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Maintaining a blog is akin to filling one’s own diary because it’s meant not only to share insights on important, often odd, ramblings about one’s existence but it also serves as a reservoir for little secrets. And I decided today to share with you a little secret about how to surpass the inestimable prospect of a job interview and by the same token vastly increase your chances of landing your dream job.
Tips I’m offering here are ones I’ve devised, experienced and used fruitfully in my own (ongoing) career so far. Most of the material in this article comes from personal practice and observations in the job market, the field of psychology, and the political sphere.
Strange mix, isn’t it?
Not so strange if you realize that most of us living in modern megalopolises have to satisfy basic physiological needs (e.g.: eating), make daily choices that will impact the rest of our lives and participate, willingly or involuntarily, in the affairs of the community in which we live.
Stated differently, we need to work, make personal decisions and elect government officials.
Without a doubt, I’ve learned over the years that, due to the very nature of their job, politicians are both the best job applicants and interviewers.
Makes sense? Not yet. Ok, let me elaborate a tad. Elected officials are customarily “interviewed” by their constituents (via the media) in public settings. Put in context, that’s an incredible amount of pressure for someone to answer queries before an entire populace. A good illustration is the large number of debates that US presidential hopefuls have to “endure” at the party level and on national stage.
Think, for instance, about your local senatorial election or US Congress confirmation hearings for Cabinet appointees. Or that time when you had to field questions in front of your team or family members.
Regular citizens, in contrast, often go to one-on-one interviews in private settings. Even senior roles may require a group interview (board of directors) but not a larger jury.
Politicians thus have become adept at interviews and maintain a high level of quality in their discourse. Consequently, they must have the support of a competent entourage, and this explains their qualitative exigencies when it comes to hiring staff.
I call “R-E-A-D-Y” the 5-step interview process and, although I cannot guarantee that it is always effective, I can at least attest to its usefulness in reducing pre-interview stress in my own career.
Roll the drums. Here we go with the big 5.
Your reputation defines you; it’s your brand. People will judge you based on your reputation first and foremost. Prejudices and clichés, at the societal level, are mostly ingrained in reputation, rumor, or hearsay. I recently wrote about companies’ reputational risk but I must admit the same applies to individuals. First, you need to take good care of your “brand name” in professional and social networks.
Ever wonder if you’d vote for a politician with a bad reputation?
More importantly in this internet-driven world, you must heed what I call your “digital deportment”, that is, how you behave online, especially on social websites and forums. Digital data can always be retrieved even if previously deleted so watch those derogatory comments (the “big killer” is critiquing your current or former company or boss) or offensive pictures you post online. Don’t be fired for Facebook!
Again, the question you need to ask: would you elect an ill-reputed politician? How many politicians are out there who ended their career after a reputational issue? Or, more intimately, would you advise a kin to marry someone disreputable? Obviously not. So don’t expect a recruiter to extend you a favor you wouldn’t reciprocate if you were in their shoes.
You must have a high esteem of yourself; in other words, your self-esteem has to command your posture and discourse before and after the interview.
Ever wonder why politicians are famed for outsized ego?
Esteem comes with respect. You need to respect the interviewer because he or she must have had enough reverence to call you for an interview. You must be at all times courteous, quiet, confident and articulate.
Respecting yourself and the interviewer will enhance your reputation. By esteem, or respect, I mean punctuality at the interview, civility in the discourse and avoiding any bad joke or derogatory, offensive comment. Avoid the usual ‘hot button issues’ of religion and politics; try to evade them or stay vague but polite when the interviewer brings those questions. Sometimes, avoiding the question is the best answer.
Remember: first impression is always correct.
Your ability is your skillset, your core competencies. What makes you a unique candidate. You must be good (at least on paper), that’s why the recruiter wanted to interview you in the first place. The very thought of you being competent must boost your self-confidence. Now make sure your “theoretical” know-how ascribed in the resume matches your actual wit in your professional field.
You’ll get interviewed for sure by your future boss before a hiring decision is made. Tell yourself your potential boss knows as much as, if not more than, you in your field so if you don’t sound too convincing during the interview, you’ll never land that dream job at that company.
A notorious political case of professional competence was highlighted amidst Hurricane Katrina’s recovery program under the headship of former FEMA director Michael Brown.
Directness refers to your integrity. You must be absolutely honest in all your dealings, especially on your resume and in your answers. Recruiting managers are very shrewd and experienced nowadays, and some will ask you the same questions in different terms to seek response consistency.
If you care enough about your reputation and respect the interviewer, then you must be truthful. This is especially important because sooner or later the company will unearth the fallacy and terminate your employment.
Remember the political analogy: would you, as a voter, elect or reelect a public figure who was found guilty of gross lie?
Yearning relates to preparation, the degree of commitment you’re willing to exert in your job search and prior to the interview. Do you really want to work for that particular company? If you give an affirmative nod to this question, then you must prepare yourself.
Do your homework and do it well.
You need to know the firm you’re prospecting at a high level of intimacy, its inner workings. Its nuts and bolts. This is especially easy if that firm is publicly listed or/and has a website. Read, read more, and read all about them.
You may also use social and professional websites (e.g.: Linkedin) or ask acquaintances to increase your wit about the firm and even the interviewer. Having this invaluable knowledge will aid your understanding of the firm’s mission and objectives, corporate culture and main strategic moves of the moment.
Think about the extensive debate preparation politicians usually go through.
Now tell me: are you R-E-A-D-Y?