There are some people who seem to get offered every position they apply for and there are many people who get rejections for almost every position they apply for – but what is the difference between them?
Due to the highly competitive nature of today’s job market, there are several more candidates applying for the same job than there used to be. But think about this: in some ways, you could say that job hunting may be compared to a game.
There are ground rules, which ensure you are meeting the basic requirements of the recruitment process (turn up on time, be smartly dressed, research the company, etc) but there are also other rules that you should use to your absolute advantage to make sure you stand out from your competitors.
What are these rules?
Rule 1: Success in your interview depends more on your ability to promote yourself than having relevant experience (this is because all candidates at this stage will have relevant experience, but you need to be able to demonstrate why they need your experience)
Rule 2: Success in the interview depends more on your ability to build rapport with the interviewer than having relevant experience (again, all candidates at this stage will have relevant experience, but you need to stand out as the right personality for the job and the company)
Rule 3: Success in the interview depends more on your preparation and attitude than having relevant experience (when you have done your homework and understood exactly what the company needs and are able to demonstrate the personal qualities they want, you will elevate yourself above other equally qualified candidates at this stage)
NOTE: these rules are not suggesting that the aim of the game is to con the interviewer into believing you should be offered a job you cannot do. Far from it – they are simply suggesting that you need to find a way of differentiating yourself from the 3 or 4 other candidates who are equally qualified and equally capable of doing the job. The way to differentiate yourself is to master the rules above in order to make you stand out from the others. Let’s look at this in more detail…
Promote yourself – Examples, Examples and More Examples!
- Before the interview, you need to think about your best achievements that are comparable to the performance objectives of the job and practice talking about these examples so that they are fresh in your mind at the interview. Talking about your achievements is more convincing than just listing your relevant skills and experience – do make sure you talk about your skills and experience, but make sure you emphasise your achievement
- Think about how your record of achievement would ensure that you will go on to be a success in this job and explain that in detail to the interviewer. It is not enough just to say that you have achieved this and that in the past – you must go on to show the interviewer how this will benefit him and the company. The interviewer needs to be convinced that you will be able to add value to the job and be able to add more value than the other candidates
- Think about your key skills and strengths prior to the interview and be prepared to give examples of situations in which you demonstrated your skills and strengths – but again make sure you are careful to relate the skills and strengths you are talking about to the requirements of this job to convince the interviewer that you can cope with the demands and requirements of this job and that you would be the best addition to his team
Build Rapport with the Interviewer
- Observe the interviewer’s body language and take the opportunity to match and mirror it in subtle ways, making the interviewer feel comfortable and at ease in your presence. Be careful not to be too clumsy or obvious in doing this – it takes time to perfect the technique, but at a very basic level it is quite easy to do. Practice with your friends and family prior to the interview
- Try to use similar language as the interviewer. If he talks in terms of achievement, success, performance, make sure your answers are framed using similar language and phrases as this generates the idea of common ground and shared purpose
- Try to work out what is important to the interviewer in terms of the way he views and thinks about work. Does he concern himself with hard facts and figures, emotions and feelings, procedures and processes, future vision and bigger pictures? Is the interviewer the type of person you should communicate back with in terms of solid facts and past records, current feelings and impressions or future ambitions and long term plans? Adapt to the interviewer’s manner and communication style and put yourself at an advantage over other candidates who are less perceptive and may not generate rapport so easily
Preparation and Attitude
- Candidates who are better prepared are naturally at a very strong advantage over candidates who are badly prepared or who have not really prepared at all and in most cases the job offer will be made to the candidate who has done his homework and turned up prepared for the interview – even if there were other candidates with more experience or technical knowledge
- Always try to display a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards your current job, your reasons for wanting to leave, your reasons for applying for this job and your longer term career opportunities with the company. Talk in terms of performance, achievement, willingness to learn and develop yourself further with the company. Do not display negativity – even if that is the way you are feeling inside about your current situation. The interviewer needs to be certain in his mind that by making the offer to you, he has made the right decision and recruited someone who will make a valuable and positive contribution to his company
- A very surprising fact to learn is that there are some candidates who make it to the interview stage for a job, even though they do not really want it and have no intention of taking it even if it were offered! Most candidates do want the job, but some of them are probably not sufficiently prepared for the interview and end up disappointed and frustrated. Those who do actually want the job, have prepared themselves properly, built rapport and demonstrated the right attitude – tend to be much more successful in getting the offer they want