Despite the tight job market in many sectors, great companies and great recruiters will have a ‘slate’ of candidates for any job–two to six well qualified people who are interested and competing for the role.
Very frequently I am asked, why didn’t the company select me, why did they choose the ‘other guy’? It’s often a tight race but there are usually one of five reasons someone else landed the role:
The Assignment: Nailed it. Whether you are a sales exec asked to do a mock presentation to the executive team, a technologist asked to solve a coding challenge, or a designer pressed for the top three things she’d do to make the experience more compelling, this is very often the ‘make or break’ moment in the interview process.
Showing up calm, centered and focused, appropriately attired, delivering an exceptionally well prepared assignment that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, and had others critique, separates you from the pack. Don’t forget to read body language and listen for clues from the audience.
Expresses Enthusiasm. Most, if not all, top tier companies are looking for people who are passionate about a career, those who obsess about challenges and the competition in their spare time, not just those looking for a paycheck.
If you are ‘feeling it’ say so, “I would love to work here, here’s why…”
Awesome Communication Skills. It’s more fun, productive and easier to work with people who have great communication skills—that is, the ability to listen, comprehend and express yourself at all levels within an organization.
This isn’t a skill learned and nailed in college for most people. It’s a skill that needs to be continually sharpened. Toastmasters (yes, I’m serious), MeetUp Talks, writing and grammar classes, and the never old, ‘practicing in the bathroom mirror’, are critical to differentiating yourself. One of the best scenes in every ‘Better Call Saul’ is Saul practicing his legal arguments in the Men’s Room.
A Warm Heart. Being open, upbeat, warm, fun loving; having the ability to laugh, to talk about sports, culture, world events (mom was right, politics and religion are off the table) and show your human side always differentiates in an interview. People want to work with people they like. Find a connecting thread. Eye contact, a good handshake, and the right body language fall into this category.
Relax, open up and try to have fun with the conversations. Stress tightens everyone up.
Obsessively Well Prepared. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more of a turn off than speaking to a candidate who doesn’t know a damn thing about the company or their offerings. It just reeks, ‘LAZY’.
Spend a half day or more researching the company, investors, products and services, management and the team’s backgrounds, what social media has to say about them and more, before the first phone call. Be very careful in how you approach any criticisms you discover.
Why did the other person get the job? Most likely because they did better in one or more of these key areas of differentiation.