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Avoid a Three-ring Circus with These New Interviewing Strategies
I referenced the circus because I just finished another interviewing book that recommends asking for the job before leaving the interview. I can envision up to 15 qualified professionals each asking the interviewer for the job. If each asks for the job, doesn't that make the question null and void ? cross out each other's great gesture? If everyone jumps through the same hoop, performing like a good little circus monkey, what's going to set you apart from other candidates?
Giving this great thought, I decided to look at the things that would impress me. I've been in the career industry for many years, and if I hired individuals on a daily basis, I wouldn't be impressed by someone asking for the job. By showing up for the interview, I know this person wants/needs the job. The real question is who is the best fit for the position - the person that will add the most to my bottom line.
A number of new strategies that I recommend include discussing the position at the time of scheduling the interview, creating a position-specific presentation for the interviewer, and shocking the interviewer with specifics on how you will transform their business.
I've seen many instances where stepping up to a challenge have been very rewarding. Benefits can cannonball into your favor because going the extra mile has its own rewards. Years ago, for example, I heard a story about an executive who was applying to a well-known jean company. Rather than taking the traditional route, she opted to write her résumé on the back of a pair of jeans. Wouldn't you know it, she got the job! Another example I'll share is of a gentleman who wished to serve on a school board. Rather than submitting his request, campaigning, and holding his breath, he went around and spoke to school administrators and teachers about the condition of the school district. He valued their input, focusing on many of the important issues plaguing the school's progress; and when it came time for the election, he won without trouble.
Each of these people did the same thing: they went against the grain of their competitors. If there are 6 clowns stuffed in a 2-seat car, yet in the rear there is one clown riding a float with fireworks coming off the back. Are you looking at the small car stuffed with clowns, or are you looking at the great show behind the car?
Setting yourself apart has become critical because - let's be honest - the interview process is flawed. The best candidate doesn't always get the position. It's generally the person who says all the right things, at all the right times. The person who has best performed their stage act is not necessarily the one that has the best skills. With this said, I suggest doing something unique, yet professional, showing employers that you care about their successes.
Probing for Information Prior to the Interview
Some individuals love to dish out dirt, so you need only ask the right questions beforehand. Holding the answers to certain questions will make the interview saturated with elements relevant to the company's current situation and needs. Examples of questions that you can ask a secretary or clerk (also referred to as the gatekeeper) at the time of scheduling an interview:
On occasion, you only need to ask one question, sit back, and listen. Remember to hear more than you speak, taking notes throughout the entire conversation. You should cultivate enough information so you can create a nice presentation for the interviewer on your special day.
Create a Presentation that Solves Problems
I'd hire the first person that walked through my door and convinced me that they could make all my problems go away. I know that sounds farfetched because realistically no one can fix everything, but I would hire the first person that came close to being a savior to my exhausting daily workload. Managers want to hire individuals that will satisfy the job description, continue to solve problems independently, and excel regardless of the pressure, all while making the direct manager look good, of course.
As an example, imagine that the gatekeeper said the department experiences huge backlogs of acquisitions. Reference your own experiences to determine the types of obstacles the company may be facing. Log each of your solutions and make notation of a couple of solutions along with implementation procedures. Also, jot down the number of acquisitions you can complete daily and how quickly you can catch up on any backlog the company may be experiencing.
Give the interviewer an offer that can't be refused, rather than performing the same mundane act as the other performers. Sales positions revolve exclusively around clients (revenue); so if you KNOW that you can secure a certain prominent client then offer it as an asset. You can say something like, "I noticed that S3 Corporation isn't an existing client of yours. I know they spend up to a million dollars per year buying products inferior to yours. I have a contact in the business development department that would love to meet with us to discuss ways we can save them money and offer a better product matched by your award-winning service ? once I'm offered the job, of course."
Some newspaper publications offer an archive for tracking a company's history relayed in print. Learn about new contracts awarded to the company, a new division or location, or possibly, a new CEO. Mentioning current events within an interview shows that you are taking an interest in the business. On the other side, you can use these items as ammunition in your presentation.
You'll WOW them only if you do your homework. If you plan to attend the interview with all the magical answers that everyone else practiced, then you should go out and play the lottery. Your chances are stacked against you, especially with today's job market. The competition is fierce, so I recommend modifying drab strategies to incorporate "death-defying" initiatives to get you to the other side of the tightrope rather than falling onto the net.
About The Author
Written by Teena Rose, a certified and published resume writer with Resume to Referral (http://www.resumebycrpw.com) and author to "Resume Designs & Job-search Strategies for College Grads" (published by CareerEpublications) --forecasted to release September 2003.
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Today we hear much talk of the 'global village'. People are have more opportunities to travel and live abroad than ever before. However, when you leave a familiar environment and go for an extended stay somewhere quite different, you could experience a whole range of unexpected and unfamiliar feelings. Many of these emotions can be very strong, making you feel out of control and confused: just the sort of problem you could do without as you try to cope with a new job, a new way of life. This is the experience we call 'culture shock' and its course is well understood and documented. So, the first thing to remember is that culture shock is normal, that it has clearly defined stages and that, provided you understand what is happening to you, you should be able to cope with it.
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The Chicken or the Egg?
Even before I checked my calendar on Monday morning, I knew the appointment would be there. Passed over for promotion again, Ralph wanted specifics on why I hadn't chosen him for the position. This was not a new conversation. I thought of Ralph as my chicken and egg dilemma. Ralph was the chicken. He believed he would make a great Team Leader, and when I promoted him, he would step up and show me how well he could lead. My position was that of egg. Prove to me you have leadership skills by demonstrating leadership in the job you have now, and I'll consider giving you the next position. Here's the question: is it better to do the work, knowing you will ultimately be rewarded for having done it, or should you wait until the reward is there before you do the work? Like the proverbial question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, people differ widely on the answer and run their careers accordingly. Here's the way I see it - one has more to lose by taking the position of the chicken and waiting for someone else to anoint them, than by being the egg and anointing oneself. If I had waited to be a leader until someone offered me a leadership position, I might still be wishing and hoping for someone to notice me. When I wanted to be a manager, I did the work of a manager by taking on more and more responsibilities. And, I got promoted. When I wanted to be a director, I did the work of a director, without questioning compensation or title. After proving myself, I got the job, the title and the compensation. Same with being a vice-president. Doing the job first, gave me the job. It's the same now that I'm out of the corporate arena. Take my dream of being a writer. Changing careers after twenty-something years in management, I could have waited to write a column until I secured a writing contract for one. But, why would someone pay me to write without reading my words and knowing I can. Chicken and egg again. What works for me has been consistent. When I do the work first, the rewards follow. I think of it like exercising. Doing it gives me better results than thinking about it. No one likes to be called a chicken, so ... be the egg. (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
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