3 Ways To Slay Your Next Interview

Resumes don’t get you hired, interviews do.

A solid resume is like having a driver’s license. It doesn’t mean you’re a good driver, but it qualifies you to be on the road.

As the traditional resume fades out, the need for strong interview skills becomes even more important.

Here are 3 ways to prepare for your next interview:

1. Do Your Research – This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Viewing the company website, about us page and mission statement is a good place to start, but not enough. Search LinkedIn for current employees from the company, connect and ask them about their experience. While you’re there locate the recruiter posting the position and request a connection to increase your chances of your application being seen. Do informational interviews with workers in similar roles. Look on Glassdoor for company reviews, both pros and cons. Browse their social media presence to observe the culture and what current issues are being discussed. There’s too much public information out there to go into an interview blindly. Finding a role that fits today is as much about the cultural fit as it is about being your “dream job.”

2. Improve Self-Awareness – One question you’re guaranteed to be asked is “Tell me about your strengths” or “What is your greatest weakness?” (sometimes both) This comes down to how well you really know yourself. If you have a hard time answering either of these questions you clearly didn’t do your homework. No matter what role you’re applying for your strengths and weaknesses shouldn’t change. In fact, if you truly want to be remembered illustrate your strengths in a past example then spin your weakness into a strength. If you’re having trouble articulating what you do well take the StrengthsFinder assessment. It will give you 5 things you excel at and their belief is there is no such thing as weaknesses, just overdone strengths. The most successful leaders in any industry are self-aware. Let that marinate in your mind for a second.

3. Lengthen the ConversationWant to know when your chances of landing the role decrease the most? When your interview ends quickly. The dynamic of a strong interview can be dictated by you the interviewee IF facilitated right. Most applicants focus on answering the questions right, but once you realize it’s a conversation it becomes more about engagement than sheer information. There’s usually a point where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. This is your time to shine. Questions such as, “How did you find this company? What does a successful candidate look like in this role? What’s a great cultural fit here?” takes the focus off you and reveals what they’re truly looking for in a fit. The last position I got hired for included 4 interviews, the first 3 being fairly short (thought I was out of the running), but the final one lasted 90 minutes in which I was offered a contract on the spot. Treat your interviews like grabbing coffee with a friend. The more you have to talk about the less it is about what you say, but how you say it that people remember. Let’s be honest, if the interviewer(s) don’t like you, even if you’re a strong candidate, there’s no way you’re getting hired. Being likable won’t land you a job, but it also can give you a leg up on the competition.

Interviews can be tough, but your mental preparation can make the greatest difference. Like most things in life, practice may not result in perfect, but it sure makes for better. Remember confidence is built over time. Follow the steps above before your next interview and expect the best outcome to happen!

Turning The Page Forward On A New Chapter In Life

If you were part of a 4 x 100 relay team which leg would you run?

I’d be first out of the gates. I love the start.

When running a relay it’s common sense to not look back or you risk getting passed up.

But how often do we look back on our lives and dwell on mistakes, misfortunes and plain ol’ bad luck?

At a certain point, asking “why” something happened is the wrong question to ask.

Instead turn the page and focus on what’s in front of you.

One of the reasons I chose coaching as a career was because I hired one earlier in life. I loved how my coach worked on my agenda, goals and pace. Experiencing that from the client’s seat made me want to switch chairs so I eventually did.

Coaching is about the future, finding solutions and asking “how.”

Any time making a career transition it’s going to be tough starting over from scratch, but your mentality towards that change will make or break you.

Did you know it takes 200 applications to land a job on average, but only 10 connections via networking to find something new?

That means you have 20x better chance networking than job hunting to start your new career! #stopapplyingstartnetworking

There’s always fear of the unknown, but it’s more invigorating to chase after that shiny object than chase your tail.

Imagine driving on the freeway. How much time is spent looking ahead vs. in the rear view mirror (mostly for cops)? That analogy works for life.

Don’t waste your time looking back when you can be moving forward.

Starting a new chapter in life is about attitude. It’s what you can control 100%.

How Bad Examples Fuel Change

Every moment is a learning opportunity, even the bad ones..

When I started as an entrepreneur I knew networking was crucial to success so without hesitation I joined my local Chamber of Commerce. The first event I attended was in the patio of a local eatery dressed with free food and drinks.

There were two types of people there: veteran members who stood on the sidelines talking to each and newbies like me introducing myself to anyone who wasn’t in conversation. Reciting an elevator pitch, handing out business cards and trying to sell myself was my approach. I remember it being quite loud there so 50 business cards later I left forgetting who was who and quite hoarse from the night’s interactions. After I got home, decompressed and evaluated the event I questioned the purpose of it.

A month later I figured maybe I just had a bad experience and went to the next event in an office space. Less food, quieter ambiance and more intimate. But the results were the same. As I introduced myself to members, I felt judged. Did I need to earn their respect immediately by telling a recent conquest? It seemed like it would take a while to penetrate the walls of folded arms, so I decided to leave.

I said to myself, “If this is what networking is, I don’t want to do it anymore!”

A few years later I was in a slow season of business and knew I had to drum up some new contacts, but didn’t know how. As someone who loves to organize events, I knew what components both needed to be present and absent for actual “connecting” to happen. I met with a friend and shared my vision for this new type of networking event and he encouraged me to try it…so I did.

Career Synergy was a 90-minute, monthly networking event hosted at a local coffee shop after hours on the first Tuesday of the month geared towards young professionals. How did I decide on these details? Surveys and market research.

What I wanted: speakers rich with life experiences they wanted to share, scheduled small groups times during the meeting and a dedicated informal “connecting” time after the event (not before).

What I didn’t want: loud music, free food/drinks and unstructured networking before the event.

How I measured success: 25 events total ranging from 10 – 45 people. 90% of attendees stayed 30 minutes after the events to mingle with each other. I made friends and partnered together in events to this day.

The shift for me happened when I stopped complaining about past examples and created my own solution.

Once networking became a lifestyle instead of an “event” the quality and quantity of my connections increased.

To this day I set a goal to connect with at least one person a week over the phone or in-person (that’s with a full-time job, plus email is too easy of an option).

Your career is more about who you know than what you know, but if you focus on improving bad experiences there might actually be a business idea waiting to be launched!

Bad examples will occur, but the question is: will it sour you or fuel you to change?

Why Punctuality Makes My Blood Boil

boiling-point

Time is the most valuable currency, not money.

Everyone has the same amount, but we don’t use it the same.

Even before I was married and had kids, being on time mattered.

Efficiency is one of my top values and working smarter means maximizing your time.

But at a deeper level punctuality is about respect.

If time is the most valuable currency, being late means you’re wasting someone else’s time.

It’s time you can’t get back.

My roots were planted by my mom who is extremely reliable. When I was a kid if I asked her to do something and she committed to it, it would get done. It’s had a huge influence on my personality.

In the workplace punctuality is part of your reputation. When you’re late people notice. In fact I’d argue it’s a sign of integrity.

If a meeting starts at 8 AM and you’re late, it’s a slap in the face to the host.

Nobody’s perfect so an occasional slip up is fine, but habitual offenders become labeled.

Even since I joined the corporate world, I’ve continued to network online (LinkedIn), via phone and in-person on my lunch breaks. It’s more than a goal, it’s part of my lifestyle. The worst way to ruin a first impression is to show up late. I do my best to be early or on time.

So what if you lack punctuality?

You have a choice: talk about it or be about it.

Words are cheap. Actions are what matters. Don’t tell me, show me.

Most people believe being busy is a badge of honor. I disagree.

The more successful you become, the more in control of your time you should be.

Value your time by meeting with less people.

Value others’ time by showing up on time.

Valuing time means respecting others’.

What Networking Is And What It Isn’t

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When I started my business almost 10 years ago I thought networking was something I had to do…so I did.

After joining my local Chamber of Commerce, attending two events feeling exhausted and unproductive I quit.

If this was what networking was, I didn’t want any part of it.

It wasn’t until 5 years ago I decided to create my own network event and quickly I learned the following:

What Networking Isn’t

Attending Events: Most networking events are focused around bars, loud music and free food. Not only is it hard to carry on a conversation in that setting, but you’ll find most people in two places – in small cliques with whom they came and/or near the free stuff. Last time I checked those aren’t ideal conditions for conversing.

Elevator pitch: Be prepared to tell someone what you do in 30 seconds or less. Even if you accomplish that feat, do you really believe someone is going to buy what you’re selling or hire you because of your answer? There’s no harm in professional clarity, but the result won’t end in a transaction.

Passing Out/Collecting Business Cards: Networking isn’t a competition. The distributor/collector of the most business cards loses. Contact information only comes in handy when a prospect is already looking for something you’re offering BEFORE they talk to you. Most attendees at networking events are looking/offering similar things. If you leave with less of your business cards or a collection of new ones, you haven’t accomplished much.

What Networking Is

Following Up: Networking is 10% the initial contact and 90% what you do after. Meeting someone is a lead, but following up makes them a potential connection. Marketing 101 says it takes the same message seen 7 times to sink in. No matter how charismatic you are, building a relationship takes time. If you’re not in it for the long-haul, you won’t get the results you desire.

Selling Yourself: A caveat a friend of mine said to me concerning networking is “if I like the way someone thinks, chances are I’ll keep in contact with him/her.” During a conversation you should be focused on selling you, not your product or service. Relationships have more to do with liking a person than any technical knowledge. Be likable. Share what you’re passionate about. Live with the results.

Connecting: The term networking has a negative connotation. It sounds like an exclusive club reserved for extraverts. In reality connecting is open to all. In fact, I’d argue that if done right introverts have an advantage because of their listening skills. Like dating, connecting happens over several interactions. My advice? Connect with as many people as possible and your odds start increasing in the numbers game.

The University of Networking

Caerleon-Lawn-21

When I look back on my college career it was a waste of time and money.

This doesn’t mean college isn’t valuable (although that’s debatable), but it comes down to personal expectations.

Will college prepare me for my first job?

Will it provide me with the real world skills I need to succeed?

Does it give me an advantage over the competition?  

Answer: none of the above.

College is what you make of it. Looking back I should have cared less about passing my classes and more about who I was talking to in them. I’m not saying a classmate could get me a job, but they may be able to connect me to someone who could.

It wasn’t until several years later I learned the value of networking. Success always comes back to who you know. The smartest people aren’t always the most successful, but the most connected ones are.

Don’t confuse networking with manipulation. True networking is building a relationship. First impressions matter, but trust and rapport happen over time.

All my business mentors and professionals I respect have tremendous support systems around them. The right connections open doors you can’t.

You and I crave connections, we just don’t think of it in business terms. For example, if you have a better idea than an existing one instead of studying the competition, connect with them. If your solution is that great, customers will come to you.

I make it a goal of mine to reach out to new and re-connect with existing contacts weekly. Not because it’s something to check off my to-do list, but because I value knowing more people.

Focus on quality over quantity and networking becomes more about fostering relationships than increasing your connection count. Technology has allowed us to connect with people we would never have access to before. Take advantage of that and follow up.

The Introverted Networker

Shy

There’s a belief out there that you have to be an extrovert in order to be an effective networker.

That’s a myth.

While it’s true that extroverts can be great at networking, introverts have their advantages too. Take for instance: listening skills. You and I love to connect with others, but the only way that’s possible is if there’s a discussion. That means someone is talking, while the other one is listening. If you’re talking all the time, you’ll notice people avoid you like the plague. Listen well and people will be drawn to talk to you.

Quality over quantity is a huge factor too. As an introvert, you may not be able to shake 50 hands during an hour meeting, but the 5 or less people you do meet you’ll probably remember how to follow-up with them. Consider using network events as a way to meet people, then grab coffee or schedule a phone call with them afterwards. Networking is a numbers game. Extroverts are better at meeting a lot of people at once. Introverts are better at getting to know a small amount of people at a time.

Only 7% of communication is done through words. The other 93% is shared between tone and body language. Introverts tend to be more intuitive so they pick up on non-verbal cues and intonation. Since interpreting communication requires observation and reading beneath what’s said, people feel valued when they are “heard” correctly. Knowing this, if you’re an introvert and have avoided networking up to this point because you didn’t feel like you’re “talkative” enough, stop making excuses.

It’s about who you know, not what you know, so if you’re not meeting new and maintaining old relationships, you’re getting behind!