Your Professional Brand Pre-During-Post Interview

Personal and professional branding is not limited to how well you behave during an interaction with a peer, colleague or hiring manager. Presentation is a large part of your branding identity as is consistency in your character. I’ve talked with clients who understood professional brand as being on your best behavior during an interview and/or networking event.

Being on your best behavior leans toward performance rather than presentation, whereas presentation comes from preparation of information and character (how you are being in your presentation and conversations regardless of who is in the audience – confident, personable, intelligent, etc.).

Both presentation and character make up a good portion of your professional brand. This article focuses on the distinction between the two and how you can best prepare both before, during and after an interview.

Personal and professional branding is not limited to how well you behave during an interaction with a peer, colleague or hiring manager. Presentation is a large part of your branding identity as is consistency in your character. I’ve talked with clients who understood professional brand as being on your best behavior during an interview and/or networking event.

Being on your best behavior leans toward performance rather than presentation, whereas presentation comes from preparation of information and character (how you are being in your presentation and conversations regardless of who is in the audience – confident, personable, intelligent, etc.).

Both presentation and character make up a good portion of your professional brand. This article focuses on the distinction between the two and how you can best prepare both before, during and after an interview.

Your professional brand is an important element to impressing potential employers. Your presentation and character, being important contributors to your brand, can easily be prepared and practiced before interviewing. Let’s take a look at Presentation: Presentation establishes a tone that you convey about who you are and what you have to offer. How you sound on the phone (professional, humble and knowledgeable), how you come across in person (confident, personable and intelligent), how you communicate (grammar, spelling, etiquette and tone either written or oral) and how you follow up (as an authentic and realistic leader), all of these are in the realm of presentation. For example, Career Realism Career Expert and Career Coach, Debra Wheatman’s posting on body language is a good example of awareness of presentation through body structure.

Let’s take a look at Character: Character is the reference to the qualities or peculiarities of a person and his or her personality. Your character also presents a tone about who you are and what you have to offer. How you sound on the phone (professional, humble and knowledgeable), how you come across in person (confident, personable and intelligent), how you communicate (grammar, spelling, etiquette, tone either written or oral) and how you follow up (as an authentic and realistic leader). Sound familiar? Career Rocketeer contributor, author and Business and Career Coach, Carol Tuttle’s posting on interview tips is a good example of practicing character through presentation before an interview.

How your personality comes across to another is an example of how you are presenting your character. Obviously Presentation and Character are closely related, but the two live inside distinctive contexts when it comes to the preparation before, the action of and the follow up after an interview.

Let’s take a closer look using this checklist below:

A. Pre-Interview Preparation

1. Presentation

a. Prepare an outstanding resume and cover letter to either email or mail to a potential employer.
b. Follow the directions in the job posting on how to apply for the position
c. If called for an interview, research the company, the people with whom you will be interviewing with and the person the position reports to (if known)
d. From this research create a list of questions to ask during the interview
e. Call your references to ensure they are still willing and available to be your references.
f. Ensure whatever fashion attire you will be wearing is cleaned, pressed and/or ready to go.
g. Practice your campaign pitch – who are you, what will you bring to the table, and why you’re the best candidate. Write these things down as bullet points and be able to verbally present them at anytime by memory.

2. Character

a. You can say without hesitation and with authentic enthusiasm and confidence
who you are, what you bring to the table and why you’re the best candidate.
b. Know the style of your presentation – the audible level of your voice, body language, handshake firmness, comfort with eye-contact; anything that conveys the confidence of your character through your presentation.
c. Know your strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement in a way that is humble, acknowledged and interesting.

B. During Interview Actions

1. Presentation

a. Know location of interview and have directions ready.
b. Arrive less than 10 minutes before interview.
c. Know the phone number of the person with who will be interviewing and if you’re going to be late, let them know at least 20-minutes in advance.
d. Address receptionist, admin, anyone and everyone associated with the company with utmost respect.
e. Shake hands with everyone you meet, with firm and friendly eye contact.
f. Introduce yourself with confidence and repeat the name of the person you met.
g. Ask your questions with genuine interest and inquiry. Listen to the answers and ask more questions.
h. Ask the interviewer where they think your status is from the conversation. Listen, do not counter or negotiate anything at this time.
i. Ask them what the next steps are in the interviewing process.
j. Ask when would be an appropriate time for you to contact him or her to follow up.

2. Character

a. Be polite, friendly, humble and confident. (Avoid being falsely charming and arrogant)
b. Answer the questions with confidence, humility and intelligence. Use humor appropriately.
c. Carry your brand all the way through the experience.
d. Know that you are great regardless of whether or not you are a perfect fit for the position or if the company is or is not a perfect fit for you.

C. Post Interview Actions

1. Presentation

a.Follow up with an emailed thank you letter the DAY OF the interview.
b. Do not request to be linked in or connected via social media with anyone from the interview, unless you were specifically invited or requested to do so. (Wait until the interview process is over before establishing social media connections.)
c. In you thank you letter thank them for their time, revisit a point of interest discussed during the interview or provide an answer or connection to information per the conversation.
d. Do not say you think you are a perfect fit for the job. Do say that you think the company is a good fit for your skills, experience and how what you bring to the table is a good mix of what the company offers and the direction it wants to grow.
e. When following up at the appropriately defined time after the interview (see bullet B.1.J above
), do so with confidence while at the same time being humble.

2. Character

a. Be authentic in your communications, avoid brown-nosing or angling for feedback.
b. Be confident yet humble in your communications be they verbal or written.
c. Be consistent with your brand all the way through the experience and afterwards.

Practice in the mirror with friends and family. Don’t practice to perform your brand, practice to present your character and by authentically being your brand.

When you receive notice of next steps (could be a TBNT letter or an invitation for more interviews), be gracious in accepting the notice. It you receive a TBNT letter, acknowledge that you received it and ask if the person you interviewed with could provide you feedback that would benefit you for future interviews. If the person from which you requested this feedback provides it, graciously thank them for their time – avoid defending yourself.

If you receive an invitation for the next steps in interviewing, acknowledge that you received the invitation and provide clear dates and times that you are available. Again, regardless of the notice of next steps, ALWAYS follow through with your brand graciously and professionally. These actions will go a long way in getting you remembered as someone with admirable character and engaging presentation.

Please share your branding experience while interviewing – what were your successes and where did your techniques or actions fall flat? Let’s share what we are learning out in the interviewing field so that we can hone our brand, character and presentation. Thank you for your contribution!


Author:

Kris Parfitt is the head coach for Career Leadership Coaching, a coaching firm focusing on blowing up your roadblocks to success and guiding you in creating a fulfilling future to live into. Interested in developing your leadership and professional brand? Career Leadership Coaching offers programs that focus specifically on that topic. Check out CareerLeadershipCoaching.com for more details. Contact Kris Parfitt for a free 20-minute consultation session.

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