Most people feel like they struggle with interviews. My feeling is that if you spend just a few minutes getting your head in the right place, you’ll probably do better than you will give yourself credit for.
Definition of failing
I think that the first part of interviewing well is to change our definition of failing. Not getting the job is not a fail. Think about the interview you are about to go on. FACT: 99% of the really talented folks who go on this very same interview will also not get the job. It’s part of the process. Being eliminated is part of the process.
It’s what we do next that is important. If we chose the mindset that we didn’t get the job so therefore I’ve failed, then yes, we’ve failed. The better option is to set it in your head that “it just wasn’t a good match” and then go do a whole bunch more interviews.
If you meet a pretty girl and she turns you down for a date, do you base your own self worth on her answer? Of course not. You remind yourself that it just must not be a good fit, and move on to the next.
There are a host of reasons to be yourself in an interview. First among those is, why would you want to work with someone if they don’t appreciate the real you? Most of us spend way more time with our coworkers than we do our family. If the company represented by the person you are interviewing with doesn’t like who you are, then your relationship with that company is off to a rocky start. Don’t take the rejection personally. They just saved you a lot of grief later on.
Some will argue, “I just need a job. I just need to pay the bills. I’ll suck it up with people I don’t like for as long as it’s reasonable then just move on”. As someone who has counted change to scrounge up a meal on more than one occasion, I can appreciate that sentiment. But let me give you something else to consider. The number one reason that otherwise qualified people don’t get hired is that the person doing the hiring is afraid of making a mistake. If that hiring manager doesn’t believe that the person in front of him is the real deal, then he will not hire you.
So just be you. Stop trying to be the person you think that they want you to be. Instead, try looking at your interview as simply a meeting. A meeting with the purpose of discovering whether or not you like each other. If it turns out that it’s not a match, then it probably wasn’t meant to be.
Do your homework
You’re about to invest at least an hour of your time and someone else’s. Take ten minutes before you go to your meeting to read the company website—in detail.
You probably know the name of the person you are interviewing with. Invite them to connect with you on Linkedin in advance of your interview. Read their profile.
Re-read the job post that you responded to. Imagine that someone will ask you the very common question, “why do you believe you are a great candidate for this job”? The answer to that question is in the job post—simply answer the job requirements.
If you have something valuable to talk about if given the chance in the interview, it will blow their mind!
Dress like you are going to church, or court, or your significant other’s very conservative grandmother’s house. This from Mark DeGolyer, a former recruiter at Sqrft, “I have a hat on every single day when I am not at work but I wouldn’t dream of wearing one to a job interview. I have a full sleeve tattoo that I am really attached to, but I would never wear short sleeves to a job interview. An interview isn’t the time for personal expression, it is the time to make a great impression and the only way you are going to do that is to put some thought and common sense into your appearance.”
Empathize with the person doing the interview
The person on the other side of the table is a human being just like you. Even if he’s not cognisant of it, he does know a little something about what you’re going through because he was in your very same seat once. Now he’s in the power seat. If he chooses to abuse his power then I would argue that you don’t want to work with him anyway so you have nothing to lose by giving it back to him.
The truth is, most hiring managers just really want to make a great hiring decision. To empathize with them is to understand that they are governed by fear just like the rest of us. Think about it. What if they hire the wrong person? What suffers? Their pride; their reputation; maybe the cohesion of the team they’ve been working so hard to build. Certainly there is a real financial cost to making a bad hire.
I know we all think of ourselves, that WE cannot possibly be the bad hire. But that’s not my point. My point is that “the last thing in the world that that manager wants to do is to hire the wrong person”. To understand that, is to empathize, is to get one step closer to forming a connection with that person, is to get the job.
You can deliver the most amazing, on-point, nail every answer, be one of the most qualified, think you’re the greatest, interviews in all of job seeking history—but if the hiring manager doesn’t like you, there is no law that says she has to hire you. It does not matter what color you are, your sexual preference, or whether or not you are wearing a turban or a toque. If the manager doesn’t connect with you, then you are not likely to get the job.
I don’t know that I can tell any one person how to be likeable—so I’ll leave that to each reader. However I’ll give you a place to start—smile.
I’d like to hear your experience. What have I missed? What works for you?
Please let us know in the comments down below.