It Isn’t What You Say, It’s How You Present It. Interviewing Tips

When you watch movies that took place during the great depression or about unions striking, you will commonly see lines of people at the unemployment office or at a warehouse hoping that they get selected to work that day.  It was a sad reality back then and remains true in some areas today.  In the movies I always remember a guy taking off his hat and looking up with sad puppy eyes saying something like “I’m a hard worker, I’m loyal, I’m honest.”  Then the man would let the Hiring Manager know that he has a family at home and really needs the job.  Although there is a difference between the movies and real life, when I am interviewing people I often actually get similar responses.

I’ll ask someone to tell me about why they would be a good fit for this job.  Although they don’t take off their hat and look at me with puppy dog eyes, I have heard “I’m a hard worder, I’m loyal, I’m honest” and a few people say “I’m motivated”.  Then after the candidates would say that I would sit there and look at them.  Almost all of them would sit there and stare back at me.  The mistake that many of them made was that I gave them the chance to either be hired or not.  They should have taken that time to reinforce why they are how they described themselves.  This would have differentiated them from the other people who gave the same response.  For example:

I’m a hard worker.  Why not talk about when you had to work hard.  Talk about pressure and deadlines.  If you are in accounting, talk about having to get annual reports done that were due that night and you stayed and worked while everyone else had left.  If you are in packaging or shipping, talk about staying late and ensuring that all orders were filled, checked and were ready to ship out on time.  Give me examples on how or why you actually are a hard worker.  Don’t just tell me you are a hard worker and stop right there.

I like working with people.  With this answer, why not elaborate and say that you enjoy being part of or leading a team.  How you can help to motivate others and add new ideas to increase productivity and a better overall deliverable.  Talk about your interpersonal skills and how you can help to raise morale and productivity without being a distraction and wasting time talking by the water cooler.  Saying you like to work with people can be a good or bad thing.  It could be bad because you may be seen as someone who distracts others or because the role requires you to work alone.  If you are given a chance to give an example of why you like working with people, give an example and try to make it relevant to how the company will benefit by you liking to work with people and how it will help you in the role.

I’m very loyal.  That is great that you may think you are very loyal, but how does the stranger in front of you know that?  Try to give an example of when you were loyal to someone or to a previous company.  Then try to show how it can relate to the job you are trying to get.  This can sometimes be a better way to show that you are loyal instead of just making that statement.

I’m not afraid to “go the extra mile”.  Many people love cliche’s, but when it comes down to it many people may not actually always be willing to “go the extra mile”.  If you talk about not being afraid to go and deliver far beyond what was required, you should use some references to projects that are relevant to the job you are applying for.  You may also want to follow up and also explain why it was above and beyond what was required and what the results were.

I’m honest.  Anyone can say they are honest people, but you cannot prove this until you are hired.  If you say you are honest, you may want to try and find some examples where being honest paid off or helped others in a good way for the other people and the company.  Honesty is mostly a trait and not a job skill.  Although it can be very important, it may not be relevant for the job.  If you say that you are honest, try to give examples of when you were honest and what the outcomes were.

If you got credit for someone else’s work, talk about how you corrected it and made sure that person was given the credit.  If you talk about refusing to do something because it wasn’t honest, depending on the person interviewing you it could be seen as good or bad.  They may be happy that you stick by your morals and ethics but at the same time there may be times when you find out about something in the company that needs to be kept secret.  The person sitting in front of you needs the reassurance that if you found out confidential information then you can keep it a secret.  You might not agree with it, but if the press asks you about it the company would need to know that you would represent them in the best possible light.  You don’t have to lie but you also have to keep the company’s best interest in mind.

Part of landing a job during an interview is thinking about how you present what you say instead of just saying it.  Instead of saying you are a leader, talk about why you are a leader.  If you say you are creative then give examples of where your creativity paid off for the company.  Remember to think about what you are saying and to be able to back it up with examples that are relevant to the job you are applying for.  That could make the difference between you getting a second interview or being placed in the rejection pile.

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