When you attend your next job interview, instead of simply submitting to the question and answer process, approach it as an opportunity to learn. Ask questions; listen carefully; then look for opportunities to relate what you’ve learned about the company, the industry, a challenge the company is facing, etc. to your knowledge and experiences – phrased in the form of solutions.
The interview then takes the form of a discussion between two professionals with some shared challenges and some shared experiences. It will become natural to relate your success stories in a way that is wholly relevant to the company’s problems, rather than merely reciting “accomplishment statements” that you’ve memorized for the interview.
Consider the following advantages of participating in a discussion rather than just submitting to an interview:
Peer-to-peer conversation rather than an authoritative individual to subordinate interrogation.
By sharing problems and possible solutions, you will form a bond with the interviewer and establish yourself as a colleague who can provide valuable expertise, advice, and assistance. Rather than thinking, “this person seemed to have some good experience,” the interviewer is more likely to think, “This person knows what we’re facing and can help us.”
Increased comfort and confidence that project a professional presence.
Think about how you feel and perform in meetings, presentations, projects, and other collaborative discussions. You might find yourself a bit keyed up for a major presentation, but in all likelihood, you go into meetings feeling confident and professional. Now imagine feeling this same way in an interview, rather than nervous and anxious. Your inner confidence has a huge impression on the way you come across, so why not establish the appropriate professional persona from the very beginning?
Greater emphasis on what matters: what you can do for the organization.
In many interviews, time is spent on questions that often don’t reveal information of value; time is instead devoted to discussing what kind of animal you’d like to be or in listing your strengths. What motivates an employer to make a job offer is the candidate’s confidence and that they can solve the companies challenges. So why not get to these important issues as soon as possible?
You might not be successful at converting all of your interviews to discussion based interviews. Some interviewers will be bound and determined to ask their questions and will not be open to engaging in a deeper dialogue. But when you can do so, you’ll enjoy more meaningful conversations and you’ll be able to glean better information that will help you make good decisions about your career. The result should be a new position that is a great fit for your experience and your talents – a genuine win-win for you and the company.