Five Tips to Improve Your Job Interview Skills

Five Tips to Improve Your Job Interview Skills

Final decisions are made during the interview

I remember going for job interviews and how scared I was. Isn’t everybody? But it can be minimized significantly once you get yourself prepared. Here are a few tips.

Learn about the company

By spending time to learn about the company, you’ll gain self-confidence. Spending a few minutes on the company’s Web site is just the tip of the iceberg. The interviewer is going to be utterly impressed if you can demonstrate in-depth acquaintanceship with the company. Details and facts about your potentially future employers are of utmost importance. You should know the company’s sales, number of employees, various divisions, locations, stock price, key leaders’ names, and other minutiae that you were able to read about. Learn about the interviewer, too, and the interviewer’s team. The devil is in the details. Use LinkedIn for your research. Find out where these people worked before. Impress them with your knowledge.

Offer your knowledge to help

Now that you know about them and their needs, find opportunities to offer your skills as they involve your ability to assist them in their crucial areas. After all, this is exactly what they’re searching for. Hiring managers don’t want people who need a long period of training. Can you help them shortly after being hired? Say so, and talk about it via examples from your past.

Develop a dialogue by asking relevant questions

Prepare a few questions to which you already have the answers. Demonstrate your knowledge and ability to deliver on your commitments. Show via your questions that you’d be a good fit for this position. Detail both your past experience by being a part of a team and your personal contributions.

Differentiate yourself from your competition

All candidates interviewing for the same position have been picked from a large pool of applicants because they seem promising. The interviewer and the interviewing team will have a difficult time distinguishing between all of them. Assume that there are five applicants and an hourlong interview with each. This is a lot of information to absorb, digest, and declare one winner unless there’s something special to remember. Think of a clever way to catapult yourself forward and leave your competition behind by being different and memorable.

Connect with those you interview with

This is basic, but unless you seem likable, the interviewers will not vote for you to be hired. Skills and accomplishments are important, but if you appear less than amiable, your chances are slim. What does it take to appear friendly, you ask? Make eye contact, smile a lot, show enthusiasm, sit forward in your chair, and call the interviewer by name.

How to Make the First Impression in an Interview

How to Make the First Impression in an Interview

Photo credit to: Antonio Guilem123rf 591

“Nobody impresses me for the first sixty days on the job.” This was a saying that all of those working with me in the corporate world would hear me say over and over. I wanted to express that there’s a difference between the impressions a job seeker leaves initially—even as early as during the interview—and the impression an employee makes afterward for the duration. I have proved that particular opinion to be correct many times over: people who had made a great impression during the interview not in all cases demonstrated those great qualities and extensive knowledge some months after being hired and on the job.

But let’s first agree on the purpose of the interview. No, it is not to get the job. It is to get a job offer. And once the offer was committed to paper and received by the candidate, the latter must perform due diligence, evaluate the offer, negotiate if appropriate and possible, and then make a final decision. However, to get that coveted letter that starts with the word Congratulations, one needs to convince the hiring team that one is the ideal candidate.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the first impression

We’ve all heard the saying that the first impression is a lasting impression. And it’s true. Interview guru Lou Adler performed an otherwise admittedly less-than-scientific study via a survey. The result was that more than 80 percent of people like a person they meet for the first time. And this is applicable also in an interview situation. A further question asked about the importance of that first impression; in Adler’s study example, it was a salesperson. Of the respondents, 85 percent indicated that the first impression is highly important. Now, I don’t think there’s anything new or surprising about those numbers, but they do support the general tenet of the importance of the first impression.

The first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse. The impression made during a first encounter is extremely important, simply because it sets the scene for all future interactions.

Remember the importance of the smile!

“Smile and the world smiles too,” as the adage goes. There’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A pleasant and confident smile puts both parties at ease. So, smiling is always a winner when it comes to making a great first impression.

Project confidence

Body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words. Use your body language to project self-assurance. Stand tall, make eye contact, and greet with a firm handshake. Good manners together with polite, attentive, and enthusiastic behavior help make a good first impression.  When decision making comes, people will forget all the words you said but will remember the image you created.

How to Change a Career Not a Job

How to Change a Career Not a Job

Career change is possible if you know how

No surprise that in this economy more and more people are toying around with the idea of changing careers. For some, such a change represents an opportunity; for others, it may be a necessity because their industries are shifting, shrinking, or becoming extinct. The question my clients ask with more and more frequency is how to go about it. Regrettably, though, there’s no simple or one-size-fits-all answer, because each situation is unique. In other words, no two people’s circumstances are the same. A career coach cannot make such a decision for a client; the answer has to come from the individual. A career coach can of course counsel, guide, and support the process.

Let’s make sure we understand that I’m not referring to a job change. A career change is a radical change–for example, an executive with a finance background who buys a restaurant, or a manager at AT&T, a very well-known communications company, who shifts into managing an adult community or a nursing home. Those are real-life examples of people who were successful at making those changes; I know them personally. So, the questions are, What drives the process? and What does it take to come out as a winner?

Now let’s agree from the beginning that a career change involves significant risk. Not all career changes work out well. Decisions of this nature have at least two major components: the intellectual and the emotional. The emotional part involves the pain that a person endures and that strongly motivates and impels the person toward willingness to take a risk. The other component is the intellectual part, which involves, say, the person’s need–or desire–to make more money or the person’s disappointment with the industry, or with the nature of the current job, or with an intolerable boss who is apparently not leaving soon.

At the core of the job-changing decision-making process are three questions that require concrete answers:

  • What are the job-changing individual’s values?
  • What does the job-changing individual have to offer a potential employer?
  • What does the job-changing individual expect in return?

Values have to do with one’s feelings about family, recognition, monetary rewards, security, promotions, belonging, commitment, loyalty, and so forth. The answer to the question regarding what one has to offer will be an analysis of skills–such as marketing, presentation, sales, research, and data analysis–and then identification of whether one has the traits that support those skills: is the person aggressive, independent, articulate, persuasive, logical, visionary?

The remaining issue deals with what the person wants in return. This touches on environmental and cultural factors. For example, does the person like to work in small organizations or big ones? How does the person feel about leadership styles, corporate politics, company reputation, work/life balance, and flextime for new parents, for example? And how about critical matters like salary, health coverage, and investment programs versus the minimum levels of compensation and benefits needed?

As you can see, a career change is loaded with complexities. My advice is to consult someone who is equipped to guide you as you navigate this maze. And a challenging maze it is indeed.