Key Strategies for Acing the Interview

(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)

  1. 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?)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

The Truth About Interviews

The best interviews are always a two-way street. A fluid, dynamic conversation will impress any employer – it will tell them that you are confident, knowledgeable and, most of all, that you will be someone they’d like to work with. This quick read contains some excellent tips that’ll help you shine. The Truth About Interviews | LinkedIn

Stories Tell it All!

I’m a huge fan of using “mini-stories” during interviews. When prepping candidates, I strongly encourage them to prepare short stories about their on-the-job successes, especially ones tied to the competencies an employer is looking for. There’s just no better way to demonstrate your ability to be effective in the role. Here’s an excerpt from an article that backs this up:

After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics.

If you were a candidate looking for a job in recruitment and you read the following two statements in two different job ads, which job would you be more likely to apply to?

  • Job ad #1: “You will have responsibility for the identification and hire of 15 new staff.”
  • Job ad #2: “We started last year with 6 people. Stephen and Reza then joined us as interns after responding to a Youtube video; no salary, just the will to grow and learn. Lisa trained as a Black Belt 3 years ago in her old job. She called asking us if we were hiring and we snapped her up. Since then we’ve hired Johnny’s brother Graham and his mate Dave. This year, your job will be to scale this to 15 more people. You’ve got your work cut out! ;)”

Both job ads tell us exactly the same thing, but job ad #2 has given us so much more insight into the company looking to hire. We now know the story of how they’ve gotten to where they are now. We feel invested in the people mentioned in this story. We’d love to meet them. And we’re relishing the challenge of putting our skills to the test to find more people like Stephen, Reza, Lisa, Graham and Dave, and adding to this already great team.

As the incredible Chip and Dan Heath said in their book ‘Made to Stick‘, “Credible ideas make people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. The right stories make people act.” And as recruiters, that’s exactly what we need them to do, act! We need to compel the right people to apply for our jobs. And the best way to do that is through storytelling in your job ads. Storytelling grabs attention in a crowded marketplace and makes you memorable.

10 Insightful Company Culture Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

You’ve landed an interview for a job that aligns with your skill sets and interests. The work sounds like a perfect match for you, and the compensation package matches your needs. But there’s one important factor that could change your mind about wanting to work there: the company culture.

– Read the full article here: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8897-company-culture-questions.html

Key Strategies for Acing the Interview

This excellent advice is 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)

  1. 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. You need to put yourself into these situations. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.
  2. Present your strengths and weaknesses via short stories. No one believes general statements. You must validate each of your strengths with a specific example of how it was used in a real job situation. In addition, you need to demonstrate how you’ve turned your weaknesses into strengths. Never say you don’t have any weaknesses! It means you’ve stopped growing.
  3. 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.
  4. Practice the universal answer to any question. You need to be able to prove every strength with a specific example. Form your answer using the SAFW two-minute response: Say A Few Words – Statement – Amplify – few Examples – Wrap-up.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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 what’s 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. 

Interview Strategy: How to Handle the Salary Question

From the blog of a colleague:

The job interview is going well.  You and the hiring manager have established a good rapport and the questions asked so far you have answered with ease.  But then comes the dreaded hardball, “What kind of salary are you looking to make?” and your heart drops into your stomach as you seek to find the right words that don’t sell yourself short, yet don’t price you out of the job.

If you don’t know what to say to this question, you aren’t alone!

This is where a little preparation on your part prior to the interview can go a long way in helping you to know what to say.  Prior to the interview you should have done some research on the position and what the position typically is paid in your local market so that you have a ball park idea of the range you might expect the position to offer.

Then be very straight forward about your salary.  Many companies will require you to provide documentation on your current compensation such as providing W-2 forms or paystubs.  So be honest from the beginning.

A good way to phrase it is like this: “John, in my current position I am making a total comp package of X, which is composed of a base salary of Y and commissions (or bonuses) averaging Z.  Given the increased responsibility of this new role and the level of commitment I would be assuming, I have every confidence that when we reach the point where an offer is being made, I would receive a very fair and equitable offer based on those expectations.”

If you are currently making a comparable salary, this will denote that you expect a reasonable increase.  If you are making a lower salary than the range, you have positioned it well to demonstrate how this position is a more demanding position, therefore deserving of more money.  If you are currently being paid more than their range – you just gave them fair warning of your expectations.

Reality check – most changes of employment for a better position come with a 10-15% salary increase.  On rare occasions one may gain slightly more, but that would be the exception, not the rule.  Be sure your expectations are reasonable going into any discussion.

Thank-you Notes: Handwritten or Email?

Thanik-you Notes: Handwritten or Email?

I picked this up from LinkedIn. It was written by the Managing Editor of Business Insider and answers the question: Should You Send A Handwritten Or Email Thank You Note After An Interview?

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/answered-should-you-send-a-handwritten-or-email-thank-you-note-after-an-interview-2012-3#ixzz1o1QkuVs2

Are there situations when a handwritten note can be more effective? Does it have to be one or the other?

Please share your thoughts!

Phone Interview Tips

You may be familiar with the so-called “7%-38%-55% rule”: that communication is comprised of 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% content of words.

On the phone, you don’t have visual “body language” — the largest component in most communications You must take both your surroundings and the surrounding of the person you’re calling into account. By visualizing what’s going on at the other end of the phone many times you can “imagine” the body language of the other party. You can hear what’s going on in the background if you’re “listening” for it.

On the  phone, your tone and pitch are hypercritical.  If you speak:

Too fast –you’ll sound nervous.
Too slow — bored (and boring). Your listener may tune you out.
Too high — that nervous thing again.
Too low — your confidence could appear limited.

Strive to keep your tone and pitch at normal levels. This means to speak at a moderate pace and in a normal tone of voice. This will help you to feel and communicate confidence.

Other tips:

  • Be crisp and to the point.
  • Keep your voice naturally animated
  • Be sure enunciate your words
  • Your vocabulary must be correct: we’re often judged by the words we use and the kind of grammar we speak
  • Don’t ever use words you don’t know the meaning of. You’ll come across as strange and out of context.
  • Likewise, use small words that are easy to pronounce
  • Nobody ever complains because you made something easy to understand.

The Secret Sauce of Job Interviewing

Well, maybe not so secret. This guest columnist at Talent Zoo signs the praises of  an interviewing strategy I’ve been touting for years. Read on to learn more about the most effective and compelling way to sell yourself in interviews.

The Secret Sauce of Job Interviewing
By: Dan Erwin (from TalentZoo.com)
July 19, 2011

Periodically Gen Yers and Xers corner me for job interviewing suggestions. By the time they get around to talking, they’ve sent off their resume and are being invited to interview. So naturally, they’re a bit tense. Knowing that a great deal of my consulting business is about interviewing for gigs and selling my services, they want to know whether these skills transfer to job interviewing. The answer to that question is a big YES.

Sure, I comment, you want to have a lot of knowledge about the company and the job for which you’re interviewing. You want to have some smart questions to ask; questions that show you’ve done your homework on the job — and the organization. You also want to be able to talk about your strengths and vulnerabilities in very constructive ways. Most of all, you want to create an identity in the recruiting manager’s mind that says that you’re the best person to resolve his or her needs.

So, they ask, what’s the best way, the best format for creating that identity, for explaining and selling yourself? The answer is easy. Be able to tell some fascinating, intriguing tales about yourself and your value.

Quite a few years ago, I was interviewing for a consulting gig with the Executive Vice-President of Marketing at Ralston Purina. After about 20 minutes, filled with getting-to-know-you small talk, he put the issue on the table. “Tell me some stories about your consulting experiences,” he said. I was surprised and amused that a sophisticated power player would put his request in plain language. I got the job — a gig that lasted more than six years, working with vice-presidents and directors at the firm.

Like most business people, Stephen Denning, a former exec at the World Bank, scoffed at such touch-feely stuff as stories, believing that analytical was good, and anecdotal was bad. Failing in his use of PowerPoint and analysis to gain the support for his efforts, he created a number of tales to envision the future of the organization. It worked, and he reports on it in an HBR article on the power of Telling Tales.

Stories are the most primitive and consistently the most highly successful means for communicating. Analysis and statistics drive business thinking. They cut through myth, gossip, and speculation and excite the mind. Their strength is their objectivity, but that’s also their weakness. They never offer a path to the heart. And that’s where you need to go to motivate a recruiter or a manager to hire you. Stories are the most attention-grabbing and best-remembered communication tool. They are the secret sauce of communicating and the one and only most powerful tool for job interviewing.

A few years ago one of my daughters got a superb management job at a hot new pharmaceutical firm in Massachusetts. After being hired, she made the rounds of the firm’s eight interviewers, mostly Harvard and MIT scientists, to check in and find out why she got the position. The responses were unanimous: she had a “superb education, unusual depth of experience,” and “great stories.” That’s a not-too-shabby recommendation for the persuasive power of telling tales.

What To Remember

Make sure your story matches the situation. When you’re interviewing for a job, the stories should help the recruiter to understand who you are, what you’ve done, and what you bring to the job. Ideally, he’ll not only end up liking you, but respecting and needing you. Stories for this purpose are usually based on personal work events that show what you did and what you took from those experiences. You also ought to have one or two stories in your toolkit that highlight some vulnerability and details how you corrected it.

For an interview, you should be able to encapsulate a story in six to eight sentences. It should describe one or two of your important characteristics, explain the context, detail the action including the problem and its resolution. If you can depict the problem as a conflicted process or relationship, all the better. A few colorful, descriptive words go a long way with recruiters. Pay close attention to the recipient as you talk and emphasize the important words or ideas.

Although the story form that I’ve identified is just a start, I hope it’ll inspire you to add stories to your interviewing toolkit. The ability to tell the right story for your interview is the secret sauce of successful interviewing.

Interview Prep Advice for Candidates and Hiring Managers

Prepping Candidates and Taming Hiring Managers 

by Lou Adler  (Aug 27, 2010, 5:24 am ET)

Most candidates — even high-level executives — need to be prepped before the interview. The reason for this is obvious: they all think they’re great interviewees. Most aren’t. Making matters worse, the hiring managers they’ll be meeting think they’re endowed with some special instinct that allows them to accurately assess candidate competency. Most aren’t.

Since I don’t like to present great candidates who get inadvertently excluded for dumb reasons, I need to prep both my hiring manager clients and my candidates to increase the likelihood the candidates are appropriately and accurately evaluated. This way I don’t have to do searches over again and rely on luck to make placements. Read more by clicking this link: Prepping Candidates and Taming Hiring Managers.

Prepare a 30-60-90 Day Plan

Good article from Sales Ladder about an interviewing strategy that everyone should be thinking about in order to really stand out.

Prep Your 30-, 60-, 90-day Business Plan for the Job Interview

By Andrew Klappholz

Want to land a sales job and start on the right foot? Be ready to explain how you’ll move the numbers in the first months. Read More…..