Boost Your Chances of Getting Hired

Trying to get a job can be difficult. So making sure you prep for your interview will be the difference between getting hired or being passed by.

If you want to be bold and memorable, save the last of your three choices for a new, upstart firm operating just outside of your industry, or at the bleeding edge of it. Most industries are now so riven with change that there is nearly always a “challenger” company—usually small and quirky—whose approach might well turn the established industry on its head. This will show that you’re on top of competitive threats and trends. It will also ring the interviewer’s bell, as they’ll have likely been paying insufficient attention to the challenger company. As soon as they hear good candidates talking about working for a challenger, their adrenaline will start pumping in a wholly positive way. As far as the interviewer should think, maybe you’re just the sort of person who could join that upstart firm and help them on their way.

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Ultimately, the only answer that the interviewer wants to hear is: “I’d like to work right here, right now.” Therefore, you should finish by reminding the interviewer your reason for showing up.

Like anyone who wants to work here at B——, I wouldn’t mind being at M——either. But although you might both be similar on the surface, every firm always has its individual approach, and I prefer B——’s. It’s the one that best suits my skills and experience.

Apart from M——, I think it would be an interesting learning experience to work for T——Motors, just to see how a start-up views the industry. Maybe they’re not here to stay, but I know people there and I know the firm is daring to be different.

To answer your question, in order of preference, my three would be B——, M——and T——.

See also What is your dream job?

Where else have you applied? / Who else are you interviewing with?

The Real Question: Is a competitor about to snap you up?

Top-line Tactic: Sound as though you’re in demand.

In sales there’s a well-known and highly effective persuasion principle called social proof. Basically, the idea is that people want what other people want. If something is popular, it must be desirable. When you try to article a hotel room and the website you’re using says “Only two rooms remaining!” in bold red letters, it’s employing social proof. They’re betting that because others are choosing this hotel, you will be more likely to choose it as well.

Interviewers are just as susceptible to social proof. If other companies are thinking of hiring you that will almost certainly affect their opinion of you and your abilities. Answering this question well comes down to subtly suggesting not only that you’re serious about your job search and the particular industry or niche you’ve chosen, but also conveying that you’re a hot quantity that won’t be on the market long. You don’t want to brag or exaggerate, but if at all possible you do want to make sure they know you have options—though of course the option you’d prefer to take is the one they’re offering.

The best way to strike this balance is often to be brief—leave them wanting more information. Simply mention a few other companies you’ve applied to, choosing close competitors or well-regarded firms if you can, and leave it at that. Another approach if you don’t feel comfortable naming names is to stress the similarities between the roles you’ve applied for. This tells the interviewer that you’ve carefully thought out what sort of job you’re after and are conducting a smart, targeted job search—the type of job search that’s most likely to see you scooped up by a rival quite quickly if the company doesn’t act.

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