How to Turn Job Interviews into Job Offers

Martin Yate By Martin Yate April 3, 2018
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How to Turn Job Interviews into Job Offers

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.      

I'm currently looking to secure my next long-term HR role, and to put it bluntly, I've received many rejections. I have eight solid years of work experience in comprehensive HR administration and hold two letters of recommendation from my executive team confirming I brought value and generated good relations. In May 2017 I obtained my SHRM-CP while also volunteering for the local SHRM chapter.
During interviews, I practice delivering concise responses and connecting strategy to actionable tactics.
With that said, I'm not sure where to go from here. I'm embarrassed to admit that I have thought that I'm being rejected because I am a man and HR is predominantly a female-owned business function; I truly do not want to manifest such petty notions. However, I'm at loose ends.  

You say you are getting many rejections; this tells me that the work history expressed in your resume is getting you into the door. Yet you also say you are working on being concise in your answers during interviews; this tells me that you may be hitting turbulence once the conversation starts. In context this is not surprising, because as important as it is, turning job interviews into job offers is probably a skill in which you have less experience than any other professional skill.

Your question about discrimination is valid. Everyone experiences discrimination, just some more than others. My experience in HR and knowledge of HR professionals tell me that your problem probably isn't rooted in discrimination, but experiencing that worry can only give you more sensitivity to those who are discriminated against because of sex, race or any number of other "differences."

I see the heart of your question in the phrase "concise responses."

A manager's job, first and last, is to get work done through others. Consequently, during the interview, the hiring manager is trying to find out: Can he do the job? Is he motivated to do the job? What is his frame of reference for the work, and how deeply engaged is he with it? Can he take the rough with the smooth that goes with every job? Can I work with him 50 weeks a year? Do I feel he will complement and get along with the team?

Your job is to get check marks in all these boxes. 

Interview Preparation

The foundation for a successful interview starts with preparation. Once an interview is scheduled, read and reread the job post to connect each company requirement to the skills and experience you bring to the table. 

Imagine yourself already on the team and working for the company so that you can better understand the real-world context in which you will be working. This will help your answers ring with greater authenticity.

And we can take this further. A job interview is typically a one-sided examination of skills: The interviewer asks questions, and you answer. If you prepare as I've suggested, you will hear the question and put it in the real-world context of work in that organization, which will help your answers become more grounded.

In job interviews, we make many judgments about candidates based on the answers they give to our questions and the questions they ask that demonstrate depth of understanding and engagement with the work.

You can turn a one-sided examination of skills into a two-way conversation between professionals with a common interest by answering a question and then tagging on a question of your own at the end. For example, when the interviewer asks about your proficiency with a certain skill, answer her, and then ask about the types of situations in which the skill would be applied. Listen to the response, and you may be able to elaborate on your abilities.

It's also important to think of yourself as a team member and list all the ways you work with colleagues to deliver on your department's mission. This should come across in the way you talk about responsibilities and working for the common good, plus using "we" instead of "I" once in a while.

Turning job interviews into offers is a challenge for everyone. Knock 'em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide (Adams Media, 2017), written by yours truly, has over 150 pages on this exact topic, taking you behind the questions and showing you how to create a consistent and successful approach to acing job interviews. 

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.  

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