Differentiate Yourself to Interview Your Best

September 22, 2008

The selection average is this:

  • Hundreds of resumes are received
  • Resumes are sifted down to 28 potential candidates
  • The 28 potential candidates are screened
  • Eight candidates are interviewed
  • One candidate gets the job

All final eight candidates have the qualifications to do the job. To land the job you have to differentiate yourself from the other seven qualified candidates.

To differentiate yourself in the interview, communicate your additional areas of expertise or “value adds” that you bring¬† to the position the others will not. For example, a manufacturing plant manager had experience managing the construction of a manufacturing facility. He could read blue prints and had worked with construction contractors. The position for which he was applying did not require construction experience but the added value of being able to help the company expand the facility in the future landed him the job.

Are you a human resource professional with special expertise in job task analysis, are you an engineer that knows ergonomic design, are you a healthcare professional with electronic claims processing expertise? Choose additional areas of expertise that are related to the position, have the possibility of providing special benefit, but are not part of the basic requirements for the job. Tell the interviewer about the expertise and be sure to be specific about the potential benefit to the organization.

You can also ask about additional areas of expertise either in an interview or prior to the interview process; “Are there additional areas of expertise that would be of benefit to this position but are not part of the basic requirements? This may give you some good ideas about aditional areas of expertise that will differentiate you from the other seven applicants.

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Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses to Interview Your Best

September 6, 2008

Knowing areas in which you are strong and areas where you are weak, or uninterested, will help you to manage your interviews. My suggestion is to know these areas and use the knowledge to to 1- decide if the job is for you and 2-know how to respond to questions.

We all have strengths and weaknesses and the suggested strategy is to maximize your strengths and manage around your weaknesses. One way to manage around your weaknesses is to only accept jobs which draw primarily on your strengths. To do this you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, there are many ways, some for free, to find out your strengths and weaknesses. An excellent free strengths assessment is the VIA.

During an interview, when you are asked questions that touch upon your weaknesses you are at risk of giving a poor answer. For example if you are strongly creative you may be weak in analytical skills (using logic to analyze problems and anticipate potential future problems). Thus, a question such as, “Give an example where you analyzed options, planned, and anticipated outcomes?’ may be challenging for you. If you discuss an intuitive (creative) approach to problem solving and the interviewer is looking for a more planned analytical approach you will blow the question.

Knowing your strengths and how you are likely to answer questions will help you consider how to respond to questions. The best approach in answering this question would be “I am very strong creatively and I tend to use a creative approach to problem solving. I generate a number of potential options and then use an objective approach to deciding upon the best answer. I find it is very helpful to consult with strongly analytical people when deciding upon the final option. Let me give you an example…”

Additional areas of strengths and weaknesses include:

  • Love of learning
  • Humor
  • Gratitude
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Controlling behavior
  • Organization
  • Sociability
  • Decisiveness
  • Confidence
  • Civic mindedness
  • Plus many more depending on the assessment instrument.

    There are literally hundreds of books written about the most frequently asked interview questions with suggestions about how to answer them. The challenge is these books may list 250 questions; which ones are most challenging for you and which ones will be asked in your interviews?  By knowing your weaknesses, you can use these books to efficiently prepare answers to questions that are likely to be challenging.