The Secrets to Interviewing for a Role That’s Slightly Out of Reach
For the hiring managers, interviews will always be the time for making decisions. As an applicant, this is your time to prove yourself.
Getting an email or phone call confirming an interview definitely calls for a celebration. You can bet that you have passed the first hurdle. The hurdle many others have failed to get past.
This becomes clearer when you consider that this is an interview for a job that is a bit out of your reach.
As you celebrate however, the interview process starts playing out in your mind. You see the reality of being under-qualified for the position applied for.
“What questions will they ask me?” “How will I prove that I can do the job well?” “How do I outsmart the other applicants who are more qualified?”
There can be no real end to the number of questions your mind can come up with. And this is the time you need to silence your mind because it can cause you to become worried.
Keeping things in perspective, you have some work to do. You cannot get past the initial filtering stage only to fail at the interview.
So what do you do?
WHY DID YOU GET SHORTLISTED?
First, appreciate that you have something great that got you this far. And since you believed in yourself enough to apply for the job, keep your confidence and you will get the job.
At the same time, an understanding of the application process could give you some hints for the interview. Below are some of the things which could have worked in your favor.
1. Your resume beat the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
With the huge number of applications received by some companies, technology had to come to the rescue. Otherwise, how would the efficiency of the hiring team be maintained?
Traditionally, hiring managers would have to skim through countless resumes in search for the candidates who were worth considering. This lead to long processes and if a company wanted to reduce the time used, then more staff would be included in the team.
In comes the Applicant Tracking System. But just what does it do? Where and how does it track applicants?
ATSs work as a database for the applications received by a recruiter. They have all the resumes which have been submitted to an employer. The user (hiring manager) then uses it to narrow down on the list of applicants who make the cut.
Different systems work differently but the underlying technology is basically the same. There is a scanner, usually a character (alphabetical letter) reader, to go through the resumes and pick up the information contained in them. This information is then categorized internally to facilitate search.
The recruiter then searches for qualified candidates and gets those who pass the filtering rules.
To make work even easier, these rules can be activated before the end of the application period. When this happens, non-compliant applications get rejected by the system. Obviously, the applicant does not know this. The system will accept the resume but won’t store it.
And if it is stored, it won’t be presented for consideration. If you then get the interview call, you have reasons to be grateful.
Jobscan offers a great tool to help you optimize your resume so that it passes through the ATS. Watch the video below.
2. You showed off considerable skills
Out of reach or within reach is no longer the first thing to think about. Your application got accepted. When it went through the bots, it landed on human eyes. The bots were only meant to reduce the pile of ‘papers.’
You therefore have someone who trusts, at least in part, that you can do the job. And for that person to express some expectation, he most likely fell in love with the skills you presented.
Whether you lack experience or some technical skill you thought was critical for the position, you have jumped over that barrier. Obviously, the next barrier is even higher. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get over it too.
3. You followed instructions
If there is one thing any manager or boss would hate most is someone who doesn’t follow instructions.
One of the ways you show respect to your superiors is by following the instructions given. Although you can act differently if allowed, it will be unacceptable if you do that when applying for a job.
If you asked hiring teams all over, they will tell you that some applications look as though they are mere templates only with the addresses changed.
That’s how bad it can get for a manager. If you therefore follow instructions, you show that working with you can be a breeze.
4. You were concise
Some resumes are long and detailed. Those who write these are probably unaware that the person receiving it has many others to go through. Or maybe they forget that there will be an interview—if they pass this stage. Or that this is part of the pitch.
Sadly for them, their resumes don’t get read even halfway unless it is very interesting from the top. Generally, if you send a long and detailed resume, you are preparing to fail the first test.
Your resume attracted someone due to one of these or any other reason. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have the opportunity to present your case.
Read on for some of the ways to tackle the remaining challenge like the pro you have shown yourself to be.
SECRETS FOR THE INTERVIEW
It is completely understandable that you are eager to be sure that you will perform well on the interview day. And as always, we are here to help you with that. If you apply the below tips, we guarantee that you will pass the interview.
And the person who gave your resume the green light will be pleased to have done so.
Do your homework
This is quite obvious. Still it comes first because it is very important. In fact, everything hinges on this one advice.
Whatever you know about the company, there is certainly more for you to know. And this is the best time to invest your time in this because the company has shown interest in you.
Visit their website. If they have a blog, read as many articles as possible. Concentrate on those that talk about topics related to the position you are eyeing. If it is a management position, check the blog posts which are about management decisions, philosophies etc.
Search the web for news about the company. What products or services have they launched recently? What do they say are their strengths? Are the company’s shares being traded publicly? What are the prices? The trends?
As you do your homework, seek to answer the below core questions:
1. What does this company stand for? – the company’s values are what set it apart from its competitors. There might be other companies producing similar products or offering similar services. But what makes it stand out?
This information enables you to fall in love with the company and this will be evident in your answers and explanations. Of course you will have to express yourself accordingly to show your enthusiasm and desire to work with them.
Show that you are aware of their values and tie your answers to these. If you can connect these values with any of your personality traits or personal values, do so. The goal is to ensure you paint a picture of how you will seamlessly gel into the company.
2. What is their mission? – a company’s mission statement tells you what they do every day. It can also let you in on their short-term goals. Through it, you get to understand their daily operations and can also learn what their target market is.
This article will help you distinguish between a company’s mission and vision.
3. What is their vision? – the vision statement is the long-term objective. This could be in the duration of more than twenty years. It is what the management and partners look at for direction. It also serves as a reminder that there is still some work to be done.
The question then is, do you have a vision for your life? Is there any relation to the company’s vision? If yes, then communicate it. If no, at least show how the experience gained from the company will help you get to your vision in life.
4. What does a typical day in this position look like? – the position you applied for is a new one to you. You have never held it and aren’t fully qualified for it. There is little that can help you as compared to knowing what the job really is all about.
For this part of the homework, you may need a different approach as Google may not have the best of answers. You can make use of the number one career networking website, LinkedIn. Look for people who work there and check what they say about their employer.
You can also get to such people through any of your connections who has a connection with a former or current employee. If your friend is well acquainted with the person working in the company, he can facilitate a very helpful interview.
This information will not only help you develop the right mindset but you will start adapting to your job early. Since you are confident of being hired, why not familiarize yourself with the position?
Balance confidence with humility
You would not have come this far if you didn’t have confidence. Your confidence enabled you apply for the job and now you must show it during the interview.
Being the confident, concise and instruction-following candidate you are should however not make you prideful. Do not start thinking that you are the best and wrongly conclude that you deserve the job. No employer is looking for proud and arrogant employees.
That will be the very opposite of what you implied when proving to follow instructions.
Also, keep in mind that your resume was read. That means that the hiring manager knows you are under-qualified.
You will have to show humility so as to communicate that you can indeed follow instructions. You will also have to learn quite a bit while on the job and so make it easier for the panel to choose you.
In saying that you have an open mind, show it as well by how you respond and conduct yourself during the interview.
For example, if you don’t understand a question, be sure to confirm if what you think is meant is actually what is meant. This should hopefully not happen more than once, otherwise it may portray you in bad light.
For confidence, consider the below easy ways to communicate it:
1. Walking style – from the moment you walk into the interview room, you will have at least one pair of eyes looking at you. Be careful to deal with any anxious thoughts and fears before then.
The way you walk conveys a message about you. Whether it is confidence, fear, hopelessness etc, these can be seen through your walk. The one thing you don’t want is to be ruled out even before you speak a word.
If need be, practice in front of a mirror. In your room, just walk towards your mirror and try to judge what image you see. You can also ask your friends to help with this. Ask them to tell you what they think of your walk and mention that you are practicing for an interview.
2. Siting posture – this is another way to give away information about what is going on inside you. If you sit upright, then you show yourself to be paying attention. The act of sitting up straight improves your performance.
No matter how confident and relaxed you become during the interview, do not start leaning back as though you are on your sofa back at home.
3. Voice volume – remember to speak audibly. Your interviewer should not strain to hear your responses to the questions asked. Do not confuse speaking softly with showing humility. That may actually say that you are fearful of something. If you are fearful, then you’re not confident.
The challenge in this can come where you are being interviewed in a big meeting room where the interviewers are on the furthest side of a long table. This is an intimidating atmosphere which some interviewers create to test the applicant’s confidence.
Though this mostly happens during disciplinary cases, just stay ready for anything. In this situation, just project your voice but do not shout. This is something you can also practice with some friends. You will know whether you are shouting if you feel a strain on your vocal cords.
4. Voice tone – equally important is the tone of your voice. Balance the tone of your voice to show respect and confidence at the same time. Think of when you are talking to one of your best friends about an issue.
To avoid hurting them, you speak at your normal tone but somehow tune it to show respect but not fear. You are not afraid of telling your friend that he did something wrong, but are speaking to him in a respectful manner.
This will help you show the professionalism in you.
Ask great questions
A challenging part of the interview process is when candidates are asked whether they have any questions for the panel. Whereas some say they have none for not knowing what to ask, others ask questions which add very few points to their overall performance.
This should not be the case for you. You need to shine on this one.
This is a time when your interviewer wants to find out what interest you about the company. No matter how much you have read about the company, you cannot fail to have a question. But yours are not just mere questions.
Other candidates have asked questions too. To distinguish yourself from them, you should ask great questions. Ask hard questions. Questions which will make your interviewer wonder what has driven you to that question.
For some hints, you need to be attentive through the interview. Don’t just answer questions but be smart. Answer the questions while you also think about the possible reason for the question.
This may sound hard but it isn’t. You are out to outsmart other candidates, aren’t you? And you have shows the capacity to shine.
You therefore need to go beyond the normal. Not to be abnormal but to ensure you create a good impression on the mind of the hiring manager. Let him leave the office in the evening thinking about you.
When you think about the reason behind the questions, you will be able to understand the underlying problems the company seeks to solve through this hiring process. And when you ask a question touching on those problems, you indicate that you are attentive and solution-driven.
At the end of the day, the most expensive employees are paid well for the problems they solve. So show yourself to be a potentially-great problem solver and you get more leverage when negotiating your pay.
Focus on the right skills
Since you have many skills and some of them possibly impressed your interviewer, you need to narrow down on the ones you can focus on. You will get it wrong if you seek to show how loaded you are with numerous skills.
How do you do this?
Check again the job description to understand or remind yourself the core of the tasks to be handled. Pick the skills you know can help you solve the problems the company has then critically analyze the usefulness of those skills.
How exactly does skill ‘A’ help in the work that needs to be done? What about skill ‘B’ and ‘C?’ Do not be too easy on yourself in this process. Remember that the company will not hire you simply because they like you. You will have to prove your value.
So come up with a strong case for yourself. Invite some close friends and ask them to interview you. Tell them to challenge you on the skills and then respond to prove how your skills are what are needed for the job.
Gently ignore the skills the company is looking for and work to ‘correct’ them so they believe that the skills you are talking about are the ones they truly need. Just be sure on how your skills will help you do the job.
Succeed in that and you will have nailed it.
Connect with the hiring manager or team
The interviewing panel may look serious, bored or sound tough, but they are still humans.
Put on a smile. Have some joy about you. Practice with the mindset that you have this job. You will be hired. Have that confidence and let it flow.
Walk into the room majestically and say ‘Hi’ to the panel before they say it to you. Shake their hands with a brief and firm handshake while locking eyes with them. This alone will remain in their memories way after the interview process.
And the longer you are in their thoughts—for a good reason as this, the better for you. The chances of being hired increase drastically.
To see whether you are faking it trying to make it, they may try to throw you off balance. You may be asked some questions which don’t seem related to the job. Don’t worry, just respond confidently and concisely. Do not go into lengthy explanations but be ready to expound if required to.
Another tactic you can use is to utilize summarized stories about yourself when answering questions. Stories always work and they work well. Any successful public speaker will confirm this.
A good story will always disarm your audience and make them friendly towards you. If you can add some humor to it, that will be better. What you are trying to do is make friends with the person or people who are interviewing you.
And don’t sweat too much on the humor bit. You are not interviewing for a comedian’s position. You therefore don’t need to make them laugh off their chairs, but to create an atmosphere where everyone is smiling at each other.
In case you didn’t know, interviewing people, especially many people, can be very boring. It gets to a point when the interviewer may even decide against you because of a pretty small mistake. So humor them and make their day.
Being invited for an interview means you are halfway qualified. And if you are under-qualified as per the job requirements but still made it to the interview, then someone is already impressed by you. Do not disappoint them. Embrace this advice and pass the interview straight into your new office.
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