The Importance of Being Earnest

In baseball, one can make an enormous paycheck and become a mainstay in the major leagues by getting a hit once out of every three times at bats.  A .333 lifetime batting average can probably place you on a plaque in Cooperstown but in a job interview the winner takes all the prizes while second or third place gets you nothing.   There is a certain satisfaction in taking the place or show spots in a horse race but consolation prizes are nothing more than a moral victory and moral victories, unfortunately get you no closer to the ultimate finish line.

A 2010 SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) provides the following:

*  Resumes lead to interviews 31% of the time.

*  Applications lead to interviews 25% of the time.

*  Networking contacts lead to interviews 44% of the time.

With the SHRM numbers in hand one can surmise that a positive interview results in a job offer 100% of the time.  You can have the finest written resume ever and an abundance of outstanding references but if you cannot present yourself in the best of situations during a job interview your ultimate result may be less than stellar.  If you are looking for success, it is the interview that will get you first over the finish line every time.  To that end, you need to prepare and practice before you take your show on the road.

What It Takes For A Great Interview:

1)  Determine what the search committee or recruiters are looking for.  Reread the job description and prepare for questions that focus in on the specific talents mentioned. 

2)  Since the best interview is one that is conversive rather than interrogative – prepare a few personal and relevant stories that you can insert into the conversation at the most appropriate time.  Such stories will make you seem more personable and desirable.

3)  Remind yourself that a job interview is your opportunity to sell yourself.  If the questioning is not showing all your talents make sure you maneuver the conversation in the direction you desire.  Be prepared to provide your talking points at a drop of the hat.

4)  Since many interviews start with that tried and true question: “Tell Us About Yourself?” – make sure you have a tried and true response.  This is your elevator speech and you can get their attention early if you do it right.

5)  Most interviews can be made or lost in the first 5 minutes.  You have to be engaged and interested right out of the chute.  Initial eye contact is a must and make sure that those handshakes are memorable.

6)  This is the ultimate selling opportunity so make sure that the interviewers know of your unique talents.  It is important for you to put on the table all of your exceptional experiences and qualifications.  You need to distinguish yourself from the other candidates. 

7)  Because it can be a long day for the interviewers you need to make yourself memorable – in a positive way.  It is conceivable that you are one of many candidates so it is vital for you stand out above the crowd.  Your stories, your professionalism, your experiences can all assist in determining your future success.

8)  Watch what your body language is telling your interviewers.  Sit up with both feet firmly on the floor in front of you.  You do want to give the impression that you’re comfortable but be aware of the fact that numerous eyes will be on you for the next hour or so.  Your gestures and mannerisms  are just as important as what you say!  Be free-flowing – never mechanical and please eliminate all annoying objects – pen in hand or noise-making jewelry. 

9)  Be prepared for an inquiry into your best and worst personality traits.  What people will say about you? and What you like least and most about your previous positions? are just a few of the standard questions that deserve prepared responses.  Make sure your answers don’t seem rehearsed even though they are.

10)  In conclusion, you never leave the room without closing.  I know it is cliche but do leave all your cards on the table.  You want the decision-makers to have all the pertinent information.  You need to show the selection committee that you are the only choice for the position.  You need to be earnest in portraying your desire for the job and what you will be able to achieve when given the opportunity.

A job interview is a chance to shine.  We have always said that we just need to get our foot into the door to succeed – this is our chance!  Like any performance you do need to rehearse and give it your best effort ever.  If this is the job you really want – make sure you don’t leave the room until you get it.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his distinguished career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words and 85 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.


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