Prepare to Win

Fair Warning: This is going to sound like a victory lap, or maybe an advertisement. It is not meant that way. There is a lesson to be learned from my experiences with a recent client that can be useful to everyone, and I just can’t let it go by without sharing.

Sam is a very smart and technically oriented guy with a career in a challenging field that requires current skills and continuous learning. Sam has had some interesting experiences, though none were create Facebook, imagine the iPad moments. He has just done a very good job working in his niche and he likes what he does.

Sam also was a pretty poor interviewer, something I know because I conducted Skype-based practice interviews with him. By working through some practice interview sessions guided by the accomplishments that we presented on his résumé, Sam got much better. Today, Sam landed a job, getting him off of the contractor merry-go-round and into a direct position with benefits in a city where he wants to live. He couldn’t be happier.

So what’s the lesson? Preparation pays. Sam recognized that his résumé was lacking and that he needed help to slam-dunk the interview. Then he took action and got help. His preparation and investments in time and effort – along with the self-awareness that drove him to get help – brought him to this happy day.

Good luck, Sam, and congratulations on your wisdom and humility that allowed you to prepare to win.

Face to Face

You have a great résumé and you have found a job listing that sounds like it was written just for you. You send off a perfect cover letter and the best possible thing happens: you get the call and a recruiter wants to schedule an interview.

Now what? Are you ready to sit for an interview and follow up?

First, how much time have you spent preparing for easily anticipated questions? When the recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager sits with you, how will you respond to these questions?

  • Please, tell me about yourself and your career.
  • What accomplishments from the last 12 months are you most proud about?
  • Give me details on how you grew sales/reduced expenses/improved profitability as you claim on your résumé.
  • What is your greatest strength? How about your biggest weakness?

Are you going to be ready for these questions, or will you just hope for the best and see what happens? Your competition will prepare and practice and have a portfolio of answers in mind to answer these and other questions. How well do you know yourself and how well can you tell your story in a compelling way that will make the interviewer want to hire you?

Here are a couple of ideas to help you get ready:

  • Research the company you are hoping to join. Complete an Internet search for “(Company Name) interview questions.” That may give you some insight into the questions you will face. Glassdoor is a potential resource to check.
  • Write out your answers to common questions and read them out loud. Do they sound convincing? Try recording your voice – your smartphone probably has a voice recorder – and listen for enthusiasm, energy and conviction. Is it there? No? Try again.
  • Know your résumé from top to bottom. Even if you paid someone to write it for you, this is your life and your career. You need to get committed. (An aside: You can either be involved or committed. When it comes to a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved. The pig is committed. You want to be the pig).

If this still leaves you feeling unprepared, get some help. You have come this far. Making an investment in interview coaching can help. Whatever you decide, get ready, because your time to sell yourself face to face is coming.