In terms of the overall job search process, interviewing continues to be (in our opinion) one of the most misunderstood aspects of the job hunting challenge, with many people still operating under the belief that interviews are designed to separate the “most qualified” individual from the rest.  In the real world, however, it’s virtually impossible to objectively rank people by paper-based qualifications.  Instead, companies invite a number of candidates in who meet the minimum education/experience requirements, then base their decision on which individual seems to best grasp their unique work culture, challenges, and ideal future vision of the position in question.

This being the case, many candidates end up completely missing the point of the interview and failing to capitalize on many significant opportunities to sell themselves.  For starters, it’s important to recognize that despite appearances, and the actual questions that might be asked, most hiring managers care next to nothing about your background and work history.  What do they care about?  Whether or not you are capable of providing them with profitable future solutions — and how quickly you can do it.  As a job seeker, therefore, you have to be extremely careful not to get caught telling war stories or rehashing your resume in the interview, unless you consistently tie these past achievements back to the expressed future needs of the hiring manager.

How do you know what these needs are, exactly?  That’s the other important part of the equation.  Don’t focus on “acing” the questions being asked or trying to rattle off one silver-tongued answer after another.  Focus instead on one thing and one thing alone — try to build the trust and rapport necessary to get the person across the desk to really open up and describe their vision of what the ideal person hired will be able to accomplish.  Like any great salesperson, be a great listener.  Ask insightful, intelligent questions.  And do as much homework as possible, in advance, so that you already come in with a strong sense of what the interviewer’s hot buttons and buying signals are likely to be.

When all is said and done, again, your actual qualifications will likely matter very little in terms of whether or not you end up receiving the job offer.  By the time you’re invited in for the interview, you’ve already been “prequalified” from your resume.  The difference therefore comes down to the interviewer’s perception of which candidate best understands their problems — and seems confident that they can solve them in the timeline and manner desired.  And ultimately, if you’re the candidate who best “gets it” in their eyes, guess what?  You’ll be the one hired!