Sitting down with a prospective employer for a job interview can be nerve-racking. For most people, “selling yourself” can be as uncomfortable in real time as it is when you’re writing out your resume and cover letter. But they don’t call it “the art of the interview” for nothing. Nailing the job interview isn’t only a matter of talent, it is also a matter of practice. To beef up your job interview skill set, here are a few things to keep in mind when the questions start flying:
Claims that are made can often be dismissed without any evidence, and job applicants are no different. Be sure to remember this when you sit down for your next interview. One of the biggest complaints hiring managers make is that applicants are too generic, too vague, and too nervous in the interview to show who they really are and what kind of employee they could be. Whether your talents are in communication, organization, or customer service, come prepared to prove these talents to your interviewer.
Come prepared to your interview with an example for every skill set that you claim on your resume. This is the show-don’t-tell philosophy. You won’t likely get asked to prove every skill you claim, but be ready for it nonetheless.
If you’re good at conflict resolution, have a story of the worst conflict that you helped resolve. If you’re a good communicator, have an example of a colleague who didn’t understand what was required of them until you explained it. If you listed customer service on your application, share a time when you got a five-star review after masterfully handling the meanest of customers.
Nobody is perfect. Hiring managers know this better than most, so don’t shy away from discussing your weaknesses. After all, they will ask. The point of the interview is not only to verify that you have the skills you claim to have, but it is also to see if you would be a good fit for the company. One of the best gauges of personality is asking about someone’s shortcomings. Unfortunately, many people fail this test.
If hiring managers had a dollar for every time they heard, “My weakness is probably that I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard” they’d be able to retire living in the Bahamas. Being honest with your interviewer and articulating your weaknesses reflects a level of maturity that employers will marvel at. To them it means you can be taught, trained, and molded into the employee they not only need, but the employee that they want as a part of their team.
You don’t have to be a movie star to give a great interview performance. In fact, trying to put on a show may end up hurting you in the selection process. Hiring managers have seen it all, and job candidates who offer generalizations about their talents and self-flattery about their “faults” are least likely to stand out in a crowded hiring pool. Companies want to know about you. They want a great fit, and so should you. So remember, the best interview is the one that is real, personal, and honest.
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