Don’t Just Interview – Stand Out!
Sitting on the sofa with nearly 300lbs of dogs (our two Great Danes Frank and Phil), I was channel surfing – desperate for anything even slightly interesting to watch. Somehow I landed on the 2017 Westminster Dog Show. My two couch companions instantly bolted up and had their softball-sized noses glued to the screen.
Now I’ve never paid much attention to this show because throughout their history these pompous jerks have chosen to ignore what everyone knows to be the best canine breed on the planet, the Great Dane. The winner is typically some dust mop on pencil legs with a breed name you can’t even begin to pronounce. Until…
Along came “Rumor”. A common, average, run of the mill breed we’ve all heard of – the German Shepard. Yes he was handsome, perfectly groomed and in great shape. But to my both biased and untrained eye for pooches, he looked like any other German Shepard. Obviously though, the judge saw something in Rumor that made him completely stand out from the rest of the pack of literally hundreds of dogs. Whatever it was made him worthy of the coveted Best In Show award.
All of which made me think, when you are interviewing for a job what makes you stand out from the hoards of others vying for the same spot?
Here’s some things to do:
*Know That Your Interview Starts When You Walk In The Building – Our lobby receptionist always greeted visitors and checked them in. My admin assistant always walked them to my office. Without fail, I asked both of them for their impressions of the candidate. If they didn’t meet the same person and demeanor that I met, that person was out of the running. Interview feedback from everyone you met always get back to the hiring manager and it starts in the lobby.
*Study, Study, Study – Preparation is everything. Make sure you out-study everyone else they are going to interview. Go to your interview having examined the company, it’s website, annual report, recent press releases, their target markets, products, services, competition, analyst reviews as well as their customers. Learn everything you can.
Then study the people you will meet. Look them up on LinkedIn, Google their names; look for them on Facebook or Instagram. Know their work history, where they went to school, outside associations or activities they’re involved in.
*Anticipate – Make a list of both the most common interview questions you’ll get (let me know if you need that list) as well as ones you expect that are specific to the job you’re interviewing for. Then express and practice your answers to each of them to the point where the answers are both succinct and roll off your tongue with ease.
*Make A Connection – The interview shouldn’t be a one-way cross-examination. It needs to be a two-way conversation where you relate to the interviewer, make a connection and have a solid conversation. Notice things in their office, on their desk, on the walls and make comment early to break the ice.
*Prep Your 30 Second Ad – Almost inevitably after sitting down, one of the first things the interviewer will say is, “So, tell me about yourself”. You need a likeable, compelling and 30 second MAXIMUM speech that answers this question in a way that portrays you as someone who is qualified to be there, enthusiastic about being there and tells why you are there. Launching into a long-winded, zigzagging and unorganized monologue will kill the interview before it really starts.
*Know Your Stories – Your interviewer is going to ask you questions about your experience aimed at identifying if you’ve done their kind of work and job before. Be ready for those questions with very short, one minute stories that relate your accomplishments. Tell when, where and how you’ve done the things that pertain directly to their stated job requirements. And don’t let the interview be the first time you tell them.
*Have A List Of Intelligent Questions To Ask – Most interviewers always leave time for you to ask questions. When they ask you, don’t let the awkward sound of crickets fill the air. Be ready. You’ve already done the homework and learned more about the job in the interview. List the questions ahead of time that you’d like further information or clarification on. And bring that list with you. It further demonstrates you did your homework.
*Control The Wrap-Up – At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for their time. Repeat your interest in the job. Ask about next steps and where they are in their interview process so you’re clear on when and how to follow up.
*Follow Up – You should follow-up quickly. That night. But I like to make you stand out further. Hand write a letter on some nice note sized stationary and put it in the snail mail. It’s personal and it differentiates you from all the email. Summarize in 3-4 bullets why, after the interview, you now think you’re an even better fit for the job than you thought going in.
So here’s the net, net. Like our pal Rumor at the Westminster show, you’re going to have competition for each job you interview for and you want to stand out from the pack. Make the effort and spend the time up front on the list of items above and it’ll be you they’re calling Best In Show!