You have been invited for an in-person interview—congratulations! Generally speaking, this means that based on your resume and potentially your phone interview (if you had one), you have been predetermined by an employer to be a viable candidate for the position. The day comes for your interview, and in that, you pull out all the stops, dressing for success, demonstrating your keen understanding of the company, listening carefully and answering the questions being asked. However, days and weeks pass and you fail to receive a call back.
If you are trapped in the “no call back cycle,” it’s time to re-evaluate your approach taken during the in-person interview. Here are a few tips to help guide you through the process of “selling yourself” to the employer to land your dream job:
1. Prior to the face-to-face interview, print the job description and consider potential questions an employer might ask you regarding your experience.
For example, if the job description requires that an attorney must have the ability to lead an M&A transaction from inception to closing. An employer may ask, “Tell me about a time when you were required to lead a team on an M&A transaction.” Additionally, if the job description requires that a patent attorney drafts, files and prosecutes patent applications on behalf of inventors before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you can expect that an employer may ask,” Do you have experience drafting and prosecuting patent applications?” Although this is a close-ended question, employers may ask you this type of question with the expectation that you will provide an in-depth answer with an explanation.
2. Once you have identified potential questions, rehearse aloud how you intend to answer the questions.
It is crucial that you use the STAR (situation task action results) method. The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question. Here is an example emphasizing the difference between using the STAR method and not using the STAR method.
Employer: Do you have experience drafting contracts?
Candidate 1 (No STAR Method): Yes, with my current employer, I draft approximately 30 contracts a week.
Candidate 2 (STAR Method): Yes, with my current employer, my manager recently assigned me a project to draft 30 contracts within five days (Situation/Task). I had competing assignments, but I prioritized my current projects by organizing them by due dates. Based on the due date, I drafted two contracts a day, which allowed for a completion time frame of three days, thereby allowing one day for edits and proofreading and an additional day, in the event, my manager asks for last-minute changes (Action). I successfully completed the project within five days (Results).
Based on the above example, Candidate #1 answered the question, but it does not provide enough detail to confidently display her skills and ability to perform the job.
However, Candidate #2 provided an example that extends beyond simply drafting a contract. The response shows the hiring manager that the she can be trusted to deliver a project within a specific deadline, has reasoning and prioritizing skills, is thorough by allowing time for edits and proofreading, and is flexible by allowing for last-minute changes at the direction of the manager.
An employer faced with two strong resumes and these particular answers to interview questions will more than likely select Candidate #2. Candidate #2 has efficiently highlighted the skills and abilities needed to draft a contract plus additional skills that are relevant to operating in a professional manner.
3. For every major skill on the job description, rehearse a STAR method answer.
If you do not have work experience that addresses all of the major skills on the job description, look beyond work experience and consider educational, extracurricular activities and personal experiences that are relevant to the required skills.
If you are unable to relate any experiences to the job description, be honest and state that you do not have that particular skill. Then discuss a specific example of a time you were required to learn something new (still sticking to the STAR method) and how you were successful.
Remember, the most important part of interviewing is being confident in your skills and abilities. The in-person interview provides an opportunity for you to shine. Utilize your public speaking skills, vocalizing your answers in a clear, concise manner, and show your confidence. Good luck on your job search and remember practice makes perfect.