Imagine that your intention is to land a job at a small company in a role that focuses on exceptional customer service. To boost your chances to outcompete other job seekers, you must sharpen your interviewing saw!
As in any focused career search, the key success driver is articulating your differentiating value. And to do this, you must focus in on a specific audience, understand their needs and areas of pain and then speak directly to their requirements, showing (not just telling) how you will alleviate their pain.
A Perfect Script for Your Next Interview Response
Alicia Arenas, a small business expert and owner of Sanera Camp, wrote a blog post that speaks to the more intimate relationship between customer service provider and client within a small business environment. In her post, “Customer Experience and Small Business,” she shares lines from a Robert Altman movie scene, providing a perfect script from which to emulate your next small-business interview response.
“What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others?”
It’s the gift of anticipation.
And I’m a good servant. I’m better than good. I’m the best. I’m the perfect servant.
I know when they’ll be hungry – and the food is ready. I know when they’ll be tired – and the bed is turned down.
I know it before they know it themselves.
– Ms. Wilson, Gosford Park
This confident response shows she can anticipate and react to a customer’s pain points (hunger, tiredness). The intimacy in which she addresses a client’s needs mirrors the personalized behavior and mindset one employed at a small business must exude.
Instead of rambling on about her generic skills in “organizing, housecleaning, cooking, etc.,” she conveyed those skills within contextual action. She expressed a situation and then immediately followed with her action and result.
The Value of Contextual Interview Stories
Similarly, job seekers must convey contextual stories to prove value during interviews. Show, don’t just tell, that you are the “better than good … the best … the perfect servant.”
Embrace your unique value by brainstorming the wonderful ways you have outperformed customer expectations in your jobs and start writing. Use the following to trigger your thoughts:
Think of a time when your actions:
- Relieved a client’s stress.
- Saved a customer money.
- Helped a client meet a rigorous deadline.
- Supported a client’s soaring profits.
Perform Clarifying Career Brain Dump
Then, brain dump those stories as quickly as you can, with bold clarity. Brag on yourself describing how you relieved their stress; i.e., did you anticipate an unrealized or imminent need and swoop in to take care of it?
- Did you go the extra mile to liaise between your customer and the manufacturer to negotiate a special rate on an order of widgets to cut client costs by 15%?
- Did you shuffle schedules to accommodate your special client’s tight deadline, thus helping them achieve quarterly profit goals or some other revenue-centered objectives?
- Did you anticipate needs in a consistent way proving you have got that “it” factor that stands apart from the other customer service professionals clamoring for new jobs in this competitive market?
Claim your value. Land that job by taking time to research and understand your target audience’s needs, by embracing and learning how to articulate how you can offer a repeat performance of your past accomplishments to earn rave reviews at your next employer. Prepare well and further your chances of acing that next job interview!