Beyond Your NOTION of FIT

A Good ScoutBe prepared!  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  After all, the Boy Scouts have been teaching this idea to kids for over 100 years.

So why in the world would most job seekers show up for an interview unprepared? You see it all the time—they dash in from the parking lot with no particular plan on how to engage their potential employer. Or they relentlessly work the phones only to discover that they’ve offered nothing more than hollow chitchat.

So why IS it that job seekers fail to prepare?


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, August 29…  Closing The Deal II:  Discussion and PRACTICE of good interviewing tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation


chalk1Because it is easier to talk about you, your company and your products than it is to prepare to have a conversation about THEM!

Here’s the big question: what are you doing to prepare that if your next employer knew you were doing it, they would be more inclined to have an open and honest dialogue with you?  The next time you meet with a prospect or client, open the conversation with this simple phrase:

“In preparing for this meeting I took some time to discover a few things that would allow me to succeed in this role…” Then simply highlight the two or three critical things that you did to prepare and watch what happens to the atmosphere of the call. You will blow away the last interviewee (your competition) who opened their meeting in silence, waiting to be interrogated!

The less you talk about yourself, the more you have to prepare to talk about them. In the nine-box matrix, it’s about meeting their expectations!  And the more you talk about them, the more likely they will be interested in you. Back to our matrix, it’s about creating the allusive BUYING SIGNAL, and mitigating any risks about a good FIT.

Not exactly the secret formula you were hoping for. But it is an obvious formula—so obvious that most job seekers ignore it.

Here are ten keys that you can use to create your own successful interview habits:

  1. Learn about their business—their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition.
  2. Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry who have insights. Use a targeted organization networking approach.
  3. Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking your questions are, the more your prospective employers will respect and remember you!
  4. Identify the benefits of your value to this potential employer. Your value proposition needs to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!
  5. Prepare ideas that hold value for your ‘next employer.’ Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…meeting their needs!
  6. Communicate an outline of your meeting prior to the actual interview. Ask them to review and provide you with feedback. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.
  7. Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.  OVER-qualified?  No INDUSTRY experience…
  8. Plan how you will close the interview appointment and decide what agreements you need to ask for.
  9. Remind yourself to be friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your potential employer is constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you.
  10. BE CONFIDENT in your PRE-Offer and POST-Offer negotiation approaches.  It takes time—often a long time—to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.

LISTENING And Processing Wins Many Interviews

The best interviews are ones in which both participants are equal and can 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.


 

NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, April 5th… Closing The Deal II: Interview Tactics, including POST Offer negotiation


Pilot OnboardThe Three Phases of Every Interview

There are three things that must be discussed in every interview:  First, the Candidate, a discussion usually conducted in the past tense to assess experience, knowledge, and skills… do they meet the potential employer’s REQUIREMENTS?

Second, the job itself.  Beyond meeting requirements, each Candidate must be judged for their potential to meet EXPECTATIONS.  As important, will the Candidate “fit in” on the team and Company culture?  This discussion occurs in the future tense… very obvious transition in a “good” interview.

Last, but certainly not least, is the quality of FIT.  While this is the most subjective and dysfunctional part of the process, it is where both sides must come together for a desired outcome.  When both sides like and find the other to be attractive, a “right” employment opportunity can result.  This is also where the QandA can become more defensive in nature.

Research The Company/Position

Second level research will help you to identify attractive companies.  But, this is third level (in-depth) research.  Learn as much as possible about the company, the position and the individual who will be conducting the interview.  Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate.

Showing your knowledge of some of this information can give you added credibility over other candidates interviewing for the job.

 Use the following research strategies:

  • Research the company web site, looking for information relative to your function and level… a company’s financial and annual reports can provide clues to their stability and market share.  Don’t forget directories, trade journals, the “business press,” and databases of articles and other news.
  • Ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company and/or individual conducting the interview.
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information.  Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

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!

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…

  1. ANSWER the question.
  2. Highlight strengths, giving examples as appropriate… plays to behavioral interviewer style and tactics.  Minimize weaknesses…STOP Talking!
  3. At least address the issue of the question before

o   Blocking

o   Turnaround

o   Answering in your terms

o   Confronting or changing the subject!

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.

 

Interviewing TACTICS: The Art of Closing the Deal

Compass-seaLA 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 salesmanship skills.  So what are those basic tactics that will allow you to effectively “close the deal?”


NEXT WEEK’s Session:  Closing The Deal II, Interviewing Tactics, including POST-Offer Negotiation


  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…

Interested, Qualified and Available…

At the end of the day both third-party and Corporate recruiters deliver Interested, Qualified and Available candidates to the desktop of hiring managers. They source a set of candidates, qualify them, get their interest, present and hopefully close.

An individual should suspect the Company of compiling a pool of talent when they receive a position of interest by email–especially unsolicited.  If you choose to submit, you will typically be directed to a series of questions about the position. These are answered by the candidate and immediately scored by the software managing the talent pool. You might be amazed by the swiftness of the next step.

The candidates immediately receive a response telling them they are qualified or not for the position while simultaneously those who are Interested, Qualified and Available are sent to the desktop of the recruiter and hiring authority for the next step in the process.

We all must be challenged to understand and embrace new technology that can make us more productive and effective to the organizations we serve.  What we have, here, is the failure to merge two ineffective processes in to one very mutually advantageous one: Shared productivity in the world of recruitment…The OTHER Job Market!

MoneySpeak

Regardless of offer acceptability or detail, try never to accept on-the-spot. Rather, choose to get back to them with your acceptance in a reasonable time period.  You never want to imply that you are getting back with them to negotiate.

This separate transaction will help you feel prepared and confident, and help to mitigate the emotion of the moment.  Even the most passive communicator should focus on one item within the offer as a target for upgrading. When in the conversation of accepting the position, express interest and motivation regarding the opportunity… pause… then “I must ask, though… Is there anything we can do about ____ ?” An inquiry about an item often leads to getting it!

You could be a bit more assertive in your acceptance by asking for a few minutes to go over the entire offer, to make sure you understand it… pause… then, go through each of the seven items included in a position’s worth (above), inquiring about each item.

Only the more aggressive communicators should attempt a more aggressive approach where you ask to go through the entire offer, making a specific request to upgrade each item as you discuss it.

In fact, when you know you have a position of negotiating strength (other offers, new business or new contacts to bring, or a unique operational strength to bring, like a personal patent or a design resolution) you might even consider a counter-offer.

Your POSITION “WORTH”

While potential employers recruit within well-defined salary ranges, your position’s worth is so much more.  This total value is what you seek to improve upon, and it has several variables…

  1. Base Salary
  2. STRUCTURED BONUS… paid in a regular and frequent paycheck
  3. UNStructured Bonus… these are the elusive, discretionary money sources.
  4. Benefits
  5. Perks
  6. First year vacation
  7. Starting date, if currently employed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Your Interviewer To ENGAGE YOU in Productive Communication

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


Thursday, March 10th… Closing The Deal II: Interview Tactics, including POST Offer negotiation


  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.

Pilot OnboardThe 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.

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

Interested, Qualified and Available…

At the end of the day both third-party and Corporate recruiters deliver Interested, Qualified and Available candidates to the desktop of hiring managers. They source a set of candidates, qualify them, get their interest, present and hopefully close.

An individual should suspect the Company of compiling a pool of talent when they receive a position of interest by email–especially unsolicited.  If you choose to submit, you will typically be directed to a series of questions about the position. These are answered by the candidate and immediately scored by the software managing the talent pool. You might be amazed by the swiftness of the next step.

The candidates immediately receive a response telling them they are qualified or not for the position while simultaneously those who are Interested, Qualified and Available are sent to the desktop of the recruiter and hiring authority for the next step in the process.

We all must be challenged to understand and embrace new technology that can make us more productive and effective to the organizations we serve.  What we have, here, is the failure to merge two ineffective processes in to one very mutually advantageous one: Shared productivity in the world of recruitment.

INTERVIEW PREP

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.

CLOSING THE DEAL: Winning Interview Tactics

The next time you meet with a potential employer, open the conversation with this simple phrase:

“In preparing for this meeting I took some time to…”

Then simply highlight the two or three critical things that you did to prepare and watch what happens to the atmosphere of the call. You will blow away the last interviewee (your competition) who opened their meeting in silence, waiting to be interrogated!


LAST Session of 2015… Thursday, December 17th… Closing The Deal II: Interview tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation.


The less you talk about yourself, the more you have to prepare to talk about them. And the more you talk about them, the more likely they will be interested in you. Not exactly the secret formula you were hoping for. But it is an obvious formula—so obvious that most job seekers ignore it.

Here are ten keys that you can use to create your own successful pre-interview habits:

  1. Learn about their business—their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition… what are THEIR specific needs?
  2. Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry who have insights. Use a targeted organization networking approach.
  3. Identify the benefits of your value to this potential employer. The benefits need to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!  It is important to remember, they are looking for the best FIT… so should the job seeker.
  4. Prepare ideas that hold value for your ‘next employer.’ Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…meeting their needs!
  5. Move from ‘meeting their requirements’ to ‘meeting and exceeding their expectations… let them experience your motivation and performance potential.
  6. Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking, conversation generating your questions are, the more your prospective employers will respect and remember you!
  7. Communicate your “value proposition” prior to the actual interview.  Ask them to review and provide you with feedback. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.
  8. Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.
  9. Plan how you will close the interview appointment and decide what agreements you need to ask for…for example, follow-up timing.
  10. Remind yourself to be warm, friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your potential employer is constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they believe you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you. It takes time—often a long time—to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.

Does Your Interview “Style” FIT You??

Often you can build in credibility by talking about yourself as others see you, in the third person.  “My customers have always valued my responsive problem-solving nature.  Why, just last week….”  -or- “I have been consistently reviewed for my …”


Thursday, September 24th… Closing The Deal I: Interview Strategies, including Money$peak and PRE-Offer negotiation


I WOULD ALWAYS ENCOURAGE YOU TO REMEMBER THREE PRACTICAL GUIDELINES, RATHER THAN ATTEMPTING TO MEMORIZE GLIB, WELL-CRAFTED ANSWERS TO CHALLENGING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: 

FIRST… ANSWER THE QUESTION!  The implication, here, is that you have listened to and understand the question.  Clarify if necessary, but never repeatedly!

SECOND… LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO INTEGRATE YOUR STRENGTHS. When on an issue of FIT, confirming a strength with a behavioral example is always welcomed.  When the issue reveals a weakness…. answer the question and stop talking.

THIRD… AT LEAST ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF A QUESTION BEFORE BLOCKING THE SUBJECT, TURNING THE TABLES, OR ANSWERING IN ANY MANIPULATIVE MANNER.  This strategy allows you to respond to “illegal, unethical” questions and also money talk.


“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


If you are finding that you need to develop a more persuasive interviewing presence… It will be helpful to develop some effective strategies to bring focus to the session–a focus on how your strengths FIT the job’s expectations.  Never allow an interview to be an interrogation of YOU…

  1. USE A STRONG OPENING… Clearly state your desire to work with the interviewing company.  Back up your desire with solid research on why you are a good fit for their needs.  “I’m talking to you to determine where my skills in can best be applied to make a solid contribution here.  Seems you are looking for a person who…”
  2. ALWAYS INCORPORATE YOUR KEY STRENGTHS… Like your resume and other written collaterals, your supportive telephone and interviewing style should reflect a compelling message, based on your strengths that meet an organization’s needs. If you have researched and networked your way toward a particular opportunity, you should be able to “echo” your abilities relative to their needs. For example, in tabular form…

    This opportunity calls for…

    And I offer…

    Communication Skills

    8 years of demonstrated effectiveness in sales presentations to decision makers. Customers often mention the persuasiveness of both my verbal and written skills.

    Strong Computer/ Software Background

    Proficiency in MS Office applications, including the ability to create and develop complementary power point and web page presentations.

    Proven Account Development Success

    Recent track record of three straight years of leading our Regional Sales Team in revenue growth while establishing a new territory. Identified, secured and have developed several Fortune 200 customers.

  3. TAKE DUE CREDIT WITHOUT OVERUSING THE WORD “I”… Focus in on meeting needs or requirements. Specifically, minimize the use of the “I word” in beginning your sentences. Third-party statements can create credibility: “My customers have always said that…” -or- “My supervisors have always been kind in complimenting my …. “
  4. STRATEGIZE AROUND THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES PRESENTED BY THE INDUSTRY AND THE SPECIFIC OPPORTUNITY… Adopt a positive, future oriented perspective.  Optimism secures cooperation and advice easier than negativity.  Develop a solid value proposition. Make it clear that your focus on this Company and its industry is because you enjoy the work.              
  5. USE YOUR WRITTEN COLLATERALS TO COMPLEMENT AND SUPPLEMENT YOUR STORY…  Your written collaterals were designed around compelling examples of your strengths—little mini-stories to prove your worth from actual experience and results.  Pull from the same examples to gain repetition and behavioral evidence of your strengths = REMEMBERED!
  6. BE SPECIFIC AND CLEAR in positioning your candidacy/value proposition to meet an employer’s needs. Don’t try to be everything to everybody with vague, winding sentences and paragraphs.
  7. FOCUS ON YOUR FUNCTIONAL STRENGTHS, NOT SPECIFIC TITLES…  Be prepared to research and mirror your strengths to specific openings, always echoing the FIT between your strengths and their needs. Make each receiver feel as if they are getting your personal approach to them.
  8. PRACTICE POLITENESS, making mutual respect for their time and attention a valued commodity. Proper protocol, here, can pave the way for high quality relationship building.
  9. CLOSE WITH A CALL FOR SPECIFIC ACTION AND YOUR CONTROL OF THE FOLLOW-UP… What IS the next step? Or attempt “closing” on an offer.
  10. EMBRACE CHANGE, NEVER COMING ACROSS AS DESPERATE… ENOUGH SAID!