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Career-Life Times, Issue #41--A Job Interview Lesson From Miss South Carolina
October 04, 2007
Ready to GET HIRED, GET NOTICED, and GET AHEAD? Read on...
Step 18 in my Job Interview Success System ebook is "Listen Carefully." It says:
"Some people tend to be so eager to say something that they interrupt people who are still speaking. Don’t ever do this during an interview! Listen carefully to everything that is said, and do not respond to a question until you’re sure the other person has finished asking it! (There’s a reason why you have two ears and only one mouth.)"
This is the shortest piece of advice in my book, and I made a mistake by being so brief. My next revision will expand on this step. Why? Because listening carefully during your job interview is one of the most important keys to your success.
People who aren't good listeners not only tend to interrupt questioners, they fail to hear what is really being asked and therefore give responses that do not answer the question.
Imagine that you are asked this question: "Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map. Why do you think this is?"
Here’s how Miss South Carolina answered that question during this year’s Miss Teen USA competition:
"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our ed- education, like such as in South Africa and, uh, the- the Iraq everywhere, like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or- or- should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future."
I am not making this up. You can watch the video on YouTube here: Miss South Carolina Video.
This may be a poor example of the point I’m trying to make because, incredibly, Miss South Carolina actually got the “job.” But we all know her answers were irrelevant in this competition. She was selected because she’s gorgeous. In the real world of job interviews, most of us probably shouldn’t count on that happening!
But back to my point. Her answer shows two things:
(1) She was nervous.
(2) She had prepared herself to answer anticipated questions with words or phrases she felt were important (education, South Africa, Iraq, build up our future).
Both apply to job candidates during interviews. Almost everyone gets nervous. And a good strategy is to answer anticipated questions by incorporating key phrases used by the employer, such as in the job announcement or in their company mission statement.
Of course you don’t want to be obvious about loading your answers with specific phrases. And most important of all, you must answer the question being asked.
Miss South Carolina’s answer was the verbal equivalent of keyword stuffing, a tactic used by some amateurish web site creators to lure visitors searching for specific information (keywords). Visitors who arrive on the site soon discover there’s no real content—only dumb advertisements.
Her response had no real content. It was poorly spoken, difficult to follow… a muddled, incoherent mess of 90 words that did not answer the question.
Instead of listening, she had focused only on what she was going to say. (And not focusing very well on that!)
Learn from Miss South Carolina’s mistake. Watch that video or reread the transcript above, and imagine yourself giving such an answer during a job interview. Do you think it would impress a hiring manager?
Listen carefully to each question and determine exactly what the interviewer wants to know before you give your answer. If there’s any doubt, even if you listened carefully, ask for clarification before you answer. For example: "I see you came from Mickey Mouse Manufacturing in South Carolina. Great state. How’d you like it there?" You’d probably want to clarify that: "Do you mean how did I like Mickey Mouse Manufacturing, or how did I like South Carolina?"
See my next article on how to prevent nervousness from overwhelming you at the job interview.
It’s natural to be nervous during a job interview. The trick is to control your nervousness and prevent it from affecting your performance. You just need to psyche yourself out. By that I mean force yourself to think of the interview process as something different and less stressful. Here are 5 ways to do that:
1. Think of the interview as just a conversation between you and someone you just met—someone you like.
2. Think of the person interviewing you as an equal, not a superior. Remain respectful, courteous and professional, but don’t think of yourself as inferior.
3. Think of yourself as a valuable, talented person whom any company would be lucky to have on their payroll. They need you as much as you need them.
4. Think of the interviewers as being just as nervous. Perhaps they’ve never interviewed anyone before.
5. Think of the job as just one of many opportunities. You want to be enthusiastic and assure the hiring manager that you want the position, but convince yourself that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it. It may not have been right for you anyway. There will be more opportunities.
Above all, remember that “Preparation and Practice Precede Peak Performance.” When you’re confident and well prepared, you’ll be less nervous.
(This is a guest article by Malcolm O. Munro,
August 2007 brought some bad news for job seekers. The number of Americans with jobs fell in August for the first time in four years, raising fears that weakness in the economy has spread beyond the housing and financial sectors that have panicked markets in recent weeks. It appears that job seekers had a harder time finding work in August. June and July job figures where revised downward by 24,000 and 57,000.
Yet with this news, some people are still getting hired.
How can you ensure you'll be the candidate who gets that great phone call with a job offer? Be sure to answer the 4 glowing needs every employer has in both your resume and in the interview. If you need help doing this, try using S.C.A.R. as a guide:
I can't think of one company, business, or organization that doesn't have problems. Companies hire people to come in and solve problems. Demonstrate how your past performance includes problems identified and solved. Try using the following guide:
S - Situation - "I was working at XYZ corporation last year when...
C - Challenge - ...we had this major crisis happen in the IT department...
A - Action - ...so rather than sit on my butt and watch it happen, I ...
R - Result - ...and because I took the action, the server came back up quickly and work continued."
Show them you fix problems and you'll get the offer.
Companies ultimately exist to make money. Corporate mission and vision statements aside, it's the whole business of business. Are you a good investment? Will the organization make more money as a result of hiring you? If so, then prepare some stories about how you've helped make money.
Here's an example:
S - Situation - "I was working at XYZ corporation last year when...
C - Challenge - ...I identified a process that seemed to be fraught with rework...
A - Action - ...so rather than sit on my butt and let that process continue, I modified it so that ...
R - Result - ...and because I took the action, we saved over $100,000 last year."
Show them you can make money and you'll get the offer.
People are an organization's most valuable commodity and also the one that's most difficult to manage. Processes can be fixed but people are much more complex. Demonstrate that you have a heart for people and a great ability to deal with them and you'll be very attractive to an employer.
Here's an example:
S - Situation - "I was working at XYZ corporation 2 years ago when...
C - Challenge - ...I took over the management of a division where there was high employee turnover...
A - Action - ...so rather than sit on my butt and let that continue, I instituted a coaching and feedback system ...
R - Result - ...and because I took the action, our employee retention rate increased by 20%."
Show them you get along well with others and you'll get the offer.
Value can be measured by all of the above. It's simply your ability to add to the well-being of the organization rather than drain it. People who add value have job security, more opportunities for promotion, and little trouble finding jobs even in times of economic crisis.
Don't spend time worrying about the August 2007 report. Go back through your work history and find your "Greatest Hits." Rewrite your resume and update your interview script to include them. Be the best, most corporately-attractive candidate and you'll find that dream job!
Malcolm O. Munro, the “Career Fitness Coach,” is a speaker, author, consultant, and career coach who specializes in helping clients find their dream jobs and careers. Visit him online at www.careerfitnesscoach.com and get his FREE report 7 Steps to Total Career Fitness at www.7stepstototalcareerfitness.com.
Old: Software Engineer
Old: Human Resources Manager
Old: Marketing Director
Old: Purchasing Director
Old: Director of Research & Development
Old: Window Cleaner
Old: Garbage Man/Trash Collector
Old: Chimney Sweep
Old: Gas Station Attendant
Old: Stockboy, Shelf Stocker
Old: Security Guard
Old: Hospital porter
Old: School Bus Driver
Old: School Cafeteria Lunch Lady New: Nutrition Distribution Associate
Old: Hall Monitor
Old: Crossing Guard
Old: Bus Boy
Old: Web Master/ Developer
Old: Window Tinter
Old: DJ (disc jockey)
Old: Account Executive
Old: Job Seeker
More Articles. So much great information, so little space in this newsletter! You can find more articles on my website by clicking on Article Index.
Here are two new articles you might be interested in:
Askville. Got questions? Got answers? Amazon has a new site especially for you: Askville. It’s a place where you can share and discuss knowledge with other people by asking and answering questions on any topic. You can learn something new everyday or help and meet others using your knowledge. Askville even helps you learn by giving you cool tools to help you find information online while you are answering questions. It’s all about sharing—what you know and what you want to know—so go ahead and meet someone new today at Askville! Here’s the link: Askville.com.
Obopay. I haven’t tried this myself (I’m a dinosaur when it comes to using my cell phone), but this looks interesting. This service allows you to use any mobile phone to get, send, or spend money. Text message, use your phone's Internet browser, or download Obopay onto your phone. They'll give you $10 to sign up. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: Obopay.
Job Interview Success System. This is my guaranteed step-by-step system for helping you ace your next job interview. See the details here: Job Interview Success System.
is to blur the line
between work and play."
( Arnold Toynbee)
The owner of a golf course in Kentucky was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary (Oops, I mean Administrative Assistant) for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, "You graduated from the University of Kentucky… I need some help. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?"
The Administrative Assistant thought a moment, and then replied, "Everything but my earrings."
Have You Thanked Someone Today? This is a bit early. I should be writing about giving thanks next month when Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. But I was just sitting at my desk at work, tapping away on the keyboard when the phone rang. I answered and was shocked to hear the voice of the president of our Board of Directors. (He and the rest of our Board members hardly ever call anyone in the organization lower than the rank of General Manager.) “Yikes!” I thought, panic-stricken. “I must be in BIG trouble!”
“Hey Bonnie,” he began, “about that article you wrote where you quoted what I said at the anniversary event…” (Oh no! Did I mess up and misquote him?) “That was an excellent article, very nicely done. Thanks.”
Barely three sentences and he was gone. But with those few words he totally made my day. Isn’t it great to know someone appreciates your work? And then takes the time to let you know?
Well, giving is just as important as receiving… and we all have the power to make someone’s day. I make it a point to thank people at work all the time. Show you notice and appreciate what your coworkers do. It will make them feel great. It will make you feel great, too! Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
Please forward this to your friends!
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P.S.S. I apologize for the glitches (especially in links) you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in HTML format, choose that and it'll look better. (There may still be some odd formatting quirks, though.)
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