Really Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

Really Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

Will you really ever be asked them?

You have received the phone call. Your prospective employer would like to meet with you for an interview. Nice work! But then, before you are even done with the happy dance you were doing around your living room, the fear sets in… an INTERVIEW! Your mind starts swirling through all of the variables. What should you wear? Are they friendly? And most importantly, what kinds of different questions will they ask you? How can you nail this interview, even the really tough questions? Read on, and I assure you, you will be well prepared!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Preparation is the Key for Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

I know, you have heard this phrase so many times. But, I would like to remind you that any situation that we face becomes easier if we are prepared. It is those moments (or questions) that catch us completely unaware that cause us to falter. We are valuable, we are assets to the company and are worthy of the time they are taking out of their busy schedules to meet with us. Now, all we have to do is convince them of that. Review possible questions. You should focus on appearing prepared but not seeming to be rehearsed. Study the company. Talk to other employees where possible. If you are given the name of the Interviewer, see what you can find out about them. Don’t assume that just because they are doing the interview they are good at interviewing. Be prepared to own the conversation and keep it focused in your direction, shining on your accomplishments. Be confident and do the work necessary to gain the reward you seek.

Below are some of the tough questions you are likely to be asked along with some advice on how to answer them.

Tell me about yourself.

Here is the often heard, sometimes dreaded, opening question…It’s tricky, open ended and an easy question to handle incorrectly. They are looking for a quick, two or three-minute summary about you, your history and why you would be a good match for the position. Don’t go any further than that! Save it for the remainder of the interview. The famous “Tell me about yourself” question isn’t an invitation to tell your life story… just tell them what makes you the best candidate.

What do you know about our company and why do you want to be a part of it?

This is where they are checking you out to ensure that you have done your homework. Make sure you have! Have as much information as possible about the company and position that you are applying for. Demonstrate your knowledge and use what you have learned to show the amount of respect for and interest in their company you truly have. This is a great place to show how well your experience will add to and blend in with their needs.

What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?

These are such unfair questions! Who likes to revel or even discuss their weaknesses—or brag about their strengths? It may play well to come up with a somewhat clever answer for these questions, such as,” I can’t think of any reasons not to hire me, but I have many reasons why you should!”
Give them those reasons! As far as addressing the weakness aspect, be honest. Maybe let them know about an area that you have been working on and improving in, perhaps something that you turned into a strength.

Don’t present the often advised trick of turning a strength into a weakness, such as working too much. This is a tired response; they have heard it countless times before. It also misses the point of the question.

Talk about a time you failed. What happened? What would you do differently?

We tend to make this question harder than it really is. You know where you have been and what you have experienced. As long as you have an event in your mind that you have reviewed, thought through, and are prepared to discuss in your interview, you will be fine. Think of a situation that went differently than planned, that is all it really is. It needn’t be a catastrophe. People make mistakes, everyone knows that so don’t pretend that you never have. Own it, discuss the solutions and lessons learned and move on. It shows experience and demonstrates that you would not make the same mistake in the future.

 Why we should choose you over the other applicants that we have interviewed?

Don’t let this be your undoing. This is a very common question. Re-visit your strengths with added enthusiasm. Show them that you are professional yet personable and friendly. They want to know that you are dependable and competent.

They will undoubtedly ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”

Of course you do! They are not the only one trying to determine if this position is a good fit for you. You need to be doing the same. These questions should be important to you. There are things that you really need to know, such as:

  • What type of candidate are you looking for?
  • Why did this position become available?
  • How would you define success for this person who receives this position?
  • What are the most important skills needed to be successful in this position?
  • What would my first several months be like if I were offered this position?
  • Is there opportunity for growth and advancement in this company?
  • Are you aware of any major changes coming that I may need to be informed of?
  • How do you see this company growing, changing, etc. in the next five years?

    Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Negotiating Compensation

Before the interview be sure to do your research into possible, realistic compensation for the position. You won’t know ahead of time if you will reach this level of discussion, but in case you do, be ready. Be aware of your “walk-away number.” You may not realize it, but the income of top executive’s is often public information. Try checking Salary.com or Glassdoor.com.

What NOT to do…

There are, of course, some guaranteed ways to make a negative impression on these important decision makers. Let’s be sure to avoid the following mistakes:

  • Don’t be arrogant. Acting as if you are better than any lower level candidates, assistants, receptionists, etc. will be certain to leave a negative impression. Instead, impress them as well, with your kindness and genuine interest in them.
  • Don’t “dress down;” be dressed and groomed appropriately for the position.
  • Don’t be negative in general but especially about the economy, the company, or even the competition. A positive attitude will always leave a better impression.
  • Don’t exaggerate or over-sell your skills, work history or abilities. Be honest.
  • Be direct and decisive. Don’t give long, rambling answers to questions. Every minute counts.
  • Let them know that you are genuinely interested in the job. Playing hard to get doesn’t usually pay off in the end.

Final Thoughts about Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

The only guaranteed way to make an interview harder is to not be prepared. Interview questions are not hard if you have anticipated what they may be asking and prepared sincere answers. Know detailed information about the company, the position and most of all yourself! Be relaxed and articulate. Even though there are really no wrong or right answers, there are definitely memorable answers that leave a positive impression.  Demonstrate you vision, your drive and your complete confidence in your abilities. They are sure to be impressed!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it is time to find a new job, no matter the circumstances, it can feel like a daunting task.  Even when you are tied into career networking and know the direction in which you would like to go, you can often feel very overwhelmed. Let’s talk about some often overlooked tools that you may not be utilizing.  These tools can prove to be instrumental in directing your job search and making it nearly painless.

  1. Job Boards

There are almost too many online job boards to count. So how do you know which job boards will not prove to be a waste of time? The truth is, this will take some work on your part.  You will want to stick with the familiar, large, more established sites that have been around and successful for a significant amount of time. Also you may want to start with those that are local if you are hoping to stay in the same geographical location. You may find that there is a minimal cost for access to some of these boards; however, many of them are free to use.

Hint:  Always use the advanced search options when searching for jobs on these sites.  By doing so you will significantly narrow down extra information and jobs that do not relate to your needs. This will help your search to be much more efficient.

  1. LinkedIn

If you aren’t already a member of LinkedIn it may be time to become one.  This network can be a valuable asset in your job search.  Rather than spending countless hours doing research or pounding the pavement looking for the perfect career opportunity, let others help you! By using career networking sites such as LinkedIn, you are sending out information about your job needs to a variety of people in many different types of work environments.  It is just like having a team of job recruiters on your payroll.  Don’t forget to give as much as, or even more, than you get—the more you help others, the more likely you are to receive the help you need as well.

  1. Background Checking Services

Have you ever wondered what a former employer would say about you?  You may not even be aware of this, but there are companies that will provide discreet calls to your last boss or supervisor to determine if they will give you a good reference.  One such company is Allison and Taylor, but there are also others.  These companies will help you to feel secure in knowing what potential employers will be told about you. They can also help you with background check reports and other personal areas that may come up as you search for that perfect job.  These services are not free, of course.  However, if you are serious about landing that position that you are qualified to have and just need to be given the chance, this route may be a helpful option for you.

  1. Resume Distribution Services

Resume distribution services are another excellent option that you may be failing to take advantage of.   These distribution companies can help make the most challenging job searches easy and efficient. They help you to reduce the time you would spend on a traditional job search.  These companies are able to maximize your exposure to extraordinary opportunities across the globe by distributing your resume to recruiters and companies that are actively filling positions in your area of expertise. Do a little homework (or ask Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths), find a reputable company and get your information out there!

  1. Resume Writing Services

The final service that is definitely worth mentioning is a resume writing service.  If you aren’t familiar with exactly how these work, let me give you the details.  You submit your relevant information such as: education, previous employers and work experience, additional skills, locations and fields that you are interested in, etc. You will probably also want to submit some form of a resume that you have used in the past.  Once they have all of the information that they need, they compile it into a simply amazing resume! Obviously this saves you both time and frustration!  Let’s face it, writing an attention getting, professional looking resume that will stand out above the rest is not an easy thing to do.  We are not all equipped with the skills or the time necessary to create an exceptional resume. Call Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths Career Transition Experts to talk about your current career goals and resume writing requirements.

And Remember….

No two job searches are the same.  You must personalize your journey.  Make choices that you have completely thought through and feel good about.  Be patient, it may take time.  There are countless “tools” available to help you, let that be a comfort.  Having many options and strategies to choose from is a great thing. Move forward with confidence!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Resume Writing Prepares you for your Next Interview

Resume Writing Prepares You for Your Next Interview

Comprehensive resume development is great prep for your next interview.

If you have spent any time at all looking into the best interview strategies, then surely you have come across the all-too-familiar “four P’s of interviewing:”

  1. Preparation.
  2. Practice.
  3. Personal presentation.
  4. Pertinent questions.

These are all important for different reasons. However, I would like to plead a case for the one that I feel is the crucial piece of the puzzle, the “glue” so to speak, that will hold all the other components in a nice straight line, PREPARATION.

Preparation is the Key

The best way to prepare for an interview is through comprehensive resume preparation, something you need to do at the start of your job search, anyway! Using your resume to prepare for your interviews is an amazing way to accomplish two things at once and ultimately save time in the process. We all want to be as productive as possible, especially when dealing with finding new employment.

Your Career Inventory

Resume Writing Prepares you for your Next Interview

Resume Writing Prepares you for your Next Interview

Part of compiling or updating your resume is doing an extensive career inventory. First, compare what the employer is seeking to your qualifications, experience, and accomplishments. Through deeply exploring your past work experience and responsibilities you will actually be preparing for your interview. Think about these critical questions:

  • What was expected of you in each position?
  • What did you learn?
  • Did you find solutions to issues in the workplace that improved your situation?
  • How can the knowledge gained be used in a new position?
  • In what ways are you a better candidate because of your previous experience?

The answers to these questions could appear in any job interview. Studying them in the context of your ideal role will help you to build a detailed, informative resume as well as be prepared for the questions that will undoubtedly come in almost any interview. If this feels like a daunting task and you would prefer to have some guidance to tackle the most current trends in the job market you could go through an executive resume writing service. As experts in resume writing, we will develop the in-depth questions and information that will narrow the gap between your experience and your hiring executives’ requirements, thus putting you ahead of the competition!

Which Path Do You Want to Take?

Take an extensive look at the types of roles you have previously filled and compare them with where you would like to be in the future. Through doing this you are able to deeply analyze where you have been and where you are going. As the Cheshire cat told Alice, “if you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter what path you take.” That is not the way that we want to approach the future. We want you to have a clear direction—a career search plan that succeeds. In short, we want to be prepared in every way possible.

Put Your Mind at Ease: Know How Your Resume Connects to Your Interview Strategy

Think about how at ease you would feel as the interview approaches if you have fresh in your mind a comprehensive view of your work history. Rather than having your resume be a vaguely familiar piece of paper that is printed off in a rush on your way out the door to the interview, use this tool as a preparatory strategy that supports your interview technique. Your resume is an important tool that is refined, accurate, and serves the right purpose in attaining the position you are interviewing for.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Dreaded Informational Interview: What It Is, What It Is Not, How to Do It

The Dreaded Informational Interview: What It Is, What It Is Not, How to Do It

People hire people, not resumes. So you need to be a person before you’re a resume–to engage with individuals who can support your candidacy. You need to do informational interviews. Even if you’re a senior executive with 20+ years’ experience in your field and industry, you need to set up, strategize for, and do informational interviews. Your job search might fail without this critical job search strategy.

Informational Interviews: Not Your Grandfather’s Job Search

If you’re frustrated with your job search, I’d be willing to bet that your strategy included at least one of the following:

  • Reading job boards, tailoring your resume to each position, and sending it out.
  • Skimming companies’ career web sites, and uploading your resume.
  • Generating a list of companies, and sending it out to “Dear Sir or Madam.”

Dreaded Informational InterviewThere is a better way, and you can do it: The informational interview.

This Is Not an Informational Interview

“Hi, thanks for speaking with me today/having me here today. I’d like to tell you about my experience, assets, and abilities, because I’m looking for a job. Do you have a job for me? If not, do you know who is hiring? And furthermore, if you look at my resume [hands over resume], where do you think I fit in your company?”

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Tone: Desperate.

Content: Me-centered.

Only possible outcome: “Sorry, I am not hiring now.”

Subtext: I’m looking for a job.

This Is an Informational Interview

“Hi, thanks for speaking with me today/having me here today. I have heard so much about your company/product/service, and I’m truly curious about the processes and people that go into producing it. How did you get into the role you currently have?”

Tone: Curious and interested.

Content: Outwardly focused.

Only possible outcome: “Sure, let me tell you how I was hired here” / “I originally went to school for X, but I wound up doing Y” / “I’ve been in this company 15 years…”

Subtext: I’m looking for a job.

That’s a good start to an informational interview. It focuses on what the audience can offer about his or her experience and asks open-ended questions, none of which are “Will you hire me?” Of course, the subtext in any informational interview is that the candidate is in a job search, but that’s not really the focus of the discussion; it hovers in the background, but it’s not at the center of the discussion. The center of the discussion, then, is the person with whom you’re speaking. Give them the platform, be authentically curious, and learn from them.

How to Engage in an Effective Informational Interview

Overall, Informational interviews are not actually interviews. They are not about you, the candidate. Informational interviews are opportunities for you to ask questions and learn. Informational interviews are not only for new college grads; they can be useful for senior executives as well. They might be formal in-office conversations, or they might be brief phone calls. Either way, any way, they are targeted discussions about the individual with whom you’re speaking and the company.

Get ready for your informational interviews:

Prepare: Learn as much as you can about a handful of individuals with whom you wish to speak.

Secure meetings: Ask for 10 minutes on their calendars; follow up in a week if you do not receive a response. Move on from those clearly unwilling or unable to fit you into their busy schedules.

Ask open-ended questions: How do these people interest you? What do they know that you don’t? What drives them to go to work every day?

Capitalize on the connection: Who do they know that you might benefit from knowing (and vice versa)? Are they willing to make an introduction?

Follow up: Thank the individual at the end of the call or meeting. Send a follow-up thank you, expressing gratitude and referring to the action steps the person agreed to take on your behalf, if any.

Reach out to recommended connections: Start the process over; fairly soon, you’ll have added dozens of people to your personal informational interview pipeline.

Service Orientation for Your Informational Interviews

Remember, informational interviews are two-way streets. Be service-focused, and give as much as you take (or ask for). Be a helpful resource in any way you can for the individual with whom you’re speaking.

Feeling Overwhelmed in Your Job Search?

Still daunted by the prospect of developing and executing a strategy for executive job search? Not sure why informational interviews will help your specific executive job search? No idea what you can offer in return for someone’s assistance in your job search? Reach out to me; I will help you construct your executive job search plan and coach you/teach you to execute it.

Job Search Research on Target Companies: Prepare for Your Interview Success

Job Search Research on Target Companies: Prepare for Your Interview Success

You’ve done a lot of work preparing and searching for a job and now it is time to research the company prior to the interview. Researching a company is critical to having a successful encounter with the hiring agent. You want to be able to walk into the interview with confidence.

Research the Company BroadlyResearch Your Target Companies for Interview Success

  • Check the website-you can discover a tremendous about of useful information about a company’s financial health, recent news and community involvement.
  • Check with your network-see what your partners know about the company-both pros and cons.
  • If possible talk to current and past employees-check out the work environment.
  • Learn who the competitors are and what impact they have on the company.
  • Research local business journals, national news, databases, and more. Learn whether the company is growing or contracting, if it has recently launched new products, or if it has received an influx of investment money—this can tell you a great deal about the company’s current trajectory.
  • Research the company’s top employees on LinkedIn.

As you prepare for the interview, keep in mind that you are not just learning about the company and its culture, you are learning about the type of people that they hire. Through this type of research you are developing your own presentation plan on how to handle the interview itself.

Narrow Your Research to Prepare for Your Interview

  • Review your information and target key areas that you may want to discuss during the interview.
  • Determine how your strengths can help the company move forward and achieve its goals.
  • Create talking points that you will be able to use to discuss the company’s unique values.
  • Be prepared to explain how hiring you will benefit the company.
  • Develop questions to ask during the interview. Show your interest in the company. Don’t be afraid to ask about future goals of the company.
  • Use LinkedIn and Google to look up the name of the interviewer. Learning names and titles can help you feel more comfortable during the interview. Check to see if you have any common interests.

The more that you learn about a company prior to an interview, the more confident you will be going into the interview itself. You will have an idea ahead of time if you are a good fit for the company culture.

4 Easy Steps to Preparing for Your Interview

4 Easy Steps to Preparing for Your Interview

Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off—you got the call for the interview! Now you need to prepare for a successful interview with the person or team who makes the hiring decisions. There are several steps that you can take to maximize the value of this meeting for you and for your future manager and to make your interview go smoothly. Follow these 4 steps to preparing for your interview to put yourself on track.

Go to your interview proud and prepared for success with these 4 tips.

Go to your interview proud and prepared for success with these 4 tips.

4 Easy Steps to Preparing for Your Interview

1. Research the company prior to going to your interview—Your research on the company is the foundation for your questions for the interviewer about the needs and experiences of the company. Learn what the company’s values, missions, and goals are, and be prepared to ask interesting questions about the company’s position in the marketplace. Good sources of company information, beyond the company’s own web site, include Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, regional business journals, and publications by industry associations.

2. Put yourself in control by being prepared and showing your positive attitude. Your insightful self-knowledge about your experiences and expertise will help to open career doors for you during your job search. Study your own resume, and practice your answers in front of a mirror or camera, so that you can retell key points of your career history that are relevant to the position you’re seeking. Practice answering the hard questions: “Why were you terminated” and “Tell me about yourself” are perhaps the two most difficult, but these can be interview killers if you do not prepare ahead of time with answers that succinctly address the question and focus on the future.

3. Clean up your social media—Many companies will search your social media prior to hiring to look for red flags. Items that can cause you to lose that spot in the hiring lineup. Apps such as Social Sweepster can help eliminate posts to your social media that may cause concern to potential hiring managers.

4. Look the part—You need to be perceived as a member of the team and as someone who can fit in with the company’s culture. Whether the environment is business casual or office professional, you need to know how to present yourself. This having been said, you will not go wrong by dressing “up,” even for a casual environment; you can always hang your jacket on the back of your chair if everyone else is in t-shirts, but you will not ever be able to dress up a golf shirt if everyone else is in suits and ties.

5 Ways to Measure Your Job Search Networking Success

5 Ways to Measure Your Job Search Networking Success

Do you wonder whether you are really getting anywhere with your job search networking strategy? While you are in the midst of networking, the process can seem thankless. Did that connection you made a month ago turn into something? How do you know whether the presentation you attended was worth going to from a networking perspective? Although it is hard to pin job search success onto any one networking event, overall, you can measure your networking success with a few simple metrics.

Where is the bottleneck in your job search networking strategy?

Where is the bottleneck in your job search networking strategy?

1. New Connections on LinkedIn

When you collect business cards at a networking event, do you turn them into LinkedIn connections? If not, you are missing a huge opportunity to broaden your network. Measure the growth of your first-degree connections–those you have met in person and those you “meet” virtually–to see whether your networking efforts are bearing fruit.

2. Telephone Meetings

Often, first-degree connections on LinkedIn linger in purgatory, never becoming real-world connections with whom you have conversations. How many of these first-degree connections result in telephone conversations, during which you can ask your new contact a variety of questions about their experiences, positions, companies, and industries? If your number is small, you might need to open this bottleneck in the networking process.

3. Face-to-Face Meetings

How many of your telephone conversations turn into real-world meetings? Granted, the face-to-face meeting is likely to be a more rare event than the telephone meeting, but this makes in-person conversations that much more important. Stack the deck in your favor, and ASK for the meeting. Your connection might be too busy, but chances are that he or she will feel flattered, particularly if you are seeking expertise from a position of genuine curiosity about this person’s experience.

4. Introductions to Hiring Executives

Now recall the number of times you have been introduced by a connection, personally, to a hiring manager. More rare still, these opportunities to meet actual hiring executives are precious chances for you to demonstrate the value you could bring to a company or an industry. Prepare for these meetings wisely–they are not likely to be frequent, so make the most of the chance to make that special first impression.

5. Job Interviews

Interview offers can come in cold, from the submission of your resume to an indifferent web site or email, but they are more likely to develop as a result of your ongoing, powerful, and planned networking strategy. Therefore, this is the metric that matters most in your networking efforts. Bring your best game, and use this opportunity to show how you are the right fit for the company.

Conclusion: Identify the Bottleneck

Where in this process did your numbers drop off? Was it at step 1? Maybe you are not putting yourself out there sufficiently at the broadest level to create as many new connections as you can. Was it at step 4? Why do you think hiring managers–those with the power to extend critical interview offers–are not following through? Not getting a second interview? Then you must examine your interviewing strategy for step 5. Wherever the bottleneck seems to reside, you have to figure out why your experience has followed this pattern. Not sure why your job search networking strategy is not working? We can help.

Image courtesy of freeimages.com / cobrasoft

4 Reasons Your Name Keeps You from Getting Called for the Interview

4 Reasons Your Name Keeps You from Getting Called for the Interview

Your name might be the most important piece of identifying information, but it might be getting in your way as you apply for jobs. Read on to learn how to fix the top 5 ways your name could be preventing you from getting interviews for the career you want.

1. Your Name Is Common

When you look in the phone book for your name, are there a dozen other John Smiths before and after your own John Smith? You are unique among your colleagues, company, and industry, but your name might be so common that a quick search of LinkedIn for your name does not immediately bring your profile to the top of the list. Thus, new networking contacts do not know how to learn anything about you via your LinkedIn or other social media profiles.

The Quick Fix: Start using your middle name or middle initial to differentiate yourself.

2. Some Unsavory Character Has Your Name, Too

Does a quick search of your name bring up a mug shot–that is not yours (if it brings up your mug shot, that’s a different question, of course). Do people believe that the mug shot or court case record might be yours, just because you happen to have the same name as someone with less integrity than you? Certainly, a purported criminal or civil case history, the records for which are all available online, can interfere with your ability to get proper attention from hiring executives, if the mix-up between names is easy to make.No calls?

The Quick Fix: Use your first initial and last name, plus your credentials, in every instance of social media, across all uses and profiles on the Internet. Also use this name configuration on your resume, business cards, phone messages, and voice mail. Do not use it on job applications, as you will need to use your full legal name for those documents.

3. Your Name Is Unusual

Recently, I learned of a client of a fellow resume writer whose complex hyphenated name, matched with her given name, had an unintended and humorous meaning. You might know that your name is perfectly normal, but if you have a suspicion that the words or syllables of your name have an unintended humor to them, you might not be receiving interview offers due to this subtlety.

The Quick Fix: If your name provokes an inadvertent response, perhaps using only part of your hyphenated name, adding your middle name or initial, or using your first and middle initial plus last name only will help your audience focus on your expertise rather than your name proper.

4. Your Name Is MISSING

If your resume starts with the word “Resume” on the first line, then this quick fix is for you. Applicant tracking systems–called ATSs or online application systems–require you to upload your resume online for job postings. If the word “Resume” is at the top of your document, the word “resume” will populate the name field or fields of the system. Thus, to the company to which you are applying, your name will be “resume”–just like the rest of those whose resumes did not start with their names and addresses.

The Quick Fix: Take the word “Resume” off your resume–even if you never plan to upload your resume online. It is poor practice regardless.

Overheard at Networking Event: Hello, Nice to Meet You. What Are You Doing Here?

Overheard at Networking Event: Hello, Nice to Meet You. What Are You Doing Here?

When you present yourself in a networking event or interview, if you cannot tell who you are and why you are relevant to a listener’s needs, you have failed. You have failed to make yourself memorable, and you have failed to explain why you are taking the valuable time of your new contact. Read on to learn the top three ways to ensure your interviewer understands exactly why you are sitting in front of him.

1. Your 60-second introduction is 10 seconds long.

Clear, succinct communication is the key to a successful interview.

Clear, succinct communication is the key to a successful interview.

Your future hiring executive has limited time and resources to figure you out. If you cannot tell this person in 10 seconds or less why you are relevant and valuable, you will have lost this person’s attention for good.

Practice a short message that includes what you do, for whom you do it, and in what context. Practice, practice, and practice. Learn it so well that you have it memorized and can deliver it with a smile. When you do deliver this message to an important audience, wait for their reaction. You’ll know from this person’s comments whether you should explain your needs or address his, furthering the conversation beyond the introduction.

2. Your extended message should reflect your potential contribution to the company based on your company research.

Your subsequent message should reflect your audience, not you. What would this person need to know about the ways you can solve the problems he is facing right this minute. You should have a good sense of what these issues might be based on the research you have completed prior to your interview.

If you do not know specifically what the key problems this particular executive is facing, you absolutely can ask what issues keep this person up at night. You might be surprised by the person’s candor, and this can spark a complex conversation in which you can offer your own brand of potential solution.

3. Keep the lines of communication open.

Particularly when you have been invited to continue the discussion, keep the lines of communication with your interviewing team open. If you see something interesting in the news that might be relevant to the needs of this future hiring executive, pass it along with a short note. Follow this person LinkedIn and other key social media in which this hiring team participates. Every now and then, “like” or retweet their posts or comment on them in a relevant way. Most important, do not neglect to send quick thank-you letters to each of your interview team within 24 hours of your interview, preferably not before the sun goes down on the day of your interview. Highlight your value and add anything else about your candidacy that you believe will support your value.

Is marketing yourself very difficult? Is it hard for you to explain your professional purpose succinctly? Five Strengths can help.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / iprole

What Is Body Language for Your Telephone Interview?

What Is Body Language for Your Telephone Interview?

“Hey, wait a minute!” I hear you thinking. “A telephone interview is just that–an interview over the telephone. The interviewer can’t possibly see my body language.” Nevertheless, a good interviewer can hear your body language. If you don’t present yourself in a telephone interview exactly the way you would present yourself in person, your interviewer will hear your hesitation and instantly put your resume in the rejection pile. Read on for tips and tricks to improve your body language in your telephone interview.

Don't let yourself get distracted during your telephone job interview.

Don’t let yourself get distracted during your telephone job interview.

When you have a telephone interview scheduled, first select a time and location in which you won’t be distracted by work, family, or other competing interests for the entire duration of your interview. Even small disruptions can clue your interviewer that you’re not focusing 100% on your interview. The face-to-face equivalent is your revealing in your facial expression to your interviewer that your chair is uncomfortable, that you don’t like an odor in the air, or something else that steals your attention away from critical focus.

Another body language habit that you should avoid in a telephone interview is putting your hands to your face. In an in-person interview, such behavior can convey that you don’t quite believe your own words, which undermines your expertise and command of subject matter. On the phone, putting your hands to your face can muffle your voice or pull the receiver away from your mouth. Any additional interference to mobile and VOIP connections that are already dicey can prevent your interviewer from concentrating on your answers to the questions.

Although you would never stand during an interview that is held around a desk or conference table, you should consider standing while speaking during your telephone interview. Standing while you speak has a few advantages over sitting. First, standing with proper posture opens your chest, enabling you to speak comfortably for long periods. Second, and perhaps more importantly, standing while conversing on the phone might be uncommon for you, meaning you’ll focus more on the conversation and be at the top of your game more than you would have been sitting or slouching in your chair.

Last, and most importantly, pick something to focus your eyes on. During a face-to-face interview, you’d focus on the people around the table. This body language forces you to focus on the interview and keep your attention where it needs to be. During a phone interview, you don’t have a person to look at, so pick an object, something in the room that holds your attention without being so detailed that examining it takes you away from the topic, and use that as a focal point. Although you’re standing at this point, you won’t be able to pace and distract yourself. Instead, you’ll be listening carefully and ignoring competing visual cues.

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