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How to Master the Interview and Land the Job

If you want to stand out, you need to stop talking about the past.

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Most job seekers are bad at interviewing.

The conventional thinking is to show the interviewer what you’ve done over your career. Candidates are told to highlight their successes. Look at a handful of resumes and you will see accolades. That’s great — highlighting past success is a great way to get the interview.

But once you’ve landed the interview, rehashing past success isn’t the best strategy for turning that interview into a job offer. If you want to walk away from interviews with job offers, stop talking about what you’ve done and start showing hiring managers what you will do.

Past success doesn’t always translate to future success. The question on every hiring manager’s mind is: How do I know if hiring this candidate will improve our business? So the secret to winning the interview is showing the interviewer what you plan to do.

Show, don’t tell

Chance favors the prepared. I intentionally chose the words “show them what you will do” instead of “tell them what you will do." That’s because showing implies you have something physical to present during the interview. Because chance favors the prepared candidate, you should prepare a presentation or a plan that details what you will do once hired. The more specific the plan, the more impressed the hiring manager will be.

Related: 6 New Rules for Acing Your Job Interview

Building the presentation

The first thing to remember is to keep it short and concise. After interviewing over 3,000 professionals, my experience would suggest a 7-10 minute presentation that shows:

  • You understand the industry

  • You know the company’s important initiatives over the next 1-3 years

  • You can correlate the roles and responsibilities of this job to those initiatives

  • A few quick wins you expect to deliver in the first 90 days

I frequently recommend The First 90 Days to candidates who want to shine in an interview. The book is intended to help with a new employee and manager during a new employee’s first 90 day, but if you can take the principles of the book and include them in your presentation, then you will separate yourself from the other candidates.

Related: Job Interview Preparation Checklist

Closing the Interview

The purpose of the presentation is for the hiring manager to see what you plan to do if offered the job. A good presentation should elicit engagement from the interviewer and deeper conversations about the business and the challenges and opportunities it faces. It will also shift the interviewer’s mindset to visualizing you already in the role. As the conversation ends, it's important to invite feedback and establish next steps. Ask a direct question like, “Did my presentation show you how I will quickly make a difference for you and the company?” If the answer is anything but “yes”, ask for specific feedback and an opportunity to address any concerns or questions. Even if the interviewer is completely impressed with your presentation, you must schedule a next step. A good next step is to request a job offer, reference check or discuss what’s next in the process. This isn’t a “sales” tactic, it's a timeless habit from Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In Covey's book, habit two says to begin with the end in mind. Said differently, each project starts with a clear destination and each step supports the destination. Don't forget that the ultimate destination is landing the job.

Related: 7 Strategies to Stay Cool, Calm and Collected During a Job Interview

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