You thought interviewing for your job was stressful? Try interviewing for the job of President of United States of America, the most powerful position in the western world.
The President’s equivalent of interviewing for a job is campaigning—and the public decides who to hire. Many of us will (thankfully) never have the experience of having 300,000 million people judge our abilities to perform in a job. Lucky for you, you only need to impress 3-5 people along the way to get hired.
Still, with Election 2012 around the corner, the political battlefield provides key lessons to elevate your own job interviewing skills.
Rule #1: Know Your Base
The job interview is not about you. The interview is about what you can do for your potential employer. It’s about their needs. Their issues. Their problems. Your mission is to fully understand what they need and how you can help them succeed. If you don’t get this right from the beginning, you won’t win.
In the 2004 presidential elections, the foundation of former President George W. Bush’s campaign for re-election was ideological conservatism and rallying his conservative base around opposition to same-sex marriage. He focused on his base’s ideas, not necessarily his own. Because if the people want to talk about the economy, your plans for health care won’t get you votes. If the job requires client management skills, rambling on about your exceptional analytical abilities won’t get you far.
To figure out what matters to the company or person you’re interviewing with, do your research, analyze the job description, search the internet, read their press releases, watch YouTube videos, study their annual reports, subscribe to their blogs and discussion groups and identify what’s most important to them.
Then, start with the question, “What can I do for them?” and show up as the solution to meet their needs.
Rule #2: Tell Your Story
Think it’s good enough to just be able to do the job? Think again.
More than anything else, getting hired is about your ability to communicate a message that compels the hiring manager to say yes. Just ask President Barack Obama, who noted how important it is to “tell the story” in a recent interview on CBS.
Your story is a “why you” story—why you and only you are the solution to the organization’s problems. So, prepare your answers to interview questions based on what they need most and you’ll close the deal.
In 2008, Obama’s campaign was based on three themes: hope, change and the future. No, you won’t have Will.I.Am produce a song based on your campaign slogan, but you can articulate your story in a clear, concise and convincing way that resonates, inspires and persuades your dream company to hire you.
Rule #3: It’s Not What You Say About Yourself; It’s What Others Say About You
Endorsements are crucial in elections—and in your job search. If Obama has George Clooney, Jay-Z and Oprah singing his praises, you’d better have your peeps singing yours. A key part of your interview strategy should be to get as many people as you can to endorse you and tell the world what a rock star you really are.
How can you do this besides offering a traditional reference? Leverage the power of social media in your job search and use LinkedIn’s recommendation feature to rack ‘em up, baby. The best part? Anyone can give you a recommendation. Friends, peers, clients, subordinates, supervisors, classmates, sorority and fraternity members, organizations you volunteer with, your neighbor, barber… even your dry cleaner. (Not that your dry cleaner would help, but you get the idea.)
Numbers count here. You don’t have to wait until the hiring manager requests three professional references from you. Expose potential employers to a dozen or more informal recommendations from people in your network who can vouch for you.
The fastest way to get recommendations? Give first. Write a few words of praise for one person in your network each day for the next 30 days, and watch as your recommendations pour in—because those people are likely to recommend you back. How many is enough? Keep going until it feels like everyone and their mama says you are the shiznit.
People vote for the person they know, like and trust. Take it from former President Bill Clinton. The day after he secured the Democratic Party nomination during the 1992 presidential elections, he appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show playing the saxophone and building his popularity among minority and young voters, which catapulted him in the polls.
Your target company isn’t hiring a list of skills. They are hiring a real person. So be unique. Be funny. Be approachable. Be yourself. Oh, and bring your sax if you have one.
Adwoa M. Jones is the Founder of Crystal Clear Interviews and recently released her Free Irresistible Interviews Blueprint: 5 Strategies To Interview For A Job And Motivate The Hiring Manager To Say Yes!