By Martin Yate
You go to job interviews because you need a job to keep food on your table and a roof over your head. You don’t want just any job, you want one with the opportunity for you to do well and with the salary increases that will deliver a rising quality of life.
Go about job interviews in the wrong way and, by the time you’ve reached 40, steady professional and financial growth will have passed you by. Instead you’ll have had a string of jobs that are pretty much the same, and you’ll be wondering what went wrong and the answer will always come back to the lost opportunities at jobs you didn’t get. It doesn’t need to be this way.
While you probably have many professional strengths, and you know all about the technical skills and professional accreditations you must have to be successful, there is one skill that no corporate experts ever consider important -- because all this special skill does is help you.
What do I mean?
Look at the years’ experience and the number of jobs you’ve had and work out how much real time and successful experience you have turning job interviews into job offers -- not so much huh?
In short, this is your weakest professional survival skill while it is also the most important to your long term financial survival and success. Fortunately, all you need do to turn this weakness into a strength is to adjust your approach.
As you sit waiting sweaty-palmed in the lobby, I promise you that interviewer is kneeling behind a desk and praying,
"Let this be the one I can hire. All I want is someone who can do the job and plays well with others. Someone who won’t give me headaches – then I can make the hire, and get back to my real work.”
They want to hire you, and all you have to do is give them the reasons to make that choice.
Now while you go to a job interview to see if it is the right opportunity for you, what must come first is answering that hiring manager’s prayer. So, focus on how your skills and personality can help the hiring manager and that department play their role in supporting company profitability. There’ll be no offer and nothing to consider unless you do.
Every job, in every industry and at every level exists for these same reasons:
So, no matter what your job title, you get hired to be a Problem Solver.
Then, it’s obvious that the job offer will go to whoever knows their job well enough to:
Show that you have the analytical skills to anticipate, prevent, and solve the problems that get in the way of profitability.
You naturally go to interviews intent on establishing that your needs will be met, like those considerations about pay, benefits etc. These questions are perfectly reasonable. But, ask them too soon, and you tell the interviewer that your personal needs are more important than the job’s deliverables.
A job interview tends to be a one-sided examination of skills. However, you can turn any interview into a two-way conversation between a couple of professionals chatting about a common interest (the job).
You do this by asking questions that demonstrate your understanding and engagement with the guts of that job. Asking the right questions at the right time has a massive impact on your ability to win job offers.
Consequently, you answer the interviewer’s questions, ideally with examples that showcase you doing that aspect of the job well, then finish your answers with questions of your own. Ask about the common problems in the area under discussion, their causes and how management likes them handled. Ask what differentiates the people who handle these problems well from those who don’t.
The answers you get will give you greater understanding of what this customer wants, and give you fresh insights to differentiate yourself from your competition by making additional points about how you handle such problems.
The time to ask those questions that will help you evaluate the job’s suitability to your career plans comes only when an offer has been made. This is because once a hiring manager has decided to offer you the job, s/he is eager to close the search and get back to work.
At this point your questions and needs will be met with serious answers and greater flexibility. Until then, keep your questions focused on the responsibilities and deliverables of the job, and those pesky problems that get in the way of the job’s responsibilities being executed successfully.
You should have one simple goal for every job interview: Focus on getting to the offer.
Do whatever it takes to get the offer, because until an offer is made you have nothing to evaluate. Do this even if you wouldn’t work for that company under any circumstances, because you’ll be building a critical professional success skill, and your ego will get a boost as a result of your new approach.
Successful careers don't happen by accident. Professional resume writing expert Martin Yate CPC is a New York Times best-seller and the author of 17 Knock Em Dead career management books. As Dun & Bradstreet says, "He's about the best in the business." For FREE resume-building advice and to view Martin's resume samples, visit the Knock Em Dead website. Join Martin on Twitter at @KnockEmDead and also on Google+.