News Flash! The best person doesn’t get the job… The best interviewee gets the job.
The person with the most matching the skills and experience you’re looking for doesn’t get the job. The person who has the best attitude doesn’t get the job. It’s who performs best in the interview that gets the job.
If you’ve read my book, you know how to stand out from the crowd to score an interview. Well done. Now, your next step is learning how to stand out in person (or on video, as the case may be these days). It’s critical that you come across as interested in the organisation’s mission and vision, its product, its impact or its services.
There are some typical questions you may get asked during your interview process. It’s critical that some answers are NOT about you, but about how you can benefit the organisation or deliver the role. Here are three typical questions that you might get asked during your interview and my advice for how to answer them to help you stand out and get that job.
1. Why are you interested in this role or what attracts you to this role?
Never say “Because it’s close to home”. Your residence has absolutely nothing to do with the organisation’s mission or vision – heck, they probably didn’t even know you existed before they spoke to you. So quite seriously, how can that be a valid answer to that very important question? In this candidate heavy market, employers want passionate people (passion can’t be purchased, see HR Hot Tip #31). Now, it may be your driving reason for applying, but don’t tell them that! You don’t need to be that honest.
Same if it’s part-time or casual – “I want this job because of the hours”. No, that’s the personal reason why you want this job. Say something that’s relevant to the role, or the organisation, that links your passion to their mission.
2. What are you looking for in your next role?
Keep lifestyle factors out of this one, so avoid saying things like convenience, location, more time at home with the kids, more freedom to do my own things. Make sure you use relevant adjectives such as you’re looking for a dynamic role in a reputable or responsible organisation; a new challenge where I learn new skills; wishing to be part of a great team for example.
If you’re nearing the end of your career, never say “because I’m close to retirement and I want something to ease into it”. Your retirement age and aspirations have nothing to do with how to be successful in this role.
Be truthful, but say things like autonomy, flexibility, ability to make an impact. Keep lifestyle out at this stage!
3. Give me an example of a personal achievement.
Sometimes people want insight into you personally as well as professionally. Sometimes it’s interesting to hear that you can do a four-minute plank, or have written a book, or built orphanages in third-world countries, hiked Everest or Kilimanjaro or whatever. But do not say your family. Whilst it probably is your best achievement, it’s very cliché and in order to stand out you have to be memorable and original. Everyone’s family is everyone’s pride and joy – tell us something about you that you did. It’s also a great ice breaker and conversation starter.
To further stand out, always make sure you ask questions of substance during interviews (see HR Hot Tip #18) that demonstrate your desire for the role. But leave working hours and salary questions until you’re offered the job.
Let me know how you go at your next interview using these tips!