Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Posts tagged ‘interviews’

Interviewing Tips!!!

Interviewing

Picture this: The job interview is (almost) over.

You’ve answered all their questions..
You’ve jumped through all their hoops.
You’ve taken all their tests, assessments and personality profiles.

Meanwhile, your brain hurts from over thinking. Your butt is numb from over sitting. And by now, you’ve managed to sweat right through that crisp, new white shirt you bought just for today.

“Just hire me already!” You think.

Not so fast. There’s still one thing left to do:

Walk out of that interview in a blaze of glory.

Today I’m going to teach you a job-hunting strategy that will instantly make you more approachable; hireable; employable; promotable; buyable; bookable; unforgettable; and, most importantly, call-back-able.

And all of it hinges on your ability to respond effectively to one of the most common (yet one of the most under leveraged) interview questions:

“So, do you have any questions for me?”

Prospective employers almost always ask this one – especially at the end of the interview. And most job-hunting books, interviewing resources and career coaches will advise you to respond with intelligent, creative questions such as:

  • Why is this position vacant?
  • Do you promote from within?
  • Do you have a formal training program?
  • What are the future goals of the company?
  • How will I know that I have met your goals?
  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • How would you describe your company’s culture?
  • How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
  • What is the average work week of the person who will fill this job?
  • Will I be hearing from you or should I contact you?

Those are great questions. They’re smart, focused and goal-oriented.

There’s only one problem: Everybody else asks them, too.

And that instantly eliminates the probability of standing out.

Here’s the reality

The less boring and normal you are – and the more rules to which you are the exception – the more hireable you will become.

So, try this: Next time your interviewer asks, “So, do you have any questions for me?” I triple-dog-dare you to answer with one of the following responses :

  • Do you see any gaps in my qualifications that I need to fill?
  • Are there any reasons I’m not fully qualified for this position?
  • Is there anything I’ ve said today that might hurt my chances of being hired here?
  • Now that you’ve had a chance to meet and interview me, what reservations would you have in putting me in this position?
  • What have I accidentally said or done during today’s interview that’s inconsistent with your perfect candidate for this job?

Here’s why this strategy works:

You put the interviewer on the spot. After all, you’re not the only one being interviewed here. So, turning the tables in this manner helps you maintain power because – contrary to popular conditioning – the listener controls.

You prove counterintuitive thinking. I don’t care if you’re applying to work the night clean up shift at Reggie’s Roadkill Cafe – employers love people who think this way. Not just someone who “is” unexpected – but someone who actually thinks unexpectedly.

You demonstrate openness to feedback. My great friend, Joe Rotskoff, HR manager at Crescent Plumbing Supply in St. Louis, was the person who first educated me on this interview approach. “The secret is twofold,” Rotskoff said. “First, you display openness to how others experience you. Second, you show a dedication to improving self-awareness. And that’s exactly the type of employee companies seek to hire in this tough economy.”

You exhibit dedication to personal improvement. Which makes you an employee who adds value to the net worth of her human capital – and, therefore, the net worth of the company’s assets – every day. Wow.

You close the sale. Job interviews are sales calls. Period. You’re selling the company on you, your skills and your long-term potential as a valued asset to the team. So, when you ask closer questions like these, you’re essentially “asking for the sale.” And you’re doing so in a professional, tactful, confident manner. How could they not say yes to you?

Now, here’s the worst thing that could happen

Let’s say you ask one of these questions. And let’s say the prospective employer (unfortunately) responds with an answer that indicates you’ve done something wrong. Or missed the mark.. Or come up short in regards to the position.

Fantastic! You’ve just received specific feedback that you can leverage to add value to yourself and become more hireable in the future.

So, if this is the case for you, here’s my suggestion: Physically write down his response to your questions, right then and there. This demonstrates active listening and further reinforces your openness to feedback.

Then, when you write your thank-you note to the interviewer later that evening, be sure to:

1. Thank him again for the helpful feedback on your performance

2. Explain what your commitment plan is for remedying that inadequacy in the future. Hey, he might even change his mind after that!

But here’s the best thing that could happen

Picture this: The interviewer’s jaw hits the floor, his pen falls to the ground, and he stares at you like you just told him that his company was going to be featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

Then, once he mops up the puddle of drool on your job application, he racks his brain trying to come up with an answer to your powerful question.

But he can’t find one.

Because there isn’t one.

Because you, my unemployed friend, are pretty amazing.

And you deserve this job a hundred times more than every other candidate who walked in the door before you.

Post-Recession Job Market

The past year has undoubtedly brought many changes and challenges to both employers and employees. Layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs have been widespread, thus contributing to a job market saturated with qualified candidates competing for fewer jobs. Despite this steep competition among candidates, employers struggle to find professionals with in-demand skill sets.

Along with these continued battles, employers face a new challenge: ensuring their companies are prepared when the economy does make an inevitable turnaround, which will give them a competitive advantage.

A new survey, the 2009 EDGE Report from Robert Half International and CareerBuilder, provides answers to many of the lingering questions surrounding today’s economy and job market: Where will jobs be added first in the recovery? What challenges will employers face in recruitment? How will compensation be impacted? And how will employers retain the talent they’ve preserved during this difficult time?

To take advantage of an improving economy, employers that cut staffing levels extensively are taking a close look at the core skills needed in new hires in order to rebuild their rosters once the economic recovery takes hold.

Fifty-three percent of employers said they plan to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, while 39 percent will add part-time employees, according to a new survey. Forty percent will hire contract, temporary or project professionals.

Here are several key other findings from the report:

Where jobs will be added first
Hiring managers currently consider customer service as the most critical to the company’s success, followed by sales, marketing/creative and technology. Public relations/communication, business development and accounting/finance round out the list.

When the economy does start to rebound, respondents said technology, customer service and sales departments will add positions first, followed by marketing/creative, business development, human resources and accounting/finance.

In the meantime, hiring managers continue to appreciate employees who can perform multiple functions. Employers cited multitasking, initiative and creative problem-solving as the most valuable characteristics in ideal new hires.

Retaining talent
Although many business leaders have plans to add new employees to their organizations in the coming months, they also have to consider how their decisions during the financial crisis have impacted job satisfaction and loyalty of their current staff.

Fifty-five percent of workers polled have plans to change careers, find a new employer or go back to school once the economy recovers. Forty-nine percent said that the most effective way to keep them on board will be with pay increases; in fact, 28 percent plan to ask for a raise.

Employers are aware that competitive pay and benefits will play a critical role in retaining talent. Forty percent of employers said that they plan to increase pay when the economy improves and 20 percent said they hope for better benefits and perks.

Continued challenges in recruitment
Although there is a greater pool of available talent among job seekers, employers are still having trouble finding qualified professionals for open positions: 47 percent of employers cited under-qualified applicants as their most common hiring challenge. Employers said that, on average, 44 percent of the résumés they receive are from unqualified candidates.

As a result, employers are open to paying for great talent; 61 percent said their companies are willing to negotiate a higher salary for qualified candidates.

A common complaint from job seekers is the amount of time the hiring process takes; however, this is one area where employers won’t budge. The average time it takes to recruit a new full-time hire is 4.5 to 14.4 weeks. Employers say that in order to avoid costly hiring mistakes, it’s necessary to take their time reviewing and screening a high volume of résumés, and also to carefully evaluate those invited for interviews

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