With so many lay offs and restructuring plans in the marketplace, you will need every tip and trick in the book to stand out amongst a sea of competitors. Here are a few tactics that I hope you will find helpful.
- “I know your pain”
If you’re applying to become a position’s next successful candidate, make sure that you can do the following properly:
- Identify the top 3 issues (pains) that the person in that position will face.
- In a very concise way, speak about each ‘pain’ as if you’ve faced it and solved it in the past.
- Talk about the actions that you took when you encountered the said ‘pain’ in the past and the positive results that you got from those actions.
An example of this would sound like:
Interviewer: Tell me about your last position at Company X?
Candidate: It was a lot of fun for me because I got to problem solve creatively like the time I created a system to reverse our constant backorder situation and netted the company $1 million extra bottom line dollars from inventory savings.
If you can speak to not only the pain that the interviewer knows that the incumbent will be facing, but also about how you were able to take action and bring a solution to that ‘pain’, he will get the message that you can help him if he hires you.
I’ve experienced a 100% increase in my interview success rate after I learned about this technique. My clients also report a similar shift in their search success when they use this formula.
- “I’ve done my research”
You already know from the previous tip that you need to find out the top issues that you would most frequently be facing in the position if you get the job. If you’ve worked in the same industry and in a similar position, you can already take a guess at these issues anyway. However, if you can confirm your assumptions with someone who has contact with the hiring company or department such as a supplier, a customer of theirs or an employee who works in a related department, all the better.
For example, when I was going to an interview with a pet food company, I called my friend’s veterinarian to ask about the company’s products and reputation. Not only did I get help identifying the position’s potential ‘pain’ but when I mentioned my research to the interviewer, he was very impressed with my thoroughness and interest in the company.
Other things you should research about the company are recent news items, financial situation (if public), divisions and product assortment as well as competitors. All these will come in handy as you have a dialogue with your hiring manager about the company. Remember– everybody’s more interested in themselves and the fact that you know a lot about them speaks favourably about you.
- “Is that something that would work here?”
Early on in my career, I would walk into interviews armed with a list of questions that was long as my arm. It never got me anywhere and actually angered one interviewer who wanted out of the meeting and now! Since then, I’ve been taught to ditch the list and instead find out the answers to my questions by turning the interviewer’s questions to me–back onto them.
For example, when an HR manager asked me to recount a time of conflict with another manager, I talked about how valuable face to face contact with the other manager had been in resolving the mess. I then turned the question back to her asking “would that be an approach that could be suitable to your company’s culture?” The interviewer then proceeded to reveal that indeed, the atmosphere in the hiring department was a very close-knit one where face to face conversations were not only valued but expected from all members of the team.
This technique of turning the question back on to the interviewer instead of asking a list of questions at the end allowed for a two-way conversation as well as the added opportunity to find out more about the company and the position.
- “Who’s in charge here?”
Several clients have told me that they take in a notepad and pen to the interview and actually take notes during their interview to convey their interest, earnestness and attention to the job’s details. I tell them to lose the steno pad and treat the meeting both mentally and physically as if BOTH parties were interviewing each other as equals.
In essence, you should also be sizing up the employer as much as they are you.
Equals don’t need to take notes while meeting and greeting for the first few times.
Since learning of this, I’ve let go of my note taking and started engaging in actual conversations with my interviewers. My success rate and my confidence in the interview process both sky rocketed as a result.
- Ask the ‘Golden Question’
At the end of the interview, there’s a single question that if you dare to ask, will yield the answer to whether you’ve gotten the job or not. It is a bold question. In one instance when I overused it (3 times in a row to the same interviewer) it backfired and ended up with my 7th interview up the ladder for the same position being terminated with a scowl and a dismissal.
The question is simply “From what you can see in my background and experience after our meeting, do you think there’s a fit for the position?”
Then shut up. Stop talking. Even if there’s silence for minutes on end. Whoever speaks first usually has the upper hand at this point.
If the interviewer’s answer is “Well, we’re still interviewing a lot of candidates right now”, you don’t have the job.
If however, the interviewer says “yes, there is a fit”, then you’ve most likely gotten at least that interviewer’s vote for the job.
Of course, this is not an exact science and answers may vary or be a combination of the two but in my experience, this question is revealing of the final decision and absolutely needs to be asked.
Some clients don’t have the self confidence to ask this question but if you do, you will see that it will boil down the whole interview to a conclusion that is more concrete than asking ‘what are the next steps?’ (Which you should ask anyway after asking the ‘Golden Question’).
I wish you all the success in your job search endeavours. If you do your homework, speak to the position’s ‘pain’, ask questions as natural parts of the conversation, relax into a two-way dialogue as well as ask the ‘Golden Question’, then you’re as good as hired!
With kindness as always,