The Most Common Thing People Get Wrong in Job Interviews
It isn’t all about you
Picture yourself in a job interview extolling your accomplishments, listing your skills, and highlighting your work experience. You’re suitably enthusiastic, confident, articulate, and looking the interviewer in the eye. You think you’re nailing this interview, but you could easily be wrong.
The interviewer isn’t sitting there thinking, “Wow, this person is really talented and smart! This person is so cool and has done some really cool stuff. I am so impressed by this person.” Well, if you’re super cool, some of this might be flashing through the interviewer’s head, but what they’re really thinking is:
“How is this going to help me or my company?”
This is the only thing that matters to companies that need new employees, and it’s the one thing that all of your answers in an interview should revolve around, even if it’s indirectly.
Why Should We Hire You?
Let’s start with the question that’s usually asked last in an interview. By this point in the interview, this question should be a formality. It should be asked of you because the interviewer needs to check a box on their checklist. If you’ve done things right, you’ve already explained in numerous ways why the company should hire you, without saying it outright.
You probably already know that you should rehearse answers to interview questions long before you step foot into a company’s building. Make sure that your answers address what the company is looking for and how your skills, talents and experience fit and exceed their needs.
“Yes, I have extensive experience reconciling balance sheet accounts, and I took the initiative to create a calendar and department checklist to improve efficiency and easily meet month-end deliverables.”
Note: I was told later that this was the answer that got me the job because management was tired of monthly closings that were always late and they thought I might be able to help improve the process.
Do Your Research
Do a deep dive into a company’s website before your interview. Read the press releases and the blog if they have them. Can your skills help with upcoming initiatives? Mention that. Is it a newer company, or a small company that’s growing? If you have writing skills, let them know you can produce documentation of the job while you’re performing it, which creates an added value they may not have known they needed. Highlight past experiences creating or setting up new systems, or programs that improved something, and directly relate it to the company you’re interviewing with.
It Isn’t Your Opportunity
Avoid variations of, “this seems like a great opportunity for me!” Of course it is, but the company doesn’t care, regardless of official rhetoric, or individuals who seem pretty nice. They want to know how the opportunity they potentially give you will benefit them.
Turn, “I could really grow and develop here” into “I appreciate that you tend to promote from within and look forward to proving myself.”
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that nearly all companies are focused solely on their bottom lines and they want employees to contribute strongly to the bottom line. They will Interview a handful of strong and qualified candidates pre-screened through resumes and phone calls, and they may get stock answers from everyone. In that case they’ll pick the best candidate based on whatever they’re valuing most in that moment.
If you’re one of the interviewees, and all of your answers are based on what the company needs, or may potentially need, that’s going to set you apart from most of the other candidates. Never forget, it isn’t about you, it’s about them.