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News: Preparing For A Job Interview

Preparing for a job interview


Preparing for a job interview is relatively straight forward. You do some research on the company and you prepare yourself to answer the most likely interview questions.

But this is what most job candidates don't do: They don't put themselves in the interviewer's shoes. After all, great salespeople don't blindly sell a product; they address the customer's needs.

So when you walk into the room for a job interview, what is the interviewer most likely to be thinking?

People want to work with people they like, and who like them in return.

So, interviewers want you to smile. They want you to make eye contact, sit forward in your chair, and be enthusiastic. The employer-employee relationship truly is a relationship and that relationship starts with the interview (if not before).

A candidate who makes a great first impression and sparks a real connection instantly becomes a big fish in a very small shortlist pond.

You may have solid qualifications, but if the interviewer doesn't think they will enjoy working with you, they probably are not going to hire you.

Interviewers want to determine whether you're a good fit for the job, but just as important, they need you to make sure the job is a good fit for you.

So they want you to ask lots of questions: what you're expected to accomplish in the first weeks, what attributes make the company's top performers so outstanding, what you can do to truly drive results, how you will be evaluated all the things that matter to you and to the business.

You know what makes work meaningful and enjoyable to you. Interviewers don't. There's no other way to really know whether you want the job unless you ask questions.

Help the interviewer find out if you're the right person for the job, and whether the tasks, responsibilities, duties, etc., are right for you.

A sad truth of interviewing is that after many interviews, I often didn't recall, unless I referred to my notes, a significant amount about some of the candidates.  The more people I interviewed for a job, and the more spread out those interviews happened to be, the more likely I was to remember a candidate by impressions rather than by a long list of facts.

So when I met with staff to discuss potential candidates, I might have initially referred to someone as "the guy with the briefcase" or "the person who does triathlons".  In short, interviewers may have remembered you by a "hook" whether flattering or unflattering so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be your clothing or an outside interest or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career.

Better yet, your hook could be the project you pulled off in half the expected time, or the huge sale you made.

Instead of letting interviewers choose, give them one or two notable ways to remember you.

There's no way interviewers can remember everything you say. But they will remember sound bites, especially negative ones.

Some candidates complain, without prompting, about their current employer, their co-workers, their customers.

So if, for example, you hate being micromanaged, instead say you're eager to earn more responsibility and authority. The interviewer knows there are reasons you want a new job, but they want to hear why you want this job, instead of why you're desperate to escape your old job.

And, keep in mind, good interviewers are well aware an interview is like a first date. They know they're getting the best possible version of you. So if you whine and complain and grumble now, they'll assume you'll be a total drag to be around in a few months.

You're expected to do a little research about the company. That's not impressive; that's a given.

To really impress the interviewer, tell how you will hit the ground running and contribute right away the bigger the impact, the better. If you bring a specific skill, show how that skill can be put to immediate use.

Remember how the company sees things: It has to pay you beginning with your first day, so it would love to see an immediate return.

By the end of the interview, you should have a good sense of whether you want the job. If you need more information, say so. Work to determine how you will get the information you need to make a decision.

If you don't need more information, and you know you want the job, do what great salespeople do and ask for the job. Every interviewer I know likes when candidates like the job as long as you explain why you want the job.

So explain why. Maybe you thrive in an unsupervised role, or you love working with multiple teams, or you like frequent travel. Ask for the job and prove, objectively, that the job is a great fit for you.

Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up note. If nothing else, saying you enjoyed meeting and are happy to answer any other questions is a polite gesture.

But "polite" may not separate you from the pack.

What interviewers really like is when you follow up using something you discussed. Maybe you talked about data collection techniques, so you send information about a set of tools you strongly recommend. Maybe you talked about quality, so you send a process checklist you developed that could be adapted for use in the interviewer's company.

The more closely you listen during the interview, the easier it is to think of how to follow up in a natural and unforced way.

Remember, you're hoping the interview is the start of a relationship and even the most professional of relationships are based on genuine interactions.


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