You check your e-mail and find a message from a job interviewer you met two days ago. Before you even open it, the title “Thank You” tells you what it means: Someone else got the position you wanted. “What could I have done better?” you ask yourself. “I was sure I had everything they were looking for.”
What you say in an interview (and how you say it) can make the difference between “You’re hired!” and “We’ve decided to go in another direction.” To change the outcome of your career search, all you need is one little word.
Target Your Experience With a Single Word
“So”: Only two letters, but it packs the power to transform an important part of how you present yourself in an interview. To succeed at getting hired, you need to convince the employer that your skills, talents, and experience are the perfect match for the position, and that of all the interviewees, you’re the one who will make the best contribution to meeting the company’s goals. How does “so” make you stand out? It helps you connect the dots between the credentials you offer and their benefits to your potential employer. Here’s how that works.
A Lesson in Two Sets of Golf Clubs
Imagine you’re browsing a used car lot, trying to visualize yourself behind the wheel of what looks like a great SUV. As you’re checking out the car, you look two parking slots to your left. A salesperson is pitching an elderly couple on the advantages of a like-new full-sized luxury vehicle, talking about its low mileage and great interior. The salesperson pops open the trunk, guides the couple to the back of the car, and says, “This trunk is spacious, so both of your golf bags will fit with room to spare.”
See that word “so”? It’s the bridge between the feature (a spacious trunk) and the customer benefit (an easy trip to the golf course). It shows the two seniors how the car meets their needs and suits their lifestyle. Even more than that, it shows that the salesperson understands what the customers really want.
How to Sell Benefits in a Job interview
How does “so” work in an interview setting? Suppose you shine at creating pivot tables in Microsoft Excel. That spreadsheet skill is your feature. To turn this feature into a benefit, tell the interviewer, “I’m skilled at creating pivot tables in Excel so sales managers can formulate accurate forecasts for their quarterly targets.”
If you’re a programmer, transform your feature (a passion for coding) into an employer benefit (meeting production targets). Instead of saying, “I’m passionate about coding” and stopping with a statement of what you do, link your feature to your prospective employer’s needs and say, “I’m passionate about coding, so I commit to putting in the hours to finish my work before its deadline.”
If you focus on taking care of customers, don’t stop with the simple statement that “I’m excellent at customer support.” Finish connecting that benefit to the employer’s need for repeat business, and say, “I’m excellent at customer support, so customers come back to buy more and convert into repeat business.”
Sell What You Offer, Not Just Your Skills
With this simple technique and that little word “so,” you prove that you understand your real value: helping your manager—and your company—achieve the goals that lead to success in the marketplace. When you sell your real value, you focus on how you can make a difference for the company, not just on what you know how to do. You see beyond the “I and me” of your capabilities and experience, all the way to the “us and we” that will make you an outstandingly productive member of the employer’s team.
To see even more details of how to accomplish this important shift in the way you present yourself, watch my video about this interview technique.
Want More Focused Tips to Aid Your Job Search?
Job seekers from 107 countries use my training courses to transform their career search into career satisfaction. My free job-hunting videos are packed with proven tactics to help you land the position you really want. Here’s a quick one to get you started.
Thanks for reading!
– Ian Jenkins
Present your skills and experience as benefits that make you attractive to your prospective employer.