You’re for sale:
You’ve landed an awesome job interview. Congratulations! Its time to prepare yourself for the sale. Wait, you don’t know what you have to sell?
Believe it or not, an interview is a platform for you to sell three aspects of yourself.
- You’re a Product: Your attitude and adaptability are what you offer.
- You’re a Service: Your transferable and academic skills are the services you can provide.
- You’re story: Your journey and the milestones that brought you to this day and place.
Studies show that by 2020, there will be 6 generations working together in the work force. And almost every day we keep reading news about how some Millennials are being hired for their skill sets but being fired for their behavior and attitude. Here are some killer moves to make a first last-longing impression.
Preparing for the interview:
Self assessment: Take an in depth look at the description of the job you’ve applied for. Now, take a stock of all the skills you’re good at. And reflect on skills that you might have a learning curve with.
Think like a manager: Why should the guy who’s interviewing you hire you? What will he like in the one person he’ll end up hiring? For example, anticipate questions on why you took an MBA route or an Economics major route but ended up applying for this sales job. Think what would be reasonable and realistic answers.
Understand soft skills: Collaboration and team work, effective communication, a can-do attitude and timeliness are the most important transferable skills that employers are looking for in potential hires. For leadership roles, they want people who’ve demonstrated empathy, problem solving and the ability to motivate and persuade teams. These skills far outweigh the academic skills that we’re always eager to fill out our resumes with.
Practice your hustle: In this age of short attention spans, don’t expect everyone to read your resume in its entirety before agreeing to interview you. If you can’t describe what you are in one line, chances are people will get bored and distracted. My one liner is: “I’m working towards a strong common future for everyone by empowering myself and others with information. Will you join me?” It was called a cover letter back in the day. Its also known as an elevator pitch. Its what you would say if you know you’ve only 2 minutes of the other person’s time. Will you start telling them your life’s story from when you were 4 years old? I hope not.
Get serious: Without researching the role you’ve applied for, the company and the industry you plan to work, most of your answers related to skill and your interest in the opportunity will fall flat. Be prepared with answers for why you’re applying and trying to join the team.
Prepare your answers: Anticipate questions about your methods. Here’s one: Describe a situation where you had to overcome obstacles to achieve a goal. Answer this by giving a problem you or your team had faced, an action or actions you took and the result that followed. Here’s another: Why did you leave your previous job? Answer this by giving a truthful reason. Do not complain or use harsh words against your previous employer.
Set intention: Many of us never set an intention to do better, feel better and live better on a daily basis. When you set an intention that you plan to win over the interviewers, you rule out all other possible outcomes in your head. And you work towards that positive end result.
On the day of the interview:
Seize the morning: A morning of great importance starts with a well rested mind and body. So, the night before the interview don’t skimp on your sleep.
Dress professionally: Cover your tattoos. No one needs to see your personal allegiances.
Set the tone: Switch off your cell phone as you wait your turn. Duh. Sit with shoulders square and head high.
Think remarkable: Get ready to show how remarkable you are. Shake hands firmly while maintaining the softness in your eyes. When you meet the other person’s eyes, you both are ready to build a trustworthy rapport.
During the interview:
Sell yourself: You’ve created your resume, submitted your application, and you’ve got the call for an interview. But, if you’ve assumed that the resume will do the job of selling you, you’ve made a mistake. Employers look for candidates who can voice what they’re capable of. They want to see your attitude because its an essential life skill. Also, no one keeps track of our own achievements and downfalls like how we do.
Humanity first: You’re here to sell yourself – your product, your services and your story. Tell the story of how your personal growth factor has been and how you’ve been trying to find yourself in the process. When you humanize your story, people can make connections to their own personal narrative. Don’t make the mistake of sounding like a perfect fit to the job at stake. Share upto a certain point and not too many personal, unnecessary details. Things like these are an absolute no no. “My father is a heavy drinker. My mother is a hoarder.”
Summary next: Remember that hustle you perfected yesterday? Now give a quick summary of what you’ve done and where you plan to go next. Adding why you’re interested in this role, company and offer along with your education, experience, skills – transferable and aptitude are topics you’ll have to touch upon. If you plan to say, “I’m organized” or “I’m great with attention to detail”, be prepared to back those statements up with examples later on.
Stop the inner monologue: “Do I have all the relevant skills and experience that they are looking for? Will I fit in? Are they liking me as I speak? Should I have said something else?” When you start thinking like this, just stop. What we feel about ourselves, we project it outward. Stay upbeat, stay confident.
Smile genuinely: Whether its a face to face, a one on one interview or a panel interview with 6 people on the other side of the table, smile genuinely and smile often. Listening is one of the most highly evolved sense and a smile in the voice carries a great listening experience for the person on the other end of a phone interview. For you personally, a smile will naturally help boosts your confidence.
Body language: Gently correct your body language as often as you can remember. Keep your arms in plain sight. Control your impulse to scratch or fidget. Maintain eye contact and show genuine warmth.
Be consistent: Tell the same story everywhere. On online job boards like Monster, Dice or Indeed.com and offline. Don’t say you graduated in 2014, only for the employer to later find out on Facebook that you were still partying in dorm rooms in 2016. Everyone knows how to Google your name. Duh.
Stay relevant: Stay on course so you don’t go off on a tangent about a duck hunting trip back in 8th grade where you won the biggest bounty – Unless of course you’re interviewing for Duck Dynasty. Don’t focus too much on your personal story and miss out on a great opportunity to explain how you can contribute to the company. Avoid any or all details about your previous company or your old boss.
Towards the end of the interview:
Ask questions: A good hiring manager will always want to hear why the applicant is seeking a job with their company. So, ask any or all of these questions:
- How the hiring manager expects the new hire to be of value to the team.
- What the next steps in the hiring process typically are.
- What do the people who work for the company like about it.
- What is the current business strategy and the direction the company is headed towards.
Be grateful: Thank your potential employer for the opportunity to be interviewed. Be grateful, yet confident. Don’t show desperation, even if you’re in dire need of a job.
After the interview:
Follow up: Email the recruiter if you haven’t heard anything in 2 weeks. Connect with the hiring manager on Linked In. There’s nothing wrong with that, worst case, he or she won’t accept your offer to connect.
Don’t burn bridges: Networking among peer groups and working through referrals is the single best way to land a job. Stay in touch with old colleagues and reach out to them when you’re on the job market. Ask for referrals and testimonials on your profile to keep your professional profile up to date.
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