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The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about creating an elevator pitch.

Preparing for an Interview? Use this Worksheet.

Prepping for an Interview? Use this Worksheet.

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Have you ever walked out of an interview knowing you nailed it? Has the reverse also happened where you agonized over your responses hours, or even days later, wishing you had answered a question differently?

How you prepare for your interview can make or break your important meeting.

I created the worksheet below to accomplish two things: To cement your personal brand, and to help you pull out as much detail as possible on recent roles to answer any interview question with textured, specific, and fulsome answers. The detail you provide in your responses can move your interview from ‘good’ to ‘great’ in the eyes of a hiring manager, and can really help with your poise and confidence during the meeting.

You owe it to yourself to make your next interview as painless as possible. Try this framework out; I’m confident it will make a difference. You are about to really impress a hiring manager!

Step One: Fill out the worksheet 2-3 days prior to your interview. You will prepare detail for your most recent 3 contracts, or last 5 years of work experience – whichever you deem to be the best overview of your experience.

Step Two: Use all the detail you organized to answer sample interview questions using the STAR interview technique (more details below). Remember, most candidates struggle to provide specific examples of their experience during an interview. After taking the time to layout your recent experience in the worksheet, your answers will flow.

Interview Prep Worksheet

PART I: Your Personal Brand/”Tell Me About Yourself”

Here you will perfect your 30-second ‘elevator pitch’ and your brand/value proposition for a client. Every interview, (and every dinner party!) starts with some form of this question. Determine what yours is and you can add it to your header on Linkedin.

  • What I am:
  • What I’m great at:
  • Who I help:
  • What I want:

“I am a career Business Analyst with a passion for helping business teams re-imagine their legacy applications into the cloud. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your project and sharing how I can help.”

PART II: Detailed Experience Worksheet

Complete this for your most recent 3 contracts, or last 5 years of work experience – whichever you deem to be the best overview of your experience.

  • What is the nature of the project that you were working on? (Why was it needed by the business?)
  • Describe your responsibilities/breakdown your day. How much time do you spend on what activities each week(%)?
  • What size team are you working with? (your internal team, vendors, roles, size of user-base)
  • Who were you liaising with (business units? other developers? vendors?)
  • What major challenges did you encounter on the project? What was your role in handling the challenge?
  • What successes (small/large) did you achieve?
  • What tools/technology did you use in your role or were present in the technology environment? (versions?)
  • What was the Result? (specifics around how you made money, saved money, or changed a business process that did both)
  • Lessons learned?

PART III: STAR Interview Technique

Reference your worksheet to provide detailed answers to interview questions using the STAR interview format:

  • Situation:The interviewer wants you to present a recent challenge and situation in which you found yourself.
  • Task:The interviewer will be looking to see what you were trying to achieve from the situation.
  • Action:What did you do? The interviewer will be looking for information on what you did, why you did it and what were the alternatives.
  • Results:What was the outcome of your actions? What did you achieve through your actions and did you meet your objectives. What did you learn from this experience and have you used this learning since?

PART IV: Sample Interview Questions

These are the top 5 most common interview questions for you to practice against.

  1. What is your greatest accomplishment to date and can you relate that to the job you are applying to?
  2. What drives you, personally and professionally? What are you passionate about?
  3. How would you deal with an underperforming team member that you are responsible for?
  4. Tell me of a time when things did not go as planned that you had to deal with a very upset person. What happened? Why? What did you do?
  5. What are you looking for? Describe the ideal job description for you.

Write the Perfect Profile Summary for Your Resume

How to Write the Perfect Profile Summary for Your ResumeIn case you missed the memo, the “Objective” section in your resume is dead. It means very little to anybody evaluating your resume and is quite useless. What’s not dead, and in fact is still very well alive and kicking, is the Professional Profile or Profile Summary.  If you’re an independent contractor and don’t have a Profile Summary in your resume, stop whatever you’re doing right now and start writing one. It may just be the fastest way you can help yourself get more call backs from recruiters.

Successful sales people develop an elevator pitch — a quick blurb about their product they give to clients that grabs attention, opens a door, and allows them to deliver their complete sales pitch. Independent contractors need to follow the same logic. Your product is you and your services. Your client is the recruiter or hiring manager. And your Profile Summary is your elevator pitch. It’s what grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read the rest of your resume. Without that great elevator pitch, a sales person risks losing the opportunity for a future sale and without a great Profile Summary, you risk having your resume overlooked.

Let’s take a closer look at six items you need to consider in your resume’s Profile Summary that will make it exceptional so you stand out among the other job applicants:

  1. Positioning: It should be obvious. The Profile Summary needs to be at the top. First thing, right after your contact information.
  2. Easy-to-Read: You want this to be a quick and easy read. Consider bullet points or a short paragraph with simple sentences. This is not the time to try and impress people with your complex academic writing (unless it really fits the position to which you’re applying).
  3. Tailor it to the Reader: When possible, write a different summary for every application you submit. Know what the reader will be looking for in the application and highlight those points.
  4. The Meat: As noted above, you need to include information that the reader cares about. Give a high-level summary of your experience, education and skills that are relevant to this position. Remember to add quantifiable facts, such as “Managed 15 people ” or “20 years of experience.”
  5. The Fat: You know all of those fancy clichés and unique adjectives? Delete them. All of them.
  6. Your Differentiators: Like every great product, you must have one or two qualities that separate you from your competition. Perhaps you led a very successful and complex project, or maybe you’re and expert in a single skill you know that client is looking for. Know what separates you from the pack and then make sure the reader knows it too.

As noted in #3, ideally you will tailor a Profile Summary for every resume, but you also want a generic one. That base Profile Summary needs to be absolutely flawless. Spend hours working at it, re-reading, and the re-writing. When it’s done, pass it to friends for feedback and continue updating it until you have the perfect elevator pitch about yourself (that’s also 100% fact). Your final summary will be more than just a block in your resume, it can then be used for intros to emails when you send a resume or your LinkedIn profile.

Even Recruiters will appreciate your great Profile Summary. In fact, once you’ve sold them on your abilities, their job is to sell you to clients and, that’s right, your Profile Summary will be their number one tool. Sure, if you write a terrible one they’ll re-write it to something awesome, but it won’t be as great and you will have less control over the content.

Do you have a Profile Summary? Are you proud of it or is it something you’ve just thrown together? If that’s the case, we recommend you have a look at it.

Your Elevator Pitch

Every good sales person has a super elevator pitch about their product that grabs a client’s attention and eventually leads to a sale.  As an independent contractor, you’re also a sales person, and your product is you!  This infographic from the University of Georgia Career Center’s Pinterest board describes the perfect way that you can create your elevator pitch and grab the attention of both recruiters and clients.

Infographic: Your Elevator Pitch