Winning Interviews: The Secret “Sauce” You Need To Know
On the job hunt and want to know the secret to winning interviews? Don’t just go in only with a copy of the résumé you used in application and your references.
You need more tools than that.
What it takes to get really noticed is innovation and differentiating yourself from the competition to be on the side of winning interviews.
Sometimes, this can require being gutsy, and always require a good sensitivity to the appropriateness of your tactics.
But when you pull out the stops and create a truly positive and memorable interview experience, employers remember that and more importantly, they remember you. And that is the secret sauce to winning interviews.
This can be directly tied to your personal brand and further demonstrate how much you can help differentiate the employer from their competitors as well.
Here are some ideas that could prime your pump as part of your strategy for winning interviews:
- Create a target employer binder. Not that I advocate for cutting down more trees but if you walk into an interview with a binder that has the company’s logo inserted into the clear sleeve, (and the interior that has printouts of information about the company), this is a great attention getting move. They are going to wonder, “What is in there, and how did they get that?”
- Visual aids. Unexpected visual aids can have a huge impact. Long ago, I applied at a job with Travel Oregon as a tourism development manager. Oregon is a big state, and I thought about the fact that I needed to show how much I have traveled around to show my knowledge of the different communities. My visual aid when they asked the question about how much I knew about Oregon? I pulled out an Oregon highway map that had every single road that I had been on in yellow highlighter. That blew them away.
- Infographic handouts tell stories. Create a graphic representation of your ideas, and have them available as handouts which are “leave-behinds” for employers to mull over long after you have left the interview room.
- Present your own research. Recently, a former client of mine sent out a Survey Monkey questionnaire to his entire network asking questions about the target company. Based on the responses, he is planning on walking into the interview with real-time data about the employer that will provide insights that underscore his ideas on how he could help them.
- Own list of in-depth questions. Take your list of interview questions to ask the employer to the next level… through your own due diligence, take a deeper dive on the company to really find out their challenges or opportunities. Dig into news reports, stock reports, or any other data that can help you ask meaningful questions about the company’s story.
- Develop a prototype. Don’t give away the store with your idea, but if you can provide some glimmer of the ideas that could help take the company to the next interview, you could leave the employer absolutely hungry for more.
- Identify a major gap. Be willing to ask the company: “Have you ever considered X?” Truth is, they may not have. Or, at the very least, they would be impressed that you saw it too.
- Provide a solution by demonstrating knowledge of pain points. Consider what keeps the employer up at night. What can you do to solve those issues and help them achieve their goals?
- Read voraciously about the employer. The more you know and can feel comfortable discussing with a potential employer shows your resourcefulness and intelligence.
- Planning for the subconscious. I have heard from people who have done things as simple as using a pen with the target company’s logo during the interview to even wearing interview attire colors that are aligned to the company’s brand and logo.
But the real secret to success to interviews is being able to draw a straight line between what you offer and what the employer needs, and use stories to underscore your ability to do so.
Never forget the impact of powerful storytelling on winning interviews.
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.