Friday, June 21, 2013

Forget This Step And You Will Never Get A Second Interview

Recruiting in the fast-paced and rapidly growing agricultural industry offers me the opportunity to meet some very talented people.  With more and more people gaining interest in this industry each day, it’s not uncommon for me to interview people with excellent resumes, great experience, proven success, significant potential, strong communications skills, and great answers to my questions.  In short – they are ideal candidates.  However, the surprising fact is that many of these “ideal” candidates don’t move ahead in the process because of one simple thing – their questions.  Or, in most cases, it’s the lack of questions that prevent them from making it to the final round of interviews.

During an interview, I’ll always ask “Do you have any questions for me?”  My excitement quickly fades when they say “No, I think you covered everything”

Really!?  We covered everything you need to know to make a career decision in less than 30 minutes (of which you were answering my questions about your work history for most of it)!?  In many cases, these are same sales people who just told  me they ask great questions and listen.  But now that I'm giving them the opportunity to show their stuff - they have nothing to say?

Failing to ask questions gives the impression that your done, you don't care, and you have no interest in talking about this position any longer.  You are missing the golden opportunity to prove you are the right person for the job.  Well executed questions are your best way to demonstrate your desire to learn more, and your vision of adding value to the company. 

The key to asking great questions in an interview is to NOT ask question you should already know the answers to. 

If you want to impress your interviewer, don’t ask about vacation, benefits job description, travel, etc.  You should already know this from your research on the position.  You need to ask questions that show genuine intent and interest in this role as a career opportunity.  Great questions don’t allow for one sentence answers.  They create conversation and can lead to other topics in which you can continue to match your qualifications to their needs.
There are hundreds of good questions you can ask in an interview.  Here are five simple and easy to remember questions that I feel will help your odds of making it to the next round:
1.     What attributes are you seeking in the ideal candidate for this position?
2.     How can improve on the work of the person who previously held this role?
3.     What do you see as the biggest challenges of working here and how can I overcome those challenges?
4.     What will need to have accomplished my first year to be considered successful? What will be considered success in 3 years?
5.     What is your vision for where the company or department will be in 3-5 years?

While good questions are not the most critical step in getting a 2nd interview, they are often the most overlooked component of the interview process.  By asking questions that show genuine interest in the success of the company (not just things that affect you) their confidence in you being the right person for the job will continue to rise.


Research the company, learn as much as you can about the position, and then use the components of these questions to craft great questions for your next interview.  Asking good questions will enable you interview experience to be more interactive and conversational.  Accomplish this, and you will be happy with the results.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

5 Tips For A Competency Based Interview


Shane Horn with AdMore Recruiting has some great tips on Competency-based interviews that are worth your time to review before your next interview.

The Competency Based Interview is now widely used and so you will undoubtedly face one as you move through your job search process. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills and ability to do the job you are being assessed for. You can view a more detailed description here
So what is the best approach and how do you ensure that you walk away from the meeting confident that you have performed well?
  • Plan and prepare.
This may sound obvious, but interviews take practice. There will be a number of questions you will naturally ready for, but there will be many that are designed to challenge you. The key here is to have examples ready but you must deliver them in a natural way. A good interviewer will be able to spot a formulaic, pre-planned answer, and will ask you again if they want to challenge you further. You may be able to give an example of dealing with a difficult situation, but can you name three? Can you name one outside of a work situation? You can learn morehere
  • Understand what the competencies are that you are going to be questioned on.
Most companies, unfortunately not all, will supply you with a list of core skills, or competencies that you will be assessed on. Most will appear on a well written job profile, but if you don’t have them, ask. A good agency will be able to help, as they will most likely have had candidates in the process before. A direct hiring manager will also have access to the information. If they don’t want to supply the information, try to understand why. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t got a job offer because they wanted to be fully briefed.
  • Use the CAR approach
You may have the best examples to give, however if you can’t articulate them, you will fall down. You may have heard of STAR, but CAR – Context, Action, and Result is a lot simpler to remember. The easiest approach is to set the scene of the example, tell the interviewer what you did, and what the result of this was. This will allow you to tell a story in a natural style, and to talk through your situation in a clear way. It also allows the assessor to question you – this is a good thing! The more the interviewer questions you, the more engaged they are.
  • Don’t allow the interviewer to put you off your game!
Some classically trained interviewers will follow the ‘script’, showing no emotion and won’t even ask you any questions. They may have a huge amount to get through in a short period of time. Don’t let this put you off! Be confident in your ability to answer the question. There should be an opportunity at the end of the interview to build rapport so use this time wisely.
  • Expect the unexpected
More and more clients are aware that many questions can be prepared for, so expect a few curve balls. Most recently, a client of mine asked "what piece of living room furniture would you be?" Not technically a competency based interview, but one that will make you think. Also, I have known interviewers to throw a role-play into the middle of an interview to show evidence of the example a candidate gave. So be prepared to be able to back up what you say! Some of the oddest interview questions of the last 12 months can be found here
We haven’t covered general interview tips, but you can find more information here and here
I would be interested to hear of any other key points you may have, or any testing questions you may have been asked.