Are You Prepared to Answer These Critical Questions in Your Job Interview?

March 26, 2012

www.ActiveInterviewing.comWhen customers purchase services (including yours), they typically ask six basic questions. These are the questions you will be answering as well in your interviews. The actual questions asked may differ in format or content; however, the underlying information remains the same.

*     Who is [company]? Customers are asking about industries or markets served, geographic presence, a layman’s expression of the value created, time in business, and the size of the company.

*     What do you do for customers? Customers are asking about the value the company delivers and the top two or three ways customers benefit from it.

*     Who are your top customers, and what do you do for them specifically? Customers are asking for more specific proof or evidence that substantiates the company’s claims of the value they deliver

*     How are you different from other companies who do similar things? The customer wants to learn the differences between the products or services the company provides and those offered by competitors. It is an attempt to clarify why selecting the company is the best choice.

*     Others have made convincing promises about these things and then not delivered. How can we be sure that you will do what you say? Customers have experience purchasing services that did not deliver the value promised, and they are concerned about being subjected to or persuaded by a clever sales pitch. They have been burned, and they are wary.

*     How can we be sure that we would get the best value if we selected you? Customers have multiple companies from which to choose. Asking this question forces a company to make comparisons with competitors and helps clarify the selection decision.

As you prepare for your interview, develop answers to these six customer questions. Then, in your interview, listen for these questions and use your prepared answers. In addition, develop examples and stories to support your answers. In Chapter 10 of the book Active Interviewing: Branding, Selling and Presenting Yourself to Win Your Next Interview,  you will learn learn how to develop powerful stories to support your claims of value.


Writing a Follow-Through Letter After an Interview is not an Option!

March 15, 2012

Send a follow-through letter

Send the letter

Don’t believe what you read about not following through after an interview- it is written by lazy people. Writing a follow-through letter after an interview is critical! If written well, the least it will do is have no impact and the best it can do is tip you into the #1 position for the job.  The following is a an example of a high impact follow up letter

I hope you enjoyed the Yankees game with your family. Kyle Drabek was the main piece in the Phillies’ trade package for Roy Halladay, so I do not mind seeing him get rocked every once in a while, even if it results in a Yankee’s W.

Thank you for speaking with me on Friday about the Manager Partnership Strategy and Service position. I enjoyed our conversation and am looking forward to the possibility of joining the team during this exciting restructuring. I am a big believer in your vision to transform the Partnerships Group into an internal agency and would love to be a part of the implementation.
I believe that my past experience shows that I encompass the core values you seek in candidates for this position:
Committed to improve every day: Selected to participate in a 10-week worldgroup training program for high potential junior-level talent
Exude passion: Identified sports sponsorship as the area of interest for my career and secured positions with key players in the niche field (i.e. Sports1, Allectan)
Integrity (do things the right way, even if it’s the hard way): Implemented sponsorship asset tracking process for various American Card Business Units
Outwork everyone: Lured recruits from other university fraternities to recruit largest new member class in my fraternity’s history
Intensity, effort, productivity: Promoted from Assistant Account Executive to Account Executive after one year at Allectan (this jump typically takes two years)
I will stay in touch with HR regarding the hiring process. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any further questions about my background and experience.

And the interviewer’s response

“Stephen…thanks for the note.  Very much enjoyed meeting you too.  Also impressed by this follow up note…you either have a great memory or took great notes.  Good stuff.  Will circle with Kate to see what is happening with the decision-making on this slot.  Hope to see you again soon.

A job offer followed shortly!

Interviewing? Know What Your Selling!

March 5, 2012

active interviewingWhat Are You Selling?

Most job seekers can easily classify their professional identity and what their services generally include- for example, they may be an IT project manager, a banquet chef, a state representative legislative aide, a stockbroker selling energy stocks, a brand manager for consumer packaged goods, or an accountant. However, most job seekers do not sufficiently define the full range of services they provide, including intangibles that make them successful at the job. In addition to high-quality services, in a competitive marketplace intangible success factors differentiate you from your competition.

Services, Features, and Benefits

In defining your services, think like a business. What is the full range of features and benefits you offer? One business might differentiate itself by promising outstanding customer service, or it might offer a highly specialized component of the service that other companies do not have. One business might offer the base service but have ancillary services that add value and tip the buying decision in its favor. For example, a veterinarian might provide excellent pet care but may also have a mobile van for house calls.

What is the full range of base and add-on services you provide? For example, one of my clients was applying for a position as a manufacturing-plant manager. The position to which he was applying did not include reading blueprints or managing construction in the job description; however, during his interview he spoke about how he learned to read blueprints and manage construction contractors after having been involved in building a plant. The interviewer told him, “That’s great! We’re not currently building, but we anticipate that within 18 months, we will be expanding our current plant or building a new plant.” My client was hired

As another example, a client was applying for a staff accounting position. During his interview, he spoke about having been involved in evaluating, selecting, and implementing an accounting system. The posted job requirements did not include selection and implementation of accounting systems; however, coincidently, the company was beginning to consider purchasing an accounting system. My client was hired.