Being PRESENT in an Interview

I am reading The Charisma Myth by Olivia Cabane. In the book, the author says that one of the best ways to develop and demonstrate charisma is to be present in any conversation.  Essentially, she says that people want to feel that they have our full attention when they speak with us. When they feel that way, we draw them into feeling more connected. When we are fully present, we create a memorable moment for those immediately around us. In today’s day and age, we can easily be listening while not really listening. With imperfect presence, we lose the people around us as they feel our lack of care or interest.

Cobane’s point about presence reminded me of a recent conversation I had with one of our client companies at the January 2015 Career Conference.  This company is a large specialty services company who is consistently recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of “America’s Most Admired Companies” and by Forbes Magazine as one of “America’s 100 Most Trustworthy Companies.” I was part of a session where the company was giving specific feedback on each JMO they interviewed that day. On the whole, the feedback was very positive and they were impressed with the officers that they met.  The one glaring constructive criticism given was they felt like too many of the officers were not truly present in the interview. They felt like as soon as one of the managers would start asking a question, the officer would check out as they frantically searched their mental Rolodex for an answer, waiting for them to finish. They would then deliver a canned and rehearsed answer that did not actually speak to the job for which they were interviewing and ultimately, did not answer the question.

At Cameron-Brooks, we spend a lot of time helping officers translate their background to the business world. We talk about effectively communicating strengths and experiences as they relate directly to the role in an interview. We have posted multiple blog post on the subject including a few posted here, here and here.  I encourage you to spend time reading some of our previous posts regarding engaging in a conversational interview and being more present in an interview.

One main key to being present in the interview is preparation!  That is, taking time to fully understand how your background relates to business and working to communicate those connections in an effective and overt manner. The challenge I see some JMOs run in to in achieving this goal is that they are not prepared to interview with different career fields, industries and roles. Some JMOs believe if they have memorized answers that sound “right”, along with their resume, they will be successful. I can tell you that most of the time, that is not true. Success in an interview comes from fully understanding how your background and experiences relate to each and every job before you ever step in the interview. That way, when you answer questions and engage in dialogue, your responses directly connect to the specific functions of the role that the company is looking for. That means that you walk into each interview confident and conversational. You are fully prepared through an extensive period of self analysis, skill development and interview preparation to talk about you, why you would be a fit for that specific role, how your experiences directly relate to the role and how you can contribute to making the company more successful.  In a phrase, being present in the interview.

Best of success,

Pete