After years of honing your craft or profession, you might think you deserve the job you're interviewing for because you have the qualifications. But the reality is employers aren't looking for deserving candidates. They're searching for applicants who have what it takes to benefit the organization, not candidates they can reward with a well-deserved job. To ace an interview, reframe your responses to questions to make it clear exactly what the employer stands to gain from hiring you and present yourself as a well-rounded candidate suitable for the role.
Your cover letter is what compels the recruiter to look at your qualifications for more than the average six seconds' attention that resumes get, according to a 2012 study commissioned by the Ladders job board. Recruiters previously reported that they spent several minutes reading each resume. Don't waste valuable real estate on your resume explaining why you're perfect for the role. That's the purpose of your interview -- to stress the reasons why you're the best-qualified candidate for the job.
Naturally, you must have the qualifications and meet the basic requirements that a job entails. During your interview, you have an opportunity to showcase those skills. For example, if you're interviewing for a registered nurse job, describe your clinical expertise, licensing and specialty certifications, work experience and the nursing areas in which you have knowledge or direct experience. Lay the foundation -- your qualifications -- for why you're a good candidate. Showcase your qualifications, because if you didn't have them, you probably wouldn't be sitting across the desk from the hiring manager. Nevertheless, don't let your qualifications be the only reason why you're the one for the job.
Core competencies enable you to do your job. Everyone has them, but some candidates' core competencies are better than others', which is what you must articulate during your interview. For example, you have communication skills, but, what makes your communication skills superior to other candidates', and how can the company benefit from your skills? Explain to the interviewer how you tailor your message to the audience, a talent required to be a good communicator. Also, stress the importance of listening, because that's nearly 45 percent of communication, according to University of Missouri Extension professors and agricultural communication experts Dick Lee and Delmar Hatesohl.
In large part, hiring decisions are based on whether you fit the workplace culture. That's after qualifications, of course, because the perfect candidate who meshes well with the organizational culture must have substance too. Emphasize your way of doing business, how you handle your work responsibilities and how your outlook mirrors the organization's values and mission. Don't neglect your soft skills. Skills like conflict resolution and the ability to cultivate and nurture interpersonal relationships are as valuable as your qualifications, according to Ellen Mehling, librarian and career development expert for the Metropolitan New York Library Council.
Conclude your interview pitching the complete package. Tell the hiring manager how the company's bottom line will benefit from hiring you and explain what you bring to the table -- not what you expect to gain from working there. If you've already envisioned yourself in the role, explain what you'll do in your first 30, 60 or 90 days on the job. Impress the hiring manager with your knowledge of the company, its products or services, and ideas you have to sustain its reputation or ways your commitment can improve the organization's profitability.