Job Interview Tips: Make Yourself Excellent

Tips on making yourself an ideal person to work with.

As an employer, would you rather hire someone who’s pretty good or someone who’s excellent?

Since excellence trumps mediocrity (at least in theory, if not in practice), the choice is obvious. The best way to rise to the top of any potential employer’s short list of job candidates is to be excellent. How do you do that?

All excellent candidates share three general characteristics. First, they’re pleasant. They may not be as “up” as Kathie Lee or as gregarious as Regis, but they come off as someone who likes to work with others, who is easy to get along with, and who isn’t a grump. If you’re so painfully shy that you can’t occasionally look the interviewer in the eye, or if you’re so intense you sprain the interviewer’s hand when you shake it, you’ll be considered eccentric, not excellent, and you’ll be cut from consideration.

Second, they make a good appearance. They aren’t Vogue or GQ models, but they’re clean (washed, deodorized, shaved and shampooed), neat (no shirttail hanging out, no scuffed shoes) and appropriately dressed. They don’t wear flip-flops or shorts on job interviews and they don’t expose their navels, cleavage or chest hair.

Third, they are appropriately credentialed. Sure, employers sometimes buy their argument that, say, five years of unique experience is equivalent to an MBA. But most times, if a job ad or posting says a special license is required or that experience in a particular software program is necessary, they have the credential.

Excellent so far? Okay, so how do you demonstrate excellence beyond the basics? First, you must find out the one or two most critical functions of the job as perceived by the person to whom the job reports. Since much of excellence is in the mind of the beholder, you have to figure out what’s really important to the hiring decision- maker and then show you have it.

For example, suppose an Internet startup is looking for a salesperson who “can establish an organized sales program.” You send off your resume showing sales experience at a tech company and a cover letter saying you have great organizational skills. In the interview, however, you learn that the previous salesperson didn’t meet quota and spent all his time planning. Obviously, while the company says it’s looking for a team builder, it really wants an aggressive salesperson. You become the excellent choice if you pick up on that and show how you’re a terrific salesperson (the true critical job function) as well as being organized (the stated, but actually less important, job function).

The key, of course, is getting in for an interview and discovering what’s really important. To get to that point, your resume should respond to the ad or job description point by point so some underling or computer program doesn’t mindlessly dismiss you.

And, of course, work intelligently at your current job and get as much experience as you can. That way, when the time comes, you’ll have achievements you can draw on that truly are excellent.

Article – Copyright 2000 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA

Like this? Share it with your network:

I need help with:

Got a Question?

Get personalized expert answers to your business questions – free.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to purchase something using one of our links at no extra cost to you.