Interviewing Secrets From Professionals Who Got the Job

Ready for your big interview?

 

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have one shot at making a great first impression so you need to make sure you’re prepared to give the right answers during your next interview.

 

As a leading Career Coach for the past five years, I’ve gathered interviewing tips from my clients who have been hired and written an e-book, “Interviewing Smart – Insider Secrets from Professionals Who Got the Job!”  Here are five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind…

1.  Can you do the job?

These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to be successful in the position or not. Before the interview, be sure to study the job description so that you fully understand the job requirements.

Be prepared to talk about your skills, knowledge, and training that will help you perform the job successfully. The biggest mistake I see job candidates making is talking about their responsibilities, and what they need to focus on are the results and accomplishments they’ve achieved for their previous employers.

2.  What “extras” do you bring?

For most job openings, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?

So before you go into a job interview, think about any additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position.

3.  Where are you at risk?

Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific job requirement that you don’t meet, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential health risk, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where you are a risk.

I like to beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where I’m a risk and then reassuring her why it won’t be a problem. For example, if the job requires that you need to know of a specific type of software, then I want you to sign-up for some training before your interview so that you can say that you’ve already registered for some training to learn more about the software.

The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk, and then immediately follow-up with what you’re doing to close the gap.

4.  Does the interviewer like you?

This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. And believe me, it’s better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.

I once interviewed with a Sales VP at a television station. After 1 1/2 hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted to hire me or not, so I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.

During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics.

5.  Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package?

Be prepared to talk about a salary range that is acceptable to you. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts, perks, etc. But you should be prepared to give a salary range that you would accept.

Those are 5 questions that your interviewer really wants to know about you! It’s not everything you should do to prepare for an upcoming interview – but it’s a good start!

For more interviewing strategies and to learn how to negotiate a top salary, check out my “6-Week, 6-Step Career Change Program.”

 

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LISTfor personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

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PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?

PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?


One hour after Meghan sent her hot-off-the-press professionally updated resume to a hiring manager, he called to see if she could come in for an interview the next day!

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two beats away from a heart attack. But preparing for the interview is much simpler when you realize that there are just five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind.

Here are three of them:

Can you do the job? You need to be able to talk about the skills, knowledge, and training you have that will help you perform the job successfully. My recommendation is that you walk into your next interview with 3-4 “personal career stories” that showcase a career success. Your stories should include: what the goal was, what the challenge was, and what the result was.

What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined but not the remaining 10%. This means you have a terrific opportunity to flaunt any bonus talents that may be of value. For example, if you’re going for a job as a Pubic Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company.

Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company, whether it’s a job requirement that you don’t meet or a skill you don’t have, or the potential that you’re overqualified for the position. I recommend that you beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and then reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. If you’re asked what weaknesses you have, respond by bringing up an area that could improvement but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that area.

For a complete discussion of all five question, see my best-selling eBook, “Interviewing Smart: Insider Secrets to Getting the Job

5 Tips to Make a Faster Career Change as a Professional or Executive

Prefer to listen to the podcast version of this post?
You can also subscribe to our Career Coaching 360 podcast RSS feed. Career Coaching 360 podcasts are also available on iTunes.

Have you been thinking about making a career change? Avoid the attitude that you will do it tomorrow, next week, next month, when your bonus arrives, etc. Be aware that “not now” soon becomes never.

Here are my 5 tips to make a faster career change as a professional or executive.

    1. Power up your confidence. Managers hire those who are passionate about their job, and confident they’ll perform it successfully. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, hiring managers won’t either. Let go of any career setbacks. Take pride in all of your strengths, talents and career successes – and go after those jobs that you know you can do well! (Confidence is a must, but arrogance is a showstopper!)

 

    1. Think up, down and sideways. A lot of people get stuck in a rut looking for the same job title as their last job. But you can double your options by looking at smaller and larger companies. The smaller company may have the same job role listed but with a bigger title (like a Director of VP-level), and the larger company may have a smaller title (like a manager or specialist) – but it’s the same major responsibilities.Also, apply for jobs outside of your industry. There are a lot of job roles that you can do in just about any industry. For example, if you’re in a marketing role, or finance role, or sales – they need these types of employees across all industries!

      So start reading trade publications and the Business Journal to learn which industries are hiring, what the hot jobs are, and where you can fit in.

 

    1. Leverage your transferable skills. If you’re finding that there are very few job openings for the kind of job role you want, then expand your scope. You can switch into a different job role by leveraging your transferable skills (those are skills that transfer from job role to job role.) For example, managing clients, managing teams, managing projects – a lot of these skills can transfer into different roles.So start reading job descriptions for a variety of jobs – and determine which roles are a good fit for you! This is a terrific way to get your foot in the door at a new company and make a start fresh in your career!

 

  1. Create a job search plan. So many people post their resume up on Monster.com, or they register with a headhunter and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring! It doesn’t happen that way! With this tight job market, you need to have a plan that includes:
    1. Your wish list of companies that you want to work for and check out their website every week.
    2. A list of on-line job boards like CareerBuilder.com and Career Journal.com that you check every week. A lot of these job boards have different niches that they serve best (such as a specific job industry, or salary level.) So you want to do some research and google, the job role, industry and location that you want, such as “Radio Sales in Phoenix.” Then, search through the first three or four pages of results and bookmark those job boards that meet your criteria. Those are the job boards that you’ll want to check back with every week for job openings.
    3. LinkedIn.com – joining different industry groups so that you can keep current on hot topics, network with influencers in those groups, and learn about job openings.
    4. 2-3 Networking events that you attend every week. Those could be industry conferences, association meetings, training seminars, and business networking events. These are events you go to meet people in the same industry, or they type of company where you want to work. Statistics show that 70% of jobs are going to people who have referrals within an organization – so networking with other professionals and executives is critical to changing your career. Stay away from job fairs – they tend to target lower end jobs and have too much competition.

     

  2. If you’re stuck – get professional help! You never want your career to be sitting on shelf longer than it has to – it means thousands of dollars every month in missed income that you should be making! So if you’re not getting results, then invest in some professional advice wherever you need it –
    1. A Professional resume writer, or
    2. An interview coach, or
    3. Or a career coach

    These are professionals who can accelerate your career change and help you get into a new job faster!

PARADE Update: Creating a Rock Star Resume

PARADE Update: Creating a Rock Star Resume


Meghan found a terrific job opening at a socially conscience company where she can leverage her marketing expertise and culinary background.

As I talked about in my book, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand,” this is what I know for sure: When you are able to articulate the kinds of responsibilities, the management style and company culture where you want to work in your next career – the universe has a way of sending you those opportunities.

And now the universe is churning out opportunities for Meghan! The next step is for us to create a rock star resume.

Here are my top three tips for creating a resume to help you get noticed, get hired and even get a higher salary!

Showcase key words. Key words are those skills in the job postings that are listed as the “job requirements.” Look closely at the job description and use a highlighter to mark all of the requirements listed. Then, take all of those requirements that you meet and showcase those “key words” towards the top of your resume underneath the “Objective” section. Label this section “Key Strengths” and list those requirements that you meet in bullet format.

Emphasize results. This is the single biggest difference in making your resume stand out from your competition. Don’t talk about responsibilities. That’s boring. Instead, talk about what you have achieved for an organization, or what you’ve helped the organization achieve. For example, don’t just say that you managed a team of 9 people in the sales department. Instead, say that you led a sales team that generated $250,000 a year for the past three years. Quantify each of your career highlights in terms of dollars, numbers or percentages.

Show leadership and teamwork. Hiring managers look for candidates who are strong contributors and strong leaders (or at least demonstrate leadership potential.) Talk about projects or teams that you’ve led – and what the results were. If you haven’t led any projects or teams in your professional life, then highlight any leadership experience you’ve had in professional organizations, sports leagues, church activities or community events.

Meghan’s Assignment this Week:
I gave Meghan one of my exclusive resume templates to showcase her marketing and events-management skills. She will be busy this week converting her resume from being “responsibilities” to “results” focused. That means she’ll be meeting with past managers and business associates to learn the real results of her previous marketing campaigns and big projects. Ideally, she’ll want her resume to state that her marketing campaigns helped gain a certain number of new customers, or that the projects she worked on helped generate new revenue, saved the company money, or created more market share for the organization.
Her homework assignment is not easy, but it will be the icing on the cake to help Meghan’s resume stand out from her competition and land that fabulous job.

Interview Tips for Recent Grads

If you’re a recent college graduate (or even if you’re not), check out my most recent interview on NBC Phoenix Channel 12 with tips to set yourself apart from the other applicants and help you land that first job – even if you don’t have “experience”.

Double your Career Opportunities by Thinking Up, Down and Sideways!

Many people get hung-up on job titles when job hunting. Instead of focusing on the title of the job, focus on the responsibilities. Here are a few quick tips to help point you in the right direction.

  • View jobs with smaller titles when considering a LARGER company.
  • View jobs with bigger titles when considering a SMALLER company.
  • Expand your career options by considering different industries.

Are you getting paid what you’re worth?

Let’s face it, your paycheck has a direct impact on your quality of life. Yes, having a good boss, challenging work, and clients who pay on time are critical factors in your overall job satisfaction, but your salary, health benefits, 401k plan, and bonuses can tip your overall job satisfaction scale from being “very satisfied” in your current work situation to “I really got to get a new job RIGHT NOW!!”

 

So how can you know if you’re getting paid what you are worth, and how can you negotiate a better salary?

 

Your salary is determined by three factors.

 

First, the company you work for. There are some companies who are known for paying their employees a beefy salary and benefits package. Fortune Magazine recently compiled a list of top paying companies.

 

If the company you work for is not on the list, don’t worry. You might still be making a healthy salary based on your peers within the company, and even the industry. I recently spoke with Fred Cooper, compensation expert for a Fortune 100 company who gave some great strategies for determining your value in today’s marketplace. So the question is —
How do you know if you’re on the high end or low end of the market’s going rate?

 

Cooper said that there are two key factors that determine your salary. One is what the market is currently paying for your skills, experience and areas of expertise. The other is the company’s internal salary policies and practices.

 

“Research is key,” says Cooper. “You must determine the value of the job that you currently have or want. There are a number of salary surveys where jobs are priced that can give you a salary range for the work as identified in the job summary or job description. Make sure that when you start your salary survey that you have a good job description and understanding of the job you are comparing. Do not use job titles for comparisons but get in to the duties and responsibilities of the work being performed.”

 

“For example,” Cooper explained, “an ‘accountant’ for one company may be a true accountant while for another, the title may be applied to accounting clerks, financial assistants or others performing ‘accounting support’ work. Combining salary ranges in this instance would not provide a true sense of the market value.”

 

Before you go in to negotiate your salary with your new employer, be sure to schedule a career coaching session with me to help ensure you receive the best salary & benefits package possible! It’s a small investment to make compared to what you could be losing out on if you aren’t properly prepared.

 

In my next blog post I will share some of the best tools and web sites to help you with your research.

Be in a career that excites and energizes you, and makes you proud

I received an e-mail that made my heart sink. It was from someone I didn’t know who said that his career had sunk so low that he couldn’t even look at himself in the mirror anymore.

 

I could see from his resume that he was a senior high tech developer, had an MBA, and was an adjunct lecturer for a well known university. So how could someone who clearly has such great discipline, training, and skills be at such a low point in his career?

 

I’m sharing this because I don’t want YOU to ever be in this situation. I want you to be in a career that excites and energizes you, and makes you proud.

 

If your career is making you feel unmotivated, and undervalued, then make a commitment to yourself to change jobs. Yes, change is scary, but sometimes the thought of NOT changing and staying in your job long term can be even more terrifying.

 

Take the first step in making a career change by building a strong support system around you. Talk to others who inspire, motivate you, or can teach you how to get into the job you really want. Find mentors and a career coach who can give you tools and resources to help you make a career change quickly and easily. (Even Tiger Woods has three (3) professional coaches helping him advance his career.)

 

Life’s too short to stay in a career that disappoints you. Get determined to work for an organization that values and appreciates all that you have to offer. Not only will you have a more enriching career, but you’ll have a more enriching life. And you’ll actually enjoy looking at your beautiful self in the mirror.

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview?

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview? And how can you remain calm and confident especially if you really want or NEED THE JOB? Do you know what your interviewer really wants to know?

 

Here are a few things your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:

 

* Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific requirement that you don’t meet, or a skill you don’t have, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential risk for relocating, or potentially being sick or pregnant and at risk for taking a medical leave of absence, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where YOU are a risk.

 

During the interview, beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. For example, when I was interviewing with my current company, I had six rounds of interviews. During the final interview with the VP of the division and my future manager, the VP asked where I was a risk. My future manager responded that my brother worked in the same division. The VP then asked if I would be reporting to my brother, which of course, the answer was no. You could immediately see relief across the VP’s face when he realized that the risk was identified, and that it really wasn’t a risk at all.

 

Most interviewers are not as direct as the VP, but the concern is still there. The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk and then immediately follow-up with why it shouldn’t be a problem.

 

Addressing your risks is also the reasoning behind the question, “Tell me about any weaknesses you have.” When you are asked this question, I recommend that you respond by bringing up an area for improvement, but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that skill.

 

For example, let’s say that you are interviewing for a position for a Sales VP and the position advertises that the applicant should know a specialized software application. If you are not familiar with this tool, you could say that you do not have a lot of experience with it but that you are taking an on-line training class to sharpen your skills (but only say this if it’s true!)

 

This approach shows that you are serious about your professional development and take the initiative to grow and improve your skills.

 

* Does the interviewer like you? Will you fit in with the corporate culture?

 

This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. Again, it is better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.

 

I was once interviewing with the VP of Sales at a TV station. After 1 ½ hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted me or not for the position. So, I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office since they get beaten up outside of the office so much. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.

 

During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics. Your interviewer is trying to get a clear picture on whether you would be a good “fit” for her team. Also, be sure that the ways you dress, speak and act align to the company and the position for which you are seeking. Is the company formal (think Wall Street, a top law firm, or a hospital), or is it more informal (think Google, Starbucks or the YMCA)? Perhaps the company is informal, but the position is formal (think sales, human resources or executive management.)

 

* Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package? This is usually the final and perhaps one of the easiest areas to determine if you are a good match for the job role. Be prepared to talk about the SALARY RANGE that you are expecting. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts and starting salary. But you should be able to give a salary range that is acceptable.

 

Since you have one shot to make a great connection with the interviewer, it’s always a smart idea to visit with an interviewing coach to get customized strategies and MORE INSIDER TIPS to strengthen your interviewing skills.

You only have ONE SHOT at making a great first impression

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have ONE SHOT at making a great first impression so what can you say that will push you up to the TOP SPOT and get you the job offer?

 

Preparing your answers for an interview is so much simpler when you know what the interviewer really wants to know about you. There are key questions going through your interviewer’s mind and once you understand those questions, you can be more prepared, more confident and feel less anxiety during the interview process. So let’s take a look at what your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:

 

* Can you do the job? Do you have the skills, knowledge, and training to successfully perform the job? These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to succeed in the position or not. Have you analyzed the job description and fully understand the job requirements? Do you really have what it takes to succeed in this position? If yes, then be prepared to answer specific questions about your qualifications. And if you don’t, then wouldn’t you rather know now in the interview than have the stress of being stuck in a new job where you can’t meet the expectations?

 

You should have pre-selected “personal career stories” that highlight your professional successes. Practice saying out loud what your skills, strengths and areas of expertise are. Your answers should be specific and focus on results and accomplishments.

 

* What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined. In other words, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, “What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?”

 

What specialized skills or areas of expertise do you have that can ADD VALUE to the company? For example, if you’re going for a job as a Public Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company. This “extra” skill may position you as the TOP candidate for the job.

 

Before you go into a job interview, think about the additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position. Be sure to work these skills into the conversation, but only after you have discussed those skills and qualifications that are REQUIRED for the job.

 

Interview coaching can help hone your interview skills.