From my perspective in working with executives, particularly over the past few years….two things have become apparent:
1. Everyone purports to know how to interview…but few execute well.
2.The most qualified candidate does not necessarily get the offer…the offer usually goes to the candidate who interviews the best.
So, if you have survived the emailing, the phone interview(s) and made it to the face to face interview, you’ve done well…and you really deserve to maximize this opportunity that you have earned.
In my workshops on interviewing, I ask the audience this question: “If you are going to paint a room, what is the most important step in that process?” The answers vary from picking the paint color to choosing the right brush. The answer I’m looking for is “the prep.” If your masking is sloppy or you have not filled in the picture hook holes, you could pay $50/gallon for the paint and it will still look unprofessional. Your prized antique furniture or meaningful art will not cover up the mistakes.
When it comes to interviewing, we all know the preparation is important. So what do most people do for prep…check out the company website, study industry/product trends and Google the interviewer. And of course, review the job description. After all, we want to be knowledgeable and “right” with our answers.
This is helpful, but there is much room for improvement. Let’s examine one of these more closely; the job description. The job description is typically broken into three general parts:
1.Description of the company products and its industry.
2.The title, job duties/responsibilities and reporting structure.
3.The candidate profile –the person with these skills and qualities.
Numbers one and two are quantitative and the basis of your research. In my view number three is the most important part of the interview preparation. Here is where the all important “fit” comes into play.
The candidate profile is divided into “hard skills and experience” and soft skills i.e. leadership, decision making, management, etc. And of course all of them are grouped into “required” (usually in descending order of importance) and “preferred.” The “fit” is determined by relevancy (your skills and experience against their definition of what skills the successful candidate should have) and that indefinable something called “will you like doing the job and will I like you doing the job”.
To determine relevancy, I recommend the following as a guide. (Excessive humility or braggadocio will not help you here.)
1. List their required skills (again, whether you agree or not)
2.Then evaluate your skills (both hard and soft) on a scale from 1 (never heard of that acronym let alone do I know what it means) to 10 (I have current and direct experience, achievements and knowledge.)
Companies today want 8’s, 9’s and 10’s.
• For any low scores (7 and below) prepare an “equivalent answer”. For example, if the position requires an MBA and you don’t have one, your response might be “I have 20+ years of successful business experience.”
• For all of the soft skill questions, prepare a story of about 3 minutes that is a solid achievement supporting each soft skill.
Let’s consider the elements of that softer side of “fit” by today’s definition.
(Your technical competence is assumed at the time of the in person interview. Yes, they will check your references. Initially, technical is the focus of the phone screen with soft skills to be screened in the face-to-face meeting. You don’t even get the face-to-face interview unless you have the right background.)
1. During the interview, they want to know how excited you are about the position and the company. Have you chosen them? Be prepared to discuss why (from your heart as well as your head)
2.Will they like you doing the job? (This will be influenced by how you express yourself in #1) It is my opinion that #2 is at least 50-60% of the hiring decision today.
There are definite measures and tactics that you, the interviewee, have control over: your preparation, the interview itself and the follow-up. When following up with clients and their interviews, the question comes up …”would you do anything different?” If yes, we learn from it and move forward. If the answer is no, then we know we maximized the face-to-face interview. In these cases, we get and go out on another interview stronger and wiser and increasing the probability of success.
Guest post by Randy Block; Randy Block is an executive coach specializing in career transition. He also serves as a staffing and onboarding consultant for high tech startup companies. He has over 30 years’ experience in executive search/recruiting. Randy’s executive consulting practice includes both tactical and strategic issues; i.e. Interview Preparation, Personal Branding, Onboarding, Consulting/Freelancing Opportunities, Boomer issues, etc.
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