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The First 60 Seconds

Win The Job Interview Before It Begins!
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Frequently Asked Questions

 

 


 

Question:

 

How would you incorporate education experience when trying to get your foot in the door as a college graduate of if trying to get into a new industry?

 

Answer:

 

Education experience, especially for students, is an extremely important aspect of the "value" you can add to a particular career opportunity. The "value" you will add if you are selected for a given position is one of the main questions you want to answer for the hiring manager--before they even have a chance to meet you.

 

When relating your education experience to a new industry, focus on:

 

·  Projects you participated in, your role in those projects, what you delivered, and how you 

   effectively worked within a team environment to meet the objectives of the project.

·   How your education specifically relates to the industry/job and how you will use that education

   in the new role.

·   Specific aspects of your education that differentiate you from your competition.

·   Don't forget about any personal development efforts you may be pursuing outside of your

   industry. Hiring managers want well-rounded people that make the effort to develop and educate

   themselves in a variety of areas.

 

Focus on the "value add" aspect of your classes and the similarities of your class experience to the job and business environment, perspectives that the hiring manager can directly relate to.

You can address your education experience in your resume, but it also needs to be addressed in the Summary of Qualifications and the Personal Profile components of your credentials package.

 


 

Question:

 

Your book makes a strong point about developing a Credentials Package which in addition to a resume also includes a Summary of Qualifications, a Personal Profile, and a References Summary. What is the Summary of Qualifications and why is it important?

 

Answer:

 

The Summary of Qualifications is a one-page document that provides a clear, concise, and customized assessment of your professional experience (found in your résumé) and personal attributes (from your Personal Profile) and how that experience and those attributes align specifically with the objectives of the organization and the requirements of the position. After you pique the hiring manager’s interest with your cover letter, you save him/her the time of going through the details of your résumé and provide qualitative, objective, and definitive reasons why you are the best person for the job. If prepared correctly, the Summary of Qualifications is the only thing the hiring manager needs to reed in order to select you for an interview.

 


 

Question:

 

In the interview process, if you are asked to "tell me about yourself," how do you respond to that question and how long should answer that question?  I was told that two minutes should be the maximum.  Is that true?

 

Answer:

 

Remember that hiring managers want to hire people that they like, that are interesting and personable, and that will "fit" into their work and team environment. I think it's pretty hard for a job candidate to get that impression across in just two minutes.

 

Your first step, before you ever have the opportunity to meet your prospective employer, is to prepare your Personal Profile. This one-page document will tell your prospective employer everything about who you are as a person: your passions, hobbies, interests, and so on. You will want to provide your Personal Profile to your prospective employer before you have the opportunity to meet them. You will also want to bring it with you on your interview so you can share it (again) with the interviewer and use it to facilitate the discussion about "who you are."

 

Take as much time in the interview that is available to share all of your unique personal qualities, those qualities that differentiate you from every other job candidate. Let the person know why your personal qualities, in addition to your past experience and qualifications, make you the best person for the job. Make it personal and make the effort to develop a personal relationship with the interviewer.

 


 

Question:

 

Can you talk a little bit more about the Personal Profile? Do you send that with the resume?

 

Answer:

 

You want your prospective employer to take your personal qualities into consideration in order to select you for an interview. Therefore, I suggest that you have to send it to the hiring manager as part of your comprehensive Credentials Package.

 

Not only do you want to provide your Personal Profile to your prospective employer before you have the opportunity to meet them, you will also want to bring it with you on your interview so you can share it (again) with the interviewer and use it to facilitate the discussion about "who you are."

 

Focus on sharing all of your unique personal qualities, those qualities that differentiate you from every other job candidate. Let the person know why your personal qualities, in addition to your past experience and qualifications, make you the best person for the job. Make it personal and make the effort to develop a personal relationship with the interviewer.

 


 

Question:

 

Regarding the Personal Profile, is there any information that should NOT be included?

 

Answer:

 

To answer your question, let's focus on what should be included in the Personal Profile. Before preparing the Personal Profile, I suggest that you spend some time to complete the Personal Profile Inventory. It's a great process for brainstorming and pulling together all of the information you might use in your Personal Profile. There's a complete list/template in the book, but your inventory can include things like:

 

·  List the top five things you like to do when you are not working.

·  Outside of work, what are you truly passionate about?

·   List three things that you cannot live without, that you love more than anything, and explain why

   you are so passionate about them.

·  List any hobbies you have.

·   List any athletic activities you participate in.

·   Do you have any special talents?

 

When you have completed your inventory and as you prepare your profile, your focus will be on the following:

 

·  Personal differentiation;

·  Selling your strengths; and,

·  Selling your weaknesses, or as I like to refer to them, your areas in need of improvement.

 

Focus on sharing all of your unique personal qualities, those qualities that differentiate you from every other job candidate. Let the person know why your personal qualities, in addition to your past experience and qualifications, make you the best person for the job.

 


 

Question:

 

What do you do when you don't want your current employer to know you are looking for another job as far as references?

 

Answer:

 

It is important to always have a prepared References Summary which includes references from several of your last employment opportunities. I suggest that you need to minimally have at last three references from past managers, customers, or business users that you worked directly with/for. Additionally, you can go back further if the reference is particularly relevant to the new opportunity you are pursuing and can shed light on why you are the best person for the job. If you can compile a comprehensive References Summary, you won't need to include your current employer. Hiring managers will understand your reluctance to include your current employer but do realize that they will most likely want to contact him/her eventually in the event they want to extend you an offer. You may want to include in your References Summary a statement along the lines of "When extended an offer I will be happy to provide the reference information for my current employer." Remember, it is absolutely necessary that you maintain and positive relationship with your current employer and never, ever burn a bridge--the business world is a very small place.

 


 

Question:

 

What if you are a private individual whose interests and hobbies are of no business but your own?

 

Answer:

 

I certainly understand your desire to maintain and protect your privacy, but I also feel that in today's job marketplace, with unemployment at historical highs and fierce competition for available job opportunities, it is absolutely critical that you make the effort to go above and beyond what everyone else is doing to make a great impression on the hiring manager--before the interview even begins.

 

Hiring managers today assume/expect that a job candidate has the necessary skills and experience if they have applied for the position. Beyond that, what else can you give them to consider in order to differentiate you from everyone else? The bottom line is that hiring managers want well-rounded individuals that are likable, personable, interesting, and that will "fit" within the team environment. You don't have to expose the world, but I think it is helpful to share with a prospective employer a little glimpse of who you are as a person so you can answer some of the "what is this person like" questions before they even have the chance to ask them.

 

Differentiation is the key in today's challenging marketplace, not only for winning your next great career opportunity, but more importantly it is absolutely critical if you want to get the interview, which really needs to be the focus. Consider developing a Personal Profile and including it in your Credentials Package as you apply for your next job opportunity. It's a great differentiator for setting you apart from your competition.

 


 

Question:

 

Is there a way to build a credentials package as a website to send to possible employers?  Is this a reasonable plan?

 

Answer:


Building a personal website to professionally convey your credentials package is a very good and reasonable idea. It is just one more way to expose your personal and professional strengths and attributes. Personal "branding" is becoming more and more popular and can be one way (an additional way) to reach your audience of prospective employers.

 

Regarding the development of a personal website, let me make the following comments:

 

·  The main thing to focus on is the content. Regardless of the medium used, the success of your

   pitch will come down to how good your content is and how effective you were in preparing that

   content. The great thing about the approach in my book to developing a Credentials Package is

   that it medium-independent. Once you prepare your package, you can use email, a personal

   website, a physical presentation, or other social networking avenues to present your credentials.

   Take the time to prepare a comprehensive credentials package, before you even need it for a

   new job opportunity.

·  The one challenge with a personal website is that it is difficult to provide the customized

   information that a prospective employer is interested, specifically how your experience,

   education, and personal qualities match the specific expectations of a given job opportunity and

   why you are the best person for that particular job. In today's challenging job marketplace, it is

   imperative that you provide for a hiring manager this customized information, so don't forget that

   aspect of preparing your credentials package.

·   If you have prepared your customized credentials, you can then submit them electronically,

   physically, and you can even create a separate page or tab on your personal website for each

   opportunity that you are pursuing. There's nothing wrong with getting a prospective employer to

   your website to see the many opportunities you may be pursuing.

·   Finally, a personal website should be looked at as one component of your job search "toolkit."

   Use it in conjunction with any and all other methods for differentiating yourself from your

   competition. Let me also add a word of caution: the Internet is a fantastic resource that can

   expose you to the world. Keep that in mind as you decide the content you want to share. 

 


 

Question:

 

A common question for many interviews is usually about past jobs. What can you as an interviewer say if your prior jobs were not necessarily positive or don't have any relation to the industry you are trying to get into?

 

Answer:

 

Understand that your past experience is one of the important criteria that every hiring manager uses to qualify a job candidate. That being said, you must make the effort to convey the positive aspects of your past employment opportunities. There are positive aspects of every situation, if you want to look for them, and you can always learn something, even from a bad experience. Things you can focus on include:

 

·  What you learned from the experience and the people you worked with and how that will benefit

   you in the future

·   How you developed personally and professionally

·   What you will and will not do in the future as a result of your experience

·   How you became a better person as a result

·   What the experience taught you about yourself and areas for improvement

 

Focus on the positive and share with your prospective employer how your past experience and current skills will provide value in the new role and in the team environment. Additionally, don't forget that your job experience is just one aspect of your Credentials Package. Preparing your Personal Profile and References Summary are additional ways to make a great first impression on a prospective employer and can be especially helpful when your prior job experience is not necessarily a perfect fit.