Your glowing résumé and the recommendation from your former co-worker may be enough to land you an interview — but they won’t land you the job…. this is where your interview skills come into play Your résumé is designed to sell yourself on paper to land the interview, now it is your turn to sell yourself in person to land the job. What does that really mean though, to sell yourself?
Over the last 18 years, I have coached hundreds of job seekers for their interviews and one thing is certain, most people don’t have a strategy for the interview. “I’ll just go in and be myself.” “I’ll answer the questions to the best of my ability honestly.” “I just go with the flow.” The next time you have an interview, think of yourself as a used car.
You are sitting in a used car lot along with 15 other used cars (the other applicants the company is interviewing) …each car has the same price attached to it (the cost of recruiting, hiring, training, etc.) The HR Manager comes to that car lot looking to purchase a vehicle. Of course, price matters when it comes to negotiating with a dealer but in this case, the price is the same. How is that HR Manager going to decide which car to take home? Maybe it is the horsepower. Maybe it’s the low mileage. Maybe it’s the color. Maybe it’s the gas mileage. Either way, something about the car that gets selected sticks out in the mind of the HR Manager as a cut above the rest.
During an interview, it is your job to present yourself as a cut above the rest. What about you makes you different? What about you stands out from the crowd? Like with any sales job, you want to highlight the positives and downplay the negatives.
The car salesman would probably go hungry if he started a conversation talking about the negative safety record of particular brand X. While the information may be correct, the salesman’s job is to entice consumers to purchase by discussing the outstanding gas mileage or the extra room in the trunk. Once you excite the customer by showing them the positives, then when you do have to discuss the dreading safety record, the damage is minimal since you already have them interested.
What are your positives? How can you work those positives into the interview? In order to improve your odds to receive a job offer, put more of a focus on your strengths and what you have accomplished and deemphasized where your opportunity areas lie. Much like the car salesman knowing the faulty safety record will come out, you know that your weaknesses will come out during the interview. Do you have a game plan in place to discuss your shortcomings or are you simply “going with the flow”? Find out what you can about the hiring authority through LinkedIn, press releases, current employers, or mutual connections. What makes them tick? Play up to what they find appealing in an applicant and downplay known sore spots.
You can’t expect a football team to win a game without studying their opponent…a job interview is the same thing. Study, learn, go in with your game plan, execute, and celebrate the victory.