"Ask not what your country can do you for you – ask what you can do for your country." -John F. Kennedy
The quote above is perhaps one of the greatest quotes in American History. It clearly defines what it means to be an American, but also a member of something greater. If everyone follows the mindset of improving whatever it is they are a member of, the outflow of results will benefit all members. Essentially, the whole is greater than the individual parts. Similarly, when interviewing for a job, it is important to present yourself in such a way that you are not there for what the company can offer you, but for what you can offer the company. That notion is critical to a successful interview. Because, while yes, we clearly want the job for a higher paycheck, better benefits, more interesting work, a shorter commute, etc., the company you are interviewing at does not want you for any of those reasons. They are looking to hire you because they see value in what you may bring to the company. The question is, what value can you bring to the table?
In other words, what is your value proposition? In marketing, the value proposition is that special quality that ensures people will want to look further into whatever is being marketed. When it comes to yourself, you need to create a value proposition for yourself. What will ensure, Recruiters, HR and Hiring Managers want to give you a chance upon first reading through your job application, resume and eventual interview(s)? This value proposition is what needs to separate you from the rest of the competition. If you present yourself in such a way that is perhaps good, but still identical to 3 other candidates, what would make you a better fit than any of them? It only takes that one person a step above the rest who will be offered the job.
A strong value proposition really encompasses two major parts. You need a strong enough application/resume with the appropriate qualifications and attributes to even be considered. There are previous blogswritten for doing this correctly which I highly recommend you check out. However, once you get into that interview you need to drive home the value proposition you’ve fostered so you do not just “look good on paper”. This is truly your time to shine and the chance for you to sell them on what it is that makes you an amazing fit. Therefore, remember, anything you present to a company should always align with how you can make the business better- not yourself. Likewise, any questions you ask, allow them to reflect on what you’ll be able to do to help the business. A question such as, “How often are promotions given out?” suggests a selfish, “what’s in it for me” attitude. Ultimately it gives nothing back to the company. Asking something like, “What sort of culture does the company foster?” is much more business-centric and shows your willingness to embrace the company. The interview is about proving you will be worth the value (your salary) they are paying you to join the company.
Ultimately, don’t forget to think about what it means to apply to a company. You are applying to work for them after all. While it is easy to think about all the benefits they may bring to you, you can enjoy those possibilities after you get the job. The key is the correct value proposition from the start.