Elbert Hubbard, a nineteenth century writer, once wrote, “There’s something rare, something finer far, something more scarce than ability. It’s the ability to recognize ability.” That quote summarizes the entire interviewing process. The interviewer’s challenge is to recognize ability; your challenge is to sell yourself so thoroughly that the interviewer cannot possibly fail to recognize your ability.
This book is about learning how to sell yourself. While the typical job hunter gets sweaty palms just thinking about interviews, you can go into each interview with confidence, looking forward to the challenge that each interview presents. You’ll know how to answer all of the difficult questions and how to overcome objections. Most importantly, you’ll know how to get job offers.
You may be thinking, “I’m pretty good once I get face to face with the interviewer.” I’ll guarantee, however, that by studying this book you’ll improve your interviewing ability by at least 20%, and probably closer to 50%. Many readers will double and triple their interviewing ability. Just a 10% improvement can make the difference between being the number one choice and the number two choice. Pause for a moment and consider how you would respond to questions like:
“Tell me about yourself.”
“What are the major problems you have with coworkers?”
“What is your greatest weakness?”
“Give me an example of a time when you were unable to work out a disagreement with your boss.”
“Why should I hire you?”
“What is the biggest mistake you ever made?”
“Describe the last time you were angry.”
Those are tough questions, and to answer them you’ll need to completely understand the psychology of interviewing. You need to know what is going on in the mind of the interviewer. You need to sense the person’s hot buttons, and press them appropriately. Let’s begin.
THE INTERVIEWING SCALE
It is useful to think of interviewing as a process in which your skills, attributes, and potential will be weighed on a balance scale against those of other candidates. At the end of the interviewing cycle, whoever has the most weight on his or her side of the scale will get the job offer. During an interview, weights are continually being added or subtracted from the scale, depending on the quality of your answers. By answering each question as effectively as possible, each of your answers will carry a little more weight than the answers of those who are less prepared than you. After the final interview there will be no doubt who should get the job.
The balance scale metaphor also demonstrates the importance of always using your best example and telling it vividly. Assume that you have a great example that would demonstrate a desired skill. Describing the experience effectively would add five pounds to your side of the scale, but under the stress of the interview you’re not able to recall it. Instead, you remember an example that’s worth only three pounds. Repeatedly forgetting your best examples and substituting them with less impressive examples could easily cost you several pounds on your side of the scale. Unless your background has placed you head and shoulders above the competition, this failure to present your best examples may cost you the job offer.
Effective interviewing is an art which can be learned, and the payoffs can be tremendous. You’ll work so hard to get each interview that it would be a shame to go into an interview unprepared. By knowing what to expect and by preparing for all of the difficult questions you’ll encounter, you will greatly enhance your chance of receiving the job offer. The following fourteen principles provide you with an overview of things you should consider before going into an interview.
1. An interview is simply an opportunity for two people to meet and determine whether an employer-employee relationship will prove beneficial to both parties.
2. Interviewing is a two-way street. You’re not begging for a job, you’re an equal.
3. The employer is actually on your side. He or she has a need and has every reason to hope you are the right person to meet it. Keep the employer on your side through attentive listening, and by detecting the employer’s real needs.
4. An objection is not a rejection, it is a request for more information. If the employer states, “You don’t have as much experience as we normally want,” he is not rejecting you. In fact, the person could be totally sold on you but for this one concern. Your task is to sell yourself and overcome that objection. You will do this by emphasizing your strengths, not by arguing.
5. Let the employer talk. You listen. The longer the employer talks at the beginning, the more you can learn about the organization. This will help you formulate positive responses.
6. Increase your chance for a second interview by dressing properly, being on time, listening intently, demonstrating potential and enthusiasm, appearing relaxed, providing brief, well thought-out responses, and asking a few intelligent questions.
7. Hiring decisions are based mostly on emotion. Do I like her? Will we get along? Will she accept criticism and be a good team worker? Being liked by the employer is just as important as having the qualifications.
8. Concentrate on giving examples of your accomplishments. Accomplishments demonstrate your potential. Stress how you can benefit the organization.
9. Be yourself, but also be your best. If you tend to be overly aggressive, consciously tone it down during the interview. If you have strong opinions on everything and like to express them, keep them to yourself. If you tend to be too quiet and reserved, try to be a little more outgoing and enthusiastic during the interview.
10. Use examples to back up any statements you make. Be prepared for questions like, “Are you good with details?” “Are you a hard worker?” “Can you handle difficult people?” You can begin your response with, “Yes, I am good with details. For example . . .”
11. Be able to explain any statements included in your resume, such as accomplishments or job duties. You can use your resume to predict many of the questions that will be asked. Practice describing your job duties in the most concise way possible.
12. Showing confidence in yourself will create a favorable impression. Such confidence can come only from truly knowing yourself and recognizing your own potential.
13. Send a thank-you note the evening of the interview. Some employers have never received a thank-you note, yet this simple courtesy frequently makes the difference between selection and rejection.
14. Relax and enjoy your interviews.