4 Killer Interview Strategies Guaranteed To Land Your Next Job

Recently, while in New York City, I was contracted to conduct a series of interviews for a leadership position. The newly hired leader would be responsible for leading a team of 8 people. The person would report directly to the senior vice president of the company. During the screening for this position, I had the luxury of conducting face-to-face interviews with 4 candidates. While all the candidates demonstrate similar experiences on their resumes, their performance in the interview was significantly different. Before I delve into the 4 keys, I assume we all understand the importance of achieving Interview 101 including 1) arriving to the interview 10 minutes early, 2) dressing appropriately, and 3) having ample resumes/materials for the hiring committee. Assuming you satisfy these tasks, let’s establish four critical strategies to ensure you “crush” your next interview.

Strategy #1 Prepare Your Opening Statement

Throughout my career, I have conducted and participated in hundreds of interviews. In 99% of interviews, you receive a question requiring you share information about yourself. While this question comes in a variety of forms, the following is commonly used, “aside from your resume, can you share additional information about yourself?” I coin this as your opening statement. If you know this question is coming, why not prepare for it before the interview? Prepare an opening statement consisting of 250-300 words that captures your highlights, accomplishments, promotions, etc. Do not waste this golden opportunity by simply summarizing your resume. Use this moment to separate yourself from the other candidates. For example, if your upbringing supports your current work or future position, briefly share insights into your family or childhood. Take this opportunity to bring your resume to life. While you may be tempted to extend the monologue about the highlights of your life, you do not want your opening statement to extend beyond 2.5 – 3 minutes. Be clear, be concise, but most importantly, prepare beforehand.

Strategy #2: Create Ways to Cleverly Brag About Yourself

After your pre-prepared opening statement, the hiring committee will already have an idea about your stellar qualities. Instead of continuing to deliver great information about your successes, frame your answers to include how your colleagues or supervisors praised you. Below, I have scripted a mock interview question.

Interviewer: With this new position, you will be expected to manage a heavy workload with several high-stakes projects occurring simultaneously. Previous leaders have complained that they struggle with focusing on their primary responsibilities, due to the several levels of multi-tasking occurring at all times. How do you plan to manage the heavy workload?

Candidate: When I think about managing insurmountable workloads, it reminds me of a conversation with my former supervisor. She used to rave about my ability to coordinate the completion of complex tasks ahead of deadlines. When assigned major tasks, I always considered two things………

In this example, the candidate found a way to include a commendation she received from her former supervisor that supports her qualifications for the position. To perfect this form of undercover bragging, create a list of 5 people and moments when a person recognized you for doing well (at your job). This list can include comments from colleagues, supervisors, employees, customers, clients, etc. Reference these moments at various points during your interview. The only thing better than bragging about yourself is having someone else brag about your great work.

Strategy #3: Be Positive

Through out the interview, the hiring committee it trying to assess a variety of areas. When I speak with hiring committees from across the country, after technical knowledge, selecting the person with the right personality “fit” is a close second. People gravitate towards positive people. Even if you had a terrible departure from your last job, remain positive about the separation and express your excitement regarding the next position. Do not share stories of disagreements with your former colleagues, the negative energy you generate, will work against you as you try to land this job. Finally, smile whenever appropriate and maintain an optimistic outlook regarding your life. Teams do not want to acquire grouchy or unhappy teammates. Remain positive.

Strategy #4: Thoroughly Research Both The Company And Position

Do not make the mistake of waiting to learn about the company during the interview. Prior to the interview, the better you understand the company, the more prepared you will be to answer the questions. As for researching the position, attempt to gather information on the scope of responsibilities, your future employees, supervisors, etc. If possible, gaining historical knowledge about the position would be an added bonus. When asking the hiring committee about the position, be very specific with your questions. Unfortunately, hiring committees are not always forthright in their information when trying to hire for difficult positions. Don’t be a victim of a hiring committee, become fully knowledgeable of the position before the interview.

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Dr. Keith Stephenson is a lifelong educator who has successfully “turned around” three failing schools. During his tenure as a school leader, which spanned over ten years, he has created a proven framework for leadership. In 2011, he published a book entitled, The Principal’s Cycle, A Blueprint for the Inexperienced and Experience Principal. Principals and district leaders have raved about the lessons and strategies learned from his experiences shared in the book. Currently, non-educators are beginning to work closely with Dr. Stephenson. After reading his book, non-educators state that the leadership strategies learned from the book transcend the world of education and can be applied to any leader position in any organization or company.
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