“You can’t tell by looking at a piece of paper what some of the strengths and weaknesses really are.”
–Kevin Kelly, hiring guru, quoted on Forbes.com
In almost every field, job seekers who rise to the top of their applicant pools will be interviewed.
Still, nearly all of the job seekers that I’ve coached have initially made the same mistake during the pre-interview period.
They assume that their interviewers are skilled at interviewing.
As a result, they misconstrue their role as interviewees and don’t recognize the extensive scope of interview preparation.
An Interviewee’s Role
An interviewee’s role is to comprehensively demonstrate his or her job readiness and leadership potential to an interviewer, irrespective of the expertise of the interviewer.
Job seekers, particularly those seeking music and arts jobs, should not assume that the people who will interview them will be sufficiently competent at interviewing to ask comprehensive, well-crafted questions.
In fact, the people interviewing candidates for arts positions will sometimes possess scant knowledge of interview practices and therefore be ill-equipped to conduct effective interviews.
Job seekers should dispel any notion that their role during interviews will solely entail providing answers to questions.
So what should interviewees be prepared to do?
Interviewees should demonstrate that they offer uncommon value to an organization, exceeding an employers’ expectations for a particular job.
At minimum, interviewees must ensure that their interviewers will conclude “yes” to the following three primary concerns (via George Bradt on Forbes.com):
- Can you do the job?
- Will you love the job?
- Can we tolerate working with you?
Preparing for Interviews
With those issues in mind, here are concise preparation tips, tied to the above three concerns. Also review guidelines on sites such as Monster.com and LinkedIn as well as in my post, “Ace Your Interview.”
1. Create Talking Points and Presentations in Advance, and then Practice
Study a job description in detail, noting the listed duties and qualifications. Also consider any additional know-how you’d bring to a role beyond what’s found in the published description.
Prepare to give evidence that you meet or exceed a position’s qualifications, are equipped to perform the required duties, would be a collaborative colleague, and would eagerly learn new skills.
Here’s an example:
For a U.S. music faculty job that involves student recruitment, give specifics about your past recruiting strategies and results, and then describe how you’d recruit students for the employer.
Plan to speak about recruiting regardless of whether you’re directly asked about it. That is, if an interview has gone on for a while without such an important topic arising, you can bring it up by saying, “May I share some thoughts about student recruitment?”
You would then convey your accomplishments and ideas, refer to existing recruiting activities at the school found on their website, and ask about their top recruiting successes.
Aim to make the interview more of a conversation, with you asking as well as answering questions. In that way, you come across as a skilled colleague as opposed to an underling.
Whatever the job, in advance of an interview, study the employer’s website, create talking points tied to each job duty, do mock interviews with one or more mentors, and video-record.
2. Emanate Enthusiasm
Be passionate about your field, the employer, and the job in question. Articulate a succinct career vision, and explain how the position fits your vision and goals.
In tandem, research your prospective employer and the people who will interview you – plan to ask questions about their activities and accomplishments, demonstrating your interest in their work.
Through your amiable yet polished demeanor, make it clear that you’d bring collegiality and professionalism to an organization.
Create rapport with your interviewers such that when the interview ends, they’ll all agree that they like and respect you.
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In sum, interviewing involves skills that require practice and feedback. And because most of us seldom engage in job interviews, to excel at them, we have to prepare meticulously.
© 2012 Gerald Klickstein
Photo of Northeastern University, Boston