Having Your Best Interview Ever
Here’s one of the best business and success tips I can ever give you: If you want to have a great job interview, start with great research.
The Common Mistake
You see, the problem is that most people start preparing for an interview by trying to think up answers to questions they think they’ll get. They’ll look online for sample interview questions or buy a book highlighting the “top 100” interview questions and the great answers to go with them.
But here’s the secret: in many instances doing that can actually set you up for a bad interview.
Job Interviews Are Evolving
Many years ago interviewing really was just a process of answering questions. However, today more and more companies are moving toward what’s called “Behavioral Interviews”.
In a typical Behavioral Interview, instead of being asked questions, you’re asked to describe a time when you’ve used a specific skill. Here’s an actual example (No Lie) from an interview I took part in:
“Diversity is important. Tell me about a time when you’ve led a diverse team in a project or initiative. What conflicts arouse, how did you handle these conflicts, and how was the company better off once they were resolved?”
Ouch, pretty sure that’s not in the “top 100 interview questions” book.
Research, Research, Research
The way you “crush” these types of questions is to do your research. Focus on the following:
The Company Web Page
What company are you interviewing with? What does their web site say about the company?
More important, what does their site say their values are? For example, do they talk about valuing diversity of experience? If so, you could start thinking about a time when you led people with different job functions (finance, sales, engineering, etc.). This would put you in the perfect position to answer the question above.
The Job Description
You’ll almost always be given a job description for the position you’re interviewing for. It will outline the ideal candidate’s specific skills and experience.
What have you done that matches up with the qualities they need? Think of this way: If you were to play a highlight film of your career, what moments would it contain and what skills did you use?
The key is to start thinking of stories in which you used the skills they value. You then want to highlight those skills in your responses, which in turn clearly highlights you as the best candidate.
If you forget everything else in this post make sure you do this. Why? Most people don’t consciously build answers that connect their skills with the company’s needs. Do this and you’ll automatically stand out from most other candidates.
Outside of the job description, I can’t think of a better place to conduct research than LinkedIn. You can get bios and information on key executives, and possibly the people you’ll be interviewing with, as well as articles outlining the challenges and opportunities facing the company.
Once you understand what the company is confronting (good or bad) you can build stories that highlight how your background and experience can help them.
For example, say you speak Spanish. That could be valuable if the company is considering expanding into Latin America. You could tell a story about how you helped a previous employer grow market share in a Spanish speaking market.
A Lot More Work But Worth It
Look, I get it. This is a lot of work. But here’s another secret: most people are not going to do this type of preparation.
Most candidates will roll the dice with the “Best 100 Interview Answers” book or some other type of “quick fix” aid. However, in 25 years of sitting on both sides of the interview table I’ve learned one undeniable truth; jobs don’t normally go to the most qualified, they go to the best interviewee.
Follow the advice in this post and you’ll automatically be head and shoulders above 85% of your competition.
Sure it’s a lot of work, but this is your career. Isn’t it worth the effort?
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