As a candidate, you don’t have to look far for interview tips and advice. Research the firm, prepare questions, form a personal connection to the interviewer – these are all time-tested methods to increase your chances of a successful interview process.
While unemployment remains at record lows and the market is desperate for top talent, competition for desirable opportunities has never been fiercer. Technology, executive search, and keen networking increase the candidate pools accessible to hiring managers, so to secure the most exciting and lucrative roles, interviewees must be more prepared and thoughtful than ever.
These three less-common strategies require thoughtful preparation, but can easily distinguish a top candidate from an exceptional group of potential hires.
1. Prepare a concise, targeted and focused summary of your past experience in reverse chronological order
Nearly every job seeker presents a resume in reverse chronological order, beginning with their most recent experience prominently displayed. With this standard, why revert to a lengthy, often-extraneous traditional chronological presentation of your experience verbally? The job you held 10 years ago and the responsibilities within are far less relevant than the work you’re doing today. Would starting your presentation with a decade’s old explanation of your first role out of college be important to an interviewer?
Focus on your most recent job/experience, highlight recent accomplishments as the capstone to a career in progress. Fill in the history and the journey with quick, specific references to the roles you held in the past, only making mention of the points that are germane to the position you are interviewing for.
This concise summary has multiple benefits:
- You’ll demonstrate an ability to summarize, self-edit, show focus, and think critically about the role on offer, not a generic, oft-used presentation
- You’ll ensure the interviewer’s focused attention by not rambling
- You’ll allow more time for dialogue, questions, and to make a personal connection with the interviewer
Time is a precious commodity when interviewing, and rarely are there extensions of time or second chances. Preparation and focus maximize the opportunity you have to impress.
2. Understand the reason for the hire and speak specifically to that need
Responsible firms hire with reason and purpose. Open roles are rarely open-ended and without focus – any company is conscious of its employee spend and, when investing in staff, look to see a specific return on that investment of a new hire.
Through your own research and with the assistance of your recruiter, strive to understand these needs, the pain points a company experiences with an open seat, and prepare to articulate your ability to quickly and fully meet those requirements. Seek to glean additional specifics through your questions during the interview, and actively use this information to guide a highly targeted response.
Your goal in any interview is to leave with the hiring manager thinking, “My job will be easier and our company better if we hire this candidate.” The initiative you’ve shown to gain a deep understanding of not just what the job description says, but what the interviewer needs in their department will ensure this positive feedback.
3. Articulate why the opportunity will have a positive impact on your career today and in the future
Too often, interviewees focus solely on “winning” the job by impressing a hiring manager with their skills and previous experience. While you should always seek to demonstrate relevance to the role itself, this strategy relies too much on the present and ignores the importance of the future and long-term fit for the role.
A candidate should be able to effectively articulate not simply why they are worthy of the role, but why the opportunity presented advances their long-term career goals. Hiring a new employee initiates a relationship, the quality of which can be judged by its longevity. Short tenure, high turnover, and ongoing candidate searches dramatically impact a manager’s ability to perform in their own role, causing frustration, stress, and poor-quality deliverables.
By clearly articulating the alignment a role on offer has with your interests and career aspirations, the interviewee goes well beyond “I am interested in this position today” to “This is an opportunity that furthers my long-term goals and will unlock my true potential.” Going a step further, as a candidate you can research the backgrounds of existing, tenured employees and cite examples of progression that you’d seek to achieve with high performance. Examples such as, “I noted that Sandra from your team began her career here in a similar role and has since been promoted to Senior Manager. I would hope to earn such an opportunity for promotion with my own strong performance in this seat.”
Long-term commitment, loyalty, and a goal-driven mindset are qualities that any hiring manager would be pleased to see in a new hire. Go beyond the present, show the interviewer why you are an excellent choice today and for the future.
– Jordan Shapiro