As interpreters, we strive to tell the story of a particular subject or topic that we generally find intriguing or entertaining. While we find it easy to do this with almost every bird, tree, or historical landmark we may come across, it is often much harder to tell our own story. Interviewing is truly just that: telling your story in a way that strikes a chord with you audience. In the case of an interview however, your audience is a potential employer.
What theme do you want your interviewer to take away from the interview? To answer this question, an interpreter should look back at the original job description and determine the theme. Is the organization looking for a programmer who is well organized and can tackle multiple projects with ease? Are they looking for someone with lots of creative energy to revitalize an existing program or facility? Or is the organization looking for someone who has a knack for working with a variety of audiences including at-risk youth? No matter what theme the job description focuses on, determine how you can blend it with your own capabilities.
To get your theme across, use positive examples from previous jobs. If the theme is being well organized and multi-tasking, generate three or four specific examples of projects you have developed, challenges you have tackled, and even new procedures you may have implemented. If you want to show off your creative theme, bring concrete examples (such as program write-ups, displays, pictures, etc) and give specific details about the processes you went through in order to develop them. If your theme is working with a variety of audiences, bring examples (AND PICTURES!) of how you have accomplished this.
Of course there are all of the other factors that go into an interview beyond your theme. Making eye contact and greeting the panel with a firm, confident handshake goes a long way. Also, no one can underestimate the importance of a finely groomed appearance complete with clean, pressed attire suitable for the position. But most importantly, remember the people interviewing you have been through and probably will go through many candidates before making a final decision. Just like when we walk a trail with a group of inquisitive hikers, we are not looking to have them remember every detail about us. We just want to strike a chord and get them to remember our theme.