Saving an Interview and Landing a Job

January 23, 2013

With an Interview Presentation This Could Happen to You!

Joe, a senior salesperson for a digital machine company, was contacted by an executive recruiter about a position at another digital machine company. Joe was interested in the position and asked the recruiter to set up an appointment with Ron, the hiring manager. As is often the case with busy executives, finding a time to meet was difficult, and the meeting was rescheduled multiple times over several weeks. While Joe and Ron were finding a time to meet, Ron’s company identified an internal candidate and offered her the position.

Because Joe was a senior executive and Ron did not want to cancel again, Ron decided to meet with Joe even though the job had already been offered to an internal candidate who Ron believed would probably accept the job. The meeting was on a hot July day in the late afternoon in a hotel in Center City Philadelphia. Due to traffic and parking, both men arrived a little late, sweaty, and harried. Wanting to limit the interview time, upon sitting down Ron told Joe that he had a dinner with a client scheduled and that he had about 45 minutes to meet. Joe had prepared an interview presentation, and he said, “I’ve prepared a presentation about how my background and skills match the critical requirements of the job and why I’m a good candidate for the position. Because our time is short, maybe we can just go through presentation together.”

iBest Interview Presentation

Use a presentation to win your interview.

Ron was relieved to have Joe take the lead and not have to run a “lame duck” interview. Joe took Ron through the presentation page by page. Because he knew the industry, in the questions section Joe included a question about a challenge with which every digital machine company was struggling. Ron said, “We’re trying to come up with strategies for this problem- let me tell you some of our thinking.” Ron went and got a napkin and began to draw diagrams.

Forty-five minutes later, Joe and Ron were still discussing potential strategies to solve the problem. Did Joe get the job? No, he didn’t, because the internal candidate got it. However, Ron went back to his boss, showed him the interview presentation, and convinced him to create a position for Joe, which Joe took. Without the presentation, Joe and Ron would have met for 45 minutes, and Joe would’ve been forgotten as soon as Ron’s dinner started. The presentation gave Joe a way to structure the interview and present information he wanted Ron to know in a brief amount of time, and it gave Ron a printed document to show his boss. The presentation was an interview- and life-changer for Joe.

 

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Why is Hiring You A Good Idea- Does the Interviewer Know?

December 3, 2012

Good Idea

Hire You- Good Idea!

Why Hiring You Is a Good Idea

Good salespeople lead a buyer through a sales process toward a purchase. They begin by understanding the buyer’s needs and linking the features of their service to those needs. They then talk about value-adds, tell success stories about purchasers who’ve used their service, provide an implementation plan, and finally summarize why they are the best choice based on the benefits their service provides. Good salespeople understand that prospects won’t understand why they should buy a service simply because they’ve been told about it. Buyers need to be informed very directly, in simple language, of why the salesperson’s service is the best purchasing decision.

The critical element in a purchasing decision is the benefits. No buyer purchases a service without clearly seeing the benefits she will get from the service. But most job candidates focus on the skills and experience they bring to the job and don’t clearly state the benefits the company will derive from hiring them. They never clearly communicate, “This is why hiring me is a good idea.”

Don’t Let Hiring Managers Guess about Hiring You

The traditional interview consists of a question-and-answer format resulting in the hiring manager putting together the information she has heard and making a decision (guess) about which candidate to hire. But why let the hiring manager come to her own conclusion? Following your interview(s), the hiring manager should have a clear picture of why hiring you is a good idea[md]because you have told her exactly why!

Part of your interview preparation is developing a list of the benefits the company will get from hiring you. These benefits are even more powerful if they differentiate you from the competition. Going into an interview with this list of benefits will help you be focused and more confident. However, this list is of value only if you share it with the hiring manager.


Interviewing- What’s Your Implementation Plan?

October 22, 2012

Implement Your Skills and Experience

Implement Your Skills and Experience

As part of a sales presentation, a salesperson tells the customer how the product or service will be implemented: “Once you sign the contract, the first thing we’ll do is x, and this should be completed in y days.” This helps the customer understand and visualize how the service will begin to provide value. A good implementation plan includes a number of steps or goals and a timeline.

You’re selling your services- do you present an implementation plan? Almost all candidates ignore how they will begin their employment, assuming that implementation is up to the employer. But by presenting an implementation plan, you communicate to the interviewer a motivation for the position, knowledge of the position requirements, and a message that you will add value to the organization quickly- all strong “hire me” messages.

A strategic action plan consists up to seven goals that you want to accomplish in the first 30 and 60 days in the position. I suggest this time frame because it is long enough to develop specific goals but not so long that you will be suggesting goals that require a far better understanding of the position. Some candidates prefer to develop 90-day goals, and some of my clients have been asked in interviews about their goals for the first 100 days. The more senior the position, the more sense it makes to develop longer-range goals.

Be S.M.A.R.T. with Your Goals

Coined by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is a well-defined goal. You probably won’t have all the information you need to develop comprehensive S.M.A.R.T goals for your interview, but you should try to come as close as possible. Also, questions interviewers ask are typically related to S.M.A.R.T issues, so you will be prepared to answer the questions.

Specific

You’re more likely to accomplish a specific goal than a general one. To set a specific goal, answer the six “W” questions:

*     Who. Who is involved?

*     What. What do I want to accomplish?

*     Where. Where is the location?

*     When. What is the timeframe?

*     Which. Which requirements and constraints do I need to consider?

*     Why. What are the specific reasons, purposes, or benefits of accomplishing the goal?

For example, a general goal would be getting to know the customers. A specific goal would say, “Within the first 60 days, schedule a customer meeting at our headquarters location with the top 10 revenue-producing customers.”

Measurable

Establish criteria for measuring progress toward attaining each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the achievement that motivates you to continue the effort required to reach your goal.

To determine whether your goal is measurable, ask questions such as how much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? For example, meeting with the top 10 revenue-producing customers in 60 days is a measurable goal. Becoming 100 percent proficient on company-specific information systems in 30 days is a measurable goal.

Attainable

Attainable goals are achievable, acceptable, and action-oriented. As a strategy for your strategic action plan, focus on smaller attainable goals rather than larger, more audacious goals. For example, restructuring the department’s workflow is probably too large, but identifying and fixing one workflow bottleneck is not.

Also, be sure to make your goals active rather than passive. For example, reach out to customers as opposed to waiting for sales numbers to be reported.

Realistic

A realistic goal is one you are willing and able to work toward. The goal is probably realistic if you truly believe you can accomplish it. Also, you know your goal is realistic if you have accomplished something similar in the past; ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal. For example, if you have been able to implement a new training program or you participated in a training program that had a positive impact in a prior position, implementing that program in a new position may be a realistic goal.

Timely

A goal should be grounded within a timeframe to give it urgency and “trackability.” When you have a timeframe, it focuses the goal and makes progress measurable. As suggested earlier in this article, the recommended timeframes for strategic action goals are 30 days and 60 days. These timeframes will make your goals timely. For example, “In the first 30 days, I will meet with all the department heads that this position supports and identify their most critical needs.”

To see a list of 30/60 day goals broken down by professions go to www.interviewbest and develop an  iBest interview presentation


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.


13 Good Reasons Why You Need a Printed Interview Presentation

May 7, 2012

active interviewing

“Men trust their ears less than their eyes.”
Herodotus, Greek historian

A printed presentation works terrifically well in an interview in many ways, including the following:
* A well-crafted printed presentation communicates that you are well prepared and highly motivated for the interview.
* It clearly differentiates you from other candidates.
* It shows your ability to assemble and communicate pertinent information in a clear and succinct manner.
* It demonstrates important job-related behaviors[md]presenting information and then responding to questions.
* It contains the information the hiring manager needs to know to make an informed hiring decision.
* The visual nature of the presentation increases the hiring manger’s retention and your persuasiveness.
* A presentation reduces the hiring manager’s FUD level and makes it easier for her to hire you.
* It serves as a powerful leave-behind that the interviewer can refer to as she begins to compare candidates.

In addition, according to David Peoples, author of Presentations Plus (Wiley, 1992), using visual aids results in:
* The audience being 43 percent more likely to be persuaded.
* The presenter covering the same material in 25 to 40 percent less time.
* The listener’s learning improving up to 200 percent.
* Retention improving by 38 percent.
* The presenter being perceived as more professional, persuasive, credible, and interesting and better prepared.

Why should your presentation be in printed form and not electronic form? Using a laptop or projecting a presentation interferes with eye contact and rapport during an interview. Each bullet point in your presentation should be very brief- no more than 170 characters- and quickly read. The goal is to introduce a topic, speak to it, initiate a conversation, and not have the interviewer distracted by reading the information. Also, even in today’s electronic age, there is still something about having a printed and bound document that communicates credibility and professionalism.


Did You Know That Actively Selling Yourself Wins Interviews?

April 16, 2012

Companies acquire talent the same way as they acquire any other service, and job seekers benefit by taking an active sales-oriented approach and using sales techniques in their job search. Using a sales approach will empower you to be more assertive, directed, and organized in your search. The more you use these skills, the more interviews you will be invited to. And the more interviews you have, the more interview practice you will get[md]and the more skilled you will become.

The benefits of using a sales approach include the following

*     You will have a well-defined service you are selling to the job marketplace and a strong set of marketing and sales documents.

*     You will be more focused on establishing a good sales process and less focused on the outcome of landing a job. Focusing on the process rather than the outcome will improve your chances of landing a job.

*     Companies know how to purchase services, and if you use a sales approach, it will be easier for them to purchase your services.

*     Many candidates have a hard time “bragging” about themselves in an interview. Selling is not bragging, and it will empower you to present your most commanding reasons for why you should be selected for the position.

*     You will have a better answer to questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses.

You have all the selling skills you need to do well in interviews, you just need to learn how to apply the skills!


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.