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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UNDERSTANDING Interview Process

Your Career CompassEvery step in the job search process is aimed at obtaining interviews.  It is at that point, a potential hiring manager decides if you are right for the job, and, just as important, it is your time to evaluate whether the job is right for you. Most interviews follow a predictable format, with steps that both the interviewer and applicant follow to decide if both will benefit from working together.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, March 7th… Closing The Deal I, an exploration of interview strategies, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation


bob-maher-4587-editThe 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.

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.

The 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.

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

 

 

 

 

     

Getting ‘The Feel’ For FIT

Compass-seaLEvery step in the job search process is aimed at obtaining interviews.  It is at that point, a potential hiring manager decides if you are right for the job, and, just as important, it is your time to evaluate whether the job is right for you. 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 can have a mutually beneficial, interactive conversation regarding the opportunity at hand.


THIS Week’s session, Thursday, September 6th: Closing The Deal I, a discussion of interviewing strategies, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation


bob-maher-4587-editThink 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.

The 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.

Third, 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.
  • Don’t forget your friend, LinkedIn… have you been FOLLOWing the Company?
  • 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 the individual(s) conducting the actual 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!

Have your knowing NOTION of FIT going in to any interview!

Interview SKILL: Becoming a ‘Valued Partner’

Compass-seaLWhether you are an operations manager, an internal HR professional, senior finance executive, or a key player on the IT team—ANY experienced and valued professional job seeker—ALL and EVERYONE should want to become a ‘valued partner’ in the strategic and operational planning–as well as the execution–of their next employer. To become fully engaged, Everyone wants a voice in strategic decisions and to be included in ‘the conversation.’


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, June 21st: Closing The Deal II, exploring and practicing interview tactics, including POST-OFFER Negotiation


chalk1To truly be included, you need to be invited. And you will only be invited if you are seen as absolutely essential to the TEAM.  Remember, team player and team leader CAN BE interchangeable terms.

Here are some tips on becoming a valued partner…

Walk the talk.  Nothing speaks louder than results…. From the recruitment perspective, the best indicator of one’s potential for success is one’s prior experience and results gained.  A partner helps others within the organization achieve their goals. And results require actions, not just words. The better the results you get, the more likely you are to be invited on to ‘the team.’

Deep knowledge... You must have a true understanding of ‘the bigger picture…’ how does your department fit into meeting organizational goals and objectives?  In other words, you’ve done your homework and understand your potential employer’s need.  And you must be able to articulate your understanding to anyone involved in the decision-making process in a manner that demonstrates that you truly get it.

Two of the many ways of accomplishing this image are to…

  1. Keep a file of relevant articles to share with key decision-makers, take advantage of the approaches that email and social media have to offer… create and maintain top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Further, create a set of ‘white papers’ that express, from your knowledge and experience, your perspective on relevant issues to your Profession or industry of choice.

 Listen well Everyone loves to feel that they have been heard and understood. One attribute of leadership is being known as a good listener. And if you can reiterate and articulate what has been said, you will be valued as a partner in the decision-making process.  Remember, the human brain takes IN information more efficiently than it can put out valued communication.

Communicate Like The LEADER You ARE 

Remember, as a job seeker, NETWORKING is your way to share knowledge, ‘branding’ yourself as a valued resource.  It is also your best source of confirming the subjective information you seek to supplement your research of factual information about a potential employer.

 

Big picture thinking Having a strategic vision requires you to see all areas of the business, internal and external.   This is a valuable trait well beyond the C-suite.

If you only have a deep understanding of one area, you are more likely to be tactical in your decisions, rather than strategic. You must be able to foresee problems from the stakeholders’ perspective in order to offer the most highly valued and comprehensive solutions.  Tying all of this together, the best way to be treated like a valued partner is to act like one.

The more you demonstrate your value, the more you will become recognized as the go-to person in the organization and you will be included and have a voice in the big strategic decisions.

The Other Side Of The Table: Reverse Engineering of INTERVIEW STRATEGY

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 a technical product or service, with the end-game 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.  In other words, the most important element of the job interview is that the candidate clearly and fully understand the context and issue involved with each question if that candidate’s answers are to meet the interviewer’s expectations.


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, June 14th: Closing The Deal I, exploring interview strategies, including ‘MoneySpeak’ and PRE-OFFER Negotiation


chalk1It’s a sad fact that many of the people who conduct job interviews, those representing your potential employers, have never taken even one structured course about carrying out a thorough and productive interview. And it’s disturbing that many professional interviewers do a less than satisfactory job of actually conducting an interview.

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, not unlike a job seeker’s offer criteria and the influence of emotions, anxiety, and other pressures.

The interviewer will want to confirm that YOU MEET REQUIREMENTS, usually set forth in a company job description.  They attempt to assure your willingness and ability to meet their JOB performance EXPECTATIONS… and finally, the most subjective of all, both parties should be optimizing how well you FIT the job and team cultural issues.

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 many interviews… and the intentions behind the questions.

Questions for the screening interview

Here the first criterion is communication skills, and a typical question is, “Tell me about yourself.”  On hearing the answer, the interviewer has the opportunity to access 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 (a behavioral question)? Now the interviewer listens 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? They may dig deeper, with specific follow-up questions, like:

  • What is the size and scope 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 they may probe the interviewee on what they have researched, or know about the company, 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?

You’ve made it through the screening process…NOW What?

 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. Listen closely here, because the context of goal-oriented questioning is important.  They may inquire about your 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, they may turn to the salary issues.  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.

The DARK Side

They may ask a question about a perceived liability. For example, Aren’t you overqualified? I will determine whether the response is defensive or equable.

And the last area involves predicting future behavior.  The best predictor of future success is evidence of related accomplishment in the past.  Questions about future behavior are typically based on behaviors or situations. For example, Tell me about a time you had to defend an idea and what the outcome was.

Asking interview questions is not difficult. Making judgments based on candidates’ answers is where interviewing skills get severely tested.

And perfect practice makes perfect for both parties.

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!