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.



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 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

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.


Give a presentation to tell a good story

101 Interview Strategies

This book has the strategies you need to win interviews

Focus on Your Contributions to the Company to Win Your Interview

June 22, 2011


Focus on Them

Focus on the buyer

Nobody cares about services or solutions. That’s the hardest thing for sellers to realize. Buyers only care about the benefits the services or solutions will provide his or her organization. Similarly, buyers don’t care about the gains a salesperson makes from a sale. Would you be more motivated to buy if a salesperson said to you “Buy this car and I will make my quota for the month, I will get a bonus, and I can finally put that addition on my house”, probably not!

If you mention to a hiring manager that the job is a good career move for you, it is a shorter commute, and it is a higher salary with better benefits, they’re not interested. Focus on them, talk about the tangible outcomes they’d get from using your skills and they will be interested. In interviewing, focus on your value to the organization. Avoid talking about how the job will benefit you.

For example, if asked where you want to be in five years rather than talking about the progress of your own career, relate your answer to the organization. “In five years I want to have taken on more responsibility in the organization and have increased the value I bring to the job.” Similarly, if the interviewer asks “Why should I hire you?” focus your answer on the benefits you will bring to the organization in general and the hiring manager specifically.


Use an interview presentation to communicate your value

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.
Focus your interview with an interview presentation