3 ways to provide compelling proof in a job interview
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Congratulations — you got the interview! A job interview provides employers a terrific opportunity to find the best candidate to fill a job opening. Now it is up to you to prove you are the ideal candidate.
Let's look at three ways to do this.
1. Proof is in your examples
Questions that interviewers ask to better understand your qualifications are opportunities for you to provide examples of how you delivered results, achieved objectives and solved problems that were both meaningful and measurable. Examples serve as credible proof for most interviewers.
Suppose you were asked about how you work under a deadline. Your example could describe:
- A general statement of the result (quantity and quality) to be delivered and its deadline
- Why achieving it on time/within budget was important (to the employer, team or customer)
- How you went about accomplishing the assignment
- The result you delivered (compared to the expectations)
"During my internship with [employer], I was asked to provide competitive research for one of our product lines. The data was to be given to our marketing and product development departments for our winter campaign, which gave me six weeks to complete the assignment.
"After familiarizing myself with our products, I did the first part of my research online, using keywords associated with the product lines, the problems it solved, the industries in which customers were located and similar criteria. Then, I spoke to about a dozen of our most recent customers to learn why they chose us, and who else they considered. I was able to locate 15 prospective customers who didn't buy from us, to learn what they chose and why.
"I also presented myself as a prospective customer doing research for his boss, and learned how our top four competitors positioned their solutions. I beat my deadline by three days. When I delivered my research, the VP of marketing said it was the best research she had seen on any similar assignment."
2. Proof is in your documents
In the previous example of the completed research project, the commendation from the VP of marketing would be an effective proof document.
Effective proof documents are ones such as letters of recommendation or commendation that bear the author's original ink signature, certificates of award or achievement or published blogs and articles. They should be original documents on the issuer's letterhead, stationary or form. A best practice is to use a three-ring portfolio equipped with clear plastic sleeves into which original proof documents can be placed.
During an interview, proof documents can be briefly shown at appropriate times, directing the interviewer's attention to the appropriate section of the document. Show the original and indicate you will give them a copy at the end of the interview. Make sure you have a supply of high-quality photocopies for each proof document to leave behind.
Only include those documents that are excellent samples of correct, complete and high-quality work. Verify that all spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct.
3. Proof is in your references
A job search best practice is to assemble a pool of a dozen or more credible individuals who can attest to your work, talents, capabilities, soft skills and character. These can be former supervisors, respected community and business leaders, and other individuals who know you well (but not family members).
Ask for letters of recommendation from each reference on their organization's letterhead. When a prospective employer asks for references, select the top four who can provide information most relevant for the position you are applying.
Reach out to each reference you plan on providing, and ask if he or she is still comfortable being a reference for you. If yes, tell him or her a bit about the job and the specific qualities the employer is seeking. Ask to be notified when the employer contacts him or her.
Bottom line: Compelling proof convinces employers you can perform the job effectively because you've done it successfully in the past.
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