You’ve of course read about the need for interview preparation. You’ve heard of its value, versus the risk of entering into rough terrain that is fraught with random, superficial dialogue about the job, cordial thanks for coming in, and an invisible (but real) nudge out the door. I’ve talked to many folks who once on the other side, didn’t have a clue how things went. The interview often became another chalk mark on a frustration chart.
What happened? Often, the candidate practiced answers to obscure questions never asked. While thinking ahead to get it right, the candidate missed the boat on laser listening, body language that conveyed excitement and confidence, and answers that hit the mark.
Keeping three whys top of mind will often help you avoid the uneasy jaunt through the Interview Zone. They are important, because they pertain to why you are there in the first place.
Why #1: You are there to convey information regarding your abilities, skills, success stories and personality that will convince the employer that you are the one to hire.
Why #2: You are there to unearth as much information as possible about the job, the person you’d work for, the people you’d work with and the organization you’d be joining. You are collaboratively vetting. You want to know whether this is the right fit for you. An unhappy camper does not a happy campsite make.
Why #3: You are there to provide a decisive answer to the one question overshadowing the interviewer’s perspective—however subliminal that may be. “How will hiring this candidate best serve my interests?” Not the company’s interests. His or her interests. In short, how will hiring you help his or her reputation or progression in the company? The third surprises people, but it’s true.
If you prepare for these three whys, you will be better equipped for the interview than most employers (or their interviewers) you talk with. It’s your job to settle them down, make them feel comfortable, and let them know you can help them where they need it.
You smile. You are honest, yet accenting the positives. You don’t ramble or oversell. You stress your qualifications for the job in question. Freely use the term “for example” and cite specific success stories that are relevant. Use each question as a catalyst toward discussion that will enable you to uncover more information on why you are the one to hire.
If “being prepared” translates to being ready for the three whys, you may likely find the interview to be a very pleasant, stimulating conversation; not a “what happened” nudge out the door.