The goal for you as a candidate when attending interview for a new position is not in fact to be appointed in to the role, but rather to become the preferred choice of the hiring organisation. This might seem a subtle difference, but it alters how you should approach your meetings and the emphasis that you place on your interview presentations.
Employers do not make decisions based exclusively on hard data when hiring. Often an experienced interviewer will see stretch potential or unexpected possibilities in a candidate that can swing their decision. The five C’s that employers want a candidate to demonstrate are: Capability, and evidence of it, to perform the absolute must deliver tasks; Confidence in their own ability; Concern for others and the organisation; Command and the desire to increase this; and Communication ability at all levels.
Everyone needs an edge, an ability to differentiate from their competition. Having worked with thousands of successful executives and professional leaders, we know that using these five hacks will ensure you become the preferred choice of any employer.
1. Know The Problem, Be The Solution
Work with your consultant, or the employer if applying directly, to understand the real need behind why the organisation is recruiting in to this role. Find out what is not happening because this position is currently not filled. Learn what the employer believes are the essential qualities a candidate needs to be successful in the role. When preparing for the meeting, develop a detailed written response to these needs so that you can deliver an accurate account of why you are the solution. Practice saying the words out loud and succinctly, all interviews are time bound to some extent.
2. Use Body Language Hacks
When you watch the news on television and the anchor goes to an outside broadcast, the reporter at that location will nod gently in to camera as the report is being handed over to them. This is a signal to the studio that the communication is coming through to the OB reporter and that they are ready to engage. Do the same with your audience at interview, nod gently to show your attentiveness and engagement as an interviewer comes to the end of their question. Answer to all parties, not just the person who asked the question, by moving eye contact between both or all, if a panel interview. Support your points with hand gestures to convey comfort and confidence in what you are sharing. Always keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, this facilitates easier shifts between creative and rational thinking.
3. Tell Your Story
Interviews can be stifling affairs if candidates are aiming for “perfect” and sitting behind a “front”. There are no perfect candidates. To be successful at interview, the authentic you must always be present in the room. Otherwise interviewers may find it difficult to relate to you. Develop your story in a way that showcases your talents and experience, in a structure that makes the following clear; the challenge(s) you faced, the action you decided on, the obstacles that arose during implementation and the ultimate outcome. Include examples where your plan did not work out but you learned from the experience. Stories are powerful ways in which to make emotional connections with an interviewer, so long as the story is interesting, relevant and succinct.
4. Strengths Based Presentation
You will always be at your most energetic, enthusiastic and engaged when an interviewer turns to a subject or competency you regard as a strength. You can adapt “strengths” to give effective responses to a wide variety of competency questions that may arise. Identify what you are good at, have received positive feedback about, enjoy doing and are most proud of. Knowing your strengths and communicating around these conveys confidence and assuredness, but don’t fake it. If you have a gap don’t try to fudge it no matter how tempted you might be or how much you want the new position. It only undermines the positive elements of your interview. Instead, approach gaps by highlighting specific evidence from your career to date where you have demonstrated genuine ability to learn quickly and adapt to new situations.
5. Be Curious
Prepare intelligent, insightful questions unique to each interview you attend that demonstrate your desire to understand more about the company and role purpose. Ask your questions at relevant points throughout the interview and not bundled at the end. Threading both prepared and spontaneous questions this way, demonstrates curiosity and engagement to the interviewer. For you personally, it helps to keep your mind active and focussed as the interview progresses. Operating in “curious mode” makes you observant of new ideas and helps you spot opportunities to align with how an interviewer may be thinking. This in turn can create greater rapport and emotional connection between the interviewer and the candidate.
What separates winners from also-rans is down to how well prepared a candidate is. Preparation fuels confidence, confidence enables performance. Performance when presented through authentic stories and genuine curiosity, which shows concern for and interest in an organisation’s need, creates genuine likeability. People buy from people whom they like.