Every movie has three parts. Same with a book. A poem. A song. And life. The three parts they all share are a: 1) beginning, 2) middle, and 3) end. A job interview or networking conversation have the same three parts. Each part plays a specific role in creating an impression and helping you get what you want from the interaction.

Part one of a job interview sets the tone for the whole interaction. Be congenial and spark curiosity. You want to ignite this refrain in the interviewer’s brain: “Wow, what a great person. I wonder if they’re right for this role?” Display your emotional intelligence and “people skills,” including your genuine interest in others. Prepare to ask and answer, “How are you doing during this time? How are you managing during physical distancing?”

Be ready with an interesting answer. For example, you might be asked the most basic question: “How are you?” Don’t say: “Fine.” Share a little detail about yourself. You might say, “Thank you for asking. I’m a runner, so this weather is perfect for me. Therefore, I’m doing great. How are you?”

Part two of a job interview is meant to foster understanding and create a bond. Help the interviewer learn pertinent information about you. You want to ignite this refrain in the interviewer’s brain: “Wow, this person is a good match. I wonder how we can accelerate the process of vetting them?” Notice you don’t need to be a perfect match. No one is. You want to be hired for a combination of your hard skills and soft skills. Be ready to share examples and stories that illustrate how you think and work with other people, not just what you can do in the job function.

For example, if you’re asked, “What are your social media skills?” Avoid just listing the platforms you’re familiar with. Tell a brief story about how you use your social media skills. That might include the most remarkable post you’ve created or how you got your first 25 followers. Then, add that you’re comfortable with several platforms and note any special skills you have including analytics or A/B testing.

Part three of a job interview is meant to ignite action and get a commitment for the next step. You want to ignite this refrain in the interviewer’s brain: “Wow, this person has the right attitude. It’s great they seem interested in the position!” Be ready to ask one or two meaningful questions that help you ascertain that this is the position you want. Then, ask a closing question. For example, you might say: “What is the next step you would like me to take so I can move my candidacy forward?”  

Next steps:

  1. Craft and practice a good opening. Be prepared with a positive, upbeat answer to the typical questions you can expect when you first meet an interviewer.
  2. Have some brief stories ready that show the interviewer how you use your skills. Practice those stories.
  3. Prepare to ask your closing question and practice it. Remember, if you don’t ask for directions about the next step, you won’t know what you need to do to get the job.

A job interview would be a terrible thing to waste. Plan, practice, and be ready to win!