We continue our three-part series offering insight and advice from ten highly respected individuals who, while their paths and positions vary greatly, all have valuable insight we wish to share with you. Here in part two of this series, we jump right in with:
“Candidates who just read from their resume and give shallow answers do not have the same success as candidates who can give real-life examples supporting their experience. Interviewers like to hear numbers—be specific.”
As Mr. Jassal suggests, the common answers of repetitive rote simply don’t carry very far. In point of fact, it is very often better to give an honest admission of not knowing a particular answer than to deliver a cardboard platitude. While an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to take a breath, to pause and think a moment while you get your thoughts in order.
Even better, is to come to the table with as much preparation as possible: Prepare some hard examples which connect your experience to specific points in the job description or company mission.
“Going into detail about your work experience creates a clearer picture for the interviewer about how you can perform the role and ultimately make it easier for them to say yes!”
Do your research
While this point may seem to be as basic as they come at first glance, there are a few aspects that slip through the cracks on a surprisingly consistent basis. Granted, every candidate that is actually interested in a position must needs do some basic research into the company, but Steve Pritchard – HR Manager at Cuuver.com, takes this advice several steps beyond the common. Mr. Pritchard also emphasizes the importance of researching the individual(s) who will be conducting the interview—it is of vital importance you know who you are speaking to, what their professional history is, the areas where they hold expertise, even their more personal inclinations. All of this information comes together to offer hints as to what they will find important, and potentially revealing the direction the interview will take.
It is usually a fairly simple matter to look up your interviewers via the company’s LinkedIn page, and from there you have a look into their connections, past work, and the influencers they follow. In addition, this type of personal/professional research has the added benefit of humanizing the men and women sitting across the table from you—something that can go a long way to putting both sides into a more relaxed and fluid state by identifying common threads and points of mutual agreement.
That art of first impressions
A simple truth of life is that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
But the term first impression can be slightly misleading. The truth is, you make several, and people are judged by each. First is appearance, then bearing, and finally, come the interview questions. It is at this stage, the questions, that most people find the greatest difficulty. One of the most common stumbling block questions that arise is quite direct: Why should we hire you?
Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., PHR Emeritus (Ret. Associate Professor of Management & Human Resources at Doane University) has this to say:
“Employers are generally looking for the best fit that they can find after considering the characteristics of the candidate, the job, the culture of the work team, and the organization’s overall mission and philosophy. In essence, they are trying to complete an organizational jigsaw puzzle, and there’s a missing piece that has to be found. However, only certain pieces
will fit properly.
“You need to tell a potential employer what YOU can deliver (in terms of education, experience, skills, abilities, talents, interests, or attitudes) that might uniquely match the requirements of the position in question. Thus, throughout the hiring process, learn as much as possible about the company (and its culture), its industry, your potential colleagues, and the specific requirements of the job. With that knowledge, you can convince an employer that you can truly fulfill its needs. Remember: the employer is trying to solve a problem; so you need to be perceived as the solution!”
The smart candidate will always look to put their best foot forward, and every step well placed from the good first impression to competently handling the interview process at every stage makes a successful conclusion all the more likely.
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