When preparing for employment interviews, we’re often told a number of things in order to be at our best; be enthusiastic, demonstrate your abilities through specific examples, be honest, etc. Honesty is often exactly what we’re hoping the interviewer would be with us too.
Sometimes we end up feeling that exactly the opposite is the case however. We feel cheated or lied to if we find out later that the job was offered to another candidate and the interviews were a smoke screen to make the process appear legitimate. We can also leave feeling we’ve been deceived if we lose an opportunity because of our age or disability when the job ad clearly stated this employer doesn’t discriminate. Seeing as we’re being honest with the employer, it sure would be nice if we felt they were similarly being honest with us.
There is a question that the job interviewer is never far from thinking the entire interview which is, “Why should I hire you?” True that some interviewers seem to turn the question around in their minds and seemingly ponder, “Why shouldn’t I hire you?” in order to pinpoint problems and hiring issues. Some interviewers do seek to rule out candidates and plan on offering the job to whomever is left; this being the person they are least concerned will present them with any issues.
“Why should I hire you?” is also what you the job applicant should consciously be thinking of both before and during the interview as well as after the interview and right up to the extension of the offer itself. When you keep this question foremost in your mind, you market yourself consistently; focusing on the value you represent to them. Make no mistake, those who interview successfully know that if they truly demonstrate what it is they are able to do for the organizations they interview with, their odds rise of receiving job offers. Those that approach the interview with any other mentality and focus do not share the same success numbers.
Here’s where you’re offered the chance to respond to the employer’s needs. It is for this reason many job seekers who are preparing their cover letters and resumes first do some homework into the organizations they are applying to work for. Often they focus on finding out the mission or purpose of an organization and then the culture or ‘how they go about getting the job done’ mentality. In order to be a good fit, it would be great to know if they want the new hire to assimilate into the mix seamlessly or are they looking for someone to come in with a fresh perspective and different ideas. Do they want someone to shake things up, or if not shake things up, are they looking to add someone with a different set of skills than the people they already have in place? If they’d tell you this ahead of time, it sure would make things easier.
It is for this reason some applicants will ask the interviewer point-blank, “What are the qualities of the person you are looking for?” right in the interview itself. They reason that if the person they are looking for is close or exactly the same as they are themselves, then the thing to do is affirm how well the job fits. If the person described is not who they’ve been presenting themselves as up to this point, then there’s some time in the present moment to take a different strategy if they really want the job and stress other skills and attributes.
Have you ever wanted to say, “Look just be honest with me okay. What concerns do you have about me specifically so I can address them?” You’re seldom going to get that kind of honesty in an answer however because interviewers generally keep their cards pretty close to their chests. They might be afraid of future litigation; you’re too inexperienced, you’re too old, we’re looking for someone with your experience but who is more attractive.
Ah but sometimes they do lay it on the line. “Look here’s my concern; I’m not sure with your education and experience that you’ll stick around if I did hire you.” Our response to this information might be to become exasperated; we’ve heard this before at other interviews and we feel the opportunity slipping through our grasp again. This however, is just the information we need now so we can make our best pitch directed right at their prime decision-making issue.
A good strategy is to acknowledge their concern as legitimate. When an employer says they are concerned we wouldn’t hang around long enough for them to get a return on their investment in hiring us, it has probably happened to them in the past with at least one other applicant. Your job at this moment is to come across as sincere and make your case as best you can regarding the one thing – commitment in this case – they are concerned about.
Should you ever feel an interview is slipping away, you’re being dismissed far too quickly, etc., consider going on the offensive and asking them to lay their reservation(s) about hiring you on the table so you can respond directly to their thinking. Listen with respect for their point of view and empathize with them. Give them in return your honesty and best answer; tell them why they should hire you.