Today you are going to learn a few secrets about how to figure out what to say during a job interview and how to say it. You will soon possess knowledge that 99% of your competitors never consider, and you can use that knowledge to get the job you want. But first, a story . . .
Close your eyes and imagine that you finally have the keys to your new Honda CR-Z in North Shore Blue Pearl. You are excited because there are so few on the road, so you know people will be watching you. Admit it-you enjoy the attention. You turn left out of the car dealership, head toward the highway, and what happens?
Your one-of-a-kind car is everywhere!
How did that happen?
When you first starting shopping for a car, you took in all of the automobiles in the marketplace. You noticed silver trucks and black sedans and red sportscars and brown minivans. As you narrowed your focus, you became fixated on the qualities of the particular car that you wanted. And by the time you were ready to sign those loan papers, that’s all you saw. You were watching for an exact match, and you noticed it everywhere.
How can you use this phenomenon to your advantage during a job interview?
In the case of the car, spotting an exact match is a bad thing. In the case of an interviewer, it is exactly what she wants. The interviewer enters job interviews with a mental or physical checklist about the ideal applicant. The interviewer is busy and her attention span is limited. Just like with the cars on the road, if you have the necessary qualities, you get noticed. If you don’t, someone else is going to be in the spotlight and get the job.
How do you make sure you get noticed by the interviewer?
Learn what to say during a job interview-and how to say it.
It’s that simple. Most of your competitors will allow their resumes to speak for them. You need to draw attention to all your qualifications and why you are better than every other applicant. We’re going to review how to do just that.
Step one: find out what the interviewer is looking for
During this first step, you will review the job description and think about what you might be asked. What to say during a job interview begins with the questions asked. What might the interviewer be looking for?
Let’s say that you are applying for a customer service position, and after perusing the job description, you decide that it can be boiled down to two requirements:
1. Ability to talk on the phone-a lot-all day
2. Ability to work with a number of insurance agents every day
In your cover letter and in your resume, your goal will be to repeat back to the company all of the keywords they have given you. Did they ask for heavy outbound sales experience? Tell them that you have heavy outbound sales experience (if you do). Did they tell you they need someone who is proficient with Microsoft Office? Tell them you are proficient with Microsoft Office (if you are).
What to say during a job interview or on a resume is entirely based on what the interviewer is searching for. If you have what they need, tell them. By showing the interviewer that you possess the qualities on her mental checklist, you will be moved on to the next stage of the hiring process.
Step two: give the interviewer what she is looking for, in language she is used to
Throughout the job interview you will once again repeat back all of the keywords that the interviewer has given you. You will mention heavy outbound sales, proficiency in Microsoft Office, building relationships with customers, and anything else that you have uncovered during your pre-interview research.
Some job descriptions will provide you with a long list of duties, qualifications, and keywords. Pick the top ones and go with those. If you are unsure, the main job interview keywords will usually be the ones that the interviewer keeps talking about over and over.
As an example, the interviewer mentions,
“I really need someone who is comfortable talking on the phone for eight hours every day with two 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch.”
So what are you going to feed back to the interviewer?
“I have three years of experience working in a heavy outbound sales call center, so I know what it’s like to sit on the phone for eight hours every day. It can be difficult at times, so I pour myself into building relationships with my customers to make the day go faster.”
Match the words in your answers to the keywords on the interviewer’s mental checklist. What to say during a job interview should be based on her trigger words. If she is listening for the words heavy outbound sales call center experience, and you tell her how you have experience in a fast-paced service center making external calls to sell products, you may have just said the same thing, but the interviewer may not interpret your answer as the same thing. If you want this job quickly, you will match the interviewer’s buzz words and make it as easy as possible for her to hire you.
Step three: show the interviewer that you possess the qualities she needs
If you are not sure which keywords might be a priority during your job interview, ask. Two questions you can use to pin down interviewer priorities are:
1. If you had to choose the three biggest priorities for this position, what would they be?
2. What do you feel are the three most important skills for anyone coming into this position?
Once you have a list of those priorities and skills, what are you going to do? You are going to use the interviewer’s language and feed those qualities right back to him.
There you have it-the simple and effective rules for knowing what to say during a job interview. Find out what the interviewer is looking for, use the interviewer’s language to highlight her needs, and then point out how you possess the exact qualities that she wants. You may still see your new car everywhere, but at least this time you will drive off with a job in hand.
Sean Haggard, “The Job Interview Word Game,” Interview Backdoor.