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Candidate Help & Advice

Effective Interview Preparation

shutterstock_131020787While preparing for an interview, it’s imperative to know what will and won’t persuade a recruiter or hiring manager. Attempting to convince an employer that you are competent by outright stating, “I am competent,” will have the opposite of the desired effect.

Hiring managers are most easily persuaded when they think an idea is theirs. With that being said, when preparing for an interview, it’s crucial to have an underlying tone of accomplishment and intelligence.

This will allow the recruiting party to come to the conclusion that you are competent without you having to outright say it. This is the foundation of persuasive interviewing.

Describing Past Jobs

When describing your past and current positions, it’s imperative to be prepared with an answer that is robust, relevant and relatable to the audience.

Remember, instead of outright stating that you are competent or goal oriented, your answers should allude to the fact that you were both impactful to the company and hard working.

In order to do so, our sales headhunters recommend you discuss your past job in terms of a solution you solved.

For instance, an individual in accounting doesn’t keep the books. Instead, they leverage their financial expertise to ensure that their company is fiscally healthy.

Using this formula, try answering the following points:

a. What the company does as well as their strategic business model.

Ex: Remember, you didn’t work for a software company. Rather, you spent the past few years, contributing to an organization that designed software which ensured that organizations were less prone to security breaches.

b. What the company hired you to do.

c. Whom you assisted on a daily basis.

d. The goals you achieved as well as the hurdles you encountered on the way to meeting those objectives.

Describing Your Reason for Leaving

In one form or another, the interviewer is going to inquire as to the reasons you’re looking to move jobs. This is a point where many struggle to be persuasive – especially if they have had a multitude of positions in the past few years or are coming from an organization that is mismanaged, financially unstable or otherwise problematic.

Speaking negatively about a past or current manager can make you appear as petty, unmanageable and / or unprofessional (all of which will render you unpersuasive).

On the flip side, by not touching upon these weaknesses, you risk giving the impression that your reason for leaving is due to incompetence, performance inconsistency and / or lack of work ethic.

The most persuasive way to approach this answer is to speak objectively by completely taking yourself, your boss or any individual out of the equation. Rather, focus on the company as a business entity.

For instance, instead of discussing that you are looking to leave due to a pay cut (which an interviewer or recruiter can view as a signal of ineffectiveness), you’ll be more convincing by focusing on the company’s financial health.

An example would be:

Due to current revenue problems, organization x has to scale back research and development expenditures which is hindering innovation. This is already having a significant impact on the company’s ability to stay competitive and will hinder their prospect of becoming a top firm in the coming years.

Switching Industries

Often, managers will prioritize candidates who are coming from the same industry for two reasons:

1. People familiar with the industry will require less training.

2. Individuals who are not accustomed to the vertical are more apt to be unhappy and leave.

Luckily, extensive knowledge of both the company and industry can take the place of experience and aid you in persuading the most skeptical headhunters and hiring managers. Intelligent job seekers successfully level the playing field by preparing answers to the following questions:

a. What makes you passionate about the industry?

b. What factual evidence makes you think the vertical is strong?

c. Why do you believe the organization that you’re interviewing with is a viable competitor?

In the End

If you are going to take the time to interview with an organization, it’s only logical to set aside ample preparation time. Strategic preparation carries a multitude of advantages. In conjunction with building confidence, it will allow you to effectively persuade an interviewer that you are knowledgable, intelligent, autonomous and ambitious without outright stating these qualities.