These job interview tips deal with some of the most important issues that applicants need to get right during an interview.
1. Your Job Interview is a Sales Appointment (even if you don’t like that idea)
In the world of job interviews, the people who are good at selling themselves will get the job more often.
You may say, “I’m not a salesperson and I don’t want to be one”.
However, if you want to be successful in a job interview, you will need to learn the basic principles of selling yourself.
So what makes a good salesperson!
Firstly, they understand that the basis of any successful sale is understanding the customer’s needs [in this case, the employers needs].
To get the sale they must understand what the needs (or problems) of the employer are, and how they can help solve those problems.
In other words, in what way can I improve the profitability of this organization, or make it more efficient, or in other ways improve some aspect of the organization.
From an employer’s perspective, if you are unable to do any of these things, why should they employ you?
I’m not saying this to make life difficult for you, simply to help you understand the mindset of the employer.
If you can get inside the mind of your employer and understand exactly what they hope to achieve by taking on another employee, then you will be miles ahead of the other job applicants who will be walking in the door after you.
They are in business, and perhaps this appointment will cost them $80,000 per annum.
Like any other expenditure, they have to be able to justify it to themselves and perhaps to a board of directors.
They will be asking “will this money be well spent“?
Your job is to convince them that not only will it be money well spent, but it will be a fantastic investment.
Secondly, good salespeople know their product or service well [you are the product]. How well do you know yourself in regards to your own natural job skills, and can you match these with the needs of the employer.
If you honestly want to achieve fulfillment and satisfaction in your career, you will need to know your innate skills very well.
And you’ll need to know how these fit with the needs of the employer.
There is no other way to achieve career fulfillment other than using the skills that you are most gifted in and passionate about.
Thirdly, good salespeople are good communicators.
Before they enter the interview, they know what the key needs of the employer are, and they communicate these solutions in a proactive manner and in response to job interview questions asked by the employer.
2. Think Deeply About Whether the Job is Right For You
If during the interview you begin to discover that the job involves skills you aren’t good at or don’t like using, you should probably back out.
Many jobs are advertised as one thing but end up something quite different once you ask a few questions. A girl I know recently accepted a entry level IT role to discover the job was not as advertised and she was actually doing very little specialist IT work . She quit!
If the position you are applying for does not primarily involve skills that you are good at and passionate about, I recommend you don’t take the job (unless you are really desperate)
Here’s Why: If you are changing jobs because you were frustrated in your last job, then all you are doing is setting yourself up for a similar frustrating situation. There needs to be a good match between what you love to do and what the employer is offering.
When I provide career counseling advice to clients, I notice that a lot of applicants struggle to say no to a job where they will not be able to utilize their top skills and therefore will probably not be happy..
The first step of course, is to know very precisely what your natural skills and motivations are when it comes to the world of work.
If you are not 100% sure of what yours are, I recommend you complete the inborn job skills assessment.
Remember that many employers don’t know how to conduct interviews in a way to match their needs with your skills, so you might need to do this. In fact I would encourage you to proactively do this in an interview – that’s part of selling yourself.
3.Know What the Employer Wants?
Other than a good match between your skills and their organizational needs, employers are seeking some very specific personal character traits.
Be Careful What Job You Apply For
There was a man in Britain some years ago whose story appeared in the newspaper.
He couldn’t read or write, so he applied for a job as a janitor.
“You’re very suitable, just sign your name on this application form and the job is yours.”
“I can’t sign my name, I don’t know how to write,” he said
So they refused to give him the job
Having been turned down as a janitor, he started to sell cigars.
He was so successful in his cigar selling venture, that he became a millionaire.
A journalist once interviewed him about his success and said, “isn’t that remarkable,
you can’t even sign your own name and yet you became a millionaire.
Think about what you could have become if you could read and write!”
That’s easy, the man replied,
“I’d be a janitor!”
Research conducted by Cedarville University found that 92% of responding employers ranked honesty and integrity as one of the top two characteristics they sort when employing new personnel.
Notwithstanding what is written above about your best skills, the importance of good old-fashioned character traits like honesty, integrity, loyalty, and humility should never be underestimated.
Other than your ability to do the job, employers desperately want someone who’s going to get along with people and probably add something to the culture of the organization, something most organizations that can improvement in.
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a timeless classic and well worth the read when it comes to learning how to be liked within an organization.
This book has sold millions of copies and been translated into almost every known language.
It is true that to a large extent skills can be taught to new employees, but character traits are much more difficult.
We have seen in recent years with various corporate scandals [Enron, Bernie Madoff, etc.], what happens when issues like honesty and integrity are missing.
One of the attractions to employers in hiring someone through the hidden job market is that they usually come from some type of networked third-party person that the employer knows personally and can get verification on character traits.
In the normal job application process, employers will seek to assess a prospective employee’s character through the application and by answers to the job interview questions, but more importantly through previous employer reference checks.
One of the key questions employers will often ask while conducting a reference check is “Would you employ this person again?”
The answer to that question can be quite telling.
So what does this all mean for you in the interview?
Firstly, be aware that employers are assessing you from a character perspective in everything you say and do.
Secondly, be aware that if you offer referees contact details, it is likely that character traits will be probed.
And obviously be sure that your referees will be people that will speak highly of you.
4. Have Multiple Examples of Past Achievements Ready to Discuss
Employers like to see hard evidence of why you think you would be good for them.
If you have a certain skill or ability to bring to the organization, show them in great detail by providing numerous previous examples of how you have used these skills.
For example, you could say something like this:
“In my previous position, the one thing that I really enjoyed was helping accident victims overcome their often depressed state and assisting them to look forward to the best possible future despite their difficult circumstances.
My personal goal was to do absolutely everything possible to ensure they could see some positives in their life ahead and to take some small and consistent steps of action that would help them on the road to recovery.
Because of this my employer always gave me difficult cases including most of the TBI brain injury clients.”
You will be ahead of many of the other candidates in the job application process if you do this, simply because not many other candidates do it.
One of the big problems employers have when conducting an interview is to determine how accurate the information is being presented to them.
By providing specific, verifiable examples of your previous achievements that are relevant to the position, you give them confidence about your ability to succeed in the role.
5. Know Exactly What You Are Good At
In a couple of sentences, could you tell me what you are really good at?
If you are well prepared to tell an interviewer (very specifically) what you are good at, you will have greater success because of course that’s what employers want most- someone who is exceptionally good at the skills the organization seeks.
Each person applying for the job will have a level of the skills required – your job is to show the interviewer that your skill level in these areas is extreme.
If you don’t know what your good at, you should complete my Dream Career Finder assessment to find out. You can also directly use the results of this DCF assessment in your job interview to demonstrate to the employer what you are innately good at.
6. If You Don’t Have This, Your Interview Will Be a Disaster
There is one overriding influence that will dictate the success or failure of your interview.
If you don’t possess this attribute your chances of a successful interview are almost zero.
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Displaying genuine enthusiasm for the work you would like to do is a critical component of almost every successful job interview.
Enthusiasm is contagious. The person who exudes it will become compellingly attractive to other people, including employers interviewing for a job.
But genuine enthusiasm is not something we can turn on and turn off just to suit a prospective employer in a job interview.
It is more a natural by-product of the realization that this job can offer fulfillment, meaning, and joy.
That it offers the opportunity to use the skills that I love most to use.
When you are genuinely excited about a job, an employer WILL pick it up.
Conversely, if you try to exhibit a fake enthusiasm and it is not a natural result of your yearning for this type of work, the employer will also pick it up.
So how do you get enthusiasm if you don’t already have it?
You find out what your inborn job skills are, and apply for jobs where these can be used.
The enthusiasm you exude for your work influences to a large degree, the employer’s personal attraction to you.
And we know from research, one of the key hiring factors for employers is if they simply like the person.
7. How Much Information Do I Give
Getting the balance right can be quite critical.
Generally speaking, you will gain more respect from a prospective employer by volunteering additional information that would not necessarily be required in answering a job interview question.
Having said that, many job applicants have got themselves into trouble by giving too much information.
For this reason, having pre-planned your thoughts and answers to job interview questions is critical.
If you provide fairly clinical and structured answers, you can lose points in the all-important relationship building with the employer.
Remember, if you are going to be successful, they need to like you – a lot.
And a way of helping to get people to like you is to make your self just a little bit vulnerable, but just a little bit.
When you do this, you are signaling to the employer that you are willing to be real with them and not hide behind a facade.
An example of this could be when an employer asks you what your weaknesses are.
I have had job applicants say to me in an interview that they don’t think they have many weaknesses.
This is not the type of answer you should provide.
You would want to be providing the employer with a very real weakness that you do have.
However, you would not want this weakness to be a critical component of the responsibilities of the job.
My job interview advice here is to encourage you to write out your answers to common job interview questions prior to an interview.
Why write them out?
Because when you write them, you are forced to think comprehensively about the type of answer that would be best.
Also, when you write out your answers you greatly increase the chances of remembering them, simply by the act of committing your thoughts to paper.
Brain specialists tell us that memory retention dramatically increases when things are written down.
8. Remember that Employers Are Often Nervous Too!
We all know how nerve-racking a job interview can be for an applicant.
But have you ever thought about how nervous the employer can be?
I have owned businesses since I was 23 years old and have conducted many job interviews over the years.
I would have to say that I am usually nervous when interviewing a prospective employee.
What are employers nervous about?
Employers fear that you may not like them or that they will ask you the wrong questions and be made to look incompetent or inadequate.
Much the same sort of fears as you have!
The greatest fear of an employee, however, is that of making a hiring mistake.
Either for not hiring you when they should have.
Or worse, hiring you only to find out you don’t fit in or can’t do the job well.
Part of the interview process from your perspective involves alleviating these fears of the employer.
Smile and be jovial but not unprofessional.
Talk the right amount. We know from research that the best ratio of talking and listening in a job interview is about 50-50.
You certainly don’t want to talk too much and dominate the interview, but at the same time, you need to be communicating fully and with enthusiasm and energy.
Do what you can during the interview (and prior to the interview) to make yourself like the interviewer.
So the next job interviewer you face, remember she’s nervous too.
If you can help her relax, this will help build rapport and add to the success of the job interview.
9. Research Your Employer
You need to gain information on your prospective employer for a number of reasons:
- To find out if this is the type of organization you would like to work for (to find out what the organization stands for in regards to the product or services it produces, and if this is something you could align yourself with).
- To find out more precisely if your skills and abilities could be genuinely utilized in this organization (if they can’t, look for another job).
- When it becomes clear to the interviewer that you know a lot about the organization (it will usually become clear to them that either you do, or do not know much about the organization) you will win respect from the person as they discover that you have diligently done your homework – and employers love diligence.
For sure, it involves more work, but that’s one of the reasons why it will bring you success – the employer can see you have worked hard at applying for the job, and they like that.
Anything you do that most people are not prepared to do, will increase your chances of success because there is no competition in that part of the job search.
There is perhaps no greater way to show respect for a person or organization than to find out about them before your interview.
People and organizations love to be loved.
In your research you should find out about the:
- advertising and marketing strategies
- workplace culture
- what the philosophy or mission statement is
You should try to get your hands on everything they post online, social media, LinkedIn, brochures, copies of mission statements, annual reports [if available], customer email blasts [including back issues] industry features, etc.
Read their website and outbound links extensively.
Depending on the organization, you could simply phone them up and tell him you are preparing for an interview with the company and you wanted to obtain information that would help you get to know the organization better. Other than the obvious website and social media resources, is there anywhere else they could point you to?
This type of request will normally work in your favor.
It is likely that a prospective employee wanting to find out more about the company before a job interview, would be seen as a somebody showing initiative and this would usually be regarded as a positive thing.
The types of questions you need answers to may include:
- Do they have any material explaining their business activities
- How long has this organization been operating? Who founded it?
- Do they export/import products/equipment?
- What products or services do they specialize in?
- What is the most sought after product or service?
- What type of people/organizations buy their products/services?
- Do they have a company mission statement or business purpose statement?
- What other organizations sell similar products or services as they do?
- What would they say is the most sought after attribute for someone contemplating a job as a [state the job] in their industry/organization?
- How would they describe growth within the industry [listen carefully for the answer, it may reflect the state of the organization or it may reflect the state of the industry]
(Note: don’t ask these questions if the answers are readily available online or elsewhere. That shows that you might lack initiative)
10. Prepare Intelligent Questions to Ask
Why do you need to ask good questions in a job interview?
When you ask a good question, you demonstrate to them that you have been doing some deep thinking about the position and the organization and how you might fit.
This displays enthusiasm for the job and it shows them the planned and thoughtful manner in which you approach things.
Any of these job interview tips you use demonstrates to the employer how you might go about your work.
One result of doing good research on the organization is that you will be in a good position to ask intelligent questions at the job interview.
More information equals the ability to ask more intelligent questions.
What is an intelligent question?
A question that firstly demonstrates you already know quite a bit about the organization and/or the position being offered and your question is seeking to clarify or deepen this understanding.
You should not ask questions where the answer can be easily obtained from a source other than the interview.
If it is obvious that the answer to your question can be easily obtained elsewhere, the employer may see this as laziness or incompetence.
Of course, you also need to be able to ask intelligent questions that result from the live discussion during the interview.
So not all questions need to be or should be prepared beforehand.