Are You an Expert? Probably, So Say So!

February 23, 2012

active interviewingWhen I’m helping clients with resumes and preparing them for interviews, I often get into a debate about using the word “expert.” Clients are concerned about overstating their skill and experience, coming off as immodest or arrogant, and turning off the hiring manager. But there is a difference between being the expert and being an expert. I contend that anyone with three or more years of experience in a profession is probably an expert.

Dictionary.com defines an expert as “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.” This is differentiated from a novice, who is “new to any science or field of study or activity or social cause and is undergoing training to meet normal requirements of being regarded a mature and equal participant.”

Marie-Line Germain, assistant professor of human resources and leadership at Western Carolina University, developed a measure of perception of employee expertise called the Generalized Expertise Measure (GEM). Ask yourself whether you meet the following criteria for being an expert. Borrowing a line from a well-known comedian, you might be an expert if:

     *     You have knowledge specific to a field of work.

     *     You have the education necessary to be an expert in the field.

     *     You have the qualifications (certifications, licensure) required to be an expert in the field.

     *     You have been trained in the area of expertise.

     *     You are ambitious about your work.

     *     You can assess whether a work-related situation is important.

     *     You are capable of improving yourself.

     *     You can deduce things easily from work-related situations.

     *     You are intuitive in the job.

     *     You have the drive to become what you are capable of becoming in your field.

     *     You are self-assured.

     *     You are self-confident about your profession.

Using these criteria, the term “expert” can be applied to any job. A janitor can be an expert at janitorial services, just as a lawyer can be an expert at criminal law. If you qualify as an expert in your field, include that in your self-image and your brand and communicate your expert status to the world and your interviewer.

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn how to sell in your interview


An Expert Interview Secret; Sales Techniques Enhance Your Interviews

February 15, 2012

Active interviewing

Sell Yourself to Win Your Interview

There is an entire industry dedicated to teaching the science of selling. Google “sales training,” and you get literally millions of hits. Selling is a serious and well-researched discipline. Unfortunately, job interviews have not gotten the same level of research and training. Fortunately, many sales skills and techniques are applicable to job interviews.

The typical job candidate reads interview tips, many of which are standard, common suggestions. Using a sales approach opens a large inventory of strategies and techniques that elevate the interview. It gives you added dimensions and skill sets to prepare for your interview, manage the interview, and follow through after your interview.

Applying a Sales Process to an Interview Helps You Understand What Is Going On

The hiring process follows many of the same steps as a sales process. However, many companies have a haphazard hiring process that makes understanding the job-interview process confusing. Even companies with an organized process do not communicate well with their candidates. (It’s interesting how many of these companies include good communication skills in their job descriptions!) In the face of confusion and lack of communication, candidates spend a great deal of time guessing about what’s going on.

Using a sales model can help you understand the process and the stage of the hiring cycle. During the initial interview (typically a phone screening), it is important to ask about the selection process. Questions include:

     *     How many people are involved in the hiring decision?

     *     Who are the decision-makers?

     *     What is the general availability of the individuals involved in the selection process?

     *     Who are the influencers?

     *     How many rounds of interviews are there?

     *     What is the selection timeframe?

     *     How many people are being interviewed?

     *     Are there internal candidates?

     *     How urgent is it to fill the position?

     *     If this is a new position, is there a budget for it?

     *     Does hiring for this position depend on landing new business?

     *     Are there multiple positions being filled, and is there a more senior position that needs to be filled first?

     *     How will communication with candidates be maintained?

     *     How should candidates follow up, with whom, and when?

When you have these answers, you can gauge how far along the selection process is by comparing it to a sales process. Have they selected their final candidate (vendor) list or are they still accepting resumes and phone-screening candidates? Have they scheduled interviews with other candidates (vendors) yet? Have they been through a round of interviews but did not identify a suitable candidate (vendor)? Are there internal candidates (competitors) that may have a competitive advantage? What is the timeframe for making a hiring (purchasing) decision? As a candidate, you may not get answers to all these questions, but asking the questions is important and will position you as a knowledgeable, sophisticated, and motivated candidate.

While in the interview, use the stages of a sales call outlined above to understand the progress of the interview. Is the interview in the warming-up, fact-finding, sales-presentation, or closing stage? By identifying the stage, you can manage transitions or make sure you haven’t missed or shortchanged a stage. For example, if the interviewer is asking you questions about your experience and has not given you enough information about the job, you may want to revisit the fact-finding stage. Also, there may be a good opening in the interview to move to the sales-presentation phase, at which point you can introduce your interview presentation. Identifying and labeling the stage of the interview will help orient you and provide a sense of where to guide the interview next. Even though the interviewer is ostensibly in control, by using the sales stages, you can influence the pace and direction of the interview.

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn how to sell in your interview


Are You Using a Success Story to Win Your Interview?

February 6, 2012

Our Stories Define Who We Are

Our stories define who we are. Our sense of identity is forged by the stories we tell ourselves and share with others. The success stories of our careers tell about the defining moments when we were at our best, using our strengths, and contributing in meaningful ways. Our stories build and communicate our brand.

Most of us have multiple examples of career successes. The key is to understand that a career or job success is not defined by its size or financial value, but rather by how we feel about it and its contribution to the organization. One person’s success story might be about turning around a corporation, saving millions of dollars, and getting his profile in Forbes magazine. Another person’s success story might be about helping a troubled student feel more confident in school and having him progress to the next grade. Interestingly, both these success stories probably depend on many of the same personal success factors, including creativity, persistence, courage, hope, persuasion, and leadership.

When my clients write success stories, they come alive. They remember the times they felt productive and were fulfilling their purpose in their careers. They become energized and get in touch with the skills and strengths they enjoy using in their jobs. Some realize that they are doing what they love, while others are reminded of things they need to return to. Regardless, the stories are important statements of the contributions they have made in the past and indications of contributions they can make in the future[md]if they have done it once, they can do it again.

When telling your success stories, you have energy, enthusiasm, and confidence, and you feel a sense of pride. You are persuasive, engaging, and interesting- all the qualities you want to bring to your interviews! Telling success stories in your interviews will help you differentiate yourself, will impress the interviewer, and will make you memorable.

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn how to develop interview stories