…But didn’t know who to ask!
Almost every one of us has interviewed for a job. It seems interviewing in America is a way of life, a passage into adulthood; it’s what moves us through the workforce. We interview all the time. Many people interview multiple places to advance their career, but no matter how often we ride the pony, interviewing itself can be almost as nerve racking as going to the dentist, for those who are unprepared. Think about it. The difference being, the sound of a dentist drill in our mouth and all the fear that’s capable of inflecting can be less threatening then going for a job interview. After all, at the dentist office they offer us Novocain to numb our pain, but what drug does a potential employer offer when days pass and we learn that some “Smuck” from out of nowhere just landed the dream job that I was perfect for? To keep the “passed over rain” from raining on your parade I’m going to share some ideas about interviewing that comes from a recruiter who’s done his share of interviews and who’s committed to your success. Here’s what I’ve learned about interviewing:
- Interviewing is not an art, nor is it a science, its somewhere in the middle; it’s like learning to dance. What? You heard me. We must learn to dance in addition to being able to recite every thing there is to know about the company that’s sponsoring our Prom. And just like senior year, if I might expand my analogy, becoming Prom King or Queen, or making it into the Royal court always followed the decision by the judges. You’re on the dance floor, enjoy it and let it flow, because if you don’t….
- People, who have more impressive resumes then their competition don’t necessarily get the job offers. Job skills, education, expertise and experience, all the stuff that in our mind should set us miles ahead of anyone else who could even dream of working for this company; all that doesn’t guarantee us we’ll escape seeing the “passed over rain”. That’s because, going back to principle # 1, it just could be that our competitor knows how to dance and we never learned.
- Hiring Decisions are based on how we appear at our interview and determined in the first 7 to 10 minutes. Everything else that happens in our hour to shine, serves to confirm their decision one way or the other.
- Interviews are a one time shot deal. Of course there are times when companies do call backs, but in most instances its days latter and it’s because their first choice turned them down. Make it count.
- Jobs go to those who Dress Professionally and appear relaxed. For guys, business suit with white shirt and red tie. Make sure your dress shoes are polished. Be sure you get plenty of sleep the night before. Women, office professional.
- Arrive 5 minutes before your appointment time and give your business card to the receptionist and announce you are here to meet with _________. Then greet your interviewer with a firm hand shake and smile.
- It’s your responsibility to make your interviewer comfortably. Ask them how they came to their company. Get them talking about them selves and then let them talk.
- Ask well thought out questions regarding the company and read everything you can get your hands on! Interviews are a two way street, they need to sell themselves to you.
- Website knowledge helps you talk intelligently, leading to successful interviewing. Make sure you read their press clippings and purpose statement. Ask yourself, what is this website saying that makes them unique? What does their creation story tell you about their company’s culture? How did their pioneer make it through their birthing process and who were the movers and shakers who made it happen? Know your company and relate yourself to their story.
- Don’t talk money unless they bring it up. When they ask what you’re needing in $$$, answer them, “I averaged $$$ over the last three years on my base income, I’m certain that if we come together you’ll make me a fair and reasonable offer.”
- Smile at least 5 times in the interview. One company in the restaurant business told its HR Director to pass on any candidate who doesn’t deliberately smile at least 5 times. It’s dancing, practice if you need it.
- Bring with you a “leather like” folder with letter pad to take notes. You can pick them up for about $20 at any office supply store.
- Bring with you three copies of your resume and your professional references, I suggest at least 6. When reference checks are made and a quick decision is desired 6 references can better serve then if you provide only 3 and 1 doesn’t respond quickly. Multiple resumes are for multiple interviewers, or for the guy who pokes his head in the door to press skin. Chances are he could be a “heavy weight” who loves reading resumes as his people interview.
- Carry written references with you and give them to your interviewer.
- Transition from introduction and what brought you here, into asking for their job description. What does it take to be a top performer as a Sales Manager with xyz Company?
- Immediately start taking notes on your letter pad point by point. Put your head down and your pen to the paper. When the Hiring Authority starts talking start writing. Make sure you have all the items listed regarding your responsibility, laid out before you start selling yourself back to them point by point. Try to be conversational with “I think I understand what you need here, what other responsibilities I need to be ready for?”
- Make certain your interviewer lays all his/her cards on the table. Then she’s going to say: “I think that pretty well summarizes what we’re looking for.” Then, you go back in with…I heard you say…
- Communicate through your concise positive answers: Been there! Done that! Can do it again! Let your words be measured as you give your interviewer the chance to comment or ask follow up questions. Be comfortable with silence and allow the conversation to come to you.
- Ask for the job. Don’t assume that because you nailed their job requirements you also nailed down the job. You have to close for the next step in the hiring process.
- Indicate excitement!!! “Mr. Hiring Authority before I came in today I was very excited about meeting with you, and now that we’ve talked I’m even more excited! What is the next step in the hiring process and when will it happen?”
- SHUT UP! Make the hiring authority give you an answer. First one to talk loses…
- Close for a decision. You expect a specific action to happen in the next seven days!
- Overcome a put off. If you get a we’ll be calling back the best candidates next week, that’s a brush off, but see it as an opportunity to make yourself stand out. Come back with…
“Hiring Authority, I understand that this is a very important decision and you want to hire only the best Sales Manager to fill this position, but let me ask you: Based on our meeting today do you feel I am qualified and capable to do this job? Because if you feel I am I want to know from you that I’m going to be a final candidate; but if I’m not, what can we do in the next 10 minutes to either raise your confidence level in me to make me your guy (gal) or clearly see we don’t have a match and we can go our way as friends? I don’t want to waste your time or mine. Is that fair?
In sales, closing for a decision even if the decision is a no offer; that is the main purpose for entering into the interview process. Your focus is to encourage your hiring authority to a definite decision, that means an action plan that they will commit to in the next seven days. You shouldn’t have to walk away saying to yourself, I think they like me, I hope they liked me.
GOOD LUCK! Now Go Bag Your Elephant