“Bringing it” to the Interview

There is a popular exercise program that has been out on DVD for a while called P90X, that displays the words, “Bring it” at the beginning of the first disk of the set.  This is done to establish the tone for what the instructor, Tony Horton, is going to put you through as you perform each of the suggested exercises.  And, the key is not so much the exercise itself, but the energy that Horton tells the listener they need to bring to really make the program produce the desired results.Understanding human nature the trainers promoting such programs quickly disclose that, “individual results may vary”, with the knowledge that only a small percentage of those who start the process will have the commitment and energy necessary to accomplish something meaningful.

How true…not only for exercise or diet programs, but also for the many challenges that come out of searching for and landing a new job.

In just the last few months, I’ve run across an increasing number of candidates who are admittedly running out of steam.  They are folks who otherwise seem to be doing everything else very well; developing a very strong resume, networking and interviewing (to a degree), but seem to be told over and over again that, “you were a close second”.

When I’ve debriefed these folks regarding their experiences, I find the following to be in common:

Body language that says, “I’m sick of looking for a job and I’m betting that you (the interviewer/hiring manager) won’t hire me, no matter how well I interview”.

Tone of voice or language that indicates the candidate’s feelings of, “You are probably just going to hire someone from inside the company, so why am I here” or “You think I’m too old to do this job or just too old to be considered”.

Lack of passion during interviews.  Candidates walk me through their interviews as we debrief and I’ve seen them do so in a monotone, “poor me” manner.  Hey – get over it!  Everyone is not the ideal candidate for every job opening…and that does NOT make you “bad” or too old.  If you want me to get excited about you…then SOUND and ACT excited when we talk during the interview or over the phone during a pre-screening or follow up.

Crumbling self-confidence.  This is an interview “black hole” (once you go down this path…it’s pretty difficult to go in a different direction).  Listen, if you don’t believe in yourself…why should I?  The main task/challenge of any candidate is to make me, the hiring manager, truly believe that by hiring them, I’ll look like a genius (to my bosses, peers and team) for doing so.

So…let’s say you would admit that what I’ve noted above describes you/your job search.  Now what?

One of the basic rules of sales is to understand that you will be told by prospective buyers “No” many more times than “Yes”, and landing a new job is the most important, and thus often the toughest, sale of your career (thus, possibly more difficult to obtain the “Yes” you are seeking).  You are selling the prospective hiring manager on the idea that YOU are “the one” and that you are, without a doubt, the ideal candidate about whom they wrote in the job description.

Let’s take another look at the four areas discussed earlier and discuss how to use them as powerful tools in your interview

Body Language that says, “I’m the one who is going to help you take this team/group/organization from good to great.  I’ve done it for other employers and I’m going to do it here again.” Hold your head up, put your shoulders back, mirror the interviewer, maintain good eye contact and don’t be afraid to express passion and excitement with some hand gestures.

Tone of voice and language that communicates a value proposition to the interviewer(s)/hiring manager, which is exciting to hear (since most candidates will drone through an interview in a monotone voice) and tells a powerful story about accomplishments at previous employers and how that same commitment will be brought to bear in their shop to help take them to the “next level”.

Whenever I coach someone in regard to interviewing, I strongly suggest that they approach this dialog as an opportunity to incorporate all of the research they did on the prospective employer (and hiring manager), along with what is defined in the job description as the required skills and competencies into a compelling conversation about why they should continue to be moved along in the selection process.  The more compelling the story, the less focus the hiring manager will have on the color of a candidate’s hair.  If you make me believe that hiring you might be the best career decision I’ve ever made, I’m going to keep bringing you back (and telling other candidates “No, thank you”).

Passion.  Combining positive body language with a high degree of energy and a sense/attitude of “I’ve been there and done that…really well” will produce a powerful synergy that can put a great distance between you and all of the other candidates.  The reality is that the vast majority of candidates interviewed are focused on the wrong things, such as wishing to not make the type of mistake (saying the wrong things) that will put them out of the running.  Instead, they should be focused on how to best deliver the “I can make your team/group/division/company better by you bringing me on-board” message.  Frankly, the candidate who does the best job of delivering that message “wins”.

Self-Confidence exuded by the candidate makes their story far more believable than that of the other candidates.  There can be no true passion without a high degree of self-confidence.  Self-confidence is the product of all of the previous three items discussed and each plays a key role in making the interviewer(s)/hiring manager true believers in the candidates that will continue through the hiring process.

To each person with whom I do coaching related to interviewing, I challenge them to ask the following question during the interview:

“Tell me what I need to do over the next six months that would get you to tell your boss that hiring me was the best career decision you’ve ever made.”

That short question tells the interviewer a great deal about the candidate asking it.  It’s a question that, when delivered in a confident, “I’m the person who is seeking to help take your group from good to great” manner, most often leaves that interviewer speechless.

Recently, I was advised by a candidate I helped that she just landed a new job.  She went on to tell me that she did ask “the question” and, as I had suggested, the hiring manager replied with, “I have two things to tell you about that question…first, I don’t know how to answer it right now and secondly…You just ‘sealed the deal’ – I want you for this job.”  The job opportunity was for a high level sales position.  Just a couple of days after her joining the new company, this same hiring manager stopped her in the hallway and stated, “You know that the reason I selected you was because your resume and interviews were exceptional and when you asked that question, I knew you were the best candidate for this position.”

Bottom line – this person was not the only candidate who had the skill set as defined in the job description.  Nor were they the only candidate who had performed very well while at previous employers.  This person became the ideal candidate by telling the most compelling story regarding how she could apply the skills desired by the employer to produce the type of results that would make everyone look good (for having selected her).

Here’s a challenge for you…

Take a good, hard look in that “mirror of self-evaluation” and, with a hiring manager’s “hat” on, become your own toughest critic regarding how you, the candidate, are presenting yourself during interviews and networking meetings.  Are you coming across with a “poor me” attitude or are you, as Tony Horton would ask, “Bringing it”?