We have all heard it before in real and mock interviews when we ask the question, “Why should we hire you?” After a rather lengthy pause and thoughtful gaze, the candidate replies “Because I like people.” Well, my grandma liked people but that wouldn’t have made her successful in certain careers.
With all the time and effort that career services teams put into getting students ready for the “career audition,” through assessments, resume reviews, research and networking, only to have the student go down in flames in an interview with a highly valued employer is just what makes our day. And then the student reveals that this was the only organization they had in the pipeline even though you strongly recommended that they have several companies in the pipeline simultaneously. And now you are back at square-one.
Students miss the point that an interview is a sales call. They must effectively communicate that they can bring value to the role and the organization. We teach them use the S.T.A.R. response to the behavioral questions they will receive. And with practice, they get good at sharing their story without sounding rehearsed.
However, there is something that we need to be sure that they do. Somehow, they have to say something while responding to the question that ties the S.T.A.R story to a benefit for the organization. The student needs know why an organization would hire them and then articulate it so that it is leaves a positive memory with the interviewer. Without the organization understanding what’s in it for them to hire that student, the interview turns into an “it was nice meeting you” outcome.
And there are those non-behavioral questions that can really trip up students that are not prepared. For example, how much money do you expect to earn in this position, what do you see as your greatest weakness, why do you want to work for us, why do you think you will be successful in this position etc. And of course, an occasional unusual question like “if you could have dinner with anyone either alive or dead who would it be and why.”
You also work with students in defining the questions they should ask the interviewer. And the focus of those questions seem to revolve around how success is measured, the culture, what a typical day is like blah, blah, blah. It is amazing that so many students leave an interview not really knowing how the interview really went because they fail to ask this one simple question…”What do you see as our next step together?”
The interviewer’s response to that question can spell out what the student’s real outcome will be going forward. And based on that response, what the student says next either keeps them under consideration or unceremoniously kicks them to the curb.
We have all heard it said that “practice makes perfect”. However, it is a proven fact that “perfect practice make perfect”. Students need time and opportunity to hone this skill just like any other they develop during their matriculation. Remember an interview, just like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste.
Contributing Author: Melvin J. Scales