Career Program – 6. Slam Dunk Interview

6. Slam Dunk Interview

Be Focused. Be Strong.
Follow the Advice. Practice Makes Perfect.

Research the company heavily before the interview. What other job posting do they have? Perhaps, there’s another for you. Read on LinkedIn, how long the interviewer has been with the company. Where did they work before? Do you have anything or anyone in common? If so, diplomatically let them know.

Get a Success Attitude

Right before an interview or presentation, isn’t your mind flooded with a power-surge of things you should and shouldn’t do?  Pay attention to those signals and let them be your guide. Allow your memories of success to boost your confidence and keep you on-track.

See yourself as an evolving individual moving towards success. Remember:

  1. Yes, you’ve made mistakes. Own them; and you can manage them.
  2. Yes, you’ve had successes. Be proud of them. Discuss them openly as facts, not feelings and you will be in command.
  3. No, you’re not there yet. So what? Move over world; you’re charging ahead.

Your Sales Pitch

All employers use certain practices to select their no. 1 candidate. Why not slam dunk your interview by learning how to win approval and be selected?

You can practice on your own or create a role-play scenario: interviewer vs. jobseeker. It may sound a bit goofy–the idea of talking to a mirror or embarrassing yourself in front of a friend or relative–but it’s worth your time. Follow these five steps; it may very well mean hearing a “yes” instead of a “no!”

Before you walk into the interview, discard all the reasons why it won’t work. Think only why it will work:

• Practice walking. Press your feet/toes firmly into the ground. This builds self-confidence. It even works with high heels! The noise from your shoes is diminished and it looks professional.

• Think positive thoughts about yourself.

• Look into the interviewers’ eyes and shake his or her hand firmly.

Critique Yourself

Is your look self-confident? Are there any feelings of inadequacy? If so, your “defensive chip” will weaken your image. Stay positive!

Your intro sentence, sometimes called an “elevator speech,” is hugely important. Take your time. Craft an “Into Sentence” that says who you are. Practice it over and over. You need to instantly introduce the pertinent bits about yourself with zero hesitation.

Even though you practice it ahead of time, it likely won’t come out the same way ever. If you own the sentence as who you are, chances are it will come out better even than when you had practiced! (Not owning your career path? Click here: Color Career Indicator 4.1)

To start drafting your intro sentence, think:
• Why are you of value to the company? Explain your contribution.
• Why will your contribution benefit the company? Be specific.
• Use only one sentence. No run-on phrases! This isn’t your life story; it’s why the company needs you in particular.
• Finally, say it over and over until it becomes almost conversational and you can recite it with little effort.


“I’m a high-volume email marketer looking for an opportunity to invigorate a cross-channel marketing campaign and ultimately maximize revenue.”

Critique Yourself:

Was the intro sincere? Was it about you or them? If it was all about you, you’re not bringing value to a job/situation and others won’t hear you.

After the interviewer replies, tell them your real contribution to them specifically. This phrase should be:

• Why you are needed more than the others also being interviewed. Don’t mention a specific job skill unless you know there is an opening. Don’t get placed into a slot there is no job!

• Make your pitch all about the organization; put it in their terms and context. Tell them you especially enjoyed reading… mention an area is where they excel against competition.

• Finally, sell yourself; now is not the time for modest. Why are you their best choice? What unique elements do you contribute?

Comeback Sentence Example:

Sell Your Skills Here.

“I really enjoyed checking out your company website. I especially enjoyed reading about the XYZ area.  It’s what I want to do.  My experience/degree/ knowledge of XYZ will help me uniquely solve the problems faced by this role.” Ask others if they are sold? If not, what needs to be said?

Critique Yourself:

Make sentences short. Are you able to present yourself clearly?  Are you talking too fast? Do you pause at the end of a thought? Be careful. Don’t say two different benefits in one sentence, they won’t hear either one. Pause after conclusive statements. Avoid emotions.

Interviewers are experts at reading body language. Sometimes it comes down to “I just didn’t feel good about hiring that person,” no explanation required.

• Firm handshakes are essential: not a floppy grip, for certain; but good grief, not a bone-crusher, either! This is a greeting, not a contest.

• See the Interviewer as a person you like. Repeat in your mind over and over what you like about them. Surprisingly, they will like you too!

• Whatever you’re thinking, the interviewer is seeing in your body language. So think positive thoughts! Think why you like the job, why you want to join the company, and the many ways you’re qualified, and it will come out.

• And, of course, be yourself. Be friendly and attentive. Or they’ll forget you when you walk out the door.

Critique Yourself:

Test your handshake. Be honest with feedback. Have a mock interview and ask: is there positive, attentive energy? What about positive and progressive thoughts?

This step is vital. Show your interviewer, with your close, that you’re professional. If you forget to close, chances are you lost.

  1. Ask for their card (If you don’t already have it), then stand up and say, “Thank you for your time.”
  2. Make a plan to follow up: “I find your company very exciting/something of real interest to me/my dream career. I’ll touch base with you next Tuesday.” (Then call or email them on Tuesday, right when they get to work.)
  3. Send an email thank you note that same day. It might make all the difference.

Critique Yourself:

Did you sound like you really wanted to work? Did you look the interviewer in the eye and give them a solid handshake?

So, you know all the steps! Now prove you want the job. Show them you have the willpower and discipline to follow-up. Be forthright. Maximize your interview and networking hire-ability.

  1. After the interview, follow-up immediately. The faster you send them a “Thank You Email,” the better the chances that they’ll remember you. So, email them right back!
  2. Check in with the interviewer weekly. Follow-up with them very early, right when they get to work. Studies have proven more positive decisions are made in the early morning (Zahl, September 2011). It also shows you’ll be a punctual employee. Asking for a job early morning can in itself land you a job!
  3. Don’t stop with one follow-up either. Eighty percent of all job hires are completed on the fifth follow-up or subsequent follow-up phone calls or emails.