Job Search Tip of the Week – 09/29/2016


How to Ace Your First-Round (or really, Just about Any) Interview

Think like an Interviewer – Q9

As I mentioned last week, I’ll be discussing over the coming weeks the top reasons behind typical interview questions and how to provide answers that address them effectively. This week, let’s take a look at questions intended to determine your confidence level, such as “Why should I hire you?”

(If you’re a loyal CareerJuice reader, you may remember closely examining this question with me earlier this year. However, keep reading, as this post will serve as both a refresher and an advanced addendum.)

As I asserted in my earlier post, “Why should I hire you” and variants such as “What could you do for the company,” “What would you contribute to the company,” “What do you have to offer the company,” “How would you add value to the company,” and “Why should you be chosen over other candidates who have equal if not stronger qualifications or more experience” are opportunities to sell yourself as the valuable asset the company needs.

That being said, think about the most persuasive people you know. What makes them more successful than others at promoting their products and services, or opinions and ideas?

    They Know Themselves

    Recall the most pleasant interactions you’ve had with sales representatives while shopping. Most likely, what those enjoyable experiences have in common are sales professionals who seemed self-assured, yet genuine and thus instilled confidence and trust. How did they get that way? By knowing and understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and working and compensating for them respectively in order to build stronger relationships with their customers.

    And as the featured cartoon suggests, when you’re up against another candidate who’s equally qualified, confidence sets you apart. You could have the ideal skill set and experience, but when you doubt your own abilities, research indicates, others will find it difficult to believe in you too.

    Becoming self-aware will help you build a positive yet realistic self-confidence, which in turn will make you feel more comfortable and help you portray yourself accurately in your interview. A little bragging is expected, but you shouldn’t deceive or exaggerate – You don’t want to promise your potential employer the moon and deliver Swiss cheese, so to speak!

    Get to know yourself well by:

    • Making a list of your positive attributes,
    • Determining and quantifying your most positive contributions to past and / or current employers,
    • Identifying the skills, abilities, and experiences that make you a viable candidate for the type of position you seek, and
    • Asking yourself what about the company and position attracted you.

    They Know Their Customers

    But as any successful sales professional knows, it takes much more than confidence to close a sale: You have to demonstrate that there’s a perfect match between demand and supply. In other words, in order to compete for business against companies who offer similar products or services to yours, you have to get to know your clients and understand their needs, and then communicate how you can fulfill them as no one else can.

    As a job seeker, you too must consider the supply and demand theory in order to best respond to questions such as “Why should I hire you?”

    I mentioned in my earlier post that there are a few scenarios that would create an open job:

    • The company’s experiencing growth.
    • The company recently laid-off or fired someone.
    • An employee recently excited the company.
    • The company couldn’t find someone from within to promote and fill a necessary position.

    Whatever the case may be (Although it is to your benefit to identify which scenario suits the particular company you’re interviewing for.), if there’s a vacant position, the company’s looking for something they don’t yet have.

    The job description or ad that you applied to is a good place to start to figure out what exactly your potential employer needs, but to gain a better understanding, conduct thorough research and look at resources besides the company’s “About Us” page. If you’ve done your research right, you should be able to describe without referring to your notes:

    • The current status of the company;
    • How it’s fairing against its competitors, and in its industry;
    • What it hopes to achieve in the short- and long-term; and
    • What it needs to attain its goals.

    I really can’t stress enough how important it is to thoroughly research your potential employer. Deficient preparation comes across as a lack of confidence and an inability to communicate and keeps you from moving forward in the hiring process.

    They Know it’s Not About Them

    There’s more to selling than giving a great sales pitch. Successful salespeople are usually those who express empathy for their customers and a desire to solve their problems, who communicate features of products or services that will benefit the consumer. The best way to get people’s interest and attention is to tell them what you can do for them. Likewise, the job seekers who shift their focus to the company tend to move further along the hiring process.

    Your responses to questions such as “Why should I hire you” should reflect the intel you’ve gathered on your potential employer. You should provide concrete examples of how you would fulfill the job requirements and help the company achieve its goals (Talk about results!), and relate and apply your skills, abilities, and past experiences to the company’s needs, in order to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re a good fit for the company.

    This is where most job candidates flounder and flop, forgetting that the ultimate goal of an interview is to convince a potential employer that they need you, that your personality, your knowledge, and your skills are what they’ve been searching for. How not to respond, and why (Examples are written from the perspective of a candidate of the Open Source & Mobile Technologies Team seeking a web development position):

    • “I think I could do the job really well and be a great addition to the web development team and company.” – “I think” comes across as self-doubt that you can fulfill the job requirements. Be assertive!
    • “You should hire me because of my computer science education and web development experience.” – It’s a statement that’s true of the majority of candidates or applicable to all companies with a web development position open. A lot of candidates have similar technology backgrounds and engineering career paths. Differentiate yourself from other candidates by describing in detail how you’d provide a better ROI to the company. Avoid repeating your resume verbatim and instead provide new information or more in-depth explanations of your achievements. Simply listing your skills, experience, and accomplishments and not expanding on them implies that you haven’t given enough thought as to how you would be valuable to the specific organization you’re interviewing at.
    • “I’m a dedicated and perseverant team player, and learn languages quickly and work hard.” – These are what we IT recruiters call “soft” qualities. They’re claims that anyone can make and are difficult to prove. Provide proof and specific examples! For instance, you can discuss how learning the latest programming languages such as Groovy, Grails, Ruby on Rails, and Django, in your free time enables you to contribute new, fresh ideas for additional web app features – then talk about their current software suite and how you would improve them.
    • “I really would like to work for your company, and truly believe in what you’re doing and that I am a great fit. As you can see from my resume and coding tests, I have all of the skills you require, and can do the job.” – Again, provide reasons and examples that prove your point and describe exactly how you would contribute to the company. Some questions to consider: Why exactly are you interested in the company? What specific goals and values of the company align with your personal ones? What do you hope to contribute to the company? What can you do beyond your job description?

      Remember: Ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Then, sell yourself as the solution. Address their needs by tailoring your skills and experiences to align with the responsibilities of the position you’re applying for and the goals of the organization. By doing so, you give them a vivid picture of what they could achieve if they hired you, and you can successfully close the sale!

      Blogging forward,

      Photo Credit: Randy Glasbergen