on September 19, 2017
What is your superpower?
Have you figured out what it is that you are inherently good at? That thing you naturally do well. It is a superpower, if it is easy for you and others are impressed with your ability. As important as identifying your superpower is putting that superpower to work for you. This means, finding a role that allows you to use your superpower. In this article, I will give 4 tips on how to interview successfully, making your superpower known to your interviewer, without bragging or coming across as arrogant.
You should have at least 3 stories prepared and rehearsed. These are examples of things you have done that demonstrate superpowers (traits, and skills) that you believe will be of value to the company you are interviewing with. This suggests some research on your part to know enough about the company to know what is important to them. Xccelerate helps students with this research and prepares them for company specific interviews.
The emphasis with these stories is “results”. Don’t tell them what you were responsible for. Tell them what you did and what the outcome and impact of our contribution was. “I implemented this new process that reduced waste by n% and increased quality by n%.” or “I optimized the system design, reducing load times by n% and increased stickiness by n%.” Yes, metrics are really important. If you can’t quantify the outcome, saying you improved something carries very little weight. Xccelerate also helps you develop a portfolio that can show a potential employer what you are capable.
The more you interview the more you will realize that many interviewers are terrible at interviewing. They have no idea how to figure out who you are. They will talk about the role, the company, themselves, etc. and spend little time trying to explore what you have to offer. Be prepared to take control of the interview.
This is tricky and it is just one of the reasons why you need to practice interviewing. Finding the right moment to jump in and ask, “can I tell you a story?”, can be the difference between an interview that wasted your time and theirs, or an interview where you helped an inept interviewer discover your superpowers. This is also where you try to make sure that you don’t embarrass the interviewer. You want them to feel like they brilliantly maneuvered the conversation to reveal your talents. You want to control the interview without them realizing that you are controlling the interview. Xccelerate staff will coach you on this skill.
Asking questions is common advice for interviews but I want to expand on what you might understand about this aspect of the interview. This isn’t just about asking intelligent questions that impress the interviewer with your insightfulness or knowledge of their business. You should ask questions that help reveal what the culture is and what type of leadership style your direct manager exhibits.
Remember, this is also your opportunity to decide if you want to work for them. The hiring process is a two-way street. You will select them, as much as they will select you. Get the information you need to decide if you want to work there.
Finding the right job is about finding people you want to work with, in an organization and industry you feel passionate about. Don’t take a job because of a brand name, or because the position has some fancy title that will look good on your resume. Don’t interview for a job that doesn’t leverage your superpowers, or interview because the salary or benefits package looks attractive. You want to be a superhero on a team of superheroes, whose superpowers compliment your superpowers. You want to work in an environment where the people around you make you better and inspire you.
Do not wait for that dream job with the perfect team to apply. You need to practice your interviewing skills. Practice your storytelling and how to take control of an interview when you need to. Keep interviewing and don’t accept a job that isn’t right for you. Find your passion and a job that allows you to leverage your superpowers.
Don’t talk too much during an interview. A key to a successful interview is avoiding saying anything that disqualifies you. Xccelerate will do mock interviews with you so you can practice your skills. You may also want to get someone to record you telling your story so you can watch it and see how well your present yourself. You want your story telling to be natural, not too rehearsed or scripted. It sounds counter intuitive, but it takes practice to sound natural instead of rehearsed. Smile and be confident, but never cocky. Don’t over sell and never apologize for not having a skill or experience an interviewer asks about. If you don’t have a skill or experience, don’t ever lie, exaggerate, or pretend. Simply remind them of the things you have done, the things you are passionate about, and your ability and willingness to learn quickly.
Interviews are a terrible way to select candidates for hire, but the reality is, this is still the predominant way in which companies hire their employees. Until things change, you better be ready. Know what your superpower is and tell your story. Don’t try to be the person you think a hiring manager wants you to be. Be yourself. If you are the right fit, great. If not, hold your head up high and be confident to walk away and wait for the right opportunity.
At Xccelerate, we work with our students to practice and improve their interviewing skills. This includes mock interviews, deep discussions about what the students are looking for and expecting from hiring companies, and how to leverage their superpowers. You don’t have to figure this stuff out on your own. Join the Xccelerate Family and we’ll coach and mentor you through the training and job search process.