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.
Advertisements

Go Into EVERY Interview With a Notion of FIT… A GOOD FIT!

JigSaw-partnershipEvery 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, August 22… Closing The Deal I: Interview Strategies, including MoneySpeak… and a look at PRE-Offer negotiation.


chalk1The 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.

 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 (Customers and Vendors, remember them?) 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!

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 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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The THREE Phases of an Interview

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.

Pilot OnboardThe 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.

Next week’s session: Thursday, April 6th:  Closing The Deal I, covering interview strategies and PRE-Offer negotiation


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.

 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:

  • FOLLOW the Company through LinkedIn.  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!