A Whole New Interview Mindset
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Mary Kay Ash
Great interviews are not about you.
Our greatest interviews are centered on fulfilling the employer’s needs and expectations.
When we come from this basic truth, much of the fear that often accompanies interviews becomes far more manageable. In fact, let’s address fear for just one moment. Successful people are used to the experience of fear. They develop the courage to take action whether or not they are afraid. Behavioral scientists have indicated we can make that journey easier and healthier by having friends and family members who comfort and encourage us to move forward.
Interviews are sales conversations. Many people are frightened of making sales calls because they believe they will have to make a pitch. Remember those? You make a pitch and then overcome the objections of a buyer. I don’t know about you but the process feels a bit like getting taken hostage rather than building a relationship.
Thankfully, pitch selling became obsolete in the 80s. A group of scientists was hired by Xerox to understand the psychology of selling. They came up with a game-changing piece of information:
Human beings are capable of thinking about something other than themselves for 15-seconds.
Pitch-selling places no importance on the customer because all that matters is making the sale. When we shift our attention to fulfilling the manager’s or owner’s expectations, connectivity and clarity emerge.
This is the suggested mindset we bring to all interviews.
Once again, great sales calls are not about us. It is about them. This is another reason why research and fact-finding is so important before an interview. Properly prepared, we can convey, in one carefully constructed question, just how much we understand the hiring manager’s challenges. Skilled questioning helps us paint a clear picture of what the hiring manager wants and needs. I’m not suggesting that a candidate take over an interview. But we raise the probability of success by having a balanced and conversational interview.
As you conduct research about the organization and the hiring manager, prepare a list of open-ended question that inspires the manager to share her or his needs and expectations. Tailor what you tell them about yourself by their responses.
But, always be prepared to manage that interview just a bit.
In my latest book, The Workplace Engagement Solution (Career Press), we devoted an entire chapter to hiring managers. This segment of the talent acquisition process tends to be one of the biggest breakdowns with employee engagement. Employers rarely make a minimal investment to teach managers how to identify the best candidate for the job and to even be aware of their unexamined bias. All too often, the candidates go along with a sloppy interview with the fear that if they try to manage the conversation, the manager will be put off. But, with a little skill-building, we can better manage interviews under a broad array of circumstances.
Inquiry-based interviewing represents a big departure for many candidates. In fact, developing a Socratic, question-driven approach to life can improve all of our relationships. Of equal importance is to listen to their every word.
Prior to launching Inspired Work, my last job was as a manager with a well-known staffing company in Los Angeles. I was attracted to the position because my boss was a fierce business leader and she became an incredible mentor. Shortly after I joined them, she asked to come along on a sales call at Warner Brothers. After the meeting, Gail turned to me and said, “That was the best sales call I’ve ever been on.”
I laughed and asked her to explain her point-of-view.
“You focused exclusively on her and the needs of the company. You led the executive into realizing a couple of solutions simply by guiding her through great questions. If I ran back in there and yelled, ‘Tell me everything that you know about David Harder,” she would respond, ‘He asks great questions.’ If she called you tomorrow and asked you to design a complicated service proposal, you wouldn’t have to ask for one piece of additional question. She knows that.'”
Rather than making a pitch, the inquiry-based mindset is far more effective in having a great interview. One of the easier ways to get started is to make believe your interview is actually the conversation you would have during your first day on-the-job. You are sitting down with the boss and discussing everything you need to know so that you can hit the ground running.
If you have really done your job, the hiring manager is going to realize that you pay attention and that you are skilled in defining all that needs to be accomplished. On the other hand, in digging a little deeper, you might reach the conclusion it isn’t a match and the opportunity is definitely not your dream job.
This is the mindset of a great interview.
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