Preparing for a job interview can be nerve-wracking. The stakes are high: if you're successful, your career will change. Maybe even your lifestyle - or your address! As you prepare for that conversation, consider the following axiom that high-performers know: where you put your attention is where you find your results.
It's easy to fall into the "interview trap": the belief that your experience is the key to your next position, or promotion. But if experience were always the most important factor, how would anyone ever get the chance to do a job they've never done before? When someone moves from management into the C-Suite, how does that transition take place? Because, by definition, that person does not have the experience of doing their new role. Perhaps there's something more important than experience - and something you can do make sure you see the real value in the experience you already have.
Adventures in Baby Sitting
Consider a young couple who wants to celebrate their anniversary with an elegant dinner at a local restaurant. They have to find a babysitter for their two-year-old baby girl so that they can step out.
A new neighbor recently moved in next door, just a few months ago. She's available to babysit, and her credentials are impressive: she's in her fifties, has an advanced degree in childhood education, and she even ran a day care center in a nearby state.
Across the street is where Jasmine lives. The couple has known Jasmine since she was in junior high school, and she's just now getting ready to head off to college in the fall. They've used her before as a babysitter, and she's always done a great job. Jasmine is also available to babysit for the anniversary dinner.
So, who do they choose? Does the couple pick the new neighbor with the powerhouse resume? Do they choose on the basis of experience?
They choose Jasmine.
Because trust matters more than experience.
Credentials on your resume are impressive, but trust (and relationships) always matter most. For your next interview, consider how you can build trust around your credentials - a trust that lets your potential employer see that you've thought this through. Maybe you haven't worked with your new company before, and your interviewer is a complete stranger to you. So how can you bring trust into the conversation? What can you do to help others to see beyond just the job descriptions on your LinkedIn profile?
Remember that your experience only matters to the extent it matters to your potential employer. Look in the direction of outcomes and impact: What is it in your experience that will be most useful to the person who is interviewing you? What behaviors have you demonstrated that create trust, by showing how you've cared for the big ideas (and small objectives) in your work history?
It's easy to get lost in feelings of insecurity about your past experience. We all do. Even when somebody asks me for my elevator pitch, I still feel a little insecure. Ever ask yourself one or more of these questions, as you're preparing for the job interview?
Do you have the right level of education and training?
Do you have the track record that proves you can do the job?
Are you credible and believable as someone who deserves this next challenge?
It's only natural to feel nervous when talking about your experience.
What if there's one question that's more powerful than "what's your experience"? This question might help you to take your attention off of yourself (that's the definition of self-conscious, by the way) and put your attention on what matters most.
Here's the Real Question: Can you help us?
Companies of all shapes and sizes hire one thing, and one thing only: solutions providers. Maybe you're a little insecure - I know I am from time to time. But in spite of my feelings, I have a story to tell - a job to pursue - a goal to reach. I'm guessing you do, too. Can you look past your nerves...and serve? Can you look in the direction of service, instead of wishing you'd gone to a different college, treated your last boss a little better, or maybe gotten that Microsoft certification last year?
Consider the solution you can provide, and how you might be able to provide that solution to your potential employer. Your experience is nice, but the service you share with a hiring manager is what's going to get you the job offer. Nobody has all of the experience they need for their next job. Nobody. Everyone has shortcomings. We all know that nobody is perfect, and no one is the "perfect" candidate, but (in spite of our knowledge) we still chase the impossible.
Stop worrying about being perfect and start concentrating on how your service can create an impact. That's an approach that you can trust - and so will your next employer.