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How to Engage the Interviewer & Beat the Competition!


Guest articles > How to Engage the Interviewer & Beat the Competition!


by: Kelly Magowan


Once you have reached the interview stage you have already jumped through a lot of hoops and have managed to convince the interviewer via your resume and the telephone interview that you are the person they are looking for. In effect, you have done a great job selling yourself up until this point and they are interested in what you have to offer. The self sell escalates at the face to face interview stage and leaves many a little daunted and stressed. “How to sell myself and experiences effectively in the job interview?” is a common question I get asked. No matter what your position, for most of us selling ourselves (particularly face to face) does not come naturally. That said, you can develop and work on these skills to increase your chances of securing that dream role.

There are three key things to remember:

  1. Preparation is a Constant
  2. Learn the art of Great Story Telling
  3. Practice Selling Yourself

1. Preparation is a Constant

Often people wait until the job search stage to go back and try and recall what they actually did in their current and past jobs. This can be difficult to recall in any real detail or clarity, leading to experiences and success being vaguely communicated in the interview. Though it may seem tedious, I am a big advocate of documenting your core responsibilities and achievements every couple of months. Ensure you document this information in detail– quantify and qualify i.e. Project Management of large scale $100 million dollar SAP software implementation, managing a team of 10 to set up 500 national users. Project achieved on time (3 months) and on budget.

This is a discipline that is advisable to follow throughout your career. The benefits are numerous;

  • A sense of satisfaction and achievement when you document and see regularly what you do on a daily basis and your achievements
  • A compelling and balanced document come performance review time, to leverage for that next career move
  • A great salary negotiation tool when looking to secure new employment with your current or an alternate employer

2. Learn the art of Great Story Telling

Telling a story verbally is something that most of us do okay with; however, clearly there are brilliant story tellers out there who leave their audience entranced and wanting more! The key with coming up trumps in the interview is to learn more about how to tell a great story. Your story should be pretty exciting with a bit of practise.

In Seth Godin’s blog he talks about “A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it is consistent and authentic.” In an interview you have all the advantages here because you have first-hand experience with the subject (you) and your story is authentic because it is yours; the key then is to work on the consistency. This is where having documented key aspects of your work history give you some great content to draw upon, and the detail and consistency are there.

Consider the last time you saw a presenter speak; chances are they used various stories and story-telling techniques to draw you in. They do this for numerous reasons;

  • Humour (humour can work in the interview)
  • Clarify and illustrate points and meaning
  • Make the interaction memorable
  • Encourage you to think
  • Inspire you to act
  • Create a relaxed environment
  • Increase the energy levels in the room

In the interview you (like the presenter) are looking to do some or all of these things. You want them to hear about your past experiences and to believe that you bring what they need to make this role a success. You want to be memorable and stand out from the other interviews, so that the job has your name on it.

Visit story telling sites for further information such as;


3. Practise Selling Yourself

As you grow and develop your portfolio of skills, experiences and achievements, not only do you need to become proficient in documenting these regularly, the next step is to be able to effectively communicate them. Being able to tell your story in a compelling and relevant way is a skill that often does not come naturally. It needs to be developed, just in the way that for many mastering public speaking is something that comes with practise rather than a natural ability and confidence.

  • Enlist family or friends to ask typical interview questions in regards to your work experience, then be sure to ask for feedback (i.e. did they tune out and if so where?)
  • Video record yourself talking through your resume and your work experiences and see how you come across
  • Seek out the services of an interview or career coach if you feel you need more intensive training
  • View the interviews you attend as a part of your training - reflect after each interview about how you came across and how you could improve
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer if you did not secure the job for their feedback and tips on how you can improve

As with public speaking, to become a great speaker there is no easy path other than practise. Likewise, for coming across exceptionally well in the interview and convincing the interviewer you are the one they need to hire, practise is key.

Confidence and success in the interview comes from knowing your product (you), which is about preparation and understanding what you have to sell. The next step is to become a great story teller; to make everyone want to know and hear about your product. The final piece is to be able to sell your product and close the deal.

Kelly has been specialising in the arena of Human Resource Management, Recruitment and Career Counselling for close to 12 years. Initially focusing on commercial recruitment, and later moving into corporate Human Resources working with the likes of Ernst & Young and General Electric. In these roles Kelly was exposed to best practice HR and developed a true passion for Human Resources Management.

In 2008 Kelly launched Six Figures the premium job site for $100K+ jobs, a site created to provide job seekers with a trusted online source to find six figure opportunities across all industries and professions. The site offers businesses a new targeted channel to connect with six figure job seekers, utilizing current technology to feature job opportunities and information about the business in a way that appeals to today's high salary earners.

Kelly’s experience working across HR, Recruitment & Career Coaching has provided her with a solid understanding of what the job market looks like, what employers look for and the common experiences and challenges they face.

Contact Details

Kelly Magowan Six Figures CEO
Phone: 1300 780 177

Contributor: Kelly Magowan

Published here on: 21-Dec-08

Classification: Job-finding


MSWord: EngagingInterview_BeatingCompetition.doc


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