In some recent posts I have had discussions about the difference between good and great. I have never met someone who wants to be below average however I think there are many people who are satisfied with being good. With the best roles being sought after competitively you have to ask yourself a question, is good going to get it done? Actually, sometimes the answer is yes. If lack of talented candidates in your field has created a significant scarcity then yes, being just good might be more than good enough. For example, there are only 4 universities in the United States that graduate degreed welding engineers. I have actually filled a few welding engineering roles I can tell you from first-hand experience that they are extremely hard to find.
If you want to hire a recruiter perhaps you can look at your three or four finalists and determine who would be the best culture fit. If you are looking for a welding engineer the criteria might look a lot different. “Can she weld? Yes? Hire her!” I’m kidding…a little… However most of us don’t have welding engineering degrees and tend to work in fields that don’t experience that perpetual scarcity that gives welding engineers the type of career control all of us might envy if you take the time to think about it. Most of us, if we want that next role with all the perks and career advancement are going to have to come off great in the interview. Like many things worth doing that is easier said than done.
I have one singular goal for this post. I am going to look at three different things that will help you distinguish yourself as top 25% talent. We are going to operate under the assumption that you are qualified for the role, have done your research and that generally speaking you make sense as a hire for the role you are interviewing for. If all that is true and you can pull of the three things below then you will go a long way towards being considered great. Before you get started, of you haven’t downloaded my FREE Interview Prep Guide what are you waiting for? Its free, click that link and get it!
Being perceived as confident, not cocky
I am going to start here just in case you only have time to read one of these. When I have an amazing candidate, who fits all the criteria amazingly and I hear that my client is going to pass, this is often the reason. For a lot of people this can be hard. You are amazing at your job, you have the track record, the attitude and you know you are just what they need. You know that you can do that job today and hey have problems you have fixed in the past and you feel you can fix it here. When all those components are there it can be hard to taper back the enthusiasm about what you bring to the table. But, if you really want to be a great candidate, you have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, feel free to brag about yourself a little bit. People like confidence and they buy passion. But also show some humility and the desire to continuing to develop because let’s face it, you don’t know everything. You can be a great candidate but still have areas you want to develop in, great candidates know this.
Come off interested but not desperate
Let’s pretend for a minute that being desperate wont impact your leverage to negotiate if an offer comes. I mean, it totally does, but momentarily let’s just look at how it impacts how you are perceived as a candidate. If you are totally desperate and everything about you screams “I NEED THIS JOB, I MUST GET THIS JOB” how do you think it makes you look? What questions do you think that puts into your interviewer’s head? The fact of the matter is at the end of the day you want every person to who interviews you thinking “we would be lucky to land this candidate”. You want employers thinking that not only would you be a great hire but that it is an opportunity with a limited window. It’s basic psychology that people want what they think they can’t have. Bottom line is that it’s not good for you to come across as desperate. Now, by no means am I advocating playing hard to get. Don’t do that. These are adults and if you play games they will get tired of them. However great candidates can walk this line. They can express interest in what the opportunity could mean for their career but they take a measured, pragmatic approach. That is what the best candidates do and what I would advise you to do.
Motivated to leave your current role but not bashing
This is another one that impacts a ton of candidates. However, this one doesn’t just hurt potential great candidates, its literally one that everyone will have to find balance when discussing. A cardinal sin when interviewing is bashing your former employee. I don’t care if you worked at Enron right before the financial crisis, bashing your former employer will never ever be received well. You could be telling the 100% truth, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes things aren’t black and white, there are many shades of gray. This is not one of those times. If you bash your old employers, you are hurting your chances of getting the job. I have never been a meeting following a group of interviews and heard someone say, “You know what really impressed me? I love the way Ben just eviscerated the work habits of his former boss. Epic!” That doesn’t happen. It makes you come off as difficult and people will consequently want to avoid working with you. On the other end, if you work for the greatest employer in the world, why in the hell are you looking? You have to find a balance here. While your current employer is great and you have learned a ton, they have some basic limitations that stand in the way of the lofty goals you have set for yourself in regards to personal and professional development. Find a good way to say that. Find something that is true to you, doesn’t make you look desperate and makes you feel grateful for your time there while still indicating your desire to move for what you would consider the perfect opportunity. That my friends, is the key.
Was that helpful? I hope so. Walking these 3 razor thin lines you must walk to be a perfect candidate may not be easy to accomplish but if you can, you will have gone a long way towards strengthening your candidacy. Any other ones I missed? Feel free to comment below and as I always, please share with your networks on any social media platform you use, I appreciate it. Oh and one last thing, if you have check out my Work with Ben section, give it a look. After some feedback from readers I have created a way for candidates who need assistance to work with me as well as a way for organizations who want to find the best passive talent to engage my company and I. Even if you just want to have a conversation about it check it out. My company saves our clients over 50% on traditional agency recruiters and every single candidate we supply is 100% passive, we never post jobs….period…even if I wanted to do I wouldn’t be able to. Thanks again and have an awesome day!