Four Techniques for Turning Job Interviews into Offers
by Nancy Karas
Here are four fundamentals to keep in mind to ace the interview:
1. Learn as much as you can about the organization and the position.
Before the Interview:
Research the company in as much depth as you can. What are its goals and mission? Who are its competitors, and how is it faring in the present economy? Is the industry expanding or shrinking?
What are the primary issues and challenges it may be facing?
During the Interview:
Be proactive in asking questions based on your research: you want insider insights on the problems, issues and challenges.
Share examples of how you have handled similar situations, showing how you can apply your experience and talents to address the issues and create viable solutions.
Let the hiring manager feel that you are there to help and find solutions.
Keep this in mind: you may often be able to help define the job description, as you show the manager how you can help solve the needs of that department.
Find out why the desk is empty. Was there someone in this position previously? Is it a newly created position? What happened to that person? Was he or she promoted or laid off? If the person didn’t work out, what qualities were missing that were needed for this job? What qualities would the ideal candidate bring to the job?
2. Learn as much as you can about the hiring manager and the HR people who will interview you. Move heaven and earth to get the names and titles of the people with whom you will be meeting. If you don’t know—and neglected to find this out when the interview was set up—call back to find out. The Internet may be your best friend in this endeavor. You are likely to find a lot of information on LinkedIn, and a Google search may turn up unexpected details. Years ago, I interviewed for a position with a large company in Northern California. Before the interview, I did my homework, researched the company and the HR Manager I was scheduled to meet with. I looked her up on LinkedIn and learned that she was very involved in a local charity for special needs children. I researched the charity too. When we met, she was not friendly. In fact she was extremely cold to me and seemed really annoyed that she had to meet with me. Somehow I needed to break the ice and find a connection between us—or this interview was going nowhere. I decided to break the ice by talking about the charity. I told her—and this was no lie, said just for flattery—that I was a big fan of all their efforts and if I were to relocate to this area, I would love to contribute to the organization and become a part of their volunteer staff. I mentioned to her that I had done some volunteer work for similar organizations. This topic provided us with a common bond. It told her something important about me. She began to warm up and she was far more receptive to me as the interview went on. In this more congenial atmosphere, we were able to discuss the position and the needs of the company—and how I could address those needs and present solutions.
3. Ask about Your Competition and Your Weaknesses
You really do want to find out how you stack up again others, and if the hiring manager has reservations about you. And yes, you can ask! Near the end of the interview—if not before—do some probing. Ask the hiring manager or the HR team if they have identified any candidates who are a good fit for the position. You may also ask, “Where do I stand as a candidate in comparison to the other candidates?” You also want to know how close they are to making a decision. How many people have they interviewed, and how many are scheduled after you? But above all, you need to find out if they have any reservations about you: “Is there anything about my background that would make you hesitant to hire me?” All of this information can help you as you prepare your follow-up.
4. Send an Influencing Letter
The real work—turning interviews into offer—begins after you have left the interview. The key is brainy, strategic follow-up. This continues the process of building a relationship with the hiring manager. You want to dispel any doubts about your suitability, and influence the decision-makers. It’s up to you to make the case that you are the right candidate for the job.
Most people send a simple thank-you note, but this will have little impact. An influencing letter is one of the most important components of the interviewing process and The Five O’ Clock Club Methodology. You don’t want to leave the decision in their hands. In your letter you may be able to smooth over anything that did not go well during the interview, and answer questions that left you tongue-tied. Demonstrate again that your credentials and your interest in the position make you the right fit for the job. Send a proposal along with your influencing letter to show the manager that you are already thinking about how their needs can be addressed. This will surely set you apart from the competition.
In your influencing letter:
Address the hiring manager’s needs.
Suggest solutions and submit a proposal, based on what you learned during the interview.
Dispel the concerns and doubts that the hiring manager may have had about you.
Show more interest and competence than your competitors!
Are you afraid that this all will make you appear too desperate, or that you will be perceived as a pest? Five O’Clock Club research has shown that this is not the case. Most candidates don’t follow up at all. If they do, they send the standard thank-you note and make one phone call to inquire. Such calls are commonly not returned and no real information is gained. Calling the hiring manager’s office to follow up after an interview is not a good idea. It doesn’t provide you with that golden opportunity to further influence and connect with the person. Sending an influencing letter is the right way to go—then make a follow-up call because there is something new to talk about! Don’t wait for the job offers to come to you. Follow these The Five O’ Clock Club techniques and go out and get them!