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Top Three Strategies to Crush Any Interview

It’s All About Presence Baby

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school student conducting your first college placement interview or a seasoned executive seeking new opportunity, interviews make everyone’s palms sweat.  Just the thought of that inevitable wayward question, seemingly meant to trip us up, can send most candidates into a state of measurable anxiety. Visions of a small, dark interrogation room under the spotlight creep into our psyche and before we know it, we are sweating like a teenager opening a college application response letter.

Anxiety, in its many forms, is an increasingly common affliction of the college student today.  The pressure to get the right degree, the best internships and the ideal credentials is putting many soon-to-be college graduates in a state of paralysis.  This paralysis is keeping them in the safety of their old bedroom, sending out only a few random applications, fearful of networking and even more so, dreading the interviewing process.

The good news is this can be overcome for certain. I know this to be true, not only through 25 years of corporate experience, but also from the success story of a recent college student that I am currently coaching. I will call him Joe to maintain client confidentiality.

Joe graduated from a #4 ranked college on the Forbes public college list, had a double major in aerospace engineering and math, did internships, a study abroad program, was a member of clubs, held a key position in his fraternity, and had a long list of technical application skills. On paper, he was a superstar. In his head, however, he barely qualified for the most basic of entry-level position.  Incongruously, his resume rocked but his confidence did not.

The pertinent question becomes how does one begin to build and develop confidence? Genuine confidence, not arrogance, exudes presence, and presence under pressure is what sets you apart in any situation when you are putting yourself on display.

There are three things that worked for Joe and they can work for you as well.


1. Stand Tall in Your Strengths

Sounds easy enough, yet most people highlight the strengths that they think are most important instead of the areas they truly excel. This is especially a challenge for college students because they don’t really know, or have enough experiences, to clearly articulate those strengths based on fact.

  • Engage an assessment like Strengths Finder 2.0. Whatever assessment you choose, pick your top five strengths and work to be able to succinctly and clearly express why they truly are your personal assets. This was the first thing Joe and I did.  His transformation over time was palpable in this endeavor. He was soon able to effectively articulate why, in his case, being analytical, interested in learning, and being deliberative were so valuable to his fit in the workforce. “I never thought of it that way” was a common phrase he shared in our early stages of coaching.
  • Let go of your weaknesses. We all have them and we all tend to focus on them to keep us from feeling “good enough”. Joe and I worked hard in coaching to remove limiting beliefs so he could thrive soundly in his strengths.


2. Own Your Brand

Everyone believes their brand is their resume, yet that’s a very small piece of the puzzle. Your resume/LinkedIn profile is the written price-of-entry to get the interview.  Your brand is your personal story.  This is where most people encounter difficulty because they seek to portray a brand that sounds impressive, but is not fully authentic. Attempting to appear like you were an active leader in your internship, when in reality you simply filed papers, is disingenuous and transparent. Convey your strengths authentically.

  • Write ten SOAR stories connected to your strengths. A SOAR story is as follows: Define a Situation, share the Obstacle you faced in that situation, articulate the Action you took to overcome the obstacle, and then clearly connect the Results of your action. At a minimum, every SOAR story should include one of your five strengths in the action you reference.
  • Preparation is a key component in developing confidence. Arm yourself with rehearsed and relevant responses to potential questions. Joe and I crafted ten stories based on his life experiences in which he highlighted the corresponding strengths he embodied. We practiced them until he could clearly pull one of his SOAR stories from his hip pocket at will. He was soaring!


3. Exude Passion for the Cause

It does not matter if you are applying to be a barista or a front desk manager, if you cannot effectively communicate your interest, suitability, and excitement for the position, do not bother applying. Every manager knows that skills can be taught, passion cannot.

  • Define why you fit. Provide concise examples that support this and reflect true enthusiasm for the role you are seeking. For Joe, it seemed difficult to explain how one could be passionate about an analyst role. When I encouraged him to simply explore what he enjoys most when analyzing data, he replied “I don’t know, I guess it’s like a game to me. I love trying to uncover the hidden answer and put the puzzle together”.  Bingo!  He now had an authentic grounding point to sincerely convey confidence, interest, and viability.
  • Be Curious. After his first round of interviews, Joe called me with a post interview update. He was excited to report that one of the managers remarked that he had carried himself well. My response was most definitely delight as I knew Joe was prepared and ready. He just had to believe in his newfound presence… I certainly did. In his second round of interviews he proudly relayed that half the time was spent with him asking the questions!! Color me impressed indeed, but I was not surprised. He researched the company diligently and went in with insightful rather than stock questions we had prepared for the interviewer. He clearly demonstrated a depth of interest and understanding that I believed would set him apart from other candidates. Bravo Joe!!

As I imagine you have concluded, Joe was hired!! He is now proudly entering the workforce with a substantial and confident skip in his step. I could not be any prouder of him than I would be if he were my own child! He laughed when I told him this and it makes me smile when I think of it. Yes, I am passionate about the cause and my clients know it. It is what makes me great at what I do. That is not arrogance, just confidence.

Join us in Leader Corps to experience the same success and achieve a confident spring in your step, just like Joe, to thrive in the next phase of life! #adulting


If you would like further support on this or any other issue, click here to contact 6th Power for a free consultation to see if 6th Power can help you achieve your maximum potential.


About the Author – Kristin Danganan

Kristin is the Founder and CEO of 6th Power™, a business that focuses on helping individuals and organizations maximize their potential through personal coaching, motivational speaking, and group training events. The goal is to first unlock the individual’s potential and happiness which in turn unlocks the value for the benefiting company and community. Kristin draws on her prior success as a global strategic sales and capability leader at PepsiCo, her CLI™ Executive Power Coach training, and her multiple keynote experiences inspiring others to clear their mental clutter and maximize their potential. Kristin is a +20-year veteran of PepsiCo as a strategic executive, a mom of two active children (Kendall 21 and Mikey 17), and is an adventure enthusiast that in her free time can either be caught jumping out of an airplane, catching waves on her 8’ Walden, or traveling the globe to explore any new country or culture that inspires her. She currently resides in Orlando, Florida with her husband Mike and soon-to-be college student Mikey.

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