Your prospective employers have questions in their mind when they review your application and when they conduct that most anticipated job interview. These questions are even foremost when they make the hire decision. I was reading an article about “The Five Questions You must Answer to Turn a Prospect into a Customer” by Dov Gordon. I thought of a way to apply this to your job search and self-promotion. These same questions that turn prospects to customers are quite similar to the questions that, if answered competently, can get you hired.
1. Do you have the basic skills and qualifications required? There is something to be said about an application submitted that does not meet the basic requisites of the job as advertised. There is an instant negative impression for some reasons. (a) There is an assumption that you did not take the time to read the posting thoroughly. (b) There is a hint of desperation on your part that is not attractive to any potential employer. c) It demonstrates a lack of concern for a serious job matching and mutual long-term benefit between you and the employer. In as much as you are looking for career growth, the employer is looking for job stability and long-term employee engagement.
2. What makes you different from others with the same qualifications? Prospective employer will compare apple to apple but the size, freshness, and colour of one apple will make it appear more palatable than the next apple. You have to stand out even in a basket of apples. How do you do this? Do not limit yourself to the skills and qualifications of the job. Take a holistic view of who you are as a professional and see how you can incorporate an endearing quality or a unique personal trait that adds a little something about your personality. Leverage your unique qualities to make you rise to the top of the heap.
3. How can I trust that you will deliver on your promise? In life, there are no guarantees. Mind you, employers will not take your word for it. They cannot rely on your promise. They can only rely on your past performance. This is why it is important to be able to present in vivid and effective storytelling your previous accomplishments and actions that benefit and that made a difference to your company.
4. How will it help me to hire you? This question is your typical WIIFM question. What do I really get by hiring you? Bottomlining is a technique in answering questions that will readily direct the interviewer to the essence of your potential contributions to the employer. Be careful not to get lost in the details by phrasing your response with the bottomline first and then proceeding to illustrate with actual scenarios how you got to this result.
5. Now, tell me exactly how you will deliver. In employment, the “how” is as much or even more important than the “what”. Between you and another applicant who has a similar set of qualifications, the one who gets the job is the one who will most likely deliver its promise in a most effective way. Here, the employer’s value will be important for you to know. Some employers value innovation over quantity or quality. Some will value quality above all else. Still some will value “smooth” interpersonal relations equally to productivity. The approach you will use will depend on which most likely aligns with what the company values. Do your homework and get to know the culture of the company you are going to interview for.
6. What is that extra special that you and only you can deliver? Over and above your skills and qualifications and your unique value proposition, what is the “brand YOU” that will make you uniquely capable to deliver the work required in a position. This is where your personality will really count. This is strange but true: People tend to try to fit into a “mold” that they believe will be desirable to future employers. However, in my experience, when a personality or unique quality or trait about a person shines through, it becomes a beacon that shines a light on all the skills and qualifications. This light makes them more attractive than it otherwise would be no matter how good they were in the first place.