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June 10, 2013
Are You Who You Want to Be On an Interview?
 
You've found the perfect job opportunity and the company wants to see you for an interview. Here’s your chance to make a strong first impression and show them who you really are — your personal brand.
 
Who are you?
 
Your personal brand is who you want to be during an interview and on the job.
 
Remember that you are likely one of a number of candidates for the position. They liked you enough on paper to want to get to know you better. Now it’s up to you to get to the next step. Your goals during the interview process are to (1) display your best self and (2) separate yourself from the crowd.
 
1. Before the interview, look closely at your strengths and skills. Typically, we all have two or three at the most that set us apart from others. Talk to close friends or family members and ask them if or how they see you demonstrate those qualities. Listen carefully and realistically to their responses.

2. The two or three items identified will become your brand — what you want to showcase. How? Use your branding words during the conversation by offering examples of how you put those strengths to work to achieve a desired result. For instance, don't just say, "I'm a hard worker." Create examples using the Situation, Action, Result format, and use your branding word: "When I was fourteen, I wanted to play the drums, but the drum kit I had my heart set on was expensive. My father said he would contribute 50% of the cost, but I would have to come up with the rest. I got a paper route and mowed lawns all summer, and on that hot August day when my Dad and I walked into the music store and picked up the drums, I truly understood the value of hard work."
 
3. During the interview, you may feel flustered fielding question after question. Keep your answers simple and concise. Don't turn on the verbal fire hose and try to say everything at once. Remember, interviewers talk to lots of people and they will not remember or appreciate the name of the boss who patted you on the back for coming in on time every day. They will be impressed if you provide information in a terse, but complete way. Mentally edit before beginning your answer. Practice beforehand.

4. Your brand is also about who you are as a person. Dress appropriately. Use manners with every individual you encounter. Greet people by shaking hands and making eye contact. Smile and use body language that exhibits confidence and authority. Use a person’s name (but don’t overdo it) when responding to a question.
 
5. Finally, be sure all aspects of your communication reflect your brand. Everything from your voice mail messages to your Facebook page will give a potential employer a glimpse into who you are. When leaving a voice mail message for a prospective employer, always write out what you want to say in advance. If you're in the midst of a search, be careful when you answer your phone — your future boss could be on the other end of the line.
 
A few hours of preparation can make the difference between getting the interview and getting the job.

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Lisa Parker is an executive coach and the President of Heads Up Coaching in New York City. She is the author of Managing the Moment: A Leader’s Guide to Building Executive Presence One Interaction at a Time.
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