How to Cast Yourself as the Hero in Your Career Story
November 16, 2016 6:00 AM EST | 6 min read
A job interview is among the most intimidating experiences in life.
You are being actively compared to other quality candidates, and it can be downright nerve-wracking.
Staying positive and self-assured will make a world of difference in how the interviewer sees you as a candidate.
It’s true: When you boost your confidence, it shows.
And, when it comes to an interview, being well prepared is one of the best confidence boosters out there.
Part of that preparation should be preparing anecdotes (true ones, of course!) that tell the story of your career.
As you prepare for your next job interview, consider these tips on how to cast yourself as the hero in your own career story.
Before a Job Interview: Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions
The purpose of a job interview is to learn everything possible about a candidate in a short amount of time (typically under an hour).
In order to do that, the interviewer is likely to ask you a series of behavioral interview questions.
In addition to your skills and competencies, the interviewer wants to know how you handle certain situations.
He or she will seek out evidence through your real past situations and experience.
So you need to have your stories ready.
You may want to consider showcasing the following qualities in your stories.
- Decision Making and Problem Solving – Show that you can solve problems efficiently and make decisions when you need to. Tell the interviewer about a past career problem that you played a crucial role in solving.
- Leadership Ability – Tell the interviewer about a time where you provided successful leadership and a sense of direction to a team of coworkers. Emphasize the good outcome as well.
- Communication Ability – Communication skills are critical in 99 percent of jobs in the world. Include a story about how stellar your skills are, especially in stressful situations. Don’t worry if you aren’t a great public speaker. Talents in communication come in many forms.
Each story you tell should have three parts.
The beginning of the story will set the stage by describing the situation, the middle will explain the action you took, and the resolution will tell the recruiter the positive outcome.
A good story will always show how you overcame an obstacle and created a positive ending.
In any job interview, you need to give employers something to remember about you.
During the Job Interview: Expect Negative Questions
In all likelihood, the interviewer is going to ask negative questions.
In addition to your inquiring about your strengths, the hiring manager will also likely to ask about your weaknesses (and rightfully so).
It is important to be prepared for bad questions because they really are a chance to show off your positive qualities:
- Do NOT pretend you are perfect. The worst thing you can do is give an untruthful answer or pretend you have no flaws.
- If you don’t come up with a weakness, the interviewer will get the impression that you think you are perfect. No one wants to work with someone that thinks they do no wrong.
- Show that you learned from your mistakes. No one is perfect, and the interviewer does not expect you to be. Instead, the recruiter wants to know how you reacted, how you fixed it, and most importantly that you learned from your mistakes.
When you admit your weaknesses, it is important to explain how you continue to apply the lessons you learned in everyday life.
For example: if you missed an important deadline and cost your client money, explain how you owned up to the mistake, apologized, and came up with a solution and method for better time management in the future.
- Avoid trash talking others at all costs! If the recruiter asks you how you dealt with a difficult person in the past, it is crucial to show that you maintained a professional attitude.
Your potential new employer knows that there are conflicts and challenges in every office environment.
But the company needs people who can act professionally – rather than emotionally.
Connect with Your Interviewers
Instead of aiming only to impress the hiring manager, aim to connect with him or her.
It may sound phony, but the small talk at beginning of the interview is equally important to the interview itself.
No matter what the position is, employers always want friendly and confident employees.
Most times, hiring managers would rather get someone with a good attitude and less experience than someone with more competence and a bad attitude.
Find something in common with your interviewer.
Spend a few minutes chatting about it.
Compliment him or her, and the organization.
Make eye contact.
Worried How Well Your Job Interview Is Going? Have Confidence!
The best way to be the hero in your career story (and to impress the heck out of your interviewer) is to believe that YOU really are the hero.
Be proud of your past achievements and know that you are a great fit for this job.
You have come a long way in your career journey, and you have learned a lot along the way.
After all, they liked your resume enough to call you in for an interview.
If you are freaking out (believe me, you aren’t alone), you’ll need to at least appear confident.
Try one of these strategies to collect yourself during your job interview:
- Imagine yourself succeeding. Imagine yourself getting the call saying you got the job. Remind yourself that you deserve to be there.
- Do ONE extraverted act before your interview. Smile at a stranger on your way to the elevator. Initiate a small chat with the barista at the coffee shop.
- Prepare and rehearse answers out loud. If you walk into the interview with your answers and stories ready, you will walk in with confidence.
The job interview is not just a formality to figure out your skills and experience.
It is also a chance to let your personality shine and prove that you will be a great addition to the team.
Tell your career story proudly and confidently like the hero you are!