Congratulations on making it through the first screen of the SES process and being called for an interview! You already know that you shouldn’t “wing” the interview but how do you prepare?
Here are some ideas on how to prepare for this important interview:
• When you are contacted, ask who will be on your interview panel and the length of your interview. If you do not know the panelists, you may consider looking them up on LinkedIn to gain some familiarity with their backgrounds.
• Review your SES resume, Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) if prepared, along with your Technical Qualifications (TQs) and job posting.
• Prepare your “tell me about yourself.” You may not need it but it’s good to have anyway, just in case!
• Expect that your interview will be structured. This means that all candidates will be asked the same questions in the same order.
• You will likely be asked questions about your past experiences and qualifications, as well as how you have dealt with various situations. It is very likely that the questions will be address one critical competency from each ECQ as well as additional question(s) from one or more of the Technical Qualifications. Have your examples ready.
• Many of the questions may be multipart; you may take notes to be sure you address all parts of the question. In answering the questions, you may describe work, civic, or volunteer situations and how you handled them. Be sure to describe what you did in each situation.
• Use the CCAR (Challenge-Context-Action-Result) model to frame your answer. Your answers should be detailed in describing the situation or problem, what you did and when, who was involved, what your contribution was, and what the outcome or result of your actions was. Be sure to use “I” not we when answering the questions.
• Do not be offended or put-off by a lack of interaction during the interview. This is common in structured interviews. Panelists will be taking notes and eye contact may be difficult. Do not interpret this as a lack of interest in your responses.
• Be prepared with questions for the panelists. You should, of course, come prepared with questions that indicate your interest in the positions and organization.
• Don’t forget to “close the deal.” Thank the panelists for their time, express your interest in the position, and send your thank you notes. Email is acceptable for your thank you’s.
If you follow these suggestions, you’ll feel prepared for your interview and do a much better job than if you had tried to “wing it.”