Don’t Just Say It, Prove It on an Interview

“No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.” – Henry David Thoreau

Interview group pictureInterviewing is the part of the hiring process where the job seeker wins or loses the job offer.  While job seekers need to have powerful marketing documents (i.e. cover letters and resumes) selling their very best to a prospective employer, it is only the interview that allows the candidate to earn the job offer.

Unfortunately, most job seekers don’t have strong interviewing skills as they have not put in the practice time to develop them.  Job seekers spend so much time and effort to develop a great resume – maybe even paying a resume writer to do it on their behalf which is a smart move if the individual doesn’t have the skill or doesn’t want to do it.  However, the interview is where the job offer is earned and yet most candidates don’t spend time practicing, preparing, or rehearsing for an interview.  Silly, right? In my opinion, it is silly indeed.

One specific strategy that can assist an interviewee to move towards the job offer is to prove what he/she says on an interview.  Ultimately, this means that the interview candidate brings examples to support what he/she has claimed.  These examples might include success stories, specific experiences, and actual support documents with these allowing the job seeker can prove what he/she has said.  Being able to prove it can be incredibly powerful on the job seeker’s behalf during the interviewing process which is likely to differentiate the candidate in a positive way from the competition.

Most interview candidates tend to talk in generalities.

Here’s an example“I love working with people.”

Unfortunately, general statements, like this one, fail to convince the interviewer that the candidate can meet their specific needs.  Job seekers need to bring specific examples and previous successes to the interview that can prove their potential value.

Better answer“I enjoy cooperatively working with team members to complete projects.  For example, while at ABC Company, we noticed that our clients were not visiting us to level we needed so I spearheaded a task force to remedy the issue.  The team took on the task of uncovering the real reason client engagement dropped off.  We found the following….<what was found>.  We used these findings to make it easier for clients to reach us.  Ultimately, this not only got us back the levels of engagement we needed, it exceeded our target by 20%.  Now this program is being rolled out at all offices throughout the company.”

The above example has validated the claim by offering a real-world example and the supporting success.  An answer like this can be powerful while convincing the interviewer that the candidate can do the job.

Another tool that a job candidate can use is a personal portfolio I like to call a “Proof Portfolio” (3-ring binder with clear sheet protectors).  You could include some of the following into your “Proof Portfolio”:

  • Awards and special recognition
  • Favorable performance reviews
  • Reference letters
  • Copies of licenses/certificates/accreditations
  • Copies of degrees/transcripts
  • CEU credits
  • Honorable discharge papers for veterans
  • Notes/letters/e-mails of appreciation
  • Work samples and more.

Look for the opportunity to share the “Proof Portfolio” with the interviewer during the interviewer. At the right time, ask permission to show and once granted, the candidate can guide the interviewer to items that may have been discussed during the interview.

The “Proof Portfolio” can serve as a very effective closing tool, especially so when a candidate is asked the interview question, “Why should we hire you?”. This allows the candidate to express his/her interest in the job and the ability to successfully do the job. The candidate’s answer to this question could be even more powerful and convincing if they also state that they would like the opportunity to share their “Proof Portfolio” which has work samples, work successes (and more) that can validate the success stories and other claims made during the interview.

This can help erase any potential doubt the interviewer has and likely help move the candidate forward in the hiring process.  Do your best to validate your true value to the prospective employer.  When you prove what you say during an interview, you are more likely to move forward towards the job offer.

Good luck!

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