This week I’ve been having conversations with clients who are preparing for interviews. One common mistake that candidates make is providing too much of the wrong kind of information during an interview.
Case in point, in response to a practice question about why he left his previous company one new client gave a seven and half minute commentary on the challenges the company was trying to address pre-COVID-19. I finally stopped him and asked point blank, “Did you lost your job as a result of COVID-19.” The answer was, of course, “Yes.” Then tell me that! The moral of the story is, tell me only what is relevant. The longer you spend on the negative side of this topic, the deeper the hole. Keep it short, focused and forward-looking.
Share the basics, “The pandemic negatively impacted our client base, the company downsized, and XXX people lost their jobs. The good news is that my family and I are healthy. I am ready to move ahead with my career and this seems like an excellent opportunity.”
Anticipating a question about salary another client launched into a calculation of expected compensation based on his previous job. I stopped him. While what he had made in his last job seemed like a lot to him it wasn’t necessarily on par with the position under consideration. In fact, given the size of the prospective company and the responsibilities of the position, I was pretty sure that he was underestimating overall compensation.
I cautioned him to avoid discussing a specific number when asked about salary. Instead, he should inquire about the range the company has in mind and describe the value he would provide when hired. He could follow up by suggesting that if he is the right person for the job, he was sure they could come to a salary agreement.
Get on and off the topic of money quickly. Shift the conversation to what you can deliver and the fact that the company can expect to receive exponentially more than the value of your compensation.
A third area of concern is around the weakness question. I am amazed at the number of clients who insist on either giving actual examples of their weakness or use the tired and trite, “I sometimes put too much emphasis on the details but am learning to focus on the bigger picture.” Or, “I get impatient with missed deadlines. . .” Yeah, right.
Instead, be real and don’t waste a lot of time on the topic. One of the best ways to answer the weakness question is by providing an example of a weakness that you have overcome. There are three parts to this approach, how it used to be, what you did to fix it and how it is now. For example, “When I started my career, I was uncomfortable speaking to groups. So, what I did was enroll in a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking (or join Toastmasters, etc.) Now I give presentations to groups several times a month and really enjoy it.”
Up your interview game by tightening your delivery in these three areas. Your job in the interview is to sell your strengths not distract the hiring manager with irrelevant information. Good luck!
©2020 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.