Many of my clients come to me facing the daunting task of conducting a job search for the first time in nearly 20 years. A lot has changed in 20 years. But most of the job search advice floating around is outdated, especially interview advice.
In fact, while recently helping a friend with her upcoming job search, I showed her a specific job interview strategy. She said she’d never heard of it before, and was shocked to learn it was something she could try. “Do you mean I can actually do that for a job interview?” she exclaimed.
“Yes!” I said.
Not Your Grandma’s Interview Advice
Last week I saw this question posted on Quora: “What are some smart interview answers?”
My response to this question was the same advice I gave my friend:
Smart interview answers are ones that show you have the company’s best interests at heart. And if you don’t really care about the company, you probably shouldn’t be interviewing for a job there. You should always make your answers about them, not about you (until it’s time to negotiate an offer, at which point you need to make it a win-win situation). Here’s a step-by-step method for how you do this:
- Find out what the company’s most immediate need is they’re hoping the person in this position can fulfill. Determine this BEFORE the interview! Once your interview has been scheduled, email the person with whom you’ll be interviewing. Tell him or her that you look forward to the interview. Then ask the following question, “What is the main thing you hope the next person in this position will accomplish or help solve?”
- Use the answer to this question as your foundation for preparing for the interview. Brainstorm one or two possible ways you can use your strengths to help get the desired result. Also, think of examples of times you’ve achieved similar results.
- Summarize your ideas and your past examples in a one-page proposal. You don’t have to have all the details of a full proposal, just an outline of what you’re thinking. If you don’t have enough information to come up with even just an outline, create a one-page case study of a time where you previously solved a similar issue. Indicate the challenge you were facing, the action you took, and your accomplishment or the results of your solution.
- Bring this proposal or case study to the interview with you so you have something tangible to show.
Taking the time and effort to speak to the company’s most immediate need shows you really care about working for that company, which will make you stand out from today’s competition in a big way!
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What You Need to Know About Job Interviews of The Modern Era