10 Tips For Getting Hired

On 01/13/2012, in Finding a Job, Interviewing, by Jordan Wilson

In today’s competitive job market, applicants look for every possible edge in their job hunt.

Many job applicants possess similar education, skills, and experience. So you need to separate yourself from the pack.

The question is how.

Courtesy of a former Google hiring manager, some good advice on getting the job offer.  

His job advise is, “10 Insider Tips for Getting Hired at Google (or Any Coveted Company)”.

I would not say this advice unleashes hidden secrets, but they are excellent points.

1. Answer the Question You’re Asked

See, it is not rocket science. That said, it is incredible the number of interviewees that do not actually directly answer a specific question.

Reasons include: a lack of concentration; nervousness; trying to steer the interview to your best attributes no matter the question; trying to concentrate on what you want to say more than clearly listening to the question.

The interview is your exam. There are a limited number of questions. Make sure you know exactly what is being asked.

If uncertain, have the interviewer clarify. Feel free to take a moment to think about the question and formulate a cogent response.

The quickest answer means nothing. A well thought out response means everything.

2. Don’t Impose Your Agenda

You will be able to get your best points across in the interview. So no need to force the issue.

Listen closely to the question as well as any commentary by the interviewer.

Understand the real question. Sometimes it may be a little different than verbally stated.

And no, this does not contradict point one.

For example, perhaps you are asked what skills you bring to increase sales at the company. You can obviously discuss your sales experience, interpersonal skills, networking, etc.

But you can also think about why that question is important. From your research prior to the interview, is the company planning to launch a new product? Are they having difficulty selling an existing product? If you understand their needs, you can better answer the question.

3. Expose Your Thought Process

I hate these type of questions. But many companies use them, so be prepared.

Blue cars in Arizona? I shake my head (and I live part-time in Arizona!).

But I do like challenging questions. Ones that force you to show me your capacity to reason. And that is crucial in many positions. I just prefer to use more realistic hypotheticals.

For example, a new client has $500,000 in assets. He has a wife and is expecting twins. What are some planning issues to consider for their situation? Suddenly he calls. His wife died in labor and he is alone with two newborns. What financial issues does he need to deal with now? Finance, tax, legal, estate, education, insurance, there are a ton of possible things to consider.

4. Don’t Be Intimidated

Intimidation is not a common interview tactic in my experience.

Taking you out of your comfort zone, throwing you off balance, asking strange or challenging questions, etc., is much more common.

A company wants to see how you react under pressure or when not prepared. Unless the interviewer is a jerk (yes, a possibility), intimidation is not desired.

The thing to always remember is that the company and interviewer desperately want to find the right candidate. The person that will successfully fill that hole in the organization.

Questions are meant to help find that person and they want to give you the best shot at answering properly.

So take your time, clarify any uncertainty, relax, and do your best.

5. Don’t Mention the Food

Never talk about perks until you get to the contract negotiation stage.

That sort of thing drives most managers crazy.

Same with bringing up salary in the initial stages of the interview.

Same with ordering steak and lobster, followed by expensive cognac at an interview dinner.

6. Do Your Homework

It always amazes me how many candidates do not do even basic research on the position.

Research everything you can.

The industry – its business, direct and indirect competitors, new products, future opportunities, challenges, etc.

The company – its history, products and services, strengths, weaknesses, key employees, etc.

The position – what is the job function, what skills are crucial, what are the next steps up from that job. Companies want people that can do the job, but they are also looking for people that can advance to more senior positions in that field. Show them you have the upside.

The interviewers – if you know who will conduct the interview, check them out. No, no lurking under their bedroom window or “friending” them on Facebook. But google their names for information. Shared associations often create a bond between people and may create a conversation point during the interview. And no, do not mention that you saw on the internet they scuba dive and that you like it too.

Nor throw it into the conversation in an obvious way. “My strengths? I love to scuba dive because …” Instead, save it for a discussion of personal interest areas or hobbies.

And again no, do not parrot the interviewers likes and dislikes to a tee. Use your research as a guide. If your potential boss is a member of PETA or Green Peace, you do not want to disclose that for fun on the weekend you like to hunt Bambi or club baby seals to death.

7. Examples and Anecdotes are Your Best Friend

Well, unless you ignored my advice above and “friended” your potential manager. Then he or she is your new best friend.

I love anecdotes and examples. The more interesting the better. It aids in making you distinct from the other 10 drones that I have to interview.

With examples, be factual.

Never say,”Last year, my sales team increased sales for the company.” Instead, “In 2011, I led a team of 3 sales staff. With no new products, we increased our client base from 83 to 122 and my team’s annual sales from $1.4 million to $2.1 million. That 50% year on year increase earned me a commendation from our company’s CEO at our annual meeting.”

Have supporting data on hand if challenged.

I like using more than one comparative. If you simply say you increased sales 50%, my cynical mind starts wondering if you went from $1,000 to $2000.  Not as impressive.

Put your achievements in context.

8. Asking Questions is Your Time to Shine

Very true.

Your research of the industry, company, and position will help determine good questions.

Consider the environment, economy and government actions as well.

For example, you are interviewing for a sales position with a computer manufacturer. What do you really want to know? Well, how much potential does the company have to allow you to sell a lot of their products.

So you might want to ask questions like:

“At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, ultrabooks appear to be the next hot product. I notice that you have developed an interesting model. Are you planning to focus on this area and expand the line? Or are there other products you see with better upside in 2012?”

“From your annual report, I noticed that 60% of your sales are in the Eurozone. Given the current financial crisis, do you think this will hurt sales in the coming quarters?”

And so on.

You are actually asking questions that get at your potential to do well at the job. And you are showing the company that you are thinking about issues that impact their business.

9. Give Me an Answer I’ve Never Heard Before

Interviewers are people too. They have other things on their plate than just interviewing. They get bored asking the same questions and getting the same answers in interview and interview.

Be fresh. Be innovative.

It will snap the interviewer out of his or her torpor and see you in a new light.

And no, we are not talking about Lady Gaga type responses.

But legitimate answers to serious questions.

Just make it fresh.

I suggest doing this in combination with your examples and anecdotes.

10. Passion and Enthusiasm are Deal-breakers

Your one goal is to get the job offer.

Not necessarily the job.

Maybe during the interview process you realize that this may not be right for you. Or when you discuss pay and benefits, it is not what you expected.

Now if it is clear from the first 15 minutes that you will never take the job under any circumstances, feel free to exit the process.

But normally applicants are interested up until the end of the process. It is only then that the money is not right, a deal-breaker arises, etc., such that you do not want the actual job.

But until that point, you need to show that you want the job offer.

Bring your A game and show some passion and enthusiasm.

If you cannot get enthused about getting a job you seek, how passionate will you be once the paychecks start rolling in?

As soon as I believe a candidate lacks enthusiasm, the “x” goes next to the name.

Bonus Key to Getting the Job Offer

The above recommendations are excellent advice.

Depending on the specific position other factors are also important.

What Is Most Important Depends on the Specific Position

For short-term functions such as summer or part-time jobs, there are less long-term considerations. The interview focus is on if you can do the required tasks and can fit into the work environment.

For junior roles, the emphasis may be on your technical, communication, and interpersonal abilities. Complementary skills, such as industry specific knowledge, are useful for introductory jobs.

As you move up to more senior positions, softer skills take on increasing importance. Leadership, communication, strategic planning, and project management, are equally important to technical proficiency.

Regardless of the Specifics, The Keys Are:

Regardless of the specifics, your success or failure comes down to four things.

1. You have the ability to learn

2. You are self-motivated and self-disiplined

3. You possess a track record of success

4. You are a team player

Demonstrate these traits when answering interview questions.

Use factual examples and colourful anecdotes to support these characteristics.

If you do, you will greatly improve the odds of landing that job offer.

1 Response » to “10 Tips For Getting Hired”

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