Employers want candidates to ask questions at interviews. Here’s a question I recommend clients ask: “What are the top three challenges I’ll face in this position?”
This question works in several ways. First, it shows the employer that you want to confront challenges. Second, once the employer tells you what the challengers are, you can address how you would deal with them. Finally, you will get a sense of what the employer thinks is most important. Employers want good employees. What’s a good employee? Someone who is not afraid of challenges.
As a culture, we train people to value team achievements. From the time we’re young, we’re drilled with cliches such as, “There is no I in team.” Many of the clients I work with talk about their jobs in terms of “we.” I frequently stop them and remind them that employers are not hiring “we.” To be successful in a job search, you need to be able to let potential employers know what you can do for them, not what you did as part of a team at your former job.
Practice what you will say at interviews, but don’t do it in a way that will sound scripted or canned. I recommend that clients use 5-7 index cards. Put one achievement or success story on each card and then practice telling the story different ways. For example, a success story in sales can also be a success story in negotiation or problem solving. The key is to use the story in a flexible way that tells the employer how you will help her company.
Remember what the employer is looking for in every interview: someone they can trust. You need to talk about yourself in a way that is clear and believable. “We” stories don’t tell the employers anything about you. Keep them focus on you and what you bring that will make you a great employee.