You’ve heard the obvious job interview advice: Don’t be late. Dress appropriately. Don’t curse your former employer. You’ve been around the block a few times, and—you know all this.
What ELSE might be going wrong? Here are a few things I’ve observed in my years of working with clients.
They may screen you out because you were making too much or too little, concluding that you won’t be happy with the salary or the job demands exceeds your skill level. This is a big topic for another day. Be sure to read Jack Chapman’s book, Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute.
I’ve seen a lot of very accomplished people who can’t articulate their skills, especially people who haven’t had to look for work in a long time. They’ve been so busy doing, that they haven’t had to think about articulating what they do to be successful.
This is a time for some real introspection. A lot of people find this to be a tough process. Get some coaching if this doesn’t come easily. Unless you can clearly articulate how you produce value, your chances of getting hired are close to nil.
A good example is a technical writer who worked for a company that sold software used by scientists. She talked about herself as a technical writer. But as we delved into her accomplishments, it became clear that she produces value at a much higher level. She herself has a strong background in science, and she was able to talk to scientists and observe them working to see what features they wanted and needed, and which weren’t. She stated talking about herself as someone who “saves her employer lots of time and money by eliminating the guesswork about what end users want and need.”
Many people make very impressive accomplishments sound ordinary. Others have stories that go on and on and on—boring! Still others just get tongue tied.
You should have at least eight clear and concise stories that powerfully show you in action. Some people call these CAR stories: challenge-action-results. (The have other names, SAR situation-actions-results, for example, but the idea is the same). Don’t just tell them WHAT you did. Take it a step further and answer the question, “Why should people care about what you did?”
One client just said that she had organized a move of 30 employees to a new location. Great that you she did that, but it’s much more powerful when she takes it a step further. I asked her how she measured her success. After all, an office move can result in a chaotic mess. She said that in her case, everyone was able hit the ground running on the first day in the new location—computers, phone, internet and more were all set up just right, ready to start work.
if you’re in a technical field; remember that some interviews may be conducted by non-technical people–HR for instance. Consequently, you need to be prepared to speak in “dialects:” one for technical people and one for those who only speak plain English. Some people don’t understand what a turnoff it is to listen while someone drones on using words and concepts they don’t understand. Don’t make their eyes glaze over. This is particularly important if your job involves communicating with non-technical people.
An even worse turnoff is someone who doesn’t know what the organization is about. The more important the job, the more time you should spend on research. Of course, review the company’s own website, but search for other sites to see what you can find, especially if the company has been in the news. Find out about the company’s mission, strategic goals, and new developments to understand where the company is headed. Check the web sites of competitors to find out more about industry trends. Sites like Glassdoor.com can give you good inside information from company employees about company culture and even how they conduct job interviews.
A quick story
A client was all excited about an upcoming job interview and she asked if I was familiar with the company. I wasn’t, so I went to Glassdoor.com to find information about that company. We found over a dozen bitter complaints about the owners’ management skills and unethical behavior. She declined the interview.
This is a chance for you to score some extra points. If you know in advance who the individual (s) is who will be conducting your interview, read up on him/her. With LinkedIn, company web pages, and other Internet sources, there’s ample opportunity to come to the interview armed with a good idea of the backgrounds, accomplishments and passions of those conducting your interview.
If you Don’t handle these questions right, you’re dead in the water. The good news is that most of the time, you know what these questions will be in advance—so be prepared! Sensitive questions include:
Why were you fired? Why the gap on your resume? Why have you been out of work so long? What have you been doing since you lost your job?
If you’re interested in a free video about how to handle these questions, please send a request to Steve@lucrativeCareersInc.com with “Interview Video Request” in the subject line.
Some people go into interviews with a cocky attitude. They’re good at what they do, they know it, and they communicate that they’re somehow above the process. Some others feel they don’t need to prepare because “I’m really good at interviewing.” Others underestimate what’s coming and say, “I’ll just wing it.” None of this wins you friends—and it won’t get you hired. It’s important to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Thorough preparation wows employers and makes you a top candidate.
Don’t risk blowing that important interview. Ask about our job interview training that equips you to skillfully manage the most important questions. If you’d like to discuss this—or anything else going on with your career/job search, here’s a link to my calendar: https://calendly.com/lucrative-careers
I recently helped a woman get her first executive position.
I was so prepared for my job interviews, thanks to you. I was ready for EVERY question asked, and I successfully turned it into a conversation. It all came in handy, right down to the salary negotiations. My confidence during the interviews was better than ever. The final interviewer said I blew him away with my confidence and the stories I told him–stories that were prepared thanks to you. I really can’t thank you enough. I am now an executive as I always knew I could be. Rhonda Jacobson
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