How To Interview For A Job: Advanced Skills

The Internet is full of basic information about how to prepare, how to dress, how to shine your shoes, what questions to expect, etc. By all means read this intro material. But I don’t see much about the real event and what it is.

Interviews are all about you, right? Wrong. Job interviews are all about the needs of the employer. If you demonstrate that you understand this, you have separated yourself from the crowd. You are instantly on the short list of candidates.

It’s A Sales Call

Sell yourself as the solution to your employer’s needs. Here’s how to do it.

#1 Understand The Employer’s Needs

Are you interviewing for a management position or a specific function job?

Management job descriptions always use terms like “must be a problem solver” or “decisive.” Non-management job descriptions always say things like “must be detail oriented,” “accurate,” “fast paced” and “able to take direction.”

Sometimes you’re interviewing for a job that needs you to be a problem solver without the “management” title. That’s big these days. In that case you must read my article, “How To Be The Happy Slave.” Just kidding.

My point is you study the job description and the employer’s list of “required skills and experience.” List the qualities you find there on a sheet of paper and then write out a few examples of how you possess these skills and experiences.

When the interviewer asks you to tell them about job XYZ on your résumé, you are going to spice your answer with examples of how you demonstrated the required qualities needed for this job.

#2 Connect With Your Interviewer(s)

Everyone wants to hire someone they “like.” So as soon as you enter the interview, try to find a personal connection with your interviewer. After the firm handshake and the smiling, direct-eye contact, scan the room for some clue to a passion of your interviewer.

What pictures are on the wall? On the desk? Any trophies or awards? Family or hobbies?

Let’s say you see photos of your interviewer holding a big fish on a deep sea fishing boat. You can say, “Do you like deep sea fishing?” “That must have been exciting.” “I did that once” or “I would love to try that.” Try to find some little way to make a personal connection.

If your interview is in an impersonal conference room with several people, that’s when you comment on what you’ve learned in your company research. “I read where the company recently merged with XYZ Corp. You must be busy with a lot of transition right now.”

Don’t worry about seeming too assertive. You are on a sales call, my friend. Your interviewer has a problem and you are the solution. You’re not trying to take control of the interview, you are simply making a connection, being warm and friendly.

#3 Ask Your Questions Early

Don’t wait until the end to ask questions! You are on a sales call so you need to ask a few questions to better understand the interviewer’s needs.

“Can you help me understand what your goals are for this position? This will help me focus my explanation of my experience and work history to your needs.”

Then work examples into your story that demonstrate your relevant skills and experience.

The worst advice I have seen on the Internet says to “be ready to ask good questions at the end.” Then they usually recommend questions like “Tell me about a typical work day for this position.”

Don’t ask questions that are all about you. The interview is about the employer and their needs. It’s not about how suitable this position may be for you. If you have real concerns about the suitability of this position for you, save them to ask after you have been offered the job.

#4 Try To Close The Deal

At the end of the job interview, you are usually asked if you have any questions for them. This is a good time to summarize what you offer to the employer. “If I’ve understood you clearly, you need someone who has 1) _______, 2) _______, 3) _______ in this position. Is that pretty accurate?”

This is a “trial close.” You test your knowledge of what the interviewer is looking for in this position. If the interviewer adds something to your list or corrects your list, you then have one last opportunity to give an example of your skill or experience with this new need.

If the interviewer says, “That pretty much sums it up,” then you try to move toward an offer. “We’ll, I believe I’ve demonstrated I have excellent skills and experience with your needs for this position. I am convinced that I could do a good job for you and I would love the opportunity to work for you. When can I start?”

They will either offer you the job or say they need more time to finish the process. If they need more time, I guarantee you have impressed them with your potential for this job. Thank them for their time and go forth into your day knowing that you did your best. That’s all you can do!

#5 Visualize Getting The Job

This is actually the first thing you should do before you go to bed the night before your interview. Spend five minutes seeing yourself shaking hands with the employer and thanking them for the job.

See them introducing you around to other employees. Hear them saying, “We want you for this job.” Hear your friends and your family congratulating you on this new position.

Now you have the keys to successful job interviewing. Combine visualization with good pre-interview preparation and you will have great confidence heading into your interview!

What If You Have No Direct Experience, Or You’re Changing Careers?

You may be fresh out of school, you may be trying to change careers, or perhaps you’re trying to work after a long period of not having a traditional job. You still can use this process of knowing what the employer needs and showing that you have these skills.

Be creative! Of course you have experience: in your school work, in your other jobs, in volunteer work, in the Service. I guarantee if you really look at your life experience, you can find ways to show that you have a whole range of skills and abilities that employers need.

Good luck with that interview! If you need advice, drop me a line. I would be happy to help you advance your career.

Photo provided by


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.