Interview prep is crucial!
Obviously, preparing for questions is an essential part of interview planning. You need to know your CV and any LinkedIn profile that you have, inside out.
The questions are normally about the financials of the business and the evaluation of the business.
What’s amazing is that the people pitching have not fully prepared themselves and struggle to answer the questions that could help secure the financial investment they’re after. On several occasions, the people pitching will even say, ‘I thought you might ask me that,’ and the dragons (as well as everyone watching the programme) will all be thinking the same thing. ‘Well, why didn’t you prepare for it then?’
A job is no different, so be an expert on your competencies—be an expert on you.
A skeleton in the cupboard
As we all know, sometimes in our careers, things don’t go as we’d hoped or planned; we might have had to leave a job at short notice (not under our own terms) and this can show up on our CV. Also, we might have made a wrong decision and not really want to highlight it or talk about it.
The thing is, good recruiters will find these things out by using their particularly good questioning skills.
I’m not saying we’ve literally got a skeleton in the cupboard, but there might just be areas we would rather not have to discuss.
Blagging or lying are not options, and you will get found out—end of story.
So, deal full-on with the issue; don’t get caught out Dragons Den style and sit there thinking, ‘I knew you were going to ask me that!’ Be prepared; don’t leave it until the Interview and hope that you can blag it or that maybe they won’t ask about it.
Write down the issue and possible ways you could be asked about the situation. Think about how you can turn it in to a positive, what you learnt about the situation/experience, and explain how you would now deal with the situation.
Think carefully about two or three ways to answer the question, get some help from someone you trust and run it past them for practice.
But, more importantly, practice in front of a video—here’s why:
If you have a challenging question to answer, you need to think about three things.
1. Your answer, which we have just mentioned. Get it right!
2. Your tone of voice – they will watch for this to see how you cope under the pressure of a tough question.
3. Your Body language – what is it telling the interviewer? Are you feeling the pressure and not sure how to answer or are you confident and comfortably dealing with the situation?
Practise how you would answer and deal with a difficult question while recording yourself on your laptop or phone. Play it back and look out for your tone and body language; they will tell and interviewer a lot!
The best analogy to this is a professional golfer, playing golf.
During every round of golf, they expect to end up with having a very difficult shot, perhaps out of a hedge or a bunker; in my case, it’s out from behind every obstacle on the golf course.
I will make a hash of it, use inappropriate language and get annoyed with myself because I have just mucked up and lost the hole.
A professional golfer will calmly analyse the situation and play an amazing shot to get right back on track. How? Because they practice and practice.
They know that, at some stage, they are going to be faced with an extremely difficult shot, in the same way you know you are going to be faced with a very difficult question.
So, please practice!
For more interview support please check out our book: Don’t rely on your CV