Impress your interviewer by getting to the heart of the business' needs.
By Natalie Ackerman
One way to do this is to own your job search and accomplishments fully, and to understand how you impact a company and its bottom line. In other words, think of yourself and your job search as a business owner might. Thinking like a business owner can significantly accelerate your success no matter if you’re unemployed, misemployed or looking to make a move into a better opportunity.
So, how can you think like a business owner even if you’re not one and don’t ever plan to be?
1. Look at the hiring decision from their perspective
Business owners expect a return on their investment. A company will invest $50K, $100K, or even more in you in the form of annual compensation. Not surprisingly, they expect to get a return on that investment. You expect regular paychecks, challenge, opportunity – they expect you to be productive and help them make money.
Put yourself in the owner’s shoes - if you owned the business what would be important to you? Shift your thinking from WIIFM (what’s in it for me) to WIIFT (what’s in it for them). When creating resumes and practicing interview answers, showcase the talents and skills you have that would most benefit the business.
2. Know how you impact the bottom line
Business owners are always focused on the bottom line. What results or outcomes will the company experience because you work there? Employers don’t care about the tasks you perform as much as what happens as a result of you performing them. You’re either saving the company money or helping them make more of it. It’s important for you to be clear about your contribution. Highlight these results during interviews or even one-on-ones with your manager.
A few ideas on how you may have contributed to the bottom line:
- Solved a pressing problem
- Improved operational efficiency
- Eliminated bottlenecks
- Increased sales or cut costs
- Enhanced customer loyalty
- Opened new markets
- Concepted new products that make the company more competitive
3. Own your accomplishments
Be proud of the work you’ve done and tell your story effectively. No one else would have tackled that project or saved the company money the same way you did. You’re the hero of the story and you saved the day. Own it and let the right people know about the impact you made. If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will.
Develop 5-10 stories about your accomplishments – the problem at hand, actions you took to solve it and the results you achieved. Tip: Keep a file of stories and add to it every time you have an accomplishment – while it’s fresh in your mind. That way, next time you’re in a job transition you won’t have to start over.
4. Treat their business like it’s your own
Business owners will invest their time, money, heart and soul into their company. Show an employer that you understand their business needs, and that your investment into the company will lead to mutual gains. Prove that you’ll be a good steward of what’s most important to them. If you do this, you’ll stand head and shoulders above everyone else who is interviewing for the same position, but who are more focused on themselves rather than the business needs.
You’ll land the job fast, and you’ll make an impression that garners you favor when there’s a promotion opportunity.
Do you have any stories about how you thought like a business owner and won the contract or landed the job? Share them in the comments section below.
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Natalie Ackerman is a Certified Career & Leadership Development Coach based in Minneapolis, MN. She specializes in engaging the full potential in individuals, leaders and teams through a strengths-focused approach to career management. Follow Natalie on Twitter at @NatalieAckerman, through her blog or connect with her on LinkedIn.