What’s Being Evaluated

To make it above the watermark, you need to have done your research on your chosen company/industry and be prepared to talk about yourself and the content of your resume as well as why you want and are qualified for the job. You’ll want to connect with the interviewer, answering questions directly, succinctly, with thoughtfulness, substance, and authenticity. These are the minimum requirements.

If you can go beyond these minimums and answer questions with any or as many of the following, you will set yourself apart: Inject humor in your responses; make your comments as insightful as possible; exude confidence (but not overconfidence), poise, the right amount of energy and enthusiasm, and genuine interest in the interviewer, company, and job. These are all personal qualities or intangibles that are key to interviewing effectively.

A recruiter will also evaluate tangible, technical dimensions. Put simply, these include questions such as:  

  • Do you have the skills, abilities, and experience to do the job well? This means, do you have the competence, technical abilities, applicable work experience, and education to get the job done? How qualified are compared to other candidates? If you have a few gaps—deficiencies—this doesn’t necessarily rule you out. If there’s evidence that you’re a quick learner, able to come up to speed quickly on what’s missing, you could still be considered.
  • Are you a good fit with the organization/people? Do your values, your personality, work style, and preferences fit with the company’s culture, the community of people, and the specific team you’d be working with?

 Specific criteria are developed from these two broad dimensions of technical competence and fit. They’re sometimes called different things by different organizations, but the most common are leadership and management potential, intellect, analytical ability, problem-solving skill, interpersonal and communication abilities, teamwork, initiative (are you a self-starter?), relevant work experience, ability to sell or present; strategic thinking; creativity, project management, and computer skills. The importance of each varies widely, of course, depending on the industry, company, and specific job.

Think about your background and experience and come up with as many vivid examples to convey/display how you meet the criteria. How have you shown leadership? Can you give examples of when you successfully analyzed complex issues or problems? When have you used people or communication skills for a project?

To get the best sense of what the company values and requires, read and reread the job description, the company’s annual report, and any other information you’ve learned about the industry and company. Think about what skills, abilities, experiences, and values the job and the organization are looking for. From your research, information from cohorts, the company’s information session or recruiting events, media stories, alumni, or what you’ve gleaned from informational interviews, construct a list of what you think the company requires and values. Relate these to what you have to offer in a compelling manner. If you cannot, then it just might be you’ve ascertained that you would not be happy there.

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