Want Important Interview Tips and Techniques to Help You Ace Your Next Interview?
Our blog gives top professionals, like you, the latest tips, techniques on job interviews so you can begin to master your interview skills and land the job you really want! We include fresh information on effective strategic job search for professionals too.
A few weeks ago one of my clients called me in frustration. He just couldn’t find a way to move forward with his career in his current company. He decided to take my advice and expand his network to find a job that would better use his skills. He decided to become a member of a working committee of his professional association to build strong connections. He was frustrated with that too. He applied to be a member of the committee and never got a call back. I asked him how many times he tried. His reply: once.
Once? How many times do we get something we really want on the first try? He forgot the power of persistence – that unrelenting pursuit to get what you want. I suggested he just try again and again and again using different approaches. And, I suggested he talk to members on committees to find out what they did to get their committee roles.
The first time I remember using the power of persistence was when I decided early in my career that I wanted to be a consultant. A friend of mine Mary worked at a consulting firm and said I constantly asked her about openings at her company. (I don’t remember that.) But, when a job opened up in her unit, she forwarded my resume directly to the hiring manager and helped me prep for the interview. I got that job and it launched my career in a completely different direction. I’ll never forget that when I really want something, the power of persistence will help me achieve it.
You’ve submitted a resume for an advertised position. You are fully qualified for it and it’s a job you really want. But, here you are again waiting, waiting and growing more and more concerned that you aren’t going to get a call for an interview. You know that there are many qualified candidates in the marketplace. So, what can you do differently to land an interview this time?
Try the Send a Solution approach – sending a letter or e-mail directly to the hiring manager telling them exactly how you can help them solve their problems with your expertise. The closer you are to addressing ways you can help them make or save money will increase your odds of getting an interview.
In recent months, a growing number of my clients are getting follow-up e-mails from the internal and external recruiters, who conducted the initial phone interview, asking them to respond to specific questions. And, they request that those responses be e-mailed back to them in writing.
Behind the scenes, this often means the hiring manager is interested in your resume, has qualified candidates but needs more detailed information about your background and experience before deciding whether to interview you face-to-face.
As a candidate, this request is ideal. You get the opportunity to take the time to carefully craft your responses. Consider them as an addendum to your resume.
- Give them solid proof of your experience by including specific examples.
- State the result first then briefly indicate how you achieved it.
- Keep your responses short and to the point.
And remember, this is also gives them an example of your written communication skills. So take the time to carefully proof-read and spell check your responses before e-mailing them.
Review these questions carefully when you prepare for your subsequent interview. They may indicate what’s really important to the hiring manager too.
And, finally, think about whether you should add this information upfront in your resume.
Many people call me a few days before a very important interview asking me to help them prepare. Yes, I help them. But, they are missing the opportunity to be their absolute best – both polished and confident in their interview. That comes from preparing well in advance.
You are probably wondering how you could possibly prepare when you don’t know the exact details of the job. So, here’s how to get started, before you receive the call for your interview.
- Identify the key requirements of your targeted jobs by reviewing the descriptions of jobs you’ve already applied for or are interested in pursuing. Review a minimum of 3 to 5 of your targeted positions.
- Create a list of common qualifications, skills and attributes from these job descriptions.
- Then, using this information you can uncover your key interview stories. Create 3 to 5 interview stories that prove your qualifications and your ability to deliver results in those areas.
By preparing these 3 to 5 interview stories in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to practice and refine them by testing them out on your networking contacts. That way they’ll resonate in your next job interview. And, by preparing in advance, you’ll feel more confident too!
If you need help identifying the common elements of your targeted positions or want help identifiying and refining your best interview stories, just call me at 416-570-7959 or contact me by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d be pleased to help!
Today’s job interviews requires you to do more than just answer interview questions. If you are a professional, more and more employers are requiring you to present your technical skills in a variety of ways. These technical tests are often part of the initial screening process – before you meet the hiring manager. Some of my clients are asked to give definitions of specific technical terms. Others are asked to complete test projects of up to 2 hours in length. One person, applying for a senior research position, now has to successfully complete an 1.5 hour research assignment to make it to the next round of the selection process.
And, employers are continuing to ask senior professionals to present business plans. Typically the employers asks candidates to present a “first 90 day business plan” to an interview panel. Employers want to ensure you have both the technical savvy and the necessary presentation skills to get your ideas supported and implemented in the workplace.
The key to winning the technical screening is to ensure your technical skills and your presentations skills are up-to-date, well honed and rehearsed before you hit that round of the interview process.
Over the last month, I’ve watched a business person who’s really great at selling. However, this week her selling techniques shifted for the worse … and as a consequence, her sales are way down. Suddenly, when she’s talking to customers, it’s like she doesn’t care whether she’s sold something or not. What’s interesting is what she’s saying to herself … and to anyone in listening distance. She’s repeating over and over and over: “No one is buying.” “My business is just drying up.”
So, if you are in the midst of a job search and job interviews, check what you are saying over and over to yourself and hear what you are saying to others. You could also be shifting yourself into a mental space that limits your possible job opportunities because it’s shifting your attitude and affecting your actions.
Here’s a simple and effective way to help you shift into a more positive mindset. I heard it from Hale Dwoskin at Sedona Training Associates. Simply write down all your obstacles, problems, blocks and issues in the past tense. For example: “I used to believe that I’m never going to find another high paying job. ” And, accept at least the possibility that those obstacles are just memories. Then watch. See how you start to do things differently and watch how that changes your job search and your job interviews results.
Many job seekers think job interviews are all about answering the interviewer’s questions effectively. While that is very important, it is equally important to turn your interview into a peer-to-peer conversation. Asking the interviewer meaningful, open-ended questions is a powerful way to help them start seeing you in the role.
One way to start the conversation is to ask them directly about their business concerns. I’ve found that asking: “What business issues keeps you awake at night?” is the easiest way to make the shift from interview to conversation. Just remember to actively listen. Resist the urge to jump into the conversation before they’re finished responding. Once they’re done, share specifics on what you’ve done to help solve similar challenges in the past.
To successfully turn your interview into a convincing conversation:
- identify the key issues and challenges affecting the industry and the company. This requires thorough and thoughtful research before your interview.
- create a list of open-ended questions in advance; and
- prepare concrete examples [in the form of interview stories] to prove that you’ve used your expertise to solve similar problems in the past.
The more you use this approach, the more comfortable and confident you’ll get in turning your interview into a convincing conversations. And, you’ll reap the rewards. They’ll see you as a peer not just another job seeker.
During your interview, you may get the feeling that the interviewer is concerned about something. So, what do you do? Ask them about it during your interview – Do you have any concerns that stand in the way of my succeeding in this position? It is better to know what it is upfront so you can address their concerns right away. You may not have another chance to do it.
To handle their concerns effectively:
- Respond directly to each issue they raise.
- Turn a perceived weakness into strength.
- Include examples to prove your point.
- Support your response by including what others have said about you and your work.
Thinking about their possible concerns in advance is an important part of your interview preparation. Are you missing one or more of the job requirements they’ve listed? Is your work experience in a different industry? …
List any possible concerns you think they may have about your candidancy. Then, write down your responses to each concern using the above guideline. You’ll find that by preparing your response in advance, you’ll be effective in addressing any concerns directly during your interview. And, you’ll build your overall confidence before and during your interview.
You’ve put a lot of hard work into networking, but how do you make your efforts pay off quickly? A solid personal branding strategy can help you turn each new contact into a job opportunity, opening new doors, expanding your network and helping you land the job you really want.
Use these 3 keys to develop a branding statement that resonates:
1. Align it to key challenges
Check that your branding statement directly addresses the major challenges faced by your target industry. But, conduct your research carefully, the market should be large enough to offer enough opportunities for your brand and you should be one of a very few candidates with the specific talent and skills that the market needs.
2. Make it clear
Your branding statement is powerful only if someone in the industry can understand it. If an explanation is required, your statement is either too short or too confusing. Before using it in the job market, test your statement with family or friends who understand your field of expertise. If they don’t understand it, your statement won’t resonate with potential employers.
3. Make it come to life
Use short stories of one or two sentences each to illustrate and support your brand identity. Here’s one of the stories I’ve used to support my brand – I get and keep clients: “I got all my clients back after returning from a 12-month expatriate assignment by keeping in touch with them, nurturing them from afar.”
Make your networking pay off – and take off – by branding yourself right now. Don’t wait until you’re facing your next job interview. Take the time to create a personal branding strategy that will make you memorable!