Welcome back! In Part 1 of this two-part series we discussed how following the First through Fifth Commandments will lead you to a promised land called Interview Success. Click here to read Part 1. Today we further enhance your chances with a discussion of the Sixth through Tenth Commandments.
The Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not do insufficient research.
To interview successfully, you must be knowledgeable. There are four components to this knowledge. Knowledge of self (see the Fourth Commandment), knowledge of the company, knowledge of the industry, and knowledge of the job.
You have to do your homework. Researching companies used to be hard. Your sources were pretty much confined to books, magazines, and other resource materials such as annual reports and business journals, most of which sat on the shelves of the public or college library. Frequently this information was hard to find, incomplete, or out of date. Interviewers knew this and tended to be a little forgiving when it came to the breadth and depth of the candidate’s research.
Then along came a game-changer—the Internet. Now that research, although still perhaps tedious, is easy. There is no longer an excuse for insufficient research. Do yourself a favor and learn how to research a company for fun before you have to do it for real.
Attack that research on three fronts: what do the business and financial analysts have to say about the company, what does the company have to say about itself, and what is the general public buzz about the company?
The Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not lack an understanding of interviewing empathy.
The Fourth Commandment requires you to have a strong idea of what you bring to the table, what you care about, and what really matters to you. You are searching for a job that will satisfy all of your needs and maybe even a few of your wants (no, they are not the same). You must keep all of that in mind as you search for the right job.
However, you must also keep in mind what matters to the company with which you are interviewing and, more importantly, what matters to the interviewer.
Knowing this in advance and keeping it in mind as you interview will allow you to tailor your questions and your answers to hit the interviewer’s hot buttons, thereby demonstrating a sensitivity to the interviewer’s needs and also enhancing the chances of developing a personal connection.
This is called interviewing empathy and it will help you convert the interviewer into your advocate.
Here is the simple version: tell the interviewer exactly what he or she wants to hear, as long as it also happens to be the truth!
The Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not fail to show interest.
Some people think that the purpose of an interview is to see if the candidate is qualified for the job. That is generally not the case, especially if the interviewer has access to the resume in advance. The fact that you are in the interview means that you have already been deemed qualified.
Your resume shows the necessary experience, training, education, and skill set. Absent those things, there would be no reason to interview you.
Conversely one could argue that if your resume does match up nicely with the job requirements, then why even have the interview? The company could save a lot of time and money by simply offering you the job sight-unseen.
That’s a disaster in the making.
The interview provides so much more. It allows the interviewer to add the human dimension to the resume. Your style, personality and attitude all come into play. It is also a chance for you to get a feel for the company. You learn more about the job, the opportunity, and the people who work there.
But there is more.
No matter how qualified you may be, no matter how well the job stacks up against your requirements, and no matter how well you are received on an interpersonal level, you will fail the interview unless there is no doubt whatsoever in the mind of the interviewer that you are also sincerely interested in the job.
You can control this indirectly through your body language, overt enthusiasm, and by asking great questions. You can also take the direct approach—come right out and say the words I am very interested in pursuing this opportunity or I hope I have interviewed well enough today to receive an offer or I want this job—offer it to me and I will accept.
Yes, those are forward and bold statements, but, assuming they are truthful, think about their power. What have you got to lose? In the end you might be rejected, but the cause will not be because they questioned your level of interest.
The Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not fail to acknowledge weaknesses, failures, and flaws.
As indicated by these Commandments, there are many causes for a lack of success in interviewing. One common but frequently overlooked reason is setting unrealistic expectations.
Several years ago a recruiter for one of my client companies surprised me when she said that she long ago gave up trying to hire perfect candidates. In fact, perfection in a candidate was an automatic cause for rejection.
Why? When it comes to human beings, there is no such thing as perfection.
Given that, she realized that the supposed perfect candidate was indeed flawed in some way, but she had failed to find that flaw. Knowing this undiscovered flaw would come to light in the future, she rejected that candidate rather than run the risk that the flaw could be a fatal one.
This is actually good news for you—you do not have to be perfect to get a great job!
Imperfections, failures, and weaknesses are part of your package. The key is having the self-awareness to acknowledge them, the insight to know when it is appropriate to discuss them, the self-confidence to admit to them, and, most importantly, the ability to overcome, mitigate, correct, or compensate for them.
Possession of that key allows you to turn weakness into strength.
The Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not forget to close the sale.
Here’s an exercise for you. Make a list of civilian occupations for which you have some level of interest. Put them in order of preference. As you get deeper into your search that list will change. Some things will drop off, others will be added, and the order of preference will change. That’s normal.
For military personnel transitioning to civilian employment, job hunting is as much about discovery and self-education as it is about landing the right job.
But you have to start someplace, right?
Take a look at your list. How far down do you have to go to find sales as one of your options? For most of you that option is near the bottom or not even on the list. There is a logical explanation for that, but we will save that discussion for another day.
For today, consider this: those of you who do have sales on that list will be better interviewers for any type of job than those of you who treat sales like the plague.
Why? Interviewing is selling. You (sales rep) have to convince the interviewer (customer) that your product (you) will fill his or her need (the job opening).
Successful sales people share many characteristics and talents. Perhaps the most important among those talents is the ability to look a potential customer in the eye and say please buy my product or I want to be your supplier or l really want your business. This is referred to as asking for the order or closing the sale and it is critical to sales success.
The same technique is critical to interview success. Assuming you are truly and sincerely interested in the opportunity, do not leave the interview without first asking for the job.
In summary, remember that there are almost always more good candidates than there are good jobs. The interviewer needs to narrow down the field and he or she can afford to be picky.
You have a choice here—disobey one or more of those Commandments and make it easy for him or her to cross you off the list. Or, make the interviewer work hard to find a reason to reject you.
As the interviewer digs deeper and deeper and gets to know you better and better, things will start to change. Unable to find reasons to say NO, he or she will start to focus on reasons to say YES and that leads to interview success!
For additional information on this subject and much more career transition guidance, check out www.out-of-uniform.com .
© 2017; Tom Wolfe, author; all rights reserved; used with the permission of the author