June 21, 2018

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Improving Your Interview Prep

Most candidates have an interest in improving their interviewing skills. And as you might expect, I’m happy to offer guidance that will give them a competitive edge and help them make a more informed career decision.

Here are five day-before-the-interview strategies to help them prepare:

1. Start with the basics. Ask your candidates to study their resumes, and to review their professional highlights. Make sure they can recall the entirety of their career and pre-career activities; and if necessary, refresh their memories of the not-so-recent past. I’ve seen candidates flounder when asked about long-forgotten bullet points found at the bottom of page three.

2. Draw up a list of questions. Have your candidates visit the hiring company’s website and research any aspects about the company, industry or related technology that might deepen their understanding of the role. Most employers will regard your candidates’ questions as “buy signals.” Translation: the more questions they ask, the greater the perceived level of interest.

Of course, the single most important question always comes down to this: What is the most urgent problem facing the employer, and how might a new hire provide a solution? Eighty percent of the time, the hiring decision will be based on the answer.

3. Develop a narrative. Help the candidate articulate why the new job is appealing, from the perspective of short-term and long-term goals. Compare these elements with the current job (or past job, if the candidate is unemployed) to provide a rationale for change. Candidates who can’t accurately identify their motivation or express their sense of urgency will rarely get past the first interview.

4. Offer proof. Help the candidate find an example of tangible accomplishments, and how the experience might help the hiring company. Or, if the employer places a value on intangible qualities (such as attitude, demeanor or willingness to overcome obstacles), the candidate should be able to point to relevant examples.

5. Share your own insights. In my opinion, a big part of a recruiter’s job is to tell people things they don’t already know or can’t easily find out on their own. That’s why it’s so important to interview the hiring manager before prepping your candidates. The more you can share about the person’s mindset, background and priorities, the more comfortable and productive their first-interview experience will be.

To use a sports analogy: Broadcasters know how to make a game more exciting by alternating between the play-by-play announcing and the color commentary. This is especially important in radio, in which the listeners can only “see” the game through the broadcaster’s use of word pictures.

Similarly, I like to offer my own perspective on any aspect of the company’s history, culture or aspirations I find most interesting. As long as I’m discrete and the comments are positive in nature, the “color” in my prep will paint the picture of a job that’s dynamic—and way more appealing than the lifeless list of duties and responsibilities found in a generic job description.

BILL RADIN is a top-producing recruiter whose innovative books, CDs and training seminars have helped thousands of recruiting professionals and search consultants achieve peak performance and career satisfaction.