In a perfect world, job interviews would be short.
“How exactly will you help this company reduce costs and increase revenues?”
The only reason to hire anybody is to,
1. Do things better to reduce costs.
2. Do things better to sell more.
I don’t care how much fluff you want to build into your one hour interviews, but if you’re the guy hiring and you don’t ask the above question, you’ve wasted your time.
But this note is for the job applicant.
A job interview is a product pitch where you have no excuse not to know the product. Mediocrity rules in the job marketplace, and it takes very little to stand out. Being better simply means being better prepared. And being better prepared means having a goal in mind. Without a goal, you’re going to say all sorts of crap in your interview and much of it won’t be relevant.
Your goal is obviously to get the job. But that needs to be granted by somebody. So your real goal is to make the person listening to you think that you’re worth the investment and feel that it’s in their best interest to hire you. The hiring manager is likely considering this while you’re talking:
“Will hiring this guy help me attain the goals I’m paid to attain?”
The focus of your preparation should clearly demonstrate that 1. You understand your role and 2. Your role is to help him attain his goals. and 3. You have a disciplined approach to help him attain his goal.
And that goal is to reduce costs while selling more. Every single department has a balance sheet. Even if the person hiring you is not directly responsible for P&L, his boss is.
You absolutely cannot authentically answer the question at the beginning of the entry without researching the company and their customers. It’s saying you’re the solution to their problems without knowing what their problem is. Most people will not take the time to really research. They might do a cursory scan of the company’s website and call it research. You can do better. Visit their customers. Call their customer support people. Call their sales team. By doing the research, you’ve already proven half the stuff you were going to say. Show up as someone with insight, not as someone begging for a job.
Your goal in the interview is to simply give the interviewer the feeling that you’re here to help him achieve his goals.
And if you’re qualified and have done the research, you know that the authentic answer will be “Yes, I can.” In the end, it’s not about how great you are. It’s about how great you can make him.