1. Be a thinker….: show you have a vision, can grasp the big picture, can explain a strategy, that you are able to conceptualize;
2. … And a doer: explain from a strategic approach down to the delivery one; use examples and factual elements (the holy Facts & Figures); it grounds your experience in concrete realizations. Plus, numbers always, always speak for themselves… ;
3. Short is best: being able to sum up your role or experience in 3 min is an impressive quality; it demonstrates an ability to be concise and analytical ;
4. Nothing but the truth: no need to sugarcoat the truth – if you experienced some hardships or drawbacks in your professional experience, talk about it, openly. Life can be complex, everything can be explained as long as you can justify it. It’s not always easy, but honesty pays off as long as you explain clearly and calmly what happened ;
5. Enthusiasm: even if you are not looking actively for a new role (and all the more if you are NOT), vocalize your motivation. It will be too late to show it after the meeting ;
6. Prep school: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Never come to a meeting without knowing the basics like the company’s history, organization chart (LinkedIn is your friend), recent news, competition and market perspectives. And the flip side to this is obviously, ASK QUESTIONS.
7. Oversell: the risk of overly voicing your motivation is to seem like you are “self-marketing” too much – it’s never good to be too eager to “check all the boxes”. On the contrary, explain your strengths AND your potential gaps / areas of improvements – it shows you can be self-critical. But eventually, the best strategy is to just be yourself ;
8. Naysayer: avoid being critical of your past employers. It does not send the right message to the potential future employer, plus can show a lack of self-analysis. There’s always 2 sides to a story… ;
9. Show me the money: you can (or even should) discuss your expectations; however make sure to demonstrate a key interest in 1) the position (that’s the priority), 2) the company or industry and 3) the people you will work with. Though money is absolutely key, if it is your #1 driver to go to an interview, you might as well not go… ;
10. Zero references: as you get more experienced, confidential reference checking will become a routine step in any recruitment process. Refusing to give references without justification is never the way to go: it makes you look like you have something to hide. And always prefer ex-managers to former colleagues as their opinions are the ones that matter most to your future employer.