The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

Transforming Nerves into Narratives: A Winning Interview Strategy

July 25, 2023 John Neral Season 3 Episode 169
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
Transforming Nerves into Narratives: A Winning Interview Strategy
Show Notes Transcript

Ever felt the sting of rejection after a job interview? Ever wondered why you're not landing job offers despite your best efforts? Let me, your host John Narell, take you on a journey to crack the code in this episode of the Mid Career GPS podcast. It's not your nerves causing the problem, it's the lack of memorable stories you're telling. Your tales seem to lack sparkle, cohesion and memorability. But fret not, I'm here with a unique method to help you become more memorable and less anxious during your interviews.

In this session, I'll be sharing my top tip that I advise all my clients on, to help construct their career narratives in a compelling way that leaves a lasting impression on recruiters. Let's dive into the 'story buckets' exercise - a way to organize and detail your career highlights to confidently answer any interview query. I'll also equip you with practical tips to handle interview anxiety, like embracing the nervousness and honing in on the conversation at hand. Trust me, this episode is teeming with insights and strategies that can turn the tides in your favor at your next job interview, helping you transform into the unforgettable candidate you're destined to be.

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John Neral:

We all get nervous during a job interview, but look, it is time you stop using that as an excuse as to why you aren't getting any job offers. You're nervous because you care and you don't wanna mess up. But it also makes for a really great story when you go back to your family and friends and say, well, I've interviewed for another job, but I didn't get it. I guess I'm just too nervous, Stop. The problem here is that you aren't memorable. You aren't doing anything that makes you stand out and get noticed as the outstanding professional you are. Your stories are lackluster, they aren't cohesive and, above all, they aren't noteworthy or memorable. So let's change that. In this episode, I'm going to share with you my number one tip. I coach all my clients on to help them calm their nerves, be more memorable and tell their stories that get hiring managers interested in learning more about them and what they do. And yes, my clients get job offers and you can too, so let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 169 of the Mid Career GPS podcast. I'm your host, John Neral. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have by using my proven four step formula. Don't forget, I've got a free resource on my website. It is called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing. You can find that right on the homepage of my website at https://johnneral. com. And if you also go ahead and check out the resources section, you'll also see a brand new resource guide I created that is all around building stretch goals as you move toward whatever is next in your career. You can get that free guide under the resources tab on my website at . I hope you go check both of them out. All right, it is time for us to talk a little bit more about interviews and specifically why you're getting so nervous and how you can tell your story differently. So if you're that kind of person that gets really nervous in an interview, I just want to offer you that that's normal. We all do that. Yes, some of us are better at controlling our nerves than others. But the first thing that I want to offer you here is that let's not run away from being nervous, and in fact, I want you to lean into it. Acknowledge that you're nervous, but going into that interview, what I want to offer you here is to think about how much you're looking forward to that conversation today. Don't get so far ahead of yourself where you're wondering what am I going to do if they offer me the job, or I've got a vacation coming up, or they're going to let me take it, or are they going to be able to offer me enough money? That is all way too far ahead in the game and that's what's making you nervous. Slow down, focus on the conversation you're having today and perhaps consider having an affirmation that will help you get through the interview. It might be something like I'm a great, insert your project, insert your job title right. I'm a great project manager. I'm a great teacher. I'm a great manager or leader. I'm a great financial professional. I'm going to showcase myself as best as possible during today's interview. Sometimes having an affirmation can help, but there are also some tactical things that can help as well, like having some water nearby. There's an old saying that when you go into an interview, if they offer you a drink, you should always accept it. They're extending a gift and so you accept that. If they offer you some water, take it. If you're conducting the interview virtually, make sure you've got some water nearby. I'd also suggest that you have it in a glass and not a bottle. Bottles can be a little. They can just sometimes look a little obnoxious, virtually. They can be a little distracting, especially if you've got like a bright-colored water bottle or tumbler that you use all the time. That's great. I don't think it's the best thing for an interview. It can be a little distracting. Just have a simple glass of water nearby and it's okay to drink it during the interview, especially if you're someone like me that has a tendency to get dry mouth. Even when I'm doing this podcast episode, I have my water and my tea nearby because I will take drinks periodically. I have the privilege of editing that out so you don't have to hear it. But have some water nearby. Here's the other thing I want to offer you about your nerves. The hiring manager expects you to be nervous on some level. They want you to be nervous. They know that you're excited about the interview you care about doing well. You want to make a good impression, so it's okay to be nervous. I have gone into interviews where I've said right off the bat say I am really looking forward to meeting you today and talking to you about this job. I'm just going to acknowledge I'm a little nervous, but I'm going to get past that. I have done that and it has not held me back. So acknowledge your nervousness, but here is the number one tip that I coach my clients on. It's an exercise that we do called story buckets, and the idea behind story buckets is that there are certain milestone events that have happened in your career. Maybe you led a project extremely well, Maybe you transformed a team or you navigated a organization through turnaround. Whatever that is, there are milestone events in your careers and for the purpose of this podcast, I just want you to think about one. Right, and if you're listening to this and you're not driving, you may want to pause the podcast and what I want you to do here is I want you to write down every single detail you remember about that particular milestone. I want you to go deep. I want you to tell me as much as possible about that particular event. What did you do well? What were your obstacles? What did you learn? Who did you engage with within the organization? Who did you seek guidance from, or help or support? Write out every single detail around that one event, and that one event is going to make up your story bucket. Think of each data point or descriptor as a little bit of sand going into that story bucket and you're gonna keep filling it up and when it looks like it's full, you're gonna pack it down even harder and put more stuff in there what was memorable, what was noteworthy? Why does this story matter to somebody you're telling it to? What do you want them to know about this particular event? Well, the one thing I know, both for being a job candidate as well as somebody who hired talent across multiple organizations, is that there is absolutely no way you can prepare for every interview question you are going to get, Even if you're given the questions ahead of time, which some organizations do not. Everybody does that but you don't know what the follow-up questions might be. Or there might be something you share in the interview that triggers somebody on the interview panel and they go oh hey, I wanna ask a follow-up question. You don't know what that is. Part of. The interview is about having a dialogue and it's about you telling your story. And it is yes, it is about you thinking on the spot, very clearly and cohesively, and answering those questions without using a bunch of filler words like ums and you-nose, and us Get rid of those in your interview as much as possible. The story bucket has all of the information you need around that particular milestone. Maybe that story bucket has information about your technical or leadership expertise. Maybe there's something monumental you learned that shifted the way you've done things within that organization. Your story bucket has all of the details and when an interview asks you a question, you're going to dig into that story bucket and pull out or extract any of those components that are going to help you tell your story. In fact, any story bucket and I know this from doing this myself and from all of my work with my clients any story bucket should answer multiple interview questions because of how well you have filled up that story bucket. So you might have that one milestone event, but there are multiple facets or aspects of that story you're going to be able to pull from to answer that question. Here's the key thing. Storytelling is key. If we've seen one big, monumental change in the way we interview talent over the last 10 years, it's about putting more importance on how well the job candidate tells their story, and I coach my clients on helping them tell their story from a place of value and service. I will never forget being in an interview where I was applying for a job and I got asked that question why should we hire you? I dug so deeply into my story buckets that I was able to pull out multiple examples of why they should hire me. You should hire me because of my content expertise, my leadership expertise, my work with clients, and I gave examples of everything. And then I said and if you need help and if you need help turning your team around, I have experience repairing dysfunctional teams and helping them be functional and progress towards better goals. I got that job and I know I got that job in part because I did a phenomenal job of how well I told my career story and did so from a place of value and service that I knew I could help them. If you're new to the podcast or if you've been listening for a while, I want you to go back and listen to episodes 110 through 119. Last August, I did a month's worth of content around interview preparation. There are six short episodes and three fantastic interviews that I had with people specifically on how to tell your story and how to do so more energetically and informationally. That was going to get people more interested in who you are and what you do. See, I just did an edit there because my voice was getting a little raspy. Go back and take a look and listen to episodes 110 through 119. It's got some great tips for you there and how to build your story. This idea around the story buckets is one that I really want you to hone in on, because when you think about calming your nerves, the way you calm your nerves is by how confidently and confidently you tell your story. Nobody is going to be able to do a better job of telling your professional walk and the value you bring to an organization better than you when you show up for that interview. If you aren't in command of your story, controlling your narrative and coming from a place that is going to get hiring managers more interested in who you are and what you do, you have missed a huge opportunity. Know your story better than anyone. That will absolutely calm your nerves, and story buckets will help you. One of the things I do in my coaching practice is I help people prep for interviews. If you're getting close, if you're coming up on a final round interview or you haven't interviewed in a while and you want some coaching around how to be better at your interviews. Reach out to me. While I normally work with clients for six months at a time, sometimes I work with them only for one month, and that's because it's a real targeted approach to how I can help you. If you're interested, the easiest thing to do is message me on LinkedIn. You can find me at John Narrell, J-O-H-N-N-E-R-A-L, or you can simply email me at johnnnarrellcom and let's set up a preliminary call just to see if coaching is a great fit for you and how I can, more specifically, help you with your upcoming interviews. Until next time, my friends remember this we build our mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcast. Visit JohnNarrellcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrellCoaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.