Think of the interview as an opportunity for you to be a salesperson, only what you’re selling is you! Remember that you aren’t likely to be the only person the company is interviewing for the job. So, it’s critical for you to make every effort to stand out and be remembered as the best fit for the job. Make that decision easy for the interviewer with the following tips.
- Be the dog that wags its own tail. In most cases, your interviewer will not have an in-depth understanding of your previous experience, roles, and most important, accomplishments. This is your opportunity to inform her. Never exaggerate, but do not be humble, either. State with confidence what you bring to the table.
- Do not be a jack of all trades. You may have a skill set that defies a genre. However, consider your audience. This is a new person who does not know you. It is much easier to believe a person who can prove mastery in a single discipline than a person who claims expertise in everything. How do you think of people who have an answer for every subject?
- Connect your conversation to your resume and references. Your resume and references serve as your backups. Think of them as two friends sitting by you in the room, nodding agreement as you detail your accomplishments. The more that you can refer to these documents, the more valid your claims of mastery become to the interviewer.
- If you sound too good to be true, your interviewer will likely assume that you are. Consider how you think about people who only talk about what they do well. Does that person engender trust, or does that person invite skepticism?
- Acknowledging weaknesses is an effective strategy to bolster your claims of strength. If you sound like you can take responsibility for bad decisions, your interviewer is more likely to believe you when you say you do something well.
- If your interviewer knows what your skill set is NOT, she will be better able to consider your positioning within the company. The more precise a picture your interviewer has about who you are, the better your chances at landing the position.
- Be smart about acknowledging weaknesses. You should not freely admit that you don't know the latest iteration of an industry standard software package, for example. However, you should be able to identify your own weaknesses so that you can honestly report to your interviewer how you are improving in those areas if you are asked directly about them.
- Continuous improvement is a lifestyle and a buzzword. If you can convince your interviewer that you take pains to stay on the cutting edge of industry technology and skills, you put yourself much closer to employment. Every HR person wants to hire employees who take personal responsibility for learning new skills - visions of low cost training and improved performance will dance in their heads.
- Sell yourself as a person who is open to advancement. Every company, regardless of industry, is in need of more leadership potential. Convince your interviewer that you not only advance your own skills, but also the skills of those around you. You will be marked as a "team player" and a “go getter.”
- Focus on your ability to hit the ground running. If you demonstrate that you can excel in the job from day one, you are whetting the appetite of your interviewer. Think about the hiring process from her perspective: If she hires someone who is immediately productive, then she looks like a genius to her boss. Give her this opportunity, and she will give you yours.
Next step: ask questions