Be Prepared to Answer These Critical Questions

September 20, 2012

When customers purchase services, 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, “Tell Stories That Engage and Persuade,” you will learn how to develop powerful stories to support your claims of value.


A Good Interview Requires a Good Job Description

September 5, 2012

The decision to purchase any item or service depends upon a set of requirements that must be met before the item or service is acquired. Think about your purchasing decisions- each one has a set of requirements that determines the item you select. Some requirements are set in stone; if the item does not meet the requirement, there will not be a purchase. Other requirements are things that are nice to have; if the item does not have them, you might still purchase the item. In other words, some requirements are critical while others are preferred or optional.

A job description is essentially a set of purchasing requirements, both critical and optional. Unfortunately, most job descriptions are poorly written and don’t provide the information a candidate needs to gain a deep understanding of the job, nor do they have enough detailed information to help a hiring team communicate the specific role that a new hire will fill. Providing a poorly developed job description to a candidate is like saying to a computer salesperson, “We want to buy a computer that does the work we need it to do. Got one?”

A Good Job Description

Once you know the elements of a good job description, you will know a good one when you read one. You will also recognize a bad job description when you read one. A good job description is based on a job analysis, which includes examining the tasks and sequences of tasks necessary to perform the job and states the nature of work, tasks to be done, skills expected, responsibilities and duties to be fulfilled, educational eligibility, qualifications needed, and other specifications related to the job. A good job description has the elements discussed in the following sections.

Job Description

*     The job title

*     The nature of the job

*     Job type: full-time or part-time

*     Location of the office

*     Salary and benefits

*     Physical demands

Education and Specifications

This covers qualifications and prior experience in the particular field that the applicant must have to be successful in the job, which may include:

*     Education level

*     Diploma and vocational training

*     Experience in prior jobs

*     Number of years of experience

Duties and Responsibilities

This covers major areas of responsibility and roles the candidate will play, including what the person in the position actually does, the primary goals and objectives of the position, and its overall contribution to the organization.

*     Managerial requirements

*     Supervisory level

*     Any corporate or individual objectives

*     Working conditions

*     Goals to be met

Skills and Knowledge

These are attributes the employer is looking for in a candidate to be successful in this job, including knowledge, skill, and abilities required to perform the job. These may include:

*     Communication skills

*     Networking skills

*     Analytical ability

*     Teamwork skills

*     The ability to deal with stress

*     Flexibility

*     Persistence

Look for these elements in a well-written and comprehensive job description. If the job description lacks these elements or is not sufficiently detailed, it becomes your task to find the job description details you need to sell yourself into the job.