Talking Your Way Into A Job

by | March 10, 2009

The interview is the doorway to a job, but it’s the skill or art of handling the interview that actually turns an interview into a job.

Human resources professionals agree that because every interview is different -- different job, different company, different interviewer, it is necessary to prepare. After that, performance is dependent on one’s ability to "situationally respond."

"Flexibility and self-confidence are critical to a successful interview," Robert Waltos, Director of Career Recruitment for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, said. "Interviewers want and need to see if a candidate can think on his or her feet."

No single strategy works in every situation. For instance, Keldar, Inc., a Wisconsin performance management company, recommends assessment of communication skills, sociability and work motivation for sales positions. However, how these attributes are interpreted depends on the exact position and the interviewer.

Self-assurance is developed from experience and preparation, being comfortable with your objectives, the interview process and what you have to offer to the employer.

Once flexibility and confidence have been integrated into preparation, here are some tips on how to mentally prepare for a strong presentation:

  • Think of yourself as the best candidate for the job and let that guide your pitch.
  • Think of yourself as successful in previous jobs and activities. Demonstrate those thoughts by showing patterns of success in past projects, assignments and activities.
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  • Think of yourself as a business person. Talk in business terms, like increased revenues, cost-effectiveness and work objectives rather than theories and models. It’s important to communicate that you are conscious of the bottom line and you can help improve productivity.
  • Keep in mind your impressions of the organization’s culture and style. This helps you respond more appropriately. Are the conversations informal? Is there a lot of attention to hierarchy? Are collaborative or competitive terms used often?
  • Learn as much as you can about the company’s market, product and competition as possible and try to interject this information in the interview. If possible, try to learn something prior to the interview about the interviewer.
  • Think of your accomplishments in business terms, even if they were accomplished outside the pure business setting. This allows you to bring your entire background to the organization’s processes, objectives and goals.
  • Bear in mind that measurement is always part of the interview/assessment process. This will help you describe your accomplishments in measurable terms such as time or dollars saved, improvements in processes, outputs or results.

Finally, practice interviewing with an advisor or business professional who can objectively critique your performance and help improve your interviewing techniques. You can find sample interview questions in many employment reference books.

"The best advice is to be prepared for the interview," Waltos said. "The more prepared you are, the more confident and flexible you will be during the interview."

Filed Under: Interviewing


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