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Really Important Interviewing Advice

successful job interview

Juan and I were sure this was the candidate of our dreams. His track record was solid. The awards plentiful. In fact, we’d already began to wonder if we needed to continue the search. Surely this interview was a formality and would support our intuition.

Thank God. This was our guy. Ahh… that was easy.

But as the interview continued, Juan’s face revealed the angst in my heart. Crap. How were we going to justify that this guy’s not qualified? We hadn’t listed humility in the “required” or even “desired” competencies in the job posting.

We both felt this candidate was a nightmare in the making. He wasn’t listening or open. He had a plan and was ready to execute, but had very little desire to hear what we had to say. He told us five times he was the most qualified candidate, and why we shouldn’t waste a second more on our job search.

But we couldn’t get past the cocky decorum.

Perhaps he really was as good as he said, and all the “me, me, me” stuff was just nervous energy. I’ll never know. Juan and I hired the next “best” candidate on paper. She turned out to be a rock star.

I have a mentor who tells anyone interviewing for a job, “This is not the time to be humble.” To some extent that’s true.

Interviewing is  certainly not a time for self-deprecating remarks or uncertainty. Be bold in your ideas, vision and in sharing what you bring to the table.

But–the leaders you really want to work for will also be looking for a humble streak. They want to see that you’re willing to learn, can lead from behind, and are open to new ideas. If you’re that kind of leader, don’t hide those rare and precious qualities.

The best candidates interview with confident humility.

How to Approach an Interview With Confident Humility

Confidence Says...I’m smart and extremely qualified.
Humility Reveals...I’m eager to understand your culture.

Confidence Says... My skills are highly transferable.
Humility Reveals...I’m open to new approaches.

Confidence Says...I have a long track record of success.
Humility Reveals…I like to surround myself with strong talent.

Confidence Says...I’m a quick study.
Humility Reveals...I’m eager to learn.

Confidence Says…I’m a visionary.
Humility Reveals...Vision is nothing without solid execution. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Confidence Says…I know I can make a difference for your organization.
Humility Asks…If I were in this role, what could I do to make your job easier?

Your turn. How do you approach and interview with confident humility?
Filed Under:   Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning, Everything Else
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. She’s the author of 2 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.
 

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What People Are Saying

Steve Borek   |   24 November 2014   |   Reply

Lots of great advice.

I mentor students at Syracuse University regarding interviewing skills.

What I see lacking is passion for what they do. This can mean they’re not jazzed about the job. Or, they love it but aren’t showing it.

If you don’t love it you should look for something that lights you up.

Karin Hurt   |   24 November 2014   |   Reply

Steve, So agree. It’s really obvious when people aren’t into it. If you don’t really want the job, you’re doing noone any favors by “going for it.”

LaRae Quy   |   24 November 2014   |   Reply

Oh, I’ve been in interview situations like that as well…you think you have the perfect candidate on paper and then you meet them in person and WOW—what a back peddle!

Whether they’re trying too hard to impress, or just not selling themselves…it’s hard to know either way.

One thing I’ve found helpful for me is to anticipate the questions I’ll be asked ahead of time and then “rehearse” those answers, either on video or in front of a mirror. Having a trusted friend listening to your response may help as well…

Karin Hurt   |   24 November 2014   |   Reply

Larae, I so agree.The more prepared you can be the better.

Terri Klass   |   24 November 2014   |   Reply

Interviewing takes a lot of finessing which can be difficult if a person is feeling insecure or nervous. I love the idea of making sure that humility is part of the process because it forces candidates to be more authentic and clearer.

I also think that when someone thinks they are going to take over right away in a new job and not first learn about what the team and organization are currently doing, that is a recipe for disaster. I just saw this happen in a volunteer position with an individual who only wants to redo every aspect of the organization. Unfortunately she forgot that being human was most important.

Thanks Karin for a terrific post!

Karin Hurt   |   24 November 2014   |   Reply

Terri, Thanks so much. Being human makes all the difference.

Alli Polin   |   25 November 2014   |   Reply

Oh my gosh I feel like I’ve interviewed that guy! In fact, I can remember a guy who spent so much time telling me how amazing he was, not only did he completely turn me off but also made me think that he would hate the position because he wouldn’t be leading the whole show. Humility is often such a hard quality to put into words, you’ve done an excellent job here. Thanks!

Karin Hurt   |   25 November 2014   |   Reply

Alli, Thanks so much. I wonder if it was the same guy ;-)

Kalyna Hanover   |   02 December 2014   |   Reply

Very nice.
I believe I have been presenting myself this way.
However it’s a great confirmation and reminder that I must continue to stay aware and balanced.

Thank you.

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