Going on an interview is very like giving a public speech. The blog Leadership Freak had a terrific post about public speaking, and much of what was written (and in comments) can help job seekers.

I use these tools when I give speeches – and I used to give speeches almost every week.

  • My dad the minister, international organization CEO, and GREAT speaker told me “tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and finally – tell them what you told them.” It always worked.
  • Accept that people in the audience want you to do well. They are eager to hear what you have to say. Most will be kind. Focus on them.
  • Know your material REALLY well. I did this by writing a speech, then rewriting it in bullet points, and then copying the bullet points again onto large index cards or in large type on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Then I highlighted the key points. When it came time to speak, I was able to go off text, and refer back to notes to move to the next section. Because I knew the material cold, I could then deliver it with passion, humor, and natural cadence – as if I were simply speaking to an individual.

Bill Clinton was an amazing speaker when he went off text. Not so amazing when he was reading. Mario Cuomo was the same. I imitated them in the sense that they knew their material so well, they sounded as though they were delivering extemporaneously.

For job seekers, the corollary is to know yourself really well.

  1. Understand your core value proposition.
  2. Have three main messages you want to convey about your skills, abilities and results.
  3. Rehearse with friends or a coach until you feel totally comfortable with your answers and can infuse them with emotion and enthusiasm.
  4.  Remember the interviewer wants you to be the ONE. Really. They need to hire someone, so they want to like you. They may not act like it but that’s only a stratagem to weed out those who are not the right fit.

If you know yourself, know answers to potential questions, and are comfortable with how you answer the questions, you’ll do well in the interview.

FYI, I have other blog posts that address some of these topics and give you some practical advice about preparing for interviews, so put “interview” in the search box and see what you find.