You did it – you landed the interview. That’s worthy of celebration, but you haven’t crossed the finish line, not yet anyhow. The real race has begun – showing your potential employer why you are the right candidate for this job. How do you do that?
Of course, you can pick out a stellar outfit and even practice common interview questions. Those are indeed helpful warm-ups. But in my experience, the best way to outpace the competition is a combination of being yourself with a strong dose of curiosity.
Let’s start with what we don’t mean by “be yourself.” This is not your wear- your-favorite-graphic-tee- and-comfy-sweatpants-to-the-interview self – that is a vibe, but not the first impression you want to make. Being yourself in an interview in this instance means being yourself in a professional setting. Elaborate on your interests and the experiences that qualify you for the specific challenges and responsibilities of the role.
For example, if you are interviewing for a nonprofit communications position that entails content creation and campaign planning, convey how your past experience qualifies you for the position. You could talk about how:
But here’s one key detail to remember: your experience doesn’t merely come from past jobs. Showcasing genuine passion in your hobbies or creative work can speak volumes. In your conversation, help your interviewer connect the dots so they can collect the right information about your viability as a candidate during your brief time together.
For instance, maybe you enjoy design, so you’re always tinkering with Illustrator, Photoshop, or even Canva on creative projects. Or perhaps you have background as an assistant director for a local theater or even have a side job as a professional singer. Each of these experiences can translate into professional language.
Demonstrating your genuine self and marketable skills in and out of the office provides an excellent first impression. But there’s one more element that could lead to a gold medal (at least metaphorically) from your interviewers.
Think of your interview like a first-date scenario –you know a little about each other, but this is the first time you are talking one-on-one to see if there’s a next step. You don’t want the conversation to be static, so you ask questions– this level of curiosity shows interest and keeps both parties engaged.
Leaders are looking for a curious spirit. A SAS study shows 62% of leaders believe curiosity is connected with greater efficiency and productivity. The findings highlight three main reasons why curiosity makes such an impact.
This brings up an important point – what does curiosity look like in an interview? Great question. Make sure you know enough about the job to ask some intentional questions, details like:
Best rule of thumb is to make a list before the interview. Write down any and every question that comes to mind. Most likely you will not need to ask every question, but the more time you spend on these beforehand, the more prepared you will be to ask the relevant questions in the interview.
Curiosity grows individuals’ professional abilities and skills, increases their capacity to mature as leaders, and founds relationships that build business for years to come. It is key to becoming the ideal candidate. If you can show a potential employer a high level of curiosity in your initial conversation, you may just earn that first-place position.
You have valuable talent to bring to the table. Your first interview is the callback for landing your ideal role. And while every interview may not end in an offer, every conversation can be a meaningful steppingstone. The more you can be yourself, showcase your character and personality, and demonstrate an inquisitive spirit, the more you and your potential employer will recognize a good fit when the right combo comes along. Keep interviewing. Stay curious. And cross that finish line.
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