My family and I have been ‘American Idol’ fans the last couple of years, watching the contestants try to give their best performances week after week. It’s been fun to watch, but enlightening as well to see the work and effort they have to put in to try to become the winner.
Often, the judges will talk about the importance of having a “moment”. They are referring to having a performance that rises above the others by connecting with the listeners, or being unique in a way that transcends all of the other performances.
In a singing competition, as in a job interview, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out as something special when compared to several other very capable “contestants”. However, if you don’t set yourself apart somehow… if you don’t have your ”moment”, you will be easily forgotten.
Especially in today’s intensely competitive job market, if you can’t show an employer something that makes you unique or special for the open position, you are not likely to be the one that gets the job. you have to have your “moment”.
How do you do that? Here are some ideas:
~ Know yourself! Before you can explain to someone else what it is that makes you uniquely qualified, you have to know the answer yourself! You have to be self-aware of your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments. You can get some help by reading: Know Yourself! Take the time to figure out what makes you, you, and what makes you unique.
~ Know them! Their primary objective is to find someone that fits the requirements of the position, the culture of the organization, and has a drive to succeed in the role. If you don’t know specifics of what the requirements of the role are, or what their culture is like, it will be impossible for you to demonstrate how you fit. Do your research. Read their website, talk to people in the organization before your interview, ask others at networking groups or professional association meetings or anywhere else what they know about the company and what it’s like to work there. The more you know what they are looking for, the better you will be able to articulate the fit.
~ Connect the dots! If, by the time you are done with the interview, they don’t clearly see how you fit the role and their culture, you will not get a job. It’s that simple. It’s your responsibility in the interview, not theirs, to make sure they got the key information to connect those dots. If you think they aren’t asking questions that give you the chance to express that to them, find a way to interject it in the discussion yourself.
You might say something like: “If I understand the role correctly, key experience that would help the person be productive quickly would be having worked with ______. Can I tell you a little of my background in that area?”
~ Be prepared! On American Idol as in a job interview, the “contestant” that is well prepared comes across so much better than someone that is winging it. And the person most prepared will do the best. An old saying goes: “An amateur practices till they get it right. A professional practices until they can’t get it wrong!” Determine that you will be THE professional that they will interview. Write out answers to potential questions, hone them, and practice them until you feel like you will nail it when you’re asked. Thorough preparation sets you apart.
~ Put a cherry on top! A great ice cream sundae looks even better with a cherry on top! It’s that little extra something that sets it apart from most. It’s the one thing that might make someone choose this sundae over all the others. In American Idol it’s the “moment”. In your job interview, it’s something that makes you unique and memorable. It might be a strong accomplishment, or award. It might be a personality trait that’s rare to find. It might be relating to them in a way no one else does. It might be a level of professionalism that’s a cut above the norm. Or it can be something else that’s unique to you. You’re the one that has to figure it out and then convey it to them in the interview process.
In any hiring process, it’s not always the most technically qualified person that gets the job. Rather, it’s the one that they see as bringing something extra or special to the organization. Know yourself. Know them. Connect the dots. Be prepared. And put a cherry on top! Have your “moment” when it’s your turn to take the stage!
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.
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