Be Prepared For That Next Interview

A job search is much like a cable news show,  you have to get your point across in sound bites. You often don’t have time to give a detailed answer. Candidates need to get comfortable with doing this.

Think about all the times during your job search when you are required to give the famous, “30 second talk.” Many times during the interview process you have a short period of time to answer the question or give your introduction, you use bullet points on your resume and even your business card,  and all of these require you to express yourself in just a few words.

This is one reason why a job search is so difficult. Not only is it very difficult to speak in sound bites, but most candidates are not prepared on how to do it. This technique takes practice. This is not a case where you can just wing it. How many times have you left a meeting, only to realize you didn’t give a great answer to a question, didn’t get your point across as well as you would have liked to or thought, “OOPS I forgot to say ___.” This happens mainly because the candidate hasn’t taken the time to really get prepared.

A job search is not the time for on-the-job training.

It is our experience that candidates wait too long to understand this point. You can’t wait and hope you will do just fine. First off,  “just fine” in this economy doesn’t cut it. Secondly, in this economy, there may not be a second chance for months.

As part of our job search coaching programs, we spend a lot of time preparing candidates for these short sound bites.  Although frustrating for candidates, we have seen these sound bites pay off so many times, and we have to continually reassure the candidates of the need to prepare for them.

Candidates need to spend more time preparing and less time running to networking meetings, coffees, and one-on-ones until they are completely prepared. We find that candidates waste  excellent opportunities because they were not prepared on how to communicate in sound bites. I get calls weekly asking how best to do a do-over because the candidate believes they missed an opportunity.

There are rarely do-overs in a job search.

To learn how to speak in sound bites consider:

  1. Write out what you want to say. Then wordsmith it until it is less than one minute.
  2. Get help. This is a difficult task that takes experience. Don’t be afraid to invest in some professional help.
  3. Take the known items and the comments or questions, such as your introduction, elevator talk, the question,”Tell me about  yourself,” or “So, what do you do?”  Most of you know these, since you have been asked them many times during  your search, and convert them into short sentences that get the point out in less than one minute.
  4. Practice them. Go to people in your network and test them. This is like any marketing campaign.
  5. Once you have the answers for these then add one more set of comments and answers. Having two different sound bites is always a good thing.

Take some time to step back and get prepared. I know every candidate wants to jump into a job search as soon as possible. The problem is this jump is often in the wrong direction.

Like most things in life, if  you do the ground work, get prepared, and do some planning things go a lot better.

To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.

If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free 8 Matrix Job Search Self- Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.

I welcome  your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

The Importance of a Company’s Culture

Our job search coaching and facilitation programs for candidates take us down many different paths. Every program has to be unique to the needs of the candidate. No two job searches are alike and there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to a job search. Customizing our coaching programs is the hallmark of our success.

One example of this happened towards the end of the process with one of our sales and marketing executives.

The candidate had been interviewing with a small, very entrepreneurial company for a VP Sales and Marketing position. We had been working together, all along the way, to ensure he was properly preparing for every interview. It was now down to the final two candidates and the company asked each candidate to put together a short presentation on how they would market and sell the products to new customers. Nothing elaborate, just a half hour presentation.

Some background information is important. The CEO and founder of the company was a cigar chewer, speak your mind, no B.S. type of person. Some might say very rough around the edges. He wore as a badge of honor that he never graduated from high school and still had built a very successful business from scratch. The company was a plastic injection molding company that made custom plastic parts for a variety of industries. The CEO may not have graduated from high school and was rough around the edges, but he had a lot of common sense.

The other candidate was from Xerox and put together a very nice PowerPoint presentation that identified markets, market shares, potential customers in a 30 mile radius with charts/graphs and a lot of detail. I was later told it was a very polished presentation.

In discussions with our candidate, we talked about the company’s culture, the personality of the CEO, and the other people on the management team. Many on the team were well educated and from well know companies. However, as we discussed these issues, it became clear they all really liked working with the CEO for the simple reason that he was blunt, called it like it was, wasn’t one for a lot of staff meetings, liked blunt and direct people, and most said he was a very, “get to the point type person.” The candidate was  told by the team if he wanted to be successful, he needed to be able to work in that culture.

After all of this, we decided to take a completely different approach. The candidate scrapped the PowerPoint and instead simply started researching the market for potential customers and why the company would be a potential target. The day of the presentation my candidate walked in with a stack of magazines, business journals and trade publications. Every publication was dog eared, had stickers on pages and highlights on different pages. The candidate sat in front of the CEO and for his presentation all he did was start opening each periodical to a page and said, “see the company here, this should be our customer, here is why, here is how I would approach them, and here is how we can benefit them.” He did this for almost 20 minutes. That was his marketing and sales plan.

Which one do you think adapted to the company’s culture and the CEO’s style?

Needless to say, if the candidate we were working with didn’t get the job, I wouldn’t have written this article. Although the person from Xerox did a great job, he didn’t adapt to the style of the company. My candidate took all of this into consideration before going in. He also demonstrated to the CEO that he understood how to adjust to the unique styles and cultures of the customer. One type of sales pitch doesn’t work for every customer.

Have you ever had a situation where you could have adapted?

Never forget the importance of the company’s culture and management style you are interviewing with. The better you can adapt to their style and culture, the better you will fit in during the hiring process and after going to work for the company.

To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.

If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free 8 Matrix Job Search Self- Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.

I welcome your comments and thoughts.

Brad Remillard

What Recruiters Look For When They Interview You

People are surprised (even some recruiters) when I tell them that I have had over 10,000 interviews in my life. I don’t understand why, since I’ve been a recruiter for the last 30+ years and that is what I do. Recruiters meet and interview people. Just about every candidate I meet is an interview from my perspective. The candidate may think it is just a networking meeting to get to know each other, but not to me. I’m always thinking, would I represent this candidate, what would a company think when they meet this person, would I be comfortable referring this candidate or would a company screen them right out for a variety of reasons?

I typically meet every candidate I represent on a retained search. I know many recruiters don’t do this, but I always have. I can’t imagine asking a client to meet a person I have not met first. For me that is just too risky. Heck, I have been burned even after I have met them, liked them, and believed they were highly qualified, only to have the client call me back and ask me why I wasted their time with this candidate. It is what I refer to as the,  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome.

Our interview is a dress rehearsal of how you will interview when you meet my client. Every meeting, regardless of how informal it might appear, is an interview and candidates should treat them as such. There are rarely do overs.

The following are just a few of the basics that I’m observing when I meet a candidate. If you don’t pass these, then we will have a nice meeting, but I’m moving on. As I have stated many times in previous articles,  that doesn’t mean you are not a qualified person. It just means that I believe I can find a better candidate for my client, who is evaluating me and the candidate during the interview.

1. Presence is important. Since most of my recruiting is at the senior level, I want a person that has a strong presence. This is someone who will have the respect of the people working for them, their boss, and their boss’s boss. It may start with the introduction and continue on throughout the interview.

2. Arrogance. Again, since most of my recruiting is at the senior level I meet a lot of very arrogant executives. For some reason many feel they are above the process. Their attitude is that my resume speaks for itself and I shouldn’t have to answer your questions. That’s not good if  you want to meet my client.

3. Communication. Do they listen to the question and actually answer the question “I” ask, and not the one they want to answer? This is not a political interview on Fox or CNN. I’m not the pundit that asks a question to have the politician not answer the question, but give a robot reply with some canned predetermined answer. Or worse, they just don’t know what to say so they say everything. I envision what my client will say to me if they answer their questions the same way. There is nothing worse than spending an hour with someone and still wondering exactly what they do.

4. Succinct. This is closely related to #3 above. Does the candidate get to the point and hit the high points? It is the old story, if I ask for the time, I don’t want to know how to build the watch. Most executives need to know how to condense a lot of information into a short period of time. They need to do this in executive sessions, board meetings, management letters, reports, and so on. Many executives, especially entrepreneurs, have the attention span of an ant and don’t want to be buried in detail.

5. Attitude. Is the candidate friendly, affable, easy to speak to, able to carry on some small talk, and will the client be able to relate to their personality? This is a tough one. What works for one client may not work for another. It is a tough call, but one all recruiters have to make. So for me it is about whether or not I am seeing the real person in front of me or if this person is putting on a show for me. Hard to determine, but that is why we get the big bucks as the saying goes.

6. First impression. Since the first impression often drives the interview, and often sets the tone for the interview, this is very important. A strong, friendly welcome is important. Does the candidate make me (and therefore my client) feel comfortable from the start? This ability to relax right from the start is important.

7. Control. An interview is often about control. Good or bad, right or wrong, that is the reality. Who is in control during the interview? The hiring manager or the candidate? Top candidates know how to be in control, and gather the information they need, without appearing to be in control.

8. Initiative/Leadership. Again, most of the people I meet are managers so leadership and initiative are critical. My clients want these behavioral skills.

9. So I don’t receive a lot of comments, yes I care about qualifications, ability to do the job, accomplishments, etc. That is a given.

These 9 things are some of what separate or differentiate the candidates that I meet (interview). They are some of the traits that I know are going to make my client a raving fan and retain me for future searches.

To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.

If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free 8 Matrix Job Search Self- Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.

If you liked this article, please send it to others so they will benefit too. Post it to your Facebook page, Tweet it, or submit it to your LinkedIn groups.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Joining An Accountability Group May Change Your Search – Part Two

In Part 1, I discussed the need for getting an accountability partner and what an accountability partner is. This article will be about what an accountability partner should do to help you.

A good accountability partner can make a major difference in one’s job search. I have seen people spend months looking, but once they engage an accountability partner their search takes off. You can call this coincidence if you want, I did for a while until I saw it happening over and over, and the people using the accountability partner were giving them the credit for their success.

So what should an accountability partner do? Here are some of my thoughts, and please add your thoughts and experiences in the comment section so others will benefit.

1) Accountability. Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but this is the main goal. A good accountability partner will hold your feet to the fire.  First and foremost, they will hold you accountable to do what you say you are going to do.

2) No Excuses. They will listen intently to your excuses and then hold you accountable to what you say. A good accountability partner knows the difference between excuses and real road blocks.

3) Empathy Not Sympathy. Accountability partners  understand the emotional  ups and downs. They understand  your feelings but don’t become emotionally involved or attached.  They can separate their feelings from yours, which allows them to stay objective.

4) Listen Well. They know when to let you blow off frustration and vent. They recognize this is part of the process. However, they don’t let that get you off your plan or off track. They will still bring you back and hold you accountable to what you say you need to do.

5) Help and Guidance. Most job searches get stalled at some point. An accountability partner has the experience and knowledge to help you redirect your search. They have the experience to recognize opportunities that you, the candidate, may never have thought of or when you are just not doing something effectively.

6) Tough Love. A good accountability partner is not there to be your friend. Get a dog if that is what you want. They are there to give you tough love when needed. Sometimes even make you angry or embarrassed if you aren’t delivering what you said you promised to do. They call it as they see it. Would you really want anything less?

7) Willing to Meet Regularly. They will meet you at least weekly to discuss progress and lay out a plan for the following week and month. If your plan is weak, they will push you to improve it. They keep you on schedule and on track. They will take your calls and reply to your emails. Yes,  it is a lot of work and time.

These are some of the key functions of an accountability partner. It is not by any means a complete list. If you get these in an accountability partner, you will be off to a great start in 2012.

Please add other key functions that you think are important or have benefited from in the comment section. We welcome and encourage your thoughts, comments and input.

To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.

If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free 8 Matrix Job Search Self- Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.

If this was helpful, then please help others by forwarding it on to your network, posting it on your Facebook page, Tweeting with the link, posting to your Linkedin groups or status update.  Let’s all do everything we can to help those looking for employment.

I welcome your comments.

Brad Remillard