Your job search success depends primarily on how well you build and develop relationships. This is especially true during the interview. You want to show your interviewers that they can trust you to be a valuable, reliable, engaged member of the team, should they hire you.
In this article, I’ll cover three ways to create strong relationships with interviewers during your job search.
1. Ask Good Questions
The best way to show someone that you understand them — and that you’re interested in what they have to say— is by asking them direct, meaningful, and personalized questions.
And besides: You can’t possibly know everything about a position based on the information offered up in the job description and/or by the interviewer, unless you’re some kind of mind reader.
Show the interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in the position by coming up with a few questions to ask at the end of the interview. You should also try to ask questions throughout the interview conversation. If no questions naturally arise, you can always repeat a few points back to the interviewer for clarification.
Here are a few questions I suggest my clients ask during engineering job interviews:
What do you expect me to accomplish on the job in the first 30-90 days?
Who is on the team? And what are the common attributes of top performers?
What are the biggest technical or business challenges involved with this project?
What needs to be done first on this project? What resources are available to us?
2. Offer Ideas and Insights
As soon as you know what someone wants, offer to help that person get it. Your potential employer doesn’t care so much about why you want the job; they care much more about what you can do to help the company solve existing and future problems if you were to get the job.
When you identify a problem or challenge, share your insights and discuss how you have solved similar problems in the past. You need to offer a little free advice to prove that you have what it takes to continually solve problems throughout your career with a company.
You must position yourself as someone who can tackle problems head-on. The sooner your potential employer understands that you have solutions to their problems, the faster you’ll get an offer.
Perhaps the craziest thing I’ve ever heard from a job seeker who was getting a lot of job interviews but still struggling to get a job offer was: “I don’t want to help them until they hire me!”
This is the wrong way to think about the situation. The entire premise of a job interview is to ensure a candidate is capable of solving common problems in the field, as those problems relate to the employer’s products or services. You must assume full ownership of the role you’re interviewing for and act as if you already have the position. End the interview knowing that you helped the hiring manager solve at least a portion of their problems.
3. Declare Your Purpose
We often don’t declare our purpose soon enough in the process to make an impact. If you’re not clear about what you want during the first contact with a potential employer, that employer will assume you won’t be an effective communicator on the job. Most importantly, they’re not going to make a decision for you — meaning they won’t tell you about all the roles they have available or look for the one that best fits you.
It is your responsibility to do your research ahead of time and approach the employer with a clear goal or purpose. This will guarantee that your contact understands your intent immediately. Many people worry about seeming too obvious, but really they should be more concerned about seeming obtuse. State your intent as soon as possible if you want to be taken seriously.