I love to answer questions on Quora. I look at it as a way to quickly help people with various questions on education, careers, freelancing, and other subjects I have a lot of knowledge and experience in. It’s a good sample of the personalized career services I can offer people.
Probably the most interesting thread I’ve seen on Quora recently pertained to job interviews. The question is “What is the craziest thing you have ever said or done at an interview and still got the job?” That’s a pretty interesting question but the answers are both plentiful and really intriguing. Most answers have certain things in common and as a hirer myself, I fully appreciate why many of these people got the jobs (despite doing unconventional things).
Here’s a link to the thread. There are hundreds of answers so it might take a long time to read the whole thing. But spend 15 minutes reading through it. You might be surprised that some of these people got a job. Others, not so much, as they were clever and charming. As I was reading through, I had several reactions. There are some common themes among each story and they represent some awesome lessons learned about what makes a successful interview. Here are my observations and how YOU can apply it to future interviews…
1 – Interviewers LOVE something exciting. If you’ve never been the one to give an interview, I can let you in on a little secret. Giving interviews is deathly boring. Hearing every person give rehearsed, BS answers is not fun. Hearing people talk themselves up is not fun. Hearing people say what they think you want to hear is not fun. So when someone deviates from the script and wakes you up a bit, it’s nice. It allows you to develop more of a rapport with the candidate. And that helps immensely.
2 – I say this all the time about resumes but employers want creativity! Almost every job description asks for these attributes in candidates… innovative, creative, out of the box thinking. They don’t put that there to be cliche. They want these attributes. So if you can show critical thinking skills or bring some creativity to your response, you are giving them exactly what they want. And you’d be surprised how few people actually do these things. Putting it bluntly, stop bullshitting your responses. Tell it how it is and you’ll be respected much more.
3 – Confidence wins all the time. This is true in any aspect of social interaction, interviews included. Even if you don’t know the answer, showing confidence in that lack of knowledge and explaining why it’s unimportant or making a joke can work. Nobody expects perfection. Nobody expects you to know everything. But they want someone that can handle a pressure situation calmly and with high self-esteem that you can eventually solve the problem. So really work on walking in with confidence (not to be confused with arrogance) and sustaining it throughout the interview process.
4 – Be different. This can be stated in tandem with being creative. However, think about it this way. If 100 people apply to the job and say 20 are qualified, employers are looking for something unique about the applicants they hire. If you’ve progressed to the interview, they already think you’re qualified. They may affirm that with case studies or technical questions but generally, you’ve already passed that test. So if you’re competing against other equally qualified people, you have to stand out in a different way. Almost every example in that Quora thread shows an example of standing out in the interviewers mind. They might have offered some unique insight. They might have been funny or clever in a stand-out way. Their behavior might have been slightly different than the other stiff, conservative applicants (but still professional). Being different really helps.
5 – Make the interviewer want to see you again. Remember that if you’re qualified and prove you’re a good financial investment to make, then it comes down to one last question. Does the interviewer want to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with you? If you develop a good enough rapport by showing a sense of humor, finding common interests, and having good body language, then the answer is more likely to be yes. So relax and treat the interviewer as someone you could be friends with rather than some sort of professional god that you’re subservient to.
6 – Finally, be careful with HR. A lot of these examples showed unconventional interview stories occur with the hiring managers. I saw numerous stories of HR being less forgiving. That makes a lot of sense to me, as HR is given some specifications to conduct recruiting and are not paid to think beyond the process and job description. So save the boring stuff for them and the authentic part for the hiring managers and peer interviews. At the very least, just be careful with process-followers like HR.
Maybe you can find some other awesome lessons learned from these examples too!
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