So, you’ve gotten an interview for a job that you really want. Congratulations! But now comes the scary part – that first interview.
You only get one opportunity to make a great first impression, so it’s important that you do your homework before the big day. The current job market is incredibly competitive; you want to demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for this position and leave no doubt in their minds about your ability to do the job.
Why is demonstrating your worth during an interview so important?
Not being able to effectively demonstrate their worth is very common reason for candidates to be rejected after their first interview. Hiring managers like to see relevant, tangible examples of where you have added value in the past – and therefore what you can bring to their own business.
Many candidates give generic responses that do not really give the hiring manager insight into what they could bring to the team, and it is very likely that the hiring manager has heard the same response from one or more other candidates. By tailoring your responses to the company and giving specific examples, you can set yourself apart from your competition.
Your fellow candidates may be just as qualified and experienced as you, if not more so. However, if you can impress your interviewer then you have a much higher chance at success.
How to showcase your value and worth during the interview
Research, research, research
The easiest way to make yourself stand out from your fellow candidates is to make sure that you are incredibly familiar with the business. Don’t just have a quick skim-read of their website and call it a day. Head to LinkedIn and research the hiring manager and the key decision makers. Have a look at what they are posting about. Take the time to get a real feel for the business, the team, and the culture.
Practice with common interview questions
Look, you’re not psychic. You don’t know exactly what questions your interviewer is going to ask you. However, it’s safe to say that there are some questions that come up in most, if not all, interviews. If you can prepare and practice your answers to these beforehand, you can impress your interviewer with your smooth answer, as well as saving your brainpower for some of the trickier questions.
For example: “Why have you decided to leave your past/current position?”
“I do not feel that the role itself aligned completely with my career aspirations, and I feel that I could add more value to a business in a role such as this one.”
Identify and emphasise your USP
It may make you sound like a product - but in this case, you are! Take some time to identify what you believe to be your unique attributes; skills or experience that sets you apart from your peers in the industry. Many common interview questions will present the opportunity to sell your unique perspective so practice how you can showcase this in your answers.
Prepare some specific examples of previous successes
This is another easy way to leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager, with a little bit of practice. By selecting some examples of your past successes and memorising them, you won’t need to sit there ‘umm’ing and ‘ahhh’ing, trying to dig up examples from your brain whilst your interviewer sits in awkward silence.
Look at your strengths and the job requirements, and see where they align
Grab a piece of paper and make a list of the job requirements from the advertisement. Now, make a list of your strengths and where you excel. When you compare the two, there should be some crossover – these are the traits that you should be shining a light on during the interview.
Be positive and enthusiastic
Seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong! You would be surprised at just how many candidates can take negativity and bitterness into the interview room. Even if you absolutely loathe your current position, be sure to put a positive spin on your time there. Let your enthusiasm for the role shine through.
“So, how can you add value to this team?”
Sometimes, your interviewer may decide to cut to the chase and ask you directly, “How can you add value to this business?”. Whilst it may seem like an impossible question to answer on the spot, this is where your prior research into the organisation and your practicing will really come in handy. By preparing the following, you can impress your interviewer with your quick-thinking.
How did you overcome a specific challenge?
Did you help your team overcome a challenge that could be relevant to the company that you are interviewing with? Practice how you can use this as a real-life example in response to this question.
Use facts and data
A story about the value you’ve added is great, but if you can use real, quantifiable data to back it up then you will really impress your interviewer, as well as giving them no room for doubt about your ability to tackle similar challenges.
Highlight your adaptability
If you are able to quickly adapt to changing conditions, this is a highly desirable trait which you should be shouting about. Have you had to lead a team in pivoting an offering? Has a sudden change of leadership caused turmoil that you helped resolve? Think of real-life examples and present these to your interviewer in a clear and positive way.
Important tips to remember…
Whilst it is not arrogant to highlight your accomplishments and celebrate your successes, it’s important to remember that the line between ‘confidence’ and ‘arrogance’ is a thin one.
A job interview is not the time to be too humble, however, so you should focus on telling a story with your examples. Keep the focus on factual examples and data, and how this experience and these skills can help the organisation that you are interviewing for.
Don’t use this as an opportunity to ‘big yourself up’, or ‘get one over’ on a previous team or colleague. This will just make you come across as bitter, arrogant - or both - and not somebody who is well-suited to teamwork and collaboration.
Another important point to remember is that skills can be taught, but attributes are personality-led. If asked what your weaknesses are, for example, you should be ready with an example of a skill that you feel you could improve. You can then use the weakness itself as a way to showcase your desire to learn and for constant improvement.
For example; “I feel like although I have a lot of experience with organic social media marketing, however I do not have as much experience with paid media marketing. I am excited to learn as much as I can about paid media, and I believe that I would be able to greatly expand my experience and skills with this particular aspect of marketing in this role.”
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