Whether or not you are a cancer survivor, interviewing is the most essential and often the most stressful part of the job search. Below are some tips to help you through the process. Download all the tips here, and for more on interviewing check out Cancer and Careers’ Interview Cheat Sheet and Mock Interview One-Sheet.
Use the Three-C’s method for interviewing:
- Clarify the information that the interviewer is after. Ask follow up questions as necessary to identify the specific competencies or knowledge sets that the interviewer is interested in.
- Communicate your value proposition by confirming the information requested or, when applicable, by telling how you used the competency to achieve results for a former employer.
- Confirm that you have answered the question, or provided the information requested. Don’t assume; ask: “Did that answer your question [name of interviewer]?” “Is that what you are looking for in this position?” “Are those the sorts of results you are seeking here?”
Prepare eight to 10 questions that you can ask during your interview. Your questions can fall into these categories:
- Situational questions regarding why the position is open; they can be specific or general (i.e., relevant to all job types).
- Job-specific questions that deal with how the job functions and relates to others positions in the company.
- Performance-measurement questions that help you to understand how the position operates and will be evaluated.
- Support-related questions that deal with the people and resources that will make your job possible.
- Career-path questions that will provide a sense of where the position might lead.
- Personal and growth questions related to how the company will support your development over time.
In any interview, give thought to the following:
- Think before responding to a question, to avoid giving a complex or rambling answer. Keep things simple. Expect to be asked about anything you say or have said in writing or verbally.
- As often as you can, respond to an interviewer’s questions with specific behavioral and quantified achievements and examples from your experience, rather than give general answers. One way to prepare for this is to study the job description, highlight the key requirements, and then think of an example of something you did in a past job that illustrates your ability to use each skill and perform each task.
- Look at questions and responses as potentially sequential rather than as separate issues.
- Realize that your responses will be evaluated not only on their individual merits but also on the impression they make together, as a whole.
- Determine the focus or subject of each question you are asked, and request clarification if you need it. You might say, for example: “Your question seems to focus on [specific topic vs. general], is that correct?” Or, “I am not sure what you mean by [key word or phrase]; would you clarify that for me?”
- Try to relax, and be a good listener as well as speaker. Remember that successful interviewing involves building a relationship that leads to trust that leads to disclosures (theirs) that lead to stories and examples (yours) that build value that leads to a reason for them to hire you instead of your competition.
- Remember: The interview is also an opportunity to assess the company and whether it meets your needs and goals.
- Remember that although your cancer experience may be foremost in your mind, it's likely not in the mind of your interviewers. Try not to get caught up in it; rather, focus on your qualifications for the job.
Some of these tips were provided to CAC by Julie Jansen, Executive and Career Coach and Author.
“Before we conclude, let me recap what I believe we have identified as the skills/competencies that you are looking for in a successful candidate for this position.”
Send an e-mail or hand-written thank-you note the same day, if possible, to everyone you met with. Mention something specific that was discussed. Then do what you promised: Stay in touch as the process moved forward.