Just like with resumes, gone are the days where you might just sit in an interview and list your duties and responsibilities. At least, gone are the days where that tactic might actually land you the job. (If it ever did.)
Nope, today, job seekers have to be more savvy and much more “sales” oriented. Now, please don’t freak out because I used the word “sales.” I’m not saying you have to have sales experience or act like a tacky, used car salesman to get a job. What I mean is that you need to focus on presenting your skills and yourself (in essence, your product) in the best possible light. You need to focus on what the benefits of hiring you are for the employer.
(But more on marketing/sales job search concepts in future posts.)
One of the ways to really promote how you are the best fit for the position is used situation examples in the interview process. (This will also work great in your networking campaign as well.)
You’ve probably heard of the “STAR” (Situation/Task, Action, Result) acronym when dealing with behavioral interview questions. Behavioral interview questions are the “Tell me about a time when . . .” part of an interview. As a former recruiter, I can tell you that these questions are your opportunity to SHINE. I can’t emphasize that enough. The interviewer and decision-maker will be listening very carefully to your answer – not just for the obvious “correct” answer, but for clues about how you will take those successes and apply them to the position in their company.
In the book, Job Search Magic by Susan Whitcomb*, a new way of dealing with these types of questions is discussed. She uses the acronym, “SMART.”
“SMART” stands for:
Tie-in or Theme
What’s the difference? The difference is the tie-in or theme. This is where you link your “story” to what’s important to the employer: important issues, specific experience or competencies needed, etc. You can also use questions to turn this around and put the ball back in the interviewer’s court, a great way to glean more about the company’s corporate culture and true needs that might have not been truly addressed by the interviewer.
But more importantly, it focuses your entire interview process not on what you’ve done in the past, but what you can do for the new employer.
Do you recognize the difference? It’s a clear but subconscious shift in your thinking as the job seeker.
I suggest that you prepare no less than 3-5 SMART stories to use in your own job search process. Writing them down is a great exercise. Practice saying them out loud so you feel more comfortable using them. Be sure to prepare a couple of optional tie-ins ahead of time, as I personally feel as this is the trickiest and most uncomfortable part for job seekers.
I’d like to hear from you readers about how this strategy works for you, and I’d love to hear examples of your own SMART stories. In future posts, I’ll cover more ways to get SMART about your job search, including how to prepare for networking.
*Just to clarify, I get no proceeds or kickbacks for this recommendation. I did, however, take Susan Whitcomb’s Certified Job Search Strategist course and studied this book as part of my coursework. I recommend this book to any job seeker.