With over a decade of supporting job seekers, one area I consistently see professionals overestimate their skills in is during the interview process.

I am often told by job seekers:

“All I need is a good resume to get me noticed. Once I secure an interview things will be easy as I am a great communicator.”

Yet more often than not, when I sit down with these same professionals and start pressing them to share their value in a concise and focused manner, they struggle. 

They stumble, share disjointed details, or undersell themselves. This approach is the exact opposite of what needs to occur to win favor with the interviewer(s) and secure a job offer.

To help job seekers put their best foot forward during an employment interview, I recommend the 4-P formula:

1. Preparation

Start by researching the company and carefully analyzing the job posting. Ensure you know exactly what the employer is looking for in a candidate before you walk into the room. 

If you don’t understand core job requirements or company culture in advance it can make it hard to develop good stories (answers) that resonate.

After you identify a company’s buying motivators, primary requirements, job focus, and role expectations – develop several CAR stories (challenge, action, result examples) that demonstrate your value and achievement in alignment with the position.

Formulating associated answers in advance will keep you on track during an interview and ensure employers take more interest in what you have to say. This preparation will also ensure you don’t deviate from the main message you are there to share: that you are the best candidate for the job!

2. Practice

Next, set aside ample time to practice the delivery of your stories and answers. Going into the interview ‘cold’, thinking you can deliver solid statements off the top of your head is risky. 

Although it is hard to predict exact questions in advance, practicing a variety of answers in relation to the role builds confidence and creates a range of potential answers that can be drawn from or modified on the spot.

There are no second chances in an interview. Practicing ensures that content flows naturally while reducing the potential of being caught off guard on topics or questions that you didn’t see coming. People who practice also tend to reduce rambling with more readily available and well thought out responses. 

Even 30 minutes of interview practice can drastically improve the quality of your performance – so why risk skipping this step!?

3. Professionalism

It’s amazing when I hear from employers that job seekers show up late to interviews…chew gum…check their phone…or consistently interrupt. 

These common interview mistakes are easy to avoid, yet many people still forget. Fidgeting, dressing inappropriately, or a lack of focus are other common pitfalls that employers find hard to overlook.

The good news is that all of these unprofessional mistakes can be rectified with – you guessed it – practice and preparation! 

Aim to be polished and professional during the entire job search process, but especially so during the interview. Demonstrate how you are the employee of choice, in both answers and actions, ensuring distractions do not take away from your time to shine. 

Deliver a stellar first, and lasting, impression!

4. Positivity

This may seem obvious but a lot of job seekers spend the interview locked inside their head or wrought with anxiety which can translate as distracted, disengaged, or unenthusiastic. 

It is normal to feel a bit of nerves heading into an interview for a highly coveted position. Yet nerves should not get the upper hand.

To help control anxiety, approach the interview less like an interrogation and more like a business meeting. Remind yourself that the employer invited you in for this discussion because they have confidence in your qualifications. 

The next step is to build rapport, be friendly, smile, share strong stories, and ask good questions!

Success in this area is once again achieved with a combination of preparation and practice. Boost confidence through preparation. Practice delivering good answers with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm and engagement.

Your goal is to be a part of the conversation in a positive, memorable way while demonstrating to the employer that you really want the job!

Looking for more assistance with managing interview nerves?  Read tips from interview coaches in “Overcoming Interview Anxiety”.