Career & Jobs

Say This, Not That: 5 Ways To Make The Job Interview Easier

There’s never been a better time to interview for a new job. According to Forbes, payrolls have grown every month so far in 2021. While hiring is strong, the economy remains more than 4 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels—following plunges in employment between March and April of 2020. And the civilian labor force was still down by nearly 3 million individuals compared to February 2020. Bottom line?Companies need you. And now, here are five ways to navigate the job interview process. If you’re considering finding a new role, or if you’re a gig worker seeking your next client, consider these strategies for authentic persuasion, connection and impact.

  • Let Me Tell You What’s Not on the Resumé – you’ve submitted your CV (curriculum vitae). The company has your LinkedIn profile. Maybe they’ve even seen a portfolio of your work. Now it’s time to focus on the forgotten part of the job interview: relationships. You know that authenticity opens up the conversation. So, sharing an authentic story about something that’s not on your resume can help create connection and receptivity. Share a story about a difficult challenge you had to overcome. Share what you learned from that experience. Don’t retrace what’s already been shared on your resumé. Why not show some people skills, by sharing a story that illustrates your values, your work ethic, and you willingness to do what’s needed in a crisis? You don’t have to open a vein or confess your sins – but start with sharing something that the interviewer hasn’t heard before. That way, you turn vulnerability into a strength.
  • People Over Process: you know that relationships matter. Lots of people have the skills to do a particular job. Do you have the relationship skills to work well with your potential boss, your potential company, your potential team? Stories will make your business case. How have you interacted with others in the past? Who have you helped? How have you helped others to be better off, because you were on the scene? The higher you go in an organization, the more relationships matter. Consider this scenario: assuming that you have the credentials to do the job, what stories would you share? What could you offer that demonstrates how you value people, and how you work well with others?
  • Speak the Universal Language: no, it’s not the language of love. At least, not in business. The universal language is the language of numbers. Discover leadership language when you describe the size and scope of your previous position. How many people did you supervise? What were the revenues for your last company? What was the change that you created in your last job, expressed in numbers? Growth is something we all understand, but it can be hard to quantify. Numbers create clarity. Numbers create scope. Numbers create a deeper understanding of what you have helped to create.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Be Actively Lazy: Bill Gates said, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easier way to do it.” Does that mean you need to share with your interviewer that you are lazy? Does that mean we should always listen to Bill Gates? No, to both of those questions. However, what the Microsoft Man is saying is: it might be useful to share how you have made a difficult task easier. I call this “actively lazy” – looking for an easier way to solve a difficult problem. Your potential employer will hire you if they feel your presence makes things easier, in some way.
  • Get Closer to Your Closing: After you’ve shared the stories that demonstrate your values, your work ethic, and your ability to be actively lazy, you know what’s coming next. That dreaded question that closes the interview: “Do you have any more questions for me/us?” If you’ve spoken the language of numbers, shared stories that aren’t on your resumé, offered leadership language around how you relate to others, maybe you’ve earned the right to ask this closing question. It’s not for everybody – just for the people who are serious about getting the job. Once you are clear on the next steps in the process, it’s time to find out where you stand. Here’s the question: “Can you think of any reason why we wouldn’t be able to take the next step?” After all, isn’t that what you really want to know: what’s in the way of you and me working together? This question must be asked with sincerity, and you have to be prepared for any answer. Because the interviewer may tell you exactly what you missed, or what’s missing from your background. But now you have an opportunity to elaborate on that area – to take another bite at the apple, and see if you can reframe your skills to fit the role. After all, you don’t want to find out three days later via email what you should have said in the interview! Don’t miss an opportunity to fill in the gaps, before the interview is closed.

Maybe you feel like you’re not the perfect candidate for a role. Guess what? No one is. There’s never a “perfect” candidate. Perfection in the job search process is like your potential: it’s a concept we understand and that we shoot for. But no one ever reaches it. Everyone has shortcomings, or stuff on the resumé that looks imperfect, lacking or deficient. And yet, some imperfect human being, somewhere, is going to get that job. The job that you want. Why not you? Perhaps it’s not about having the perfect background. Maybe what’s missing is the willingness to try – to decide that, despite your imperfections, you want to take a bite at the apple. Maybe you’ve forgotten that, despite your imperfections, you’ve been able to figure things out. To do stuff you haven’t done before. It’s part of our wiring as human beings – part of our DNA. We all have the capacity to figure things out, and go beyond our past experience. If that weren’t true, no one would ever drive a car, get married, or get promoted.

Consider how to share stories of your background in three minutes or less. Learn to create a dialogue with your interviewer (because you aren’t on trial in a job interview, although sometimes it can feel that way). Ask smart questions of your potential employer, just as they are doing the same for you. And maybe, just maybe, you will find yourself faced with a new opportunity. An opportunity to take the next step. So step into this job-seekers’ market with a newfound confidence and clarity. Nobody’s perfect – but everyone has the opportunity to be better, and try new things. And when I say everyone, that means you. Are you ready to take the next step?

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