Written by Jenny Blake. This post is brought to you by Wells Fargo. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.
In the kick-off post on Landing the Gig we talked about setting clear goals before you engage in conversation with your prospective client or employer:
- Vision: One year from now, what does smashing success look like?
- Value: What assets do you bring to the other party and vice versa?
- Skills: On a related note: no matter what, having a wide and diverse skillset is key; marketable skills that you can combine within and outside of your industry. How will those play a role in this relationship?
- Conversation: What is your ideal outcome for the conversation itself? How do you want to show up? What is the most important thing you wish to communicate? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Next Up: Nail the Interview
Contrary to the clichéd image of the eager prospect sitting across from a prospective boss getting grilled, interviewing is something that is happening all the time—you just might not realize it.
When you work for yourself, interviews are a natural way to connect with potential clients to see if there is a fit. When you are hoping to land a full-time job or transfer within your company, interviews are the meat of the transition process.
Interviews don’t have to be nerve-wracking, though I know they can be. When I was interviewing at Google, there was a day where I had four interviews back-to-back. I remember the first interviewer, who later became a close friend, saying to me: “You’re great, you just seem really nervous. Try to relax for your next few conversations, they are going to love you.”
Although my cheeks flushed from (even more) nerves and embarrassment, his candor was such a gift! It put me at ease that he cared about me enough to give such honest feedback. I took a few deep breaths and tried to have fun the rest of the day. It must have worked!
Three tips to best set yourself up for success to have a mutually beneficial conversation:
1. Ask about their goals early on.
That way you can explain your value, ideas, and experiences more directly as it relates to their priorities. People hire someone—a coach, an employee, a freelancer—because there is a gap between how they are currently operating and how they would like to be, and they are hoping you are the solution.
2. Be succinct in conveying value.
Come prepared with three takeaways (your 60-second pitch) and one strong example for each. You might also consider sharing examples that highlight how you uniquely approach and/or solve problems, such as how you have handled inter-department conflicts or managed complex launches.
3. Remember interviewing is a two-way street.
What is the most important factor in determining if this opportunity is a fit for you? This might include qualities of the client or the co-workers you will be working with, benefits and/or pay schedule, and other intangible or personal elements that would make this opportunity an exciting and worthwhile one to pursue.
Physiological Tips for Calming Nerves
As I shared in my posts on how to Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence & Delivery and How to Prevent Panic, I used to break out in red hives all over my chest and neck before important presentations. When I am nervous, it shows.
I have had to learn how to calm my system down on a physiological level, which is something you can (and should!) experiment with if you find too much adrenaline surging into your bloodstream during an important interview.
- BREATHE. This is key! It will help you relax, sending your body back into rest-and-digest mode.
- Smile! Have fun, be yourself, and trust that the interview will go well, even if you aren’t perfect.
- Release your attachment to the outcome. Ask for the highest good for all involved, even if that means that you don’t land this gig. Sometimes blessings-in-disguise are the best things to happen to us -- the bullets dodged that allows us to say no to the good so we can say yes to the great, as the John Maxwell saying goes.
Bigger Moves: What to Look for When Changing Industries
- Informational interviews are a great way to learn about a company’s culture, as is shadowing for an hour or even half a day if you have the opportunity. Could you see yourself working within this type of environment, with these people, in the role/s that are available?
- Tailor your preparation to the industry you are interviewing in: something as simple as dress code will vary depending on whether you interview for a financial job versus a brand new tech startup.
- Ultimately, the best approach is to be yourself. If you have to try too hard for the interview, it may be a sign that there is not a culture (or a clothing!) fit.
- Job-Interview One-Sheeter: This template condenses nine key questions into a one-page “Cliffs Notes.” Quickly articulate your answers to 9 key areas, including: strengths, goals, work-style, ideas, challenges you’ve overcome, questions & an answer to that dreaded “weaknesses” question.
- Speak Like a Pro Course: Join me for 25 compelling conversations with authors, TED speakers and the world’s leading experts on influence, body language, behavior change, and what it takes to Speak Like a Pro. You’ll walk away with practical tips to improve your confidence, delivery and impact to influence audiences of any size.
Stay tuned for Part Three, where I’ll share my favorite negotiation tips, particularly on how to sweeten the pie instead of dividing it (when it comes to money, perks, and mutually beneficial arrangements).