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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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


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.


An Expert Interview Secret; Sales Techniques Enhance Your Interviews

February 15, 2012

Active interviewing

Sell Yourself to Win Your Interview

There is an entire industry dedicated to teaching the science of selling. Google “sales training,” and you get literally millions of hits. Selling is a serious and well-researched discipline. Unfortunately, job interviews have not gotten the same level of research and training. Fortunately, many sales skills and techniques are applicable to job interviews.

The typical job candidate reads interview tips, many of which are standard, common suggestions. Using a sales approach opens a large inventory of strategies and techniques that elevate the interview. It gives you added dimensions and skill sets to prepare for your interview, manage the interview, and follow through after your interview.

Applying a Sales Process to an Interview Helps You Understand What Is Going On

The hiring process follows many of the same steps as a sales process. However, many companies have a haphazard hiring process that makes understanding the job-interview process confusing. Even companies with an organized process do not communicate well with their candidates. (It’s interesting how many of these companies include good communication skills in their job descriptions!) In the face of confusion and lack of communication, candidates spend a great deal of time guessing about what’s going on.

Using a sales model can help you understand the process and the stage of the hiring cycle. During the initial interview (typically a phone screening), it is important to ask about the selection process. Questions include:

     *     How many people are involved in the hiring decision?

     *     Who are the decision-makers?

     *     What is the general availability of the individuals involved in the selection process?

     *     Who are the influencers?

     *     How many rounds of interviews are there?

     *     What is the selection timeframe?

     *     How many people are being interviewed?

     *     Are there internal candidates?

     *     How urgent is it to fill the position?

     *     If this is a new position, is there a budget for it?

     *     Does hiring for this position depend on landing new business?

     *     Are there multiple positions being filled, and is there a more senior position that needs to be filled first?

     *     How will communication with candidates be maintained?

     *     How should candidates follow up, with whom, and when?

When you have these answers, you can gauge how far along the selection process is by comparing it to a sales process. Have they selected their final candidate (vendor) list or are they still accepting resumes and phone-screening candidates? Have they scheduled interviews with other candidates (vendors) yet? Have they been through a round of interviews but did not identify a suitable candidate (vendor)? Are there internal candidates (competitors) that may have a competitive advantage? What is the timeframe for making a hiring (purchasing) decision? As a candidate, you may not get answers to all these questions, but asking the questions is important and will position you as a knowledgeable, sophisticated, and motivated candidate.

While in the interview, use the stages of a sales call outlined above to understand the progress of the interview. Is the interview in the warming-up, fact-finding, sales-presentation, or closing stage? By identifying the stage, you can manage transitions or make sure you haven’t missed or shortchanged a stage. For example, if the interviewer is asking you questions about your experience and has not given you enough information about the job, you may want to revisit the fact-finding stage. Also, there may be a good opening in the interview to move to the sales-presentation phase, at which point you can introduce your interview presentation. Identifying and labeling the stage of the interview will help orient you and provide a sense of where to guide the interview next. Even though the interviewer is ostensibly in control, by using the sales stages, you can influence the pace and direction of the interview.

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn how to sell in your interview


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


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


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