Those who land the best jobs, in the shortest period of time, are those who never go on “autopilot.” They understand that a search is only over once you’ve accepted an offer. It doesn’t stop when you receive a call back, it definitely doesn’t stop during the first face-to-face interview, and each and every following interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate value and gain leverage.
Here Are Some Tips To Transform Yourself From “Candidate” To “Candidate Of Choice”:
1. Be Ruthless In Evaluating and Communicating Fit for the Role.
An employer should never be able to point out a vulnerability which you haven’t already identified and figured out a counter-strategy for. Ignore this and you’ll most probably get eliminated after the first interview.
Grab that job posting. Read it line by line, and be absolutely ruthless in identifying your match-up and areas of weakness.
To support match-up, insert quantifiable accomplishments within your resume that directly address key qualifications. If you don’t have this information on hand, contact former colleagues and bosses, dig through performance evaluations and find it.
For areas of weakness, come up with additional areas of expertise and experience you possess (otherwise known as “differentiators”). Highlight them strategically within the resume, and have them close at hand during the interview. That way, when you’re inevitably asked about them, you can pivot by sharing a story which highlights a differentiator.
2. Get As Much As You Give During Interviews.
Giving up free time sends a message of subservience, and opens the door to a never-ending interview process. Your time is valuable and you have zero patience for those who waste it. Got a 15-minute phone call coming up? Set a timer and say your goodbyes when it’s up. Same goes for 1-hour interviews.
After your first face-to-face interview, my recommendation is to not agree to further interviews without getting concrete feedback into where they are in the decision-making process. How many other candidates are in the running? What areas do they wish to specifically address during a follow-up interview? This will allow you to figure out whether they’re serious about hiring you, or just spinning their wheels.
3. Have 3-5 “Core Stories” In Your Back Pocket to Address Difficult Questions
Core stories, which can be pulled from either your professional or personal life, are meant to demonstrate qualities you wish to impress upon an employer. It’s a way to answer hard questions in an engaging (not self-congratulatory) manner.
Identify, rehearse, and have core stories on hand which can be used to answer questions like:
•Why should we hire you?
•Tell us about yourself?
•What’s your greatest strength?
•What’s your greatest weakness? Expert tip: this should be a story where you overcame a weakness and turned it into a strength (ex. a childhood stutterer who now presents confidently to large audiences.)
4. Have Insightful Questions at the Ready
Nothing demonstrates interest in a job quite like great questions. They also provide crucial insight into the company and whether it’s actually a good fit for you.
•Is this a newly created job or a vacancy that needs to be filled? If the latter, what happened to this person?
•What does a typical week look like? What are “crush” times?
•What’s a typical career path for a person in this job? In other words, what are the in-house growth opportunities available?
•How does this role fit into the larger organization?
•What’s essential for success in this position? How will my performance be judged?
•Who are my fellow team members, and can I meet them?
5. “I Want This Job!”
At the end of each interview, explicitly state your passion for this job and ask, “Is there anything we’ve talked about that raises a concern about my being a great candidate?” This will give you a chance to openly address any potential “red flags” (and shows major confidence).