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How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview

How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview

You spruced up your resume, destroyed the photocopier, and managed to land yourself an interview. Congratulations! But what’s next? You’ve done the easy part getting an interview, now you need to make yourself really stand out from the crowd and turn an interview into a job. Interviews can be really daunting experiences, but on the whole they all tend to follow a very similar format, and there are loads of things you can do to get yourself in the right frame of mind and prepared to steal the limelight from the other applicants. Here’s what you need to do, starting from the beginning:

Preparing for an Interview

Getting yourself ready for the day of the interview is probably the most important part of the whole process. Most companies will give you approximately a week between the day they invite you and the day of the interview. This is to give you ample time to prepare yourself as they wish to see you at your best, and so don’t procrastinate – prepare!

Rehearse Typical Questions

Many interviewers will ask similar questions no matter what the field or sector, as they are looking for more personal views rather than expertise-based notions when looking to hire. They want to make sure your desires match up with the companies, and that you will fit into the culture. Glassdoor sifted through thousands of interviews and put together the 100 most common interview questions. It’s best to run through a list like this, and see if you can prepare and plan the points you want to mention, and try to remember the key points and not a speech – sounding rehearsed in an interview often comes across quite negatively.

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Relate to your Resume

When you’ve considered how you want to answer the questions, try and relate your answers to evidence you can find within your resume. Nothing ties together a stronger argument to hire you than you being able to reflect what you have learned and how you have developed, as well as being able to notice your flaws. When considering your flaws, try and highlight how this job will help you develop and concentrate on them alongside strengthening your existing skills. However, be careful in doing this, as they may think you are trying to freeload on their training and development opportunities. Something along these lines:

Although I’ve not previously worked in a managerial role, I have worked amongst many teams and have adopted somewhat of a leadership role, such as a project in [Company]’s Marketing Department. It will be a great challenge to myself, and I am at a position within my career where I am ready to take that step.

(Need help with your Resume? Check out 10 Tips on How to Craft the Perfect Resume)

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Prepare Yourself Mentally

Think about how many people you are competing against probably for one job. You need to prove not only to the company, but to yourself, that you are worthy of the role and that you deserve to have the job. Look through your experiences, your skill set, and highlight to yourself why you deserve the job, and what benefits you can bring to the company. This will have clear knock-on effects to your confidence, the way you present yourself, and will be noticed by those at the interview.

Pre-Interview Communications

This is one area people often forget to consider. You will be communicating with a company or interview prior to the interview, and these first impressions can have a serious impact on how they will consider you following and during the interview. If you’re applying to a large corporate firm, be formal in all communications with them, and thank them for the opportunity (not every time, but at least once!). Again, how you communicate with them will depend on the existing company culture, and this can be a great way to evaluate whether or not you feel the company will be a suitable fit for yourself. Also, if you are unsure, ask about the dress code of the interview. There’s nothing worse than turning up to an interview in suit to find everyone else in jeans and a polo shirt.

Interview Day

Dress the Part

Think about the interview process. You probably emailed a resume, corresponded via phone or email to book in the interview, and now you’ve arrived at the door. This is the first time they will physically see you. That said, your first impressions will be lasting. It’s important that you dress to impress, but also dress appropriately. If they say dress professionally, make sure your suit is clean and ironed, your belt and shoes match (a winning tip for any outfit!), and you are well groomed. Ladies, not too heavy on the make-up; a sleek, a natural look gives off a great elegant and sophisticated vibe, as well as confidence. The outfit isn’t everything though, make sure you have the body language to match (we’ll talk about this further on).

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Be on Time

So the day has come. Make sure you prepared your journey, have a fresh copy of your resume just in case, and you’re presentable and dressed appropriately. Give yourself adequate time to arrive there early, I always suggest trying to get there about 20 minutes early, and sign in or make it known that you are there. Although they probably will not see you earlier, them knowing that you are eager and that you have arrived on time, but not ridiculously early, is a sign of good organization skills. Many people will arrive early and wait until 5 minutes before to make it known that they have arrived, but you’re competing – take every minor advantage you can get.

Body Language

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Everyone has heard a saying along those lines, but there is so much importance in it. I am aware of at least two people who have been turned down for a job because they seemed “too relaxed” or “not passionate enough” because of the way they were sitting in the interview. Keep your body language open and interested (sit up, shoulders back, open arms), and try not to fidget. Being in control of your body is a great way to show you are a confident. Some great ways to practice body language are to record yourself in a mock interview setting and analyze afterwards. Study public speakers and famous figures in interview settings (on  the news, talk shows, etc.) and see how they compose themselves and try to mimic them. Another great trick is to try and mimic the behaviors of the interviewer subtly. If you do this too obviously it can be very noticeable and somewhat off-putting, but in general people subconsciously mimic the behaviors of people they like as a form of trying to gain acceptance and trust. Although this normally happens fairly naturally, its a good thing to be aware of.

Be Confident, Be Honest

Following on a similar note from Body Language, be careful in the language you choose as well during the interview. Avoid weak phrases such as “I feel that…”, “I think that…” as they show doubt in your opinions. Rather, simply state “I am…”, “It is…” and it shows not only confidence in what you are saying, but that you have previously reflected and have created assertions based upon this (especially if the point is regarding past experiences or situations). With regards to honestly, do not lie about what your previous jobs entailed, but simply be honest with what you’ve achieved before and where you wish you could improve. By being dishonest you may open yourself up for danger in the future, if your expertise are ever called upon, and it will cause friction within the group dynamic of the workplace. Do not be ashamed if you feel like your achievements are little compared to others of the same age or field, everyone has to start somewhere!

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Prepare Questions

Do your homework on the company you’re applying to and have some questions prepared which are meaningful to you. Maybe consider whether or not the company culture is right for you, and ask about the office space and the dynamic of the office, or about work do’s-and-dont’s. If not that, maybe ask about what a typical day will entail, or how much autonomy you will have – whatever is important in a role to you. Not only will asking questions benefit you, it will show the interviewers that you are assessing your fit to the company, and will help make sure that both you and the company will mesh together well.

Summary

And there you have it, a few tips and tricks about handling the interview situation. I would say the biggest thing really to consider is confidence. Confidence is so important in so many ways as it will help you: a) Decide which companies are the right fit for all your aspects and you won’t simply rush into anything just because they offered you the job. b) Stand out during the interview process, but be sure you know the line between confidence and egotistical c) Keep you in the forefront of employer’s and interviewer’s minds in case opportunities arise elsewhere or in the future. Interviews are not necessarily just a yes/no, but can be great networking opportunities too. I wish you all the best with your interviews in the future, and hope you get the dream job and progress through your aspired career!

Featured photo credit: S. Charles via ununsplash.imgix.net

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Last Updated on October 8, 2020

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

What do you need to do to learn how to succeed in business? Here’re 10 important skills that entrepreneurs need to become successful.

1. Digital Savviness

As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, whether by utilizing cloud applications, organizing websites using content management systems, or collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

How to Develop This Skill

For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will slowly but surely garner more traffic.

2. Financial Forecasting

Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business, so make this skill a priority when learning how to succeed in business.

Forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done.

However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

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How to Develop This Skill

Generally, it’s easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It’s a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how close your operations are to what you have forecasted.

Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

3. Video Production Skills

The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, after 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5].

With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

How to Develop This Skill

Some ways to get started using videos for your business would be:

  • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
  • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
  • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

As far as you get into achieving endeavors on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place, even when your focus is learning how to succeed in business.

Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout.

How to Develop This Skill

Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly.

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5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

How to Develop This Skill

Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it aimed at consumers tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

Solidify your place with your business’ advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region or unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that is more viable than others.

6. Honing Pitches to Investors

Stand out in a broad mix of entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch. Make this a focus if you want to learn how to succeed in business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression.

How to Develop This Skill

Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition[8].

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Define your personal brand to succeed in business.

    Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned with these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction.  By knowing what makes your target customers tick, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

    8. Automating to Your Advantage

    The need for efficiency is often a general problem new businesses aim to resolve. As you’re learning how to succeed in business, assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to inspire the need for it.

    Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

    9. Managing Millennials

    Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

    In leaner, small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

    Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[9]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised, and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing T-shirts to work.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

    A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

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    Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

    Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates, but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

    Offer Constructive Feedback

    Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

    Being constructive with feedback ensures that you don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

    10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

    When learning how to succeed in business, instead of proposing a model that’s disruptive to an industry, build connections with other companies that serve the same target customers, as long as they provide a different service.

    By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously.

    Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

    As the African proverb goes:

    “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

    Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

    Reference

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