One of the most important influence moments in your career is the moment where you must convince someone to hire you. Whether you are just out of college, looking for a change, or a contractor who must convince others of your services almost daily, you will find that a set of simple influence skills will propel you through the interviewing process on your way to a successful career.
It is imperative that you state your objectives clearly. Most organizations are looking for people who take action and will engage in helping the organization move forward. Your organization will first see your potential for such behavior in the hiring stages.
Jay and Mary are both interviewing for a position at an engineering company. Each is highly qualified for the position and holds some great recommendations. As Jay enters the interview, he is asked a series of questions. He ponders each and answers to the best of his ability. When asked, he pulls out his portfolio and demonstrates his skills to the employer. His work is excellent and the employer is notably impressed with it. He is sure to take Jay’s information and informs him that he will be contacted with their final decision.
Mary’s interview comes later, and when she enters, she introduces herself and instantly pulls out her portfolio and references. During her presentation, she highlights the portions of her work that seem to fit with what she has seen advertised for the position for which she is applying. When she is finished, she asks the interviewer if there are questions that he has. She ponders each question and answers to the best of her ability.
When the board makes its decision, it is determined that Jay’s work was excellent, but Mary’s assertive presentation of her work was what the company needed in order to progress in the competitive engineering market. Mary made good use of her first influence skill.
Your ability to draw your interviewer in through active questioning is another important influence skill. Open-ended questions gather information and find out what the other person is thinking. Focused questions help the other person to focus on alternatives. These questions promote a greater inclusion of the other person and lead to openness and increased rapport, understanding and commitment.
During Mary’s presentation, she asks her interviewer, “Is there a specific set of drafts that you would like to see?” Her question prompts the interviewer to indicate that he is most interested in what she has done with mechanical design. Though Mary had intended on showing him other drawings, she realizes by her open-ended questioning that it would be better to focus on what her interviewer is most interested in. She has two sets of drawings in her portfolio and asks the focused question to determine exactly which he would like to choose from.
You will want to be sure that you and the other person understand each other. By repeating and summarizing important elements of the influence situation, you will be sure to remain on the same page.
When Mary finishes her presentation, the interviewer asks her, “How do you feel your employment would benefit our organization?” Mary is unsure of the exact response that the interviewer is looking for, so she uses her summarizing skill to clarify the situation. “So what you’re asking me is what will change within the organization when I am hired?”
The interviewer responds, “Yes, I would like to know how you feel your set of skills will make a fit with our organization and its mission statement.” Mary’s keen use of her influence skills brought out a much more specific question where she could determine precisely what type of answer the interviewer was looking for.
Make it easier or more attractive for the person to do what you are asking. This will help you further promote agreement and commitment.
When the interview is finished, Mary is sure to express her feelings to the interviewer. “This interview has shed new light on your organization, and I am enthusiastic to begin my employment with you. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed with your decision. I plan to immediately put into action the skills that we discussed and help the company move forward in its objectives.” Mary’s statement offers concrete rewards that the company will receive by hiring her.
The influence skills listed are only a few of the skills that you can develop which will help you progress in your career. They can be applied in a variety of circumstances; and when used effectively, they can achieve outstanding results for your career development.
Alan Vengel is a consultant in management training and organizational development and
author of The Influence Edge – How to Persuade Others to Help You Achieve Your Goals. He offers
cutting edge training and skill building workshops on influence and negotiation.