Conversational Interviewing

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I teach you how to prepare for your job interview so that you don't memorize answers, sound natural in the conversation, and project confidence to the hiring manager. These interview tips and tricks will also help you ace a phone interview. Stop memorizing interview answers, Explearners! Sound natural and confident.

Sometimes when we are insecure about an interview, we tend to memorize our speech. But the issue with that is we end up sounding the robots. Not the passionate, energized, ambitious humans we are.

So what do we do about that? Well, we need to remember that an interview is actually a conversation. Let’s start treating it that way. Today I’m going to give you 3 strategies to make your interview more conversational. Because you are not the one doing all the talking.

Making your interview more conversational will (1) stress you out less because you don’t have a whole script of answers to memorize (2) it’ll allow you to deal with the questions that are sprung on you without any prior preparation and (3) it will leave a more favorable opinion of you in the interviewer’s (hiring manager’s) mind.

These 3 strategies are highly implementable and will transform the way you think of interviews. This perspective shift of thinking interviews now more like a conversation will temper a lot of the anxiety you feel before going into an interview.

Strategy 1: Share an anecdote

As you are answering the question, pull out an anecdote. Share a story that shows your skill set, your experience, your background.

Why does this work? Well, it does a few things: (1) shows proof of performance (2) it reflects a bit of your personality, and (3) it’s a glimpse into the way you do certain things (problem solving skills, conflict mediation, etc). 

For example: 

I remember when we worked with client X, one of their guys only spoke German so I needed to use my rusty language skills and by the end of our project I was running meetings in German. It really made me grateful for the experience and I’ve been keeping up my German skills since then.

So to sum up strategy 1, sharing a story shows (1) proof of performance (2) your personality and (3) your psyche (how to solve things)

Strategy 2: Same-turn 

Here, you are asking a question to the hiring manager as you are answering their question. Peppering your answer with a question for them, gets the interviewer involved. You are interacting with them and showing that you are treating this interview as a conversation. 

Why does this work? It makes the interview less stiff and more like a flowing conversation. It allows for there to be some more authentic exchange and we avoid boring robotic talk. 

For example: 

A: That’s a great question Fred. Well you know, we were pitching to VC investors in Florence. Have you been to Italy? ((pause))

B: One of my favorite project management tools is Asana. Do you guys use Asana? Or do you have an in-house project management tool? 

C: When we were trying to figure out what our price point would be for this subscription model, we decided to talk inspiration from X company. Have you used their service before? I don’t know if they’re on your radar but they’ve just secured Series A funding.

So to sum up strategy 2, by doing a same-turn question you’re inviting the interviewer to share thoughts as well. You’re putting not only yourself at ease but also the interviewer. 

Strategy 3: Think-Aloud 

A think-aloud is similar to how it sounds. You are sharing your thoughts as they surface.

Why does this work? It demonstrates that you’re able to think on the spot. It sends the message of confidence and that you’re relaxed. It also shows you’re human (not robot). So it highlights that fact that you’re off-script. You haven’t memorized your answers.

Here are some examples:

A: Well a few years back I was chatting with an old colleague and they mentioned the CEO of Company Y…Ack, what is her name? It’s escaping me now. But you know who I’m talking about right?

B: You know Jim, I’m glad you see it that way. But you know, I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms before

C: Well I think… what’s the best way to express this… I think it all comes down to the company’s ethos and the personality of it’s founding members. If you can pour your heart and soul into it and let your valued customers viscerally feel that through product then I think you have something there. 

Explearners, are you with me? Let’s quickly recap:

Our problem we’re solving is how to act natural in an interview so that we don’t (1) memorize our answers which never works (2) stress out about not getting asked the questions we prepped and (3) sound robotic and stiff.

We’ve discussed 3 ways to treat an interview not so much as a test but more as a conversation. To interact naturally we:

  • Share a story
  • Ask a aame-turn question 
  • Think-aloud

These three strategies should be pretty straightforward. 

For #1: You should have specific stories ready to go for each main skill that’s in the job description. The stories you should have prepared…but not memorized. 

My advice for #2 and #3 is to resist the urge to prepare them. You want #2 and #3 to emerge organically. All you have to do is remember that you want to (2) ask the question and (3) think aloud.

Before doing this in an interview, I’d suggest you practice them with a friend during casual conversation. You’ll gradually start to see the benefits of being off-script. 

Remember: there are a few other dangers to memorizing your answers: such as being caught off guard which can make you appear unprepared, which is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.

Happy Explearning 🐝