A woman checks out a jobs sign board during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Kossovan: The Art of Finding Work

If I were to ask you what’s the purpose of a job interview, you’d probably say something along the lines of, “To show what I can do for the company.”

You’d be right in that your answer implies you’re asking for a chance—you understand an interview is a sales meeting, which is the mindset you need to have when being interviewed.

People stress preparing for an interview. Actually, the key to a successful interview is to not over-think it. Although there’s no interview formula that’ll work every time, it’s helpful to think of an interview as a conversation with four distinct but overlapping purposes.

Connect: Get to know the interviewer. (bond)

Culture: Understand what type of person works best at the company.

Challenges: Identify and clarify the concerns the company’s management team has.

Close: What are the next steps in the hiring process.

The holistic mechanics used to achieve these four purposes are the following five interview stages:

Introductions (connect, culture)

Small Talk (connect, culture)

Information Gathering (culture, challenges, matching your experience and skillset)

Question/Answer (culture, challenges)

Wrapping Up (close)

Notice “culture” appears four times. I can’t overstress the importance of fit when it comes to deciding you’re “the one.” If you’re having a tough time with your job search, it’s because you’re trying to fit yourself into jobs and companies where you don’t belong.

If you make connecting with your interviewer a priority, you’ll be memorable in a good way. If there’s no connection, your experience, qualifications, etc., are meaningless to the interviewer. This isn’t a transgression—this is human psychology 101. If you make connecting with your interviewer a priority, you’ll be memorable in a good way. If there’s no connection, your experience, qualifications, etc., are meaningless to the interviewer. This isn’t a transgression—this is human psychology 101. Maya Angelou’s words, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Getting someone to feel at ease with you doesn’t require repartee and dazzling verbal displays. It simply requires demonstrating interest—genuine interest, not fake I’m-trying-to-butter-you-up interest—and a willingness to listen. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like being paid attention to?

Listening is key to understanding what the other person wants and needs and, therefore, is the foundation of persuasion. (Reminder, an interview is a sales meeting.) A person is more likely to want to build a relationship with someone who understands their situation, their problems, and their goals. Listening and observing to understand another person is never time wasted.

The most common interview advice I give: Lose any sense of entitlement you may have! You’re not owed a job. With so many human factors being part of the hiring decision, the best candidate on paper doesn’t always get the job. Entitlement is a huge turnoff.

Nick Kossovan offers advice on searching for a job.