Getting Interviews But Not the Job? Try This.
Via LinkedIn : Even though this article is written in my voice, I co-wrote it with my daughter, Alyssa Kasanoff. She is three years out of Hamilton College and has recent experience both getting hired as well as interviewing others. Plus, just about everyone she knows has recently looked for a job. This piece started when Alyssa texted me: I’m noticing that people have no clue how to market themselves in interviews.
Your goal isn’t to get an interview or to get called back. Your goal is to get a job that you love. To do that, you have to manage yourself properly from your very first contact with a prospective employer. Here’s how…
Step One: Know what the job is and why you want it
Maybe you really need a job, or perhaps you’re simply thinking it would be nice to get your foot in the door at an interesting company. Unfortunately, hiring managers can see right through that. Being broadly interested in the mission/product/idea/company culture is not enough and won’t get you very far. You can’t apply just because a startup “sounds cool” and offers flexible working arrangements.
You have to be able to communicate exactly why the job you’re applying for is the right fit for you and what you’re going to bring to the organization.
Step Two: Sell, don’t wait to be sold
The phone interview isn’t the time to see if it’s a mutual fit. Sure, you’re wondering whether the job has a lot of travel, if you’re going to be given a Macbook, and how close the firm is to going public but don’t ask.
Instead, you need to explicitly state what you’ll bring to the company.
The initial conversation is an opportunity for you to SELL YOURSELF. Tell the interviewer how you are going to help the organization in one way or another – not by listing traits or characteristics – by providing meaningful examples of how you have done so in the past
The same advice applies even if you’re trying to change careers or your industry. Explain how you’ve done something successfully – transformed a company culture, rolled out a new tool, developed a stronger process – in your previous role, and then how you would do something similar in this role
Step Three: Provide context
The person interviewing you has very little context for your previous experiences. Were you formerly a teacher but now want to be in sales? Share an anecdote that paints a picture of how your time in the classroom prepped you for sales. Without this, the person could just be thinking you’re vastly under- qualified for the job.
Don’t assume that everyone understands what you have been through or why you are such a good fit. The reality is that NO ONE understands this until you show them, again and again and again.
Step Four: Do your research
Study their website. Read articles about the company, pro and con. If you’re new to it, study the industry. If you know the names of people to whom you will be speaking, look at their LinkedIn profiles and see what they have posted on social media. If you know someone who works at the company, try to talk to them informally before you interview.
If something resonated with you, you should be able to explain why… in your own words.
Don’t quote simple facts back at your interviewer. Don’t just parrot back the mission statement or casually say, “How about that earnings report, huh?”
In a creative and personal way, explain why the organization and its activities appeal to you. If you have always loved math and are excited to apply it in a non-traditional way, say so and explain precisely what you mean by this. Use anecdotes and personal examples. The hiring manager should be able to tell that you’ve done your research and you’re genuinely interested.
Step Five: Be authentic
Don’t just say what you think the hiring supervisor wants to hear.
Interviewers usually ask a bunch of general questions… “What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your career goals?”
If you answer the interviewer’s questions directly, you won’t be a standout candidate. You’ll just bore them to tears.
For example, if you are asked, “What are your strengths?” and you answer, “I’m organized and driven,” that’s not memorable, and you’ve given the hiring manager no reason to believe it’s true. Instead, explain a time when your organizational skills (your strength) led to meaningful results (an outcome), even if that’s not what the person asked.
Step Six: Stay on topic
You’ve done some amazing things in your life. (That trip to Peru was way beyond interesting, especially when you got caught in that thunderstorm at 12,000 feet.) But before you share/send any sort of personal information, make sure that it is relevant to the position you want to get.
Imagine that you graduated recently from college and did a project there on sea turtles. Now you’re applying for a job about robots. Don’t send the project about sea turtles.
Trying to woo managers with fancy degrees, projects, and achievements will only effective if they are relevant. Otherwise, you’re just clogging up their inbox.
Step Seven: Be human
If I walked up to you on the street and introduced myself, it’s unlikely that you’d share a laundry list of all your accomplishments. So don’t share them in an interview. Also, don’t forget that you are talking to another human being. Your mission isn’t simply to sell him or her; your mission is to connect with him or her on a personal level.
People hire people whom they like.
Be attentive, and engage thoughtfully in a conversation with the other person. The more you can act like an actual human being, the more likely you are to work with them in the near future.
Bruce Kasanoff is a social media ghostwriter for entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators. Learn more at Kasanoff.com. Alyssa Kasanoff works at eSpark Learning, where she curates resources to create personalized learning experiences for students.
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