Building Q & A Confidence Part I

Some folks like Q & A better than the prepared presentation because they feel like it is less pressure.  Others feel tremendous anxiety over responding to questions and feel greater comfort in the predictability of the prepared presentation.

Just like a good football team has to excel at both offense and defense, a winning interview team needs to be strong in all phases of the interview.

Recently I was working with a new client who informed me that they rarely practiced for Q & A.  This came as a shock to me but was certainly indicative that they needed my help.  For them, they went into Q & A on a wing and a prayer.  Not the best strategy.

However even teams that do prepare for Q & A can benefit from a more strategic approach.  Confidence in Q & A comes from the 3 Ps: Preparation, Planning and Practice.  I will focus on preparation now and address planning and practice in coming newsletters.

1.  Preparation: You probably keep a list of common questions that team members should be prepared to answer and use them in the interview preparation process.  However, in addition, it is a good idea to:

A)  Create client files with project hot buttons, past panel members and interview questions.  Some folks might want hard copies while others would prefer on-line access.

B)  Come up with company preferred responses.  This should not be done by marketing alone but with committee of key personnel.  Revisit the responses regularly and when changes are made, notify company presenters of the update.    

C)  Presenters should study these year-round, not just a few days before the interview.  The goal is to understand the intent of the company preferred response but resist the temptation to memorize. This way, as you move closer to interviewing for a particular pursuit, you can focus more on practicing project-specific questions.

By doing this, you will develop greater comfort and confidence in the Q & A portion of the interview.  Keep an eye out for coming newsletters which will address Part II-Planning and Part III- Practice.