Job Interview- Who do You Think is in Control?

January 3, 2013

  1. Active Interviewing

    Who is leading this process?

Here is an interesting and pertinent question: Who is in control of a sales call? One might argue that the purchaser decides the time, place, format, participants in the sales call, and service requirements, and they make the final decision; thus, the purchaser is in control. This is all true; however, a skilled salesperson actively manages the sales process, influencing and guiding the sales decision. When you walk into a car dealership or an appliance store, the salesperson takes you through a sales process, hopefully leading up to a sale. You are in control of the purchase decision, and they are in control of the sales process. If they are good, then even if you spend more money than you intended, you end up feeling positive about the experience and your decision.

So who is in control of the interview? Over the years, I have spoken with thousands of job seekers about their interview experiences. The most common complaint is that the interviewer spent the entire time speaking about himself or the company and didn’t get to know the candidate. I often ask the job seeker, “Why did you let the interviewer get away with that?” Their typical response is, “What could I do? They control the interview.” Well, what would a good salesperson do? A salesperson would take charge, guide the interview, and introduce the information she thinks the interviewer needs to know about her.

A very common misconception about interviews is that the interviewer likes being in control, and any effort to take control will doom any hiring chances. My clients’ experience has been exactly the opposite: Hiring managers love to share control and be “sold” by candidates. Remember, typically you will have an unskilled interviewer stressed by making a critical hiring decision. When a candidate essentially says, “Sit back; let me take the lead and present the information you need to know to make a good decision,” most interviewers are thrilled and relieved. Only once in hundreds of interviews has an interviewer not wanted to see and hear a candidate’s interview presentation. That one time was a human resources representative doing a screening interview; the hiring manager loved the presentation.

This brings us to a related question: Who is to blame for a bad interview? The answer typically depends on whom you ask. The interviewer will blame the candidate for lack of preparation, lack of company knowledge, poor answers to questions, lack of good questions to ask, improper interview behavior, and so on. The candidate will blame the interviewer for lack of preparation, withholding information about the position, turning the interview into a cross-examination, showing up late, and/or asking questions unrelated to job skills. My answer is, the blame for a bad interview is shared, although the problem of a bad interview is unfortunately yours. Good candidates are prepared with a number of interview strategies that will save the interview and win the job.

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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.


Here’s How to Interview Better- Hey Are You Listening?

May 23, 2012

A number of listening pitfalls will trip you up in your job interview. Don’t fall in these listening pitfalls:

  • Being so intent on what you have to say that you listen mainly to find an opening to make your point. You may be thinking that you have a very important point you want the interviewer to know, and if you don’t say it now, the opportunity will be lost. In reality, you won’t lose the opportunity, and this pitfall often results in an interruption[md]never a good thing during an interview.,
  •  Formulating and focusing on your answers quickly, based on what the speaker is saying. Candidates often are so concerned about giving the “right” answer that they get nervous and stop listening. They also have the misconception that they have to answer a question immediately after it is asked. It is perfectly acceptable to say, “Let me think about that,” and then take 30 to 40 seconds to formulate an answer. A thoughtful, considered answer is better than a quick, confused, or off-target response.
  • Focusing on your own personal beliefs about what you’re hearing. Your personal beliefs form a filter that may distort the interviewer’s meaning. It is important to be aware of how your beliefs distort what you hear and adjust for the distortion. You can do this by becoming consciously aware of your beliefs. For example, the interviewer might be talking about the importance of offshoring certain functions in their department. Perhaps you are opposed to sending jobs overseas. Your opposition may impact how you listen to the interviewer’s message. However, if you say to yourself, “This is an area of disagreement for me. I need to stay in active listening,” you will be able to focus on the message and not your internal resistance and judgment.
  • Evaluating and making judgments about the speaker or the message. While the interviewer is busy making subjective judgment about you, you are busy making subjective judgments about her. Judgments can distort how you hear things- both positively and negatively. If you have a positive impression of the interviewer, you might tend to believe what she is saying and not ask clarifying questions. If you judge the interviewer negatively, you might prematurely dismiss what she is saying and not listen fully. Be aware of your judgments, which can be as simple as whether you like or dislike the person, so that you don’t lose the message.
  • Not asking for clarification when you know you don’t understand. Many candidates think that asking for clarification is a signal to the interviewer that they don’t understand and that, as a result, they will appear stupid. A candidate of mine walked out of an interview sweating because the interviewer used an acronym he did not know, and he didn’t ask what it meant. Throughout the interview, the candidate was hoping he wouldn’t be caught; as a result, he was a nervous wreck and performed poorly. It turned out that the acronym was an obscure, little-known term that he couldn’t have known anyway. The interviewer was either impressed the candidate knew or guessed that he was covering up- probably the latter, since there was no job offer.
As it is in all sales situations, listening is the most important activity in a job interview. The more time you spend listening and understanding the job, the better you can match your background, skills and experience to the critical job requirements.

Did You Know That Actively Selling Yourself Wins Interviews?

April 16, 2012

Companies acquire talent the same way as they acquire any other service, and job seekers benefit by taking an active sales-oriented approach and using sales techniques in their job search. Using a sales approach will empower you to be more assertive, directed, and organized in your search. The more you use these skills, the more interviews you will be invited to. And the more interviews you have, the more interview practice you will get[md]and the more skilled you will become.

The benefits of using a sales approach include the following

*     You will have a well-defined service you are selling to the job marketplace and a strong set of marketing and sales documents.

*     You will be more focused on establishing a good sales process and less focused on the outcome of landing a job. Focusing on the process rather than the outcome will improve your chances of landing a job.

*     Companies know how to purchase services, and if you use a sales approach, it will be easier for them to purchase your services.

*     Many candidates have a hard time “bragging” about themselves in an interview. Selling is not bragging, and it will empower you to present your most commanding reasons for why you should be selected for the position.

*     You will have a better answer to questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses.

You have all the selling skills you need to do well in interviews, you just need to learn how to apply the skills!


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


How Good are Your Interview Questions?

January 4, 2012

Asking Good Questions Fixes Your Interview

“There isn’t a pat answer anymore to this world, so the best we can do for students is to have them ask the right questions.” Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Syracuse University

One of the primary reasons why people fail on jobs is that they take a job with an improper understanding of what the job entails. They don’t realize that the job requires as much travel as it does or that it requires very long hours during certain times of the year. They don’t know what skills are actually required or that they will have limited supervision or training. Maybe they are thinking account management, and the job is actually sales or project management. You can fix this missing information and these misconceptions by asking good questions, paying close attention to the answers, and asking follow-up questions. Asking good questions often clarifies the position in the hiring manager’s mind as well, which supports your candidacy for the position.Leaving the interview with unanswered objections will doom your chances for winning the interview and getting the job. Asking the best interview question of all time can save your interview by reducing the hiring manager’s fear uncertainty and doubt and clearing the way for you to be the candidate of choice. Asking good questions has the following benefits:

*     It demonstrates a high level of interview preparation and motivation.
*     It demonstrates a critical job-success skill- asking good questions.
*     It helps expose concerns about hiring you and allows you to correct misconceptions.
*     It creates additional opportunities for quality conversations.
*     It demonstrates your knowledge of the industry, company, and job- increasing your credibility.
*     It addresses one of interviewers’ primary criticisms of candidates- lack of questions.

 

Active Interviewing

Go to http://www.activeinterviewing.com to learn how to ask good questions