When it comes to interview performance, best-fit candidates are the ones who influence their interviewer to see them as such. You need to persuade your interviewer into thinking you’re the one candidate, above all others that has what it takes to do the job. So, let’s break down influence.
My brother Nick, or Dr. Aramovich to everyone else, is a professor of psychology. Through an aggregate of research models, he built a simple yet elegant framework that describes the “Four C’s of Influence” in the context of group dynamics. They are Competence, Confidence, Commitment, and Connectedness. Let’s explore how to best leverage each of these components to positively influence your interviewer. I’ll break down the process for excelling in each of the areas of influence in four separate articles, starting with competence.
Demonstrating competence is the reason you’ll receive an offer. Do you know your craft and have you demonstrated excellence in similar organizations? If conveyed well, you are likely to advance in an interview process. However, in 30-60 minutes, your interviewer will have no real idea of whether or not you’re competent until you start performing on the job. To convince an interviewer of your competence, you must explicitly express your relevant experience that speaks to the position for which you’re interviewing.
As an example, say you’re going for a Human Resources Business Partner role, and the interviewer questions your employee investigation experience. It is not enough to give a generic answer about your process of interviewing employees, report writing, relaying risk to management on retaining or terminating an employee, and then providing sound options on a path forward. No, no. In addition to the high-level answer, you must also say something specific like the following. “As a specific example, there was a time when an employee was thought to be sharing company proprietary information with the Press in a way that would damage the Firm’s reputation.” Then go on to describe your specific role and how you went about the investigation. See the difference? The generic response allows the interviewer to see your thought process, and the specificity provides the confidence that you are competent at your subject matter.
Even when adept interviewers ask behavioral-based questions that start with, “Tell me about a time when…,” most of my coaching clients lack specificity in their responses. Here’s how to remedy that; ensure you review the job description for the position you’re interviewing for during your preparation process. For each of the main position responsibilities, chart out a specific experience from your work history that speaks to delivering exceptional results in that area. I recommend building an excel spreadsheet of examples by category. Here are a few topics almost all interviewers will ask about:
1. Delivering quality results on time and under budget
2. Collaboration & teamwork
3. Dealing with difficult personalities
4. Managing up (managing your manager so you can both be successful)
5. 3-5 topics that are unique to your field that could have a profound impact on the success of the organization, especially if they go wrong.
Aim for recent examples, such as the successes you’ve achieved in the last 1-3 years. Then, study your list of examples before your interview. With your experiences studied, you’ll be able to confidently express your examples so that your interviewer sees you as competent. Stay tuned for Part II on Influencing through confidence!