I always notice as graduation season emerges, I start receiving questions from participants during my keynote addresses and workshops that shift toward their children. One of the most frequent questions I hear these days is “Do you have any tips I can share with my son/daughter who is a about to graduate? What can they do to stand out in a job interview?”
A job interview is really about a selling situation. Only, in this case, the product you are selling happens to be you. Accordingly, this advice not only helps new job applicants, but also business professionals in selling situations. I have shared this same advice, and I consistently get feedback of tremendous success.
First – Know Your Immediate Goal
It’s a job interview. So, you might be thinking that your goal is simply to get hired. Though that might be your ultimate goal, you should first take the time to understand the process. In fact, when you are first confirming the interview, you might want to ask a question like “What is the process you typically follow when hiring someone for this position?”
You might discover that the initial interview is conducted by someone in the human resources (HR) department. If you make it past them, then you get to step two. If that goes well, then at step three you would meet the person who would be your supervisor.
If you uncover that those three steps are the process, then recognize that your goal is to be interesting enough for the HR person to move you to the second step. Trying to push the HR person to make the hiring decision at this point would be counterproductive.
Businesspeople often make this same mistake in sales situations. It is easy to focus on your own goal or objective. However, it is more important to understand and appreciate your client’s situation and process. Much like the HR person, the team member doing initial research about potential vendors is not likely to make a purchase decision on the spot. Similarly, your goal is establish enough interest to reach step two.