Sunday, March 29, 2015

Do you have any questions for me?

The job interview process should really be viewed as a two-way street. The employee is looking for the perfect candidate and the candidate is looking for the perfect position. Often times candidates forget this. They get excited about the prospect of a new position, an new company, a change of scenery. Also, some candidates really need any job, due to personal situations. But, the experienced and discerning candidate will be best served in the long-run to truly consider the job interview process as an opportunity to be critical of the potential employee as well.

Make no mistake, this is not easy. You are nervous. You are excited. You are thrilled that someone wants you! When the person on the other side of the table says "do you have any questions for me?",  this is really the time to relax, think, question, listen, and reflect on what you have heard and saw.
Relax. Take a deep breath and realize that if you have made it this far, they are truly interested in you and what you can bring to the organization. Thus, if they are interested, others must be interested as well. This is not the only opportunity in town. Also, several well thought out questions are impressive to most hiring managers.
Think. Think about what type of company and leadership you want to work for. Think about the things that frustrate you. Think about the things that excite you. Think about the things that you desire at your workplace. This is serious business. Most likely you will spend 40+ hours per week at this company, not to mention your commute! Life is too short to spend it with the wrong company or leadership. Think about what questions you want to ask. Write them down, take them with you, and ask.
Question. There are any number of questions that you could ask. If you are experienced, you may want formulate your questions to reflect your concerns and frustrations from previous situations. Recently, I asked an experienced health care professional for some potential questions that she would ask at her new job interview, given her recent experiences.
-How do you motivate your employees?
-How do you communicate with your staff?
-How do you reward performance?
-How do you team-build?
-How often will I receive performance reviews?
-What will I learn here?
-How long have you been with the company?
-Can I talk to some of your staff?
Listen. As your questions get answered, listen. Really listen. If you have your questions written down, you can truly listen and not worry about your next question. Listen for any answers that seem to present a red flag.
You must be aware that no one place is perfect. Every place that you will ever work will have its challenges. But if you are truly viewing the interview process as a way for you to interview prospective organizations, you must listen and consider the answers you hear. 
Reflect. After the interview and you have had some time to de-compress, reflect on the answers to your questions. Also, reflect on the body language and tone. Was the hiring manager open and honest? Did the hiring manager struggle to answer? Did he or she seem sincere? Did they get annoyed at your line of questioning?
Do yourself a favor and critically reflect upon the answers that you received.
P.S. Interview Tutor gift certificates make great gifts!
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guest Blogger - Dan's telephone interview

In this weeks blog, one of my friends (we'll call him Dan) writes about his experience during recent telephone interview. Dan is an experienced sales professional that has discovered an opportunity though a professional friend. Here is his post:
The call started out by being 5 minutes late. It was scheduled for 11:30 and by 11:34 I was really beginning to get anxious. However, at 11:35 the phone rang and the phone interview began. After some brief small talk her first question was;
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Why do you want to leave your current position?
I was still overly nervous at this point. The 5 minute wait seemed like an hour. I couldn't  help but wonder if she made me wait on purpose. Regardless, I think I did OK with this question. I was careful not to trash my current employer but also made slight mentions of my current frustrations, stated that I know that no place is perfect, and said I am always interested in new opportunities when they arise. I also told her that I was aware of her company and the special markets they serve and the way that they have differentiated themselves. I tried to keep my answer short and sweet as she had told me that she would only need 20 minutes of my time.

She then spent several minutes telling me about her company, the employees, and the open positions. I was so nervous that I really wasn't listening.
Then the questions got more pointed.
Do you hold a quota? (they must have a quota system)
Tell me about cold calling? (they must want me to cold call)
Do you like to travel? (they will want me to travel some)
Have you established a territory before? (they want me to establish a territory)
Have you done any transactional selling before? (they will want me to do some of this)

After I thought about the above 5 questions, it was clear to me that they will have sales quotas, will want me to cold call, travel, and establish a territory while doing some transactional selling. That was fine. That was what I was expecting from this job but now I was wondering what type of response she was really looking for. My answers were mostly positive and honest. I told her that I have worked with quotas, I know that cold calling is essential, don't mind some travel, have established territories before and had done some transactional selling at a previous position. I was beginning to calm down some and gain some confidence with some questions that I was prepared for.
What sort of metrics do you measure yourself by now? I told her about how I am measured at my current position. I'm not sure what sort of answer she was looking for.
How many salesmen are at your company now? I answered truthfully and was not sure why she asked this question.

She then asked me if I had any questions. I asked her a few specific questions about my potential market, leads, and company performance and she could not really answer them. She deferred and said that those would be better questions to be asked at the next interview, if invited. She made no mention of compensation and nor did I.
I assume that I must have done OK as she is to send a survey. I am to complete the survey, return it, and wait.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The job interview is almost over...How to encourage a follow up.

For those of you reading this that have been to interviews before, you know what it’s like to go to an interview, assume you did a great job and go home. Then you wait. You continue to wait even more. Now you begin to wonder; how long do I wait? How do I follow up? When do I follow up?
You, just like the person conducting the interview has committed time, effort, and energy to this process. You deserve some feedback. Sadly,sometimes the interviewing person and company are slow to get back with you. Sometimes you may receive a form letter that gives you a generic no. You deserve better. Here is one way to encourage some feedback. I call it the follow-up agreement.

The Follow-Up Agreement is a verbal agreement between you and the person conducting the interview. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a great technique to help set a follow-up phone appointment, or even better, a follow up face-to-face meeting.

As the interview is at its end, here’s the way it should go;

(Interviewee): Mrs. Hiring Manager, this position is very important to me. Can I call you in a few days to get some feedback and to also find out what the next step may be?
(It is critical that you pause, and force the hiring manager to answer. Don’t speak until they answer. Their answer is a verbal agreement and they are less likely to disregard your call, if they in fact answered yes.)
(Hiring Manager): Yes, you may

(Interviewee): Great! I realize you are busy, so can we set up a time right now for me to give you a follow-up call? How’s Friday at 11:30 a.m.?

What if the Hiring Manager says: No, we will contact you.

This is very likely, so if you hear these words, don’t give up. Persistence pays.

(Interviewee): OK, I understand. When should I expect hear back from you? If I don’t hear back from you or someone here, I will call you. Is that OK?


This no could also mean the worst. Her mind is already made up, and you are not the chosen one. That’s fine. In my view, you would much rather know this now, than be tortured by their non-contact and bad news that you would receive days, weeks, or months later.
Work here

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Review - Rainmaker

This past week I was traveling. On my return trip home I picked up a book in the airport to read on my way home. The name of the book was "How To Become A Rainmaker-The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients" written by Jeffrey J. Fox. 
The book was a quick read at only 169 small pages. I was able to read the book within two hours-perfect for my journey home. There were several good points that were worthy of a review for an experienced salesman, but there were no "life-changing" strategies in this read. It did hold my attention and I was able take away four or five great ideas that I could put to use quickly.
Jeffrey J. Fox describes a "rainmaker" as someone who brings in revenue to an organization-or someone that can make it rain dollars. Much like the American Indian tradition that told of magical powers that could produce rain so that the crops would grow. Yes, this is a book for a person in the sales profession-but wait, during your next job interview, you too are a salesperson. Much like I have said in previous blogs, to interview well, you must be able to sell yourself!
Chapter 3 addresses the question; "Why should this customer do business with us?" Jeffrey says as a salesperson, you should always be able to answer this question. In that same vein, I'll say you should always be able to answer this question; "Why  should this employer hire me?" You can see the obvious parallels between selling products and selling yourself during the job interview process.
If you are in sales or want to be, pick it up - its well worth your time. If you are not in sales, I would encourage you to read a non-fiction, professional book at least 4 times per year. You'll grow as a professional!
What's the last book you've read? (You just might be asked this at your next interview!)
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