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It’s All About Them: Addressing Your Potential Contributions During Job Interviews

Like any situation where the stakes are high, candidates who have IT job interviews lined up are expected to prepare thoroughly to succeed. There are so many details that are important in job interview preparation, including everything from making sure their outfit is appropriate and they have enough copies of their resume on hand, to researching the company in advance. While candidates are feverishly preparing on their end, it can also be incredibly helpful for them to step outside their “candidate box” and into the shoes of the interviewer.

Question Mark KeyboardWhy? This perspective change allows candidates to think about each interview question from the point-of-view of who is asking it. In a sense, this makes the interview all about “them,” the interviewing company, and candidates can frame responses with a focus on potential contributions and how they would solve business problems, as opposed to simply answering questions. This slightly altered approach gives candidates an opportunity to clearly communicate why they can have a significant effect on an organization.

For some examples of common interview questions and replies that make interviewers feel like it’s “all about them,” I’ve compiled the following list. Feel free to use it as a cheat sheet to prepare for future interviews and focus on how what you bring to the table can be game-changer.

Question: Tell me about yourself.
Answer: Rather than simply sharing your work history timeline with the interviewer, think about the position you’re applying for and how your response can showcase how you would deliver in that role.

For example, if you have extensive experience in project management and the job you’re interviewing for highlights that several times as an important skill, make an effort to fit it into one of your past position descriptions. As you explain a past role, drop in a reference to success you had in project management and how you plan to apply that experience in the future.

Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Answer: This tried and true interview question gives you a chance to show the interviewer you did your homework on the company.  Before the interview, research thoroughly to understand what their biggest pain points are, what the organization’s future goals are and what hurdles they’ve overcome to get to their current success level. With that knowledge in hand, you can answer intelligently about not only what personal goal you’d like to achieve in five years, but how that goal fits into where the company is headed as well.

Question: Why do you want to work for our organization?
Answer: This question is a perfect opportunity to sprinkle in your potential contributions to a company. For example, in addition to being a part of an award-winning team and a company that is well known for its training programs, you want to help [fill in the blank here!] raise its profile among a different audience? Help it expand globally? Drive forward future innovation?

Based on the company, your answer can be completely customizable. Even better, thoughtful replies like these will speak directly to what the interviewer needs in the person they hiring.

Question: What are your greatest strengths?
Answer: Before you answer, think about what the company’s biggest weaknesses may be, and position your answer accordingly. For example, is one of the company’s steepest challenges organizational inefficiency? Be sure to include operations management as one of your replies.

Question: What questions do you have for me?
Answer: Even if you’ve done your homework ahead of the interview and made an effort to share your potential contributions throughout, this common interview “ender” question is another opportunity to make it all about them – the employer.

For example, think about what the interviewer may still want to know about how you can help their business. Ask direct questions such as, “What are the biggest business problems you hope this person will tackle?” or “How can this position make a difference to your bottom line?” Questions like these can help you wrap up the interview and leave a clear lasting impression that you are there to not only find a job that fits your background, but one that drives the company forward.

Image courtesy of stuart miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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