Monthly Archives: April 2017

Put Yourself in the Other Chair for a More Effective Interview

Imagine yourself at a social function. The person you just met is speaking in depth about their knowledge of the logistical intricacies of managing global supply chains. While interesting, if you have little interest in that subject you will likely not be totally focused on that person’s soliloquy and will start letting your eye wander the room to see who else is there. Then another person you meet starts with a question or two about what you do. They start speaking about a topic they think may be of potentially mutual interest, based on your response, and start an interactive dialog with you. Which of these two encounters will you likely value?

It is very much the same with interviewing. Think of times in your own career when you were interviewing candidates. You will surely remember one or two examples where someone came in so pumped up and ready to tell you stories of their accomplishments that they never stopped to ask what you were interested in hearing about.

We encourage people to be prepared and to have interesting stories to tell that highlight their key strengths and successes. However, sometimes in the adrenaline rush of an important interview, people will unintentionally launch into their well-prepared stories and rush through them to ensure that every key point is made.

A more effective approach is put as much time and effort into researching your interviewer as you do preparing your core content.

First, check out the company.  Read the CEO’s letter in their Annual Report; what is the top strategy that they outline, key issues or opportunities for growth in their industry?  Look for news articles on the company; have they done a recent acquisition, invested in a new market or technology?

All this information can then be used to map your skills/successes.  As much as is practical, tune your stories to include the terms, markets, technologies, etc. that are currently relevant to that company.

Then, check out the person(s).  Research those with whom you’ll be speaking. What are their backgrounds; what do they say in their LinkedIn summary regarding their roles and what they focus on? What school did they go to; do they play golf or run marathons?

This can help you build rapport quickly in an interview before you dive into any heavy dialog.  Maybe you worked at the same company long ago, or your daughter is now attending their alma mater, or you also run marathons, etc. You want to ensure that, as much as possible, you have made a human connection that is focused on their needs and interests before jumping into your content.

Together these techniques can create a dramatically different scenario where you are in a conversation with someone on a mutual topic of interest instead of a one sided monologue.

The resume: an exquisite device with which NOT to get in the door

It is around 10:30 on Saturday morning.  The sun is shining and you have your favorite decaf mocha latte in your hand. You sit down, open your screen, and click on to one of the hundreds of job boards and sites that populate the internet. You locate a posting for a position “that was written for you;” in fact, if you didn’t know better, you would think that it IS you.  You then spend a considerable amount of time providing all of the requested information, including the “required or don’t submit” salary history and salary requirements (thereby “spilling your beans” to a person you have never met or a server program chock full of algorithms designed to screen out candidates).  Nevertheless, you are an optimistic soul. You attach your resume and click “submit.”

You get up, take a break, and see what happens.

Most of the time, nothing happens  – not even a reply saying “we received your resume.”

What’s going on?

Hint:  Many of the most popular boards and sites contain well over 100 MILLION resumes!  That’s 100,000,000 resumes.  What do you think are the chances that just one or more of all those resumes has all of your qualifications and experience, PLUS some other attribute or factor that makes that person seem just slightly more attractive to an employer than you? The chances are, of course, overwhelming.

It is not you, it is the enormous magnitude of your competition.

The good news: resumes ARE very useful in networking settings and interviews, once you have gotten in the door. But it’s getting in the door that is the difficult part. You’ll get there — through dedicated and targeted Networking. But probably not through blindly applying to job posts.

 

Who Are You?

When you are in job search or networking mode, you hear a lot about your “elevator speech” and what you should say in the conventional two minute time frame. This sound byte is the message that tells people who you are professionally, so it is vitally important that you map out what you are going to say.

There are at least three major uses for an “elevator speech:”

  1. You are on the elevator with the CEO and you want let him/her know who you are, and who you are professionally (a weekly occurrence, right!).
  2. You are in a group networking meeting and have a chance to present yourself to the group.
  3. You are in an interview and you get some form of the ancient question: “Tell me about yourself.”

The third situation is probably the most challenging and when you need to be the most focused. Some quick guidance that will help you triumph rather than flop:

First, start your thought process by writing down the five top words you would use to describe yourself professionally. Try to use words that convey actions or skills; avoid “hardworking”, “professional”, “thoughtful”, etc.  These do not really sell you as an executive.

Secondly, don’t speak in terms of your number of years of experience – speak in terms of what you do to help an organization.

Thirdly, the core of the speech should be shorter than two minutes so you can add some situational emphasis based upon the group (when you use it in a networking event) or the company in an interview.

Lastly, write it down to fix it in your mind.