So, you landed the interview and you’ve got the basics covered:
• Streamlined, visually appealing, punchy resume
• Research about the company history and culture
• LinkedIn profile of your interviewer
• Appropriate interview clothing
Now what? Well, we're here to help!
Before the interview, we know it's common to have some nervousness and anticipation. It can be a little awkward and unnatural to walk into a meeting knowing that the entire conversation will be focused on you. And it can be uncomfortable for some people to subject themselves to this kind of targeted scrutiny.
But don't worry! These tips can help you stand out from the crowd and show your true colors:
Preparing for the Interview
The best way to settle your butterflies is to change your perspective!
Remember that 50 percent of the interview is made up of the interviewer trying to determine whether you’re the best person to join the company and fill this role. But the other 50 percent should be you trying to determine whether the company culture and the role itself are the best fit and opportunity for your personality and skill set to both contribute and challenge yourself to grow professionally and personally!
You cannot affect the mindset of your interviewer or their perspective, and you can't control the agenda they bring to the conversation.
But you can control yourself! You are the only one who knows your own needs and motives and what you bring to the table. You are the one best suited to present an honest representation of your personality and your interests and your skills.
Conventional wisdom is to project confidence. Real wisdom is to project authenticity. And you can’t fake authenticity. So, if you want to project both confidence and authenticity, you need to BE confident and authentic!
RevLocal recruiter, Rich Harrison, suggests there are three primary traits (found in Patrick Lencioni's book The Ideal Team Player) that he is looking for when interviewing candidates:
1. Are you humble?
2. Are you hungry?
3. Are you smart?
There is a subtle difference between confidence and arrogance. In general, confidence emanates and arrogance is broadcast. Confidence is quiet, self-assured and aware of its own weaknesses while arrogance is usually loud, secretly insecure and critical of others while being unable to admit mistakes.
If a candidate is confident and humble in their self-presentation, the recruiter recognizes the underlying message that this person is capable, coachable and willing to learn.
Ambition is defined as an earnest desire for some type of achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment. One way to impress your interviewer is to know what the job entails, what your plans are to meet their needs and how you foresee being able to add value they aren’t expecting.
Interviewers will appreciate your creativity and eagerness to move the goalposts further down the field as long as you are realistic and your approach to success is well-thought-out!
Being hungry is not the same as being desperate. “Hungry” describes ambition that’s rooted in integrity. It implies hard work, diligence and dedication.
You’d advise any person attempting to achieve a goal to be hungry. On the other hand, “desperate” implies a blind ambition where your goals are suspect, and you’re more than willing to make questionable decisions to achieve them.
No matter how prepared you are for the interview, human interaction is dynamic, and conversations switch directions in a split second and take on a life of their own.
This may interrupt the monologue in which you had planned to display your blindingly brilliant “self commercial.” But it presents an even bigger opportunity to show, rather than tell, how flexible and agile you are!
If you are only trying to hit all the bullet points in your internal pre-interview outline, you will miss the magic that can happen in an instant when you can clearly display the skills you intended to tell them you possess.
If you are truly listening to the interviewer, you will be able to identify things that interest them and find the window you need to share an example from your experience that illustrates the very character they are trying to discover in you!
It is critically important that you keep in mind that 50 percent of the interview is you trying to determine if this position with this company is the best fit for your needs.
If seeking a paycheck is your only goal, it will be obvious to the interviewer that you are trying to give them the answer you think they want rather than the truth. If you are answering honestly and authentically, it will also be evident and will help you both avoid discovering down the road when the relationship starts to deteriorate that it was a bad fit for both of you only after you’ve wasted weeks or months of their time and yours.
Remember: The goal isn’t to land a job. Instead, the goal should be to find a match between the company’s needs and your needs as a potential employee as well as your skillset, attitude and personality with their company culture and social climate.
Peter Werner Schutz, previous CEO of Porsche, said: “Hire character and train skill.” His point wasn’t that you should hire unskilled workers, but if the fit is right between the person and the position, the skills can be transferred to them through training.
It is vitally important in a job interview for the candidate to be convinced that they are not only bringing the necessary skills or experience with them but that they will provide a complementary work ethic and philosophy to the company.
When you believe that you are a great match for the company and the position, it will reflect in the way you carry yourself and the way you respond to the interview making it easier for the hiring manager to choose you!
The interviewer knows that they will decline more people than they offer. So, as the interviewee, you should enter the conversation with the same willingness to walk away from a poor fit.
If you’re not a good fit with the company, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, a bad interviewee or a bad employee. It just means there may be someone else who is a better fit for that specific role with that specific company and there is a position out there looking for someone exactly like you!
Don’t dwell on the one that wasn’t a good fit. Go find the right one!
Be nervous about your interview! Anticipation will give you a little shot of adrenaline to make you more clearheaded. But be confident and authentic in who you are. Listen to your gut and be honest rather than telling them what you think they want to hear (you’re probably wrong anyway).
And listen closely to what they tell you and what they ask you! A good interviewer will give you plenty of space to show them who you are. Have a goal in mind and a plan to achieve it. Pay attention to who the interviewer is telling you they are both as a company and as a person.
And when the right fit comes along, you’ll know. You’ll both know!