Going into the University, I had a very wrong orientation.
The orientation was that nothing else mattered except lectures, notes, books and the semester exams.
In the right measure, this orientation helps you a lot.
In fact, I don’t know anyone who gets a decent entry-level job without having a good first degree (first class or a second-class upper).
There are outliers, of course. But most of them certainly got there through connections.
However, you need to have suffered the way I did after graduating with good grades to see the damaging consequences of this orientation.
I would apply to most jobs, get invited to tests, pass those tests, then bungle the interviews.
I remember one interviewer telling me, “Vincent, why is your voice sounding so shaky? Are you scared?”
Another one looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not convinced with your claims. Not sure you can do what you say you can do”
So after failing at a few interviews, I decided to work hard at improving myself.
I decided to make sure I have what it takes to ace all my job interviews.
Below are 5 strategies I’ve used to build instant rapport at interviews and land good jobs.
If you’re struggling to get past the interview huddle, You need to study these 5 strategies
Then go on and practice them if at all you want is to land your dream job.
1) Be Honest – Never Bluff
Don’t make claims you can’t provide credible evidence for. Don’t claim to be an expert on a topic you can only provide a basic definition.
Many people will try to tell you that the best way to get a job is to “fake it until you make it.” Truth is unless you’ve been around a domain for a while (let’s say minimum of a year), there are many concepts you can’t even provide explanations for.
Not convinced? My friend had an ugly experience early this year. He aced 2 interviews for a very big firm and was already at the final interview, the MD’s interview.
Then while he was in flow, he mentioned he had an expert-level skill in Excel.
Impressed, the MD then took him to desktop in his office, pulled up a large Excel file, and asked him to implement a macro to calculate the individual revenue generated by 7 salesperson of the company in the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria. After implementation, the macro should work with the click of a button on the Excel sheet.
My friend froze. While he understood all the basic data entry and manipulations in excel, macro was just above his head.
But he claimed to be an expert in Excel. Even before the interview ended, he knew it was all over. Such a huge chance to join a popular multinational FMCG thrown to the wind.
He was bitter for several months.
Moral Lesson: be honest. Don’t try to bluff your way through.
2) Look Your Interviewer In The Eye When You Smile
Two years ago I was at an open-hall interview.
5 job seekers, including me, were seated round an oval table.
2 interviewers were hurling questions at us, one after another.
One lady amongst us had a strange demeanor.
When asked a question, she’d look down towards her skirt and smile. After doing this 3 times, one of the interviewers asked her why she was looking away from them and smiling, whether they had their clothes on, back to front.
She kept on smiling and looking downwards, away from the interviewers.
A few days after the interview, she got a regret mail. The other 3 and I progressed to the next stage.
To really add value in any business, you must have the courage to speak your mind to customers, colleagues and bosses. No one gets anywhere with a fearful spirit.
In fact, to build instant rapport, you must have the presence of mind to engage people.
You must master the art of looking people in the eye without staring them down.
It’s simple. Use this rare strategy.
Make a commitment to look food-sellers, hawkers and menial staff in the eye for 2 months.
With them, there’s nothing to fear. Just look them in the eye and say what you want to say. The confidence you gain from this can be transferred to interviews – where you speak with people you will report to when you join a firm.
Try it out from today. It works like magic.
Moral Lesson: Fear is the enemy.
3) Show How Resilient You Are
When it comes to interviews, it doesn’t matter what your job description will be, a potential employer wants to see resilience in your journey so far.
Okay, you made a first class or second class upper. So what?
There are millions with good grades who are jobless.
What’s special about your journey to good grades?
Like Elie Wiesel said, “God made man, because he loves stories.”
Did you graduate top of your class despite having no one to sponsor your education and you ended up sponsoring yourself?
Did you have a health challenge but still finished top of your class?
What hurdles did you skip on your path to the top?
When you failed, how did you pull a comeback?
If you only succeeded in a cozy, rosy environment, the corporate culture might break you.
So show your potential employer that you’re good at bouncing back. Weave your comeback story into every answer you provide
Moral Lesson: Your resilience, not grades, is the most important.
4) Show Your Vulnerability
No one is perfect. We all have flaws. We all make bad decisions. If given an opportunity to expose these flaws, do so.
It helps you build instant rapport on the spot.
But after you have shown your flaws, you must transform them to work in progress.
And the learnings you’ve picked up on your journey.
In 2017, during an assessment center, one of the interviewers asked me if I had invested money in something and lost it, and how I reacted to it.
I was blunt. I told her I invested a lump sum in a popular Ponzi scheme.
May be because I was very young and naïve, I didn’t understand why it was a horrible investment vehicle.
I told her I burnt all my fingers by doing that. And one lesson I had picked up from that experience was to never use my two legs to test the depth of a river.
All the other interviewers laughed. I later got the job.
Moral Lesson: You’re not perfect. Don’t try to be
5) Communicate Your Why Clearly
Don’t waste an interviewer’s time. Wasting people’s time doesn’t help you build instant rapport. Instead it drives people away from you.
Interviewing might be your full-time job as a job seeker.
However, for the interviewer, it’s not. The average interviewer also has lots of deliverables aside listening to your story.
Make their time worth it and your presence memorable by weaving why you’re the best candidate for the job in every response you make.
Make your story meaningful. Don’t let the interviewer be wondering “so what?” at the end of every response you give.
Not sure what your why is? Simon Sinek has written a powerful book on finding your why.
Once you find your why, tie it into every job you’re interviewing for. And you’re more likely to land the job of your dreams…
Moral Lesson: Don’t waste anybody’s time. Make your case clearly and concisely.