You’ve got an interview! Excellent news! But remember, you’ve got to be perceived as the best candidate. Just doing “well” in the interview may not be good enough. Here are eleven things to pay attention to in order to make that happen.
1) Not Being Prepared to Discuss How You’ve Made a Difference
You can’t rely on titles or responsibilities or years of service to win the day. Employers want to know how you produce value. They care about what you’ve done with those responsibilities or those years of service. How have you made a difference? Be sure you can talk about that powerfully and specifically.
2) Sharing Information You Should keep to yourself
In a job interview, you are always marketing yourself. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by disclosing information inappropriately. A woman in one of my workshops asked what to say if an employer were to ask why she was moving back to Chicago. You see, she’d recently attended a high school reunion, rekindled the flame with an old boyfriend, and wanted to be with him. She wondered if an employer might think she was “flighty.”
I told her the employer just might think that. So why take the chance? I told her not to lie to the employer, but not to reveal the real reason. She could say something as simple as, “I’ve lived here before, I like Chicago, and I decided to move back. That’s enough for the employer. The rest is not their business.
3) Not Having a Repertoire of Stories
People love to hear stories. Employers love to hear stories about how you’ve been successful. We are inspired by them. Stories give us confidence that you can do the job.
Carefully craft one-minute stories to illustrate your accomplishments. Let the employer “see” you in action. Tell what you were up against, what you did, and how it turned out. What did you accomplish? Include specific results. A good one-minute story can impress more than a half hour of talking about yourself in general terms.
I remember a client who told me a story about what he did when the wife of a key staff member died. This man came to work dutifully, and tried to do his job, but his performance was clearly suffering. My client sat down with this man and told him, “Look, you’ve just suffered a devastating loss. You can’t be here right now. Why don’t you take a month off (with pay) and do what you need to do to get your life back together.” This made the man an even better and more loyal employee than he’d been before.
I was very touched by this story and would’ve hired this client in a flash.
4) Eliminated by Salary
A lot of employers are going to ask you about compensation right upfront. Maybe before they ever lay eyes on you. Why? They don’t want to waste time if you’re not affordable or if you’re not the right level person for the job. If the boss is hiring for an $80,000 job and you are a $60,000 or a $120,000 candidate, he/she doesn’t want to waste time talking to you. But if you play your cards right, you may be able to get the job—and an appropriate salary.
Be sure to read Jack Chapman’s book, Negotiating Your Salary, How to Make $1000 a Minute and develop a strategy to manage this critical job search issue.
5) Winging It
A lot of people are convinced that they’re so good at interviews that they don’t have to plan, prepare, or practice. In fact, even some sales reps have told me they do this. Think about it. A sales rep wouldn’t dream of calling on an important client without having planned the presentation, developed strategies for handling objections, and rehearsing. Yet, they go into a very important interview and just rely on chance. Yes, they may be smooth talkers, but so are their competitors. Be prepared. Don’t know how? Get some coaching. Many people find this really difficult to do for themselves.
The late Joyce Lain Kennedy, career author and syndicated career columnist said Steve Frederick and Jack Chapman are in the upper ranks of America’s most respected career coaches.