#1. Gather critical information about the unwritten requirements of the job.
Job postings are generally written by human resources and are likely to be somewhat vague. All too often, the hiring manager’s true needs will not be listed or prioritized appropriately. So, without first finding out additional information, it can be awfully difficult to present yourself as the ideal employee.
Be proactive, ask questions and assume the role of a consultant rather than simply a job-seeker. Moreover, do this as early into the interview as possible. It is only after you have gathered the specifics of the problems the manager is facing that you should begin selling yourself to the position. The following will be helpful in getting the interviewer to start talking:
- What do you view to be the most critical aspects of the job?
- In your mind, what needs to get done immediately?
- How can the new person make your life easier?
#2. Overcome age-related objections.
One of the biggest stereotypes younger managers hold against mature applicants is that they are set in their ways and reluctant to take direction. You can address this misconception by opening up the dialogue with questions that show you welcome the opportunity to learn.
Further, you want to let them know that you thrive on change and new challenges. Because people make up their minds about you within a very brief amount of time (first impressions), you want to counteract any stereotype about your age as quickly as you can.
Preface your questions by saying something like, “I enjoy being challenged and learning new things…”
- In your estimation, what are the major demands of the position so that I might continue to increase my knowledge and grow my skill sets?
- How do you see the work moving forward as the technology develops? (Be sure to underscore how you enjoy keeping current with the latest advancements in your field.)
#3. Help the hiring manager define his or her true needs. Many times (especially if the position is new), hiring managers may not recognize the specifics of what they truly hope to accomplish. You can help them clarify these outcomes by asking open-ended questions about the ultimate goals of the position:
- What do you consider to be the most pressing objectives and/or goals of the job?
- How will a successful employee in this position benefit your team and your desired outcome overall?
Follow up with, “If I’m understanding you correctly, you are looking for someone who can…” and then explain how your skills and experience are a match with their needs.
#4. Show you have done your homework and are knowledgeable about the job, the organization and the field in general.
You want to present yourself as a knowledgeable insider— someone with the skills, experience and personal strengths for the job. You also want to let your interviewer know that you took the time to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the particulars of the position and the goals of the company.
Prepare open-ended questions that will underscore these facts. You can even begin with the phrase, “Well, I’ve done my homework and…”
Job interviews are your time to show how your skills, experience, attitude and enthusiasm will support the needs and goals of the hiring manager. This can only be done if you have a thorough understanding of what is involved. So ask open-ended questions often and early. Take on the role of consultant and make this conversation a true exchange of information and ideas.
By posing smart questions, explaining how you can make a difference and presenting yourself with confidence, you will make that all important, powerful first impression. In fact, with a little luck and the right timing, chances are good that your well-positioned, open-ended questions just might help you get the offer and land the job!