One of the biggest keys to surviving a professional job interview is preparing responses in advance. This does not mean memorizing a paragraph response. Instead, you should focus on key points that you want to hit as you reply to the question. You can never really predict every question you will be asked, but you have plenty of content from your past work experience to draw upon. However, it can be a challenge to keep all this information organized.
Job interview mind mapping is a great technique that uses a visual web to help you keep your thoughts and anecdotes straight. The tool is meant for coping with massive amounts of related information. The maps are constructed around a word or core concept. From here, you form braches between other major words or themes. By focusing on key words and concepts, it is easier for you to organize your knowledge in a helpful and logical way. This method is also referred to as concept mapping.
The map can be as simple or complex as you need it to me. The method can include all types of information for your introduction to your most poignant anecdotes. When you think of the visual shape, imagine the concept maps you encountered in school. Envision a central square with flow chart like boxes extending from it. Your job interview mind mapping can include multiple sections, as you need them.
SAR, Hard and Soft Skills
First off, what is SAR? SAR is a questions response format used with job interview mind mapping. The acronym stands for situation, action and results. Essentially, you arrange your anecdote so that it has all three components. Initially, you set up what happened in the story, which is the situational aspect. Next, you talk about the actions you took to achieve the results. The three steps help you stay on track as you relate your anecdotes in a professional way.
What are hard skills? These are your areas of expertise that qualify you for the position. They are often easy to measure in terms of profits and other tangible benefits. These technical skills can be anything that is needed to get the job done. For instance, accounting knowledge, coding talents or marketing abilities are hard skills. To get an idea of what hard skills you may be asked about, consult the original job posting or description. For each of your major hard skills have a SAR based anecdote.
Soft skills are much harder to measure, but they are no less important. They include skills like communication, leadership, critical thinking, and customer service. Just like with hard skills, consult the job posting and any other information you may have to figure out which of your abilities is most relevant. For these, it is also prudent to develop SAR structured anecdotes to prove what you are capable off.
Utilizing the Job Interview Mind Mapping Tool
To effectively use the job interview mind mapping tool, you have to be able to see the breakdown of concepts in your mind. For instance, say you want to speak about how you are a persuasive sales person. Your skill is your sales ability so imagine a small box with the words “sales ability” to signify your main concept. Your situation from your last job was that you had to sell a certain amount of furniture to make your commission. Imagine this idea written on a branch connected to the main concept’s bubble.
Next, your action would probably be something along the lines of engaging your customer about a piece of furniture. This thought should be written on its own branch under the situation and linked to the main concept. You communicated the positives of the piece and reassured him or her that the couch would fit in his or her living room, without having to sacrifice comfort or design. The result was the customer buying the couch along with the full living room set. This outcome should be on its own branch much like the other two elements.
With job interview mind mapping, you can organize your thoughts quickly and effectively using a visual aid. This will help you prepare flexible answers that can be tailored to the specific questions you encounter. Overall, this method should help you answer unexpected questions well.