Discussing your Experience in the Interview Process

by Andrew Murphy, Director at Coopman

Being able to discuss your experience in detail doesn’t come easy to everyone, yet is key to being successful in an interview process. At some stage during your professional career you will have gone through the process and as we all know too well, during an interview it is expected that you provide an account of your experience so that the prospective employer can truly get a sense of your knowledge, expertise and approach to work.

One of the most common reasons individuals at all levels of seniority find themselves on the wrong side of an interview decision is that they were not able to convince the interviewer of their expertise and enthusiasm for the role. While there can be a number of factors attributed to this perception such as preparation, energy levels or personality differences, a prominent issue is a lack of detail provided in the presentation of the CV and in answering the competency and technical based questions.

WHAT IS MEANT BY LACK OF DETAIL?

  • A CV presentation that highlights only the responsibility of the role listed on the CV
  • A high level overview of the roles held to date
  • Short responses or vague answers to competency and technical questions

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL OUTCOMES?

  • Interviewer is left with unanswered questions
  • Feels you lack enthusiasm or energy for your work
  • May lead them to believe you have not prepared, resulting in a perceived lack of interest

All the while you may be thinking that you have represented yourself to the best of your ability and so cannot understand why you were not successful.

HOW CAN YOU DELIVER MORE DETAIL?

Paint a Picture

Make it easier for the interviewers to picture the environments you have worked in, before going into the elements of your role give them a sense of corporate structure, culture and the reporting lines and stakeholders you were exposed to.

Each organisation is different with different titles and operations so giving this overview will help them see how you may fit into their company. You may have held a title of MD which in another organisation translates to Senior Manager for example.

Talk About HOW

When you read over your CV, start to ask yourself how you performed each duty and you will naturally find that you describe your role in more detail than when you focus on the what?

The how question opens up the use of more descriptive language and requires you to talk about people, systems and processes that assisted you in doing your work.

Stay Relevant

There is always the chance that in trying to be more descriptive and detail orientated in your presentation that you spend time on the wrong areas.

By tailoring your various experience to the job specification of the role you are interviewing for you can ensure to focus on the areas that matter to the interviewers.

Write It Out

Write out examples of how you have demonstrated competencies – focus on your actions and the result of your actions using I language. Again refer to the job specification to get a sense of the competencies required, then put on paper what they want.

Writing out will help with the descriptive process and also will help you commit to memory for recall during the interview.

Talking about yourself is something that the majority of us struggle to do without feeling an overwhelming sense of self promotion. An important takeaway to remember is that the people you are speaking to want to know more about you and what you have done, you are simply promoting yourself as a professional

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