Regardless of your political leanings, there is a lot you can learn from presidential elections particularly when it comes to the job application process. Running for President is similar to applying for a job. Being President of the United States is a huge job, but it’s still a job. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went through a lengthy interview process and the people ultimately decided who they thought was the better candidate for the position.
Getting to the finish line and landing a job isn’t easy. It’s a very competitive process. Once you make it past the first round, chances are you have all of the necessary credentials for the position. It’s the interview process that will determine whether or not you get the offer. The presidential election is arguably the most intense, lengthy, and competitive job interview process there is. Mr. Obama ultimately proved to be better at interviewing. Here are some key takeaways about interviewing from this election season:
First and foremost, be consistent. The biggest mistake that Mitt Romney made during the interview process was that he wasn’t consistent. People didn’t know exactly who he was, what he stood for, or what he was going to do should he get the job. It’s hard to put your faith in a job candidate that you can’t figure out because they aren’t consistent.
Nowadays, most employers will do an online background check before hiring you. They will Google your name and look at your social media channels. They will verify your past. If you’re going to be a reliable employee, you have to be consistent. Being consistent also proves you are trustworthy. Look into the information you are putting out into the world and make sure it matches across all of the channels.
Know Your Audience
You also need to know your audience. Mr. Obama knew what demographics he needed to win over. He tailored his speeches accordingly. Mr. Romney had difficulty connecting with and understanding his audience. At the NAACP he talked about repealing Obamacare, a bill that has a lot of support from the African American community. In the video leaked and published in Mother Jones, Mr. Romney stated that the 47% that will vote for Mr. Obama are the 47% that pay no federal income tax. However, the states with the highest percentage of people who don’t pay federal income taxes are states where had a lot of support.
When you interview for a job, you have to know your audience. Know whom you are talking to. It’s easy to do a simple LinkedIn search to get to know the people you are interviewing with ahead of time. You should also research the company and the company’s values. During the interview process it is imperative to show the hiring managers that you belong and that you will fit in with the team. The way to do that is to know your audience.
Be Approachable / Personable
Barack Obama did not grow up in a wealthy or privileged family. He had an average childhood. His past is something that people can relate to. He made sure to stress that throughout the campaign because that made him feel more approachable and personable. And pictures of him holding a beer also helped. It made you feel like you could go out and have a drink with him. Mitt Romney also tried to relate to people based on his past hardships. He spoke about the hardships he experienced after college and having to sell some of his stock. But that wasn’t something that people couldn’t relate to. Mitt Romney also had a tendency to come off as stiff. That made him less approachable and personable.
If you’re applying for a job, you’re going to be working with a team of people. If you can’t prove that you are approachable and personable, people aren’t going to want to work with you. Usually, people feel most at ease with someone they can connect with and relate to. In the interview process make sure that the interviewer feels a sense of comfort when speaking with you and that they can relate to you.
Be realistic about your chances of getting the job. Mr. Romney and his campaign team grossly overestimated his chances of winning the election. Had they been more realistic about where he stood in swing states, he most likely would have redirected his strategy. But he assumed that he had the election in the bag. And this assumption is one of the things that cost him the job.
Be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses. If you artificially inflate your chances or fit for the position, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Until you have a written offer in your hands, you are still in competition for the position. You might feel like you are the front-runner for the position, but your competition is probably feeling the same way. Be realistic and don’t slack off just because you think you have a good chance of getting the job.
Use Your Network
Use your network! Barack Obama had a far more sophisticated system for using his network. He had data scientists working around the clock so that he knew exactly who in his network was most likely to help him out leading up to the election.
You can’t, and there’s really no need to, get nearly as sophisticated at Mr. Obama. But you should leverage your network. There is no shame in asking for help. Most people get jobs with the help of their network. You might not know anyone with a direct connection to the manager, but you might know someone who is connected to employees at the company you’re hoping to work for. Reach out to them. Get to know them. If everything goes well they might put in a good word for you. And that good word could sway things in your favor.
Elections are always tense. After it’s over, inevitably some people are happy and some people are less than thrilled about the candidate who got the job. But everyone can learn something from the process, especially if you’re looking for a job.
Stacy McCoy is the co-founder of Give To Get Jobs, a job board and information hub for jobs that use a sustainable business model to solve social and/or environmental issues. Twitter: @stacymccoy / @Give2GetJobs
Category: Interviews & Resumes