If you’ve ever had a job interview, you know now incredibly nerve wracking it can be. Suddenly you are sitting there, feeling completely under the microscope, as the interviewer looks over your resume with a passive look on his or her face. You have no idea what he or she is thinking, but you can’t help but wonder.
The good news is that interviewing is a skill, and like any other skill you can improve with practice. Of course, some people are fortunate enough not to have to go on many interviews, but many others have to go through several to land an even mediocre job.
So what is the secret? A mixture of self-confidence and criteria.
You need to be confident enough to give an honest assessment of your skills and how you can help the company’s bottom line. You do yourself no service whatsoever by being shy or reserved. If you have skills you need to make sure the interviewer knows about them, and believes you. If you don’t have skills, don’t say you do, otherwise you might find yourself in a difficult situation.
I was once in an interview for a technical position that was over my head. The interviewer asked me a question that required a specific knowledge of statistics to answer correctly. He asked the question, and without hesitation, I confidently said “fifteen.”
He paused, looked at me and asked: “Is that based on your knowledge and experience, or did you just make that up?”
You’d be surprised how many people go into an interview with a “please hire me I’ll do anything for you” mentality. Employers don’t like this. They are in business to make money, and they need skills, not somebody looking for an opportunity.
That is where criteria come in. This is an almost magical technique that you can apply in areas much wider than job seeking. And the less technical the position, and the more “people skill” oriented it is, the easier you can leverage criteria, even if you don’t have any particular experience in the field.
Here’s how it works. Once you establish some rapport in the interview, and you get past the “tell me about yourself” part. You’ll likely come to a part where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Most people ask things like “when are the holidays,” or “what are the health benefits,” or “do you have dental,” or other things.
What most people don’t realize is that this part of the interview is a near perfect opportunity to leverage the employers criteria to almost guarantee you the position.
When it’s your turn to ask questions, as the employer to describe exactly what they are looking for in an employee. Make sure to really listen, and pay attention to words and phrases that he or she puts extra emphasis on. Especially vague phrases like “people skills,” or “dedication,” or “focused on the final product.”
Then simply ask follow up questions about those particular words or phrases that they “lean on,” so to speak. The more they talk about their ideal employ, with you sitting there in front of them, they will start to subconsciously imagine you as the ideal employee. Especially when almost every other prospective employee is asking what’s in it for them.
The longer you can draw out that part of the conversation, the better. And any time you feel an opportunity to work in a person story or anecdote about yourself, try and use some of those phrases mentioned above. It will go along way to putting you at the to of the list.