Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Do you ever find yourself rambling on when a question has been posed? Have you ever been in an interview, answering a question
and as you’re talking you realize you have no idea where you’re going? If you’ve had this problem, you are not alone!
Many clients in job seeking mode admit that one of their problems is getting nervous and not staying focused and getting off-topic
during an interview. This can also also happen during a presentation where a question is asked. You start answering and realize you
have no idea where you’re going with your answer. This is sometimes due to nerves and sometimes due to talking before you have
fully thought through your answer.
Here’s a key way to stay focused and on topic, while giving the impression of being a highly organized thinker!
Actually, it’s a TRICK. Here goes:
I call it the old 1-2-3 strategy. And it can work wonders.
Someone asks you a question. Say it’s during and interview and they ask you why you believe you are qualified for the job. Not a tough question
but one that can lead to rambling.
But here’s what you do:
You put up three fingers and you say: There are three key reasons I am well qualified for this position.
And as you formulate your answer the interviewer is now looking at your three fingers and awaiting the answer.
You have set the expectation that you are a structured thinker and you have three decisive answers to provide.
So you say the first one and as you say it you push the three fingers forward for emphasis and take one down. And now you have two fingers
standing and you and your listeners know you are going to give two more points. They are watching, waiting and listening. And you interviewer also knows you have two more points to make as
you have kept those two fingers up, letting everyone know where you are with your answer. You are a very well organized and structured communicator.
So you then say the second reason and lower that second finger. Now you move to the third point and lower the last finger! Nice concise answer. No rambling.
And if you feel you still have more to say you can always add that there are additional qualifications you bring that you’d like to add OR you might want to expound on the
three that you provided. But the point is that the 1-2-3 strategy has done two key things: It has set you up as an organized and structured communicator and it has actually made
you a structured and organized communicator.
Additionally, you can use the three point structure as a way to prepare effective presentations, too. It is a way to focus your preparation and a way for your audience to anticipate your content. Three is a nice number in business communications. And it is a clear, nice physical stance you make with three fingers up.
Yes, the old 1-2-3 with the complementary body language is a winning tool for your career toolbox.
One client actually attributes the end of his full year of failing interviews to the 1-2-3 structure. He was notorious for getting nervous and forgetting what he was talking about and rambling on. He feels that the three fingers up strategy mostly benefitted him as it kept him structured and feeling confident. After he learned and practiced it he got his first job offer!
Yes readers, try the 1-2-3 communication trick and let me know how it goes for you!
Onward to clear, concise and focused communications.