By Gladys Stone & Fred Whelan, Monster Contributing Writers
When you travel overseas, ever notice how native speakers welcome your efforts to communicate in their language? While no one may take you for a local, people appreciate when you show respect for their culture and point of view. Similarly, if you’re interviewing for a job these days, chances are good that you’ll be meeting with people in multiple areas of the company.
While they don’t expect you to be an expert in every area, employers do like it when you can “speak their language.” Of course you don’t have to learn all the buzzwords, but the more you can speak to their specific functional areas, the better chance you'll have of landing that job. Successful people always keep their audience in mind and tailor their communication to appeal to those they’re addressing. All you need to do in your interview answers is relate your experience to other areas in the company. Here are some approaches:
Sell Your Experience
Given the collaborative nature of the workplace, few things are done without a cross-functional effort. When a functional lead interviews you, impress upon them how you have been successful working with their area to achieve an objective.
For example, if you’re talking to a finance person and you are in marketing, discuss how finance played a key role in the development of the project strategies. Finance may have driven the revenue targets, the budget and ROI. It’s important to discuss how you worked together with finance, not simply asked them for numbers. Emphasizing how you worked together will let them know that you value their input and understand what’s important to them.
Relate Your Results
The phrase “No man is an island” applies more than ever these days. Your success depends on teamwork and the performance of others in and out of your group.
You’re in sales, meeting with someone in manufacturing. Let them know how manufacturing contributed to your success. For example, by reducing costs, you as a sales rep were able to underprice your competitors.
Show How Their Area Helped You
Tell them how their functional area – no matter what it is – shaped your career. This will make them feel good about what they do and more importantly, they will feel good about you.
Say you’re in operations, and you’re being interviewed by HR. Discuss how HR in your previous company helped you with management skills, which positioned you for promotion.
Understand Their Challenges
The definition of an interesting person is someone who’s interested in me. The same holds true for the interviewer: If you show interest in their job, they’ll find you engaging.
Ask them what their goals are for the area. They will enjoy expounding on that and the challenges they have in achieving that goal.
Tell Them You Admire Them
Convey that you are focused on bringing groups together and view all successes as a win for the company.
Almost every company has team-building activities. Ask about theirs and what they do to bring different functional areas together.
In this very competitive environment, you can lose out on a great opportunity if you don’t appear to be coming from a collaborative mindset. Be sure to demonstrate in your interviews that you see the big picture and appreciate the contributions of all departments.