Archive for category Interviewing
A recent Gallup survey found 70% of American workers are disconnected and are not working to their full potential. The article by Gallup on the survey stated this resulted in $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year and gave a number of suggestions for companies and managers to tackle the problem. But what about the employee? How much in lost bonuses, promotions, and success leading to new opportunities did they lose?
The majority of white collar employees are, in reality, in business for themselves. Increased output not only results in monetary gains through raises, promotions, or bonuses but also through new opportunity. The reward may not be as great as the entrepreneur but neither is the risk. Companies want to hire top performers and opportunity finds top performers. So although it is in part the responsibility of the company and management to motivate employees, from a career and monetary perspective, the truly successful are able to motivate themselves. Simple right? The problem is the gap in most US education has and will continue to be…Positive Thinking. Unless you played a sport and maybe were probably exposed to some locker room halftime speeches. To salespeople it is a necessity but to most other professions Positive Thinking education comes off as hokey and trendy. If you have not embraced it and are falling into the 70% of disconnected workers it is time to dig in…for your, your career’s/resume’s,your family’s, and your bank account.
Here is a quick Positive thought for the workday and it comes from a painter. We were having a house staged for sale and needed to freshen up the place. A friend recommended Jody but he had a regular 9-5 job and just painted on the side so he could only paint in the evenings. It was a big job and I was concerned he couldn’t get it done in the few hours he had every evening. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about…this guy was fast and did awesome work. I was amazed at how he could get done in a few hours what would have taken me days. After he finished and I was paying him I asked “this work is amazing, how did you get this done so fast?” His answer ” I just go, I don’t pause look back and survey my accomplishments and I don’t get aggravated by setbacks and spills…I just go” I know I’m amazed at how much I get done before I go on vacation or when I have a deadline. But it is not difficult to carry on that same attitude and dedication in the workday and “Just go” or in Nike’s famous ad “Just do it”.
Here’s a quick list my favorite authors and works:
Life & Work: Anthony Robbins, Larry Winget, Jim Rohn, Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, & Brian Tracy
Christian: John Acuff, John Maxwell, Norman Vincent Peale, & Joel Osteen
Classic: Earl Nightingale, James Allen, Napoleon Hill, and Dale Carnegie
Finance: Dave Ramsey or the books “Millionaire Next Door”, “The Wealthy Barber” or “The Richest Man in Babylon”
Sales: Zig Ziglar, Harvey McKay, and Jeffery Gitomer
Old fables are still applicable to today’s hectic lifestyle. The Flight of Icarus has three great lessons to consider. Icarus had to leave the island of Crete knowing there was not a future for him there.
To grow sometimes you have to go. As we all reach those times with our job, it is time to go if we are going to grow. But it is difficult, you stand on the precipice wanting to fly but old habits and comforts of a place we have called home hold you back. Fly, it is a great feeling. I can recall walking out of one my old companies after turning in my resignation literally feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders…floating. Don’t be afraid to fly. One lesson.
Have great mentors. Icarus had his Father, Daedalus. Daedalus was a remarkable craftsman and wise man. He was a great Father also, he wanted something better for his son and knew that Crete could not provide that future. He helped him prepare for his journey and gave him great advice including “don’t fly to close to the sun”. But he didn’t listen and ended up in the sea which now carries his name, the Icarian Sea. Keep a core group of mentors, positive people who want you to be the best you can be so you know your path is the correct one. As a Recruiter I try to be that mentor, lifting people up to a new future. Lesson two.
Don’t fly to close to the sun. We all want to strive to be the best at what we do but don’t lose focus of what is important in life. If you are pushing to hard and it is costing you your health or your family it is time to level off. Don’t worry you are still flying, moving forward, but know your limits and take the time to catch your breath and enjoy to view. Don’t push to hard and enjoy the view. Lesson Three.
Let’s make today count!
What is your biggest weakness? Oh snap…didn’t think that one through! Countless improvements you want to make to yourself pop in your head “I like to sleep in” “I haven’t been to the gym in weeks” or “I’m a danger to others on the golf course”. Of course, the answer has to be relevant to the job. Here are a few different ways to answer that question that you may have never considered.
A weakness that is actually a strength. Great candidates don’t take the easy route but a layup could still get you the job but if you are competing with a few others for the role you don’t want to make layups…you want to nail the 3 pointer with a great answer. What is the layup/easy route? Answers like “I care too much!” “I’m a perfectionist!” or the classic “I’m a workaholic!” Don’t get me wrong…answers like this may get you the job…as a cashier or barista. You have to know your audience which I will get into in more detail later in the article. Examples of interviews you can take the layup weakness answer are interviews with managers that are not hiring for a challenging/entry level role or are not the direct report for the role. As always, candidates that take the time and do their homework in the process will know their audience.
Now for the great answers…you must, as mentioned above, study up on the role, the company, and the hiring manager. You can shoot from the hip on these questions but luck favors the prepared. And don’t just state a weakness and leave it hanging out there…close on it with your ability to adapt, learn, or grow.
Your weakness is actually one of the reasons you are successful at your job. A couple great examples are “I don’t like being in the office” while interviewing for a Sales Role that takes a lot of travel OR “I don’t like work travel” for an Analyst role that is in the office 100% of the time. Just think of 180 degrees from your strengths. Most likely your guidance counselor did the same review when you were both meeting on your career…someone with SAT scores with high math (strength) & low verbal (weakness) in Engineering or high verbal & low math in Communications. Always close on the answer though… on why it is not going to be a problem and NEVER make a big deal about it “I CAN’T STAND doing paperwork” or say “I hate” instead…”I don’t like” or “I don’t enjoy”. Every Sales person has to spend some time in the office and every analyst has to travel for training a hiring manager will immediately screen someone who is a going to be a pain.
A weakness that is trainable. This is also a great opportunity for the “Compliment Close”. Examples are “I have heard great things about you and your ability to train & lead” or “I have great respect for your company’s expertise in this field”. Review the job description and your resume to look for clues. If there is a huge curve on the training you may want to avoid this route. This needs to be something you can quickly learn or learn in the natural progression of your career. An example is “Managing People” if you are interviewing for a role with no direct reports.
Call out the elephant in the room. This falls under trainable but it is a big issue or a long training curve. Under the requirements on the job description it lists “Must have experience with XYZ Account” for a Sales role or “Must have experience with XYZ software” for an Analyst role. You don’t have it but here you sit in the interview. If you applied through a posting it is probably for one or both of these reasons… either the candidate supply (either the market or candidates that applied for the job) is low or candidates that have the experience are too expensive (outside the salary parameters…ie you’re a bargain) so that company has to be flexible. If you are going to call out the elephant you have to able to tackle it and close on it. Examples of closes are; you supported the team/group that did, worked closely with someone who did, or worked on something similar. “I supported the team that called on the XYZ account when I was in my Sales Communications role”, “I was aligned with team that handled that account and gathered lot of information about the account from my peers” or “I have dealt with ABC software which has a lot of similarities to XYZ software and could quickly learn”
Overall the key to great interview answers is knowledge of your audience. This is attained by studying up in the role, the company, and the interviewers. Strengths and weaknesses are basic interview questions and you better be able to list both and why. Do the work and you can get the job!
Whether you are nervous about an interview or you just want to be sure you are on top of you game here are few tips to help you through. First off, just about everyone gets a little nervous before a big interview so you are not alone. Secondly, pat yourself on the back! Your resume was picked out of many and important people are going to take precious time out of their day to talk to you. Find confidence in your performance in the process so far. So now let’s get started on some steps to get you prepped for the big day.
- This is always the most important step of an interview. Study, study, study! Study up on the company by reviewing press releases, industry news, and their finances. Study up on the role by comparing the job description to your resume and researching on Linkedin the backgrounds of people who are in or have been the same role. Next study up on the people you will be talking with on the interview. Linkedin again is a great resource but you can also Google them.
- Assume rapport. Think back to every cocktail party or other social event you have attended. Remember a time when you ran into someone in your field? Remember how easy it was to talk with them? We spend the majority of our day at work so it is a big part of the lives of everyone in the workforce. The Interviewers are in your field and probably have started out at similar training companies and/or had a similar college major. You will have more in common with the people you will be talking to that day than 90% of the people you run into on the street or at a non-business social event.
- Pump yourself up. If you have positive thinking material or music that gets your spirits up listen to it beforehand. If you are a religious person pray for strength and know that God built you to succeed. Self-talk is another great tool. You can fall back on your knowledge of the company, role, and people (you did step 1 right). A quick example would be “I have done this and I can be a great asset to this company and the Hiring Manager’s team”. If you are self-conscious, don’t be, look at Olympic athletes lips moving before a big competition…self-talk is a proven tool.
- Breath. Take a few deep breaths before you walk in the door. Focus on breathing with your diaphragm (your belly expanding instead of your chest). If you are able to close your eyes and clear your mind.
- Joke about it. If you are still feeling nervous, smile and joke about it and compliment them about their company in the process. Example “I apologize I’m a little nervous I have heard great things about your company and I am excited about the prospect of working here” Again everyone has been there…yes there are a few rock stars out there that haven’t but the majority of us have been through similar trials. You can also try this with the person at the front desk. Sometimes they are one of the decision makers. After you are through that day and the hiring manager walks you do the door they will turn around and ask “what do you think about him/her?”
These tips should help you through your big interview day. Overall stay positive throughout the conversations…don’t ever talk negatively about a role, company, or boss, every set back was a learning experience, and every obstacle was a challenge you overcame. Now do your homework! Luck favors the prepared.