When we get feedback from clients, they usually talk about what they liked about a candidate, what they didn’t like, the skills they had that would work with their firm, and the skills they lacked in order to be successful in the role-- dependent upon the applicant. Of course, there are many, many other factors, but there’s one thing that we often hear that, because it is preventable, is so difficult to hear is:
“They didn’t sell themselves enough.”
Job interviews are sales pitches. What is your vision? How will you deliver? What makes you valuable?
Know your audience.
In any hiring process you’ll have several audiences. The first audience is whomever is looking at your resume. Of course, more often than not, you probably won’t know who that is. Ah, but you do know that they have a problem (an open position), and you do know how to solve it (you!). Keep their problem and your solution in mind when crafting your resume and cover letters.
The next place it is crucial to know your audience is in the interview itself. Always ask the hiring manager or recruiter you’re working with to provide a list of the people you will be meeting with and include their titles. If you’re meeting with an HR person, they will probably want to know about how you handle conflict or how you manage a workload. If you’re meeting with another administrative professionals, they will likely want to get into the nitty gritty of your responsibilities as an administrator (after all, they understand how administration functions within the firm).
Meeting with higher-level directors, vice presidents and the C-Suite is a different ball game. Do a bit of research on their backgrounds, the industries they come from, where they went to school; find common ground. These individuals most likely don’t understand the complexities of your role, and they shouldn’t; your job is to make the behind the scenes chaos seem like a calmly flowing stream of seamless efficiency.
Practice makes perfect.
I once knew a fellow server (back in my years in the restaurant industry) who recited the night’s specials in the mirror while she got ready for work. We made fun of her for it. That’s so hokey! We’d say. But it wasn’t. It was smart. By committing the ingredients of each of the dishes to memory, she was able to sound confident while delivering the information. She was able to tailor the way she worded a particular special to a specific customer (know your audience!) on the spot, without hesitation and with a smile on her face. She could say things like, "the lentils on that dish are extraordinary", and customers would believe her because she (sounded like) she believed it herself. She sold them.
Similarly, know your own ingredients. What makes you a valuable asset? Why do you love administration? How do you do what you do best? Take time to practice your answers to some of the basic questions you’re asked on an interview. How do you deal with conflict? How do you manage a workload? Give examples, be relatable and act natural.
An entrepreneur looking to raise capital and have companies invest in their idea wouldn’t walk into a meeting and just wing it. Neither should you. Just as companies invest in a new product or service, they are also investing in a new hire (you!). Show them that you’re worth it.