Your resume made it past that difficult first screening. While you’re celebrating, your mind can’t help but to leap to the next step: the job interview, where looking your best and making yourself stand out are the tasks at hand. Even scarier still, you anguish over your ability to answer those trickiest of interview questions in a positive way. Don’t fret; here are what we believe are the three most difficult, along with ways to come out at the positive end of the transaction.
1. “Your resume indicates that you have no direct experience in this type of work. How will you handle the job?” What they’re really saying, “I’m afraid you won’t be able to function well in new environments.” Respond by calming their fears. Give them concrete instances of times when you changed roles, overcame technological obstacles or were asked to work with a team of colleagues you hadn’t previously known. Turn fear into positives: you overcame the impediment, thrived on the challenge, learned new skills and demonstrated your flexible approach.
2. “What would your job references say about you?” In the best case scenario, you have spoken to all of your references and coached them on exactly what skills and qualities you would like them to emphasize. If this is true, all you need to do is tell the interviewer what you already know. The underlying question being asked of you is to list your strengths. Start your answer with, “My references would say.” This gives a third party validity to your answer, raising it above the level of your own conjecture.
3. “Why should we hire you?” Give a big internal sigh of relief when this question comes to the fore, since you can fully prepare for it in advance. Look at the employer’s job description and develop a razor-sharp, effective sales pitch of four or five sentences. Include in it the personal qualities and experiences that would make you the ideal candidate for the job. To give it third party validity, use phrases such as “Colleagues have recognized.” Emphasize qualities such as self-motivation, creativity, communication skills and a desire to succeed. Be prepared to back these with examples. At the end of your statement, say something like, “Is this what you are looking for in a candidate for this position?” If the interviewer says “yes,” you have planted a suggestion that you are the perfect person to hire. If she says “no,” this affords you the opportunity to learn what she is expecting and to answer her concerns.
As you can see, the job interview is nothing more or less than a complex game in which both parties have only a few minutes to size each other up and make potentially life-changing decisions. Does it have the potential to be frightening and intimidating? Of course, but it is also an arena in which you can become the master of your own destiny just by the answers you give and the confidence you exude. When viewed in that way, an inquisition can be transformed into an opportunity.
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