Editor’s Note: This is the third of a three-part post/podcast combinations on The Art of the Interview. Part I focused on the trauma of losing a job — how it affects us emotionally and the steps we take — the mistakes we make — to re-enter the market as soon as possible. Part II, our Thursday podcast zeroed in on the importance social media plays in the search process and the with steps executives can take to enhance their on-line presence and effectiveness.
Lack of preparation is one of the most common mistakes candidates make in an on-site interview, either with the search consultant or when meeting with the client’s representative, the person who ultimately will make a hiring decision.
Under the broad heading of “Doing the Homework,” here are 10 ideas to be more effective in selling yourself in a competitive interview process.
- Know your ValueProposition©. This is at the core of your resume and interview messaging. If you do not know it, or you do not understand the term, quickly find someone who can help you develop your VP. The creator/perfecter of the concept, Nancy Swain, happens to lead the outplacement practice at my firm. Check out our archive of blog posts at SelfPerspective. Being locked in on your ValueProposition© will dramatically enhance your interviewing skills. It is all about building your confidence.
- Check your LinkedIn connections and other members of your professional network with either know people who work at the targeted facility, or who, through a variety of other sources, may be able to provide insight to the organization’s reputation with employees, their corporate culture, etc. Having a bazillion LinkedIn networking members is really a waste of your time if you do not leverage what they know.
- Search on-line media reports regarding publicity, adverse or otherwise, that might shed light on the organization’s current business challenges, their successes as well as the all important corporate values proposition. News stories can frequently provide additional names who may be able to help with actionable business intelligence. (Be sure to keep excellent records of who you talked to and the type of information they provided).
- In every interview visit, there is always a kingmaker, typically the person who will make the final hiring decision. Know his or her work history and education background. This information is readily available on line. Moreover, if you your research your LinkedIn or personal professional network, you may be able to gain additional, valuable insight. That said, most candidates do NOT put forth this effort.So, if you are looking for another way to differentiate yourself in the market, her you go.
- Ask the recruiter for information on the organization’s financial position, as well as insight regarding their cultural profile, their financial condition, the CEO’s standing, or any known but unannounced career plans, etc. Unfortunately, far too many recruiters have only a superficial knowledge of the organization so you need to ask. And do not forget to ask the “C” question — the aforementioned cultural question since this is the issue that trips up more new employees than any other.
- Review your notes from previous interviews — in this search and others. Candidates report that they hear the same questions over and over so there is no excuse for a candidate not to have a compelling, engaging response. Do not memorize answers — for some people it sounds like you are reading an answer from a script. (Don’t laugh, I have had that happen more than once.) Practice answers to the questions you identify as the most commonly asked. “Play” with your responses to maximize your effectiveness. Stand in front of a mirror as you rehearse. Are you smiling when you answer the question(s)?
- Be sure your market/position intelligence is up to date. Information and situations change. If you have an inside or otherwise connected source about the organization from LinkedIn or your personal professional network, conduct a last minute recon call to be sure the terrain has not shifted. Being well prepared is important, but using out of date information, or using information incorrectly, is a deal killer.
- Master the new interview technology. Whether you like it or not, whether you are comfortable with video or not, it is readily becoming an important tool in the candidate screening/interview process. Candidates must master this technology or run the risk of being seen as out of touch with the times. There is zero advantage in trying to create an attractive brand as a senior executive who is out of step with technology. You may think it is cool but you will be in the definite minority on that issue. Here is a link to our archive on video interviews. Do not minimize the potential negative impact of a poor FaceTime/Skype/Video Conference interview. You can shoot yourself in the foot, from long distance, if you fail to mater this technology.
- Your choice of attire is important for video and in-person interviews. In the video world, you want to be careful with stripes, plaids and colors. The current fad of dark suits and dark ties may win you kudos from the fashionistas, but on television, contrast and a little color is a good thing. Be stylish but sensible. Here are some of my posts on this subject.
- Be authentic. When you review frequently asked questions, rely on your ValueProposition© and your True North compass. Do not try to be that person you think the recruiter is looking for. In the end, that strategy is a net loss for the candidate. Be yourself, your authentic self, well prepared, and confident.