Have you ever been in a situation where someone says the following, dreaded sentence: ‘let’s all go around and say an interesting fact about ourselves?’ If you’re anything like me the idea of a compulsory group overshare with people you’ve just met is your idea of a nightmare. In the time it takes before my turn to speak I have two thoughts.
- I have no interesting facts, I am the most boring person on the planet.
- I must have a fact I’m sure, um, got it, no can’t say that they’ll think I’m a total moron, um, there must be something, um … I’ve got a brother? What a fail.
For me interviews can often feel like one long, ‘getting to know you’ exercise, and there’s no real time to think.
Wrong, there is time to think. You should definitely think when you’re being interviewed. But what there isn’t time to do is remember. An interview is not the time to sift through your memories trying to pick out a shiny example of a time when you have worked well in a team, or demonstrated leadership, or solved a problem.
So when is a good time to do this professional history scrutinising? You should definitely do it before an interview that’s for certain, but I would argue you should do it even earlier, while still in your current job. You should do it now, and you should do it regularly.
Rather than scrabbling about a week before your interview why not open a word document and begin an Interview Preparation Log. Keep it concise, but keep it regular. That way when you actually have an interview booked you will have a heap of examples so you can select the ones that will really show you off.
We all know that in any interview we will be asked certain questions, so do yourself a favour by writing down examples of you being amazing as and when they happen. These should include examples of when you have:
- Worked well in a team
- Taken on leadership
- Demonstrated problem solving
- Handled a difficult situation
- Adapted to a new and difficult environment (e.g Covid-19!)
- Worked under pressure. How did you react?
- Failed at something. What did you learn?
- Made a mistake. How did you deal with this?
- Achieved a specific goal.
You should also keep a list of times when you have performed well and had your strengths confirmed, as well as times when your weaknesses were exposed and how you dealt with this. This will save time for the all-important ‘strengths and weaknesses’ question and will also keep prep time to a minimum before your next appraisal.
With all of this in place, next time you are asked to say something interesting about yourself, the answer will be right there on the tip of your tongue.
By Anna Nicholson