As a Career Advisor and unofficial life coach who helps recent graduates, I’ve learned to pick up on some of the most important questions employers want to know. I’ve spent more time talking to employers after the interview than most of us ever spend getting interview feedback in our lives. I coach grads with no experience, with severe anxiety, with no confidence, with physical hurdles, and with no professional “etiquette know-how.” I’ve found that helping people get interviews before their mind is right is pointless. Not only is it pointless, it’s much more stressful and discouraging than it needs to be. In order to interview well- you need to be able to answer these questions for yourself. Your mind/character is your strongest asset. Decide now to develop your strongest asset. Work through each of the major questions that employers REALLY want to know:
Who are you?
Can I trust you?
Will you bring my office more respect?
Do you care?
Who are you?
One of the toughest questions to answer, especially if you haven’t interviewed in a while is “So tell me about yourself”! That’s when many of us stumble all over our words and start telling our personal life story- which rarely helps us (link to article about what employers are legally allow to ask). If you know your goal ahead of time: to show them a professional, driven, extensively-trained individual looking for stable and long term work with an office that allows you to contribute and to grow, it gets much easier!
The goal throughout the interview, no matter what questions they ask you, is to help your interviewer see you as someone who has the drive to get the job done and who has the communication skills to handle patients, staff, and other business partners. Good people are hard to come by. Kind and Strong people are invaluable. Many offices are willing to provide a little extra training to someone of obvious integrity and drive. It’s a better use of their time to train someone that they know has the potential, than to hire someone with the experience but none of the other intangibles.
“Disregard whatever voices in your head are saying you don’t have the experience or the talent to get the job!”
I know this from my own experience. I secured a very competitive internship in a genetics lab not because I knew genetics very well, but because I assured the interviewers that I would make them look good back at my home college. I won the position over other students who had better grades and stronger lab skills because I told the interviewers that I was the person who was going to help them reach their goal. I later secured my first full time sales intensive job despite the fact that I had much less experience than anyone else who interviewed. The difference was that I got the staff to like me and I assured the hiring manager that I could be counted on to be honest and to work with integrity. They knew that they could bring me on and coach me to where I needed to be. The people with +10 years more experience than I had thought that their experience was enough to go on and forgot to make sure that they made the staff and hiring manager feel good about hiring them.
My lesson is this: Disregard whatever voices in your head are saying you don’t have the experience or the talent to get the job! If you’re a person of character, if you’re driven, if you’re willing to work smarter than anyone else, and you have the training- lead with that. Don’t let anxiety win. When you’re nervous in an interview or aren’t sure how to answer a question, take it back to one of the most important and basic ideas, because it’s that simple: You’re either an extensively trained professional, committed to providing the best and most seamless experience to your colleagues and patients, or you’re everyone else who really just wants a pay check and the longest break times possible. One takes, the other gives. Decide who you are, and the rest is cake.
Can I trust you?
One of the biggest things to remember is that Employers are people too. They are looking for someone that they can confidently add to their “work-family,” someone who is going to make their job easier (not harder), someone who will help keep the peace amongst all their current employees, and someone who can do the job independently after the usual on-boarding training.
A bad hire can make everyone’s work load more difficult. They want to feel good about hiring you. They want to know that you’re not going to make them look bad in front of their superiors or their employees. You can help the person you’re interviewing feel more comfortable trusting you by being up-front and confident with them. Think of it this way- the more reasons you give them to trust you, the more you’re actually helping them be better at their current job: hiring a new staff member. If you plan on showing up on time, having consistent attendance, being a good communicator, contributing to the office, making other peoples’ jobs easier, making the team stronger, and helping the company grow- TELL THEM THIS! Making a point to confidently assure them of your trustworthiness goes a LONG way. Even if you have zero work experience, you can champion the strength of your character. Are you trustworthy? Do you believe that you treat people better than most? Tell the employer that. This is one of the things that EVERY employer is looking for: someone who has their back too.
When you get nervous about the interview, remind yourself that they have more to lose than you do. You have the ability to go to more interviews until you find the right fit. The employer typically only gets to pick a person once every few years. You’re job in the interview is to give them every reason to trust you. So breath deep- who could be more trustworthy than you once you’ve decided to be that kind of person?
The beauty about this brain-hack is that no matter what anyone else has told you that you are or aren’t capable of, no matter how much anxiety, or how severe your physical issues are- it’s a pretty simple question to answer. Actually, it’s only an easy question to answer if you’ve already made these decisions for yourself: Can you be trusted? Are you going to show up to work on time? Are you going to respect patients’ privacy, your colleague’s privacy? Are you going to carry yourself with maturity and class, or are you eager for the work-place drama to grow around you? Are you consistently going to take the high road and stop drama where it starts, or are you going to fan the flame? Are you going to handle all monies with respect and integrity? Are you going to double check your work to make sure it is correct and reliable? Are you going to look presentable and well-groomed every day? Are you going to reek of smoke while part of an office supposedly tasked with other’s health? Are you going to do what you say you are going to do? Are you going to complete all of your duties even when others don’t complete there’s- or are you satisfied with the status quo? Are you committed to being reliable for them, even on the days that showing up seems like a huge hurdle? Are you committed to being resourceful and finding alternative transportation if something happens to your car? Are you committed to guarding their professional reputation by not allowing friends/family to loiter in the office? Are you going to “have your employers back” when things get tough in the office? Are you going to stay until the job is done? Or are you going to routinely leave unfinished work to others? Are you trustworthy? Or are you okay with being part of the problem with healthcare? This isn’t just a job… this is people’s lives. It’s their children, and mothers’, and families lives. Are you trustworthy?
You don’t need previous-work experience, tons or resources, or a huge support system to be able to answer this question. If you are trustworthy- you’re already ahead of the game!
“Even if you have zero work experience, you can champion the strength of your character.”
Note: This is part 1 of a supplemental article for Shannon's previous post, “How to Overcome Interview Anxiety.”