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Prepare to Win
Step. By. Step.
1. The job of the first interview is to build value in
yourself and build rapport....
What Should I Wear?
A question I am so frequently asked I’ve considered adding a secti...
Winning The Phone Interview
Preparation. You cannot over prepare for the phone
Thank You
Remember when your mother always reminded you to say thank you?
“What do you say?” she prompted. While most are ...
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  1. 1. Interview PREP Prepare to Win Step. By. Step.
  2. 2. GENERAL QUESTIONS AND PREPARATION ITEMS 1. The job of the first interview is to build value in yourself and build rapport. Provide examples of your current and past experience, your expertise, knowledge of the industry and connect with on a personal level. 2. Why do you want this job? Prepare this answer ahead of time. Focus on the positives that x company and this role has to offer as opposed to saying anything negative about your current employer. Examples might be the growth opportunities, company culture, etc. 3. Relocation (if applicable): x company is aware that the opportunity, compensation and logistics have to be right for you to make a move. If it comes up, stay focused on the positive. Stay away from saying things that would lead them to believe you truly would not relocate if all the elements aligned. They are unlikely to take you seriously as a candidate. You don’t want to cut yourself short in the process. 4. Compensation: I doubt that compensation will be discussed on a first interview. However, if asked what you are looking for in compensation here is the proper way to answer. “I’m currently earning x$ base + x$ bonus. Total comp= approximately x$. I’m very interested in this opportunity and I’m sure x company would make me a fair offer.” THAT’S IT! No need to say another word, first person that speaks in negotiation loses. It’s understood that candidates expect an increase in pay to make a move and relocation. The interview process is all about building value in yourself, not negotiate. Your job is build value in yourself, build rapport and my job is bridge any gaps at the time of offer. 5. Top 2-3 strengths AND weaknesses. Think about these ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard. 6. Take a look at the company website to familiarize yourself with the product, aesthetic and consumer. 7. Highlight your accomplishments: Prepare at least 3-5 accomplishments you are most proud of. BEHAVIORAL BASED INTERVIEWS The most popular style of interviewing used by HR and hiring managers is Behavioral Based Interviews. This is based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. For this reason, it’s critical to provide current and past examples of your experience as opposed to your opinion. Giving examples provides proof that you can not only do the job but you’ve done it or you’ve had the experience. Hence, you can hit the ground running. Examples to prepare for: This is where I insert the key requirements or skill set the hiring manger is looking for. It’s typically something that’s not on the job description. This provides the candidate with specific examples to prepare for. Special Instructions: Here’s where I include tailored tips based on the candidate’s strengths or weaknesses as well as the hiring manager’s personality. Attached: I always attach the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile. This provides the candidate with some background on the interviewer. You’d be surprised how often there are mutual connections. This is a great way to warm up the call quickly and establish rapport. Verbal Preparation: Finally, I always offer the candidate the opportunity to connect by phone prior to the interview. Typically there are questions about how to answer a specific question if it comes up. Sound like a lot of work? It can be. But remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Interview Prep. Step. By. Step. I’ve had a lot of requests to publish my interview preparation guides. I send a rather lengthy (sometimes overwhelming) interview preps via email to each candidate prior to an interview. I try to warn them ahead of time but the response is always the same, “that’s, um, comprehensive.” What can I say, I like to be thorough. Why not provide candidates with the opportunity to put their best foot forward? So without further disclaimers here’s my interview preparation guide. Sorry, this isn’t funny.
  3. 3. What Should I Wear? WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO MY INTERVIEW? A question I am so frequently asked I’ve considered adding a section to our website. What you wear can set the tone for the interview. It can also have a major impact on your confidence. In an industry that thrives on aesthetics, branding and lifestyle your interview attire should be carefully planned. There are several variations to this answer all depending on the hiring company, position level and geography. HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE RULES TO FOLLOW. Never abandon your personal style. Ever. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. The more comfortable you are in your own skin the more relaxed and confident you will feel. A strong sense of personal style often indicates the wearer has firm sense of self. JEANS When is it okay? A lot of sites will tell you to never wear jeans to an interview. I’m going to challenge this assertion. If you are interviewing with a premium denim company, you should wear jeans. Just make sure it’s their brand. Obviously. SUITS If you’re interviewing for a President or CEO position wear a suite. For executive level roles like SVP, VP, EVP, etc. it depends on the company and the position. If you’re interviewing for the SVP of Design, I’m guessing you won’t wear a suit. CFOs however, a suit is probably expected. If you’re interviewing for a director level and below, don’t wear a suit. Ever. MEN Slacks and a collared shirt is an easy solution. No tie. No polos. I personally prefer a little more flare. Flat front slacks, with a fitted top (no collar) and a blazer. Cool but not too polished. Alternatively you can opt for slacks and a sweater. Choose your sweater wisely. LADIES Since women look nice is nearly everything we have a wide range of options. Slacks, Skirts, Dresses, blazers and a range of tops all work well. Just no pant suits and don’t pair skirts with blazers or you might come off as Murphy Brown. The 90s are over. Heels or flats are just fine depending on what compliments your outfit best. If you’re not comfortable in heels but want a little lift try a kitten heel. Don’t be afraid to accessories. Make your look your own. Jewelry, scarves and handbags are all part of defining your personal style and showing your personality. BRANDED APPAREL Whenever possible and appropriate wear the hiring company’s apparel. HR at a certain athletic brand once told me that when candidates arrive without a stitch of branded apparel on the first thing they do is take them to the employee store for a little last minute shopping. This is especially true for active wear and lifestyle brands. They want to see their logo or product. MARKET SEGMENT APPROPRIATE Chances are if you’re interviewing with a company you probably have at least some connection to the brand. Hopefully. The clothes you wear to a Nordstrom interview will likely be more fashion forward than to Eddie Bauer. Remember your audience. GEOGRAPHY East Coast tends to be more dressy and formal than their West Coast counterparts. Mid- West and everywhere in between tends to take into consideration weather conditions and culture. If you’re interviewing in Madison, WI you might want to dial it back a bit. Salt Lake City, UT, think active. Colorado, casual and active. Pretend you are the hiring company’s consumer and then incorporate the appropriate level of interview dress-up. You want to look pulled together but you need to look like part of the team.
  4. 4. Winning The Phone Interview 5 TIPS FOR WINNING THE PHONE INTERVIEW Preparation. You cannot over prepare for the phone interview. I provide my candidates with a lengthy preparation guide tailored to the position, company and their strengths. You should have answers to anticipated questions well-rehearsed in detail. Use a landline. Cell phones have a way of delivering spotty reception during critical calls. To no fault of your own it’s awkward at best when an interview mimics a Verizon commercial. Location. If you have to take a call at work find an isolated location like a meeting room or office with a door that locks. Use your car as a last resort. Don’t go outside. You might think it’s quiet but the background noise is distracting. Timing. Strategically select times when you are most alert. If you’re a morning person, schedule something before noon. Your mood and energy level affects your tone of voice. Pick a time when you’re at your best. Project. Candidates always laugh when I tell them to stand up during the call. Why? When you’re hunched over at your desk your voice has a tendency to come across with less energy and personality. Movement keeps your body engaged and in tune with the tone of your voice. Phone interviews are like first dates. They’re sometimes awkward at first but by the end you know whether or not you want to go out again. Just like a first date, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. They seem so easy. Many assume the phone interview has little impact on the overall hiring decision. Wrong! The phone interview is by far the most critical conversation you will have with a hiring manager and the most difficult to execute well. This is where the foundation of your personality and value as a candidate is established. Fail the phone interview, forget about moving forward.
  5. 5. Thank You Remember when your mother always reminded you to say thank you? “What do you say?” she prompted. While most are quick to offer the verbal gratitude for even the smallest gestures a proper thank you in professional settings have become confusing. When do you send a thank you? Is email appropriate or do I need to send a handwritten note? What should I say? While there are hundreds of blogs that will offer up free advice on how to navigate the thank you landscape I propose that you not only consider the how but the equally important why. First the basics. PHONE INTERVIEW • An email thank you is appropriate. If you don’t have their email address send it to the person who arranged the interview. • Thank them for their time. • Outline the top 2-3 reasons why you are interested in the job. You can weave in how your qualifications are a strong match for the role but make sure to highlight something about the company and include a personal touch. It’s likely that the person with whom you interviewed would be your manager. What did you like about them. Make it about more about them and less about you. • Keep it short and to the point. Do you like reading novels in email format? The longer the note the less likely someone will actually read it. IN-PERSON INTERVIEW Send a hand written note. I know, you’re probably already groaning. The hand written thank you is actually easier than the email and the response is tenfold. No more than 2-3 sentences including the obvious thanks for spending their time with you. Here’s where you can get more creative and personal. What kind of personal connection do you have to the brand or product? What did you love about the culture? Note something memorable from your visit. Avoid reiterating how perfect you are for the job. That part ended when you left the building. WHY GO TO ALL THIS TROUBLE? Especially considering many companies do not properly disposition candidates, engaging in the no-response trend. Thank you notes are meaningful and always well received. I love when I open my mailbox and find a hand written addressed envelope. It makes me feel appreciated and I almost never forget the candidates and clients who send them. For these people I would happily go the extra mile. Hiring managers are no different. This industry is about relationships. You never know where someone might end up. Wouldn’t you rather leave a lasting favorable impression? Even if you don’t get the job, a thank you note will set you apart from the impersonal hiring process that our culture has sunken into. Isn’t it the right thing to do?