Do you put yourself out there too much in interviews, perhaps seeming desperate? Do you know that even though you're a qualified candidate, this kind of aggressiveness may weaken your chances of getting a job you could be great at? Here are five ways to switch things around and get your interviewer to pitch the job to you:
1. Position yourself as the prize.
After interviewing many people over the last few years, I find that sometimes they may be a little overeager. They may not ask the right questions or position themselves as the prize, but rather make it clear the job is the prize. This implies that they may not deserve it.
According to the brilliant book "Pitch Anything" by Oren Klaff, an important concept in sales is getting the prospect to pitch to you. Instead of describing how wonderful your product or service is, you spur prospects into telling you all of the reasons why they should want to work with you.
It can be done with the simple question, "Why should we want to work with you?" When asking a question like this, it's important you strike a playful tone that matches your personality. This is the exact tone you should be striking not only in sales, but also in your job interviews.
2. Ask, "What makes this place a great place to work?"
Even if you're downright giddy at the prospect of working for a particular company, showing that you feel this way puts all of the power in the hands of the interviewer. You should demonstrate a desire to want to work with the company in a calm way when you feel it, but overeagerness sets a bad precedent for who the prize is. You should always position yourself as the prize.
3. Ask, "What traits does the ideal candidate have? What would an amazing first year look like?"
After freelancing my way through college, I was interviewing for my first full-time job in my current industry a couple years ago, and some tips from a video about interview strategies from Harvard Business School I found hugely helpful were:
- Ask what traits the ideal candidate would have, and what type of skills and attributes would make someone well-suited for the position.
- Ask, "What would the next year look like, and what would I have done if by the end of it, you (referencing the interviewer) would have rave reviews about me? What does that look like?"
Asking these questions toward the beginning of the interview allows you to think about how your current skill set and experience can provide examples for the ideal candidate. When appropriate, and without overselling, share brief and telling examples of previous experience that speaks to the company's current need.
4. Do you even want to work for them, or in this particular position?
Of course it's crucial to really think deeply about whether the job you're applying for is something that you're well-suited for. Even if the workplace is an ideal company — say Facebook or Google — where there are a ton of perks, if the job the company is offering won't include doing what you're good at, you need to think critically about this.
I know I've become excited about working at a particular place, but I realized the job I was applying for had rigidity along the job description. It was a "User Experience Designer" position, and while I like this pursuit, I also like to dabble in web development and design. I wanted a job that allowed me the freedom to do all three and more. I realized from this experience that I needed to work for a smaller business like Snap Agency instead because it allowed me the freedom to work across disciplines.
Do you have passions that would go stagnant by working for a larger company with a more pigeonholed role? Or perhaps, you feel more inclined to be super-specialized, and you need to work at a bigger company. The interview is a great place to discuss intricacies to a job that you might not have previously considered.
Follow your passion and be open to discussing your goals with an employer. When you get to really be passionate about your goals at work, it makes quality of life better and allows us to be our best selves.
5. Here are three final tips to crush the interview.
Let's say you've determined you really want to work for this company and in this position. From my experience, three things to keep in mind to help bring it home for them are:
- Don't go into all of the things you haven't learned or aren't good at. If it's your first job out of college, they know you're not an expert yet, and that newness might be partly why they are considering hiring you.
- Tell them a brief story that demonstrates excellence in the areas they mentioned when they described what an ideal first year of someone in your position would look like.
- Talk through your ambition to learn and openness to new ideas.
Culture matters. Mark Suster, in an article on TechCrunch, says that attitude is way more important than aptitude. In my current role, I'd way rather hire a novice coder with a positive attitude and propensity to learn than a coding guru who can't hardly hold a conversation and treats people poorly. Asking the right questions in the interview to try to understand whether or not the culture of the place you're interviewing at would be right for you is important.
Sometimes when we're in the position to look for a new job, we feel a bit desperate. But, it's crucial we don't show that all over our faces.
Instead, relax and really analyze whether or not the fit is right. That might mean sending out 20 resumes instead of three. It's better not to feel forced to take one of the three that offers us the position, even though something about the job doesn't sit well with us.