Hiring managers and recruiters consider a candidate's potential more important than experience. Here's how to demonstrate it in a job interview.
When it comes to applying for — and landing — a new job, you need an experience-packed resume and a shining personality ... right? According to a recent study conducted by TopInterview's sister site, TopResume, there's more to the story.
In the study, recruiters and hiring managers were asked what they consider to be the most important quality in a job candidate. Nearly half said “potential,” which trumped experience (37 percent), personality (16 percent), and education (2 percent).
Jeff Berger, founder of Talent Inc. (the parent company of TopInterview and TopResume), responded: “Our latest survey proves that employers want to see a genuine willingness in today's workforce to be problem-solvers … They're prioritizing candidates with an ability and willingness to learn, grow, and expand their expertise.”
So what does this mean for job applicants? How do you show off “potential” in a job interview? TopInterview's career expert, Amanda Augustine, recently shared her go-to strategies for achieving this with Fast Company. If you want interview success, use the following tips:
1. Show you're willing and eager to learn by being prepared
One of the easiest ways you can highlight your potential is to walk into your interview prepared. You'll want to invest time in researching the company with a pre-interview research checklist to learn about its culture, the industry, and the position you've applied to. Spend time on the company's website, LinkedIn page, and social media accounts. Also, make sure to catch up on recent company and industry news by setting up Google alerts.
Confidently and thoroughly answering questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” and “What about this position appeals to you?” will showcase your willingness and ability to quickly learn and pick up new information. An impressed interviewer can safely assume you'll use these same tactics while on the job.
2. Collect your evidence and come armed with results
Have you heard of behavioral interviews? It's one of the more common types of job interviews, and good news for you — it's a great way to let your potential shine.
When an interviewer asks behavioral-based interview questions, the goal is to see how you've handled certain situations in the past. Behavioral-based interview questions typically begin with, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Give me an example of …” or “Describe how you'd handle …”
The best way to prepare for these types of questions is to brainstorm a list of situations you've encountered that clearly showcase your ability to solve problems, work creatively, learn a new skill, adapt, or meet a goal.
“Spend time fleshing out the stories that best illustrate your skills,” Augustine says. “Then, determine which of these stories can be woven into your resume or your interview responses.”
If you're struggling to get started, try using the STAR method. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. Think of a specific situation you were in, the task at hand, the action you took, and the final result. That last part — the result — is key. Did you increase the company's revenue? Lower operational costs? Meet a customer's demand? Lean into your potential by showing an interviewer the steps you took to solve a problem and then the results you achieved.
Now, if your results aren't what you intended, that's OK. Just make sure you talk about what you would do differently now, showing that you learned from your mistakes. As Augustine says:
“Your interviewer may also ask you if there was anything you wish you had done differently during these situations, so be prepared to discuss what you learned from the experience and how you would apply this knowledge to a similar circumstance in the future.”
3. Ask the right questions
A job interview, of course, isn't a one-way street. When you have a chance to ask questions, use the opportunity to once again showcase your potential. What exactly do these types of questions look like? Here are a few examples of what you might ask:
How can I grow in this role?
What type of advancement opportunities are available at the company?
Does the company offer any training or education advancement?
In these questions, you'll want to highlight your willingness to learn and develop professionally.
4. Show that you're genuine and confident
Yes, job interviews can be uncomfortable. You'll probably feel nervous, so it might be difficult to really show your confidence and genuine excitement for the opportunity. That's why practicing for your interview is key. Follow the steps outlined above: Research the company and the position, gather your evidence and key results, and come armed with a handful of questions for the interviewer.
Once you have the information you need, practice. Talk to yourself in the mirror, have a partner “quiz” you with behavioral-based interview questions, or hire a professional interview coach who'll give you expert feedback after a mock interview and other coaching sessions.
Practicing will help you walk into your interview more confident and clear-headed — and you'll be able to show off your potential like a pro.
Looking for more ways to highlight your potential during the interview? Our TopInterview coaches can help you identify them!