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Hit a HOMER in Interviews

From Career Tips, 2009 Volume 1, January 2009

I find it useful to break down interviews into 5 stages:

H = Homework

This is all of the preparation you are going to do in advance of interviews, broken down into:

  • General preparation: Putting together your concise, compelling accomplishment stories, crafting your answers to all of the general Q&A you would expect to come up in various interviews, developing your confident answer for any obvious 'challenges' or 'defects' presented in your background, creating a powerful HERO story to use in opening interviews, etc.

  • Specific preparation: Research into a particular company and opportunity for which you are going to interview, and the people on your interview schedule, deciding which stories will best address their issues, thinking about more specific questions they might have that you need to prepare for, and what questions you will want to ask, ...

    O = Opening

    The first impression you make can either smooth the entire interview process, or dig a hole from which you need to climb out.
    It is vital that you take steps to build rapport with the interviewer right from the start, and even before you get there!

    One key element is your opening pitch, which sets the stage for the rest of the interview, drawing the picture you want the interviewer to see, and reducing the tension level right from the start. For one way to put together a compelling HERO Story to accomplish this, visit: www.JHACareers.com/HEROStory.htm.

    M = Meat

    Now that you've set the stage well, you are ready to get into the real meat of the interview. This stage encompasses everything that happens until you get to the very specific things you need to do towards the end of the interview. Here you need to work to convert the interview from a Q&A session into a natural, influential conversation. You need to build rapport with the interviewer, and in the process dig deep into their issues. You want them to see you as a strong solution to their challenges. For more on this, read this articles: Hit a Home Run in Every Interview.

    E = Ending

    This is a stage that is often given short shrift by candidates. They are so relieved to have gotten through the interview, or are so afraid that they might blow it at the end, that they forget to take 2 critical actions:
    1. Unearth and answer objections. For more on this, see
      You Can't Solve Problems You Don't Know About.

    2. Find out next steps, and then create their own action step.
    R = Re-Sale

    There are at least 3 places where there needs to be a re-sale...
    1. When you write your thank you letters. Don't make the mistake of thinking of these just as thank you's, they are key marketing documents! Don't assume that the interviewer will have taken careful notes and will remember every key aspect of what you bring to the table, particularly not if there are going to be other candidates to consider.

    2. When you get the job offer. Most of the time you are going to want to do some negotiation at this stage, but don't just jump into it. Express your excitement, and what it is that you are confident you will be able to accomplish for the company in this role. Set the stage properly for the negotiations.

    3. After you accept the offer. You are about to embark on a long series of first impressions in the new job or at the new company, and it is vital that those be very good impressions. People are making snap judgments as to whether you are a mover and shaker, someone to watch closely because you are going to make great contributions, or someone they can pretty much ignore as a routine contributor (or worse). Those judgments are going to have a lasting influence on your success at that company! For more on this, read this article:
      Hit the Ground Running.

    If you think through these 5 stages of the interview process, and carefully prepare for each, you too can hit a HOMER in every interview!

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    (C) 2010 John West Hadley, All Rights Reserved
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