Acing an interview is more than just a well written resume, the practiced smile and that perfect suit. It is just as much about what you know, what you have accomplished, and how you make sure that you outshine those spanking new shoes.
As someone who is part of the search and interview cycle, and has the luxury of looking back at what made one candidate stand out more than the other, I would pin it down to someone doing a better marketing job! When the selection process has gone past the initial elimination and shortlisting process, the interviewers are basically evaluating different options. They are looking at you to providing them a convincing argument; a compelling reason to put an end to the selection process right there, right then! There… I have said it! This is one trade secret that interviewees should be running with: in addition to polishing their job related skills, they should also be devoting their energies to honing their marketing capabilities. You do not need to be a marketing genius to sell yourself, if you believe in the product (you!) you will be on a firm footing.
Here’s how you could consider taking control and molding the interview process to your distinct advantage:
Remember the practiced smile, shiny shoes and the perfect suit? Marry that with a confident body language, a firm handshake, and polite mannerisms and you have got a foot in the door. If the interview is over the phone ditch the wardrobe, but other rules remain the same. No handshakes here, but when you smile while talking on the phone, it oozes energy! Who doesn’t like a fireball of energy on their team?
This is about the dreary “Tell me something about yourself,” part of the interview. The little known secret is that it can run in both directions. When the initial hellos are done, feel free to ask some pointed questions about the role. This would show that you have done your research and also help you assess what qualifications need to be emphasized more. If the role involves working closely with a client, you would want to highlight the fact that you are excellent at building relationships and back it up with real life examples!
A job interview is not the place to be modest! If you are not ready with a list of the accomplishments or attributes that make you a strong contender for the role on offer, you might as well not turn up for the interview. You cannot always rely on the capability of the interviewer to get the most important information, you need to own the responsibility of what you want to convey. As much as we love the qualifications on the resume, we would never know how much of a difference you made to your organization/clients/team/country/environment if you do not tell us! Instead of simply stating that you reduced 8% on costs, highlighting that it was over a $2m budget is what can make the interviewers drool. Be truthful however, most interviewers are experienced enough to know when they are being taken for a ride.
Fill the Need
You know the role; you have asked what the qualifications are, what’s left to do is discuss how you fill the need. Talk about the important personality traits, attributes and experiences that you bring with you that will benefit the company. You could highlight being multilingual, if Asia is an important market. Talk about your experience of managing a workforce in a unionized environment, if the role on offer is to work with a similar client.
Just like the first impression was important to get you this far, do not underestimate the value of the lasting impression you will leave with the interviewers. Instead of abruptly ending the interview with a “Thank you,” or leave it at hearing “We will get back to you”; thank the interviewers for their time and interest in you, and take the opportunity to ask the interviewer for their email address (if you do not already have it). Follow this up with a thank you note, keeping the path open for future communication. It will also give you an opportunity to invite honest feedback from the interviewer regarding your discussion with them.
Keep these at the top of your thoughts before and during the interview process, but try to relax and be comfortable; just because the process is formal, does not mean that you cannot be cheerful! Shine the trumpet, practice in private and blow it hard when it matters the most- Don’t forget the handshake as you leave!