As the interview for a job you really want approaches, your nerves start to play funny tricks on you. You find it hard to focus on anything else.
Anxiety, apprehension and worry are all natural human responses to a stressful situation like an interview — these are indicators that you want to succeed. Yet that protection mechanism called fear kicks in to defend you against the pain of failure.
So what can you do to build up up your confidence against the fearful expectation of failure? One method is to create a powerful strategy that will persuade your interviewers that you’re the best — the one — for the role.
Treat your interview like a sales pitch
Since your interview is your chance to sell yourself and convince this person of all the good you can do for the company, think of this conversation as a sales pitch. And every sales pitch needs an elevator speech.
Before you walk in the door, you should be ready with a short, punchy sentence or two that not only wraps up your skills, qualities and talents, but also entices the interviewer to listen to more of what you have to say.
Interview yourself first
Ready to write that hard-hitting sentence or two that will create a great first impression with your prospective employer? Start by asking yourself a series of questions.
The answers will help you understand your own value and realize all that you could potentially achieve with this new opportunity. Ask yourself:
- What are you really good at in the context of the work you would be doing?
- In what aspects of this work do you excel?
- When are you at your best?
- What qualities do you have that will add real value to this company?
- Why would you be a great asset to them?
- What’s your greatest strength?
These types of questions dig deep into your psyche and help you develop the conviction that you’re the right person for the role. The answers will help you overcome some of the fears that cause pre-interview anxiety and nerves in the first place.
Psychologists say a certain degree of nerves are necessary for you to be on your game. They help you focus and concentrate. Those butterflies in your stomach just need to be coached to fly in formation. Manage your fear by answering the questions listed above, then get to work on folding the answers into your interview.
How to write a winning elevator speech
Once you’ve formulated your answers, you can put them into effective phrases that will make you stand out as a confident and effective candidate.
Take a good look at the job post. What exactly does this role require? Excellent organization skills? Mastery of C++? Great people skills?
Focus your elevator speech around these requirements. Imagine you’re being asked (as you very likely will be), “What would you bring to this role?”
A strong answer might sound something like:
I’m self-motivated, with energy and enthusiasm for great results. I love working with a team and achieving goals. Being professional, listening actively and being part of the solution are vital when I work in a team, and I believe this is a real strength of mine — the ability to get along with different personalities.
Let’s break down the different traits this personal statement covers:
- Team player
- Active listener
What employer would reject a person with these attributes? These skills make you stand out, especially if you’re applying for a role that involves working with different teams or customers.
Your elevator pitch should cover the essential elements you know the employer wants. Speak about the future of the company and how you can help them get there. Help the interviewer see the bigger picture — with you in it.
With an effective elevator speech, they’ll see you as a valuable asset to bring to their department, team, customers and company. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
- Revisit the questions above.
- Answer them specifically in relation to the position.
- Condense your answers into a phrase or two that will grab attention.
- Ensure your elevator speech is relevant to the role.
- Show your value without showing off.
- Deliver your elevator speech genuinely and with passion — make it a no-brainer that you’re the best person for the role.
This process will help you build confidence to calm your nerves and lay the foundation for a positive and influential interview.
As a business improvement expert, Sean McPheat helps companies improve their sales, management and HR teams through consulting, coaching and training. Sean is the Managing Director of the MTD Training group. You can find more tips and advice on how to boost your business via Sean’s blog.