The Interview: Put Your Best Self Forward

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Interviewing is one time in our lives that we become actors performing on stage.  This can build anxiety levels in the majority of us, as we have not written or practiced our scripts prior to the interview.  Plus, we are not accustomed to being in the spotlight.  One of the motto’s of actors is “Think before you act, so that you can act before you think.”  We have read thousands of articles that provide us guidance on how to prepare for the interview, how to answer questions during the interview, and how to listen and speak during the interview.  What about the scripts of our lives?  The ones that make up who we are today, what brought us to the table to position ourselves as one of the candidates of choice.  How to think before we act, so that we can act before we think?

In order to put your best self forward, you need to package your stories into a script that can be used during the interview.  Take the time to prepare the top 3 stories of your life that will flow with your profession and the companies you will target for interviewing.  In addition, select one wild card story in your life that you can pull the images during the interview to relieve anxieties and build confidence to answer tough questions and move fluidly during the interview.

Building Your Life Script

The best way to build a life script is to begin asking the following questions:

1)      What was the most exciting event that occurred in your life?

2)      Why was it the most exciting event in your life?

3)      What were the other events that shaped who you are today?

4)      Which event stands out as a life altering occurrence?  Why?

5)      What led you to current profession?  What experience took you to the next level in current profession?

You want to take the most important memories to build the puzzle pieces that shaped you into the professional you are today.  Once you have these stories pulled together, you can build the script that will be used and presented during the interview.

Presenting the Script

We all have experienced the 3 second pause from the interview question, “Tell me about yourself?”  This one question causes candidates a high level of anxiety, but can be a perfect opportunity to plug a story that will show your skills and strengths related to the position.  The best plans for an interview are being prepared to act before you think.  Actors completely understand and utilize over preparation in order to provide an award winning performance.  There are so many possibilities for plugging personal stories that provide a great answer to interviewing questions.  Prepare these stories to plug into standard questions in order to outperform the competition.

 The Wild Card Story

Everyone needs one story with incredible images they can pull from their memory in order to remain calm, cool, and collective during the interview.  I would like to share with you the story from my childhood that provides courage, confidence, and strength to believe in myself in order to flow during the interview.  Have you ever seen the movie Son-In-Law?  The part where Crawl finds the combine, loads the soundtrack, and drives through the fields.  When I was ten years old, I had a very similar experience with a John Deere tractor.  My family had left for town to run errands (dad working overtime, mom and sisters going to shop and I hated shopping).  I loved the outdoors and found my way to the barn for a morning of exploration.  I climbed into the tractor, keys were left behind, turned on the radio, hit the ignition, and started the engine.  I spent many years observing and assisting my father driving all the farm equipment, but never driving any of them by myself.  I drove the tractor down the driveway, into the field, up the hill and back down to the barn while listening to Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver.  The ten minutes spent driving the large tractor, discovering I could do it, produced more self-confidence than all the other early year experiences combined.   When I climbed out of the tractor, I felt like I could take on the world.  That night, I told my father what I had done.  He was a little upset with me, but said that he realized it was time for me to take on more responsibility.  I had earned his confidence and began making my first wages the following week assisting with the dairy farm.

The Interview

The ability to build a personal script will give you the tools needed to outperform most individuals in the interview.  Several years ago, I was selected as a candidate to interview for a position that would advance my skills personally and professionally.  My nerves were shot by the time I made it inside the board room where the panel was waiting.  As I sat down, I pulled the wild card from memory, recalled the image of driving the tractor, played the tapes of Take Me Home, and started to feel the courage, strength, and confidence that produced an award winning performance during the panel interview.  I received a call the next day with a job offer.  It was one of the most valuable experiences of my career.

Best Self Forward

We all are equipped with the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It is our choice in life to put our best self forward.  This next year could be the year that propels you forward.  Please take the time to select the stories that build your script in order to be one of next year’s winning performers during the interview.  “Always be your best, the seeds you plant now, will be harvested later.”

What is the highlight of your life script? 

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