How to talk about your experiences in an interview
The interview process can be daunting, but preparation and practice can go a long way. One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to think about your prior experiences, which will help you to answer many of the most common interview questions. These are what make you unique and qualified for the job, and it’s something recruiters will focus on heavily when determining whether or not you’d be a good fit – so you need to be able to articulate them clearly and concisely. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
Focus on the positives
When you're talking about your experiences, it's important to focus on the positives. You want to highlight what you've accomplished and what you've learned from any challenges you may have faced. It's okay to talk about setbacks but be sure to frame them in a way that demonstrates how you overcame them and what you learned in the process.
When recalling your experiences, it’s easy to get caught up in the negatives, particularly if the question is framed in that way. But your interviewer will be more interested in how you brought about a positive outcome from the experience. This will not only demonstrate your ability to perform well in a professional setting, but it will also speak to your character and temperament, another key factor recruiters will be interested in.
Your interviewer isn't going to want to hear your entire life story – they're going to want to hear specific examples that illustrate your qualifications for the job. Practice condensing your experiences down into brief, powerful stories that will give the interviewer a clear idea of who you are and what you can do. As much as you want to tell them how qualified you are, it’s just as important to know how and when to stop – this will make your anecdotes more powerful, and help to keep the interviewer on-side.
Avoiding verbal wandering when giving your answers will also help you to avoid repeating yourself throughout the interview. Although you’ll be eager to impress, remember there will be more questions to follow, so keep your answers short and to the point.
Know your audience
When you're preparing to talk about your experiences, it's important to keep your audience in mind. Think about what kinds of experiences will resonate with the interviewer and focus on those. Ensure that any experience you mention is relevant to the job description – do your research on the company and the position so that you can tailor your stories to fit their needs. Not only will this demonstrate how your experience will be relevant and can benefit the company, but it will also tell the interviewer you’ve done your research and are aware of the type of person they’re looking for.
An interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the job. By preparing ahead of time and focusing on your positive experiences, you can put your best foot forward and increase your chances of impressing the interviewer and landing the job.
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