On Interviewing, Part 4

Of course when you go into an interview for a position, you will have done your research. You looked into what’s going on with the company. You checked out their website. You prepared for potential questions. You have questions of your own. You reviewed your power stories.

Now realize that the people who are hiring, they have a problem. And they need to find someone who can solve that problem. So be sure you are aware of why they are hiring right now. Make that a part of your research. Begin to think in terms of how you can be a solution to that problem. That’s what they want to hear, and that’s what will make you stand out. They’re looking for a solution, and you can be that solution. Position yourself to show that you’re aware of what they intend to accomplish by hiring someone. Check in with them too. When you go into your interview, say, “I imagine that blah blah blah is a problem, and I think that I could contribute by blah.” Doing so will help you demonstrate how you want to be a solution to their problem. They’ll like that.

Much what goes on in an interview is the interviewer seeking to understand your personal brand. It is often an awkward situation because each question is basically, “What makes you the best choice for us?” And, that is such a mind trick of a question. You can get into this idea of, “Oh my gosh, is it okay to say that I’m special…that I’m the best one?” You know what, it’s okay. You have a personal brand, and they want to know about that to determine if you are going to fit into the company culture. Be okay with saying, “This is who I am. This is what I do especially well. This is how I contribute.” Take pride in that.

Prepare yourself by losing that awkwardness about how they’re going to ask you what makes you unique. What makes you better than the other applicants. Understand, that is your invitation to tell them about your personal brand. What you embody. Go ahead and be yourself and stand for something. Know in advance, who you are and what you are looking for and say it with calmness and pride. Question them too. It’s the only way to find out if the match is a good fit for you both.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

On Interviewing, Part 3

It is likely you may be fired at some point in the course of your career. This, of course, can come as a total shock but it is imperative to come to terms with such an experience so that you can recover quickly and be able to represent yourself well in upcoming job interviews.

Spend some time processing what happened and practice verbalizing the lessons learned in a non-emotional way. Keep a positive attitude that you are preparing to go on to bigger and better things. The reality is that even to employers these days being fired isn’t necessarily a mark against you depending on how you recover.

Many successful people have been fired at some point in their career before becoming a superstar.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Most people don’t land a great job or create a wonderful career by being open to anything, not at all. Instead, it’s done by checking in with themselves about what they really want and going for it a hundred percent. This focus makes them more attractive candidates, too. Think about it as if you were the one hiring. You have two people to choose from. One lady has done a job for several years and is keeping her options open. The other lady is committed to being the very best at the job she knows she wants. Who would you be more likely to make an offer to?

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

We typically don’t practice interviewing very often yet each interview we do have is pretty important. Here are three quick tips for interview preparation.

Tip 1 – It is best to think of an interview as a two-way discussion. Yes, often a stressful discussion but remember not only are they checking you out, you are checking them out. In fact, one of the most important actions you can take to prepare for an upcoming interview is to research the company. It is easier than ever to get on the internet, enter a search word and come up with relevant information. Most companies have a web page of their own where you can read up on company history and recent press releases. Be thinking about questions you can ask during the interview as well. Make relevant observations about what is going on with the company and ask your interviewer to comment. You may also want to consider asking some questions like the following.

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What do you think is the most important thing for a new hire to understand about this position? This company? Or this department?
  • Why did the previous person leave this position?
  • What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the new hire?

Tip 2 – Another good way to prepare for the interview is to put together 3-5 well thought out power stories and a couple lessons learned stories. Power stories are your stories about times that you solved problems or had a positive impact in your work. Keep your power stories in a notebook in Evernote and save them forever! These stories are very important to think about in advance of the interview for responses to behavioral interviewing questions which are used very often by skilled interviewers. Behavioral interview questions are ones that ask you to describe times in the past when you solved this or that type of problem. A good format for the stories is to describe the problem, describe the action you took, then describe the result. This is called the PAR technique for Problem, Action, Result. Once you write these stories out, list in the margin the characteristics these stories demonstrate. Then you have ready answers for some questions like “Tell me about a time when _____?” or “What is your biggest strength and why?” Don’t forget to rehearse your answers out loud. It is best to have someone ask you the questions in order to practice most effectively.

Tip 3 – One often overlooked key to good interviewing to have clear starts and stops to your questions and answers. This helps to set a good rhythm for the discussion. It also demonstrates your ability to be concise and listen to others. Don’t be afraid of a few seconds of silence after you finish your answer. A good interviewer will use silence as a tool to get you to rattle on about stuff you did not intend to reveal. Also, silence is an important tool for you to learn use as well, especially come negotiation time.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

To learn even more about strategies for job interviewing, I highly recommend the books by Carole Martin, The Interview Coach. A great one to start with is Boost Your Interview IQ.

Choosing a career direction is a complex process involving many steps including exploring your interests, skills, values, and personality type, plus lots of time to learn and to strategize a career development plan. After the beginning steps of self-assessment, you choose a few of the career fields that seem to have the most promise and do more intense research.

Researching career fields begins with taking a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the O*Net to learn more about specific career fields. Then, if a specific career field is still being considered, it is time to go out into the field to learn more. In fact, one of the most important aspects of choosing a career path is to get out in the real world and study real people. People who are doing the kind of job that you might want to do someday. One way to do this is through informational interviewing.

Typically, the informational interview process looks like this:

  • find people in the career of interest to talk to
  • schedule a time to meet with them for 30 minutes or so
  • ask questions about their career, and then
  • send a thank you note.

There are several ways to find people for an informational interview. The best method is to use your network of contacts to find people in the line of work that you want to learn more about. Begin asking family members, friends, and other people who they know working in the career. For example, you might approach your aunt and ask her, “Who do you know who works as a civil engineer?” Once a member of your network knows someone to refer you to, ask for that person’s name and phone number. You will be surprised how many people your contacts know and how easy it is to find people to talk to about all kinds of careers.

Next call the new contact. Give your name and how you know about them. Tell them that you are interested in learning more about their career field and that you were hoping they could help. Ask if you can schedule a time to speak with them for 30 minutes because you would like to ask them how they got into the field and about their recommendations for people who are considering entering the profession.

Following are some questions typically asked in an informational interview. Remember you most likely will not be able to ask them all since you want to keep the interview to only 30 minutes. Be sure to take a pen and paper for quick notes and recommendations and to assist you with writing a thank you note the following day. Be sure to note the correct spelling of their name and their address by asking them the information and writing it down in your notes or checking their business card.

SAMPLE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  • How did you develop your career path?
  • How did you get into this job?
  • What are your duties as a ____?
  • How long have you been in this position?
  • What do you like best about this career?
  • What do you like least about this career?
  • What would you do differently if you were starting over in this field?
  • What are the educational requirements of this field?
  • What is the typical salary range for this career field?
  • Can you recommend some professional associations for this career field?
  • What do you read to stay up-to-date in the field?
  • What further education do you participate in?
  • What are the advancement opportunities in this field?
  • What do you see as the future of this career field?
  • What is your career goal for the future?
  • What is happening in this industry?
  • What kinds of companies make up this industry?
  • Where has growth taken place in this field recently?
  • Who are your customers or clients?
  • How do you promote your products and/or services?
  • Who are some of your competitors?
  • What has helped to make companies successful in this industry?
  • What recommendations do you have for a person interested in this field?
  • Do you know others I should speak to about this career field?

SHOW NOTES

In this interview, Stevie talks about benefits of using your intuition in your career development. She talks about ways to trust and develop your intuition too. Ideas discussed include the importance of positive thinking and controlling your focus as a mindset strategy. A comparison of analytical mind and intuitive mind as states of mind to begin noticing is an exercise mentioned too.

Shahrzad Aresteh is a career counselor and founder of NourishYourCareer.com where she has created a unique, warm, and inviting career development website. She is a great interviewer who shares many interviews with other career development professionals there too. Check out her book, Nourish Your Career!

Our first interview is about top tips for career development.


SHOW NOTES: Can you fully participate in the day-to-day process of your career management? Learning, researching, and thinking a little every day about potential and opportunity is what career development is all about. Most people are happiest working in a field that uses their natural talents and favorite skills and where their passion for the work is energizing. You can have that too! In this Sparkscast, Stevie talks a little about bit about career development and what she calls career tracking. Stevie also walks you through self-selecting your own MBTI® personality type as a little bonus.

SHOW NOTES:
O*Net
Career Development Book Recommendations