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Whole U. Masterclass: Interview Mastery with Michael Neece

What's Your End Goal?  

For many, interviewing is a dreaded performance that feels disjointed and nerve-racking. For others, it’s an exciting chance to express themselves with ease. Either way, the interview is THE most important part of the job search. All of the work you put into your resume, cover letter and networking, was to get you an interview!

The Whole U. community hosted a true expert to cover this important topic: Michael Neece, the CEO of Interview Mastery - a company dedicated to transforming interviews into prosperous, joyful and productive experiences.” CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO WATCH MICHAEL'S FULL MASTERCLASS

 

Michael has worked with 5,600 customers from 75 countries, and has been featured on media outlets such as Tedx, NBC, ABC, CBS, and the New York Times.

 

Michael first shares the harsh truth, that:

“You could do everything right, but if you screw up the interview, the game is over.” 

 

Lights . . . Camera . . . Notes! 

In a time where virtual is the “new normal,” the video interview has never been more crucial. Start by checking your environment. Perfect the things that you can control, so your energy can be focused on the conversation . . . 

  1. Your face should be the star of this show - so make sure it is well lit and there are no distractions in your background. 
  2. With the help of Zoom, you are in control of what the interviewer is seeing in your background. Make sure it is simple and professional (no matter what the true reality of your space is). 
  3. Look at the camera - (not at their face!) This is NOT intuitive, so it will take some practice. Have a conversation (or three) with the green light next to your camera so it feels more natural - it will deepen the human connection that is so difficult to capture in a virtual setting. 
  4. In addition to not having to change out of pajama pants, virtual interviews does give you some added freedom. Michael advises his clients to hang their notes at eye level to avoid looking down during the conversation. These could (and should) include a list of questions to ask the interviewer, something specific about the company you want to remember, or tips to remind yourself of as you chat.

 

Try as you might, you cannot always know every aspect of your environment. You should insulate yourself from the rest of your household, by closing (maybe locking) the door, and asking for an hour of quiet.

However, have a plan if an unexpected intruder wanders into your room asking for a snack, or some attention. If this happens, Michael advises you to stay calm, and use it as an opportunity to show what kind of parent you are. Rather than barking at your child, calmly ask them to give you some space. If the intruder is insistent, introduce them!

We are all human, we all have lives outside of the screen . . .  and must all be forgiving of life’s unpredictability. 

Practice the Inevitable

Take it from an expert: interviews are predictable.

From the job description alone, you can figure out exactly what questions you will be asked! Thus you CAN practice the best responses. Interview practice is the most important part of your prep. You can have all the research and confidence in the world, but still fumble over answers if you show up unrehearsed. Create your questions, and ask a friend or colleague to ask you them. (Make it a virtual mock interview to practice staring into the green light!) Michael explains how to discover the questions you will be asked. It will look something like:

Question #1: 

What They Say: “Tell me about yourself. “

What They Are Really Asking For:  A summary of your background and a description of why you are the right candidate for this job. 

People DON’T care about whether you felt lost after college . . . and how you did X, Y and Z to get to where you are today. Instead, tailor your response to what they are actually looking for. For example: “I’d like to tell you why I think I’m a strong candidate for this position. . . ” (And then launch into the specific points of background that correspond to the job at hand.) 

From there, you want to: 

  • Come up with 3 specific questions about the job. Again, how are we to know what they will be? Luckily, there is a formula for this:
  • Using the job description, underline the key words. These will be the specific experiences, skills or behaviors required for the job. 
  • Pick 3-4 of the most important ones, and create your questions by filling in the blanks:

Question #2: “Tell me about your experience with <insert underlined key word>”

Question #3: “Give me a specific example of your experience with <insert underlined key word.>”

Question #4: “Describe your experience with <insert underlined key word>”

What they’re really looking for with these questions is for you to tell them a story that demonstrates you have the skills required for the job, and that you’re a good fit.

As humans, we are wired to learn by listening to stories, so try to provide a compelling story. Craft your responses by giving the story an arc (i.e. what happened before I took action . . . what I did . . . and how it worked out. 

You want to give them the proof that your resume is factual, that you’re an impactful storyteller, and that you are confident you can succeed in the role.

And voila! You’ve cracked the code, and will now have perfectly prepared responses when the real interview comes. 

The last two questions to expect are ones that we are all familiar with. First:

  1. “Tell me about your weakness”

Spoiler: they don’t care what your weakness is. Rather, they just want to know how you handle the question. Michael advises you to identify a weakness you previously had, and describe how you dealt with it . This shows that you overcame a challenge, and are stronger for it. 

Lastly, they will inevitably ask you:

  1. “Do you have any questions?”

The worst mistake you can make is not having any questions prepared. This shows that you did not take the time to research or prepare, and thus appear as if you’re not interested in the role. It is best to make a list of 5 business-focused questions that could be asked depending on how much time you have.

(Michael gave an example, where his client asked her interviewer if the company had any wins lately. The interviewer immediately perked up as they went into a recent success that they were proud of.)

End Well

As the interview comes to a close, Michael suggests ending with these three questions: 

  1. What skills do you feel I bring to the position?
  2. What concerns do you have? 
  3. How do you think I’ll fit with the team?

The first question forces them to have an emotional response to your skills and experience. The second question allows you to address and disprove their concerns. And the third question shows that you know the major value of being a good fit. 

If the concern they give is a real weakness (i.e. a requirement of the job that you do not have experience with), do not get defensive. Acknowledge it by saying: “That’s a good concern . . . Let me give you some more information.” And then tell them a structured story of when you accomplished something that you had never done before. When you finish, wrap it up with “Was I clear on that?”, giving them the opportunity to ask for more. Just because you haven't done it before, doesn't mean you can’t do the job. Express your confidence that you can catch up to speed and be successful in the role. 

Lastly, thank them for their time, and send a timely thank you email to follow up, sharing any other details you feel were left out of the interview. It is a good way of being courteous, showing respect, and making them remember what a great candidate you were in the interview. 

Learn More . . .

If you want to learn more about Michael’s approach, head to Interviewmastery.com

Click image below to download Michael's FREE 2021 Interview Checklist 

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