Do these 3 things to always be interview ready

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You finally got the call you’ve been waiting for—your resume was selected among hundreds of candidates for a coveted position. The only catch is they want you to come in for an interview first thing tomorrow. You don’t have hours and hours to prepare. You’ve got other responsibilities that require your time—things like family or even another job.

How will you get an edge over your competition when they’ve been memorizing resume timelines, LinkedIn profiles, and who knows what else?

I have good news for you! It’s not about the number of hours you prepare or the random facts you’ve memorized. What matters is that you understand how to talk about your current and past experiences and skills, and you can confidently present yourself during the interview. 

In fact, you can improve your chances of getting hired if you start to practice these things the moment you begin your job search. That way, you’ll always be prepared for that important interview—even if you don’t have a lot of advance warning.

Like I’ve said so many times before [link], confidence is a big part of interview success. You’ll be confident you’re ready for an interview when you can do these three things:

     1. You can succinctly and confidently explain your role in past work experiences. You stay focused and on topic, and you don’t make your interviewer dig for information.

A common problem is knowing how to talk about and relate your past experiences to the job you’re applying for.

Some people nervously ramble on about inconsequential details. Too much of the wrong information can get in the way of the important facts. It can use up valuable time better spent answering other questions.

Others clam up and give minimal answers. Maybe the connection between your past role and the role you’re interviewing for seems obvious (to you) and not worth explaining. Or maybe you’re not clear how your work history relates to what the interviewer is asking. But telling “just the facts” of your resume without explaining your role is asking the interviewer to do extra work and make assumptions about you.

Practice this now. Look at your resume and jot down your answers to these questions. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling — this is just for you to organize your thoughts. 

  • If you led a project, how many people were on your team?

Did you complete the project on time? Were you within budget? Describe details that could highlight your leadership experience. Talk about how you delegated your responsibilities.

Example: “When I worked at SmartApps, I led the development of educational gaming apps. We turned challenging science concepts into fun games. Three programmers and a graphic designer were on my team. I handled the communication between the clients who were experts in their field and our software developers. I made sure the team met established milestones and stayed within budget.

  • How did you handle an unexpected challenge or interruption?

Example: The SmartApps client wanted to add additional levels to the game, but that would take our project out of scope. My job was to communicate to the client about the additional cost that would be required, and to make sure the developers met the client’s expectations on time.

Practice your interview answers a couple times until you feel comfortable. The goal isn’t to memorize, but to feel confident that you can stay focused and mention the important details. Refer to them again before your interview.

     2. You understand the job description and can give good examples that incorporate your skills and experiences.

When you were called in for an interview, it was because someone saw potential in you. They were looking for specific qualities. Your work experience indicated that you could be the one they’re looking for. Congratulations! You’ve just beat out hundreds of other candidates.

Now, it’s your job to make it obvious to the interviewer that you clearly have what it takes! You’ll do this by painting a picture of how your past experiences prepared you for this position. Use key words from the job description and you just might see their ears perk up.

But how can you quickly relate your work history to their specific job descriptions if you only have an evening to prepare? Take a few extra minutes when you’re writing the cover letter to prepare for your interview.

You see, when you’re writing a personalized cover letter, you’re already doing the hard work. That’s because a good cover letter briefly draws attention to your qualifications and experiences that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Chances are, you’ve chosen to only focus on the main job requirements and your most important or most impressive qualifications so that you can keep your cover letter to one page.

Take a little extra time while you’re focused on this job opportunity. Create a file that lists the job description AND your related qualifications. When it’s time for your interview, simply review the document to refresh your memory.

Practice this now. Open the job description and list the requirements you’re confident you meet. Next to those requirements, jot down your related work experiences and examples. 


  • The position requires extensive customer service experience and attention to detail:

“As a Realtor, my organization and customer service skills were of utmost importance. Clients felt comfortable calling me with their questions and concerns. They trusted me with their biggest investment because they felt a connection with me. If I dropped the ball, a client could miss out on their dream house. When I was selling a property, my clients relied on my analytical skills to assess the neighborhood’s comparable sales to determine a competitive asking price.”

  • The position requires strong analytical skills:

“Working as a network sys-admin, I was constantly asked to troubleshoot emergencies. I had to keep my cool and assure clients I could solve their problem. I had to observe, assess and act quickly and accurately.”

Practice telling your story with these details until it feels natural. Your job in the interview is to connect the dots between your past experiences and the qualifications your interviewer is hunting for.

(Not sure how your past experiences relate? That’s where an interview coach comes in handy!)

     3. You understand how to be a contributing partner in the interview. You know how to participate in this opportunity that you want for yourself.

An interview is not one-sided. It’s a conversation where you take an active role. If you just sit back in your chair, quickly answer questions, and assume your resume speaks for itself, you’ll find yourself in interview after interview—but with no job offer. You need to take an active role in your interview and become a contributing partner for that hour-long conversation.

Let’s take a look at what it means to be a contributing partner in an interview.

  • It all starts with a confident mindset. Remember, THEY chose YOU. Out of hundreds of resumes, yours presented the skill set and history they were looking for. They already like you. Go in and meet them — you’ve made it this far already!Be proud, don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Don’t let self-doubt compromise this opportunity.

Confidence helps you stop rambling. Confidence helps you explain your qualifications. And confidence keeps your mind clear so you can answer unexpected or unrehearsed questions.

The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become. If you’re serious about getting that dream job, keep your answers about your work experience top-of-mind so you can clearly illustrate your ability to do the job.

  • Take an active role in the conversation. Do more than just sit back and wait for the questioning to start. Be aware of your body language. Sit on the edge or the middle of your chair. Maintain eye contact. Be alert and give clear answers to their questions. Your confidence and inner calm will help you! If you need some body language tips, check out this blog post [link].
  • Understand the interviewer’s perspective. The interviewer is looking for a candidate who can fill an opening in their department. They’re under a lot of pressure because work isn’t getting done. Their job is to find a candidate with specific qualities—which they hope you possess. Your job is to explain how your experiences and qualifications relate to what they’re looking for.
  • Know that it’s ok to speak out of turn. A job interview isn’t so formal that you must be silent if you’re not directly answering a question. If you remember something you wanted to add, or if you have a question about the role, go ahead and talk! Be yourself. Be engaged in the conversation. Your interviewer will appreciate your involvement and the chance to see the real you.

As you can see, the key to interview success is preparation. But you don’t need to research each and every opportunity for dozens of hours.

Instead, cultivate confidence. Practice telling your story. Keep a file of your go-to answers so you can refresh your memory. Give relevant details to your interviewer. And remember that it’s up to you to make the most of this amazing opportunity!

If you’re not sure how to discover, organize, or condense the important details, working with an interview coach will help you prioritize and practice the most relevant information. Your coach will also give you constructive feedback so you know if you are communicating your answers well.


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