27 September 2023

Show time: How to be at your very best for a job interview

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Patrick Leddin* has some advice on how to be the next best thing at your job interview that the panel simply can’t resist.

Imagine you are about to interview for a job. You want to do well and land the position. You are about to enter the interview room.

Now, ask yourself these questions:

What is your mindset about the interview? How do you intend to behave?

What points do you want to emphasise? What choices will you make?

I’d like to help you rock your next interview by providing a different way of looking at your mindset, choices, and behaviour.

Allow me to tell you a story:

Imagine that it is the 1970s. My parents, four siblings, and I are riding in the family’s green station wagon.

One of my brothers asks if we can listen to music. My mother agrees.

She produces a rectangular shaped object and slides it into the player and, with roughly half of it still protruding from the dashboard, pushes a couple of buttons.

A tune begins to play.

Fast forward a few years and cars came equipped with audio cassette players.

Smaller in size and easier to use, my expectations were exceeded.

Later, the auto manufacturers began installing CD players.

Simply pick a track, push a button, and a second later the song of choice emits from the speakers.

I didn’t even know how badly I wanted the ability to play a certain song on demand, but the designers knew what I wanted.

They anticipated my needs.

Today, I’m not satisfied with cassette tapes or CDs.

I need thousands of songs at my fingertips and I need the gadget to serve as my phone, manage emails/texts, and host a growing number of apps.

Not too many years ago, a device like this didn’t even exist, but since the expectation has been established, I need it.

In a few decades, my expectations went from being met by an eight-track to a smartphone.

Incrementally, a variety of businesses ‘conspired’ to rock my expectations and the expectations of billions of people on the planet.

What does this have to do with your next job interview?

Take a moment to think about this reality.

When you walk into your next job interview, you are one in a line of people interviewing for the same job.

Only one person will get the offer.

There is a good chance that when they are going through their notes and deciding who to hire, someone will refer to you be asking: “Now, which one she?”

If you want to rock your next job interview, you need to consider your mindset, behaviour, and choices.

Here’s a run-down of what it looks like to meet, exceed, anticipate, and establish expectations in your next interview.

Meet expectations:

Enter the room; adequately answer their questions; provide a decent looking resume; thank them for their time; off you go.

You met their expectations. You likely won’t receive an offer.

Exceed expectations:

Enter the room with a quality handshake; effectively answer their questions; provide an impressive resume; thank them while clearly conveying you want the job.

Off you go and you follow-up with a thank you note.

You exceeded their expectations. You might get an offer, especially if everyone else simply met expectations.

Anticipate expectations:

Enter the room with a quality handshake and a clear understanding of who you are meeting.

Impressively answer their questions and ask good ones yourself based on a firm understanding of the organisation and the job.

Provide a resume tailored to the open position, showing that your experience maps to the role.

Thank them, let them know you want the job, and send a well written and thoughtful thank you note.

You anticipated their expectations. You should get an offer.

Establish expectations:

Own the room, without being egotistical.

Teach them something they didn’t know, without lecturing.

Demonstrate that you have already done what they are looking for, without being arrogant.

Make them forget that anyone else interviewed, without saying a negative word.

Let them know that you appreciate their time and want the job, without being patronising.

You established their expectations.

Now, here’s the twist — you may or may not get an offer. That’s okay.

If they offer you a job, take it. They value you and your approach.

You will likely thrive in the culture.

If they don’t offer you a job — be good with it. Move on, it wasn’t a good fit.

In the long-run, you would have likely been disappointed.

In most situations, meeting, exceeding, anticipating, or establishing expectations is a choice.

It starts with you choosing how much you are willing to prepare, practice, perform and put it out there.

Now go and rock their world.

*Patrick Leddin is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, USA. He is also a management consultant and can be contacted on linkedin.com.

This article first appeared on Patrick’s blogsite.

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