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


Here’s the Secret to Beating Your Competition and Winning your Next Job

May 11, 2011

People waiting for job interview

It's a long line

With our economy it is difficult to just get a job interview and with so many applicants interviewing for the same spots, it is important to find a way to edge out the competition and win the job.

Luckily, there is a new and inexpensive resource for job seekers to use when preparing and presenting themselves at their next interview; the iBest Presentation.

Job InterviewThe iBest Presentation, featured on, is an interview tool that assists job candidates to communicate their job specific qualifications and personal attributes during the job interview. Not only does it quickly and clearly show the interviewer how they fit each requirement, but also leaves a powerful impression of professionalism and enthusiasm for the job.

“It’s really designed to create a conversation,” said Eric Kramer career expert and creator of InterviewBest and the iBest Presentation. “The best interview you can have is a conversation rather than the typical interrogation.”

An interview is a sales call Kramer said that the design of the presentation is based on his belief that every interview is, essentially, a sales call. Therefore, Kramer said candidates should enter each interview with a sales style presentation that clearly answers the three main questions of all job interviews—can the candidate do the job well, are they motivated, and will they fit the company’s work environment.

The iBest Presentataion

The iBest Presentation

The iBest Presentation is a brief eight to ten pages in length, beginning with the requirements of the position and the candidate’s qualifications that directly match those requirements. The interviewer can read through the booklet to find the candidate’s personal strengths, career accomplishments, and a 30 and 60 day strategic action plan detailing the candidate’s initial goals. It finishes with a list of reasons the candidate should be hired and questions the candidate has for the interviewer.

Preparing for a job interview

How do I prepare?

When candidates walk into an interview, Kramer said only about 25 percent are fully prepared. He said that many do not do the necessary company research or prepare for difficult questioning. By creating the iBest presentation, Kramer said applicants walk in with a clearer assessment of the job, the company, and how they specifically fulfill the requirements of the position.

Janice Bilotti, who successfully used the iBest Presentation while interviewing for a Customer Service Supervisor position at Jones Apparel Group, said that the presentation enabled her to be prepared for the interview in addition to keeping her thoughts organized during the interview.

“iBest helps to make sure you cover the most important things that you want to discuss,”
she said, “because now it’s right there in writing and it organizes you during the interview as well as beforehand.”

Job InterviewBilotti introduced her presentation in the interview when the interviewer asked her to describe herself. Pulling out iBest, Bilotti said that she and the interviewer read through it, touching on the important points she felt the company needed to know about her qualifications.

“It keeps you focused,” she said. “It makes you talk about what you want to focus on when you’re having your interview with the company.”

Bilotti said that her presentation impressed both of the individuals who interviewed her, adding that she didn’t think they had seen anything like it before.

Winning a job interview

It's a win and a job

Bilotti got a call later that same day with a job offer.

In addition to the iBest Presentation, has information for anyone involved in the interview process including candidates and hiring managers. Information includes links and tips for things to do before, during, and after the interview. The site also includes information about how to conduct an interview and ways to improve the selection process.

To create an iBest Presentation, job-seekers can go to and find an easy-to-use program that automatically generates a presentation as they add text. Included are expert libraries with phrases or words suggested for use in presentations. These libraries make developing an iBest quick and efficient. Once the presentation is made, users can either print it at home or take it to a local office supply store for professional binding.

Bilotti said that she would use the iBest Presentation in any future interview due to the positive impact it had on her last one.

“…It sets you apart,” she said. “Very few people would even go to that point of having a presentation much less having one of this quality.”

iBest Presentation

Go to InterviewBest for a Free Trial of iBest


101 Successful Interview Strategies

Buy the book that will help you win your interview

Read this Rant to Interview Your Best

March 7, 2009

The interview process is broken  and its is time to fix it. From my point of view here are some things about the interview that needs repair:

traffic_cop_7The interviewer has to be control
There is this belief that the interviewer is in “control” of the interview and any attempt by the candidate to assert themselves is usurping the interviewer’s power. When did this get established and what’s the point? This belief causes lots of problems including:

  • A bad interviewer (unfortunately not rare) results in a bad interview and the candidate is powerless to improve the situation.
  • The candidate feels powerless and “one down” and their anxiety is increased
  • The interviewer feels compelled to completely manage the interview, gets nervous, and ends up talking mainly about themselves.

Here  is the way it should be-The candidate should be prepared to sell themselves in the interview and share in the responsibility for communicating the critical information. Candidates should be told to come to the interview prepared to actively present themselves as the best fit for the position. Then the candidate should be given time to “sell” themselves.

How is interview behavior indicative of on the job behavior?
How often and on how many jobs does a person walk into an office and have to answer a series of question with little if any prior knowledge of the questions or the exact situation? Thinking on ones feet is an important skill but doing it with little situational knowledge is rare. And for many positions it never happens. Why do it in an interview? Why not give candidates more information so they can be prepared to interview their best. “Our most pressing issue is XYZ, please come prepared to talk about how you have worked on similar issues in the past.”

diggingThe candidate is asked to do actual work
Some companies actually have the chutzpah to ask candidates to produce valuable pieces of work. “Please put together a marketing plan for the next fiscal year”. The unstated message is “don’t do it and don’t get hired”. Done by  a senior executive this piece of work may be worth thousands of dollars. This is different than asking a candidate to display their thinking about a work related task. If a company wants a marketing plan they should pay for it not take advantage of a job candidate.

cross-examinationCross examination
One of candidate’s greatest complaints is that the interview is like a cross examination; question answer- question answer- question answer- verdict. Two adults trying to decide an important issue should be in a conversation. In an interview conversation there is an exchange of information between two adults that are working together to decide if the job is a good fit for both the company and the candidate. In any good conversation there is a give and take of information as well as the opportunity to talk about what is going on here and now. “So how do you feel about how the interview is going?”

Lack of Trust
A job interview is basically a sales call. Like every sales situation there is an element of suspicion about the sales person, how good is their product/service and what does it cost. Beginning from this underlying belief, the interview becomes subtly adversarial with the interviewer trying to figure out if the candidate is really who they portray themselves to be. The interviewer then uses a series of questions (tell me about your greatest weaknesses) to find any inconsistencies or misrepresentations.

This is a hard one to overcome. The candidate is portraying themselves in the best possible light and trying to avoid any weaknesses or problems. They want to make the sale. However, a candidate should keep in mind selling themselves into a bad situation is worse than no sale at all. After a stressful period of time they will fail,  be back where they started with a short term job on their resume and  looking for their next job.

Untrained interviewers
Since when did interviewing become an innate skill? Many managers think interviewing is a simple “gut/instinct” process and they are good at it. Typically they are deceiving themselves. Interviewers should get training or at least let the candidate be more active and assertive in the interview to balance out their limited interview skill.

Lousy job descriptions
Candidates cannot match their background, skills, and experience to unknown job requirements. Poorly developed job requirements are like saying “I want to buy something to help us with customer service but I have no idea of what I want, I will just know it when I see it”. Hiring managers should take the time to figure out and then specify what skills, experience and personality type they are looking for and then let candidates know.

So those are my thoughts- let me know if you agree or even if you have more to add to the rant!

InterviewBest improves the interview

InterviewBest improves the interview

How to Establish Rapport and Interview Your Best

January 31, 2009

Build rapport

Build rapport

The first challenge of any job interview is establishing rapport with the interviewer. Rapport can be described as the feeling you experience when you are with someone you intuitively like. People only hire people they like; rapport is critical.

How do you establish rapport in a job interview?

Here are some of the common things-
Be on time
The first tactic may seem obvious but it is critical…be on time. If you are late to the interview you have destroyed the foundation for rapport. Be there 15 minutes before the appointment.

Eye contact
Look the interviewer in the eye. Eye contact establishes a connection and a trust. I am not suggesting a stalking type stare but do look the person in the eye for 2-8 seconds and then look away and then back again.

Be sure to smile. Smiles are contagious and will set a tone of friendliness and connection.

Be yourself
Be yourself be relaxed. This may be a challenge in an interview situation but keep in mind an interview is two human beings meeting one another. Treat the interview as an opportunity to meet someone and get to know them. This shifts the context and helps to develop rapport. Also, being authentically yourself communicates honesty.

These are a bit more advanced
Be observant
Look at the interviewer and and the surroundings, really observe them. What do you learn about them from what you observe. By paying attention to the interviewer you tune into their world and become more open and sensitive to them as a person. This will be communicated in your attitude and verbal/non-verbal communication.

Be tribal
Human beings are basically tribal. We tend to like and trust members of our own tribes. Fortunately human tribes are very broad and include almost any connection. Search for a commonality that will put you in their tribe. The commonality can be geographic, interests, sports, hobbies, schools, prior jobs, etc. etc. Almost anything will do to establish a tribal connection. However caution; avoid discussing anything that will put you in another tribe so politics and religion are areas to avoid.

Ask questions, listen, and communicate understanding
When you ask questions really listen and understand. It is helpful to echo the answer just to be sure you understand and to let the interviewer know you are tuned in. “Am I correct that you are saying that the company is very family friendly but at the same time focuses on performance?” Being heard and understood is very appealing to human beings and fosters rapport. Listen particularly carefully for the interviewer’s goals and concerns, position, expectations and needs.

Be relaxed be confidant
Recent research shows that emotions are contagious. Come into an interview nervous with low confidence and the interviewer will sense it. Anxiety (fear) and low confidence inhibits rapport. The one best way to increase confidence and reduce anxiety is to be well prepared.

Be curious
This is the most critical element in establishing rapport. Be genuinely curious about the interviewer as a person. I am not suggesting you ask about personal issues; an interview should be professionally focused. Find out how the interviewer came to their position, what they like about their job and the company, their challenges on the job, their professional goals, their management style. It is important to be genuinely curious. If you ask questions as an “interview technique” you will not come across as genuine and you will be perceived as less honest.

Establishing rapport is essential to being selected for a position. As mentioned above, the most important part of establishing rapport is being open, curious, and genuinely interested in establishing a relationship with the interviewer.

Using an interview presentation will help you be confidant and establish rapport

Using an interview presentation will help you be confidant and establish rapport