During an interview, a job candidate is on stage playing the role of the ideal employee. You must look the part, make it believable and sway the hiring manager with your script.
Select those words carefully, keeping in mind the principles of persuasion.
“The best way to gain competitive advantage is to be persuasive. It’s that simple,” says Jill Shaneck, a principal at Winter Wyman, a Boston recruiting firm.
Persuasion starts with knowing your audience, in this case the potential employer.
Thorough research will give you the knowledge and credibility that you need to sell yourself. Shaneck suggests combing through the prospective employer’s website, including press releases and history, to find information that can help you make very specific, relevant points about the company and the hiring manager.
“Expertise makes you so much more credible as a communicator,” she says. Use the research to hone powerful statements or questions. For example, “I understand that this is Fortune 100 company. What characteristics do you think have enabled your growth?”
Candidates should ask the hiring manager relevant questions in a complimentary fashion, says Juliet Huck, CEO of The Huck Group, a graphics company specializing in persuasive visual presentations.
People want to be complimented. Often they feel the need to reciprocate, Huck says. But, “you don’t want to come off as insincere or as if you’re trying to brown nose.”
Instead, show empathy with statement such as, “You seem like you really thrive at your job. What is it that inspires you?”
Hiring managers want genuine professionals on their team. They’re persuaded by people who seem sincere and friendly. Huck and Shaneck both emphasize the importance of looking and acting confident, honest and genuinely interested in the job. Some other persuasive questions or statements include:
• “I found ways to reduce expenses in our department budget by 40 percent in two years.” Weave into your presentation several anecdotes that measure your worth: How you improved productivity, increased security or decreased waste, for example. Sell the benefit of hiring you.
• “What do you see as the most important qualification for the job?” Specific questions of this caliber allow you to then explain how perfectly you meet the description, thus persuading them to take your candidacy seriously.
• “You should hire me because …” Point out how you solve a specific problem or fill a need. Focus on your strongest skill and develop the equivalent of a unique selling proposition to differentiate you from the others. Emphasize any unique attributes, too, since a candidate comes off as more desirable if they have a skill or knowledge that is more limited in availability.
• “I really believe that my skills are a perfect fit for this job. I hope you agree.” This sort of statement gives you an opportunity to determine if the hiring manager is taking you seriously. If they are genuinely interested, they will let you know. If not, you have an opportunity to ask a follow-up question about any hesitation that they might have about your experience or background.
• “When should I expect to hear from you again?” Though the question may seem bold, it shows initiative and it will allow you to reconnect. You will receive from the hiring manager a commitment toward the next action step.
• “I am very excited about the possibility of working here.” Too often, candidates are low-key and hiring managers aren’t sure if they really want the job. By explicitly saying you want the job, you share your energy and enthusiasm.
• “Thank you so much for your time today.” Being gracious always wins points.
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