You’re currently reading Chapter 4 of The Ultimate Guide to Video Interviews
Video interviews are unpredictable. You never really know what questions they are going to ask. Are they going to start off with an open-ended question, like “Tell Me About Yourself?” A behavioral question, like, “Tell me about a time when you demonstrated integrity? Or perhaps a direct question from your specific industry, like, “How would you write a program to solve this algorithm?”
Those three types of questions, open-ended, behavioral, and direct, are the meat of most video interviews. And there are hundreds of thousands of different questions that can come from them.
So how do you strategically prepare for and answer the hundreds of different questions they could possibly ask you?
I like to think about interviews like a sailboat in the open ocean. And the people who don’t come prepared, they’re just going to blow in the wind. And they’re going to blow right into an iceberg like the Titanic did and sink while the interviewer starts thinking about what to eat for lunch that day.
On the other hand, the professionals, those that have prepared, they’re the ones who know how to use the wind to sail. They’re the ones who steer the ship, that guide the interview where they want it to go no matter which question they get. They’re the ones who finish one-way video interviews without a sweat.
So how do you prepare for the hundreds of different questions they could possibly ask you?
There are several ways. But one of the most important ways to prepare is by knowing your Must Mentions.
If the first question you got in your video interview was, “Why should we hire you?” would you know what to say?
Don’t worry, I’m going to teach you how to answer that question right now.
You need to determine what are the MOST important 3-4 things that they need to hear before the interview is over?” The top 3-4 reasons why you are a good fit for the position. But don’t be confused, your Must Mentions are really all about what you can do for THEM. How you’re going to solve THEIR problems. What benefits you are going to bring THEM.
Your Must Mentions
To know what to talk about you need to prepare before the video interview what I call your “Must Mentions”
A “Must Mention” it’s a desirable quality, skill, experience, or benefit that you will bring to the position. They are what you’re good at and why you think you’ll be a great fit for the position. You have hundreds of them.
But you need to be strategic. You have to determine which are your top 3 to 4. These may be different for each job you apply for. And in every interview, you shall, you must, you absolutely need to tell them your MMs somewhere in the conversation (or in many places).
Ideally you should tell your MMs as soon as possible because you never know how far they are in their agenda of questions to ask you. A good way is in one of the first questions you’re likely to get, “Tell me about yourself.”
You need to make sure that whatever questions they throw at you in the interview, that you try to get out your MMs at some point. Do NOT let them end the interview without you telling them these things. Don’t think you need to wait for the “Why Should We Hire You?” question.
I’ll never forget this one interview I had. The guy was a VP. Very high up in the company. This was probably interview number 5 out of 6. And I remember that he just kept talking about himself. And I’m like, this guy thinks he’s the shit. And I was thinking when are the questions coming, BECAUSE HE WASN’T ASKING ME ANY, and he just kept talking about what he did and what he expects in a candidate.
And at the time, I’m thinking, hey this interview is going great. This is the easiest interview I’ve ever been in. “Ya, just keep talking bro.” But looking back now, I realize how much of a mistake that was. I should have interjected and said something like, “Hey I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself if that’s alright with you.” Wait for the concession, “Sure of course”. Then deliver a prepared response containing my Must Mentions in 60 seconds or less.
He eventually did ask me one or two job specific questions, but that’s it. You have to ask yourself, how are you going to stand out from all the other candidates if this guy just talks about himself with each candidate. He’s not going to remember you any better than the next guy.
Therefore, it’s so important to come prepared to an interview with what you NEED to say.
You know it’s funny to watch politicians sometimes because they do this SO well. Someone will ask them a question and then they answer by first stating another question, then answering that new question OR they redirect the question in some way to what they want to talk about. Just watch them talking to the press. They are professionals at it.
That’s because politicians have prepared well in advance their political position, their message, what they need to say. And no matter what question is asked of them, they will find some way to talk about what they want.
That’s what I’m trying to teach you here.
Now, I’m not saying that you should ask and then answer your own questions in your video interview. That wouldn’t go so well.
Let’s go over how to pick your Must Mentions.
How To Pick Your Must Mentions
I’m going to teach you how to pick your Must Mentions with an example.
I’m going to tell you what my 3 MMs were when preparing to interview for a remote Technical Support job I used to have. Then I’m going to tell you how and why I chose them.
My 3 Must Mentions for a Technical Support Job
- MM #1 – “I can provide technical support under pressure, especially new problems”
- MM #2 – “I can multitask and triage multiple support cases”
- MM #3 – “I have experience with the technology and working relationships with the team”
Now I want to explain why I picked these, but before that, I need to teach you the strategy around how to pick them.
The Strategy Behind Picking Your Must Mentions
You see, there’s a strategy for picking these. It’s not so much what YOU think the top 3 are, it’s what THEY think are the top 3 are, and how can you prove you have those. What problems are they looking to solve with this position? How will your skills and experience benefit THEM? What do THEY care about? And to find this out, you have to find out two things:
1. What are their FEARS with this position?
You need to determine what their fears are. What type of candidate are they fearful of getting for this position, for that company even?
For example, if the company is a startup, they may be fearful of a person who is “dead-weight”.
If the position is in sales, they may be fearful of candidates that don’t have sales experience in that specific market.
If the position is for a Product Manager, they may be fearful that the person isn’t as structured as they’d like.
So ask yourself, what could they be fearing about the person they are looking to hire for the position you’re trying to get? What might they be fearful of from your specific combination of skills and experience?
2. What are their HOPES and DREAMS for this position?
You need to determine what their hopes and dreams are. Meaning, What benefits do they hope this person will bring to the position? What problems do they dream about this person solving in the position?
For example, if the company is a startup, they may hope that the person can wear multiple hats so that they can save money on human resources.
If the position is in sales, they may dream that the person brings over their clients or industry relationships.
If the position is for a Product Manager, they may dream about breaking into the Financial Market, which has been difficult for them to do.
So ask yourself, what specific things could they be hoping and dreaming the ideal candidate can do in the position?
What are their Fears. What are their Hopes and Dreams. Two questions called the “questions behind the questions”. Meaning, they might ask you any one of the hundreds of thousands of questions possible, but these are the questions they really want you to answer. And if you get these right, you are miles ahead of the competition.
You can wrap those answers into your Must Mentions and sell them exactly the candidate they want. But finding the right answers to these two questions is difficult. You can’t just guess, and you will never get them from the job description alone.
So how DO YOU find the answers to the questions behind the questions? How do you find the actual words they use?
There are several ways. Some better than others. And I’ve sorted them out for you below in order of worst to best.
Just like in college, it was very difficult to always get the right answer. You might have had to put in hours more study time than others, but that’s what it took to get an A+. Same thing here. It’s very difficult to get these right. You can Guess by the Job Description, which anyone can do, but you’re probably going to get it wrong. Or you can network your way to talking with people at that company, the hiring manger even, to get precisely the right answers.
How to Find their FEARS, HOPES, and DREAMS?
- D = Guess by the Job Description
- C = Online Company Research
- B = Talking to other people with that same job title, but at other companies
- A- = Talking to People at that Company
- A = Talking to People in the same team as the position
- A+ = Talking to the hiring manager
Yes. Getting to the hiring manager is the BEST possible thing you could do, but its also the most challenging to do correctly. But that’s why people who do can get jobs before they ever hit the market, without less experience than all other candidates, or even while changing careers.
No, I’m not saying that you HAVE to do any of this, but you need to understand the game being played around you in interviews – what they really want to hear.
Understand this key concept: The more you address their fears and the more you communicate how you will deliver them their hopes and dreams, the greater the chance of getting the job.
Now I can explain the strategy behind the 3 Must Mentions I chose for my remote Technical Support interviews.
How I Chose My 3 Must Mentions for my Technical Support Job
- MM #1: “I can provide technical support under pressure, especially new problems”
Fear = He can’t hold up under pressure. He can’t solve new problems
The key words I used were “under pressure” and “new problems”. “Under pressure” addressed their fear that I may not hold up under pressure. Especially coming from a government job which has the reputation for doing things slower than private businesses, they might have thought I was used to a slower support culture.
Thankfully I talked to people at the company and learned how fast-paced the work culture was. Therefore, I was able to turn that fear around directly through this MM.
The phrase “new problems” was also important. The company wasn’t like a Cable company where Support sees the same problems over and over again and they read off scripts and follow detailed procedures. From talking to people and my research, the company was always on the bleeding edge of technology. They were always using new tech that hadn’t been hardened as it would be two years down the road. That meant new problems came up often. That was important to address.
- MM #2: “I can multitask and triage multiple support cases”
Fear = He can’t handle a large number of support cases
The fear I was addressing in this MM was again the fact that I was coming from a Government funded company and that I may not be able to handle a large number of support cases at once.
The hope and dream here was the ability to have a large case load and still “maximize customer satisfaction” …BUT I failed to say those words!
So If I could go back in time and re-write this MM, it would remove “multitask and triage”, and re-frame it with the hope and dream to make even it more powerful.
I would say “I can handle a large case load and still maximize customer satisfaction.” Do you see the difference?
It’s always more powerful to talk about the benefits you can bring rather than the features you have. The features in this example being, “I can multitask and triage”, and the benefits being, “I can handle a large case load and still maximize customer satisfaction.” I will talk more about what a Features vs. Benefits is next.
- MM #3: “I have experience with the technology and working relationships with the team”
Fear = He doesn’t have experience with our products.
The fear I addressed here was not having experience with the complex technologies I would need to Support and possibly struggling to learn them,
The hope and dream here was a candidate that would fit in with the team and the culture.
The fear here is pretty common for most tech companies. It didn’t take talking with people at the company to know support managers want tech-educated candidates. I had a unique MM that I knew not a lot candidates would have – I had already worked with the products for years as a user and I already had years of positive working relationships with some members of the Support team. So of course I needed to highlight that advantage.
Features vs. Benefits
Now that you’ve heard some examples, I want to talk about the difference between a Feature and a Benefit.
You need to talk about the Benefits you’ll bring, not just the Features you have. Because it’s the benefits that when spoken, really connect with what they want to hear.
A feature would be your skills and abilities, like for example knowledge of project management, Microsoft Word, managing a team. Those are your features.
But you need to take it one step further and tell them how your features will BENEFIT THEM. And that’s where you make the connection to what you can do for the company and why you’re a good fit.
Ultimately, they are trying to determine if you can do the job and you can do it well. So just talking about your features doesn’t fully answer that fundamental question.
For example, my MM #2 I just mentioned “I can multitask and triage multiple support cases” is a feature. And that was a mistake! But I’m wiser now. The benefit was the ability to maximize customer satisfaction. Therefore, I should have said for my MM #2 that “I can handle a large case load and still maximize customer satisfaction.”
Therefore, say your feature, then say how it will benefit them. Pair them together. And yes, some people will make the connection between a feature and a benefit on their own, but don’t assume they will. Let them hear you say it.
It’s so critical that you SAY IT out loud so you can make sure they make that connection to the benefit in their mind.
So say the feature AND say how it will benefit them to make your Must Mentions 10x stronger.
How to Redirect Any Objection They May Have Towards You
Ok, so now you should understand the importance of Must Mentions and how to choose yours. You should also understand the questions behind the questions, and how to address them in your MMs.
But what if your resume shows an obvious risk to an employer that may hurt your chance of getting the job? This could be a lack of education, a low GPA, a gap in employment, or a lack of experience. It’s anything that may be potentially a red flag to the employer.
I previously talked about your Must Mentions being what you’re good at and why you think you’ll be a great fit for the position, but equally and sometimes more important is addressing an elephant in the room in your interviews.
So what do you do?
First of all, know that if you’ve made it to the video interview they think you are qualified enough to want to learn if you are a good fit for the position.
This is the strategy you should use to address any objection or fear they may bring up about your skills or experience.
And it’s simple. The strategy is: Address and Redirect
Now, again, what you’re addressing is going to be different for everyone, whether that’s a lack of a skill, lack of years of experience, low GPA, a gap in employment, switching industries, and on and on. There are hundreds of them.
Whatever it is, you use the same strategy for all. You need to address it, and then you need to Redirect it.
1. Address It
Address it quickly and clearly. Don’t drag it out, because you want to quickly get to the Redirect and spend your time talking about that. You could say something like, “Hey I know I don’t yet have knowledge of X,Y,Z”. “Hey, I know my resume shows a current gap.” Very quick. Very clear.
2. Redirect It
How you Redirect is a little different depending on the objection. Meaning, how you redirect a lack of a skill is going to be slightly different than a gap in employment. So I’m going to give you a few examples so you can get the basics of what to do.
But they all basically boil down to TWO types of redirects.
A) You erase their FEAR of the objection by redirecting to your Must Mentions, your value-adds, and the benefits you will bring.
B) You erase their FEAR of the objection by redirecting to HOW your going to resolve it and backing it up with a past experience where your OVERCAME something similar
4 Examples of the Address and Redirect Strategy
- “I know I don’t know C++ yet, but a few years ago when I needed to learn Java, I read books, I took online courses, and I got help when needed from my coworkers. I was ready to write production code in just 2 month and I know that I can do the same with C++ in this position.”
- “I know my GPA in school could have been better, but since then I’ve consistently added a lot of value in my past roles, for example at my last job, I increased customer conversions by 50% by rewriting sales copy.”
- “I know I have a gap in work history. And that’s because I started to privately consult clients on the side. And what I’ve gained from those experiences is… [redirect to your Must Mentions]”
- “I know that I don’t have any sales experience in the Financial Market, but after only 1 year in the Oil and Gas Market at my current job, I was able to close $10 million in revenue by X, Y, Z. So I’m confident that I can do the same with this position in the Financial Market. In fact, I think I can do better.”
You always redirect back to the value and benefits you’re going to bring to the position – to your Must Mentions. And if you can’t, then you talk about HOW you’re going to acquire that skill or gain that experience based on HOW you gained or accomplished some previous skill or experience in the past.
Now realize that the more research you’ve done, the more “right” your answers to the questions behind the questions are, the more “right” your Must Mentions are, the easier you’re going to be able to redirect those objections, erase those fears, and prove you’re the one. That’s the way to redirect any objection they may bring up about your skills or experience, and steer the ship back to what you need to say.
Continue to Chapter 5: The STARLESS Technique: How to Make Them Trust, Like and Connect With You Over Video
Your Turn. What’s a Must Mention you’ve successfully identified? Share it with us in the comments below!
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