Over the next few blogs we’ll examine what employers tell headhunters they want. This will serve to address the plaintive cry I hear after many an interview: “What’d I do?”
Truth is, while employers do occasionally confide the specific interview faux pas or career misstep, there are three things all interviewees should consider as they plan for their interview. Oh, yes, that’s not a misprint … plan and prepare for your interview … more on that next month.
I’ll boil this down to three things employers are looking for in every interview they conduct or offer they prepare. Ready? They are: 1. Can you do it? 2. Do you want it? (Why?) 3. Will you take it? Mystery solved. Busy? OK then, back to work.
Now, those are the questions. The answer comes down to one word. “Yes!”
To elaborate, the first question has to do with qualifications. The issue of whether or not you can do the job is usually the principal consideration of an interview. The easiest way to address this qualification issue is experience. If you have successfully done in the past what the employer wants done in the present, you’re halfway home. But, the qualification issue is trickier than it appears, so let’s examine it further.
Shakespeare said, “What’s past is prologue.” meaning simply that past behaviors (and experience) predict future behaviors and experience. Most employers want to hire the unhappy superstar from the competition, at least in the first question phase. If you can demonstrate that you have completed the most critical tasks challenging the prospective employer, you minimize training costs, the learning curve and credibility issues you’ll face at the new job. You demonstrate this in the interview with specific, quantifiable data supporting your past experience in dollars saved, projects completed or technologies introduced. References can support your evidence with how well you did it.
If you haven’t done it before, then your job is to convince the company that you can. This is trickier. Training and education may mean you can do what’s required, but not necessarily. A trainer, professor or objective mentor may be able to reference your success in learning the material, but you can only play this card if your reference is credible and can offer detailed, objective testimony. Your friend, co-worker, banker or mom will not convince most employers. If you have related experience, talk about it. Always have specific, concrete examples that you can cite to support your argument and a third party to support you.
Even if you have done what’s required in the past, this question must be answered. How long in the past were you successful? With the speed of technology, what you did two jobs and five years ago may be irrelevant to the demands and technology of today’s assignment. In fact, if you did it before with old technology, you may well be a lesser contender for the new role because the client will generally prefer a candidate who will not need to unlearn old habits before learning new ones. This is a sad truth. If you want to pursue a role you’ve done in the past but not recently you must also demonstrate that you have kept up with technology changes with continuing education or certification.
If you have not done the require job priorities, nor have specific training or education to do them, slip on your dancing shoes. In a competitive job climate, there will be others out there who probably have done the job or something similar. That means that you must present a compelling case on why you can potentially do the job better than others. The good news is that experience qualifier I mentioned earlier, successfully completed the work. You can win in the interview against an experienced candidate if you can demonstrate that you have successfully completed related tasks more effectively than he/she has in the same role with mediocre results. What’s past is prologue. Mediocre results in the past predict mediocre results in the future. What employer wants that?
Next blog … why does the candidate want us?
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.