In Job Interviews Find the Pain and Get the Job

June 20, 2012

Discovering the “Pain”

Many sales training programs instruct salespeople to look for the prospect’s “pain” points. Their contention is that customers are motivated to purchase services only if the service relieves a pain or problem. In many sales situations, the prospect knows the pain and is looking for a solution- for example, “My computer is broken. It can’t be repaired, and I need to purchase a new one.” In other situations, a salesperson has to identify the pain for a prospect and then sell her the solution: “Are you aware that your computer isn’t being backed up offsite to a secure location, and you could lose all your information? You need a backup service.” When you are buying something, consider what pain you are hoping to relieve.

Candidates can do both- sell to the obvious pain and identify additional pain points. The obvious pain is the company’s stated reasons for hiring- replacing a person who has left or staffing a new position. There are typically more subtle issues beneath the obvious reasons for hiring someone. Your task is to discover the subtle issues beneath the obvious ones and include these in your interview.

You already know how to discover the pain points: Ask good questions and listen. When interviewing with the hiring manager, listen for subtle statements related to pain points. For example, suppose you’re interviewing for a call-center supervisor position. In the interview, the hiring manager mentions that she spends so much of her time doing reports that she is not able to implement new money-saving programs that would make her look good. The obvious pain point is supervising the staff, but the subtle pain is all the time-sucking reporting. The first step is to gather more information about the reporting pain by asking, “What kinds of reports are required and how often?” When you have this information, talk about things you have done in your past related to reporting and how your experience with reports can save her time. This could be just the differentiator you need to win the position.

Consider that a hiring manager’s work pain may be related indirectly to personal issues. For example, a hiring manager might do a lot of traveling and thus sacrifice time with his family. If you can take some of the travel burden, he can spend time with his family, and you’ve addressed that pain. Once again, by asking good questions and listening, you can hear pain points that, if addressed, can be the pain reliever you can use to land the job.

The Best Pain of All
The best pain of all is the pain a hiring manager begins to feel when she thinks about working with someone other than you- another candidate who could be less than satisfactory, less efficient, less ethical, less timely, less friendly, less enthusiastic, and less able to solve her pain points. When you have done a great job of interviewing, the hiring manager will begin to experience this pain, and she will work hard to hire you. No one wants to hire number two, and she will negotiate with you to bring you onto her team. You are in your strongest negotiating position at this point in regard to compensation negotiations.

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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


Are You Leaving Hiring Managers in the Dark and Losing Job Opportunities?

January 24, 2012

Turn On The Light

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- 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.

Why Hire Me?

During your interview- typically toward the end- make a clear statement about why the company should hire you. This statement combines your features with the benefits the company will get from those features. The benefits are based 100 percent on the company’s needs as you have identified them during the interview process.

“As we discussed, I have six years of experience selling office equipment in this territory [feature]. This means I have established relationships with customers and I know the competition [feature]. Based on my knowledge and experience, I can establish a productive sales pipeline within three months and meet or exceed my sales goals within six months [benefit].”

“As I mentioned, I have worked on public relations campaigns for major companies, including Fancy Electronics and Electronics Shack [feature]. For both of these companies, I was responsible for a wide range of public relations activities, including print and industry shows [feature]. Based on this experience, I can help your company sell to larger clients and then make sure the public relations activities are delivered with a high level of quality and impact [benefits].”

“As I have described, I am good at acquiring and evaluating information accurately [feature]. I will be effective in quickly evaluating the marketing department and determining immediate measures to improve their performance [benefit].”

“We have discussed that I express ideas clearly both verbally and in writing [feature]. This will enable me to implement a new healthcare plan that will be of benefit to the employees and will save the company money [benefit].”

When you make these statements, the hiring manager will understand why hiring you is a good idea; she won’t have to guess. In addition, being clear about the benefits you will deliver is a further display of your knowledge of the company and the job.

Active Interviewing

Active Interviewing helps communicate why you should be hired


The Shocking Truth About Interviewers

December 15, 2011

Interviewers Are Poorly Trained and They’re Scared

Most hiring managers are poor interviewers. The vast majority of them receive no interview training, and they hire infrequently. Even hiring managers who have received training may not hire for months after interview training, and by then the training is forgotten.

One secret of job interviews is that hiring managers are often as nervous as the candidate- they’re stressed about having to make a critical hiring decision. A bad hiring decision is one of the biggest mistakes a manager can make. Studies have shown that a bad hire can cost a company anywhere from two times a person’s salary at lower employment levels to as much as 40 times a person’s salary at higher levels. The financial ramifications of a bad hire include costs for recruiting, training, lost productivity, bad morale, and the manager’s time spent trying to salvage the employee. At higher levels of employment, contract buyouts in the millions of dollars are not unusual. No wonder why the hiring manager is stressed when interviewing!

Many hiring managers compensate by spreading the decision-making around. They will have candidates go through multiple rounds of interviews with numerous interviewers. That way, if the employee does not work out, at least the hiring manager can say everyone was involved.

The problem with this approach is twofold. First, the other interviewers are typically no better at interviewing than the hiring manager is. Second, this burdens the candidate with numerous interviews conducted by poorly trained interviewers.

According to Development Dimensions International (DDI), candidates commonly complain about the following interviewer behavior:

*     Withholding information about the position

*     Turning the interview into a cross-examination

*     Showing up late

*     Appearing unprepared for the interview

*     Asking questions unrelated to job skills

And a recent survey of interviewers by Monster.co.uk found that:

*     Almost a third (30 percent) say they have forgotten a candidate’s name.

*     More than a quarter (28 percent) confess they have gone to interviews unprepared.

*     Almost one in five (19 percent) admit they have forgotten an interview entirely.

*     Fifty-four percent of employer respondents admit they have taken an instant dislike to a candidate.

Don’t let a bad interviewer torpedo your chances of getting the job! Win your interview by taking leadership and providing the information a bad interviewer should know about you to make a good hiring decision.

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn how to beat bad interviewers and land the job


Can You Answer the Interview Question “Why are you no longer working?”

November 14, 2011

Exit Statement

Make Sure You Have A Solid Exit Statement

Prepare Exit Statements

Interviewers frequently ask, “Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) that employer?” This is a difficult question for many candidates to handle well. If a candidate was let go for cause, answering is an embarrassment. Even in a bad economy, where the reason is a layoff, a candidate may get defensive and tend to ramble with his answer. To effectively answer this question, prepare an exit statement for each employer for whom you worked. The statements should be brief, factual, and not defensive. Some examples include:

     *     Candidates who’ve been laid off

“Due to declining market conditions, Konix underwent a major reorganization. This resulted in the elimination of more   positions from the national sales force, including mine.”

“Due to market conditions, Mileage Automotive has reduced the size of their workforce by 350 positions. I was able to retain my job through two rounds of layoffs; however, my position was eliminated in the third round.”

    *     Candidates who are working and looking for another job

“Although I’m performing very well as a senior business analyst with Capital Tech, I have learned that there are no opportunities there at the level appropriate for me, especially across the disciplines in which I work best. Therefore, I’m exploring senior-level management positions that will leverage my understanding of technology, marketing, communications, and sales.”

     *     Candidates who’ve been fired

“The culture at my last company was not a good fit for me. My style is to bridge differences to find common ground. I believe that’s the most effective way to move forward when two sides disagree. That style was instrumental in the successful resolution of several serious negotiations at Zenox Company, but at Stricker, I found the situation to be quite different. In fact, when I tried to intervene to resolve a problem that had brought our new product group to a standstill, my manager pulled me out of the group and told me he thought the creative differences would result in a better product. This trend continued for the 18 months I was there, so I wasn’t really surprised when I was asked to leave.”

A few rules about exit statements:

     *     Never be negative about the employer. Even if the layoffs were due to terrible planning or you were let go because of a bad boss, do not be negative. Notice that in the first exit examples, layoffs were due to “market conditions,” not bad corporate planning. If you were fired, don’t blame your boss; talk about strategic differences or differences in work philosophies.

     *     Keep it simple. The briefer the better. Only give pertinent information, and do not go into detail. Long explanations make you sound as if you’re being defensive and covering up something. If the interviewer wants more detail, he will ask for it.

     *     Communicate magnitude. If you were part of a large layoff, include numbers. Being one of 15 or one of 2,000 (depending on the company’s size) makes it clear you weren’t singled out.

     *     Mention multiple rounds of layoffs. Often, companies lay off workers in multiple rounds. The common perception is that the first round of layoffs consists of marginal workers the company wanted to get rid of anyway. The subsequent rounds begin to include good employees. If you were in a second or third round of layoffs, mention that in your exit statement.

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn more interview winning strategies


Does the Interviewer Know Why Hiring You is a Good Idea?

October 26, 2011

Hire Me

Why You Should Hire Me

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 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.”

During your interview, typically toward the end, make a clear statement about why the company should hire you. This statement combines your features with the benefits the company will get from those features. The benefits are based 100 percent on the company’s needs as you have identified them during the interview process. Your “why hire me” statement should be a summary based on the content you have already shared during your interview and should be as objective as possible. A “why hire me” statement can include a combination of skills and experience as well as personal success factors.

Buyers should never have to guess why they should purchase a service; the salesperson should tell them why. In your interviews, stating directly and actively why you should be hired will make it obvious to the hiring manager that you are the best choice. At the end of the interview process, when the hiring manager is trying to figure out why a certain candidate is a good one, she won’t be doing the same with you, because you’ve already told her why. By laying out your reasons to be hired, you make her choice easier!

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn more interview winning strategies


Are You A Commodity in the Employment Marketplace?

September 30, 2011

Keep Ahead of the Competition

Competition is Fierce

In a competitive and crowded marketplace, every product and service must differentiate itself. It is not enough to be simply as good as all the rest, because there are too many “all the rests” in the market. In addition, with easy access to cheap (or even free) Internet advertising, there is a great deal of advertising that makes differentiating services and determining buying decisions difficult- just think of all the pop-up ads you see online. In the employment marketplace, this is exemplified by the tens of thousands of job sites and hundreds of resumes submitted over the Internet in response to advertised jobs. To rise above the flood of advertising, successful companies establish powerful branding and distinct value-adds. You can adopt the same strategy to rise above the flood of your competition in the employment marketplace.

A value-add refers to an extra feature of a service that goes beyond the standard expectations and provides a more compelling reason to purchase. A value-add makes the service more desirable and positively influences the buying decision. However, a value-add has no value if it is not in addition to good service. Always having on-time delivery does not make a difference if the pizza tastes terrible.
The worst position for a service is to be a commodity. A service is a commodity when it is equivalent no matter who provides it. A provider of a commodity service is easily exchanged for another provider of the same service who offers a lower price. For example, many dry cleaners provide a commodity service. Customers will change to another dry cleaner if they can find one that costs less. In the employment marketplace, many employees[md]even mid- and senior-level employees[md]are commodities in that they provide a service that can be replaced easily. In bad economies, companies replace more expensive “commodity” employees with cheaper employees. Are you a commodity in the employment marketplace?

If you are a commodity, it will be difficult to differentiate yourself in interviews. However, most of us are not commodities we just have not deteremined out value-adds. To determine your value-adds:

Know Yourself

Take a complete inventory of your skills. Do not limit the inventory to skills applicable to the job for which you are interviewing; do a full inventory. This inventory should include skills connected to your job, interests, hobbies, and leisure activities. When you have a full inventory, you can choose which skills serve as value-adds for the job for which you’re applying.

Know Your Profession

Every profession has a number of areas of concentration and a large skill base. For example, within human resources, you might be applying to be a compensation manager. However, the human resources field has a number of other specialty areas and required skills, such as diversity management, employee retention, job-task analysis, and international employment. You might have experience in international employment, and even though you’re applying to be a compensation manager, having international employment experience could be a differentiating value-add for a multinational company or a company that is expanding internationally.

Once you have determined you value-ads, use an interview presentation to clearly communicate them in your interview. To learn more about value-ads in interviews go to Active Interviewing.

Read Active Interviewing to Learn More About Value-Ads

Read Active Interviewing to Learn More About Value-Ads