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.

Job Interview Tips from the Social Science Studies

Here’s an article that offers some unique insights from the social sciences that might just give you the edge you need to get the job you really want. The embedded TED talk is worth watching if you have the time–it’s about 20 minutes.

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:

  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:

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

Please share your thoughts!