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.”
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
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“
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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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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!
- 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:
- Your wish list of companies that you want to work for and check out their website every week.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 -
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
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.
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”.