You’re no doubt familiar with the term “Method Acting”. According to Wikipedia, it’s defined as “a technique of acting in which an actor aspires to complete emotional identification with a part, based on the system evolved by Stanislavsky and brought into prominence in the US in the 1930s.” Method acting was developed by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg in particular, and is associated with actors such as Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman.

In many ways, interview preparation is a lot like Method Acting. You’re preparing for a role, the part being that of a candidate for a job and your interview is the “audition”. Get the performance right and you get the part (job). Get it wrong and you’re back in another round of casting sessions (interviews) to secure an alternative. This is your one shot at nailing the part, you have one chance to make a sufficiently positive impression at interview and it’s the stage where many auditions can fall apart under the spotlight. This is why interview preparation is essential.

The parallels above sprang to mind recently when I met with a group of potential candidates to discuss interview preparation. The group was a mixture of young and experienced professionals all of whom were seeking to better their interview skills and to improve their overall candidate experience. I advised them that the best award winning actors in the world wouldn’t dream of setting foot on stage or a film set without rehearsing their lines and whilst I wouldn’t recommend anyone enter an interview with a pre-scripted spiel, it’s definitely worth preparing some answers for common interview questions that arise. The most common interview questions might include:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • Why do you want this job?/Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?

I’ll deal with these common interview questions and ways one might approach answering them in a separate blog shortly.

Another important feature of pre-interview preparation should be visualization. That is visualizing (in your mind) your exchange with a potential interviewer and “acting it out” before the interview. This is an important preparatory tool as it allows you (the candidate) the time and space to test your interview answers in a non pressurized environment before applying them in the live interview. I personally used to rehearse interview questions and answers with a good friend before interviews but any professional recruiter should be able to help you do the same. By visualizing a mental image of your interview performance and making it a positive and engaging experience, you’re subconsciously reinforcing your belief that you will perform well at interview. And guess what, you will perform if you commit to doing this preparation in advance. I’ve always believed that a good interview is a performance and a chameleon type candidate – one who easily adapts to their surroundings in any given situation, is usually the one who succeeds.

Another feature of a well prepared candidate is their ability to work out pretty quickly in any interview situation who that employer wants them to be and then to become that person. A successful interview requires a subtle form of ingratiation and rapport building between the you (the candidate) and the interviewer. A classic technique that can be applied in interviews is that of “mirroring” whereby you repeat buzzwords employed by the interviewer or subtly adopts their mannerisms. This requires delicate application to make the interviewer believe that you genuinely have connected with them. The fantasy this creates in their minds eye has to however correlate with the reality of you. Every employer has a dream candidate in mind for their vacancy and the trick is convincing them that you are it. You must believe wholeheartedly in the vision you’re creating or you will be found out.

So in the interests of avoiding unnecessary “drama” or indeed trauma, why not make interview preparations a priority for 2018? Whether you’re actively seeking a new job or just passively interested in what’s happening in the market, everyone benefits by being adequately prepared. Refining and tweaking your answers to key questions and visualizing your interactions with interviewers before your interview will make a marked improvement in your performance. If you’ve prepared to act the part, you’ll win no Oscars but you may just get the job.

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great!

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