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The Interview Skills Balance Sheet

This lesson is a part of an audio course Interview Skills by Ross Maynard

The first thing we are going to consider in our interview project is our CV for that final presentation. Except we shouldn't think of it as a CV. This is not the career resume you sent with your application for the job. This is your project preparation sheet, and, because I'm an accountant, I'm going to call it the interview skills balance sheet.

You don't need to know what a balance sheet is to use this tool, it's just a convenient structure which, I think, covers the areas we need for an interview.

Let's have a look!

In the interview skills balance sheet, we have five sections:

  • Fixed Assets.

  • Current Assets.

  • Current Liabilities.

  • Long Term Liabilities.

  • Shareholder funds.

If you know what these mean in accounting terms, then you have a clue to how we are going to use them for our interview project, but if you don't know, it doesn't matter because I am going to tell you now.

Your interview skills fixed assets are your long-established skills and capabilities:

  • Your professional and academic qualifications.

  • Your deeply engrained capabilities – for example, fluency in a language; experience of living in another culture; other skills you feel fluent in; and so on.

  • Your long-term experience – for example, in-depth industry experience; family experience of running a business; and so on.

  • Proven outcomes projects delivered where you can clearly show success.

Why not pause this lesson and list your fixed assets now?

Next, we have your interview skills current assets. Our current assets in the interview skills balance sheet are more recently developed skills and capabilities. These include:

  • Recently developed skills and ongoing CPD.

  • Intermediate level skills that you are still developing.

  • Ongoing projects with early results, or too early for results.

  • You might gain bonus points with the employer by mentioning skills / experience you would like to gain with the employer.

The interview skills current assets are a sign of how seriously you are taking your skills and career development. While your fixed assets are your bedrock of confidence and ability, your current assets are the structure you are currently building on that foundation.

Pause the lesson and list your current assets – your developing skills and capabilities – now.

Third, we have your interview skills current liabilities.

Your current liabilities are your skills gaps. Of course, you may not wish to reveal these – unless specifically asked.

But, you can use skills gaps to your advantage. Consider deploying any gaps you have as a selling point. For example, one of the reasons I am so keen to join this organisation is that I am really interested in developing my skills and experience in this area …

It's probably best not to reveal too many skills gaps as that will weaken your application, but you will likely be faced with a question about any weaknesses you have, so it is a good idea to choose one of your gaps and turn it into a selling point. For example, I feel I am weak in this certain area and, while it does not seem vital to the role, I feel that your organisation would give me an opportunity to improve in that area.

However, to have a skill gap that is central to the role you are applying for is risky, and you might want to reconsider that application!

Pause the lesson now and write down your current liabilities – your skills gaps. Then brainstorm some ways that you can overcome these or at least reduce their impact on your career search.

The long term liabilities in your interview skills balance sheet are your immovable constraints. Now I don't consider these to be liabilities in the real world – they are just part of life – but they would likely limit the roles you apply for and may affect your decision to take a job or not.

Your long term liabilities include:

  • That you do not wish to relocate to develop your career.

  • That you have family / caring responsibilities which may, at times, impact on your attendance, or limit your ability to travel for the organisation.

  • That you are strongly committed to your work-life balance and not willing to work silly hours.

  • That you have other personal constraints that may, from time to time, impact your working life.

Your long-term liabilities are a tricky area for discussion in a job interview. In the main, my view is that they are none of your employer's business unless they specifically ask you.

If they say they might want you to relocate and you are not willing to, you need to be clear about that there and then. It might rule you out of the job, or they might be so impressed with your skills and experience that they are willing to redesign the role so that it works for you.

Other areas, you might be able to slip into the conversation fairly easy without causing a confrontation. If you have interests outside of work, which means you care strongly about your work-life balance, then sell your outside interests as giving you skills and experience which will really benefit the role.

But at other times, you may need to be upfront about some of your long-term liabilities. If you do have caring responsibilities, then it is best to explain what those responsibilities mean for you, and that they may, occasionally, mean you have to take a day off at short notice or whatever. Stuff happens to all of us from time to time and most employers realise that, and it shouldn't impact on your application.

Pause the lesson now and write down any long-term liabilities you have.

Lastly, we have your shareholders' funds. These are your personal attributes, interests, and social capital. Every interview will ask about your personal interests and activities, so it is good to be prepared to talk positively about the benefits that your personal life brings to you and could bring to your new role.

Your shareholder's funds include:

  • Communication skills; presentation skills; coaching and facilitation skills developed through your hobbies and interests.

  • Published work; presentations at conferences, and so on.

  • Involvement with professional or industry bodies.

  • Hobbies and interests.

  • Social and community involvement.

  • Sporting achievements.

  • Personal challenges you have overcome.

Pause the lesson now and write down your shareholders' funds – your personal attributes.

Interview Skills Balance Sheet Action

Now we have talked through the Interview Skills Balance sheet, take some time to prepare your own interview skills balance sheet. Remember the five sections:

  • Fixed Assets – long-established skills and experience.

  • Current Assets – developing skills and capabilities.

  • Current Liabilities – skills gaps, with a plan to resolve them.

  • Long Term Liabilities – immovable constraints such as unwillingness to relocate, or significant caring responsibilities.

  • Shareholder funds – personal interests and activities.

Thank you for listening to this lesson. In the next lesson, we start preparing for the interview.

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Written by

Ross Maynard