The Truth on How to Win an Interview

In today’s economy and job market, finding the right job can either be extremely easy or quite frustrating.  Believe it or not, companies are hiring, yet their expectations have gone up significantly, requiring more applicants to pass multiple panel of interviews, harder assessments, and of course, be qualified through past experience for their role or even require to have a certain degree for the position.  Long gone are the days where just about anyone can apply for a promotion at a competitor.

So how can you differentiate yourself from the competition and still get your dream career started?

Interviewing is about finding a fit for yourself and your desired new employer. Even though many will claim that an interview is nothing more than selling yourself to your new boss, we highly disagree.  Interviewing is about two individuals coming to a common understanding that the person is fit for the organization and the organization is fit for the person, and it is also about finding the right fit within the organization.

Many individuals will go to an interview without being prepared with just the belief that their first priority is simply to discuss their skillset and to get buy-in from the person in front of them on how their skills can help drive this new company forward.  The interviewee will go on and on discussing their abilities, knowledge, and how valuable they could be to the organization, while boring the interviewer to death making the interview cut short.  This is the same strategy that most will follow and where most will fall into the same bucket as a result.  You will be evaluated on nothing more than skillset and how you will contribute to the day-to-day operations of a business. Unfortunately that strategy is no different than putting two beautiful women next to each other and picking one to marry simply based on their looks.  One may appeal to you more than the other, but ultimately the lack of connection may create issues in the near future leading to a separation, and also the lack of their ability to speak up and claim what they want out the life also allows for a disconnection of building strong bond.

Corporate America is no different, it is highly based upon high-end managers making decisions for their companies, companies that don’t even belong to them, rather only representing the company itself.  Even though you are there to sell yourself to a company, you are ultimately selling yourself to an individual that you certainly did not spend time investigating or trying to know.  The number one mistake many make when going into an interview, is that they have no idea who their interviewers are and yet despite knowing their names do nothing to understand the type of people they will be talking to.

Here are 4 different tips to help you take leaps in front of your competition when taking on an interview:

Be prepared and look your best.

First and foremost, arrive on time and it will even help to your advantage to arrive about 15-30 minutes early.  This will give you a chance to fill out any application or other paper work they may have for you.  Make sure your where appropriate business attire, no matter what position or field you are applying for.  This will be the first impression you will give and certainly gain respect right from the start.  So, leave your jeans and polo shirt or sandals and halter top at home.  As they say, “practice makes perfect”, so it won’t hurt to practice what you will say or what you will ask.  Be calm and relaxed, and don’t sound like a robot or seem like you are reading a teleprompter.  Lastly, take multiple copies of your resume and even a portfolio with writing samples or anything that will help you with references for the interviewer for the position you are applying for.

Research the interviewer, not just the company.

Understanding the company you will work for through online research is great, but it is now something that almost everyone does already.  Instead of just using common terms for example, “I like what your company has done in the past year” or “this is a growing company and I want to be part of the best organization.”  You should also ask questions for example, “what are the daily roles in the position?” and “What is a common challenge that past employees have come accross in?”  Change your approach to the company’s core values and why you believe they are important in their industry.  Furthermore, when the HR coordinator tells you who you will interview with, make sure to write it down and its’ correct spelling, this will certainly help you to prepare in advance and give you a chance to research this individual.  Use your resources at hand like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other online tools to learn as much as you can about this person, as this individual is the decision maker.  Understanding what you both have in common enables you both to create a connection during the interview process and allows the rest of the interview to go smoothly.  Just like a marriage, you must evoke the interviewer’s emotional side to make them believe without doubt that you are that right candidate.  That connection you create on a personal level with common beliefs is what evokes trust and what makes you the better candidate, not just the skill-set but the fact that this person trusts and believes in you from the beginning because you gave a great impression.  Try to create a personal connection early on in the interview and you are bound to stay ahead throughout.

Investigate the role itself by experiencing it.

If you are applying for a retail store or a business that has a retail outlet, make sure to visit it and understand how the experience is, who the other employees are, and what they like or dislike about working there.  Understand who the managers are, what they look for in employees and what their top priorities are.  Act as a client and see if there are any gaps in the execution of the experience, understand where your skillset falls, and if it is a fit for the role you are applying for.  Many people apply for retail roles and yet have to step foot in the store they are applying for.

Understand where your skillset creates innovation, rather than just getting the job done.

By understanding the person interviewing you and the job you are actually applying for by visiting locations or talking to others in the role, you start understanding how your skillset and personality fits in the mix.  Your only role at this point is to make sure all your answers speak to that by incorporating your learning into your answers.  Also, making sure that you ask more questions about the person hiring you and how their leadership enables your belief in innovation is very important and key to being in an environment you seek to be in.

Make sure to approach each interview with the same type of due diligence, confidence, and understanding.  Keep in mind that just because you succeed on your first interview without experiencing other interviews that it is fit for your life.  In most cases, chasing a job not only will bring unlikely results to you actually being hired, but it will also show in your interview.  Instead, chase the opportunity the role brings for your growth and ensure you understand the true benefit for you to work there, as it is ultimately in everyone’s best interest for you to be engaged with what you do for the next five years.

Good luck!

“Be miserable.  Or motivate yourself.  Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” – Wayne Dyer