Chemistry counts during a job interview. It’s not just your qualifications and how you answer questions.

By: Edward Crenshaw, CEO
DESTIN Enterprises, LLC

In an era where the competition for high paying jobs is most challenging and the search for ‘high quality’ talent is at a premium, the prospective employee must view the job interview as a prime opportunity to leave a poignant, unique and memorable impression. In order to stand out among the (often times) many other qualified candidates, it is more advantageous for the interviewer to walk away from your session with the feeling of being impressed by your various intangible qualities that may prove valuable and beneficial to the organization beyond your basic qualifications and/or typical answers to standard interview questions. Discovering ‘chemistry’ with the hiring manager can create a bonding experience, establish you as a niche’ candidate and provide you with a positive ‘leg-up’ on the competition.

Don’t get me wrong... I am not an advocate for “sucking up” or “smoozing” in any form by any stretch of the imagination. Your integrity counts during the interview and most recruiters and hiring managers have heard it all before regarding complimentary gestures that may play up to their egos. These measures can actually discredit you as a serious candidate and I absolutely do not recommend any efforts that may suggest applying style over substance during the interview process. What I do recommend to prospective employees is to perform research and prepare before the interview. The following tips can enhance your interview with the hiring manager or recruiter, expand your discussion, add to the likelihood of chemistry and create a more dynamic and unforgettable impression.

What’s your motivation?

Beyond answering the standard interview and background questions, you can make lasting and powerful impression by respectfully asking questions about some of the organization’s current personnel challenges, diversity initiatives and how hiring you for the prospective position may add value to those goals. This is an opportunity to relate your previous experiences to the current situation. In some cases, the organization may be experiencing some problems with its public image. Informing the interviewer that you have completed some research regarding the public opinions of previous employees and/or customers, can illustrate that you recognize some of the organizational challenges and that you are personally and professionally motivated to add your skills and dedication towards reversing some negative trends. Most recruiters are well aware of these issues and will take the opportunity to candidly discuss their motivation towards finding the ideal candidate(s) for the position. This is a golden opportunity for you to see things from their side of the table and have a more in-depth conversation regarding their hiring goals and why you would be a great candidate beyond your basic qualifications. You can find an abundance of information regarding the organization by perusing websites such as www.consumerreports.org and www.glassdoor.com. The organization’s annual report, as well as their website can also provide some valuable insights towards the organization’s hiring goals, challenges and initiatives.

Company core values and CEO statement

It is also important to relate your intangible skills and professional virtues towards the organization’s core values. This can create an interview session that is more values focused, as it is technically focused. Inform your recruiter that their organizational values and CEO commitments attracted you to the organization and are just as important to you from an employment standpoint, as compensation and other motivational factors.

Discuss other intangibles

It may be advantageous to discover certain commonalities with the recruiter such as similar collegiate or military experiences. Also, make reference to the various books, professors, speakers, philanthropist and other professional personalities that may have positively influenced you and your career decision. Make it a point not to discuss political or religious affiliations. Relate your influences towards your motivation to overcome personal and professional obstacles with previous employment and be sure to highlight lessons learned from those previous experiences. Also relate how your dedication, perseverance, resilience and ability to adapt to new challenges are major virtues that separate you from other similarly skilled candidates. You may discover that your recruiter may share and appreciate your perspectives. It is also important to discuss why you have chosen their organization above their chief competitors. Many recruiters are in direct competition with other industry recruiters and referencing their advantages against their rivals can give you a slight edge.

If transitioning from the military, use various anecdotal experiences that may relate to the job description. These values and intangibles may help to paint a picture for your recruiter that may allow them to relate your military virtues for the job. Lastly, as always, be positive about your previous employers, be professional, enthusiastic and concise in answering questions, look your recruiter directly in the eye and apply a firm handshake at all times. At the end of your interview, thank the recruiter for their time and consideration and send a ‘thank you’ note promptly.

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Ed Crenshaw is a US Navy veteran, diversity practitioner, disability subject matter expert and creator of the innovative “Preparing Employers to Reintegrate Combat Exposed Veterans with Disabilities” (P.E.R.C.E.V.D.) diversity-training program. He is also the author of the books, “The P.E.R.C.E.V.D. Principles” and “The Employers Guide to Understanding Hidden Conditions Related to Suicide.” As a well-renown professional speaker, Ed is a passionate champion and respected advocate for people with disabilities.