Stuck in a Career Rut? Allow us to point you in the "Wright" Career Direction

How to Win the Interview Game

www.thewrightcareer.com

Interviews are terrifying. Job candidates are known to sweat profusely, become tongue-tied, give wrong answer and blow the entire interview. Some have even tried reading the interviewer’s mind to come up with what they think the interviewer wants to hear instead of than focusing on the value they could offer. These peculiarities are not limited to entry-level candidates but run across the continuum to management and executive level candidates.

It’s natural to be nervous and experience some or all of the above symptoms, but there are better ways to prepare for interviews, lessen your stress and win the interview game. It IS really possible to unravel the mystery in each question, develop answers that showcase your accomplishments, and convince the interviewer you are the perfect person for the job. It starts with knowing that the interviewer really wants you to convince her that you will be able to do the job; you will be productive and help them make money, and you will fit in with the team. All of this takes a bit of work!

Below are seven questions that are regularly asked at interviews. They are followed by a short explanation of what the interviewer is looking for. They are designed to help you understand what the interviewer is looking for and develop your stories. While they are geared to managers, mid-career professionals and executives, anyone who wants to win the interview game should take note:

QUESTION: “Tell me about a time when you accomplished something significant that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been there to make it happen.”

Another question related question could be: “Tell me a time when you were not a formal leader but became a leader.

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: In both instances, they are looking for leadership competency. Are you an effective leader? Are you willing to assume a leadership role even if your job description doesn’t identify you as a leader?

QUESTION: Tell me about a time when, despite your best effort, you failed to meet a deadline. What factors caused you to miss the deadline? What was the outcome? What did you learn from it?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: Are you competent at  goal-setting, project management or organizing and planning. Do you understand how to keep track of a project in relation to its deadline? Do you demonstrate above average organizational skills? Are you a procrastinator? Are you quick to blame others, or do you take personal responsibility for failures?

QUESTION: Tell me two characteristics of your personality you have to improve, and how you will do it?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: This question is to find out if you are aware of your shortcomings (weaknesses). If so, what steps have you taken to work on them. They also want to determine if you are self-motivated, and can initiate your own developmental plans.

QUESTION: Imagine I am your manager and I offer you the position. At the end of one year, what will I be writing in your performance review?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: They want to know if you understand the importance of defining and setting specific goals and objectives; if you set realistic goals, and if you attain them. Give the interviewer two or three short-term goals you would have set for your first year on the job, then describe the results after the year.

QUESTION: Why should I consider you a strong candidate for this position? What have been your most significant achievements in your previous role?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: Have you reviewed the job posting thoroughly? Do understand the duties and responsibilities of the job? Do you have the specific skills and the right experience they are looking?

QUESTION: What if I should contact your supervisor to enquire about your technical competence in your previous position? What would he or she list as your strengths? What weaknesses would they mention?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: They are looking for evidence that you are highly competent; that you are a contributor who work hard; that you demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills when working with others. They want to make sure you have the right skills and temperament for the job.

QUESTION: What do you know about the position we are trying to fill? What are your strengths for this job? Is there any reason why you cannot perform the essential functions of this job?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: If you put a lot of effort into researching the company, if you understand the job requirements, and if your skills match their needs. You need to understand what they do, then demonstrate how you would fit in. Avoid mentioning any weaknesses related to doing the job.

You can win the interview game when you understand what the interviewer really wants. To do this, you need to analyze the job posting line by line to make sure your skills, abilities and background are aligned with the requirements. Your next step is to develop accomplishment stories that relate directly to these requirements. Know yourself and your success stories well enough so they are easy to articulate. Refrain from giving rehearsed, robotic answers as they are easy to spot. Recall instances where you helped the company make or save money.

When it comes to discussing your weaknesses, tread carefully, but don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. After all, you are human. Discuss a weakness that shows the imperfect human being we all are, but nothing that could exclude you from being offered the job. Are you impatient? That’s a fair human condition, but explain what you are doing about it.

Finally, this is not the time to be shy. If you really have accomplishments, talk about them with confidence. They are your stories.

Related article in the Toronto Sun on How to Read the Interviewer’s Mind:  How Shall I Answer That?

Want to win the interview game? Ask me how.

5 Questions a Candidate Should Ask in an Interview

Are you one of those candidates whose eyes turn to the ceiling, or who say “No” when asked if you have any questions? As a job seeker, professional or senior executive, you are smarter than that. You have already researched the company and have a list of questions to ask. After all, the interviewer(s) may have been so busy taking notes that they missed some of your key points, and you welcome another opportunity to emphasize those points.

One way of making sure that your key points were not missed and that you have demonstrated your value in the interview, is to be ready for this inevitable question – “Do you have any questions?” Here are some questions to ask:

What do you see as the priorities for this job in the first three months?

Their answer will give you more clarity and allow you to zero in on how your background closely matches those priorities.

Is there anything you’d like me to explain in more detail?

This question gives you a chance to delve deeper into your successes and illustrate your ability to exceed their expectations.

Do you have any doubts about my ability to do this job?

You may or may not get an answer to this question but if you do, it will help you to address any weaknesses or shortcomings they may have picked up during the interview.

Why did this vacancy occur?

You will want to know if it’s a newly-created position; if the person was let go, or if it’s a hot seat where no one stays for too long.

If I am the successful candidate, which duties would you like me to accomplish first?

This will go to the heart of where they are hurting, and you will have to be prepared to focus your energies in those areas first.

Since you are also interviewing the company, the responses to these questions will also help you determine if the company will be a good fit for you. Go ahead and boldly ask those questions. It’s another opportunity to tell your stories and get hired!

 

Image: Courtesy of Lifehack.org

11 Important Interview Tips

Do you have an interview today, or anytime soon? Are you nervous? Are your palms getting sweaty? Stop worrying because help is near.

While coaching a client last week, I suggested to her that she ask for some inside tips from the recruiter since he already knows the company where my client will be interviewing. He quickly reeled off the points below, and while they are not new, they could easily be overlooked by job seekers who are focused on practising answers to interview questions. Hopefully they will calm your nerves and help you to do well in the interview:

  1. Arrive early and enter the building 15 minutes before your interview.
  2. Bring three copies of your resume.
  3. Interview attire is conservative, so dress accordingly.
  4. If you have long hair, pull it back.
  5. If you have several ear piercings, take out extra earrings.
  6. If you have tattoos, cover them.
  7. Take a Photo ID – preferably your current driver’s license.
  8. Relax – answer questions honestly and you will do great.
  9. It is OK to ask interviewer(s) to repeat a question, if you need clarification.
  10. Do not accept anything to eat or drink.
  11. When asked to “Tell me about yourself”, they mean your professional, not your personal background.

While reviewing these tips, others might come to your mind. Add them here.

To your interview success,

 

 

 

11 Things You Can Do Between 11 AM & 11 PM on November 11, 2011

While this blog post is not really connected to November 11, and the Poppy, I have chosen its image as a reminder of the many people who paid and continue to pay the ultimate price for the freedom we so often take for granted. In their honour, I ask that you take a brief moment (less than 11 minutes) to read and understand the significance of this memorable poem written by Lt. Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army. In Flanders Field.

That said, today being 11/11/11, appears to have a significance of its own for many people and what’s going to happen after this date. An extract from the following blog post: The Aquarian Shift: What Will be Different in Our World After November 11,  states:

“You are ready to accept that you have the knowledge and wisdom within yourself. It is no longer necessary to attach to something outside yourself, but to become a leader of one: yourself. Instead of being a railroad car that is pulled by an engine, you become your own engine. It is your responsibility to stay on the tracks and to keep moving forward.”

Here are 11 things you can do to show you are, indeed, leader of one – yourself’ – and that you have the courage to become your own engine’:

  1. “Greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp.”Elbert Hubbard
  2. Show appreciation to those who have fought and continue to fight for world peace.
  3. Learn to say “Thank You” in 11 different languages.
  4. Pick up the phone and make one of those cold calls you’ve been procrastinating about.
  5. Take 11 minutes out of your 15-minute break and mentor someone.
  6. Randomly select 11 people from any of your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts, and send them a message to say how glad you are to have them in your network.
  7. Take an 11-minute mind break to be alone with yourself. Even if you are in an office full of people, just take the time to be quiet.
  8. Send a motivational quote, a tip or a favourite recipe to 11 people in your address book.
  9. Write down 11 accomplishment statements you could use to improve your resume.
  10. Write down 11 interview questions that you struggle to answer.
  11. Send a LinkedIn invitation to 11 people with whom you would like to connect.

Happy 11/11/11, and to whatever significance you attach to it, if any.