(From an article by Lou Adler, CEO of The Adler Group, a talent acquisition consulting firm. Full text of the article can be found here: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130911212503-15454-10-things-job-seekers-must-do-to-get-a-better-job)
- Focus on the job, not the money. It’s better to be underpaid than overpaid. Getting promoted or obtaining a big compensation increase will only occur after you’ve demonstrated great performance. Ignore anyone who says otherwise. (For salespeople, remember that the higher your base compensation, the more scrutiny you’ll face from your employer. Isn’t it better to start out by flying under the radar?)
- Present your strengths and weaknesses via short stories. Without a doubt, you will be a more compelling candidate if you directly connect your past successes to each of the key competencies for the position. Be prepared to provide detailed information, including dates, measurable results, actual deliverables, and any supporting information needed to validate them. Use the SMARTe acronym to form the answers: Specific task, Metrics, Action taken, Results and deliverable defined, the Time frame, and a description of the e Don’t be shy about addressing the mistakes you’ve made, what you learned from them, and how it made you better at your job.
- Skip the generalities. Don’t say you’re motivated, strong, dedicated, a great problem-solver or a great team player, or whatever, unless you can back it up with proof. Let the interviewer determine if you’re strong, dedicated or a team player, based on the examples you present.
- Divide and conquer by asking the universal question. Very early in the interview, or phone screen, you must ask the interviewer to describe the focus of the job, some of the big challenges, and how the new person’s performance will be measured. Pick at least two from this list. Then prove each is a core strength using the SAFW response below.
- Practice the universal answer to any question. You need to be able to validate all of your strengths with specific examples. Form your answer using the SAFW two-minute response: Say A Few Words – Statement – Amplify – few Examples – Wrap-up.
- Weave the 10 Best Predictors of Job Success into Your SAFW Response. I just wrote a post for interviewers on how to evaluate your answers. Make sure you have an example proving you possess at least three or four of these strengths. Then during the interview ask if these traits are important for on-the-job success. Of course they will be. Then give your example. Note: this is a slam dunk!
- Use the phone screen to minimize the impact of a weak first impression. Even if you make a good first impression, it’s important to ask the universal question (see above) early in the phone screen. Answering it correctly will increase the likelihood you’ll be invited to an onsite interview. This will help focus the actual interview on your past performance, instead of box-checking your skills and experience, or judging you on first impressions.
- Uncover any concerns before the end of the interview. To determine where you stand, ask the interviewer about next steps. If they’re not specific, you probably won’t be called back. In this case, ask the interviewer to share the biggest concern he/she has about your background. Then ask how the skill, trait or factor mentioned is used on the job. To overcome the concern, you’ll need to use the SAFW two-minute response to prove you can handle the requirement.
Lou Adler’s latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013), covers the Performance-based Hiring process described in this article in more depth. For instant hiring advice join Lou’s LinkedIn group and follow his Wisdom About Work series on Facebook.