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How To Have A Stand-Out Interview

After 17 years as a hiring manager, I have performed hundreds of interviews. While each company and manager will approach the hiring process somewhat differently, I expect that at the core, there are seven questions that lurk in the back of their minds.

Be aware that these questions may not be presented to you as I list them here. But through the questions asked, your responses and how you handle yourself in the interview, the hiring manager will be forming a picture of you. Answer these well in the interview and you will have placed yourself in a very positive light and, hopefully, at the top of the list.

1. Why are you here?

You’re looking for a job. That much is obvious. What is not clear to the manager across the table, however, is why this job and this company? Most importantly, they want to know if you’ve done your homework.

Does what this company stand for align with what you believe in? Do you want this job because it speaks to your own core values? (if you haven’t sorted this out yet, I would highly recommend you do so). Finding alignment here will ensure that your passion shines through in the interview.

Why is this so important to a hiring manager? Because passionate people get results. And passionate people, with a purpose aligned to that of the company, are very likely to stay once hired.

2. What do you know?

By the time you’re interviewing with a hiring manager, it’s assumed that you have the experience to do the job you’re applying for (a screening interview with HR has likely already determined this). What the manager now needs to determine is: 1. Do you fully understand the requirements of the position, and 2. Do you bring to the table a unique selling proposition – something that sets you apart from the other candidates.

Take this opportunity to shine!

Show that your understanding of the role is well beyond the job description. Awareness of the particular needs of the customer, the manager and the company must come through here. And, most importantly, how you, specifically, are the best candidate to fill those needs.

Make sure you have a list of specific examples you can draw on. Be prepared to succinctly describe the situation, what you did to address it and, very importantly, the outcomes.

3. How do you get results?

As a hiring manager, I was very curious about the process used by a candidate to achieve results. In particular, I was looking for the following:

  • Goal-setting and prioritizing skills
  • Persistence when faced with obstacles
  • Resilience in the face of change
  • Initiative
  • Ethics – did you achieve results at all costs, or did principles/ethics factor in
  • Team and communication skills

To convey this to the hiring manager, it’s important to have strong examples on hand of where you’ve leveraged these attributes in previous roles to get results.

4. Are you a team player?

This was a crucial aspect for me in my selection process. Why? Because team players help to create a more positive team and culture. In turn, engagement and motivation levels are enhanced, leading to improved results and retention – both critical considerations for a manager.

Those who struggle in a team setting can cause discord and interpersonal issues in a team. Not only does this have a negative impact on morale, it becomes quite time-consuming for the manager to deal with.

The hiring manager will want to know: Can you build a team effort toward a goal? Can you follow as well as lead in a team setting? Can you constructively deal with interpersonal issues when they arise?

Show your human side here. Everyone has, at one time or another, dealt with conflict with others. Anytime a candidate struggled to find an example sent up a red flag for me. They were either hiding something or their level of self-awareness was quite low.

5. Are you self-aware?

Self-awareness is linked to emotional intelligence. Behavioural interviewing questions are designed, in part, to assess this ability. When answering questions, the hiring manager will be assessing…

1. How you take responsibility for situations, rather than blaming others.

2. Your willingness to admit fault while at the same time turning the situation around to a positive outcome.

3. Whether you’re aware of your own emotional responses. For example, your ability to retain a positive frame of mind in stressful situations, such as during times of ambiguity or change.

6. Are you a learner?

Today’s workplace is changing like never before. It’s also much more information- and knowledge-heavy than at any other time in history.

Companies are looking for employees who are both open to ongoing learning and who seek it out. Learning refines one’s skills and keep one on the leading edge. When change or opportunity occurs, you’re then better able to adapt to it.

7. Are you trustworthy?

Trust is everything. Without trust, a manager-employee relationship has no foundation. A hiring manager needs to feel that you’re the real deal. Authentic. Inauthenticity comes through in some telltale ways, such as when the candidate:

  • Talks around the questions rather than answering them directly and succinctly.
  • Fails to show self-awareness, especially a failure to accept responsibility or to acknowledge his/her part in an issue.
  • Cannot provide me strong examples – i.e. relevant to the question, and that outline the situation, what you did in the situation, and the outcome.

Be yourself and be confident in what you bring to the table.

Summary

Years ago, when I was in field sales, a mentor manager of mine said: “If I can’t see myself spending a full day in a car with this person, it’s probably not the best fit.”

This may seem a bit harsh. But it also reflects the understanding that, as humans, personal connection is key.

Two people can simply click. Or not. Your job as a candidate is to remove as many obstacles in the path to making this connection a reality. Help the hiring manager form a vision of the future that includes you! Do this while answering the above seven questions and you’ll place yourself in the best position possible to make this happen.

Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you ace your interviews and find your dream job? Browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!

About the Author Glenn Case

As a Career Success and Leadership Coach, Glenn guides established career professionals and leaders to greater career success and fulfillment. As well a training as a professional coach, Glenn draws on 17 years of corporate leadership experience during which time he coached countless others to success. His depth of career experience also provides him with an ability to personally relate to many of the challenges faced in today's workplace. Connect with Glenn through his website or LinkedIn.

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