The most important of all the job interview tips, according recruiting expert Jon Harvill, “Win the job offer by thinking like the interviewer!”
Of the hundreds, or possibly thousands, of candidate resumes that have been screened for the job opportunity you are seeking, you are one of the small percentage to make it onto the long list of 10-12 candidates to be interviewed, before a short list is sent for final interview by the hiring official.
The candidate’s challenge is to be the most successful candidate at communicating how well you possess the needed qualifications.
A great story to underscore the importance of the interview is about two hikers are walking in the woods when they come upon a fearsome bear. The bear has not started charging yet so one hiker starts putting on his running shoes. The other hiker points out that, even with his running shoes on, his hiker friend can never outrun that bear. His response, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”
Rather than considering the interviewer as an adversary, adopt the mindset that they are there to gather information and you are there to communicate your qualifications more convincingly and more thoroughly than the other candidates can.
Job interview tips - learning to adjust your thinking.
Think Like The Interviewer
To be the best prepared candidate for the job interview you need to think like the interviewer. You can assume the interviewer has been well trained in how to ask questions, record answers, interpret body language, all while avoiding the pitfalls of discrimination regulations. The interviewer may also be the person who analyzed the job function, identified the critical competencies required to perform the job, developed a job description, and selected specific questions to measure each of the 10-15 competencies identified to be important for this job.
Your challenge is to make it easy for them to understand how well qualified you are. You want them to visualize you performing the function in such an outstanding manner that they will receive credit and recognition for making a great selection for the company.
Here are some job interview tips to help you better connect to the interviewer.
The interviewer has been trained to establish rapport quickly in order to learn what s/he needs to know to make an employment recommendation. For you, as a candidate seeking their endorsement, it is also to your advantage to remove communications barriers quickly. In addition to the traditional small talk, a warm self-confident smile, good eye contact and being relaxed, can speed the natural connecting process that takes place as two people establish rapport.
You can speed the natural process by consciously mirroring the body position of the interviewer and adopting the same speech pattern of rate, volume and tonality. You can incorporate into your vocabulary some of the actual words used by the interviewer. Mirroring is simply a matter of subtly reflecting back someone we know they like, themselves. In the natural process of establishing rapport, studies have shown that we even tend to match rate of breathing and heart beat. But with intentional mirroring, subtly is the difference between a compliment and an offense.
More job interview tips - presenting your competencies.
You need to do your research. Study the actual (or assumed) job description, the job ad you responded to and your own resume, which the company, in this instance, has obviously used to screen you ‘in’ for this position. With some accuracy, you too can figure out what personal competencies the interviewer has considered to be essential for this position. Examples of personal characteristics can include:
Responsible Communications skills
Energy and Enthusiasm
Consider how best to present and explain your technical competencies and accomplishments that will be verified during the interview process including:
Cost reduction techniques mastered
Level of responsibility
Project management skills
More job interview tips - behavior patterns are important.
Today, interviewers focus on behavior, recognizing that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Interviewers prepare with tailored interview guides that have suggested behavioral questions to bring out each of the competencies assigned for the particular job. The questions will often take on the pattern of, “Give me an example of …”, “Describe a situation …”, or, “Tell me about a time when …..”.
More job interview tips include "story telling" as a presentation technique.
Learn To Tell A Story
The first step in preparing for answering these questions is to brainstorm with your friends and even colleagues from previous jobs. Develop a list of your accomplishments, characteristics and your personal traits. Getting input from others will help to articulate and emphasize your strengths.
This may take more than just a few hours to develop a meaningful list but continue the exercise until you have pages, possibly hundreds of line items, of your own accomplishments. Then go through that list and select those accomplishments and characteristics that match the competencies needed for the position for which you are being interviewed.
Next, develop short stories from your list of accomplishments that will exemplify each of the characteristics and accomplishments that the interviewer will be interested in.
Use the acronym S.T.A.R. to structure your responses. Describe the Situation Task, Action taken, and the Results obtained.
By asking yourself the question, “Why is that result important?” Often the most powerful measure is calculating the impact on the organization’s bottom line.
Rather than saying “We reduced inventory” or even “We reduced inventory by 28%”, you can say “With the improved inventory accuracy obtained by my cycle count program, we freed up $2.6 million in operating capital by reducing inventory 28%. Additionally, we removed $500K from our FY2008 operating expense budget because of the reduction in inventory carrying cost and for each subsequent year”.
Write out these selected stories and rehearse them out loud so that during the interview, it will not be the first time you have actually verbalized them. Make sure you have a story for every characteristic and skill you can expect to be quizzed on, and every accomplishment you want to have remembered by the interviewer.
During the job interview, intertwine these stories into the conversation as direct responses to questions, or as tangential extensions to your response to a related question. Get these important stories into the interview if it can be done without rambling or getting off of the subject. In those instances when the interviewer received needed information without actually asking, it carries extra credibility, almost like a third party testimonial. Your goal is to conversationally give evidence of all the important competencies during the course of the interview.
More job interview tips - ask smart questions.
When given the opportunity to ask questions, do so, but every question must be for the purpose of moving the interview toward a job offer not for the purpose of gathering information. Well thought out questions can show that you have done your homework, reflect your interest in the job and the company, and used to aim the conversation toward your strengths.
“I am aware that cost control has been important for your company to continue to make your bottom line profit margin. The effective use of lean six sigma has always been one of my strengths. Will there be opportunities for me to work on lean projects from within this supply chain function?”
“I have been very successful at bringing my projects in on time and under budget. Which of my projects will have the greatest positive impact this next quarter?”
“There has been a lot of excitement about your scheduled implementation of the XYZ ERP system. I was designated the subject matter expert in two XYZ implementations. Will there be any opportunity for me to participate as a team member or a super user with this implementation?”
The interview will typically end with an opportunity to ask additional questions, so always have a reserve of questions, still serving your goal of moving your candidacy onward to receiving an offer.
A closing question may even be, “You have explained the job and described the challenges very well. I like what I hear. I feel it has been proven in my past performance that I possess each of the characteristics you are seeking. My take is that accomplishing X, Y and Z will earn for the company at least $3MM in additional profit and that can clearly be done in my first quarter onboard. Don’t you agree I am the best qualified candidate for this job?”
"The job interview tips provided by Jon Harvill were directed at job candidates - but every family business should be constantly evaluating and perfecting their interview process," according to leading family business expert
Schwerzler has been studying and advising family businesses for more than 40 years and he is the founder of the
Family Business Institute.
Special thanks to guest contributor Jon Harvill CPC who volunteers as Director for the Atlanta APICS Career Center.
Jon is the founder and CEO of Professional Search of Atlanta, an industry leader in identifying and recruiting logistics and supply chain management talent. Contact Jon Harvill at 770-952-0009 or visit their web site Professional Search of Atlanta
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