As a job seeker, few things are as discouraging as failing at the final hurdle. After sending in your CV, and getting through the various hurdles, you get called to an interview, but you don’t get the job. More frustrating still, you practically never get a chance to find out where you went wrong in the interview. You don’t get to see the scores or the reasons that the other person got the job and you didn’t. It could be simply that the other person had more experience, or better qualifications, but it could also be because they made a better impact on the interviewers. And while you can’t do anything about another person’s experience or qualifications, there are things you can do to maximize the positive impact you can make at interviews.
See what the interviewer sees – Change your perspective
One useful approach to maximizing your impact is to rethink your approach to the interview. Instead of seeing it as a stress-filled test of you as a person and potential employee, try visualizing it as a sales pitch. You’re being given an opportunity to market yourself to a potential employer, which gives you the opportunity to highlight your skills, your strengths, your experience, and your qualifications.
This gives you a new edge in preparing for interviews. You can now practice how you put these positives across. Having practice interviews with friends or, ideally, professional interview coaches can help you to hone your interview sales pitch, and give you the know-how to change awkward questions into opportunities to highlight your strengths.
Make it about the interviewer – Create a connection
The secret to a good sales pitch is making a connection. Connecting with your interviewer is a great way to make a positive impression. Seeing things from their point of view, they will meet dozens of candidates for the job you want, and in the context of an interview they will spend most of the time talking about themselves. However, asking the interviewer insightful questions about the job you’re interviewing for, or the company’s ethos or mission can give you new avenues to connect your strengths with the interviewers replies. It also conveys the impression of someone who’s actively interested in other people, and will make the interviewer remember the person who made a connection with them.
Answer the questions that are not asked – Don’t be limited by the questions
Interviews are naturally centred on questions – it’s obviously the easiest ways for interviewers to get the information they want about you. But you need to make sure that you don’t feel limited by the questions that you’re asked. This is especially true if there are problem areas in your CV, like current unemployment, or significant gaps in your professional history. Address these issues head on. Be up front about them. Answering these questions before they’re asked coveys the impression of someone with nothing to hide, and who’s willing to be open and honest.
Interviews are stressful, and they can be frustrating, but with some thought and effort, you can make a success of them by making smart, strategic choices about how you approach the interview, and how you conduct yourself.