Time and again clients contact me for interview coaching. They tell me they are nervous, don’t know how to prepare or how to answer the questions they are anticipating will be asked.
Candidates often overlook the job description in their preparations for the job interview. This is unfortunate because the job description forms the foundation of every job interview and it is little known that the job description is actually a legal document that has many purposes.
For the purposes of recruiting and selection, the job description is used:
- To write the job posting – the job description forms the foundation of the job posting, providing critical information about the vacancy.
- To prepare the job interview questions – organizations will determine the critical success factors for positions and these are published in the job description.
- To evaluate interview answers – when you provide an answer to the interviewer, he or she will document your answer and later compare and score it against the responses from other candidates.
When you are preparing for your all-important job interview for your dream job and you’re not sure where to begin, ask the company for a copy of the job description. Most organizations will provide this. If you are unable to get a copy from the organization, try searching the Internet for the job title you are targeting.
Although job descriptions for functional roles will be similar across industries, it is best to find a job description that is in your targeted industry. This will produce the best results.
Once you receive the job description, read it carefully to ensure you understand the competencies they are looking for. You may have more than a decade of experience in this industry, but unless you are able to articulate your experience in a job interview, you may be shortchanging yourself.
Create examples of your professional experience for each competency documented in the job description. This becomes the evidence the company needs to justify you as the ideal candidate for the position.
If you cannot provide evidence in the interview of the specific competency, you won’t receive full credit for that. This can hurt you when your responses to the interview questions are being evaluated against other candidates’. Obviously, you cannot fabricate examples; but find examples that relate to the competency if you don’t have direct experience.
Not convinced? Last week my client contacted me through a referral after her first job interview with a municipal corporation. Convinced she performed terribly, she decided to reach out to me for help after she was invited back for the second interview.
We reviewed the key components of the job description and then discussed her experience around each of those required skills and how she would address those areas that she did not have direct experience in.
Immediately after the second interview, she contacted me to let me know how much more confident she felt this time. She was able to formulate logical responses to their questions using the job description.
She reported to me the following morning that she received the job offer! She also learned from her professional network that she was competing against an industry maverick who had more experience.
Don’t underestimate the power of the job description, a tool that can help win you the job offer.