You've found the ideal role, in a company that's a perfect fit, but how can you stand out from the crowd when interviewing online?
How do you effectively communicate that your skills are right for the the role, positioning you above the competition?
The key is in an alignment of values (and plenty of preparation!).
Do some research: discover the company’s values
Having a poke around the company website is an essential part of the preparation for any interview. But as well as examining the turnover and taking a good look at the directors’ mugshots, it's good to get an understanding of the company's values. You may find a mission statement or core values listed on an ‘About Us’ page. Or you might get a sense of the values from reading social media posts or the company blog.
Find your values
What about your own values? What drives you and makes you tick? Spend some time thinking about what makes you happy, proud and angry, and why.
Here are a few ideas of possible values to get you started:
Courage, adventure, learning, kindness, self-respect, optimism, strength, humility, credibility, efficiency, competition, teamwork, creativity, decisiveness, individuality, sharing…
Which values resonate the most? If you have a long list, whittle it down to 5 or 6 core values. Connecting with your values helps you to be truly authentic and communicate in a real and compelling way. This self-knowledge will go way beyond helping you at interview – your values can underline every single communication you have.
(Want to dig deeper into your core values and enter a whole new level of authentic communication? Get in touch to find out how we can help.)
Do the company’s values fit with your own?
Innocent (smoothies!) list 5 core values on their website:
Natural, entrepreneurial, responsible, commercial and generous.
The company has an on-site gym for their staff and a strong focus on recycling and sustainability.
If you’re passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, eating loads of fruit and veg and taking gym classes, you know that your values align with Innocent’s, and that you can communicate this in the way you answer the questions posed by them at interview.
Boots (the chemist), core values include:
Trust, care, partnership, dedication and inclusion.
The company website has an emphasis on world health and being at the heart of local communities, as well as being open-minded and welcoming to all.
Your core values might align with Boots’ if you are community-focussed, picking up groceries for your housebound neighbour or volunteering for a charitable cause. And you can show this synergy of values in your interview.
An alignment between your values and those of the company you are interviewing for is the starting point for success, both at interview and after you’ve landed the job.
Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, Start With Why, is all about how everything you do (whether as a company or an individual) should be based on your core values – the ‘why’.
Sinek says ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. It’s well worth a watch.
The STAR method
The STAR method is a tried-and-tested interview technique that you have probably come across before – and it’s very effective. STAR gives you a structure for answering questions posed at interview.
STAR stands for Situation – Task – Action – Result
Before your interview, think of questions that you might be asked, and how you would respond to them using this method. Study the job description closely – what skills and experience does the role require, and how can you demonstrate that you have what they are looking for?
Preparation is key here – use the time you have before the interview to hone those examples of when you have shown your brilliance, not forgetting to focus on the result of your actions.
Want more on the STAR Method? You can read all about it on our interview technique blog post.
Here is where the magic happens!
By combining your shared values with the STAR method, your interview responses will really shine.
“What are your strengths?” Is a classic interview question and one that’s worth preparing for:
Let’s say this interview is for a team manager role, and one of your STAR method answers is focussed around a situation where you showed one of your strengths – excellent leadership skills – demonstrating how your actions resulted in triumph. So far, it’s fine, but it probably won’t stand out from the answers given by the other candidates.
You know, however, that you share the company’s values - innovation and efficiency - and not only does your answer demonstrate that you hold these values, it shows how the result was borne of your actions, that in turn were driven by these values. Now, you stand out from all the other faces behind the interviewers’ screens.
It would definitely be difficult – if not nigh on impossible – to drum up these perfect answers on the spot. So, make sure you prepare, figure out your examples and write them down so that you are familiar with them. You should know them inside out – you don’t want to have to refer to them during the interview. Reading a script is a sure-fire way to lose that magic!
Some last-minute tips
- Ask a friend or partner to ask you questions. Make sure you can answer clearly, structuring your response around the STAR method while remembering to communicate your values.
- It can be tempting but don’t rely on written notes on the day – if you’re well-prepared, you won’t need them. When you look down to read notes, you lose eye contact and that connection with your interviewer. So make sure they are in a drawer away from view.
- Eye contact on Zoom is just as important – if not more so – than in face-to-face interviews. Make sure your expression is interested and receptive.
- Set up the technology in advance to ensure the interview starts smoothly. Is your face well-lit? What’s in the background? Is your microphone working?
- Listen to the questions you’re being asked and don’t be afraid to take a moment to think before answering.
- Have any questions ready that you want to ask. It’s a cliché but it’s true – you are interviewing them to ensure it’s a good fit for you, too!
Good luck with your interview!
The experts at London Speech Workshop have a wealth of experience in helping clients to ace interviews and land their dream jobs. Our Interview Technique course will give you the skills to be more authentic, confident and succinct in interviews so that you make a great impression and get the job offers you deserve.