By Shea Ki
Ever felt a lump in your throat during an interview? Have you been asked a question then not been able to grasp the right words? These are the times in the hot seat where each moment feels like 100 seconds.
A client recently shared with me that "my brain freezes up when I am asked questions about myself." This is a common obstacle, even for high achieving women.
Successful, female professionals often prefer focusing on the collective success rather than keeping tabs on our individual contribution. When we are asked to share about our previous achievements or vision for the impact we want to make, it sometimes feels so direct and uncomfortable. Our body notices the resistance and can interpret it as a threat, making clear thinking and communication more challenging.
During an interview, our body can go into guarding mode, making it challenging to respond as our best self.
I'm here to help you keep brain freezes for the 7-11 slurpees and out of your interview.
This #WhatToSay blog series will provide guidance on how to approach several of the interview questions that tend to make my clients freeze up the most.
My goal is to help you trust your intuition and boost your confidence so there is no struggle or feeling of getting stuck during your interview. I want to see you be able to align your answers with your message of professional value every time.
From my experience as a hiring manager and career coach, I've learned it's best not to give my clients word-for-word examples of what to say to interview questions. There is already too much of that cookie-cutter style advice out there that hinders interviewees from sounding like their authentic selves.
With each of these interview questions, I'll share my tips on how to approach the question. When I do offer suggestions of what to say, it will be in a fill-in-the-blank style to prompt your inspiration, not for you to say word for word.
In several weeks, at the end of this #WhatToSay blog series, I'll also offer a powerful printable to encourage you to take your interview answers to the next level. It is then your job to give yourself uninterrupted time in an enjoyable space to create responses that feel and sound like you.
The ultimate freezer: "So, tell me about yourself"
During my initial assessment when I mock interview clients, I often see them NOT able to kick off their interview with the best impression because of these five short words: “So, tell me about yourself”.
Here are tips for when you are feeling unsure of what to say or where to begin:
1. Pay attention to the energy in how you respond. Are you answering with authentic enthusiasm and gratitude or dreading it? Approach the statement of “tell me about yourself” as an opportunity to get things started with the ball in your court. They served you an open ended invitation to share something about you that you can prepare for.
2. Make their ears go up with interest by sharing your genuine SPECIFICS that attracted you to the opportunity.
Don’t OVER DO IT with compliments, as they also want to feel you have a sense of their problems they need solved.
3. Make it even more of a winning moment by ending your response with brief highlights of your top strengths and how you see your skill set helping IN THE POSITION.
4. Conclude your response in a positive way by encouraging that the flow of the meeting turns into an engaging conversation. "I’d love to hear about (what they enjoy most about working there or another prompt for them to share information relevant to the position.)
Another frosty moment: "Why Should I Hire You?"
And like a deer in headlights, this question can easily make our brain freeze. “Why should I hire you?” is the motive behind most interview questions. But when it is asked directly it can feel like a rock is suddenly in our throat. More “ums” and “uhs” slip out—or worse, we find ourselves rambling in response to overcompensate.
Here are options of what to say when asked this question that will upgrade your interview:
1. Think like the boss and talk as if you are their right hand woman. Imagine their day to day. Picture what problems they have to solve. What can you offer that would make a helpful impact to their work?
2. Explore what the company is talking about on LinkedIn or other social media. How would your skills and ideas help with the message they are putting out there? Offer solutions to their challenges and ways to relieve their business pains.
3. Share the parts of your story that align with their company’s journey. Keep it brief and clear. I often encourage clients to share one highlight about their past, one about their present, and a third about their future in the new role. Make each fact related to what the job requires and the mission of the company.
4. Your response will be more memorable by ending it with one sentence about what genuinely lights you up about the opportunity. Again, inviting the interview into more of a conversation mode will help both you and them genuinely connect.
A way to wrap up your answer could be: "Your company's focus on (teamwork, service to others, expanding impact, etc..) makes me eager to hear more about how you would define success for the person in this position."
The best way to discover what interview questions trigger more nervous energy and what to do about it is to practice with a qualified, experienced career coach. I invite you to set up a free 30 minute sample call to experience the way I coach women seeking better opportunities to upgrade their interview skills.
Your turn: What question do you find a challenge to answer under pressure during the interview? Let me know in the comments below and I will offer my tips in this blog series or on my Instagram so you shine in the hot seat.
Most of all, believe in you.
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Did you enjoy this post? My name is Shea Ki and my online coaching sessions help you shine in the hot seat and attract work that lights you up.
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