Is an interview a networking event?
You worked hard to get to that job interview, so you probably think the wisest strategy to make a killer impression is to showcase your achievements and prove your worth. Guess you’ll be serious and try to sell yourself really hard.
Not so fast. As the business coach Alisoun Mackenzie says: “Selling at people just turns them away.” And even if you demonstrate what a great asset you would be, it might not be enough, since other highly-skilled candidates with outstanding experience and achievements will probably be there. So you’ll also need your networking skills to stand out.
The power of building relationships
A recent research by the Wharton School of University proves that social interactions are very important for your job security. It doesn’t mean that failing to do your tasks and duties just to chat with your colleagues is going to help keep your job.
Still, it shows that building relationships at work can help you have a healthy work-life balance which will lead to a happier working environment and a better relationship with your co-workers and - more importantly - with your boss.
Though this research isn’t about interviewing, I think it’s safe to claim that the “social rules” of an interview are quite similar. You can only gain by networking during your interviews.
The 80-20 Rule of Networking
According to Alisoun Mackenzie while networking, 80 % of your communication should be about finding out more about whomever you’re talking to and only 20% talking about your plans, motivation, goals and so on.
As far as interviews are concerned, I’d change that ratio to 50% - 50%. Give yourself time to shine, to highlight your greatest achievements and outstanding experience, then spend the rest of the interview networking.
It certainly doesn’t mean that you should randomly throw in words like dancing, sport, news. Use your questioning time instead. Express how interested you are in this career opportunity and how thoroughly prepared you are by asking questions like: “What is a typical day at XY like?” or “What have you enjoyed most about working here?” or even “Are there any professional organizations you would recommend for your/the employees?”
I cannot guarantee that by following my advice you’d land any job you want. A lot depends on your skills and experiences as well. But if you look at an interview as a two-way street and use this opportunity to communicate rather than make a speech, you definitely start building invaluable professional relationships, that will sooner or later end up in getting a great job.
Haven’t you found your dream job yet? Keep on searching.