Pre-Interview Resume Review
Before each interview, complete the following exercise on the back of a resume. This will organize your thoughts, identify what last-minute information needs to be collected, and clarify what to highlight during the discussion. Using these notes, you will be focusing the interview into a target-specific conversation. Review your notes beforehand, and use them during the interview.
What, When, and Where
Answer the basic questions first. Briefly note the organization and describe the position you will be interviewing for. If you can do it in 100 words or so, you are ready to move on from this exercise. If you cannot, you have some fact-gathering or thinking to do.
If you have not yet reviewed a detailed job description, request a copy and do so. Then summarize what you have read in your own terms. Describe it as if you were speaking to the fifteen-year-old son or daughter of a close friend. In this way you will force yourself to simplify and describe actions and outcomes associated with the job in basic behavioral and functional terms.
Second, cite three key points that make you qualified for the position in question. Review your resume's qualification summary section, then identify three of those cited or define “broader connections” that clearly match qualifications for the position you are interviewing for. In general, you are completing the statements “Thinking about this job, specifically, my three key assets are …” or “Thinking about the job, the three key points I want to raise in the interview include ….” Ideally, these will match some of the phrasing used on the qualification criteria list you have already created for the job. Each of the three bulleted points should be no more than fifty words.
Illustrate Your Abilities
Third, note three anecdotes that illustrate your capabilities to succeed on the job. Stories should support the three key points cited, linking skills used when taking goal-directed actions and, ultimately, to achieve results or finish a project. Start out by very briefly noting the story. Then, identify actions, results, and tasks that were associated with your accomplishments. Last, cite the key skills used and enhanced as a result of each particular experience.
While you should definitely prepare for interviews, identifying key points and reviewing typical questions in advance, do not memorize. Have some anecdotes to share. But don't attempt to deliver previously written soliloquies or word-for-word responses. The oxymo-ronic phrase “planned spontaneity” could best describe the results.
List three questions you would like to ask the interviewer. Ask one question in the first five minutes of the interview and another in the second five minutes so that you can use your interviewer's response in the discussion as it progresses. These initial inquiries should focus on day-to-day job responsibilities and on how performance will be judged. Clarifying and confirming shared expectations early in the conversation will ensure that you raise appropriate issues. Often, the answers you receive inspire immediate re-establishing of key points you wish to discuss later. If three won't do, prepare a list of additional questions to ask during and at the end of the interview session.
By writing all of the above on the back of your resume, you will have used existing printed text to create new supporting documentation. You will have a handwritten focal point containing well-conceived key points, anecdotes, and employer queries.