Everyone would be happy if job interviewers could spot talents with great accuracy. People would not need to put so many efforts into promoting their talents, and business would always have the right people in the right roles. But, this is something that could happen only in an ideal world. In reality, judging talents is extremely hard, especially for short-term interactions with others such as job interviews, where there is only 4% overlap between interview ratings and consecutive job performance ratings according to the Journal of Applied Psychology.
The Harvard Business Review says this is happening because some people tend to fake it during the job interview (pretend to have skills they do not have), and because those in charge of evaluating someone’s talents are not always as talented as they think they are, thus, over-relying on their intuition and misinterpreting key signals such as overconfidence and extraversion. Therefore, it is very important to communicate your talents to the interviewer without inflating your abilities or accomplishments. (Also read - 7 ways recruiters can increase the offer-to-joining ratio)
Here are four suggestions to consider:
Determine and quantify your most relevant experience
Performing well in the past does not ensure that you will perform the same or better, now or in the future. Nevertheless, job interviewers like to hear about stories and numbers which represent your success. It makes them feel that you can do it again in this new job; it offers them a kind of security about their decision to hire you and justify it to the rest of the team. That said, it does not mean that you should focus on every detail and explain everything you did in your last relevant experience. You should not exaggerate, and you should not be vague or rambling. Instead, you should keep it brief and to the point.
Focus on how long have you been doing this relevant job, how many people you managed (worked within the same team), what results you got, what your accomplishments are, and what impact you made to the organization’s overall performance? Talk about numbers, and let the numbers talk about your ability to succeed in this new job as well.
As mentioned in one of the HBR articles, “today we live in an age of short attention spans”; meaning that if you talk too much and describe everything in detail, the interviewer most probably will get lost and will lose attention. To avoid such situations, being specific about your role, accomplishments and results could be very helpful to keep interviewers attention on what you are saying.
Your passion makes a greater impact than your skills
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
We all know that Albert Einstein was passionately curious. His teachers were complaining about him to his parents because he used to ask too many questions, but we all know how this story ended! Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (quantum mechanics is the other one). He made history because he was passionate about what he did.
Now, passion fuels confidence and creates excitement, and it is contagious. David Lutach, the founder, and CEO of Yappn Corp. supports that while passion brings confidence, “confidence creates value for yourself and others by leading the way, and not by showing the way. He explains that professionals who are confident are great leaders and earn respect effortlessly. He also argues that professionals who are excited, create enthusiasm in their teams and are viewed as great supporters. Because passionate people maximize the energy of the team, they are viewed as great mentors as well.
To conclude, you can bring examples from your past experience which demonstrate your knowledge and skills, but it is as important to focus on how passionate you are about this job. Last, because we mentioned that people can fake it during an interview, Barbara Corcoran – an American businesswoman – once said that “You can’t fake passion.” The reason you can’t fake passion is that it comes from within, and only if it comes from the within can it convince someone that it is for real.
Your potential matters more than your past
“When it comes to judging others, we are more interested in their future than their past” (HBR, 2017).
This is because the past has already been written and can’t change, but the future is something that we can shape even though we do not always have full control of it. We are interested in how we (or you) can impact the future to create better results for our life/other’s lives or for our businesses.
To help others speculate about your future – in this case, the hiring team – you can focus on describing the key qualities of your future potential. “Employability and Career Success: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Reality” - a focal article in a 2013 issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology - indicates that to do so, there are three main areas which you can discuss. These areas are learning an ability, drive, and people skills. Nevertheless, it is very important while focusing on these three areas to not make any generic statement, but back up every statement with real examples which can help you demonstrate these qualities of your potential (Also read - 6 practical steps to success.HR can be a partner in crime). For example, do not say that “I am eager to learn,” instead, bring an example from your experience when you went the extra mile and showed interest in becoming involved in something that was not your responsibility but was important for the business and you managed to make it work.
Former colleagues’ opinions can be crucial
What other people think about you has a major role to play in your “reputation.” Unfortunate, isn’t it? This is why employers ask for references and recommendations. Of course, recommendations are not a strong indicator of your future potential, but they still can highly influence someone’s decision to hire you or not.
You should turn your former colleagues, supporters, and mentors, into your personal brand ambassadors, and make them highlight your ability to perform and succeed. If you can do that, then there is no need for you to promote yourself anymore, and several opportunities will come your way.
More to remember
The four aforementioned suggestions aim to help you succeed during a job interview. Nevertheless, it is very important to remember that people from different cultural backgrounds perceive things in a different way and show different levels of tolerance toward self-promotion. That said, before going to an interview and taking up these four suggestions, one should also do some preparation for the interview.
- Company research – Learn as much as possible about the organization. Focus on the impact it has on its customers/consumers/clients and the world. Discover the opportunities it offers to its people and sees if you can relate your personal ambition to the company’s bigger goal.
- Skills matching – Relate your skills to the skills that the specific position you are applying for requires. If you can’t, then look for a different position.
- Body language – Maintain eye-contact. Be confident and excited. Don’t overdo it with any of them.
- Improve your storytelling skills – Backup your skills, talent, and knowledge with real examples from your past experience. Nevertheless, do not talk just to talk; stick to the point instead. Focus on interesting stories and key real achievements.
- Prepare for unexpected questions – To be able to answer questions that you were not expecting in an interview, you should focus in advance on identifying your top three skills. To do so, you can consider: What energizes you at work? For what would people come to you? When people ask you for advice, what do you think are your key skills? You can also ask your colleagues: What do they think your key skills are? If you know these and you have mastered your storytelling skills, then you know how to come up with an answer and where to focus while answering this unexpected question.
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