How to sell oneself at interview. It’s the subject of endless instructional blogs and press articles accounting for the loss of who knows how many trees. Always with the assumption – understandably – that it is the candidate who’s doing the selling. As the quest for talent becomes ever more difficult in many sectors, this assumption may be misplaced. Quite often it’s the candidates who are doing the choosing, rather than the employers.
Yet search for articles or advice on how to sell your company at interview and you will unearth precious little. This is something employers need to be more mindful of. Just as the interview affords the candidate a unique opportunity to display his or her talents, so too is it the window of opportunity for the employer to showcase why theirs is a great place to work.
To seize that opportunity means investing in the same level of preparation that we might expect from the candidate across the table. So how might we apply the same interview advice we give to candidates to employers? Here are some thoughts …
For the candidate this typically means how they are dressed and groomed. For the company it can mean a lot more. Are you proud of your trendy offices? Then make sure you show them to your candidate, don’t just take them directly to that austere and windowless interview room. Do a quick walk-about. It is a fact that many companies with great spaces and amenities for their staff don’t always use these spaces to sell to prospective employees! Also, make sure touch points such as the interview room and the waiting area showcase some of the company culture you are so proud of.
Interviewees are expected to have researched the prospective employer and be able to comment on issues of relevance to the company. By the same token, all the interview team should be well versed with the candidate’s CV and perhaps LinkedIn page prior to the interview. Seeing the interviewer peruse their CV – clearly for the first time – does not impress! Show the candidates they are not just another number, by demonstrating a genuine interest in them – asking about their personal interests can reveal a lot about them.
When preparing for interview, candidates often ask themselves “what’s the hardest question I can be asked?” Employees should do likewise. You’ll be surprised at how much Generation Z talk amongst their peers – they may know more about your company than you think. For example, they may be wondering why you suffer from such high staff turnover? Or whether the job at hand has real prospects in the short term? Don’t wait for them to ask, preempt these issues as part of your sell.
Millennials are ambitious. They are always thinking about the ‘next job’ – even at interview. Make sure not to concentrate so much on the job at hand (which, let’s face it, is your primary and immediate concern) that you ignore to promote the career path which your company offers.
If we have one single piece of advice to give a candidate when heading for interview, it is to be passionate. Showing real desire for a role or company can cover a multitude of shortcomings. By the same token, candidates themselves yearn for a sense of belonging in their place of work. Work is an important social environment in which they will want to feel accepted and appreciated. So employers, be sure to show the love at interview.
In truth, selling your company in a job interview is more about mindset than a checklist. It’s about striking a balance between listening to and identifying the best candidates and realising that they have other options – that your interview is probably not the only one they are attending this month. And it’s about relinquishing the sense of control and superiority that the term ‘interviewer’ implies.
Who’s interviewing who?
As the distinction between interviewer and interviewee becomes more and more blurred, maybe it’s time to ditch the ‘job interview’ moniker altogether. Isn’t this really a chat at which both parties are openly and honestly discussing their needs and wants to arrive at a mutually agreeable conclusion? And isn’t that how you’d like the working relationship to continue?