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8 Hacks to Help You Stand out in Interviews

8 Hacks to Help You Stand out in Interviews

You have gotten through to the interview, so congratulations! You have done all your preparation and been through the company’s website so many times that you know it by heart. You have prepared everything very carefully, chosen the right outfit and you have prepared for all eventualities for getting there on time. But how do you actually do the interview to show off your strengths and make the best possible impact so that they must give you the job? Here are 8 hacks to make you stand out.

1. Make a positive first impression.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” —Harlan Hogan

Did you know that some companies now ask their front of house staff to report on the way candidates introduce themselves when they arrive for the interview? Courtesy always pays off.  Once you are inside the room, the main thing to remember is that you need to make eye contact, shake hands confidently and also smile. You have to make sure that you do not mumble or speak indistinctly. You cannot imagine a mumbler getting on the short list, can you?

2. Don’t dominate the conversation.

As someone has remarked, the interview is a dialogue, not a monologue. Whatever you do, do not go flat out to impress by talking too much and dominating the interview. You need to find out how the interviewers view the company and what their goals are. That can often be very illuminating and can guide you when answering their questions.

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3. Use the STAR method.

When you use this in answering questions, it is a great way to ensure that nothing gets left out. Start with the situation (S), then move on to the task (T). Talk about the action (A) you took which should be the dominant element and finish off with the result (R). They might ask you how you dealt with a problem when time was running out. You could give details of when your company had to give a presentation on a new product to industry leaders. The person who was to do this got stuck in a traffic jam. You had to find a replacement and you got some extra time by asking for a later time slot. You were able to find someone else and it went well. The original speaker was able to arrive for questions and useful contacts were made.

4. Be transparent about your weaknesses.

They always ask that question about your greatest weakness. If you respond by saying that you are just not on the same wavelength as those who don’t bring passion, dedication and diligence to the job, then nobody will believe you. No one is perfect and what they want to know is what happened and what you learned from a failure. Or perhaps they are homing in on some weakness you have as regards character and how you have dealt with that. You may be very impatient with less dedicated colleagues but you can only make an impact by saying how you deal with that in the workplace. Talk about the strategies you use to overcome any weakness so that it is always part of your development.

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5. Be positive about your previous work experience.

The message you want to get across is that you are on a learning curve and that difficult working conditions have actually helped you overcome some problems and made you more aware of certain issues. Once you start going on about all the negative aspects and criticizing people openly, then you can be sure that you are not going to be on the hire list. You are just confirming that you are indiscreet and perhaps, even worse, a whiner.

6. Ask searching questions.

When you are asked if you have any questions, forget all those rather trivial ones about sick pay, holidays, salary and bonuses. This is what all the other candidates are going to ask about. You are not going to fall into that trap. Why not find out what the company wants from you and what they expect you to achieve in the first three months? These opportunities may come up during the interview, rather than at the end. Whenever you get a chance to ask a question, use it to make yourself stand out. Ask them what they think the company will look like in a year’s time as regards their products, marketing, revenues or teams or whatever is relevant. Try asking them what you will need to concentrate on if you are to make the impact they want in the first three months. You could also find out what are the main challenges this position will need to solve in the long term.

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7. Show your passion and energy.

Most candidates are on a spectrum from the very shy to the show off. But what will really make you stand out is your ability to actually convey the passion and the energy you have for various parts of your work, your skills sets and your achievements. Yes, you can be modest about these but show that these are steps on the ladder. A great way to stand out is to show enthusiasm, confidence, energy and passion for the job. A dull, negative or passive person will never get the job.

8. Showcase your work.

It is not enough to actually say what you have done or what you organized. You need to have these things with you if they are relevant to the interview. If they ask you about what role you had in a fundraising event, why not actually show them the invitations, publicity, and other relevant documents? This is why it is so important to have these in your portfolio with you. You can whip them out at a moment’s notice. You have to ensure that they are all easily labelled and that there is no fumbling.

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Follow these techniques to make sure that you are going to be noticed and that you make a positive impact. If you do, your chances of getting the job will be much better.

Featured photo credit: Last thoughts during the interview/Matthew Hurst via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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