Finding the right job can be overwhelming. Employers not only want to know you have the skillset to succeed, but that you possess the mindset to thrive professionally and evolve beyond the role for which you are applying. Regardless of experience, you will not be the only qualified candidate. It is imperative to utilize the opportunity to position yourself as the right fit for the role and leave decision-makers with a lasting impression.
So, how do you differentiate yourself from the competition? The reality is, hiring goes beyond the standard practices that are traditionally taught. While you may be successful in applying those tactics with recruiters, high-level executives are seeking qualities beyond the required skills on the job description. Be sure to think about the following before entering your next interview.
What is your background?
Sure. Your resume will get you in the door. It will also get a pool of other qualified individuals the same opportunity. Your education demonstrates discipline and gives you a foundational understanding of the basic business principles and how to implement them. Remember that your education doesn’t go unnoticed, but it won’t land you the job. 35 years of experience in owning, managing and working with businesses among many industries, both international and at a smaller-scale, has given me a comprehensive understanding of what to look for in a prospective hire. This also has given me insight into the development of people and what assets to keep at the forefront. Validate your capabilities beyond your resume. Job-related skills can be taught, your character cannot.
Soft skills matter.
What character traits and skills are executives seeking in their team? Your mindset and habitual nature speak volumes during the interview process. Market yourself in a candid way. Employers tend to look beyond traditional education and seek candidates with grit. Demonstrate that you value collaboration. Someone who contributes to group discussions and embodies the ultimate team-player. Give relevant examples that communicate your desire to learn, develop and evolve your career. Show that you embrace challenges that encourage you to think differently. That is an admirable quality. That is someone I want on my team.
Responsibilities vs. results.
I like to immediately assess individuals by asking questions that expose their rank in terms of performance vs. potential. While proof of past performance is important, Employers are likely to lean toward a candidate who has a high potential. Candidates with both high performance as well as high potential are those unicorn employees who not only do exceed expectations but are coachable and have the desire to grow. During an interview, take the time to communicate accomplishment. Explain prior challenges and the approaches taken to find effective solutions. I have no doubt a candidate can perform the necessary responsibilities so I must gain a solid understanding of their overall potential. Candidates who rank high on the potential factor are more likely move up quickly and ultimately be hired.
I applaud those who are able to speak to their weaknesses and seek out mentorship to develop and strengthen them. Organizations are made up of executives who usually take a ‘no bullshit’ approach to managing. Those executives expect the same from their team. Lay everything on the table and don’t sugarcoat answers to difficult questions. If you don’t know the answer to a question. Tell them. Let the interviewer know right away where you need coaching. Have a good understanding before the interview of where you excel and where you need improvement. Never be attached to fear. Know that decision-makers are investing in you and will also invest in coaching you to get you where you need to be. Give them clarity of your career goals. By showing your eagerness, willing to learn from others and a team-player mentality will help leave a lasting impression.
Demonstrate your emotional intelligence.
Are you self-aware? Aware of the moods around you? Do you know how to manage and work with those moods? If a potential employee can show their ability to cope with stress and the stress of others in an effective way and continue to lead others toward collective goals, they will be more sought after than someone with a specialized education. Too often do professionals assume companies hire solely on intellect. While companies do seek experience, they also seek a candidate who is collaborative, open to feedback and alternative perspectives. The right person for the role should be tactful and not afraid to admit when they are wrong. This shows vulnerability and authenticity; two qualities that are paramount in a leadership position.
Overall, enter every interview fully prepared to reveal yourself in a genuine manner. Don’t waste valuable time reiterating everything stated on your resume. Utilize every opportunity to give the interviewers a glimpse into who you are, where you want to be and the approach you will take to get there. Be consistent. Be confident. Be aware of your challenges and get that job.
Steve Klipsch, President – KM&A