Written by Gary Matsuda
You’re hoping for a career change, but the world’s wheels keep falling off during a worldwide pandemic and recession. To help get you back in the driver’s seat (with the wheels) is Carmen Payne,
an Executive, Personal and Professional Development Coach.
Now you got an interview scheduled, congrats! You should have enough time to prepare everything from the technology set up, your introduction and possible answers to common interview questions, so don’t wing it! Carmen breaks down some of the major factors to make sure that you nail the interview.
Relax, the interviewer is not likely trying to trip you up. They generally want you to succeed and demonstrate your best, authentic self (If they are relying on trick questions to screen candidates, you might not want to work there anyway). However, if you are not going into the meeting prepared, well that’s you doing it to yourself! But Carmen’s interview prep techniques can take the pain out of preparation and help improve your confidence and credibility.
A few of the most dreaded interview questions that seem to stress us out to no end are:
- What is your greatest weakness or greatest strength?
- Describe a time when…
- Give or share an example of/when…
- How did you handle _ situation?
- Tell me about your last /current job or _ employer.
Your responses to these challenging questions should exude confidence right from the start. Come across with a well-rehearsed short story and you’ll make it easy for you tell and for the interviewer to remember your answer. No one sentence answers allowed. Elaborate. Show them you know your experience and abilities will apply to the job. To help you do this, Carmen has her clients use the commonly used, easy-to-follow ‘STAR’ technique.
Tell Your Story as a ‘STAR’
S – Situation, background. This is the environment, location, time that sets up the context for your answer. Don’t dwell too much here, spend just enough time to set up the scene for the interviewer. You’ll want to lead them to the next step on your involvement in the problem.
T – Task or Target, specifics of what’s required, when, where, and what you were responsible for.
A – Action, what you did, skills used, behaviors, characteristics. Don’t draw attention away from you by mentioning what the team, boss or coworker did. The focus is on you.
R – Result, outcome, what happened. End your example on the positive including achievements, lessons learned, goals, milestones met or relationships created or saved (Ta da! Nailed it!).
Don’t worry, there could be overlap in each of these categories and parts of your answer might not fit exactly in this specific order. Just use this as a template and adapt to your unique story. The goal is to engage the listener and make your accomplishments clear and easy to remember.
This STAR technique is flexible enough to help you answer almost all behavioral questions, like this:
“Describe a time when you had to work with a tough customer and what was the result?”
“I understand the customer has their own goals to meet, their own job to do. Last year when I was leading a project our clients requested new requirements and our team was caught by surprise. It was very frustrating to work hard only to have much of it tossed aside by new requirements. I contacted the customer to find out more and discovered the changes resulted from factors beyond anyone’s control. After explaining the reasons to the team, they became more accommodating and empathetic to the customer and were able to deliver something that was still useful to the customer. The client was appreciative for our flexibility in getting something delivered on time and saving part of their business.”
Always practice before hand and refine your story to provide clarity. Also, during the meeting, the interviewer can always ask if something needs clarification. Tell a story in this format and you may get the listener to think, “I like what I’m hearing, tell me more!”.
You can’t hide behind the screen
Just because you’re on a video call and your image is smaller than life, don’t think your flaws might be hidden behind the computer screen. Since the interviewer doesn’t have a three dimensional in-person perspective, they’ll be even more focused on what’s happening on their 8” x 5” flat image of you. Although they’ll listen to every word you say, most communication is non-verbal and your body language can be 55% of communication. Any non-verbal clues as to who you are, what you’re thinking and feeling might be picked up so you still have the ability to communicate a story that either sounds energetic or appears apathetic or passive. So, look alive!
Carmen says it takes just the first few seconds of your first impression to weigh on the final judgement of you and that will happen long before you get to talk about your experience. Sooo…
Prepare Your Introduction:
- Breath, relax your shoulders and if possible warm up your vocal cords by speaking a few test phrases out loud before the meeting.
- Greeting e.g. “Good morning, (repeat their name correctly)”
- My name is _, very nice to meet you.
- When things are back to normal and it’s in-person meeting, shake their hand.
Other non-verbal tips for video
Don’t be a talking head! Set yourself far enough away from the camera so that your upper body and posture is visible. This also allows use of your hands to convey non-verbal communication. It’s been proven that when your hands are visible, trust is much more likely to be communicated.
This can be a hard habit to break but the eyes have it. Imagine talking with someone who is constantly looking at their feet. That’s the possible impression your giving if during a video conference you constantly look at your computer screen. Look at the camera. Although it may take practice since it will feel unnatural to you, you’ll appear more natural to the interviewer when you do this.
Before the interview be sure to check your connectivity and login details, that your camera works, mute notifications and close all unnecessary apps to free up memory.
Video interviewing has been here for a long time and will be around as an option for the foreseeable future so putting effort into this will not only serve you well for job interviews but on the job as well when you are making an impact with clients!
Jason Wiseman, Sr. Marketing Director
If you aren’t sure about returning as a corporate employee with a steady paycheck, here’s an opportunity to exploit your strengths through your own business or side gig. At the same time if you are hesitant about going all in towards being an entrepreneur, this organization is flexible enough so they can help you transition into something part time. Their mission is to eliminate financial illiteracy to keep people from making easily avoidable financial mistakes.
And speaking of confidence, Wealthwave is a big believer of building your self-development so you’ll learn much about yourself along the way, including examining what you really want out of life. Sounds like a confidence booster that’s hard to beat – being able to build a business plan around what you really want.
Jaime Zell-Behymer, Senior Recruiter
U-Haul has also been known as a ‘Do it yourself’ business: moving it yourself, that is. Although with these career opportunities, you’re not doing it alone. Across the country or across town, work with a supportive team to help those who are getting their moving done, college students moving into dorms, moving into a new home, or relocating for a new job.
There are plenty of career opportunities with 7 different companies in one, in every field, full and part time, WFH and in office. Work with a supportive team with a full range of benefits and offerings for your health and safety. Open positions include Customer Service Reps, Sales Reps, General Manager, U-Box Drivers, Senior System Administrators, Quality Assurance Agent, and Software Developer. For more information and to apply, visit UHAULJOBS.com.
Altogether in one place you can find VERIFIED, trusted companies who have thousands of jobs (120,000 at last count!) open now. Check them out here if any listed hiring companies match your values. For employees who are going through difficult situations, this is a great resource:
Free DISC Assessment
We all like free, so at no cost to you find your behavior traits (which may help point to your values) and what kind of job will likely fit you through our online DISC assessment at:
For details about upcoming Career Connectors events, click here to visit the events section on the website for details about hiring companies and keynote topics!