The script for the Interview Power video

Opening: Show headline about unemployment rates, downsizing, and mergers.

Steve D voiceover. - Finding the right job in today's market is difficult, and no one knows that better than Tom Washington. He's the author of Resume Power: Selling Yourself on Paper. This video program is based on his most recent book,  Interview Power: Selling Yourself Face To Face. His 1992 article describing new trends in interviewing won him a Ten Best award from The National Business Employment Weekly.

Tom: Finding a high quality job has always been tough, but never tougher than in the 90s. With mergers and reorganizations, large numbers of companies are downsizing. Smaller, entrepreneurial companies are trying to fill the slack, but the job market is still tight, and those really top quality jobs are few and far between. If you want a true career position that you can grow with, you'll need to carry out a systematic job search and you'll need to interview at your best. That's why we've produced Interview Power: Selling Yourself Face To Face, to help you gain an edge and to get the job you want. In this program you'll learn the ins and outs of interviewing. You'll watch job candidates who are doing the right things, and we'll show you some of the mistakes people too frequently make.

Focus

Before you can begin an effective job search you need focus. Employers value candidates who seem focused, know what they want. The branch manager of a savings and loan, a client of mine, was interviewing a person who had responded to an ad. He asked why the person was interested in the position. "Because it's available" was the response. He didn't get the job. He showed that he was not focused, and had not bothered to learn anything about the savings and loan industry. It's fine to be open to several fields, but show that you are knowledgeable about each field you are interviewing for.

The Right Attitude -- I'm Here To Sell Myself

The first thing you'll need for successful interviewing is the right attitude. Every time you open your mouth, sell yourself. This is not the time to be modest. Throughout this program we'll show you how to come across as confident and positive.

Show balance scale: weight being added for good answers, a little weight added for a mediocre answer. Starts with lots of weight on the other side. Gradually it tips in your favor.

Successful interviewing is like a balance scale. Almost unconsciously, in the mind of the interviewer, weight is either added or subtracted from your side of the scale. Assume you're in the second round of interviews and your one competitor has already gone before you. At the moment more weight is on that person's side of the scale. But now it's your chance to sell yourself. Those who make the most out of the opportunity will add enough weight to their side to ultimately get the job offer. With each answer to a question you want the maximum weight possible. A really solid answer might get this much weight. A less adequate answer perhaps only this much. A poor answer might even subtract weight from your side.

Jack Cantwell is going to take you through this process. I'll be on from time to time to share some personal insights. Welcome Jack. I think our audience will really enjoy the concepts and techniques you'll be introducing.

Jack: I think they will too. In fact, the first thing I want to do is share a series of interviewing tips and principles.

INTERVIEWING TIPS

On Screen

Be prepared
First Impressions are important
Send a thank you note
Hiring decisions are based on emotion
The employer is on your side
Show what you can do for the employer

Be Prepared. Effective interviewing is an art which can be learned, and the payoffs can be tremendous. You'll work hard to get each interview, so never go into an interview unprepared. By knowing what to expect and by preparing for all of the difficult questions, you'll get the job offer.

First impressions are important. Some first impressions occur in the first 30 seconds. Others are formed during the first two minutes of the interview. Once formed, first impressions are hard to change.

(scene 1)
(Show Jennifer  rise to greet the employer, smiling face, good handshake, says, "Hi Mr. Cantwell, thanks for having me in today." It is said with energy and enthusiasm.

Mind talk of Cantwell, "Well she seems energetic and confident, I like her."

The employer is actually on your side. He or she has a need and has every reason to hope you're the right person to meet it. Keep the employer on your side through active listening and selling yourself.

(scene 2)
Julio is applicant, Cantwell is interviewer
(Mind talk as employer and applicant meet: "I hope Julio is as good as he seems on paper. The last two people just don't have what it takes.)

(continuation of above concept of first impressions.)

John is applicant, Cantwell is interviewer.
(Voiceover) Hiring decisions are based mostly on emotion. In sales there is an old saying that buying decisions are made on emotion and justified with logic. In other words, once you get a person to like you and want you, the person will find a way to justify the decision.

Cantwell Mindtalk: Will he be easy to get along with? He seems cooperative. He should fit in with the staff.

Believe me, being liked by the employer is just as important as having the right qualifications.

(scene 3)
Send a thank-you note. Send a thank you note the evening of the interview. This simple courtesy frequently can make the difference between selection and rejection. Sending a thank you note, even one as short as three sentences can be one of the most important things you do. When employers receive thank you notes, they immediately remember you. Sending a note makes you stand out positively because so few people send them. Thank you notes can be handwritten or typed.

(scene 4)
(Show employer opening the thank you note and smiling and nodding as the voice of the sender comes through reading the thank you note out loud.

Janet: Dear Mr. Cantwell: I want to thank you for taking time to meet with me today. I would very much like to work for you. The position seems to be a very good fit for both my experience and interests. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Janet Thomas. (The employer is obviously pleased.)

Mind talk of Cantwell: She seems to have the right qualities and she's certainly interested in the position. I suppose I could bring back five candidates instead of just four.

Janet was ranked number five because her experience was not as close to what the employer wants as the other four, and she probably would not have been invited back for a second interview. But now she gets one more chance to show that her potential is worth more than just having the right experience.

Show what you can do for the employer. One of the biggest turnoffs for employers is the candidate who seems self-centered and cares only about what the company can do for him. During the interview the emphasis must be on how you can benefit the organization.

KEY INTERVIEWING SKILLS

Now I want to discuss some key interviewing skills.
Shake hands firmly. As you meet the person, extend your hand. Virtually all people like a firm handshake but detest both the limp and bone crushing type. (Show a tight, bone crushing grip (perhaps from a woman, Janet to Mr. Cantwell) with a definite look of hurt on Cantwell's face and slightly shaking his hand after the handshake.

Then a limp handshake from Paul to Cantwell with a momentary look of disgust on the face of Cantwell.

Remember, your handshake is a big part of that important first impression."(At this time the correct handshake is demonstrated. John to Cantwell)

Leave the interview on a positive note. As you leave, express your interest in the position. It is fine to ask what the next step will be and how soon you might expect an answer. (Show Darren) rising and thanking the employer for the interview and expressing strong interest in the position.

(Darren) Mr. Cantwell, I really appreciate your meeting with me today. Based on what you've told me, I'm convinced I would like working here. The position sounds great and I really would like to be a part of Darnell Manufacturing. What will be the next step?

(Cantwell) Well, Darren, within two weeks we'll be contacting the finalists. We hope to have the position filled within four weeks.

Active Listening

Tom, in your writings you stress the importance of active listening. What is it and why is it so important?

Tom: Active listening is one of the most critical interviewing skills you need to develop. It can be defined as high level listening in which your entire attention is focused on the person speaking -- your body, your face, your eyes all confirm you are listening. Active listening is important for two reasons. First, employers are attracted to active listeners. Active listeners are better liked and are perceived to be better employees. We all like people who really listen to us. Second, through active listening you'll pick up clues that the interviewer is consciously and unconsciously giving you. You can then process the clues to determine what the employer is really looking for. Throughout the interview sell those qualities.

(Voiceover of host) Use your body language to show that you are truly listening. Be relaxed, but don't slouch. You should always be looking at the speaker, but with a gentle gaze, never a stare. When people speak, they often look away from the listener for 5-20 seconds, but when their eyes return to you, you should be gently looking at them. When the speaker's eyes return to you, they should not catch you looking at your watch, looking out the window, or looking at objects in the office.

(scene 5)
Then show Janet who is looking at something in the room and when Cantwell' eyes return to her, it is obvious that Janet was not actively listening.

(scene 6)
(While the narrator is saying the preceding, show Paul actively listening. The employer looks away and then comes back, then looks away and comes back to looking at the interviewee. Each time the eyes return, the interviewee is looking at the person.

Interviewees are often told to maintain strong eye contact throughout an interview. Actually, such eye contact is completely unnatural.  Studies reveal that in normal conversation, the person speaking typically looks away for 30-70% of the time.

(scene 7)
(While narrator is saying this, cut to Rebecca who is speaking (no sound). She looks at Cantwell  and then looks away and then looks back again.

Now notice what it's like when the interviewee never takes his eyes off the person being spoken to.

(scene 8)
John stares at Cantwell: Make sure the viewer can readily see how unnatural it is.)

Control the Content, Not The Interview

Job seekers are sometimes advised to take control of interviews, but using that tactic on an experienced interviewer can backfire. Let the interviewer control the questions while you control the content. Controlling the content means that you will be deciding what to say and which examples to give. That is all the control you need.

Develop a game plan and know the points you want to cover and the experiences you want to describe. Then look for the earliest opportunity to "slide" that information into the interview. I'll show you what I mean. Rebecca, the marketing director,  has just been asked "Are you good at motivating your staff?"

(scene 9)
Rebecca: I think I'm an excellent motivator. My staff enjoys working for me and they know I'll always provide whatever support they need to get a project completed. People tell me that they feel I give them the opportunity to be really creative. I'm recognized within my company as someone who can get everything possible out of her staff. About six months ago we were assigned a really difficult project. Our president knew he was not giving us enough time, but our chief competitor had come out with a product that ran circles around ours. We had to go all out or we were going to lose major market shares. At first the staff was really down, because we were given so little time. But then I pointed out that our department had an opportunity to gain the respect we deserved within our company. Marketing had always been the stepchild to sales, but at that moment, the success of our company was riding on what we could come up with. We put in a lot of overtime, but in the three month deadline we defined what the features of the product would be, and came up with a totally new marketing plan for a product that was on the drawing boards. Since coming out we've grabbed a 23% market share. In his wildest dream our president had never expected more than a 15% market share.

(Show Rebecca adding a desired point after fully answering the question. After Rebecca has finished answering the question, the candidate is stopped with mouth open about to speak, the narrator explains that the question has been fully answered but that the candidate recognized an opportunity to make a point and is about to take advantage of it)

(voiceover while watching a still of Rebecca) Rebecca has just fully answered the question and has demonstrated that she is very effective at motivating people. Now she recognizes an opportunity to add a point that she has been wanting to make, that she is very good at developing staff.

Video begins to move as Rebecca adds her point.

Rebecca: Thinking about that project reminds me of an interesting situation. As we started that project I had a new staff person who had been passed to us from the sales department. She hadn't worked out in sales support, and this was her last opportunity before she would be fired. I had heard that she just wasn't reliable, but we had so much to do that I had to give her a major assignment. I had seen some flickers of talent so I just told her that I expected a lot out of her and that the team was depending on her. I helped her get a good start and watched her pretty carefully at first, but she really started producing. In the last six months she's become one of my most trusted staff people. I think in the past she hadn't been trained well, her assignments had been ambiguous, and she didn't feel like she fit in. I think I just made the most of her talents. So, in addition to motivating people well, I'm very good at developing staff.

Let Others Speak For You

When you're answering questions in an interview, let others build you up. For example, in response to a question about your strengths you might say,

Julio: My boss told me he values my reliability. When he has a project that absolutely has to be done right -- he gives it to me.

Or you might quote a customer.

Rebecca: My customers really value the little extra things I do for them. In fact one of my customers told me that none of his other vendors keep him as informed on what's happening in the market as I do. He knows I really want him to be successful.

Granted, that person is not there to confirm what you've just said, but if you've successfully established your credibility, your statement will be accepted.

Research the Organization

Researching an organization can yield big dividends during an interview. Read annual reports, as well as any articles or other information you can locate. A reference librarian can help you find information. Many libraries maintain clipping files -- clippings of articles about local companies that have appeared in the local press. Show a job candidate reading the annual report and company literature, clipping file. Research can reveal problems or challenges the organization is facing, and can enable you to select in advance appropriate experiences you should describe in the interview. At the minimum you should know what the organization's products and services are, how long they've been in business, and something about their growth and reputation. Researching the organization will help you determine whether it is right for you. It will also enable you to answer questions more effectively. Employers commonly ask: "What do you know about us?" One candidate received this rude awakening.

Harold, what do you know about us?

Harold pauses and squirms.

The recruiter finally asks, "Have you read anything about us?"

Harold, shaking his head and looking at the floor: I'm afraid not. I didn't have time.

The interviewer stands and coldly states, "This interview is over."

Although this was an extremely embarrassing experience, the recruiter actually did Harold a big favor -- he never made that mistake again.

Learn what you can from your research, then, weave the information you've gathered into the interview. Do this carefully, however. You don't want to give the impression you are merely trying to cram this information into the interview just to make a positive impression as Jennifer tried to do.

(scene     )
Cantwell: Why would you like to work for us?

Janet: Well, Mr. Cantwell, I'm really impressed with your firm. I noticed that third quarter earnings were up 8% over the third quarter last year. And your after tax profits are up 12% even though you had to take a one time writeoff against future pension expenses. Your stock just hit 52 and that's just three points below its all time high. You've introduced six new products already this year versus four for all of last year. That's pretty impressive.

Jennifer did not weave her information into the interview and she did not score points.

MASTER THE ART OF STORY TELLING

Over the years I've learned how important sharing stories and anecdotes can be in an interview. An example from your actual experience will prove to employers that you have the skills and abilities you claim to have. Merely stating you can learn quickly or that you have leadership qualities is not enough.  You must support your claims with vivid examples.  People remember best those things which are locked in their minds as pictures.  That means that if words pass from your mouth and do not create any images or emotions in the minds of employers, there will be no impact or long-term memory.  This frequently happens when a person is asked to describe himself.  He may declare that he is hard working, energetic, a true leader, and a person who can successfully juggle multiple tasks.  The problem is, he is trying to sell too many things at once and doesn't do a good job with any of them.  Because he doesn't back up any of the claims with examples, none of the points will be remembered after he leaves the interview.

Using anecdotes to sell your skills is a highly effective interview technique.  Tell stories which vividly describe your successes.  They'll demonstrate that because you've been effective in the past, you'll be effective in the future.

Don't be concerned if your stories are not highly impressive. As long as the experience demonstrates your effective use of a particular skill, it will work just fine.

When telling stories, provide all of the key information.  Begin by describing the situation as you came into it, including the problems and challenges you faced.  Then describe your analysis and the recommendations you made.  Next, describe what you implemented and the results you obtained. 

Most people require practice to tell vivid, effective stories.  Begin by recalling 10 to 15 experiences that you feel good about, and jot down a phrase so you'll remember which experience you're referring to. In your mind recall the experiences. Then it's best to write one hundred to three hundred words about each one to keep for future reference and to help you prepare for interviews. Next, identify four to eight key skills that were demonstrated in each experience. Whenever you want to sell one of those key skills, you'll have at least one example you can share. Then practice until you can tell a vivid story about each experience in one to three minutes.  Then, tell your story into a tape recorder.  When you play it back, ask yourself:  Is it a well told story?  Is it interesting?  Does it create word pictures?

People often claim that their experiences simply don't lend themselves to colorful stories. This may be true to a point, but anyone can still tell a vivid story by emphasizing the challenges faced and by graphically describing how the problems were overcome. 

In addition to sharing an experience that backs up a claimed strength, there are several techniques for effectively telling stories.  One is to combine a nonwork experience with a work-related experience.  The nonwork-related experience may be especially vivid or have a particularly useful "hook" in it which will help the employer remember you.  A hook is any word-picture or imagery that will help a person recall a story.  Combining the nonwork experience with a recent work experience can help create a vivid picture of you that communicates a lot about your skills and qualities.

(scene     ) Darren and Mr. Cantwell

Darren: Probably my greatest strength is my ability to take on difficult projects. I guess I just like the challenge. And people know that if I take something on that I'm going to get it done right. The ski club I'm an officer of really likes to ski at Crystal Mountain, where you have great snow and a beautiful view of Mount Rainier. We skied there often enough that we wanted to have our own lodge there. The problem was we couldn't afford one. And if we raised the dues too high, we'd lose some of our members. Within three weeks of discussing the idea, virtually everyone thought it was a dead issue. I wasn't ready to give up. I studied tax codes and every angle imaginable to finance the project. Eventually I came up with a way that our more affluent members could own shares in the $300,000 project and would receive a very secure and very nice return that would be tax free. Our attorney initially didn't think the idea would fly, but I showed him how it met all the IRS tax requirements. He gave it the green light and sixteen months later we had a beautiful lodge.

Another experience happened recently. The president of my company wanted to create a totally new product. We certainly had the engineering capability, but we had no way to finance it. After trying numerous avenues, with nothing working, I suggested trying a joint venture with a Japanese company. Initially most of the reactions were negative, but I was given approval to study the possibility. I studied joint ventures that have failed as well as ones that have succeeded. I also got advice from a friend who had carried out a successful joint venture. As with any joint venture the goal is to obtain a win-win relationship. Too often the Japanese companies have gained new technology without giving much back to the joint venture partner. Well, I identified three prospective companies and was given approval to enter negotiations. It took nearly nine months to complete the negotiations, but one year into the joint venture, both parties are satisfied. We got the financing we needed and an open market in Japan, and our partner has obtained some very valuable technology it can use in the future.

Can you sense how memorable these experiences are. You probably had a strong visual image of Mount Rainier and people skiing through powder snow. You may also have visualized a beautiful ski lodge. With that image you'll be able to remember that Darren solved a major problem faced by his ski club. Then you could visualize several people sitting around a table negotiating a deal. You'll be able to remember that a major problem was solved. You're convinced that Darren really does have the gift of solving big problems and taking on difficult projects.

Combining a distant experience (work-related or nonwork-related) with a recent experience can also enrich your images and stories.  It demonstrates that you have mastered that skill for several years.  If, for example, you are selling your ability to organize events, a related story from 5 years ago, coupled with a recent story, would clearly demonstrate that you've had the ability to organize events for a long time.

(scene     ) Ronda and Mr. Cantwell

Ronda:  Well, I think something you should know about me is that I'm really good at organizing events. During my senior year in college I organized a white water rafting trip for our co-ed dormitory. In the past the dorm usually had a picnic which turned into more of a beer bash. On the rafting trip no beer was permitted and people had a lot more fun. In the past maybe a quarter of the students would go to the picnic but we had nearly half the students out there rafting. Because of the teamwork required, it really brought people closer together.

Just three months ago I coordinated our national sales convention. We brought in 85 sales reps from around the country and gave them a great experience. I selected the speakers and negotiated contracts with them, worked with the hotel in all of the details, and put in some touches that made it really special. I brought in one speaker that no one had heard of, but he had a new slant on sales and did it with such humor that he had the sales force rolling in the aisles. After it was over several reps told me they thought it was the best convention in the past ten years.

In stories which demonstrate how you've solved a problem or overcome an obstacle, create before and after pictures that highlight your impact on the situation.  Paint the before picture as black as you can.  Make the employer feel how bad the situation was. As you complete your story, describe how smooth or effective things became.  Create the strongest contrast possible without exaggerating.  Notice how Rebecca does just that.

(scene     ) Rebecca and Mr. Cantwell

Rebecca: I'm always looking for better ways to do things. When I came into my current position I discovered that it was taking three weeks from the time our sales reps submitted a project to be bid on, until we got the bid price to them. In about a quarter of the cases, by the time they submitted the bid, the customer had already selected another vendor. This had been going on for a long time. I analyzed all the steps a bid had to go through and noticed that it had to pass by our chief engineer, our vice president of operations, and about five other people. Each of them kept it on his or her desk for at least three days. I developed a system that eliminated two of those people, and I got an agreement from the chief engineer and the VP that they would either act on it or pass it on within two days. We cut six working days out of the process and now we always get our bids out on time. We don't win all of them of course, but our sales reps are a lot happier, and we've been winning our share.

Let's summarize now the key points we've covered:

1. Demonstrate to the employer that you are focused.

2. Keep the right attitude--you're in the interview to sell yourself. Keep adding weight to your side of the scale.

3. Be prepared. Be ready for all of the difficult questions.

4. Make a strong first impression.

5. Always send a thank you note.

6. Show what you can do for them. Don't come across as one who only cares about what the company can do for you.

7. Smile when meeting your interviewer and shake hands firmly.

8. Leave the interview on a positive note.

9. Practice active listening throughout the interview. Let the interviewer know you are intently listening to everything being said.

10. Learn to control the content of the interview, while not trying to control the interview itself. Learn to slide in information which will help sell you.

11. Let other speak for you. Quote bosses, customers, clients, and even coworkers.

12. Research the organization. Use your knowledge to help you ask the right questions and to sell yourself.

13. Master the art of story telling. Recall your positive experiences, identify several key skills in each one, and practice telling your stories vividly and concisely. The real secret to effective interviewing is learning how to back up what you say about yourself through stories and anecdotes.

Part Two

Tom: In part one you learned how to sell yourself, and how to make a strong first impression. In particular, you saw how important it is to back up claims about yourself with specific examples. Stories and anecdotes truly are the secret to success in interviewing. In part two you'll learn about the different types of interviews and how to sell yourself in each one. You'll also learn the secret of overcoming objections and how to project a high level of enthusiasm throughout the interview. We'll conclude the program with examples of how to answer the most commonly asked questions in interviewing.

THE TYPES OF INTERVIEWS

There are seven types of interviews that we should cover: telephone screening interviews, in-person screening interviews, nondirected interviews, stress interviews, board interviews, behavior-based interviews, and series interviews.

(on screen)
Types of Interviews
Telephone screening
In-person screening
Nondirected
Stress
Board
Behavior-based
Series

Telephone Screening Interviews

Telephone interviews are often used for initial screening. In five minutes the interviewer can often gather enough information to determine whether he or she needs to meet you. Use the telephone interview to sell  yourself. Make the interviewer want to meet you. Let your enthusiasm sparkle. Sell your potential. Tell the person you are very interested in the position and you would like an appointment. This assertive approach works remarkably well.

(scene       )

Darren: So that's basically my background.
Cantwell: Thank you Darren for your information we'll contact you again if we need to bring you in for a full interview.
Darren: Thank you for calling Mr. Cantwell. I would very much like to meet you personally. I'm very interested in the position.

Screening Interviews

With large organizations the first interview will often be conducted by a personnel specialist. They typically have extensive training in interviewing techniques. Their interviews will generally be planned in advance and all applicants will usually be asked the same questions. The screening interview is generally quite short -- its purpose is to screen out those applicants who are obviously not qualified.

A screening interview will consist primarily of probing questions designed to determine your technical competence. They will also screen out those whose personalities are obviously not right or those who clearly would not fit in that organization's corporate culture. Be sure to sell your personality. Let the interviewer know that you more than meet the minimum requirements for the position. Give the interviewer every reason to pass you on to the person you'll end up working for.

(Voiceover while showing Janet being interviewed by Sandra (new person).

Stress Interviews

Stress interviews consist of questions and situations designed to put the interviewee under stress. The theory is that the interviewee will reveal how he or she will actually handle stress when it occurs on the job.

One form of stress questioning involves asking rapid fire questions so a person barely has time to think. It most frequently occurs in panel interviews with two or three interviewers. One interviewer will ask a new question before you've finished answering the previous question. The best response is to look at the person who has just asked the question and tactfully say, "That's an important question, and I'd like to answer it, but before I do I feel I need to fully answer Mr. Chapman's question." It will instantly become clear that you won't fall for their game, and that type of questioning will cease.

Another common form of stress is to use silence. You may have just completed an answer, yet the interviewer maintains silence and simply looks at you. If you break the silence you lose.

(scene       )
Janet: So I think that's a pretty good overview of my supervisory abilities.

If you are truly finished with your answer remain silent. Maintain a gentle gaze on the interviewer and begin to silently count the seconds. It is almost guaranteed that the person cannot hold out for more than 15 seconds. If you find it difficult to maintain eye contact during the silence, look down, but do not show any nervousness or discomfort with the situation.

Janet looks at the interviewer for a few seconds but when no response comes forth begins to look down, but does not look nervous.)

Mr. Cantwell: Janet, tell me why you left your prior employer.

Janet obviously succeeded in this case.

Another form of stress is to tell you that you simply don't have enough experience. The interviewer then stops talking and observes your reaction. If you get flustered or defensive you lose.

(scene              )
Ronda being told by Cantwell: I don't see how we could hire you, you just don't have enough experience in our industry.

Ronda: Well, Mr. Cantwell, I'm proud of what I've accomplished. Because of my varied experience, I'm convinced that my four years in sales are equivalent to what most sales people gain in seven or eight years. I learn new products very quickly and I've always gotten results.

The primary antidote to the stress interview is to simply recognize it. As soon as you realize the interviewer is intentionally putting you under stress, say to yourself, "Aha, I know what you're doing, and you're not going to get me to panic or get angry or become defensive. I'm going to beat you at your own game." Then simply become assertive with the interviewer.

Panel Interviews

In the panel interview two or more people interview you simultaneously, usually taking turns asking questions. Sometimes the questions have been determined in advance. In other panel interviews you may be interviewed by five individuals who have their own separate agendas. In a panel interview you'll often find that the only person really listening to your answer is the person who asked it. Your primary goal is to make each member feel totally involved with all of your responses. You can do this by resisting the tendency to only make eye contact with the questioner. Keep each person involved by looking at each one and making each one feel important and attended to. (Show a Julio addressing all members of the board)

Behavior-based Interviews

In behavior-based interviews you will constantly be asked to give examples, or stories, to provide evidence that you have the skills required in the position. (Cut away to two interviewers)

(scene            )
Cantwell: Tell me about a time when you made a major sacrifice to achieve a work-related or personal goal.

(scene        )
Cantwell: Describe an experience when you were especially creative in solving a problem.

You'll notice that each question requires an example. In fact the interviewer will not continue until you have provided a specific example. The interviewer will not permit you to get by with generalities.

Let's look at a response that was too general, to the question "Tell me about a time when you worked under heavy stress.

(scene      )   Jennifer and Mr. Cantwell
Jennifer: Well, as you know, in retail you are constantly under stress and pressure. You just can't survive in retail management if you can't handle stress well. I think I do my best work under stress.

The response of the behavior-based interviewer would be to push for specifics by saying something like,

Cantwell: I appreciate your overview, but what I'd like is for you to describe a specific time or  project when you were under a lot of stress.

The behavior-based interviewer won't give up until the question has been properly answered. If you are prepared to share specific examples you'll shine in these situations

As you can see, these are tough questions and you must be ready for this form of interviewing because its use is increasing. It is based on the concept that the best way to predict future behavior is past behavior, and the best way to predict future success is past success. If you practice telling stories, you will be very effective. The more concise, yet vivid the stories are, the more weight you'll get on your side of the scale.

In preparing for behavior-based interviews, take time to list experiences you've had on jobs, in volunteer activities, in school, and in sports that would reveal the qualities that you believe most employers will be seeking. Most of the experiences should be those that brought you satisfaction and enjoyment. Experiences could include:

(scene       )
Darren: I got four promotions in five years.

(scene      )
John: My army platoon received the McArthur Award for passing five consecutive inspections. These were tough inspections.

scene      )
Rebecca: I found a vendor in Thailand who could meet our stringent quality standards, and could beat the price of the vendor we were then using by 15%.

Examples of effective answers will help. Notice that in the following example the person provides a good overview of his or her experience and ability in a particular area, and then goes on to give a specific example.

(scene     )  Mr. Cantwell and John
Mr. Cantwell: Give me an example of a time when you had to work with a person who is difficult to get along with.

John: I think I can get along with just about anybody. I work hard to find positive things about people. And people tell me they enjoy working with me. About six months ago I was teamed up with an engineer that people just don't like to work with. She's brilliant, but she always criticizes the ideas that other people come up with. She was working on the design of a major electronic component and I was responsible to make sure all objectives were met and that it fit in the plastic housing that had already been designed. One day she criticized one of my ideas and rather than get defensive I asked her how she would change it. She had a really good idea and I adopted it. From that point on she was more tactful and she made suggestions rather than criticize my ideas. I think I gained her respect by showing her that I was always open to better ideas.

Preparation is the key to selling yourself effectively in a behavior-based interview.

Series Interviews

The series interview consists of interviews with three or more people in the organization, all in one day. The interviewers may consist of someone from personnel, the person who will be your boss, two or three people who will be your colleagues in the same department, and someone from a different department. The assumption behind series interviews is that five heads are always better than one.  After the series interview has been conducted, the interviewers meet to discuss each interviewee. 

Whenever you schedule an interview, ask who you'll be meeting and how much time should be set aside. A series interview can mentally drain you, so you'll want to be psychologically prepared for this.

Now we want to look at such issues as overcoming objections and projecting enthusiasm.

Overcoming Objections

An objection is not a rejection, it is a request for more information. If the employer states, "You don't have as much experience as we normally want," he is not rejecting you. In fact, he could be totally sold on you but for this one concern. Your task is to sell yourself and overcome that objection. You'll do that by emphasizing your strengths, not by arguing. Don't take the objection personally and don't become defensive.

(scene     )  Jennifer and Mr. Cantwell
(Before interviewer states objection, show Cantwell's mind talk:
"I really like her, I hope she handles this well so I can sell her to my boss."

Cantwell: I really need someone with more retail management experience.

Don't become defensive or argumentative, as Jennifer is about to do in her response.

Jennifer: What do you mean I don't have enough experience. I've spent ten years in retail!

There is also no need to sound defeated.

Show what being defeated sounds like: I guess you're right, I really don't have enough management experience.

Instead, sell yourself and sell your potential, as Jennifer finally does in this response.

Show Jennifer indicating she has excellent experience and a lot of potential:

Jennifer: I do feel I have some real solid experience. I've got four years of high pressure management experience. I've been responsible for a major store remodel and I completely remerchandised that store. The following year our sales increased 22%. I was also selected to be on the management team for a new superstore we opened. My managers have always had confidence in me.

The first step in overcoming objections is predicting what they will be and developing appropriate, effective responses to them. The objection may be that you don't have the right coursework or enough experience. One way to deal with this concern is to describe all of the experience or coursework you have which is related, even if it is not identical to what is being asked for.

The other way to deal with the objection of not having enough experience is to sell the fact that you learn quickly. 

In the next situation Janet is convinced that her lack of experience with a particular computer application software is hurting her, but the employer has not specifically stated the point. She has just been asked what her greatest strength is.

Janet: I think probably my greatest strength is that I learn new systems and procedures very quickly. My present employer uses a very complex accounting software package that I had never been exposed to. When I joined the accounting department I was given a little help, but mainly I learned through practice. I would practice during my lunch hour and study the manual at home. Within six months I became the department guru.

Cantwell mindtalk: Well I guess it's not so important that she doesn't have experience with our local area network software. She certainly has a lot of other strengths going for her.

PROJECT ENTHUSIASM

Tom: Employers seek enthusiastic people who really want to get involved in the job.  You should demonstrate genuine enthusiasm--enthusiasm for yourself, enthusiasm for the job, enthusiasm for your future boss, and enthusiasm for the company.

Enthusiasm must be demonstrated throughout the interview. Show enthusiasm by speaking positively about previous jobs or supervisors.  Describe how you put all of your energy into a job and describe the results you've achieved.

Enthusiasm has gotten more people jobs than any other single quality. 

Because enthusiasm is so important, perform an enthusiasm check about every ten minutes during an interview.  If you realize your enthusiasm has waned, don't instantly raise it several notches; that might seem obvious and contrived.  Instead, begin by merely sitting up straighter in your chair, since enthusiasm usually drops as you get too relaxed.  Over a period of two or three minutes you should introduce more hand gestures, raise the level of your voice slightly, and add more feeling to what you say.  Add a slight inflection to your voice and even speak slightly faster when saying something important.

Cantwell: In this example John has been in the interview for about 10 minutes and is finishing answering a question about how he chose his profession.

(scene    )  John and Mr. Cantwell
(Demonstrate an enthusiasm check. John is asked how he chose his profession. John is monotone, slouched down, no expression on face.

John: So basically I chose to be an engineer because I've always enjoyed solving problems and I was always good in math and science. My teachers and my parents always encouraged me in that direction also.

(John, mindtalk) My enthusiasm has really slipped.

Cantwell: What can you offer us?

John straightens up, more gestures, quickens words, uses more emphasis

John: I have a lot to offer. I've produced some excellent product designs which have solved really difficult engineering problems. Several supervisors have told me that I produce really high quality work. I would say also that ....(voice fades but camera stays on him for a few seconds.

Did you notice the little things John did to increase his enthusiasm? It made a major difference. That's why an enthusiasm check every ten minutes can make a big difference in your interviewing success.

ASKING QUESTIONS

Employers like being asked questions.  In fact, most are disappointed if you don't ask a few questions; they may even interpret a lack of questions as a lack of interest.  Giving the interviewer a chance to answer your thoughtful questions makes the interview interesting and makes you seem more interesting as well.  Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to gather useful information and clear up any confusing issues.

Ask your questions selectively since asking too many questions can leave a negative impression.  Also, avoid a probing tone which could make the interviewer feel under interrogation. 

When asked properly, questions reveal that you've done your homework.  For example,

Rebecca: What will the impact on exports be if the dollar continues to slide against the yen? 

Ronda: I read that ComWest is coming out with a complete new line of cellular telephone products that are getting some really good press.  What will you do to counter it?

These can be good questions.

Some of your questions can be planned, but ask them only if they seem appropriate.  Good general questions to ask might include: 

Darren: Could you describe your management style?

Julio: Where is the company  strong and where does it need to be strengthened?

Janet: If I'm as effective as I think I will be, where could I be in five years?

Rebecca: Is there anything else I should know that would help me understand the position?

There are numerous questions which are safe to ask during a first or second interview.  Some questions, however, are best left unasked until a job has actually been offered to you. They are best left unasked because they can raise doubts about you. If they are still important to you after the job has been offered, and you've negotiated a salary, then that is the time to raise those questions. Imagine if the following questions were asked near the end of the first interview

Jennifer: Is there a lot of overtime in this position?

Ronda: Will there be a lot of travel?

John: Am I likely to be relocated?

These questions raise red flags about you.  Even if you are unlikely to be relocated, merely asking the question raises a doubt about your flexibility and ambition.

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? Will we work well together?"  When considering two people with equal qualifications, the one with the most pleasing personality will always be hired. 

In order to adequately sell yourself, you need to know your personality skills.  These include being, cooperative, effective under stress, and energetic.  Employers highly value such qualities. 

Imagine you are interviewing with a company that just fired an employee because he was uncooperative.  You might be asked:

(scene     )  Mr. Cantwell and John
Cantwell: In this organization cooperation and teamwork are absolutely essential.  Are you a cooperative person?

John: Yes, I am very cooperative. I like working in a team environment. When I was in the Army I worked with a team dismantling explosives.  I really learned to appreciate teamwork and cooperation--our lives depended on it." 

This example vividly illustrates the trait the employer is looking for.

Your goal during the interview is to reveal as many positive attributes as possible including. 

                                                            Goal Oriented
Assertive                                              Growth Oriented
Cheerful                                               Honesty/Integrity
Insightful

Cooperative                                         Loyal
Inquisitive                                             Open-minded
Optimistic
Decisive                                               Patient
Diplomatic
Discreet                                                Persistent
Practical
Effective Under Stress                          Real
Efficient/Productive                               Reliable
Emotionally Stable                                Responsible
Energetic/Stamina                                 Resourceful
Enthusiastic                                          
Flexible                                                Self-confident
Sense of Humor
Sincere
Friendly                                               
Thorough
Selling Your Skills

Once you've identified and described your key skills, it's important to consider how you might best sell these skills. There are four primary ways.

State the skill and give an example.  During an interview you might be asked to describe your strengths.  Notice how Rebecca states her skill and then backs it up  with a vivid example.

Jennifer: I'd have to say that one of my strengths is my ability to work effectively under stress. I've worked in several retail stores and there is always a lot of stress when customers have problems. I had one situation where a customer brought back a paint product and insisted that it had ruined the front of her house. With a problem like that she really needed to speak to the manufacturer, but at that moment she wasn't listening to anyone, she just wanted to yell. We had a lot of customers in the store at the time and the store manager was gone, so as the assistant manager, I was stuck with trying to calm the customer down. I showed the customer that I really did want to help her and as I listened she started to calm down. I gave her the phone number of the manufacturer and I assured her that they would send out a representative to look at her house. I also promised to check back with her -- and I did.  I was exhausted when it was over but I did feel good about the way I handled it.

The second way to sell a skill is to State the skill and describe how you use it.  Sometimes providing an example is just not appropriate.  Instead of giving an example a person might say:

(scene      ) 
Julio: I have a reputation for being reliable.  People at work know that if a tough project has to get out on schedule, it had better be given to me.  When I agree to take on a project, my boss knows it's as good as done.  I'll get it done no matter what it takes.

In this instance a specific example was not used, but the person did everything possible to "prove" he is extremely reliable.

The third way is to Describe an experience so vividly that other skills are evident.  You may have indicated that one of your strengths is your flexibility and then offered an example which clearly illustrates your flexibility, but reveals other positive traits as well.  When you describe your experiences vividly, even a half-way perceptive person will pick up other positive qualities without your having to label them.

(Cantwell): We're in a rapidly changing industry, are you able to adapt to change?

Janet: I'm a very flexible person and I like to try new ways of doing things. I don't like getting stuck in ruts. For four years I worked for a young, high tech manufacturer. A reorganization came along about every six months. Sometimes I liked the changes and sometimes I didn't, but we were given a lot of independence, so I made the most of it. I saw working there as an opportunity. I had a chance to implement a Just In Time inventory control system when I had never had any experience with that type of system. It was very successful and it's still being used with only minor modifications six years later. You know, A lot of other employees just complained about all the changes. Most of them left within a year or so.

Through this example it was easy to see that Janet is not only flexible, but she is independent, loyal, willing to accept challenges, and she makes the most out of her opportunities. If Janet had absolutely wanted to make sure that the employer picked up on her skills, she might have said, "So I think I'm definitely a flexible person. That experience also demonstrates my willingness to accept challenges and the fact that I'm a loyal person.

The fourth way to sell a skill is to simply Be it.  Don't say it, demonstrate it. Take energy level for example. You can demonstrate your energy level in the way you walk and talk, and in your voice inflection. An employer can tell a person's energy level within the first minute they're together.  Cheerfulness, insightfulness, joyfulness, open-mindedness, optimism, self-confidence, enthusiasm, sense of humor, sincerity -- are all traits that you can demonstrate.

So, you can see, even in a 30 minute interview, an interviewer will know a great deal about you if you learn how to sell your personality skills.

Practice.  Practice telling your stories.  Only by doing so can you really hone them down to their most important points.  Describe the experiences so vividly that the interviewer forms a mental image.  Mental images can last for weeks.

Sell Yourself At Every Opportunity

One principle in interviewing is to always go for it.  When the job has been fully described, and it seems to be less than what you really want, go for the offer anyway.  People often consciously or unconsciously sabotage their own efforts, and as a result, don't get asked back for a second interview.  You never know whether you want the job until an offer is made, until there is money on the table, until benefits have been fully covered, and until you've had a chance to negotiate in the things you want in, and to negotiate out the things you want out.  People have negotiated for amazing things--and gotten them--but only because they had sold themselves so well that the employers were willing to do almost anything to bring them on board.

QUESTIONS TO BE PREPARED FOR

Tom (this section) If you follow the principles we've discussed you'll do well in your interviews. But you should also take time to think about your responses to the most commonly asked questions. Let's look at a few.

(Steve: see if you can keep the question on the screen in some way so the viewer does not forget what it was.)

Tell me about yourself.  Most people hate this question, yet it's the frequently asked question.  By preparing for it, and knowing what a wonderful opportunity it offers to sell yourself, you should look forward to it.  It usually serves as a bridge to go from small talk to the real interview.  The two of you may have been talking about the weather; this question signals that it's time to get into the interview. Since it is an open ended question you can answer in any way you choose. Use it as an opportunity to sell something about yourself.

To respond to "Tell me about yourself," it can be useful to provide a survey of your work experience, pausing periodically to describe an interesting aspect of a job, a special project you worked on, or a contribution you made. Your response could easily take 3-4 minutes since this is such a broad question. Next, you'll hear a shortened version of a very good response.

(scene       )
Darren: I think I've had an interesting and varied background. In fact, I'd say that with the opportunities I've had, my nine years in accounting and finance are equivalent to what most people gain in twelve to fourteen years. I came up through Deloitte & Touche as an auditor and became a project lead within two years. I was on track to make partner, but because of my interest in finance, I became the chief financial officer of one our smaller clients, a start up high tech firm. My third year there I took them public and we had a very successful first offering. The three founders became instant millionaires. Our stock started at $4.50 a share, which was 50 cents higher than expected. A year later it was trading at $9.50. That's when I was recruited away by a very established high tech firm which wanted to go public. While there I .........

The thing to note in Darren's answer was his statement about his experience. He knew he was competing with older, more experienced candidates, so he made the point that his nine years in accounting and finance was equal to 12 to 14 years for most people, because he had had the opportunity to do more things, such as coordinating a public stock offering. This answer was given by one of my clients and enabled him to beat out more experienced chief financial officers to land a very interesting position.

What is your greatest strength?  The question asks for your number-one strength, skill, or asset and requires you to analyze yourself.  You should have several strengths in mind and share the one you feel will score the most points at that time.  Begin with a brief statement and provide a clear example.

Julio: I would have to say it's my ability to train and motivate people. At Datonics there was a severe turnover problem among first line supervisors. Even without the benefit of a pay increase, which they deserved, I reduced the annual turnover rate from 20% to 7% in just six months, and to 5% by the end of the year. My analysis indicated that our team leaders were receiving inadequate training when they were being promoted to supervisors. Most were unsure of their authority and how to use it. Many quit in frustration. I developed a training program which really gave them confidence. Once we got the supervisors trained, productivity in the plant rose substantially and the turnover rate went way down. So I'd say my greatest strength is training and motivating employees.

What are your career goals?  This question tests whether you've determined your career goals, and whether your goals match what the organization has to offer.  Sound clear and definite about your goals, but express yourself based on what you know about the organization.  Mention only those goals that you feel the organization can help you attain.  Express them in terms of the experience you hope to receive and the expertise you hope to develop.  You could use the opportunity to describe your present level of expertise and then how you want to develop yourself.  You want to leave the impression that you are a growth-oriented person with realistic expectations regarding promotion opportunities.

Janet: Ultimately my goal is to become district sales manager. I always want to be selling though and never want to give that up. But I also feel I can be an excellent trainer and motivator. I think I'll be very effective in sales management. I think I'll be ready in three to five years.

Why would you like to work for us?  If this question is asked at or near the beginning of the first interview, you have an opportunity to describe what you know about the organization.  If the question is asked after the interviewer has described the job and the company in detail, you could mention positive points that you had discovered on your own, as well as some mentioned by the interviewer.  This might include the reputation of the company or department, its rapid growth, or your personal attraction to the interviewer as a boss.  You might also mention that the job itself is a factor in your wanting to work for the company.

Janet has been asked this question early in the interview so she will essentially be revealing what she has learned through her research.

Janet:  I'm very attracted to Motorola and your cellular phone division in particular because of your growth and your reputation for quality. One of my criteria is to work for a company with world class products and which has successfully competed with the Japanese. You've certainly done that. I'm particularly impressed with your training program and I believe that your commitment to training will ensure the continued growth of Motorola. I also have two friends who work for Motorola, and they can't say enough good things about it.

Do you prefer to work individually or as part of a team?  The best response depends on what you know about the job.  If the organization is looking for a decisive person, you would emphasize your individualism and independence.  If most work is done by committees and task forces, emphasize your ability to work as part of a team.  If you are not sure of the best response, describe how you enjoy both aspects.

John feels that the position he's interviewing for requires a person who works well independently and as part of a team.

John: I enjoy both and I think a job like this requires both. I can work for long periods alone and I stay really focused. But when it's time for a team to come together and work out details, I'm very effective at that as well. In my current position as a manufacturing engineer, I'm often put in the role of getting consensus from the other engineers as well as the marketing people. Sometimes I lead a discussion and  sometimes I'm a participant. At Hewlett-Packard I remember we were developing a piece of testing equipment and we had two engineers who could not agree with the rest of the group on anything. At one point everyone was mad at these two because they were holding up progress. But I showed the group that several key ideas they had were valid, and as a group we began to listen to them better. That helped loosen them up and we began to make some real progress. Ultimately we met our deadlines and the product has been one of our stars for the last two years.

Why should I hire you?  This question is often asked at the end of an interview and allows you to summarize your strengths.  Since this is a summary, you can discuss points that you've already covered and mention new points as well.  Sell yourself.  This may be one of your best opportunities.  Be prepared to take up to four minutes.  Try to focus on everything you have learned about the job, your future boss, and the needs of the company.  With such limited time, you must cover only those points which will have the greatest impact.  You can create that impact by describing a combination of personality skills, transferable skills, and technical skills.

We've given you a lot to consider in this program. The examples can serve as models for you. The interviewees were positive and were always selling themselves. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, they backed up what they said with examples. All of this takes practice and preparation. Take the time. Practice. You too can sell yourself and get the job you want.

Cantwell: Well, Tom, Let's summarize the key points of this section:

1. With telephone screening interviews your challenge is to come across enthusiastically and sell yourself and your potential. Let the person know you want an interview.

2. In screening interviews sell your personality and make sure that the screener knows that you more than meet the minimum qualifications of the position.

3. Be prepared for stress interviews or stress questions and immediately remind yourself not to become defensive. Just go on selling yourself. If the employer declares that you don't have enough experience, remember that he or she may actually want to hire you but is merely testing you.

4. In panel interviews keep all members of the panel involved. Look at each of them when responding to a question.

5. Behavior-based interviews require that you come to the interview with stories and experiences to share. Practice telling your stories vividly and concisely. Look to add the right "hook" so the interviewer will remember you and think positively of you.

6. Prepare yourself psychologically for the series interview in which you may be subjected to up to five continuous hours of interviewing. Know in advance who you will meet and how much time to set aside. Go in psyched up and well rested.

7. Remember that objections are not rejections but requests for more information. Don't take objections personally and don't become defensive. Predict what objections you will likely face and prepare for them.

8. Employers love enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm has won more job offers than any other single quality. Be enthusiastic about yourself, the job, your future boss, and the organization. Perform an enthusiasm check about every ten minutes, to make sure you don't let your enthusiasm fall to a dangerously low level.

9. Employers like to be asked questions. Asking questions demonstrates that you are fully involved in the interviewing process. It is always safe to ask, "Could you describe your management style?" Some questions are better left unasked until the job has actually been offered to you.

10. Project a winning personality. Cause the interviewer to like you by selling such qualities as cooperative, diplomatic, effective under stress, energetic, flexible, loyal, reliable, and responsible.


Characters

Jennifer - white female, Assistant Manager, retail, late 20s   1, 17, 22, 26f, 28

Ronda - black female, Sales, late 20s   8, 12, 16, 26, 26g, 33

John - white male, Engineer, 40s   3, 19, 21, 24, 26h, 27, 35

Darren - black male, CFO, early 30s   5, 11, 14, 18, 26b, 27, 35

Janet - white female, Accountant, 40s   4, 10, 15, 23, 26d, 30, 35

Rebecca - Asian female, Marketing, 50s   6, 13, 20, 25, 26e

Julio - Hispanic male, Manufacturing manager, 30s or 40s   2, 7, 26c, 29, 32

Mr. Cantwell -Host and interviewer

Harold: - has one line page 7 - could be Steve or Paul. Have someone besides Jack as the interviewer

Sandra - interviewer on page 12


Material that has been taken out

Dress appropriately. Voiceover: Many people fail to dress appropriately for interviews. (Show guy in sports coat and jeans and a woman in a very casual long dress with sandals. Those folks did not get job offers. Some use their clothing to make a statement justifying such dress with the self-defeating logic:

(scene     )
Bill, voice only: If they don't like it I don't want to work there anyway.

(Tom) Such an attitude only hurts the applicant.

The emphasis should be on appropriate dress; there is no rule which fits all people. For male and female professionals, a conservative and properly fitting business suit is recommended. If in doubt dress up. You may know in advance that office dress is casual, but don't use that as a cue to dress down.  It's fine to be dressed in a suit while being interviewed by someone in slacks and short sleeve shirt.  Everyone knows that when appropriate, people can dress down, but they have much less confidence that people are willing to dress up. Scents used by men or women should be subtle. Jewelry should be conservative and limited. Beards and mustaches are generally accepted when nicely groomed.

(scene     )
(show a still of Kevin a man in appropriate attire with graphics and arrows pointing to the suit, shirt, shoes, etc.

Kevin is appropriately dressed for most types of professional positions. He is wearing a properly fitting suit. It should be charcoal, dark blue, or gray. Solids are always safe. He is wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with about a half inch showing beyond the jacket. Shirts should always be long sleeved. Kevin often wears a gold chain, but for the interview he is wearing only his watch and ring. He is wearing black shoes with dark socks. Brightly colored socks, argyle socks, or white socks are not appropriate. Casual shoes would not be appropriate. And of course they should be nicely shined.

(scene     )
Then a screen of Rebecca in appropriate attire use the same graphics.

Rebecca is also appropriately dressed. She is wearing a conservative, yet attractive business suit. Rebecca likes to wear dangling earrings, but for the interview she is wearing more conservative earrings. She is wearing an appropriate blouse. She would never wear a sheer blouse or one with a plunging neckline. Makeup is also conservative, with no bright lip gloss.

If in doubt about your clothing selection, show your interviewing wardrobe to someone who is familiar with acceptable fashions in the workplace.

 My ski club really enjoyed skiing at the top resorts in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Utah. Each year we went to at least two resorts for four days each but each trip really stretched the budgets of most of us. Now these guys are really great skiers, but they just had limited budgets. Most of the guys wanted to spend one day at each resort doing heliskiing -- or using a helicopter to get to the really great snow. For many of the guys that extra $200 per day was too much and we thought about just dropping it. I had an idea though and told them I wanted to give it a try. From each resort I got the names of other ski clubs that regularly came there. I contacted them and told them about our situation. Most of them said they faced the same problem. I got twelve clubs to work together to negotiate with a heliskiing company at each resort. We guaranteed them at least two full days each season and we scheduled them a year in advance. By leveraging our buying power we got the cost from $200 down to $125. That doesn't sound like much but it enabled us to keep up our heliskiing. There's nothing more exciting.

Another experience happened recently at work. I had just finished up a construction project as the project manager, but didn't yet have another project to start on. So I was asked to help out on a project that was having problems. It was already two months behind schedule and it was supposed to be finished in five months. We had never built a building in this city before so we were using a lot of new subcontractors. Unbeknownst to us, a lot of them didn't get along. Instead of working on a floor together, some insisted that they wouldn't start until the other trade had finished. That was costing us a lot of time. I started checking around to find out how these turf wars had gotten started. The amazing thing was, no one remembered. They just knew that they couldn't work together. I came up with an idea to develop an incentive plan. Instead of just throwing it at these trades, I asked them to come up with one on their own. I moderated the discussions but I didn't lead them. I gave them some basic parameters but I didn't tell them how to finalize it. The bonus we were willing to pay was substantial enough that they all wanted it. And they realized that the only way to achieve it was to work together. I pointed out some ways that we could help in the scheduling so they would interfere with each other as little as possible. They then came up with some ideas of their own. Well, after being behind schedule by two months, we finished the project only four days late, but we didn't have to pay any penalties. I've worked with these same subcontractors since then and now they have no trouble working together.
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