In a highly competitive market, it’s not enough just to be a strong candidate, especially for senior level and executive professionals. In addition to limiting the field of opportunities that are available, the pandemic has shifted organizational thinking to focus more on different types of thinking, skills, and competencies as critical for agility in an unpredictable world. As a result, interviews are no longer the moment for only showcasing your experience and achievements, they’re an opportunity to make it crystal clear that you, as a person and a professional, are key to the company’s future success.
Prove You Can Lead RemotelyConsider your target company as a puzzle, one whose pieces have been shaken up by recent events. Not only do you need to fit into that puzzle as always, but you now need to demonstrate that you have the ability to put the company on the path to becoming whole again and stronger than ever before. You should use your interview as a moment to shine the spotlight on yourself but from the distinct vantage point of your interviewer’s needs. Here are three essential ingredients to excelling in your next interview.
While almost all of us have had the opportunity over these months to prove that we can work from home, not everyone is naturally disposed to remote leadership. Many companies are returning to their offices, but not all and even those who are opening up again may move forward with a hybrid in-office/remote model. This means you need to highlight skills and achievements around communication, self-discipline and focus, a familiarity with modern technology and most importantly the ability to motivate and guide a team through challenges.
The importance of the human element of work has emerged full-force out of the pandemic, with even the largest of corporations realizing that they will get more from their employees when they support them. Show that you understand this too and that you’re able to put it into practice even through a screen. When you have your interview, share examples of times that you’ve motivated your team through incentives – both tangible and intangible, and got results. Display empathy and flexibility but prove that can successfully balance the bottom line and organizational goals with employee needs.
Demonstrate Innovative and Agile Thinking
Companies have had to face challenges that they never expected or predicted, so now more than ever the ability to think creatively and innovatively is highly prized – especially for senior-level professionals. First things first, if you want to show that you are innovative, avoid using the word itself. Instead, Instead use targeted keywords in your interview, and on your resume, that convey out-of-the-box thinking in connection with specific tasks and achievements. Here are some ideas:
· Spearheaded [a new program or initiative]
· Predicted [a trend]
· Developed [a new model]
· Identified [different outlets ]
· Recognized [an opportunity or channel]
· Created [a new product]
· Fostered [a new relationship]
These words demonstrate innovative thinking and capabilities without being so on-the-nose that your interviewer thinks you’re simply using a buzzword for the sake of it.
Secondly, share your creative though process and connect it to measurable results to prove that your original way of thinking is valuable. Highlight how you led your project from imagination to fruition, by communicating clearly, delegating tasks, and using feedback to modify your plans. Here you also want to demonstrate flexibility in your innovation, show that you think about your own ideas critically and that you collaborate with others in bringing a concept to life. Of course, you can’t answer every question with an example focusing on your creative tendencies, so make the examples you can offer up really have an impact.
Finally, share examples that are current and ideally related to any creative solutions you have come up with and implemented due to the Coronavirus pandemic. These solutions can be “soft”-oriented, such as noticing that your team was falling behind or seemed unmotivated and instituting workflow management or mental health initiatives that helped them perform successfully. They could be “hard”-oriented, such as pushing a product that could serve people during quarantine and lockdown through the development and marketing pipeline to generate revenue.
Ask Questions That Make You Stand Out
Almost every interview ends the same way—with the interview asking the applicant if they have any questions. This is a chance to ask strategic questions that highlight the skills we discussed earlier – your leadership, agility, innovation, and the ways that you fit into the company’s needs.
As you prepare for an interview, create a list of at least 3-4 questions you can ask at the end of the appointment. This list should serve as inspiration, not as a script, as you should adjust the tone and content according to the specific company, the rapport you develop with your interviewer, and the pace of your interview. The questions you prepare and ask should fit one of these 3 criteria:
1. They provide an opportunity to showcase your fit for the position.
In this case, you want to ask questions that allow you to show exactly how you’ll fit into the business’ strategic goals. For example, you could ask “In the past I’ve managed supply chains directly with overseas teams. What does the chain of command look like here?”
This shows that you’re qualified and experienced in the responsibilities of the job but also that you’re open to learning new ways of doing things and fitting in where needed.
2. They are specific to the business itself.
In this case you want to make it clear that you’ve researched the business and you understand their operations, objectives, and their vision. For example, you could ask, “I read about your new line of business in X publication. How will the Information Technology department’s work priorities change in the coming months to support this move?”
This not only show that you’ve taken the time to prepare for the interview, but they also demonstrate investment in the organization’s objectives.
3. They allow you to demonstrate critical thinking about the business.
In many ways, this point is a hybrid of the previous two – you’re showing knowledge in the business itself as well as your ability to help it thrive. In this case, you might ask a question like, “I know that Y is your best-selling product, but I think there’s a lot of market potential for Z. What kind of resources have been allocated for its development and promotion?”
A Final Word About Interviews
It may sound cliched, but it’s vital to remember that, yes even today, interviews are a two-way street. Just as you’re using it as an opportunity to demonstrate why you’re the one for the job, it’s also a chance to invite the company to show you why they’re the place for you. In fact, this mentality can serve you well by putting you in a more confident space, empowering you to make observations and ask questions that can leave a strong impression on your interviewer.
Source: Elena Bajic via Forbes