I have 2 words for you: "So What?"
"What in the world is he talking about?" you might be thinking! If you're a Jazz music fan, you might recall a song of the same name recorded in 1959 by legendary Trumpeter Miles Davis on his album entitled Kind of Blue. If you've ever heard this song, the instrumentalists sound almost as though they're speaking those two words.
Actually, the "So What?" rule is probably one of the best tips I could have ever shared with you to help you succeed in an interview.
The "So What?" rule works like this:
During an interview, it's important to avoid talking too much. The danger is that you might miss an opportunity to show the interviewer the value you can bring to their company. The "So What?" rule helps keep you from rambling on and on. You need to answer questions so that you make an impact. As you practice answering interview questions, you need to pay attention to the length of your answers. You also need to make sure you say something that demonstrates why you're the right person for the job.
Okay, you get the point. But somewhere during your talking, a little voice in your head needs to interrupt you and say "So What?". When you finally hear that small voice say "So What?", now it is time to finish your answer by saying:
"So What that means to you is..."
Then continue with a benefit to the company you're interviewing for!
You say: "I'm a member of the military for several years now. I have jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, survived two wars, gone without sleep for days at a time, maintained a Top Secret Security Clearance, developed a training course, scored a maximum score on the physical fitness test, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...(then you hear "So What?)
Then You say: "So what that means to you is that I will meet all the requirements for this job and can quickly contribute to your team!"
Okay, that might have been an extreme example, but the idea is to use the "So What?" rule as a mind trigger to keep you from talking yourself out of a job! You absolutely must create the impression that you have the company's best interests in mind. The interview provides you an opportunity to share how you will help the company. So, use the "So What?" rule to avoid bragging too much about yourself.
Let me add a little more context to this topic. I don't want you to become too overconfident in an interview. You may have heard stories about civilian companies supporting the military and hiring the best former military people to become part of their winning company. That's all true. This happens all the time.
But, you have to understand that just because you served in the military doesn't mean that you have a guaranteed spot in a top company. You have preference in some cases due to your military service, and you definitely have some unique experience that many of your civilian counterparts will never be able to add to their credentials. The fact remains however, that you need to show that you can make a positive difference in the company that you're interviewing with. You need to pay attention to the way you come across.
The "So What?" rule helps you come across as more "We-focused" rather than "Me-focused."
The "So What?" rule will help you keep things in check. By using this technique, you can effectively show that you have the company's best interests in mind and that you're not self-serving. People who don't get called back for second and third interviews can probably trace the reason back to a failure to show what they can bring to the company.
Let's face it. There are very few careers within the military that you have to interview for. Some examples of careers you might interview for while in the military include; general's aide, command sergeant major's aide, commander's driver, chaplain's assistant, and select others. The person you interview with wants to make sure you represent them well. In high profile positions such as these, people want the right fit. They want to know that the person they pick will add to the organization in some way. They want to know that whoever they select will represent the best of the best in the organization. The point here is that you need to prepare for the interview since the interview process may be a very new skill set for you.
Whether these 2 words or the famous jazz tune helps you remember, use the "So What?" rule in order to showcase what you can do for the organization, not what the organization can do for you.
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