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There is nothing more tormenting than to watch an interview crash and burn — at least not during the interview.
Unfortunately, many people seeking long-term careers struggle to perform during a job interview. A recent string of interviews convinced me that I should offer some help. I have been doing interviews for a decade now and this is my attempt to give you the best shot at landing your next job.
Remain Calm and Rehearse
To be honest, you are going to get nervous. But try to remain calm. The questions you will be asked are not just to see how you will answer them. Your interviewer will want to see the confidence you have in your answers. It shows experience. But life experiences are never neatly packaged as answers to questions, so you have to rehearse your interview responses. You’ll find that by rehearsing your responses, you will feel more confident and present more confidently.
Rehearse your responses!
How to Rehearse
You will get any number of interview questions thrown at you. The Muse has one of the best list of questions and answers available. Please look over these and prepare responses to each. Here are the three steps I recommend:
- Write out your answers in a way that you would speak.
- Adjust those answers to be concise.
- Practice answering interview questions out loud, preferably with a friend or family member.
Why Rehearse this Way?
Each of these is important. The two reasons you write out your answers in the way you speak are because you need to have your answers written out for review and you need to sound natural when you give those answers — too sterile and your responses will sound insincere.
The reason you want to be concise is that rambling gives your nervousness away. A concise answer, which I will further discuss later, is a confident answer. Lastly, practicing your answers out loud is true practicing. You aren’t going to answer interview questions in your head, so you might as well hear how you sound answering them before your interviewer.
This is the most important thing I will tell you — tell stories! Here’s what I mean. Imagine you were just asked, “Tell me a time when you had to deal with conflict with a customer and how did you handle it.”
How you answer a question like this reveals if you will win or fail the interview.
An inexperienced interviewee will answer like this:
“Well, there was a customer mad that they had to stand in line too long and I just told them I was sorry for their wait.”
Is that a bad answer? No. Should you answer like this? Absolutely not.
A better answer will go something like this:
“My former job was in retail and sometimes, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, the lines can get backed up. On one particular occasion, a customer waited in line ten minutes before checking out at my register. He was quite expressive that he should not have to wait so long to purchase a few items. I apologized to him, but he kept complaining. So, I asked if he would like to speak with a manager so our store could have his feedback for improvement. He said yes, and I paged to manager to the front to speak with him. The customer left feeling better after getting his frustration off his chest. People want to be heard and valued.”
This is the most important thing I will tell you — tell stories!
I know, I know — I just said to be concise earlier. But go ahead and read this out loud and you’ll see that the answer is only about 35–40 seconds at a natural speed. That’s fine for an interview. Plus the response is packed with information.
Breaking Down the Response
Here are the elements I included in my response:
- I related with the interviewer(s) with “as I’m sure you’ve experienced.” Said with a humble smile, this is relatable. Said the wrong way, it might come off as, I know you know ___. So mind your tone.
- The story showed that I recognized the problem the customer was experiencing. I knew the customer had a right and legitimacy in his complaining.
- I showed that I tried to address the problem first by apologizing. I didn’t push the customer away as “someone else’s problem.” This also shows that I can communicate with customers/clients/patients/etc.
- I escalated the issue up the proper chain of command. This reveals I understand boundaries and I can properly communicate within the company.
Not all of your answers need to be like this. Only use stories to describe scenarios that demonstrate how you perform in a workplace. Some questions are simpler, but if you hear the phrase “tell me about a time” in any question, paint me a picture.
Superficial Matters, Matter
Coming prepared to an interview means that you are prepared beyond simply answering questions. You need to consider your arrival time, dress, and follow-up.
As a rule of thumb, always arrive 15 minutes early for an interview. Even if you have to wait until your appointment time, get there early. It shows the hiring team that you want the job. If you are unsure where to go, drive it the day before. Walk into the building! Your interviewer may never see these efforts, but it will save you the embarrassment of getting to an interview late.
How you should dress depends on the type of job you are seeking and the general culture of the workplace. If you are interviewing for a mid to high level position, business or business casual is expected. If you are interviewing for an entry level position, business casual, even if you are just going to wear jeans and a t-shirt on the job. Culturally, dressing nice indicates respect for your interviewers and even yourself.
A thank you card is a simple way for you to stand out.
By follow-up, I mean sending a follow-up thank you card to the office or an email to the interview team. Send it the day after your interview if the hiring decision is in the future. Send it that afternoon if they want a decision by the end of that day. A thank you card is a simple way for you to stand out. Everyone I know has always loved. It tells me that you go above and beyond. However, just remember that follow-up is just icing on the cake. If your interview was horrible, a thank you note will not make up for it. But if there are 3 good candidates and you send my hiring team a thank you note, we will remember that. Even if we don’t hire you, we will tell another hiring team about you. Good people are hard to come by and I want as many as I can in my company.
Go Get Hired
I hope this quick article will help you in landing a great job. Remember, your interview is about learning about you. A good interviewer will be looking deeper than your answers, but I cannot promise you will have a good interviewer. So, be prepared and relatable and smile! You are your best salesperson and I believe in you. Now go out there and interview with confidence!
If you have any questions about interviewing, please let me know in the comments. I would love to help you out!
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Today, I was reading a post made by Will Ellington on Medium about better sentence structure. Here’s the link:
Better blog posts start with analyzing single sentences. And this should really only take place AFTER you have written your post. That’s right, after.
You should spend at least twice as much time editing your work than you do writing it. I know I’m guilty of not following this rule. Sometimes you just want to finish a post and move on with your day.
Have you ever had that happen to you?
Try writing better sentences and then paragraphs. The next thing you know, you will want to expand to the entire work! And what will the end product be?
A blog that you will be proud of and will actually want to share with others.
Also, better blogs mean better traffic and there’s your sales funnel working organically.
What’s So Special About Medium?
So many businesses make the mistake of only representing their brand on visual social media. Medium.com can change all that.
If your brand specializes in any topic, from politics to raising guinea pigs, you can utilize the Medium Partner Program to create a subscription reading program. The good new for writers? It’s all about content. Content creators get paid by the time users spend reading their content. So you can’t simply create fluff – it’s got to be the real deal.
And this is great for your readers! They know that they can trust you to provide them with quality content. With the August 2021 update, you will have to be active enough on the platform to get 100 followers, but it’s really quick to achieve this, so no worries!
Still wondering why you should write on Medium when you already use WordPress? Check this article out from Aamir Kamal: Blogging on WordPress Vs. Blogging on Medium.
Boost Your Brand with Medium – Influencers
Medium is such a great place for influencers who either specialize in a topic (growing bonsai trees, fictional storytelling) or portray an engaging personality (funny, wise, educational). When you consider yourself an influencer, generally you have a trait and topic that take center stage. The benefit of being an influencer over a small business is that you can bounce around from topic to topic, while maintaining your product – yourself! If you are funny, write funny stories about your day. If you enjoy poetry, use that as for your articles.
When you post an article on Medium, your name, brand, and content gets pushed to Google for indexing. So your standard SEO approaches from other platforms still apply. You can still focus on your keywords as you craft a story that will get your name out there.
Partner with companies and programs to promote your brand and the company you are partnering with through a blog post. Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways influencers can make lasting connections. If you nurture these types of relationships right, you can form long-lasting business partnerships that you can take onto other platforms like YouTube or Amazon products.
Boost Your Brand with Medium – Small Businesses
While you cannot promote your brand through ads on Medium, what you can do is to try some of the following suggestions:
- Embed links to your website as you write on a topic so people will know how to get to the rest of the information on your brand.
- Backlinking from your Medium profile and content to your website will boost your SEO overall.
- Backlinking will also increase your public visibility and let consumers know that you are an expert in your area, so they would benefit from following your brand online.
- Import your old blog posts from your current site to Medium! There is an easy import system built right into Medium and after your post is imported, you simply need to update some of the layout and content (please don’t forget to update your “…Secrets in 2015” to the current year!).
- Networking – you can reach out to authors directly from their pages. Most of them will have either a website or email address listed and you can request an article be written about your brand, products, or website. You can return the favor and ask if you can write about their brand as well. Either way, you both benefit from backlinking across sites.
Best Practices on Medium
There are a few best practices to take note of on Medium.
- Make sure you craft your headlines in a way that captures the total content of your article. Focus on the first three and last three words, as these are what reader’s eyes latch onto.
- Images must be a 2:1 ratio with a minimum size of 1500 x 750 px, although Medium suggests larger image sizes
- Publications on Medium are just what they sound like – groups of writers team up to deliver content on a given subject. Try to join a publication group that can help boost your visibility. Or if one doesn’t exist yet, create it!
A note on Affiliate Links
Affiliate links are allowed on Medium.com. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you want to see Medium’s full policy, check here. Bury your affiliate links deep into your post. Not only should your article have a need for the link, it shouldn’t distract from the creative content.
The “Don’ts” of Medium – And Suggestions
Medium is about content, not marketing, so you need to limit your affiliate links to 1-3 depending on the length of the article. A better approach is that you can talk about the resources you use and link back to your own website or social media platform where you have the affiliate links.
Don’t share product reviews. Again, you want to create content that is engaging to readers. If all you do is write reviews, then you are likely not using your time wisely. YouTube is a better platform for that.
No calls to action, please. The content should draw people in out of curiosity or a feeling of, “hey, I’d like to try that.” People do not like to feel like they are targets for marketing. So make them feel like they are a part of your brand. Invite them to contact you to co-write an article or to form a publication. People often read what they already enjoy.
Analytics on Medium
Medium offers the following analytics for you to gauge the performance of your work:
- Time read on your blogs
- Views of your blog posts
- Number of followers
- Reads ratio of how many people continue reading your post to the end
- The amount of times your story is recommended
When you are first getting started on Medium, don’t worry too much about low numbers or leveling out. Just keep creating content that provides value to your readers. You will eventually break through! That’s when you can start to dig deep into your analytics.
The bottom line is that YOU are capable of boosting your brand’s image as a professional in your field. Medium is just another source you can utilize if you focus on quality over quantity. And there is more to the platform than the brief overview above. Make sure you head over to the site and check it out for yourself: medium.com
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