Succeeding With Interview Tactics

Compass-seaLSo, how does a concept from the field of engineering get itself into the dysfunctional event called INTERVIEWING? Reverse engineering is a detailed examination of an idea or product with the aim of producing something similar. In fact, this method could also apply to the job interview because sometimes, in a job interview, the candidate does not properly understand the question the interviewer has asked, and therefore the answer, of course, would likely not be the best.


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, March 14th…Closing The Deal II: Interviewing tactics in the ‘nine-box matrix’ and POST-Offer negotiation.


Pilot OnboardThe most important element of the job interview is that the candidate clearly and fully understand each question if that candidate’s answers are to meet the interviewer’s expectations.

It’s a sad fact that most of the people who conduct job interviews—namely, those representing employers—have never taken even one structured course about carrying out a thorough and productive interview. And it’s unfortunate that many professional interviewers do a less than satisfactory job at it.

Anatomy of the Interview

The job interview itself is a professional conversation between employers’ representatives and job applicants (EQUAL participants) for the purpose of selecting the applicant who appears to be the best candidate. Of course, interviews vary in many ways based on type of job and on level within an organization. But in all cases there are similarities.

So, what are the criteria that interviewers must satisfy for themselves in order to go ahead and recommend the hiring of an individual? The answer, of course, includes many criteria, which will differ from one interview to the next…and which at times will be influenced by prejudices. In addition, in most cases more than one interview takes place before a final decision is reached. Let’s examine the types of questions asked in a first interview and in a second interview and the intentions behind the questions.

Questions for the first interview

Here the first criterion is communication skills, and a typical question is, Tell me about yourself. On hearing the answer, I’m noticing how the candidate frames that answer. Is it clear and concise? Is the candidate engaging me?

The next criterion is competency. The question could be, Can you give me a specific example of a time you used a (particular) skill and the outcome? Now I’m listening for whether the answer indicates that the candidate is a team player. Does the candidate truly demonstrate well-developed skills in the area of my interest, and what were the main results?

At all companies, cultural fit is extremely important. Several common questions are pertinent to this area. For example, What was the biggest team project or task you’ve undertaken in your career? Then I dig deeper, with specific follow-up questions. I want to learn the size of the project team. Was the objective reached? Who benefited by the outcome? Was the candidate’s answer well communicated? Was it too long? Too short?

The next area to explore is motivation. Here I ask what the candidate knows about our company. By this question, I’m testing whether the candidate has done their ‘homework.’  Is the candidate really interested? Does the candidate know more details about the organization than what’s available on the Web site?

 Questions for the second interview

Because the motivation factor is so very important, it’s likely that this criterion will come up in the second interview as well, when other members of the interviewing team look for it. Common questions are:

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why did you leave your last position? Were there hidden problems?
  • Do you wish to grow professionally? Do you have a clear vision of your professional future?

The next area to look into would be trust of colleagues and customers. A good, probing question would be, Can you cite examples that best demonstrate your ability to relate well to others?

  • Have you been invited to contribute to other teams?
  • Did your team and other teams celebrate their successes together?
  • How about repeat business? Or returning internal or external customers?

People in management are expected to identify and establish goals. I would ask about plans for the first 90 days after hire. Does the candidate know the product or service? Has the candidate given thought to a plan? Is the plan detailed enough?

If at this point the candidate appears promising, I would ask, What kind of money are you looking for? The answer will enable me to decide whether it’s worth continuing the interview if a candidate’s expectations are out of the hiring manager’s salary range budgeted for the position.

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Closing The Deal: Determining ‘Next Steps’

Your Career CompassA productive mindset, during any career transition, is your ability to relate your well positioned “story” to others, answer questions effectively, conduct productive negotiations, and, in general, fine tune your personal marketing (NOT sales) skills.


Tomorrow’s Session…Thursday, November 29th… Closing The Deal II: Interview Tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation.


So what are those basic tactics that will allow you to effectively “close the deal?”

  1. Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics.

The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.”  Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship…

  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format.  With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”…  A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity.  With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • Brag bytes…  Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer.  “…saved 80% cost-per-hire…”  Used in MSWord Auto Text Format can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  • Personal Portfolio…  Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

Think of an interview as the natural extension, the successful result of your effective networking.  Many networking conversations actually become screening interviews, where influential contacts are assessing your qualifications, skill sets and experience relative to an opportunity at hand.

“Perfect practice” of the basics builds the confidence necessary to perform well in formal job interviews. Let’s break down the basics into four areas…

  1. pre-contact preparation/ research,
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.

All four stages are equally important and deserve your consideration and preparation.

Know the needs of the company

Once your basic research is complete, you must next identify how your abilities, experience and expertise can meet the needs of the interviewer, the company and the job.  This point cannot be over-emphasized.  It is the company’s needs that you must fill, not your own.  Surprisingly, however, by meeting the company’s needs, your needs also will be met.

Your VALUE PROPOSITION

Prepare for your interviews (and networking meetings) by fully understanding the value you bring to a potential employer and hiring company.    Incorporate portions of this information into your interview responses, or use some of the material in your interview closing remarks.  Tell them why you are good at what you do!

The Interviewee’s Nine-Box Matrix of Interview Process… 

Confirm FIT

YOU

JOB FIT
ASK

 

 

 

 

     
ANSWER

 

 

 

 

     
MONEY

 

 

 

 

     

PERFECT Practice Makes (Near) Perfection!

Compass-seaLEver made a mistake? A really big one? Maybe you did something careless, without proper planning or sufficient attention? Something that might have cost you dearly in some way like a job, sale, time, money, health, or a relationship?

Unless you were just born, you surely have. So, the more important question is “are you better off as a result?” As painful as mistakes can be, they can provide great benefit.
There is no teacher better than the missteps often found in PRACTICING Your Basic Job Hunting skills and tools.  Those who live a privileged, sheltered, and adversity-free life miss life’s education.


THIS Week’s session is INTERVIEW SKILL PRACTICE w/Brian facilitating


chalk1In contrast, those who deal with tough bosses, demanding clients, relationship conflicts, and their own bad decisions, learn many valuable lessons. Counterintuitively, the extent of adversity people have been through is a better determinate of their future success than how much prosperity they have enjoyed. But adversity is only beneficial if it is properly processed.

When people make a mistake, they have three fundamental choices on how to process it. Two of the choices lead to no benefit and the other to significant benefit. Choice #1 is to be frustrated by or dismissive of the mistake. Choice #2 is to blame others or circumstances. Choice #3 is to reflect on and find the learning in it. Intellectually, people see choice #3 as the correct choice, yet regularly practice choices #1 and #2.

Rather than embrace the opportunities for skill improvement, or creating the discipline of personal accountability, job seekers tend to stay in their comfort zone. Rather than learn what they can and make adjustments, they get frustrated until they “get over it” or worse—blame others or circumstances. They may be quick to correct others, but unable to see the need for change in themselves.

Whether you have a hard time getting on the phone to develop new relationships, or have a challenge in avoiding distractions… or allow an employer control you BEFORE you are employed, accept a dead-end job, or simply say something you wish you hadn’t, you have earned the opportunity to learn from and be better for it.

Don’t waste a good mistake.

Your work in Achieving CareerFIT led you to the determination of your career objective, exactly what is the best next step for you in your career transition? It also suggested strongly that you set your straw-man offer criteria to guide you in moving forward…Knowing what your next right employment is.

This will help focus your actual search. With clarity in your positioning and targeting goals, you can write a great resume, be prepared for networking conversations, and develop your skills regarding actual interviews and negotiation.

 

Most job seekers are surprised and dismayed at their lack of comfort in talking about themselves as others see them.  This is completely normal and human… a ‘talent’ that can be learned through practice.

1. A well rehearsed “two minute commercial,” your answer to the most asked question during career transition, “Tell me about yourself.”
2. Several, well though out, “elevator speeches,” examples that support your primary, positioning, key words. These are usually your representative accomplishments under the SUMMARY of your resume. (30 seconds to 1 minute)
3. A succinct “qualification statement” that you can use as an introduction at networking events. (usually 20 – 30 seconds)
4. An “exit statement” which explains your availability, to address the second most asked question during career transition.

Having your personal marketing collateral materials prepared and rehearsed prior to active personal marketing is central to your success and builds confidence.

Consistency in the delivery of your message is what creates memory… and frequency of your message helps you get there… strive for top-of-mind awareness where it relates to your candidacy.

Your personal marketing COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, your story, must be built around keywords and phrases that best describe your unique value proposition. These words come from your concerted self-assessment process. The challenge is matching the words that best describe your next right employment with the words that best describe a potential new employer’s needs.

A communication strategy that does not achieve that is doomed to otherwise controllable difficulties—and, worst…failure. So, understand that getting recruited involves two distinct elements…

• Being screened for meeting a JOB’s requirements… a subjective process created by the potential employers of the marketplace. They set the bar HIGH, defined by functional experience, skill set, and knowledge standards so they don’t have to interview every JOB applicant.
• Being selected by the hiring authority… another subjective process which now involves their assessment of a job-seeker’s FIT with their needs, including personality, work habits, and other ‘cultural’ standards. They cannot hire all qualified candidates. They must choose.

A job-seeker, then, can give themselves choices when they choose to embrace the OTHER Job Market. They improve their probability of success by nearly eliminating the pre-mature screening and rejection process.

sq-knot2

Whether in your professional or personal life, your future success largely depends on how well you learn from your experience, especially the blunders you make in the privacy of practicing needed skills. Here are six principles to follow to get the most benefit from your practice sessions:

1. Acknowledge the mistake.  Confront reality. Forgive yourself and others, but don’t dismiss the mistake outright.

2. Take responsibility. Don’t be quick to fault external influences. Whether your role was limited or significant, accept responsibility. Even acts of omission are mistakes.

3. Reflect on the mistake. Most mistakes are symptoms. Ask “why did this happen?” Consider the possibilities and narrow them down to the likely culprits.

4. Involve others. Seek input from others who can help you objectively think through your assessment. Share your reflections with someone you trust who can help you understand the nuances of your situation. An accountability partner can be your best ally in job search skill practice.

5. Process your feelings. It’s alright to be frustrated and even angry just as much as it is to be excited and happy. Don’t cheat yourself out of processing your feelings, but don’t let your feelings overcome your logic.

Don’t label yourself. A mistake doesn’t define you any more than an achievement does. Allow yourself to go through a healthy learning curve.

6. Look forward. Forgive yourself and others. Realize that you are not perfect and its okay. Recover and move on…your skill and confidence IS growing!

 

ADVICE OVERLOAD vs. “LISTENING TO YOUR MARKETPLACE”

Compass-seaLMany people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions.


This Week’s session, Thursday, November 30th… Development of YOUR Personal Marketing Plan (PMP)


chalk1THE Careerpilot  believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.  Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for you.

So, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?

First and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice.  TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!  Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!

If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue. Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.

Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

An Interviewer’s Perspective: Reverse Engineered

Compass-seaLHow does a concept from the field of engineering get itself into the dysfunctional event called INTERVIEWING?  ‘Reverse engineering’ is a detailed examination of an idea or product with the aim of producing something similar. In fact, this method could also apply to the job interview because sometimes, in a job interview, the candidate does not properly understand the question the interviewer has asked, and therefore the answer, of course, would likely not be the best.


Our next Session is Thursday, July 6th… Closing The Deal I: Interview STRATEGIES including PRE-Offer negotiation.


Pilot OnboardIn other words, the most important element of the job interview is that the candidate clearly and fully understand each question if that candidate’s answers are to meet the interviewer’s expectations.

It’s a sad fact that most of the people who conduct job interviews—namely, those representing employers—have never taken even one structured course about carrying out a thorough and productive interview. And it’s unfortunate that many professional interviewers do a less than satisfactory job at it.

Anatomy Of The Interview

The job interview itself is a professional conversation between employers’ representatives and job applicants (EQUAL participants) for the purpose of selecting the applicant who appears to be the best candidate. Of course, interviews vary in many ways based on type of job and on level within an organization. But in all cases there are similarities.  So, what are the criteria that interviewers must satisfy for themselves in order to go ahead and recommend the hiring of an individual?

The answer, of course, includes many criteria, which will differ from one interview to the next…and which at times will be influenced by prejudices. In addition, in most cases more than one interview takes place before a final decision is reached.  But, in all cases, if the desired result is ‘good data’ from which to reach an acceptable decision, THREE issues must be discussed:

THE JOB SEEKER… The interviewer(s) must confirm that you meet the organization’s ‘requirements’ stipulated in the job description.  As they form criteria for the screening process, this portion of the recruitment process must be conducted in the past tense… the job seeker’s skills, knowledge areas, and experience.  While this should be the most objective, fact based portion of the process, it often is not.

THE JOB… The interviewer(s) must determine if the job seeker meets their ‘expectations’ for the role being filled.  This is a more subjective approach that leads to dysfunction in the traditional process.  As expectations ‘frame’ the job seeker’s qualifications in the selection process, this portion of the process must be conducted in the future tense.  The challenge is that all data gathered, by definition, is subjective in nature.

THE FIT… While many applicants might meet an organization’s requirements for a given role, and be highly qualified to perform well, actual selection as a new hire is the most dysfunctional part of the recruitment process.  At best, the interviewer(s) must be limited to a myriad of subjective criteria, like company culture, likeability of the candidate, and personal ‘norms’ to name a few.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Your IntervIEwing Preference

Your Career CompassDoes it matter whether you are Introverted or Extraverted when it comes to participating in a job interview?   You can bet it does, because, based on your personality’s preference, you will have different challenges during your job search and transition. Introverts and Extraverts have different strengths and blind spots, and, therefore, may find different tips helpful for performing at their best.


Much of THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, April 13th,  will be facilitated by Brian Allen of Whittier Creek Consulting, our ‘resident MBTI Guru.’


Pilot OnboardAs part of our exploration of interviewing tactics, Brian will help you identify your natural preference for Extraversion or Introversion, then explore how to overcome some of the most common interviewing challenges faced by both types. You just might discover the key to solving one of your most frustrating interview roadblocks.

The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.”  Your appropriate use of a two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship…

  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format.  With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”…  A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity.  With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • Brag bytes…  Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer.  “…saved 80% cost-per-hire…”  Used in MSWord Auto Text Format can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  • Personal Portfolio…  Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

sq-knot2

“If you practice the way you play, there shouldn’t be any difference. That’s why I practiced so hard. I wanted to be prepared for the game.”

Michael Jordan (1963- )
American basketball player & business person
regarded by many as the greatest basketball player who ever played the game
sq-knot2

A productive networking call sometimes can result in a screening interview, so BE PREPARED.  Most interviews follow a predictable format, with steps that both the interviewer and applicant follow to decide if both will benefit from working together.  The best interviews are ones in which both participants are equal and have a mutually beneficial, interactive conversation regarding the opportunity at hand.

Think of an interview as the natural extension, the successful result of your effective networking.  Many networking conversations actually become screening interviews, where influential contacts are assessing your qualifications, skill sets and experience relative to an opportunity at hand.  “Perfect practice” of the basics builds the confidence necessary to perform well in formal job interviews.

Let’s break down the basics into four areas

  1. pre-contact preparation/ research,
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.

All four stages are equally important and deserve your consideration and preparation.

 

BE PREPARED To Interview ANY Potential Employer

ANSWERING QUESTIONS EFFECTIVELY

 The key to being successful in an interview is to answer each question well, with strong content and credible delivery.  To do this, you must anticipate and practice what to say, display confidence and enthusiasm and show that you have a positive attitude. The way you deliver your responses can be just as important as what you say.

Look directly into the interviewer’s eyes; give short, crisp, smooth answers that don’t sound memorized.  Put energy and ‘texture’  in your voice.

Consider one of the following guidelines in answering questions relative to your communication strategy…

  • ANSWER the question.
  • Highlight strengths, giving examples as appropriate… plays to behavioral interviewer style and tactics. Minimize weaknesses.
  • At least address the issue of the question before
    • Blocking
    • Turnaround
    • Answering in your terms
    • Confronting or changing the subject!

Behavioral interview questions

Many employers are moving away from a resume-driven style of interviewing to a behavioral format. Behavioral interviews are very probing in nature and are based on the concept of “predictable future behavior.”

In other words, what you have done in the past strongly suggests what you will do in the future.  It is about patterns of behavior, both good and bad.

Navigating these interviews well requires that you know yourself inside and out.  This will require a lot of introspection and soul-searching on your part.  You must be able to:

  • Know why you have made the decisions you have made that have brought you to this point in your life… and be prepared to explain and defend your decisions.
  • Provide concrete, specific examples of where you have demonstrated the proficiency employers are seeking.

Do you have any questions?

Have at least two questions ready.  They could relate to: the procedures; the systems; reporting relationships; size of working group; equipment; or immediate goals of the department or position.

Do not ask questions about benefits or holidays until you are close to a job offer.