EXCITE AN EMPLOYER
Knowing the qualities employers look for (the above ten points plus communication skills and chemistry) is very helpful as you prepare your interviewing strategy. Determine which skills to sell, and decide which experiences you’ll share. But we can take this concept one step further. You can actually get an employer excited about you by demonstrating that you can do any or all of the following: 1) make money for the organization; 2) save money for the organization; 3) solve problems the employer is facing; and 4) reduce the level of stress and pressure the employer is under.
If you succeed, you will actually cause the employer to visualize you already on the job. Your potential will become more important than any particular technical skill that you possess or lack. You will be judged by a different standard from your competitors. For example, before you convinced the employer that you could make money for her company or department, she was judging you to a large extent by how many of the required technical skills you possessed and how many years of experience you had in the field. Now a new element has been introduced. In fact, the roles are reversed as your competitors begin to be judged by whether they can make money for the organization. Their problem is that they have not been consciously selling the fact they can make money, save money, solve problems, or reduce the stress and pressure on the boss.
If you have been a good employee in the past and have a good work ethic, you have in fact made money for your organization, saved money, solved problems, and reduced the stress and pressure of your boss. I want to help you see how and when that has happened. Your competitors have also done so, but if they don’t get the idea across, it won’t show up as weight on their side of the scale.
Let’s look at the specifics of how you can excite an employer.
Make Money For The Organization
When we think of making money for an organization, the emphasis is on increasing revenue. Ask yourself in what ways you have increased revenue for your past employers. An engineer who has personally designed successful products, or has consistently been part of teams that have developed successful products, has made money for an organization. People in marketing, advertising, and public relations will find obvious ways that they have made money for the organization.
There are several ways you can generate revenue for an organization.
Sales: If you were in sales and added new accounts, increased sales with existing accounts, or increased your market share, that is an obvious form of making money. If you are in inside sales and through solid product knowledge cause customers to purchase additional products that they might typically purchase elsewhere, you’ve made money for your organization.
Improve quality: If you can identify and implement ways to improve the products your organization sells, improve the service your organization delivers, or improve any internal processes, you will have generated more revenue. A shipping person who found a way to cut the average delivery time from three days to two days will have helped gain new customers and will have preserved existing customers.
Provide outstanding customer service: The 1990s were the decade of the customer. Good companies have always cared about their customers, but beginning in the late 1980s, it became a passion as organizations looked for every way to gain a competitive advantage. Organizations realized that providing great service to customers did not cost more money; it merely required hiring the type of people who were willing to deliver it. Companies that deliver great service hold on to existing customers even when they are not so competitive on price, and they gain new customers through referrals. Show that you truly care about your customers and you’ll have an employer who is willing to pay a premium to get you to join their firm. Look for opportunities to share how you provide great service to customers. It should be an example where you went above and beyond the call of duty. The result might be that a customer has remained loyal for many years despite strong efforts of competitors to gain a foothold, or it might be a person who has continued to use your organization’s services after moving to another company. If you know that your company has received referrals at least in part due to your efforts, mention that as well. If you have received verbal thanks from customers, quote them during an interview. If you have letters of thanks, either quote them or show them to the employer.
Save Money For The Organization
Saving money is just another form of making money. Employers love people who can save them money. Every dollar saved goes directly to improving the bottom line. If you came up with an idea that saved $10,000, that is equivalent to increasing sales $100,000 (assuming a 10% profit margin). Except for very large organizations, increasing sales $100,000 is not an easy thing to do. When it comes to saving money, nothing is insignificant. If you found a way to cut two hours a month on the production of a particular report, that’s 24 hours saved per year. If everyone sought ways to save money, American corporations would be more productive, would be more competitive internationally, and would be able to provide you and your coworkers with raises.
Increase productivity: A client operated a very expensive piece of machining equipment at Boeing. His machine, along with the 20 others just like his, frequently experienced downtime. He began to experiment by replacing a two-dollar part about every eight weeks. His downtime was reduced significantly. Eventually all of the machine operators used his technique. He received an award of $4,000 for saving $40,000 per year with his idea.
Cut costs: Wise managers rely on their entire staff to identify ways to cut costs. Some organizations even form committees to identify new ways. Such a group at a local hospital recommended obtaining all of their disposable items from one source. By purchasing from one source they obtained a better discount, and the supplier agreed to stock each department on a daily basis. As a result the nurses devote more time to patient care and the supplier has a guaranteed revenue base. Making the system work required over 200 staff hours of discussion and planning, but it will pay for itself in less than six months.
Show that you are the type of person who is always looking for ways to cut costs. If you found ways to cut heating or energy costs, reduce overtime, cut the number of units that failed to meet specs, or any of hundreds of other ways to cut costs, share it with the interviewer.
Motivate others: Some people just have that ability to motivate others. Good supervisors have the ability. They hire good people and then provide them with the tools they need to do the job. They encourage them, reward them, praise them, and give them more responsibility. The staff in turn works harder and smarter and is always looking for better ways to do things. If you’re that type of supervisor, describe situations where your ability to motivate people made a difference. Perhaps it was a really tough assignment where morale declined, but you encouraged and motivated them to give their best effort and they delivered a top quality product on schedule.
Some nonsupervisors also have this ability. Through their own high energy and willingness to take on even the grungiest tasks, they lead by example and cause others to put forth their very best effort. Look for experiences where you were the spark plug and share it vividly during the interview.
Managers love motivators. Not everyone has the ability, so if you are one who does, sell that fact throughout the interview.
No organization has a shortage of problems or challenges. Even the most progressive and advanced organizations have problems and challenges because things change so rapidly. The system that was implemented three years ago and worked so well may be obsolete.
Some people just have the reputation of being problem solvers. They have the ability to identify problems early, when they are often easier and less expensive to solve. Others have the uncanny ability to put out fires. They develop such a reputation that even when they lack appropriate experience, they are still given major projects. Some are effective because even when they lack the expertise, they know how to assemble the experts and get the job done. They are known as doers.
Managers do not like problems. When their departments have problems, their bosses want to know when they’ll be fixed. They don’t care about the reasons and they don’t want to hear excuses. They just want it fixed. You will make the life of your boss much easier if you are a problem solver.
The ability to put out fires is certainly a great skill to have, but to be a problem solver can also involve smaller problems as well. A problem solver can be one who knows instinctively what to do in a crisis situation. Karen was overseeing a fundraising auction and had hired a high-priced auctioneer. Just as things were about to begin, the hotel’s sound system went dead. The egotistical auctioneer was ready to walk out, saying he would not participate without an adequate sound system. His solution was to reschedule the whole event. With more than 200 well-heeled people in attendance, that was not an option. Karen had the auctioneer sit tight for a few minutes as she discussed the situation with the hotel. Their only solution was to use a portable sound system. While the auctioneer balked at such an inadequate solution, he agreed to try it. As the setup was taking place, Karen entertained the troops and supplied them with more wine. Despite the less-than-perfect sound system, everyone had a good time and the auction set a new record for fundraising. Karen now has the confidence that she can handle virtually any crisis.
Effectively use technology: Some people know how and when to introduce technology. If a manual system works well, they won’t seek to install a computerized system. When the old system doesn’t measure up, however, they know how to estimate costs, bring in the experts, and make sure that the technology is installed on schedule and within budget. Whether the technology is a computer, a sophisticated com-munications system, or state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, the person who can introduce technology effectively is highly regarded.
Being innovative: The innovative person sees ways to do things that simply do not occur to others. Some engineers, computer programmers, architects, and surgeons are known for their innovativeness. They are always looking for better ways to do things, often by making use of the latest technology. Others, however, are innovative because they come up with great solutions by using simple methods and low technology. If you are an innovative person, recall two or three experiences where you took a different path and made it work.
Reduce The Stress And Pressure On Your Boss
Every boss faces stress and pressure from various directions. Demonstrating that you can reduce the stress and pressure your prospective boss is facing will make you a highly desirable person. Start by selling your reliability, responsibility, and resourcefulness. By having confidence that responsibilities can be delegated to someone of your caliber, your prospective boss will actually visualize a life with less pressure.
Suppose your prospective boss attends a weekly two-hour meeting because he lacks confidence in any of his staff members to adequately represent the department. The boss feels his time could be better spent on other projects, but decisions are made at this committee meeting which sometimes have a major impact on the department.
During the interview you strike the employer as someone who can argue a strong case, and stand up to attacks from other depart-ments. It quickly becomes obvious that several key responsibilities could be turned over to you. Suddenly this employer is feeling a great deal of weight rising from his shoulders. Maybe he could leave work an hour earlier a couple of nights a week. Perhaps he’ll have time to work on that project that will establish his reputation in the company. It feels good to have some of the pressure off. “So what if she doesn’t have experience with Excel. She’s got so many other things going for her,” he says to himself as he actually begins visualizing her acting on his behalf at that committee meeting.
To interview effectively, you must convey your credibility. You accomplish this by showing that you are truthful, sincere, and genuine. Your truthfulness comes through by your not exaggerating your role in any of your accomplishments. It’s hard to explain how, but many people can sense intuitively when someone is exaggerating. Your sincerity comes through by truly meaning what you say. Most employers will quickly see through a less than sincere, “I really like your tie,” or some other comment that you might make. Genuineness comes through by showing that what you see is what you get. A genuine person does not put on airs or a false front. Of course you are trying to be your best, but you are not trying to appear to be something you are not. The great benefit of credibility is that once it’s established, whatever you say from that point on tends to be believed. In fact, what you say will be believed unless you give the employer a reason to doubt you.
That’s why you should do nothing to jeopardize your credibility. Consider, for example, how you might answer the question, “What is your biggest weakness?” Job hunting books written in the 1970s frequently recommended that you work out your answer so that your weakness really comes across as a strength. One recommended answer ran something like this, “I’d have to say that my greatest weakness is that I work too hard. My wife complains that I’m not around enough, and I guess sometimes I work my people too hard too.” The employer was supposed to think, “Well, isn’t it nice that if this guy is going to have a weakness it would be something like this.” The problem is that the answer is so planned and contrived that it sounds insincere and thus lacks credibility.
Once you lose your credibility, everything you said before and everything you say after will come under greater scrutiny and there will always be an element of doubt about you. This is not the way to start a relationship. So do everything possible to establish credibility, and then do nothing to lose it.
PROJECT AND SELL A WINNING PERSONALITY
On a conscious and subconscious level, employers will be evaluating your personality and asking, “Do I like this person and will we work well together?” When considering two people with equal qualifications, the one with the most pleasing personality will always be hired. A job is similar to marriage in that the two of you may “live” together for many years. Work will be a lot more enjoyable if you like and respect each other.
In order to adequately sell yourself, you need to know your personality skills. Such skills include being appreciative, cooperative, energetic, loyal, mature, tactful, and emotionally stable. Employers highly value such qualities. Even someone seeking a CEO position must sell personality skills.
Your Actions Speak Loudly
During an interview you won’t just rattle off claims of such characteristics as enthusiastic, energetic, tactful, or self-confident—you will demonstrate each one. In just twenty minutes, a perceptive interviewer can accurately assess you in each area—both by what you say and by what you are. The famous saying, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” is especially applicable to the ways in which employers assess a job applicant’s personality during an interview.
Imagine you are interviewing with a company that just fired an employee because he was uncooperative. You might be asked, “In this organization cooperation and teamwork are absolutely essential. Are you a cooperative person?” You might respond:
Yes, I am very cooperative. When we were developing prototypes, I would have to coordinate the project with people from four or five different departments. We always got the project completed on time. None of us got our way on everything. We worked out our differences and we felt good about the results.
This example, which would be expanded upon in an actual interview, clearly illustrates that this is a cooperative, team-oriented person.
Reveal Positive Attributes
Your goal during the interview is to reveal as many positive attributes as possible. While your competitors are busy merely describing their technical strengths, you will be selling your personality skills as well as your technical skills.
Hiring Decisions Are Made On Emotion And Justified With Logic
There is a saying that sales are made on emotion and justified with logic. When you go to buy something, you start by liking it at an emotional level; you then look for ways to justify spending the money on the purchase. This process can be so subtle that few are even aware that it’s taking place.
Hiring decisions are very similar. Your challenge is to get the employer to like you and to begin leaning your way. You do this by projecting enthusiasm, potential, and a winning personality. The employer has an emotional reaction—she begins to like you and feel comfortable with you. She senses your potential. Once you have hooked the employer emotionally, she will find a way to justify hiring you.