Landing an interview is no small feat. Whether you are interviewing for a job or being vetted for a promotion, here are six tips you should keep in mind:
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Always begin by researching the position, company history, and culture of the organization. Take a look at their website, search for press releases, browse industry chat rooms/LinkedIn groups, and see what their trade/professional associations have to say about them. The job interview can be a nerve wracking experience, so having a solid foundation of knowledge about the target company can be a great way to instill confidence in yourself. It’s also a way of showing the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the role and you are engaged in the field.
Make a Positive First Impression: As soon as you walk in that door you have about two seconds to make a positive first impression! Research has shown people make snap judgments about the trustworthiness, competence, and likeability of candidates within just moments of meeting them. That’s why it’s important to walk in feeling positive and confident. Remember, how you feel will show on your face, so be sure that you are in the right state of mind so as to convey the right first impression. Also, when you walk in be sure to engage by making eye contact, smiling, and giving a firm, but quick handshake.
Speak Their Language: One of the key determining factors of success on the job is fit with the culture. Every business, trade, and industry has their own language. You must be able to speak that language if you want to show you can fit in. Before going to the interview make sure you have a strong command of the slang, jargon, and acronyms frequently used by the company you are interviewing with. This is particularly important for those transitioning into a new industry, as it will help show the interviewer that you can make the shift even though your experience may not be a direct match.
Show Differentiation: Keep in mind you are likely not the only qualified candidate interviewing for the job. If you want to separate yourself from the pack you have to be deliberate about it. Legendary marketing guru Rosser Reeves coined the phrase Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Only you know what your USP is, so be sure and take the time to sketch out what you bring to the table that is over and above the standard candidate. The idea is to demonstrate the particular traits, skills, and intangibles that will add unique value to the mission of the organization.
Know Your Talking Points: Just like every politician, you should be ready with a core set of talking points that can be tailored to answer almost any question. Remember, it’s your interview and the best way to control the interview is to have a clear message that can be delivered in a multitude of ways. You should prepare three to five talking points that illustrate past successes and demonstrate how you approach getting things done. When sketching out your talking points use the SAR method: Situation, Actions, and Results. Each talking point should illustrate the situation or problem you solved so as to establish context, describe the actions you took, and provide evidence of the results of your actions and how the team, customer, and company benefited.
A good way to test your talking points is to ask yourself three questions: Do they establish credibility, demonstrate value, and show differentiation.
Feel Their Pain: Every hiring manager is looking for someone to make their life easier. Your primary goal in the interview is to demonstrate your ability to solve problems. Throughout the interview pay attention to any hints about challenges or pain points the hiring manager may be facing and how you can be the solution. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what is ailing them most. This can be a great opportunity to open the door for deeper discussions about what you bring to the table. Bottom line, your job is to figure out what their pain points are and show them how hiring you can make them go away!