You’ve landed an interview with your dream company. Now all you have to do is get them to hire you. You’ve got this because you’ve been practicing for this exact opportunity for a long time. You know how to research, you know your skills, you can talk about your successes without bragging, and you know how to ask great questions. You’ll bring all of this together in your interview and subsequent follow-ups. Your preparation and knowledge, along with your personality and skills will have them ready to make that job offer!
It all starts with preparation. Before you landed that interview, I’m sure you researched the position. You found similar positions in other companies and studied the language they used to describe their positions. You made sure you understood them and used them in your LinkedIn profile, your résumé, and your cover letter. You made sure you used the current way employers talk about your top skills. You quantified your achievements on your résumé and you led with the numbers.
It’s all about their mission
In the interview, it’s not just about your pitch; I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s about proving to the interviewer that you buy into the company, that you love this particular company. How do you prove that? More research. Start by researching the company’s mission statement. Check out their LinkedIn profile, read about them on Glassdoor, and Google them. See how they live out their mission statement. If they are a publicly traded company, make sure you know their stock price the day of the interview (not kidding).
Then own that mission statement yourself. Many people walk into an interview talking about themselves and how they can help the company. They don’t know to think about demonstrating their buy-in to the reason the company exists! If the company’s mission statement says their goal is to be unbeatable in customer service, providing their customers with added value at every turn, you’ll need to talk about why that level of customer service is important to you. It’s good to use some of their terminology, but don’t copy their materials – it will sound fake!
Own their mission
Frame your answers to their questions and your questions for them around that mission. You’ll want to share at least one short story that demonstrates how you’ve delivered unbeatable customer service in your current or past work. When you tell about a success in story form, you won’t feel like you’re bragging. You will feel like you’re just talking about what happened.
You also want to understand their mission so you can answer their questions about your experience using that context. If impeccable customer service is their mission, make sure your answers about your work experience highlight customer service. Don’t force it, just keep it in mind. When you tie your experience to their mission, it makes it easier for the interviewer to picture you working at their company!
Now that you’ve completed your research on the company’s mission, it’s time to work on your pitch. Look for people on LinkedIn who work for the company. How do they describe themselves and their jobs? What words to they use? Glassdoor and Google will help with this, too. Understanding how people who work at the company describe it and talk about their jobs will give you a better picture of how to develop your pitch and present yourself in the interview.
Your personal pitch
You’re ready to tighten up your pitch (aka elevator speech). I like to break pitches down this way. Your pitch should:
- Describe the problem you love to solve at work. This should match the skills/reason you applied for this job and the company’s mission.
- Share an example of how you’ve solved the problem. Use the STAR technique to organize your example/story. It should highlight your top skills and demonstrate your expertise.
- Situation – describe the situation you faced.
- Task – talk about the task/work that needed to be done to resolve the situation.
- Action – describe the action you took and how you did it.
- Result – describe the results of your action.
- Talk about how you can use your knowledge to help solve the company’s problem.
And remember this: your pitch must sound like you. Use words you are comfortable with. Tell your story like you would tell it to a trusted colleague. If you use words you’re not comfortable saying or don’t understand totally, it will come across in your pitch.
Practice, practice, practice
When you get to that interview, you want delivering your pitch to feel as comfortable as talking about your favorite character in a movie. How do you accomplish that? Practice your pitch. Record it on your phone and play it back. Say it in front of a mirror. Video yourself delivering it. Practice your pitch with a friend and get feedback. You cannot practice it too much. The more you practice, the more comfortable and authentic you will sound. You will also be more confident!
Now that you are pretty much an expert on this company and how you would fit in, it’s time to develop questions that you can ask in the interview. It’s easy to discount the importance of being ready to answer the dreaded “Do you have any questions?” question. Don’t make that mistake. Asking questions demonstrates your interest in the company, your curiosity, your preparation, and your professionalism.
Ask these questions
Here are some questions you could ask. You can use these as a starting point for developing meaningful questions of your own.
- What is the core mission of this department?
- What’s the biggest challenge in this department?
- What’s the latest initiative in this department? How is it going?
- How do you see me fitting in this department?
- Can you tell me about opportunities to grow in this job and with this company?
Don’t forget to say thank you!
After the interview, you will want to follow-up quickly with a thank-you email. For the biggest impact, you could hand deliver a hand-written thank-you note the next morning. In your thank-you note, talk about how you enjoyed the interview, mention one thing that stood out to you, and let them know you’re definitely interested in the job. Tell them you’re looking forward to hearing from them.
To wrap it all up, when you want to convince someone to hire you, you show them you’re the right person for the job by doing your research into both the job and the company and showing your buy in to their company mission. You demonstrate your value by delivering just the right pitch based on their needs (that you researched) and your top skills. Then you ask meaningful questions that show you can think strategically. Finally, you deliver a well-written thank-you note that also demonstrates your professional attitude and your thoughtfulness. They will be dying to offer you the job!
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