you’d have to go into that meeting thinking about how you are going to market yourself and of course really all it is a dialogue between two, or maybe a couple more people. So your role as the interviewee, all you have to do is demonstrate to the interviewer that you are the best person for the role and that if they hire you they’re going to get this amazing return on their investment. So think about it as a marketing meeting rather than an interview. You’re a product. It’s a really competitive market. The hirer is buying you hopefully so demonstrate why they need to buy you.
Victoria City CV: Tip 2 : Establish your “Hidden Agenda.” So your hidden agenda is essentially a list of things that you commit to yourself that you are going to tell them at interview. Whatever they ask you, what are the key 5 or 10 things that I know I must tell them to make sure that they want to offer me the job? And you have to brainstorm, so before you even start preparing answers to possible questions, establish what you need to tell them. What are the key things that they need to know about you? And these could range from your motivation to something else. The way that I would do this is to think OK what’s their need? What commercial benefit will I bring to them? When have I delivered this in the past? And what skills and knowledge and expertise do I have that will ensure that I can and that I have delivered? And think of real examples of when you’ve delivered this in the past as well, probably 5 or 10 really strong examples. And then think about your USP – your unique selling point. What do I have that my competition don’t have? And this could be a unique combination of experience for example, maybe big brands that you’ve worked with, big passions that you have, major successes but you’ve go to understand how you differentiate from your competition and then get that across at interview. So if you can create your agenda as step one, then you just need to keep that agenda as your theme throughout. And actually it doesn’t matter what they ask you because you know what you need to tell them and it really puts you on the front foot rather than the back foot.
Victoria City CV: Tip 3: Prepare a response to the obvious questions: `They’re going to ask you, depending on how experienced you are, they’re going to ask you about your track record one way or the other. So it might be, talk me through your CV which is quite macro or talk me through your career. Or it could be really specific – tell me about your role as blah blah or tell me about the particular project at Cadburys or wherever it may be. So prepare, remembering your agenda the whole time and prepare really good stories. So narratives are really powerful but they’re very boring if you waffle so try to arrive at tangible achievements as quickly as you can. Whilst at Cadbury I was parachuting through a failing greenfield situation. I quickly recruited and built a team of 8 whizz-kids who made a bottom line impact of two and a half million savings on operations. So straight in there with the achievements. Get rid of the fluff and then think about the impact that had and the skills that you’ve got and go on and do this several times. So always thinking what did I do? What did I achieve.? In fact you’re going back to the FAB from the CV – the fact, the action and the benefit.
You’ve obviously got the track record question which you’re guaranteed to be asked. The other thing that they will ask you one way or another – it’s going to be around the strengths genre I would call it. So it could be really specifically – what are you strengths? What will you bring to this role? Why should we hire you? I’ve got 15 people outside, what do you have that they don’t have? How would your peers describe you? How would your boss describe you? However they ask that question, essentially it’s around your strengths and if you can create a structure around that answer, with your agenda, then however they ask the question you’ve got a really powerful answer.
They’re also going to ask you, for sure, about your motivation. So, again, it might be, why do you want to work here? Why do you want to work in this role? What appeals to you about the role? What makes you get out of bed in the morning? However they ask you, it’s all about your motivation and I would follow the steps that I talked about really in the cover letter. Make sure you cover the motivation for the role and the sector and the company. And, again, show that research.
Victoria City CV: Tip 4: There are three parts to successfully selling yourself:
- Understanding the specifics of the role.
- How can I demonstrate that I’m the right person.
- What’s my unique selling point, my differentiator?
So I’ll give you a really quick example:
“I know that you’re seeking an individual who can generate high revenues through expanding the client base whilst maximising existing customers. I know this is a perfect role for me. I really excel in new business development, especially in the B2B market. In my last role I trebled client revenue on skeleton staff through blah de blah de blah. What I feel truly sets me apart from the other Sales Directors is blah blah blah blah blah.”
So if you’ve got a structure it doesn’t matter how they ask the question. You know what you need to tell them and you can wrap up/weave in your agenda.”
Looking to build up your confidence levels but not sure how? Got a particular area of your life where you need more confidence? If you do then click here and watch my FREE video on How To Build Confidence.It’s helped so many people already.
Victoria City CV: Tip 5: .The other thing that’s really important is around competence. So on any job spec. there will normally be a list of competences that they are seeking in an individual. And your role in that interview is to show, clearly show, that you have the competencies that they are looking for and the way to do that is something called the STAR technique.
The STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. You would use this, whether you’re a graduate with zero experience or a CEO with 25 years. It’s a really clear structure for giving the interviewer exactly what they need to hear. So a competency question could be asked really indirectly – what does leadership mean to you? Or quite directly – give me an example of a time when you’ve led a team to achieve a goal. Either way, they’re looking to understand that you have the right level of leadership competence. So if you can answer with a STAR you would structure it with probably 10% the situation, 10% the task, a huge whopping 70% of your answer should be the action/what you did and then 10% would be the result which is a really nice wrap up at the end.
In preparing for your interview, I would recommend that you prepare one or two STARs for every competence that they’re seeking. It’s a lot to prepare these stories. Think about good examples that you have, good stories, good successes and also it’s probably worth looking at the corporate values on the website and having a competence story for each of those as well. So you may well end up having to learn or recall 15-20 stories but it’s really worth doing because you never know what they’re going to ask you.
“So whilst I was working at PWC my boss was on holiday and broke his leg whilst we were in the middle of a big project (Situation) As a result I had to take over leadership of the team, many of whom were older than me and deliver a million pound project within a 4 week time frame (Task), To do this I bla bla bla bla (Action) and at the end of the 4 week period we completed the project under budget. The client was absolutely delighted and I got a promotion on my boss’s return (Result).“
Prosperity Kitchen: I think the one thing that, well the one thing that I know about interviews which I believe I’m not outdated here, is the interviewers should be making the interviewees feel at ease to get the best out of them. But you and I both know that often that just doesn’t happen for various reasons. Plus, an interview is nerve-wracking at the best of times. What is your advice to the listeners out there to calm their nerves? What can they practically do to make themselves feel better or get themselves into a positive state going into the interview?
Victoria City CV: Tip 6: The first thing you’ve got to remember is that they wouldn’t be interviewing you if they didn’t think you could do the job and actually they want you to do really well. They’re desperate to find the right person and the reason that they’re feeding you these questions is to allow you to shine. They’re not doing it to be mean. They actually want you to do well. So rather than feeling negative or nervous, really you should feel excited about the opportunity and when they ask you your strengths question, feel happy/excited that they’ve done that and certainly, I know, many many people get nervous. A lot of that is around lack of preparation. The whole concept of power distance is relevant here.
Power distance is essentially the distance between your power and the power of the person you’re talking to and when you go into an interview, the interviewer is much more powerful because they hold that position. So if you can somehow shrink that power distance in your mind and go back to the fact that you’re just two people – he or she’s a normal person and so am I – and try and engage with them on that personal level. That whole power distance issue is just a construct in your own head. It’s all about your own perception and there are various tricks that I can’t go into now that we work with our clients on in terms of reducing that distance to ensure that you do feel a lot more comfortable in the interview.
Victoria City CV: Tip 7 The other thing to think about is it’s OK to pause in an interview. The interviewer needs to catch up and actually if they ask a question, take a moment just to reflect on how best you want to answer that before leaping in. The interviewer may be having a random thought about what they’re having for dinner that evening so it brings them back and it allows them to catch up. So don’t feel that you have to race on. Don’t be afraid to take your time and pause and talk slowly.
Prosperity Kitchen: I also think something that’s very important to do is stop. When you’ve said what you need to say, stop. Don’t feel the need to fill the silences. I don’t know what you think about that because I think often people can keep waffling on and you can just stop.
Victoria City CV: Absolutely.
Prosperity Kitchen: Do you believe practising for interviews is a good thing to do? Like coming to somewhere like you – City CV – and being taken through mock interviews with you guys? Do you think that’s a good thing to do?
Victoria City CV: Tip 8: So we run a number of interview programmes, ranging from one and a half hours up to nine hours where we split into smaller sessions obviously but we do mock interviews. We can provide written and verbal feedback. It makes all the difference. It absolutely does. But the coaching as well, just to focus on how can you prepare your STARs and practice those STARs or interview etiquette’s a really big thing, demonstrating your commercial value. There’s so many benefits. So absolutely.
Prosperity Kitchen: What should we wear to an interview? Probably a stupid question but I don’t think it is.
Victoria City CV: Tip 9 It’s funny. I do a lot of work with parent returners – people that have been out of work for quite some time for various reasons, whether it’s caring for a sick relative or for whatever it may be and often they think they can brush off their old suit and wear that to the interview. Professional attire has really changed over the last few years and it’s much more business casual than it used to be. What I would suggest you do is you check out the company and what people are wearing. Even if you have to do a stealth mission the week before and have a bit of a look at how people are dressing. You still need to look really professional and really smart and I’ve written a few articles on this in terms of how you should present but certainly don’t feel that you need to be as smart as you used to.
Prosperity Kitchen: Perfect. So we’ve had the interview. What do we do if we don’t hear anything? When do we start to chase? Should we chase?
Victoria City CV: Tip 10: I would suggest that post-interview you email everybody that you’ve met or write them a letter or card thanking them for their time and thanking them for the interview and do that as soon as you can post-interview. It’s a really nice touch. It’s considerate to do that as well and perhaps within that letter or card you can reiterate just how much you enjoyed meeting them and how excited you are and why, about the role. People should get back to you. I think it’s so rude that they don’t. But they don’t always which I don’t really understand. If they want to hire you they’re going to get back to you.
There you are everyone, one of the best tutorials I’ve come across on how to construct the perfect CV.
I hope this helped you.
Full Podcast Interview with Victoria:
For the full interview with Janey on my podcast click here.
Summary – 10 Tips Guaranteed To Help You Ace Your Job Interview
- It’s all about how you market yourself. Think of it as marketing meeting as opposed to an interview.
- Identify your “hidden agenda” – what it is you need them to know about you by the end of the interview.
- Prepare and practise responses to the obvious questions that will be asked.
- Learn the three parts to successfully selling yourself.
- Demonstrate you have the competencies that they listed in the job specification. Use the STAR technique.
- Remember the interviewer wants you to do well. They want you to succeed. Remember Power Distance.
- It’s ok to pause. Don’t rush to answer straight away.
- Practise your interview technique. Have mock interviews beforehand.
- Dress appropriately for the interview.
- Post interview, write to the interviewer thanking them for the opportunity.
Gemma is a leading Life Coach & Business Coach, Award Winning Podcaster and the owner of Prosperity Kitchen. Regularly featured in the national press, Gemma is one of the “go to” people on Life Coaching & Business Coaching. Gemma counts VIPs, High Net Worth Individuals, Entrepreneurs, Career Professionals, Stay at Home Parents and all manner of other amazing people as her clients. She specialises in Personal Development, Career Coaching, Employee Coaching, Executive Coaching, Confidence, Motivation, Health and Small Business Coaching.
Victoria is the founder and CEO of City CV, an award-winning international career consultancy, which is devoted to supporting people at all levels with career transition and development. Victoria is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, Advanced LinkedIn Consultant, Professional Employment Interview Coach and an active member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW) and Career Directors International (CDI). Her professional journey began in recruitment and provided an essential grounding in the corporate world, together with invaluable international experience. Victoria spent the earlier part of her career in London and Sydney, working with leading recruitment firms, TMP & Robert Walters, prior to moving to the role of recruiter for Goldman Sachs in 2004 and Merrill Lynch in 2005. It was in this role that her expertise came into its own and she was charged with leadership of the experienced hire recruitment process across several divisions. Additionally, she was a key player in recruiting for the set-up of Merrill Lynch’s emerging markets’ hubs, including across MENA and Russia CIS. Armed with in-depth knowledge of the banking / finance industry, she identified a gap in the market for high quality CV writing and interview coaching which would support executives, professionals, women, parent returners and graduates to secure the jobs they truly deserve.
Other blogs that you may like are: