I was grateful this year to be asked to be one of six career coaches and recruiting professionals to lead roundtable discussions at New York Women in Communications‘ popular Night of the Coaches event. The event is aimed at professionals eager to get the inside scoop on professional networking and interviewing.
At my roundtable, we focused on interview skills. We worked from a guide that Chaloner created to help candidates respond to those pesky questions that you might lose sleep over the night before an interview.
Here are the first two:
Tell me a success story
Advice: Have at least three at the ready. Consider the audience, choose the most relevant and tell a great story that describes a challenge and how you met it.
During each of the roundtable sessions it became clear that women still have a hard time promoting themselves. Think about your accomplishments! One young, bright recent graduate was ready, sharing that her two proudest moments were working on the “Rock the Vote” campaign and completing her thesis.
Tell me about a time you did not meet a goal (i.e. tell me about a time you failed)
Advice: Don’t let this question rattle you. The interviewer is simply trying to assess how you react under pressure and how you solve problems. Avoid repeating the word failure, and don’t use negative words like mistake or error.
Candidates often get stumped and nervous when this question comes up, but you can turn it around and make it positive. One of the best answers I’ve heard was from a very accomplished senior level communications leader. I asked him how his career development may have suffered due to having such all-consuming responsibilities. “I discovered I wasn’t reading enough and wasn’t up-to-date on important news – both mainstream and business. I didn’t think I had time, but realized it was too important to ignore. So now I make time to read because it contributes to my own learning, and benefits my staff, colleagues and our business.”
Check back next week for The Ten Minute Interview (Part Two) for tips on how to conquer the confusing “Informational Interview..”
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.