A few people are having interviews in the next couple of days. Here’s some of what I suggest as interview preparation:

1. Remember to focus on what you provide of value to solve his problems – that’s what he is interested in. I always say “employers care about your past only as it relates to their future, i.e. shows how you can help them achieve their goals.” So, when you tell stories about past projects, relate key learnings and skills to potential projects and clients at this firm.

2. Breathe. Before and during the interview. Take your time answering questions. Have a conversation. Repeat the content of the question at the beginning of your answer. This does three things: demonstrates that you are listening to the person, reinforces that you are answering the question asked, and gives your mind time to organize your answer.

3. If you are asked a tough question, you can use the above techniques, as well as saying “that’s a great question.” It flatters AND buys you time. Always strive for a “charge neutral” response, meaning no indication that you are uncomfortable with the question and its topic. Also, you can give a quick answer and then follow up with a question like, “I actually wondered about XYZ in relation to that. Is that an area your company is investigating?” The principle here is to turn the conversation quickly back to the employer.

4. At the end of every answer, return to discussing the job at hand. You are always directing the conversation toward how interested in, qualified for, excited about, curious about, and committed to the job being discussed. Your past experience is evidence of how well prepared you are to add value and solve the employer’s problems.

5. Anticipate questions and rehearse your answers prior to the interview. Think of an actor going into an audition. S/he prepares an audition piece as well as preparing mentally and emotionally. You are going into a similar situation. Common questions are “why are you interested in working for this company?” “Why do you think you can do this position?” “Tell me a difficult situation that came up and how you dealt with it.” “Why should we hire you?”

6. Remember you are interviewing the employer. Your goal is to find your “right fit” work – work where you feel useful, valued, and aligned with your talents and purpose in life. Develop your “Must Have List” as I discuss in other posts, and then assess the position and employer using those criteria. Come into any interview with your list of questions to see how well the job matches your must have list.