Why You Should Put Your Past Behind You to Interview Your Best

November 9, 2009

future past presentResumes are all about past behavior; employers are interested in the future. There is a tendency for job candidates to lean too heavily on their resume and talk about what they did in the past. Your resume got you to the interview – congratulations, now focus on what you can do for the company moving forward.

You task is to help the interviewer see you in the job producing good work and dropping profit to the bottom line. You cannot do this by focusing on what you have accomplished. Your accomplishments are important only in so far as they support your statements about what you can do in the future. Here are some strategies:

common-interview-questions-why-did-you-l.playerFirst know the job
The more you know about the specific requirements of the job the better you will be able to address how you will function in the job. Begin the interview by asking  questions about the job, its day-to-day responsibilities, critical job requirements, and success metrics. Make sure you and the interviewer are in complete agreement about the job you are being interviewed to fill.

job requirementConnect your background to the critical job requirements
Help the interviewer become comfortable that you have the experience, background skill to do the job by relating the job requirements to things you have done. But don’t get stuck here!

Talk about benefits you bring to the job
Features (your knowledge, skills, experience) address your basic qualities, however they do not address your future performance. Benefits, how the company will profit from employing you, addresses the future and constitutes the primary focus of the employer. Mention your features but focus on your benefits. A benefits statement sounds like this “I have 3 years of experience using social media [feature]. This means I will be able to quickly establish a social media strategy that will have a presence on all the major social media sites increasing traffic and your ad revenue [benefit].”

handshake 11Talk “as if”
Approach the interview as if you were talking about a day-to-day issues with a boss and talk as if you are in the position. Example, ask about immediate priorities or projects. Once you have a task to focus on say something similar to “This is how I think we should approach solving this or completing this project.”

flexiblePresent yourself as flexible and adaptable
Employers are looking for people that are open to learning and are adaptable to new environments and jobs. These are all qualities that relate to the future and speak to your performance in a new job. Talk about prior situations where you exhibited these qualities and then relate those situations to how you will become successful in the future in your new job.

The focus of the interview should not be on how good you were in your prior jobs but how great you will be in your future job.

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InterviewBest keep you focused on the future