career coachinginterviewingHow can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview? | Career Coach Sherri Thomas

November 13, 2009by Sherri Thomas2

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview? And how can you remain calm and confident especially if you really want or NEED THE JOB? Do you know what your interviewer really wants to know?


Here are a few things your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:


* Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific requirement that you don’t meet, or a skill you don’t have, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential risk for relocating, or potentially being sick or pregnant and at risk for taking a medical leave of absence, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where YOU are a risk.


During the interview, beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. For example, when I was interviewing with my current company, I had six rounds of interviews. During the final interview with the VP of the division and my future manager, the VP asked where I was a risk. My future manager responded that my brother worked in the same division. The VP then asked if I would be reporting to my brother, which of course, the answer was no. You could immediately see relief across the VP’s face when he realized that the risk was identified, and that it really wasn’t a risk at all.


Most interviewers are not as direct as the VP, but the concern is still there. The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk and then immediately follow-up with why it shouldn’t be a problem.


Addressing your risks is also the reasoning behind the question, “Tell me about any weaknesses you have.” When you are asked this question, I recommend that you respond by bringing up an area for improvement, but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that skill.


For example, let’s say that you are interviewing for a position for a Sales VP and the position advertises that the applicant should know a specialized software application. If you are not familiar with this tool, you could say that you do not have a lot of experience with it but that you are taking an on-line training class to sharpen your skills (but only say this if it’s true!)


This approach shows that you are serious about your professional development and take the initiative to grow and improve your skills.


* Does the interviewer like you? Will you fit in with the corporate culture?


This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. Again, it is better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.


I was once interviewing with the VP of Sales at a TV station. After 1 ½ hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted me or not for the position. So, I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office since they get beaten up outside of the office so much. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.


During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics. Your interviewer is trying to get a clear picture on whether you would be a good “fit” for her team. Also, be sure that the ways you dress, speak and act align to the company and the position for which you are seeking. Is the company formal (think Wall Street, a top law firm, or a hospital), or is it more informal (think Google, Starbucks or the YMCA)? Perhaps the company is informal, but the position is formal (think sales, human resources or executive management.)


* Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package? This is usually the final and perhaps one of the easiest areas to determine if you are a good match for the job role. Be prepared to talk about the SALARY RANGE that you are expecting. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts and starting salary. But you should be able to give a salary range that is acceptable.


Since you have one shot to make a great connection with the interviewer, it’s always a smart idea to visit with an interviewing coach to get customized strategies and MORE INSIDER TIPS to strengthen your interviewing skills.

Sherri Thomas


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