There are hundreds of posts that illustrate how to prepare for a job interview . And you can find some good information in many of those articles. But if you’ve gone to the trouble of finding a job opening and getting an interview, you have to standout and make it count. If you want to walk out of a job meeting with a job offer, you need a different approach.
Think about it. Every job seeker has access to the same library of interview questions*. All the serious job candidates anticipate those questions and are prepared. You need to go a little bit further and this post is going show you what that looks like – starting now.
1. Look For Problems
The reason this employer wants to hire someone is because they have a problem. Your number one job is to find out what that problem is – and solve it. That isn’t so difficult to do but you have to put your thinking cap on.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you are interviewing for a job as a nurse. You might think this employer’s “problem” is that they need a nurse. At one level, this is right – but you need to go further.
Why do they need another nurse? Was there a problem with the last person who held the position? Did they fail to live up the employer’s expectations? Is the practice expanding? Is the employer gaining new patients in an area that they have little experience in? Do the leg work to get that scoop. In the best case, you’ll get the information you need. In the worst case, you’ll discover that this may not be the right job for you. Either way, you win.
Of course every situation is different. There will be times when you’ll be able to discover your prospective employer’s problems before the interview. You can look for information online of course. But here’s an idea that will help you stand out in a good way. Ask your prospective employer for permission to interview a few of your potential co-workers prior to the job interview. You’ll gain invaluable information this way. This approach is great especially if you are considering changing your career. That’s because you’ll need as much information as you can get and there is no better way to do than by talking to the people in the office.
If you don’t have access to this information, that’s OK. Find an opportunity to probe for problems during the interview itself.
Of course you have to ask your questions judiciously. First answer the interviewer’s questions and then ask for permission to ask a few questions of your own. During that time, ask why the employer is hiring now and follow up with questions until you fully understand the challenges this firm faces.
2. Look for Constraints
Constraints exacerbate problems. Look at the example above. Let’s say the doctor is looking to hire a nurse because the last nurse quit unexpectedly. The constraint is that the doctor doesn’t have much time to train the new person. Can you see how the constraint makes the problem worse for the doctor? Constraints and problems are like gold for the job seeker because they create more demand for you if you position yourself as the solution. There is no better negotiation technique than fully understanding the problems of others.
First find out what the constraints are. How? Once you are clear about what the problems are, ask your soon-to-be employer what other challenges they face. Ask why a standard solution wouldn’t work. Using our example above, you might ask the doctor if hiring a recent nursing grad wouldn’t solve her problem. Do you see where I’m going? You want to dig down deep and asking the right questions is the way to do this.
Look for the issue that keeps this employer between a rock and a hard place. Once you get a good sense of what that looks like, ask how that problem impacts the company and the people in the department you are interviewing for. You want to get a very clear picture of what this company is desperate to find.
3. Display Your Genius Brain Power
Now is the time to ask about solutions. But be careful not to be misconstrued. The last thing you want is your interviewer to consider you a blowhard know-it-all.
This employer has been grappling with the problem for some time now and they are probably smart people too. Demonstrate your understanding. Tell them you wonder how doing XYZ might help. See what they say. Maybe your idea is something they’ve already tested or it may be a new concept.
It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. By doing this you are proving that you grasp the nature of the problem. This is something that almost no job candidates do. Instead they try to convince the employer how great they are. As I said, the interviewer really doesn’t care about that at all. What she cares about are her company’s problems and finding a way to solve them.
If you want to turn your job interview into an employment offer you have to break out of the box by demonstrating intelligence and understanding. You can do these things if you carefully ask the right questions.
Did you ever use these kinds of techniques in a job interview? What was the result? Do you think this approach would work? Why or why not?