If you have ever worked with an attorney or known an attorney, you are more than likely aware of how critical evidence is to an attorney’s ability to win a case. I have yet to meet an attorney who was able to win a case without strong evidence. So what does job hunting have to do with evidence? EVERYTHING! Just like an attorney would never base his or her case on a client being a “great guy,” you as a job seeker cannot rely on how hard working or fabulous you are if you are not willing to give evidence to support your claims.
How can a job seeker put together evidence to make their case stronger as to why an employer should hire them?
- A job seeker should begin by putting together a list of their top five to ten characteristics or traits that make them a good candidate for a position. These things could include: being hardworking, good at dealing with difficult personalities, analytical, loyal etc..
- Next, the job seeker should come up with a piece of evidence that substantiates each of those characteristics that would have an employer want to hire them. For example, if you say that you are hard working, give an example of where you worked straight through the weekend.
- Finally, these pieces of evidence should include examples of that job seeker’s PEP (Productivity, Efficiency and Performance-where have they increased their PEP and the PEP of their company and tie in their evidence of where they have enhanced it in the past). An example would be that in less than six months, you increased the company’s revenue by 10% in your region.
If you follow these three easy steps, you will be on your way to making a stronger case as to why an employer should hire you.
There are two types of interviews that could frighten even the most experienced job seeker: The Panel interview AND the Group interview.
By a Panel interview, I mean that you are being interviewed by more than one hiring manager at the same time. There are several things that you can do to be effective at a Panel interview:
- Make eye contact with each person who is interviewing you throughout the interview.
- Do not interrupt any of the people who are interviewing you.
- Do your research on each individual who will be part of the panel and direct specific answers to that person based on their background.
In order to be effective at a Group interview, where you are being considered along with several other applicants at the same time, it is important to stand out from the crowd.
The top 5 ways that you can stand out from the crowd in a group interview include:
- Have strong talking points. Don’t waste your words. When time is precious, like it is in a group interview, it is important to have everything you say make an impact. Always have a minimum of 3-5 talking points prepared that include evidence of where you have increased Productivity, Efficiency and/or Performance in the past (show them your PEP!).
- Wear a bold color. Jewel tones are ideal (royal blue, kelly green, red etc…only do this for a group interview! Normally I recommend more subdued colors), but stay away from patterns or loud jewelry. Standing out is important, but you do not want to stand out in a negative way.
- Again, never interrupt! Do not interrupt your interviewer or your other interviewees. It all comes down to respect. Absolutely chime in when a discussion begins and add your two cents (tie in your talking points), but under no circumstances should you interrupt others in the group.
- Do your research/be knowledgeable! One of the main reasons that people do not get hired is because they have not done their due diligence. If you know more than your counter parts who are being interviewed, you will have more opportunities to speak and share your knowledge with the group. Make yourself stand out by being the expert in the group. Be confident, not cocky!
- Don’t forget to ask questions and follow up immediately after the interview. I think it is always wise to send an email thank you immediately after the interview AND to send a hand written thank you note the following day.
In my last article Proactive vs. Reactive interviewing, we discussed the difference between a proactive and a reactive interview. In this article, I wanted to give you an additional way that you can proactively approach your next interview.
One of the major reasons that people are ineffective at interviewing is that they are unprepared for the concerns, hesitations and/or issues that an employer has about their background. Rather than proactively addressing potential concerns or issues regarding their own resume they wait to react to the questions the employer asks them about why they might NOT be a fit and typically fumble.
Below are some examples of potential issues or concerns an employer might express about your resume and/or background:
Why do you have so much movement on your resume?
Why do you not have a degree or are you missing XYZ certification?
Why have you been temping so long?
What have you been doing since you were laid off?
Why do you not have specific experience or skills for this position?
The next time you go in for an interview, take a moment to dissect your resume the way an employer would, ie. looking for reasons why someone would NOT hire you. From there, you can prepare talking points to address those potential issues/concerns during the interview (because chances are that those concerns will come up). When you proactively address those concerns about your resume, the employer will appreciate it AND you will enhance your effectiveness in relaying what makes you a good fit for the position.
What is the difference between a proactive vs. a reactive interview?
A majority of the job seekers in today’s market are passive interviewees who wait for questions to be asked of them (reactive). The difficulty with this style of interviewing is that you are waiting to be asked the “right” questions so that you can give the “right” answers. This style of interviewing is not bad or wrong, but it does make it more challenging to make your case on why they should hire you to the person who you are interviewing with. When you are interviewing from the “reactive” approach, you have little to no control over how the interview will go. It is also much more boring and tedious for the person interviewing you when they have to pull information out of you one question at a time.
A proactive interview, on the other hand, is one where the interviewee has talking points prepared about what makes them suitable for the position and finds ways to incorporate these points into the interview (see my earlier article on “Blocking and Bridging“). A proactive interviewee will also anticipate any possible concerns that the employer may have about their background such as lack of skills, movement on their resume etc…and will proactively address these concerns throughout the interview before the interviewer even has to bring them up. The great thing about this style of interviewing is that the interviewee will not have to be on the defensive when a touchy point is brought up because it has already been handled proactively by the interviewee. When you proactively interview, it makes the interviewer’s life easier because the interview flows more comfortably and it makes your life easier because you can more readily address the points you want to make the strongest case for why they should want to hire you.
Candidate “A” has a good resume, but recent movement on their resume.
The employer asks Candidate “A”:”Tell me about yourself?”:
“I have been in my field over 10 years and am good at what I do.”
“I have been in my field over 10 years and love what I do. One thing that has me stand out from others in my field is XYZ (talking point #1). Additionally, I wanted to point out that I do realize that I have moved around quite a bit recently and wanted to go through my history with you so that you can have a better picture as to why I have made some of these moves.” Candidate “A” then proceeds to clearly paint a picture that depicts their reasons for leaving (RFL), anticipating the employer’s potential concern about their movement (proactively addressing a potential concern AND saving the employer from painstakingly having to go through each RFL one by one).
As my examples above illustrate, proactive interviewing skills can easily enhance your effectiveness in your next interview and get you one step closer to that job offer that you want.
Reactive interviewing can put you on the defensive and have you miss key opportunities to strengthen your case for why they should hire you.
the next 30% of your time attending networking events which can be industry
specific such as www.lapa.org or
general interest area meetings like www.meetup.com.
Additionally you can go to www.inthecalendar.com for a full list of networking events in
this is done effectively, the last 10% of your time should be spent
One thing I have noticed that a lot of job seekers are unclear on is whether or not they should mention that they were out on disability or had to take time off for a medical issue. My recommendation is that you stay away from any conversations about medical leave, medical procedures or disability. You are better off to say you had a personal matter to attend to or something similar as the term “personal matter” does not typically have the same negative connotation as medical matter or issue.
The reason you would want to stay clear of these topics in an interview is that an employer could potentially use that information to discriminate against you. Legally, they are not supposed to discriminate, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t.
An employer is not allowed to legally ask you any questions about your medical history so there is no reason you should go out of your way to disclose that information unnecessarily.
So how should you handle it if you have taken some time off for a medical leave or medical procedure?
I would recommend saying something to the effect of “I really enjoyed working for my last employer (start with what you liked about your last position), however, I had some personal matters that I had to attend to that required me to take time off for an extended period.”
Most employers will be OK with this type of an answer. Some might push you further asking “what personal issues?,” but most will not because of the legalities around pushing for more information.
There is a fine line that you must walk in an interview between being cocky and confident. No one wants to hire someone who is so full of themselves that they are self-absorbed. At the same time, the employer needs to know what skills you bring to the table that will make you an asset to their company. So what can you do to exude confidence in your next interview? Below are five easy tricks that will help you come across as more confident in your next interview.
1) A firm handshake-this simple trick is the oldest in the book, but often times a handshake is your first chance to exude confidence.
2) Good eye contact-this can be the trickiest one for a lot of people. Most people look away when answering a question. This is why preparation is key. Always practice answering interview questions in advance by looking at yourself in the mirror while answering or working with a partner to help you keep your eye contact focused while answering tricky questions.
3) Speak slowly and clearly-being articulate does not have to be hard. You can come across as articulate and confident by taking time to think through your answer and speaking slowly and intentionally so that the other person will get the impact of what you are saying.
4) Good posture-body language can often convey more then words. From the moment you walk into an interview you want to make sure that you are standing up straight, and when seated, always sit up straight and lean in towards the interviewer rather then sitting back casually.
5) Prepare-nothing with give you more confidence in an interview then proper preparation. Always research a firm and come up with a MINIMUM of 5 reasons why they should want to hire you, 5 reasons why you want to work for them and 5 questions regarding the position.
The better prepared you are the more confident you will come across and the more likely you will be to ACE your next interview!