To paraphrase the 7 Ps, an old British military adage: “Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance” (you can probably guess which word has been changed). It isn’t just a useful philosophy for military planning. It works with everything you can imagine: work, planning a holiday, poker and a job interview.
Doing your preparation beforehand will ensure that you nail whatever activity you’re undertaking. For example, if you’re playing poker, you need to ensure that you understand “poker math.” If you’re preparing for a job interview, you need to understand the job, the people with whom you’re meeting, the company and what benefits you’ll bring to the role. Here are some strategies you can take from poker that will help you nail your next interview.
“An interview is an opportunity to highlight your strengths and emphasize your fit for the position. However, you shouldn’t expect that the hiring manager will only ask easy questions about your past wins and proud moments. Come prepared to answer the tougher questions, like ones about your regrets, mistakes, and weaknesses.” – TopInterview.com
Understanding people is the key to succeeding in most areas of life. If you’re playing poker, understanding your opponents will give you an advantage since you’ll understand patterns in their play, little traits they may have when they’re either bluffing or indeed holding a decent hand. If you don’t know who you’re going to be competing against, some prior research will help.
If you’re going to a job interview, most people will read up on the company and the job description. So, to stand out, you need to find a competitive advantage. In other words, something that other people aren’t doing.
One solution is to research the people with whom you are meeting. Before an interview, ask about who you are meeting, get their first and last names and preferably, their job titles. For example, find them on LinkedIn and possibly other social networks. Then do a little research to help you understand how their career progressed to where they are now, what their hobbies might be and if possible, try to find some things you may have in common with them.
If you’re preparing for a job interview, you need to understand the job, the people with whom you’re meeting, the company and what benefits you’ll bring to the role.Tweet This
Doing so will then, hopefully, provide opportunities to build a rapport. For example, if you enjoy playing a sport, try naturally steering the conversation that way. Perhaps by using it as an example of how you work well in a team, this may spark a conversation that will help establish a connection.
Don’t Reveal All Your Cards
In poker, playing your cards close to your chest is critical to maintaining a winning strategy. You only want people to know what you want them to know, so if you’re bluffing with a bad hand, then you’ll want to keep that a secret.
The same applies to an interview. If you’re asked, “Why did you leave your last job?” the answer shouldn’t be “the money was good, but the boss was a horrible person, the work was boring, I hated the paperwork and didn’t like my colleagues,” even if it’s the truth. First, it doesn’t show you in a good light, and you’re focusing on only the negativity. Plus, you’ve just revealed that you would be willing to work for a similar (and possibly lower) amount of money and that you potentially aren’t a team player. You’ve shown your cards.
Instead, a better answer would be to say, “I felt like I’d made a positive impact in the time that I was there, which allowed me to learn and grow, but my opportunity for progression was becoming limited, and I realized I needed a new challenge.” If you can also back this up with examples of the “positive impact,” such as a successful project you worked on or some efficiency improvements you pioneered, then you’ve only shared information you want them to know and have gently hinted that you’re looking for a higher salary, too.
In conclusion, the old saying of “knowledge is power” is still relevant today. If you can prepare for an interview so that you have as much knowledge as possible, and then control what information you provide so that it’s only positive and favorable, then you’re putting yourself in a strong position.