Your Competition: The Perfect Job Seeker

When you interview, you may be competing against the perfect person.  In fact, your competition may be the absolute ideal candidate that the hiring manager can imagine.

We all know that there isn’t a perfect candidate.  Despite this, you may be competing against perfection.

How is this possible?  A hiring manager usually doesn’t have a requirement to hire someone right now. When they interview job seekers, they need to be convinced to hire someone.  The best candidate interviewed will not get hired if the company decides leaves the position open.

The Economic Situation

In a strong economy, there are more jobs than people.  Some companies will hire as soon as the see someone with skills they need.  In some industries, companies would hire even if they didn’t have an open position.  The need to add talent was so critical, job seekers only needed prove they had the potential to do the job.

The situation has changed.  The economy is slowing and we’re seeing more job seekers than jobs.  Companies are still hiring, but are becoming much more reluctant. To make a hiring decision, the company will need to be convinced that the job seeker will add significant value to the company over the long term.  The bar that must be met is in the expectation of the hiring manager – and this expectation may be extremely high.

What You Need to Do

There are three things that you need to do to get hired.  You need to show you can do the job.  You need to show you are better than your competition.  You need demonstrate you will add sufficient value to persuade the hiring manager to fill the position.

Most job seekers focus on the first of these goals.  They try to show that they are qualified and are capable of doing the job.  This is the cost of admission for the interview.  A hiring manager expects everyone they consider to be capable.  This will not motivate them to hire you.

Some job seekers will try to show they are more capable than others.  This is an improvement, but still not enough to prompt a hiring decision.

The job seekers that will get hired will demonstrate a clear benefit that they will provide to the company.  The key to doing this is understanding what the company wants to achieve with the position.  Consider how you will help the company reach these goals.  Be able to articulate a the benefits you will deliver to the company and the hiring manager.

Are You Doing It Right?

Your results will tell you if you are providing a significant reason why you should be hired.  If you get hired, you probably did it right.  If you didn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your interviewing was the problem.  There is a chance you didn’t have the skills or experience that were important to the company, or another individual was more qualified.  You can identify times when you interview skills were the problem.

To assess your interview skills, review your recent interviews.  At what stage did you get eliminated – the phone screen, the first interview or a later interview?  If you’re not getting past the phone screen, your interview skills are most likely the problem.  Companies decided to phone screen job seekers because their resume shows some capability to do the job.  If you convince them during the interview that this capability isn’t as strong as they thought, you need to improve your interviewing.

If you are getting to later stages of the process but still are not hired, there could be a lot of factors.  The clearest indicator of poor interview skills is a slowing in the process without an outright rejection.  In this situation, you go for an interview and all signs indicate a very positive connection with the hiring manager.  You leave the interview with a strong indication that the hiring manager thinks very highly of you.  Then, nothing happens.  Weeks go by.  You follow up, and each time you are told that the hiring really likes you but is considering other candidates.  Eventually, contact ceases and you move on.

In this situation, the job seeker did well enough that they never get rejected.  The hiring manager sees that the person can do the job – perhaps very effectively.  Despite this, they aren’t sold on hiring the person.  They keep looking, searching for a perfect candidate that will give them a compelling reason to be hired.

If this sounds like your job search, work on your interview skills.  Get a practice interview and have an expert assess you.  Develop a clear value proposition before each interview and be able to demonstrate the benefits you will provide if you are hired.