How to Position Yourself in the Job Market – Part Two
In our previous blog, we looked at some ways to add weight to your value proposition in order to position yourself positively in the job market. This time, we’re going beyond that point to look at how to nail your interview.
A company director once said that when he had to choose between two candidates with similar qualifications, he gave the position to the candidate with the better handshake. Fictitious? Perhaps, but whether true or not, he’s not alone in his judgment. A good firm handshake is a universal sign of strength and assuredness, which is why everyone should have one. A firm (but not crushing!) handshake is a sign of mutual respect from both parties. It immediately sets the tone for any meeting.
Then, introduce yourself by making clear eye contact with everyone in the room, smiling, and stating your first and last name. Next, listen for the other person’s (or people’s) name(s), and use their names whilst you’re speaking. This will not only help you remember their names but also appear sincere and interested in the conversation. (Pro-tip – Don’t overdo it! If you do it too much, you’ll appear insincere, and that will be off-putting.)
Not quite as important today, especially if the interview is via Zoom, but consider dressing for success. This doesn’t always mean a suit. Try and research how office and even home workers dress on a daily basis, and then step it up just a notch for that first meeting (what that means is, if everyone wears jeans, don a pair of pressed khakis). You’ll easily prove that you can fit right in.
Imitating certain behaviours and attitudes of your interviewer – even on Zoom – can help make a fast connection between you and the stranger on the other side of the real or virtual table (it’s called mirroring, and it works). For example, if your interviewer has high energy and gestures while he or she speaks, strive to express that high level of dynamism. And vice versa: If your questioner is calm and serious, dial your energy down a bit.
If the level of the role demands it, be ready with ideas for how you’d like to improve the company within the parameters of your prospective role. What new features would you be most excited to build? How would you engage users (or re-engage existing ones)? How could the company increase productivity or turnover? How could customer service be improved? You don’t need to have the company’s four-year strategy figured out, but you can share your thoughts, and more importantly, show how your interests and expertise would lend themselves to the role on offer.
Also, pay close attention to what your body language is communicating. Be aware of your body language, the way you speak, and the way you are presenting yourself to show the whole picture. If you say, ‘I’m open to new ideas’ but then sit with your arms and legs crossed, it’s questionable you are being genuine. If you say you have management skills but don’t present yourself as a leader, it’s going to be hard for the hirer to trust that assertion. These details make a difference.
The highest-rated interviewees are those who seem positive, interested and engaged in the conversation. But it’s hard to pull this off when you’re obsessing over what question might be coming next and then scrambling to recall how you’re supposed to answer it. Focus more on being a thoughtful participant in the conversation than on trying to predict what’s coming next and how you’re going to respond.
You’re almost there! You’ve positioned yourself perfectly for this role in the job market you excel in. But, it’s not enough that you’re capable of doing the job and would be pleasant to work with, you genuinely have to want the job. Hiring managers, after all, are looking for employees that really want to be there and will be part of the team for the long haul.
Therefore, you want to show enthusiasm for the position. Not bouncy cheerleader ‘spirit’, which is so obviously fake, but the type of enthusiasm that comes from understanding what the role entails, how you can add value in the role based on your previous experiences, and what new challenges it offers to you for growth and development.