Finding job openings can be difficult.
Getting an interview can be even more so.
But assuming you do, how you make it through all that – and get an offer – how you negotiate your compensation doesn’t have to be difficult, at all.
But let’s not get ahead of the story.
Don’t Dare To Neglect These 3 Essential Interviewing Prep-Steps
So the interview’s scheduled and you’re actively prepping for it.
If you’re like most, you’ll research the company, talk to friends and connections who may have some meaningful ‘intel’, decide what to wear, and drink too much coffee! But let’s get a bit more granular, here, as to some essential prep activities:
1. Create your personal S.W.O.T. profile –
Anyone who’s been through an MBA program knows how create a SWOT report – a formal analysis that helps you determine a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. (If you’ve ever done one, you know that it really is a quick and easy way to get a pretty good overview of what’s likely to affect (or is affecting) a company or organization’s ongoing success.) But you can also use the SWOT as a template to help you better know (and articulate) your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threast, too.
And you should.
(You can learn how to do this, along with the other techniques in this post, in a Special Report I’ve created on the inner-game of more powerful interviewing, called: Name It; Frame It; then Claim It.)
2. Prepare and practice your stories to tell –
Obviously – at least I hope it’s obvious – cover letters, resumes, and interviews are all forms of brand management. Think about it: You’re one of who-knows-how-many other applicants who’ve just been interviewed. Now how will you be remembered? Based on your brand, of course! The quick-and-easy way that people summarize who you are and what you can do, etc.
You don’t have a brand, you say?! Well, actually – whether you know what it is or not – you do!
Bonus Tip: Ask several of your friends and colleagues to play the ‘adjective game’ with you: Ask them to name three adjectives that describe who you are and what you do – that is, your inferred brand, as they see it. (Be sure to ask whatever questions you need to ask to get a full understanding of why those adjectives make sense to them.) Now, pick three adjectives that YOU think currently describes you – these create your implied brand – how you HOPE others see you. Now compare and contrast to identify the three adjectives you will use (or reuse) as your articulated brand – the one you want prospective employers to use when talking about you and the other applicants behind the scenes.
So now that you have your articulated brand, prepare several relevant (and engaging) stories that accentuate the value of someone having those brand attributes – and how you’ve specifically leveraged them into achieving some particularly meaningful results, as you have.
If you’re not sure how to do that, here are some ideas:
- Frame your success stories with P-A-R –
- P – State a PROBLEM you’ve dealt with that is relevant to one of your interviewer’s line of questioning.
- A – Explain the APPROACH you took to meaningfully, if not eloquently, resolve that problem.
- R – Share the RESULTS you achieved and how you not only solved the immediate problem, but enabled additional downstream benefits, as well.
- Allow your H-I-STORY to unfold –
- H – Crisply state the HEADLINE for the story you’re about to tell.
- I – Assert just how IMPOSSIBLE the achievement would typically be given the circumstances you’re about to share.
- STORY – After asking if they’d like to hear more, share your STORY with all the drama and excitement you can muster!
(Again, more on how to do this, along with the other relevant techniques in Name It; Frame It; then Claim It.)
3. Ready a strategy for handling the inevitable surprises –
So you have your SWOT elements, top-of-mind, and your stories are ready for the telling. Just this, alone, will give you a decided mental edge over most other applicants, which is what the inner-game of interviewing is all about – having the confidence in knowing that you have an approach, a plan, a strategy, etc., to help you more readily connect yourself, and your interviewers, to your Better Self.
But what if an interviewer surprises you along the way? Should that be the case – and it all-too-often is – it’s good to have that proverbial ace up your sleeve – a technique I call Name it; Frame it; then, Claim it. (Hence the name of my Special Report.) You work it like this:
- NAME IT – Listen for one of the likely several short-term problems that the company needs its new-hire to solve and then, literally, NAME IT – that is, say it back to the interviewer to demonstrate (and confirm) that you understand what the problem is:
- “So what I’m hearing is …. Do I have that right?
- FRAME IT – Next, pick two of your strengths (from your Personal SWOT) that seem most relevant to solving that problem, and then FRAME IT – that is, explain your proposed solution in terms of you having not one, but two strengths necessary for implementing it. (Any two of your strengths will actually do, which you might find helpful and surprising. Practice with some random problems, and random strengths, and you’ll see what I mean.)
- “It seems to me that what’s needed to meaningfully address this issue is someone who is particularly strong with [Strength #1]. Here’s why…
- “But I also think it’s important that the person to be very capable with [Strength #2], too, because…
- “So I think it’d be a combination of [Strength #1] and [Strength #2] would be required to really handle this well. Yes, that seems right to me, wouldn’t you agree?”
- Bam! You just articulated a strategy – or frame within which – to explain how you’d solve the problem in a way that highlights your skills, and showcases your brand, precisely and compellingly.
- CLAIM IT – This final step is where you bring it home by reiterating that the strengths needed are the very ones you have, before seamlessly rolling into a favorite P-A-R or H-I-STORY to CLAIM IT – that is, further illustrate your approach and credibly take credit for the results.
It Doesn’t Begin Until It’s Over
So if you do it right – and are, indeed a good fit with, and for, the organization – you’ll get the job offer. And that’s where the real fun starts!
- How will you know if it’s a job you really want?
- How does it compare to other opportunities in the making?
- How can you up your negotiating game to increase the probability that your compensation is as competitive as possible?
Not to sound like a broken record, but Name It; Frame It; then Claim It includes all that, as well.