Oh yes you can! If you manage to get the interview, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get the job. It doesn’t matter how much more experience or education the other candidates have. It doesn’t matter that you only meet 80% of the job requirements. If you get the interview, you absolutely can get the job, and I’m about to tell you how.
I just finished a meeting with a colleague this afternoon. She is preparing to interview next week for a job she really wants with a large pharmaceutical company. She told me it would be an amazing promotion with challenging projects and a great salary. But she was worried. She was feeling insecure. She was questioning her qualifications. She had been listening to people tell her that she might not be the best candidate. She called me.
Years ago, I was her mentor. Today, I am her friend, and I am going to share with you what I shared with her for how to confidently knock the socks off the interviewers and get them to offer you the job regardless of the competition.
The job interview is the great equalizer.
I started interviewing and hiring people in 1998 so it’s been a while, and there have been many times where the “seemingly” most qualified person (you know the one with the most education and most experience) fails to snag the job offer. Those qualifications might get you in the room, but once you are in the room, every candidate is viewed as equal. Most interviewers are super busy. We barely have the time to interview the people we need to interview so we definitely don’t tend to waste time interviewing people we don’t seriously consider to be a contender for the hire.
What this means for you is confidence.
You can let all your angst go – really stop worrying – after you get called for the interview. Don’t spend one more minute wondering if you are qualified. You are because you would not have ever been called if you weren’t. Don’t get all anxious about how you didn’t meet every qualification in the job announcement. You certainly impressed them enough, or you would not have been called for the interview.
Don’t give any worry or consideration to the fact that another candidate might have “more” of something than you (more education, more experience, more certifications, etc.). Don’t focus on what you don’t have, what you can’t do and how you might not belong. This is nonsense that only serves one purpose. It destroys your confidence and makes you more and more timid and insecure. Don’t put any of your energy toward this.
You can confidently move into the interview because once you are on the interview stage, the qualification measuring stick no longer matters. You have your shot, and your only goal should be to stand out and turn the tables in favor of your success!
What got you the job interview won’t get you the job offer.
We look at what you’ve accomplished and where you’ve been before deciding to offer you an interview, but we want to know what you understand about the organization, how you fit in and whether or not you can alleviate our challenges (our pain) before deciding to offer you the job. Forget this distinction at your own peril.
It’s not about your degree; it’s not about your certifications; it’s not about your years of experience. These factors do tend to matter – and are evaluated – before the interview (usually during the candidate selection stage of the process). We want to know how you stack up next to the job requirements. We do consider how much education and experience you are bringing with you. But that is what we do to decide whom to interview. This is not what most hiring managers are looking at when deciding whom to hire.
This distinction matters, and you must care about it if you are going to focus on the right things during the interview.
Don’t tell interviewers what you know. Instead, show them how you think.
Yes, you should have done all your homework. You should have researched the organization, the people, the culture and the interviewers. You should have read the annual report and any other publicly available material you could find. You should check out all the social media platforms to gauge as much as you can. But none of this can bring it home for you.
The way to bring it home and get the offer is to remember this. It is not about what you know; it’s about how you think, and the offer will likely go to the candidate who shows himself or herself to be a strategic thinker with a mindset to advance organizational goals and add more institutional value than the competition.
Strategic thinkers have a better chance of getting hired so I suggest you use the interview to show them how you think and how you will focus your mindset to create a more effective organization. You can beat your competition by highlighting that you have a mindset to move
- from solving problems to improving processes
- from saying what won’t work to proposing what will
- from making clear statements to asking thoughtful questions
- from ignoring or creating conflict to truly welcoming and resolving it; even encouraging debate
- from simply collecting and using data to turning it into intelligence for improved decision making
- from managing programs and services to measuring them and evaluating whether they add value
- from focusing on being a better leader to also focusing on being a better follower
- from doing what has already been planned to forecasting what to do and where to go next
- from managing human resources to developing and communicating a human capital strategy
- from serving on the planning committee to serving on the strategic leadership or executive team
- from trying to be innovative and think outside the box to ensuring that others are actually challenged and engaged to think within it
- from working in a toxic organizational culture to being responsible for designing strategies to transform it
- from conducting performance management reviews to designing and evaluating the performance management program
- and more and more and more
You’ve got this!
Don’t dare leave that interview without making sure the interviewers know these three things about you.
- You understand the organization.
- You will fit in and make immediate contributions.
- You appreciate their key pain points and are prepared to help alleviate their challenges.
Most other candidates are going to enter their interview with a goal to show the interview what they know – but not you. You should enter your interview with a goal to show the interviewers how you think. Because of this, you will surely stand out and increase the odds that you will indeed be the one getting the job offer.