Learn how to turn the interview into a discussion in order to give you more opportunities to discuss ideas. Consider the typical interview stereotype: the intimidating and powerful employer interrogates the ill-fated candidate, looking for flaws, tapping into weaknesses, and trying to trap the candidate into saying or doing something that will knock them out of the running.
While this might be how it feels to be a candidate, in fact, interviewers desperately want to find the right person to fill an open position. The talent shortfall is hampering productivity, hindering growth, and forcing the hiring manager to spend inordinate amounts of time interviewing potential replacements.
Understand the Interviewer’s Perspective
Candidates who understand and appreciate the interviewer’s perspective give themselves an advantage during interviews. They tend to be less nervous and paranoid about what the interviewer is trying to uncover with a particular question. But candidates who can elevate the interaction yet one more rung—from “interrogation” to “discussion”—will find this turns a stressful test into an engaging dialogue about company challenges and solutions.
Approach with Confidence
The first step in achieving this transformation is to change your mindset. During your job search, approach each contact, discussion, and meeting with confidence. You know what you’ve done in the past; you know your strengths, skills, and expertise. Be sure you’re spending ample pre-interview time preparing your success stories and quantifying the results of your past efforts. Take time for introspection too, so that you clearly understand and can articulate “who you are” and the value you can offer.
Each Conversation is an Opportunity to Learn
Approach each conversation as an opportunity to learn. Whether engaged in a networking discussion or in an actual job interview, be careful not to manipulate the spotlight, engaging in a long-winded monologue. Instead, ask questions and listen carefully. Look for opportunities to relate what you’ve learned about the company, industry, a challenge the company is facing, etc. to your own knowledge and experiences. Then, phrase them in the form of solutions.
During such a dialogue, you are free to mention articles or books you’ve read, experiments you’ve conducted (successful or not-so-successful), things you’ve learned from colleagues or competitors, and problems that you found obstinate in similar situations. Then the interview becomes a discussion between two professionals with some shared challenges and experiences. It becomes natural to relate your own success stories in a way that is wholly relevant to the company’s challenges, rather than simply reciting “accomplishment statements” that you’ve memorized for an interview.
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