As the interview for a job you really want approaches, your nerves start to play funny tricks on you. You find it hard to focus on anything else.
Anxiety, apprehension and worry are all natural human responses to a stressful situation like an interview — these are indicators that you want to succeed. Yet that protection mechanism called fear kicks in to defend you against the pain of failure.
So what can you do to build up up your confidence against the fearful expectation of failure? One method is to create a powerful strategy that will persuade your interviewers that you’re the best — the one — for the role.
Treat your interview like a sales pitch
Since your interview is your chance to sell yourself and convince this person of all the good you can do for the company, think of this conversation as a sales pitch. And every sales pitch needs an elevator speech.
Before you walk in the door, you should be ready with a short, punchy sentence or two that not only wraps up your skills, qualities and talents, but also entices the interviewer to listen to more of what you have to say.
Interview yourself first
Ready to write that hard-hitting sentence or two that will create a great first impression with your prospective employer? Start by asking yourself a series of questions.
The answers will help you understand your own value and realize all that you could potentially achieve with this new opportunity. Ask yourself:
- What are you really good at in the context of the work you would be doing?
- In what aspects of this work do you excel?
- When are you at your best?
- What qualities do you have that will add real value to this company?
- Why would you be a great asset to them?
- What’s your greatest strength?
These types of questions dig deep into your psyche and help you develop the conviction that you’re the right person for the role. The answers will help you overcome some of the fears that cause pre-interview anxiety and nerves in the first place.
Psychologists say a certain degree of nerves are necessary for you to be on your game. They help you focus and concentrate. Those butterflies in your stomach just need to be coached to fly in formation. Manage your fear by answering the questions listed above, then get to work on folding the answers into your interview.
How to write a winning elevator speech
Once you’ve formulated your answers, you can put them into effective phrases that will make you stand out as a confident and effective candidate.
Take a good look at the job post. What exactly does this role require? Excellent organization skills? Mastery of C++? Great people skills?
Focus your elevator speech around these requirements. Imagine you’re being asked (as you very likely will be), “What would you bring to this role?”
A strong answer might sound something like:
I’m self-motivated, with energy and enthusiasm for great results. I love working with a team and achieving goals. Being professional, listening actively and being part of the solution are vital when I work in a team, and I believe this is a real strength of mine — the ability to get along with different personalities.
Let’s break down the different traits this personal statement covers:
- Team player
- Active listener
What employer would reject a person with these attributes? These skills make you stand out, especially if you’re applying for a role that involves working with different teams or customers.
Your elevator pitch should cover the essential elements you know the employer wants. Speak about the future of the company and how you can help them get there. Help the interviewer see the bigger picture — with you in it.
With an effective elevator speech, they’ll see you as a valuable asset to bring to their department, team, customers and company. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
- Revisit the questions above.
- Answer them specifically in relation to the position.
- Condense your answers into a phrase or two that will grab attention.
- Ensure your elevator speech is relevant to the role.
- Show your value without showing off.
- Deliver your elevator speech genuinely and with passion — make it a no-brainer that you’re the best person for the role.
This process will help you build confidence to calm your nerves and lay the foundation for a positive and influential interview.
As a business improvement expert, Sean McPheat helps companies improve their sales, management and HR teams through consulting, coaching and training. Sean is the Managing Director of the MTD Training group. You can find more tips and advice on how to boost your business via Sean’s blog.
If you think choosing precisely the right words doesn't matter much, you're wrong. A single word can have amazing power to change human behavior, usually without our being aware of it. Which means those who know how to use powerful words convincingly have an advantage over everyone else.
Consider the following amazing experiment performed by social psychologist Ellen Langer, and recounted by Buffer's Kevan Lee as an intro to his Big List of 189 Words That Convert, which is very much worth a read.
Langer walked into a series of copy shops (this was before we all had printer/copiers on our desks) and asked the people waiting in line to make copies if she could cut ahead of them using three different specific phrases:
"Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" When she asked it this way, 60 percent of the people in line agreed.
"Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?" This time, 94 percent of the people she asked agreed. Makes sense--we've all been in a hurry one time or another and the people around us are often kind enough to accommodate us at those moments, so we tend to give back by doing the same for others.
But here's where it gets interesting. In some cases she said, "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?" That's completely meaningless--presumably every customer in a copy shop has to make copies. Nevertheless, 93 percent of those she asked agreed to let her go first. That's the power of a single word--the word "because." It's one of the most persuasive words you can use.
Here are 37 more.
The most powerful word you can use:
Like most humans, your readers and listeners are primarily focused on themselves. Yes, it's a good idea to speak or write about yourself and your experiences as a way to create a bond with your audience. But before you do that, you need to engage their attention, and the best way is to let them know right from the beginning how what you have to say will benefit them. That makes "you" the single most convincing word you can use when writing or speaking.
Words that convey urgency:
All of us are too busy, and constantly facing competing demands on our attention and time. Given this reality, why should anyone stop and read or listen to what you have to say? Because whatever it is is urgent, and requires their immediate action. These words to convey that notion.
5. Must not
6. Don't miss
9. Only (as in "only three days left" or "only five available")
Words that create connection:
We spend more time connecting with others on social media than we ever have before and yet many of us are also lonely. The trend toward working at home--a wonderful thing in most ways--makes this problem even worse. Your readers and listeners are looking for a sense of connection and community; here are some words that will give it to them.
16. Come along
17. A good fit (as in "our product may be a good fit for your needs")
Words that help people trust you:
"Because" fits into this category, along with many other words and phrases that imply cause and effect. The reason, according to Darlene Price, author of Well Said!, is that cause-and-effect words and phrases make you seem objective and rational. This list of words includes some other good cause-and-effect words, as well as other words that imply you are both objective and trustworthy.
18. As a result
20. Caused by
21. For this reason
Words that promise a reward for little effort:
In our busy lives we are constantly, often unconsciously, calculating how we can best spend our time to get the most useful result. That's why it's a powerful tactic to use words that suggest that a small amount of effort--such as the few minutes it will take someone to read your message or listen to what you have to say--will bring immediate benefits. One warning though: Do not use these words and then fail to deliver the goods, or you risk alienating your audience. And that's tough to recover from.
Words that promise a surprise:
In modern times we've all become a little jaded, and we're all on the lookout for anything truly unexpected, especially so we can share it with our friends and on social media. These words tell readers or listeners that what's coming next will surprise them in some way. Here again, do not use these words unless whatever follows truly lives up to that promise:
36. You won't believe
This should give you a good start, but there are a lot of other powerfully convincing words and phrases out there. Share your own favorites in the comments. (And see how many of these you can spot in Inc.com headlines.)