Want to know what working with me to improve your interviewing or networking skills is like? These FAQs will give you some answers:
1. Why are job interviews so scary hard?
Because you want something. Because you think you have to be perfect to get it. And because you probably haven’t realized yet that basically, an interview is a conversation between two people who both want to benefit from it.
2. An interview is a test, right?
No, an interview is a conversation. You’ve already passed the test or you wouldn’t have gotten the interview. They like your qualifications. Now they want to see if they like you. That’s why, I repeat: It’s a conversation between two people who both want to benefit from it.
3. How do I start to prepare for a job interview?
- Do your research. Find out everything you can about the company and the person or people you’re meeting with. Look for connections, or things you feel good about.
- Review your qualifications. Remember why they’re interviewing you, when surely, they could have chosen someone else.
- Think about your bottom line. What do you want to accomplish with this interview? How will you know it’s been a success?
- Think about your deal-breakers (we all have them). At what point are you willing to walk away from a situation that doesn’t provide what you need?
- Remember that not even a perfect interview (and there is no such thing) can guarantee that you’ll get what you want. So get your head screwed on as straight as you can, and prepare yourself to have a good time.
- There’s a book for that. I wrote it!
4. What’s your best interviewing tip?
Here’s my best tip — and in Interview Like Yourself, 64 Hiring Managers and Experts give you their best tips, too:
Connect with the person you’re talking to. This is much more important than anything you do or don’t say.
5. If I work with you on my interviewing skills, what are we actually going to do?
We’re going to:
- Identify the questions you’re most likely to be asked and the ones you hope you won’t be asked;
- Come up with answers that are true, interesting, and likely to advance your agenda;
- Turn those answers into Instant Speeches;
- Practice them so that you know what you’re going to say and can say it in a relaxed and dynamic way;
- Go through lots of test role plays, to make sure that your strategies and answers are locked and loaded.
6. What’s an Instant Speech?
A simple-to-use format that makes you sound poised and professional, even when you’re answering on the fly.
It starts with your “Key Message” (the most important thing you have to say on a subject). Then you support your Key Message with three relevant points. Then you repeat your Key Message.
It’s an easy format to learn, and you can practice it almost anywhere so that you’re comfortable using it during an interview. If you want to know more, there’s a whole chapter on Key Messages in my book on public speaking.
7. Do I really have to make eye contact with the interviewer, and smile at them?
8. I’ve heard that it’s a good idea to write a thank you note. Is that true?
Yes. Make it personal, and write it on paper. Mail it with a stamp. eMail is also fine, but don’t neglect the note. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to write a killer thank you note.
9. What’s wrong with saying thank you by email?
Nothing. eMail has the virtue of being fast, and takes a minimal effort for the other person to read. A written note has the virtue of being slow — it will arrive a few days later, reminding them of you again — and you’re more likely to stand out in their minds because you went the extra mile.
10. Why did you lump interviewing, networking, and small talk together on this page?
Because they’re all the same thing: exploratory conversations with someone you don’t know, in which both parties are looking for common ground and assessing the value of a possible connection.
11. I don’t like networking. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Yes. Get over it. Seriously. (And see Answer #12.)
12. Do introverts and extroverts network differently?
Yes. Introverts do a lot of virtual networking, a lot of networking in small groups or intimate situations (a small dinner party or a small seminar), and a lot of avoiding of networking. Extroverts (unless they’re shy, which some extroverts are) are more comfortable wading into a large group of people, and may prefer networking at conferences or big events. Again, unless they’re shy, extroverts will probably speak with more people at any given event than their introvert counterparts—but the introvert may be more likely to start a strong alliance with one person.
13. Do you have a strategy for live networking events?
As a Myers-Briggs introvert who’s also an intuitive, my networking strategy is an introverted and intuitive one, namely:
- Show up at the event (as opposed to punking out, which I’ve definitely been known to do!)
- Speak and exchange business cards with at least one person
- Leave when I’ve had enough, which is generally at the 45-minute mark
I used to really kick my ass over this approach, believing (as most people do) that the extrovert approach of coming early, staying late, and talking to every person in the room was superior. But I’ve noticed, to my utter surprise, that I often make wonderful contacts at networking events. Perhaps I’ll just meet one person, but that person is fantastic. Noticing this has helped me trust myself and be myself when I go out to what I still call “a dreaded networking event.”
14. Why can’t I do all my networking online?
For the same reason you can’t do all your dating online. At some point, you’ve gotta step up and deal with an actual, breathing human being. Might as well make that point now. 🙂
15. Is small talk hard for everyone?
In my experience, introverts find it much harder than extroverts. But small talk can feel difficult for anyone, introvert or extrovert, for reasons such as:
- You grew up without learning how to make small talk
- You’re not comfortable with the way a particular group does it (southeast Asians, for example, can find the American approach to eye contact quite jarring; non-New Yorkers may be offended when asked what something costs; etc.)
- You’re shy, and don’t feel at ease meeting strangers
- English is not your first language, and you’re concerned about your skills
- You’re not confident about your credentials, etc., etc.
16. Is small talk a skill that can be learned?
Yes, and while you may never love it or feel totally at ease, you can learn to do it well.
17. What’s your best tip for improving my ability to make small talk?
Listen to what the other person is saying, and try to identify ideas or areas of interest that the two of you might share.
18. Does small talk get easier over time?
Every communication skill gets easier over time if you practice it.
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