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6 Winning Strategies for a Successful Job Interview
A contagious smile, complete with confidence, is a success trait among those who get more than they ask for. Be it with negotiating the purchase of a house or a car, or making a strong impression at an interview, demonstrating job-related skills is essential in today's competitive world. Though there are many ways to excel at a job interview, understanding, practicing and implementing the following strategies can help us emerge as successful candidates.
1. Differentiate Ourselves
Michael Porter, in his work 'On Competition', noted that a company which differentiates itself from the rest of the flock tends to achieve greater success. Replace ‘companies’ with ‘people’ and we see the same effect. At job interviews, the interviewers are constantly looking for ideas and perspectives which distinguish us from the rest of the candidates. And that means, the need for that something special and unique in us so we can separate ourselves from the rest of those being interviewed for the job. Distinguishing oneself requires introspection and self-assessment. People who introspect, and are objective with the feedback they get, are more likely to make adjustments to improve themselves. The art of cultivating a differentiating attitude was presented by Mark Hunter in 6 Ways to Differentiate Yourself to Beat Your Competitor.
"Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it's about deliberately choosing to be different." - Michael Porter
2. Provide Evidence
Nothing speaks more about our knowledge, skills and abilities than the material we show to the interviewers. In any of the past interviews, did you take a sample of your work to illustrate your capabilities? A brief report you prepared, especially if the job requires writing skills, can directly convey that you meet or exceed the job requirements. If you are into marketing, are you prepared to show that you can sell yourself in the interview? Do you have the necessary detail to demonstrate your salesmanship? Are you interviewing to lead an organization or a team? If so, do you have the work flows, strategic plans, or team-building activities which you have documented or implemented? Jane Williams, in Sell Yourself! Master the Job Interview Process, offers useful advice to promote yourself in a job interview. In its advice to job-seekers, Monster notes that any claim gains credibility when such a claim is backed up by evidence.
"Recruiters like evidence, especially since they don't hear it from candidates often enough." - Monster.com
3. Focus on Presentation
The first 20 to 30 minutes of an interview form the critical phase for evaluating our fit with the organization and the job under consideration. Either we send positive vibes or we don't. Nothing in between; it is not grey matter, after all. Did we sound humble and look adaptable? Are we sincere and honest? Interviewers look for authenticity, no matter the position or level of authority. It is essential that we show composure, wisdom and thoughtfulness in our presentation. Competence, motivation and attire add flavor to the interview process and make it all the more interesting.
4. Demonstrate Character
While it is not easy to judge one's character in a brief interview, it is not hard either for experienced professionals to get a fairly good idea about us. One grain of rice is adequate to know if it is all properly cooked. Character demonstration is best exemplified by being ourselves. Hence the reason, the college counselors and professional coaches keep repeating, "Be yourself". Character, from a job interview perspective, also refers to demonstrating integrity and composure in difficult situations. In her article, Examples of Personality & Character Traits for a Job in Writing, Shelagh Dillon suggests remaining organized, calm, curious and determined. This is applicable to not only the writing profession but for any opportunity including a job interview. The following video illustrates ways to address some of the more difficult questions that appear in interviews. For instance, we may be asked to explain how we handled a challenging situation in a current or previous work place. Being open and sincere in our responses is crucial to demonstrating our character and score on the credibility scale!
5. Speak from the Resume
Knowing every word on our resumes is a factor that is in our complete control. It is important that we do not exaggerate nor underplay the information in the resumes. While providing falsifying information is not only illegal and immoral but also unethical, the fact that interviewers can quickly tell fact from fiction often leads to the facts being lumped with fiction. It is equally important that we read and understand the content of our resumes. A modest and sincere resume with minimal embellishments stands a better chance than the one that looks artificial. Being real and speaking in a personal voice is essential to convey credibility and strength. Liz Ryan communicates this important point in Put a Human Voice in Your Resume.
“Contradictions, in any communication, are the first stepping stones of mistrust.” ― Paul Babicki
6. Resonate with the Interviewers
Daniel Goleman, in Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence (EI) discusses the role of resonance in all areas of personal and professional growth. Resonating with others requires empathy and a response commensurate with people’s expectation without compromising on one’s principles and integrity. From an interviewee standpoint, resonance can mean listening carefully, understanding an interviewer’s perspective, paying attention to the discussion, and actively participating in the conversation. Resonance is also the key to tapping into our own emotional intelligence, another seminal work by Goleman in his book with same title. Since the first reference to EI in 1964 by Michael Beldoch and later in 1966 by B. Leuner, its role is being presented as a key driver to personal growth, professional success and career progress. Developing EI leads to resonance, meaning we can better relate to others.
Resonance also helps us to connect with others, and that connection supports reaching out to the interviewers at a subconscious level. An important flaw in any interview is the inability to connect with the interviewers. Finding and practicing ways to resonate with others can help overcome this concern. Lastly, the ability to resonate usually translates to developing skills with persuading people, the science of which is presented in the following video.
As noted at the beginning, there are several ways to reach the destination. There are many strategies and suggested approaches to excel at interviews. It takes time and effort to choose what suit us the most, and hone the skills so we can get better with each conversation and interview, one at a time.