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


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.


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


Are You Mis-Representing Your Brand? Shame on You!

December 5, 2011

Your Brand Has to Stand Up to Scrutiny

“Let none presume to wear an undeserved dignity.” William Shakespeare

Imagine a company trying to claim a false brand- Philip Morris claiming health, BP claiming safety and corporate responsibility, or Facebook claiming privacy. It wouldn’t work, and it would actually hurt their image. I have led team-building meetings where people shared with their co-workers what they thought their personal brand was. Many got nods of agreement, but many got puzzled looks and even expressions of derision: “Yeah, sure- in your dreams.”

For your brand to be of value, it has to be authentic and true. If you want your brand to be that of a caring leader, you must actually care about people and have good leadership skills. If you want your brand to be as a reliable and trustworthy co-worker, you must be dependable and not break confidences. Everyone wants a positive brand, but you can’t have a positive brand simply by declaring it- you have to deserve it. False personal branding is exposed quickly, resulting in an even worse brand.

During interviews, be prepared with stories and examples that support your brand. If you declare yourself a good communicator, have examples of using communication to achieve a success, and be sure you communicate well during the interview. If you brand yourself an expert[md]which you probably are have stories and examples that support your expertise.

Here is an example of a well-supported brand: One of my clients sold large, expensive medical devices, including MRI machines to hospitals. When developing an interview presentation, he chose the personal brand word “competitive” as one of the terms to represent his brand. I asked, “Joe, every salesperson brands himself as competitive. How are you going to prove your competitive brand?” He replied, “Eric, let me tell you how competitive I am. When I sell large medical equipment, I only have a few competitors. So when I go into a sales situation, I study the hospital to which I am selling, and I study the salespeople against whom I am competing. I know their strengths, weaknesses, track records, and employment history. So not only do I sell to the hospital, but I sell against my competition. In at least two situations, my competition did so poorly that they fired their entire sales staff[md]that’s how competitive I am.” I was convinced!

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn about using branding in interviews


Do you Know That Telling Stories Win Interviews?

July 19, 2011

“Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones.Benjamin Disraeli, British prime minister

Tell me a story

Stories persuade and land jobs

Every day, you are faced with a barrage of efforts to persuade you to buy a product or service. The vast majority of these efforts are forgettable and totally unpersuasive. Occasionally, however, one of these communications breaks through the noise, catches your imagination, and speaks to you personally. What is happening? Many times, it’s not the service or the brand that gets through, but how the information is communicated.

In every interview, interviewers listen to candidates answering questions to try to persuade them that they are the best candidate for the job. Most questions in an interview can be, and should be, answered by saying “Let me give you an example. However, the vast majority of these examples are forgettable, mundane, and totally unpersuasive- in short, they’re boring. You can avoid boring if you have a good delivery.

Good delivery consists of three factors:

     *     Sincerity and wholeheartedness. Any success story you tell has to be honest and real. Don’t make up a story to respond to a question. A fabricated story will lack sincerity; your heart won’t be in it, and the interviewer will know!

     *     Enthusiasm. These are stories about you at your best, about achievements you are proud of, so being enthusiastic should be easy. Being enthusiastic doesn’t mean you have to be artificially animated or jump up and down on a couch; just let your pride in your success shine through. However, don’t get too enthusiastic and get carried away[md]remember, no story should take longer than two minutes.

     *     Animation. A great deal of your story is communicated nonverbally, so show some emotion in your gestures, voice, and facial expressions. Smile, move your hands, change the pitch of your voice, and maintain eye contact. A great success story told with a deadpan expression and in a monotone is boring.

Learn to tell good stories and your interviewers will be more engaged and more persuaded that you are the candidate of choice.

InterviewBest

Give a presentation to tell a good story

101 Interview Strategies

This book has the strategies you need to win interviews


Cover the Past, Present, and Future to Win Your Interview

May 23, 2011

Past Present and Future

Our brains have evolved the ability to recall past experiences and learn from them, to come up with strategies for managing things in the present, and to imagine future possibilities and outcomes. This is known as a person’s time perspective and each individual tends to view the world in relation to which time perspective they find most comfortable. Although every individual uses all three time perspectives, individuals differ in the degree to which they use each of the three thinking perspectives to make decisions.

  • Past thinkers want verification, they place a high value on testimonials, a proven track record, credentials, or the research/proof that went into creating something. These thinkers try to get to “beyond a reasonable doubt” level of certainty.
  • Present thinkers are interested in how a product or service can help them solve or manage a problem they’re dealing with now. They analyze probabilities of any given outcome and to manage to them. A present thinker is goal oriented.
  • Future thinkers look at a product or service and imagine the possibilities it opens up, and how it might impact their life moving forward. These individuals are able to imagine an infinite set of future possibilities and engage in creative and innovative speculation. They tend to be less concerned about rules.

In your interview listen for the interviewer’s time perspective. For example, one interviewer will delve deeply into prior positions and your success stories which provide proof you can do the required work- they have a past perspective. Another interviewer may be uninterested in reviewing your work history but is very focused on asking questions and discussing how you would solve certain problems- they have a present perspective. Another interviewer will speak about future plans and want to explore how your skills and experience may contribute to future success- they have a future perspective.

Throughout your interview it is important to address each time perspective- past, present, and future. However, if you detect the interviewer’s dominant time perspective, spend extra time presenting information and use language which supports the perspective. For example, with an interviewer who has a past time perspective you can answer questions with the preface “As I did in my past positions….” With an interviewer with a present time perspective you can use the preface “With my skills and experience I will immediately be able to .…”“ With an interviewer with a future perspective you can use the preface “ I imagine I can use my skills to ….”

iBest Presentation

Use an interview presentation to cover the past, present and future

101 Interview Strategies

This book has the strategies you need to win interviews


Be Like a Laser to Interview Your Best

March 23, 2011

LaserMany people are very proud of all the tasks they perform(ed) at work. When I do job transition workshops, attendees talk about wearing multiple hats, doing  tasks outside their job description, and being of value in many ways to their company.  All this is important and contributes to a persons work-esteem, however in an interview (and in a resume) focus on what is of value to the company that is considering hiring you.

Candidates try to load too many things into an interview and they lose focus. Candidates also tend to get too detailed thinking that the larger the volume of things they talk about the more persuasive they are. Too many details and too many tasks tend to confuse the interviewer and once confused they get turned off.

As I often state, the interview is a sales call. All good sales calls are targeted towards solving the buyers problem. Determine the problem and focus on it like a laser.

What specifically are you being hired to do. Look below the surface. A person being hired to do collections for a company is not just collecting money they are solving the problem of reducing accounts receivable and improving profits. Anything  talked about in the interview should have the ultimate goal of reducing accounts receivable and improving profits. Even a question related to getting along with co-workers or a supervisor should be answered in the context of how does the answer relate to reducing accounts receivable and improving profits.

By focusing on being the solution to a problem, your answers will be more targeted and less rambling. As each question is asked, think to yourself how does this relate to solving the ultimate problem. Then leave out anything that does not contribute to the solution. Also, if you are not asked a question that elicits a task or skill you have that contributes to solveing the problem, be sure to bring that out yourself.

To prepare for your interview first define the problem the job solves and then list all the things you can do that contributes to solving that problem. Bring the list with you to the interview and make sure you cover each thing on the list.

People only buy what they need and only hire you for the things you can do to solve the problem. Focus in on the problem, keep it simple and be persuasive.

InterviewBest.com
Focus your interview with an interview presentation