For candidates who haven’t been on the job market in a while, it can be confusing as to how to approach an interview. They may be unsure what to talk about and come across as less polished than they could be.
If they are feeling loss because of circumstances with their most recent job, the challenge of getting in a winning mindset for an interview is intensified.
Even the candidate who is the hottest thing walking at her company, at the top of her game, may not have recently contemplated the specifics of her achievements so as to articulate their quantities and qualities with ease during an interview.
A simple hint to keep in mind is what seasoned Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Senior Recruiter Jeff Lewis calls his Lecture 101 B:
“Talk in terms of nouns, reality, and facts, instead of adjectives,” says Lewis. “It could be turnover rates, sales rates, customer service; think about these things.”
Take the time to write down your professional achievements, focusing on the issues that are key to the position at hand. Don’t make it hard for the interviewer to draw it out of you. Typical issues to consider:
• How did you make your company money?
• How did you save your company money?
• How did you lead others and build successful teams?
• How did you improve a process or procedure?
And to do so…
• What hurdles did you have to overcome?
• Whose buy-in did you need to get?
• Did your results exceed expectations?
Do your homework to find out the company’s values and what the biggest challenges are for the position.
Focusing on your contributions to the bottom line and your strategic ideas for the role may hit the right note in some cases. In others, the focus is better kept on your supervisory or team building successes, particularly if you are interviewing for a managerial role. It all depends on the company and the position.
This leads us to the other biggest reason to hire you besides your accomplishments and achievements; let’s call it Lecture 101 A: attitude.
People generally want to hire upbeat, enthusiastic, personable, confident go-getters who are excited about the company, the job, and the impact they can make. Enthusiasm is contagious.
For lower level positions, companies may abide by the adage “hire for attitude, train for skill,” though this is rarely the reality for the higher paying positions, and even more rare where third-party recruiters are involved.
Employers are looking for the whole package: a proven track record, a great cultural fit, and a great attitude.
If you simply say you’re a great fit for a particular job, you could come across as arrogant. Say you’re a great fit because of the particular things you’ve done that are a good match for the company’s needs and values, and say it with authenticity, energy, and enthusiasm, and you will be putting your best foot forward… which is the best way to get your foot in the door.
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Rebecca Patt specializes in retained executive search for the restaurant industry with Wray Executive Search.
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