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By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRWEnelow Enterprises, Inc.
Can you think of a more stressful situation than an interview? Companies want to hire competent, successful, articulate, and accomplished executives, yet their very first encounter often places the candidate in a particularly stressful and uncomfortable situation. You might find yourself in a “panel-style” interview where it’s you on one side and five company executives on the other side, each armed and ready to assault you with questions. It’s a pretty threatening situation, the exact opposite of the type of environment that should be created to allow you to demonstrate your best.
However, the reality is that you must deal with the hiring process the way that it exists. And, to accomplish that, you must learn how to comfortably manage and control your interviews. To help you with that process, here are five key strategies for interview success.
STRATEGY #1: Sell It To Me, Don’t Tell It To Me
Interviews are NOT the time to “tell” what you’ve done. Rather, interviews are the time to “sell” what you have accomplished. For example, if you’re asked how many people you managed in your last position, you might just answer with a quick, “I had a team of 35.” However, it’s a much stronger presentation to respond with, “My staff at IBM included 35 professionals and support personnel. Not only was I responsible for managing those individuals, I also directed all recruitment and hiring activities, set salaries, designed bonus plans, facilitated annual performance reviews, and projected long-term staffing requirements. What’s more, my team increased annual sales by more than 35% within just one year!” When you respond in this fashion, you’ve “sold” what you have achieved, and not just “told” what you were responsible for.
STRATEGY #2: Transition Every Negative To A Positive
What do you do if your interviewer asks about your experience managing other people and you’ve never done that before? Your first inclination might be to say that you don’t have any direct supervisory experience. Don’t do that; you never want to answer “no” or “I don’t know that.” Instead, use related experience to answer the question and demonstrate your specific skills. For example, you’d answer that question with,“My background includes extensive experience coordinating workload distribution among of team of 50+ personnel, and responding to their specific questions about job assignments, deadlines, and resources.” Then, even though you’ve been honest (you never said you supervised anyone), you’ve positively positioned yourself.
STRATEGY #3: Use The “Big” To Highlight The “Little”
Suppose that someone asks you if you have any experience with mergers and acquisitions. To organize your thoughts, make your response flow seamlessly, and make it easy for your interviewer to understand your specific experience in that area, use the “big-to-little” strategy. Start with an overview of your experience in M&A transactions; just a few sentences to describe your overall scope and depth of experience. (That’s the “big” part.) Then, follow up with 2-4 specific achievements, projects, or highlights that are directly related. You might talk about your involvement in due diligence, negotiations, transactions, and/or acquisition integration. (That’s the “little” part.) In essence, you’re communicating, “This is what I know and this is how well I’ve done it.”
STRATEGY #4: Remember, You’ve Already Passed The First Test
You’re nervous. You’re sitting in the executive conference room with the President, CFO, and two Executive VP’s. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’ve already passed the first test – generally a phone screening to determine if you have the “right” stuff for the position or you wouldn’t have been invited for the interview. And, if you’re interviewing with the top executives of a company, you know that they’re already interested in you or they wouldn’t be committing the time to you and your interview. Therefore, go into the interview knowing that you’ve already got them on the hook, be confident, be poised, and work to “close the deal.”
STRATEGY #5: Take The Initiative
You’re nearing the close of an interview during which you had wanted to share your experience in supply chain management. However, the topic was never brought up. Now, it is YOUR responsibility to introduce it into the conversation. You might comment, “Before we end, I’d like to share one more thing with you that I think is quite important to the position and to my fit within your organization.” Then proceed with sharing the information. You must take the initiative during an interview to be sure that you have communicated all that is of value, whether or not the interviewer addresses a particular topic.
There is no doubt that interviewing is a stressful and often difficult situation. However, it’s your professional life on the line. You must walk into each interview with an agenda – the information you want to communicate to demonstrate your qualifications – and you must “quietly” control the interview to be sure that you paint a picture of knowledge and success as you position yourself as the “right” candidate.
By E. Chandlee Bryan, M.Ed., CPRWBest Fit Forward
While you’ll never be able to plan for every question you may be asked by a potential employer, you can anticipate and rehearse answers to common interview questions. Here are three questions you can’t afford to miss—and strategies to help you prepare.
Question 1: What’s Your Second Biggest Weakness?
Note: If you have presented an actual weakness for the first question, you most likely will not be asked this question. This is a question employers may ask as a follow-up to the “Describe one of your weaknesses for me” question.
Employers may ask you this question for one of two reasons:
Answering questions on your biggest weakness is a delicate balance: you want to make sure that you provide candid information on areas that you could—or have improved—but you also don’t want to run the risk of being eliminated from the game altogether. Therefore, make sure you don’t present a weakness that is an integral function of the job to which you are applying.
Question 2: Tell Me What You Know About Our Company.
While this may seem like an easy answer, you want to demonstrate that your understanding of what the company does, and how your position would align with the company’s key mission if hired. If you have only researched the company website and taken press releases at face value, you may be taken out of the running…. in today’s market, you ideally want to demonstrate that you are familiar with the company-as well as how the company and industry sector are affected by economic trends. The more you can participate in the dialogue on the company’s current needs, the stronger your candidacy will be.
A great way to prepare for the what do you know about our company question—monitor Google News (news.google.com) and set up “News Alerts” by company name and industry function—that way, you can take a crash course in recent events. Other sources of information include industry and annual reports. Spend 20 minutes with a reference librarian at your closest library and you’ll have great access to all of the information you need.
Question 3: Do You Have Any Questions For Us?
Conventional wisdom is that this is the time in the interview when you can relax—it isn’t. You need to show the employer that you’ve thought about the position and how you could apply your skills if hired. Do not ask about benefits or compensation; focus on your interest in the position and ask questions that demonstrate your high level of interest and knowledge of the potential opportunity.
A common question is “What are you looking for in a candidate?” Avoid this one. If you were not a potential finalist for the position, you would not be in the game. A better question is: “What are your biggest needs, and how does this position help you address these needs?”
Finally, remember that interviewing is a process of mutual selection—you are also picking an employer. Ask questions which will allow you to assess the work environment and whether it fits with your values. One of my favorite questions for a group interview is, “If I were hired into this position, what would my first priorities be, and how would I work with each of you on that to accomplish our objectives?” This question allows you to assess both the nature of the position and the level of interaction you could expect from others: in many organizations, employees serve on search committees together, but don’t interact as frequently during their regular work.
By Barbara Safani, MA, CPRW, CCM, NCRW, CERWCareer Solvers
My clients love to tell me about interview questions that they hate. Some of the questions seem so vague and random that it can be hard to figure out the logic behind the interview process. What’s right? What’s wrong? What does the hiring manager really want to hear? Below is a quick guide to navigating some of the most hated interview questions and crafting answers that make you stand out in the crowd.
Question: Tell me about yourself.
Translation: Why should I hire you?
Recommended response. Don’t take the question too literally. Hiring managers don’t want to hear that you grew up on a small farm inKansas or that you enjoy world travel. Furthermore, they don’t want to hear that you are a great communicator, team player, and fast learner. They want you to show tangible proof of why you would be a good fit for their organization. Outline two to four of your key competencies and couple each competency with proof of success. For example an operations professional might showcase one of his/her competencies by saying, “I have strong project management skills and can quickly resolve customer inquiries. For example, in my last job, I resolved 98 percent of all pending customer inquiries within 24 hours which was 50 percent faster than the company’s expectation for problem resolution.
Question: What is your weakness?
Translation: We know what your weakness is. Prove to us it’s not a liability for this position.
Recommended response. Before your interview address any potential obstacles that the hiring manager may pick up on. Perhaps it is your lack of knowledge with a specific software or your lack of experience in a particular industry. Show how you would overcome these obstacles or demonstrate how you have overcome similar obstacles in the past. For example, if you apply for a position that requires a certain technical skill and you have limited experience, give an example of another software you are proficient in and how you gained that proficiency to prove that your current limited knowledge is a minor liability that can be quickly overcome.
Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Translation: Do you have a realistic perspective on what this job/company is about?
Recommended Response. Craft a response that makes sense for the employer’s business environment. If it is a small company, don’t say you expect to have a position with increasing responsibility — that may not be feasible in their organization. If you are taking a job as an accountant just to get a foot in the door of the company but really want to be a controller, don’t bring that up during the interview. The hiring manager needs to know that you are committed to the job you are applying for, not already thinking about a new job. You can mention that you see yourself in a position where you can continue to learn and contribute to the company’s bottom line and give an example of how you were able to successfully do that at a previous organization. This answer will help managers feel confident in your level of commitment to the current job and your future commitment to the organization.
Question: What have you been doing since your last position ended?
Translation: Why have you been out of work so long?
Recommended response. Discuss any volunteer or consulting assignments you may have had in the interim. If you have been actively interviewing but haven’t been extended an offer, you can mention that you have been interviewing but haven’t found the right fit yet. If you have had limited activity, you can let the hiring manager know that you have been using this time to evaluate your skills, craft your resume, conduct informational interviews, and network within professional circles. Obviously saying you’ve been watching re-runs of 20 consecutive seasons of ‘Law & Order’ won’t go over well, so stick to discussing the professional activities you have been involved in.
Question: Are you interviewing with other companies?
Translation: Are you worth investing some time in or are you about to take another offer?
Recommended response. Generally it’s best to be somewhat vague in your response, particularly if you are at the beginning of your search. If it is early on, let the employer know that you have just begun the interview process. If you have been in search mode for awhile, let them know that you have been actively searching but haven’t found the right fit yet.
Question: Tell me about the accomplishment you are most proud of.
Translation: Is your past experience similar to what we need you to do here?
Recommended response. The accomplishment you are most proud of might not be the one that is most relevant to the organization’s needs. Showcase an accomplishment that proves you have the specific competencies to do the job they need you to do. The story you select may be different for different interviews. That’s OK. You can be proud of more than one accomplishment, and it is more important to showcase the right accomplishment than it is to bring up the achievement that brought you the greatest personal satisfaction.
Question: Tell me about a time when you lacked the appropriate resources to do your job and how you handled it.
Translation: We are severely understaffed or we don’t have a budget for anything.
Recommended response. Give an example that proves that you have been in this situation before and that you can do more with less. But if you notice this is a running theme throughout the interview, proceed with caution. You could be setting yourself up to assume an impossible role with very limited support.
Question: How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
Translation: Are you analytical, how do you solve problems, or do you mind if we just want to mess with your head?
Recommended Response. This type of question is often referred to as a brain teaser. Interviewers don’t expect you to know the answer, but they will want to see how you tackle figuring out a strategy to come up with an answer. These questions tend to be most popular in high-tech companies, but job candidates in other industries sometimes get them as well.
By Brenda BernsteinThe Essay Expert
A cartoon image that had me laughing out loud was an “IKEA (a company that produces ready-to-assemble furniture) Job Interview.” The interviewer sits behind a desk in a sparsely furnished room and points to a bunch of pieces of a disassembled chair, which lie neatly on the floor. “Please have a seat,” says the interviewer.
While this image is hilarious, if the job interview were for a mechanic or an assembler of chairs at IKEA, the scene would not be so far fetched. And in fact, it is not unusual for an interviewer to test an interviewee with a task to perform on the spot. A good interviewer might test your practical skills in an interview, or your ability to respond to criticism, by asking you to perform a task or adjust your demeanor mid-interview.
I once interviewed a young man for a social worker position at the non-profit where I worked in Brooklyn, NY. There were two of us interviewing him, and I really liked him. He answered questions well and I was considering hiring him. My frustration was that he never made eye contact with me. It seemed as if he were gazing off into space and not fully connecting with me. And I knew there was no way I would actually hire him if he couldn’t make eye contact.
I did something perhaps unconventional. I stopped the interview, told him what I was experiencing, and asked him why he wasn’t making eye contact. He gave a reasonable response that he was struggling with having two interviewers and didn’t want either of us to get all his focus. From that moment in the interview, he made full eye contact with either me or my associate.
I hired him.
Why? Because I knew beyond doubt from that interview that this man took criticism and coaching well, and could implement a suggestion quickly and effectively. He also had all the other qualifications we were looking for.
He is still working at the organization today, and is appreciated for his work ethic and great attitude, as well as for the results he produces.
So this IKEA cartoon, while humorous, might not be that far off the mark for something you might be called upon to perform on the spot in a job interview. Luckily, all the tools you need are already in your possession. You just need to be good at following directions.
By Kimberly Schneiderman, CLTMC, NCRW, CEIC
City Career Services
In the Jan/Feb 2012 edition of Fraud Magazine, an article titled“The 10 Tell-tale Signs of Deception”, by Paul M. Clikeman, Ph.D., CFE defined several ways people present information when they are lying; the article also dives in to how people will relay that same information if they are telling the truth.
If you have had an interview coaching session with me, you know that I tout a few strategies – being specific, telling meaningful STAR stories, and using the word “I” in describing your work. These strategies are right on track, and they also align with fraud examiners’ tests for truth-telling!
Many of the 10 signs pointed directly back the strategies I teach my clients in interviewing. Interested in learning more? Here are a few of the highlights:
Top 10 Sign: Lack of Self-Reference: In short, when someone is telling a story but fails to use the word “I” in telling that story (think “I unlocked the storage room door” versus the more passive “The storage room door was unlocked.”), they may be being deceptive (in this case, avoiding telling the truth that is was them that unlocked the door). They might be covering up for the fact that they were the ones to steal something from the storage room.
Kimberly’s Interview Strategies: When working with clients, I teach them to tell stories using the word “I.” The reason being, the potential employer understands precisely what you did in the situation and can understand your contribution to a project. This is especially important when describing work that included a team of people. Your skills and experiences are communicated much more clearly when you employ this strategy.
Top 10 Sign: Verb Tense: According to the article, “truthful people usually describe historical events in the past tense,” while deceptive people will treat those same events as if they are happening now. For example “I see the masked man approaching me and he has a gun. He grabs for my purse.” This person might be lying about those events.
Kimberly’s Interview Strategies: Speaking about your work in present tense is sometimes quite appropriate. It can also backfire, because you come across as knowing best practices in a situation, but not that you have ever actually handled the situation in real life. Use a strong STAR story to demonstrate your actions in a situation, which by nature also serves to define your skill set and your thought process at work. Ex: “I approached the tardy employee and asked her to step in to my office.” Versus “When an employee is late, it is important to talk to them in private.”
Top 10 Sign: Equivocation: Certain word choices can express a person’s uncertainty about a situation. These words include: think, guess, maybe, believe, perhaps, and could. When a deceptive person uses these words, it is actually enabling them to retract what they said at a later date. The statement, “I think it was about 8 pm when I got home” can easily be changed later if it is revealed the person actually got home at 6 pm.
Kimberly’s Interview Strategies: Use concrete words to show confidence. Many of you that have sat with me for interview coaching know I won’t let you say weak or vague statements such as “I think this job is a good fit for me.” These soft, non-committal statements won’t help you communicate with strength. Try saying “The skills required in this position directly align with my experience.”
These are three of the Top 10 Signs that tied back to interviewing strategies. For more insights, read the article.
By Kimberly Schneiderman, CLTMC, NCRW, CEICCity Career Services
Our body language reveals so much about what we are feeling – no matter what words are coming out of our mouth. That is why I was so interested in speaking to Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., author of The Silent Language of Leaders. As a body language expert, Goman knows a thing or two about the things we say with our arms and faces.
In this Q&A, we learn a lot about controlling our messages through body language – what we can do, what we can’t fake, and how to look at others’ behavior for insights into what they are “really” saying.
City Career Services: What are some mistakes people make that they think are helping them?
Carol Kinsey Goman: The biggest mistake people make is thinking that if they just learn certain cues that they will be able to control things. True body language training needs to go beyond that. Body language over time reveals character. You can’t fool people over the long term.
I’ve watched executives and other body language experts do things like put their fingers together [for emphasis]. An entire interview with this gesture is phony. Nobody keeps their hands in that position. You do it automatically when real emphasis is being made and then it will be done.
CCS: What are some examples of real-life body language blunders?
CKG: Two of the most famous mistakes come from our country’s presidents. Bill Clinton’s habit of pointing with bent finger is seen as a negative body language signal under most circumstances.
President Richard Nixon’s televised debate with John Kennedy is the other most widely-recognized blunder. So much went wrong here: Nixon refused to wear make up, he wore a suit that blended in to the background, and he was pale from being ill. The body language problems came through when he was mopping perspiration from his brow and making eye contact with the interviewer – but not the camera. Body language for TV is unique because it is such an intimate medium. By not making eye contact with the viewers, the audience just couldn’t believe what he said.
CCS: How has body language changed over the years?
CKG: It really hasn’t changed, although the interpretation of it has. The rules for body language cues are imbedded in our pre-history – the idea of someone approaching you with their hands behind their back meant there was danger. Perhaps they had a rock hidden, ready to attack you with it.
While there is no longer much danger of that in the workplace we do think someone has something to hide if they approach us with their hands behind their back. The context has changed, yet it still makes an impression. In a public speaking situation, most people in your audience will make ancient prehistoric assumptions that will impact the way they will believe and trust you based on your body language.
On the other hand, interpretation of behavior will also depend on the relationship you have developed with your listeners. If they like you, they will give you that halo effect. They will find reason for this otherwise negative body language. They might dismiss it because it isn’t in alignment with how they think of you. Now, if they don’t like you they will use all these things as confirmation of reasons to hate you!
CCS: What are 5 basic body language tips you can share for readers at the management and senior-management levels?
CKG: If you think about it, body language is the management of time, space expression, touch, and feel. The most effective use of that really depends on the goal of the person. It also is influenced by how the body and mind link together. You can trick your psyche by changing your body pose.
There is so much more to talk about with Carol Kinsey Goman. We didn’t even get to talk about other body language – mirroring behavior, tilting your head and looking up at someone, smiling to take the sting out of a criticism, and touching your face while talking – that is so influential in the way to communicate without saying a word! Here is a link to her book in case you want to learn more.
In a U.S. News & World Report article by Alison Green entitled “9 Ways to Ruin a Job Interview,” the author highlights 9 interview faux pas, including answering your cell phone during the interview and badmouthing an old boss.
Since one of my areas of expertise is legal interviews, I thought it would be useful to provide 9 ways to ruin a legal job interview:
Be negative about anything. Don’t say you didn’t like the kind of work you were doing at your prior firm. If you didn’t like something before, the interviewer will assume you probably won’t like the work at their company either. Didn’t like a law school or paralegal school class? If you’re asked for a dislike, find something minor that you didn’t like and emphasize what you did like and learn.
Be late. I don’t care whether your car broke down or your subway stalled or your printer cut off part of the address of the firm. Plan to get to the interview an hour early and none of these events will make you late. And always have the firm’s phone number somewhere where you can’t possibly lose it, so if anything delays you (in spite of your plan to get there an hour early) you can call as soon as you know there is a problem.
Question whether you want the job. The interview is not the place to have doubts! After you get a job offer, worry about whether you want the job. If you express doubts and express them even through your tone or body language during the interview, you can be sure you won’t get the offer.
Apologize for your life. Your life is your life and you’ve made the choices you’ve made. Be proud or at least accepting, state the facts as the facts and never apologize!
Be lost about the statutes and case law you’ve worked on before. Interviewers will ask you about the specific cases you worked on and what case law you used to support your arguments. They want to know that you can remember an argument without having to look at your papers. You must review your prior cases and work and be ready to answer questions about them.
Ask salary information. This is a big no-no! You will get your salary information after you get the offer!
Don’t do your research. In a legal job this means you didn’t look at the firm’s website, you don’t know what areas they practice, or you don’t know what cases they’ve recently or historically won. All this information is readily available on the firm website and on Martindale.com. If you don’t do this research the interviewer will wonder whether you’ll do your research on the job.
Use casual/chatty language. We all want to be friendly, but don’t get too buddy-buddy with your interviewer. You are interviewing as a professional and your demeanor will be judged. Exhibit the demeanor in an interview that you would exhibit in court.
Lie. (this was borrowed from Alison Green’s article) You must not lie in any interview, and in a legal interview it is especially important. Any fraudulent behavior in a legal setting means potential malpractice. I’d rather you make any of the other 8 mistakes listed in this article than mess up on this one.
If you avoid these 9 pitfalls you will be in a great stance to succeed in your legal job search. What it comes down to is do your research, be prepared and be positive. You’ll knock ‘em off their feet!
If you want effective resume tips and spot-on interview tips, one good source is the Human Resources Director of a large organization. You might be thinking, “Brenda, I’m sorry, but I simply don’t have access to a dozen human resources directors at Fortune 500-sized companies who are sitting around waiting to talk with me about what hiring managers are looking for!”
Thankfully, people like me attend informative events such as the National Resume Writers Association (NRWA) annual conference. In the September 2012 event, we were graced by a presentation from Tim Moran–Human Resources Director at Hallmark, Inc. Hallmark is a privately held company with a size comparable to a Fortune-500 company.
Here’s what he says about what hiring managers want:
Mr. Moran also shared tips for getting interviews, performing well in them, and entering into salary negotiations:
Top 7 Tips for Interviews & Negotiations
Did any of these words of wisdom surprise you? Are you going to change anything about the way you present yourself on paper or in person?
Top 7 Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters
I found it enlightening (and somewhat of a relief) that Mr. Moran has no problem with people who get professional help with their resume and cover letters. He believes the goal of these documents is to get you in the door; as long as nothing is fabricated it doesn’t matter who writes them!
By Lisa Rangel, CPRW, PHR, CEIC, CJSS, MCS, SNCS & OPNSChameleon Resumes
Are you often perplexed by the situation where you are being asked back for a job interview, sometimes the second or third interview, and manager asks, “Aren’t you overqualified for this job?” (Side note: I mean, can’t they tell you are overqualified from looking at your resume? Do they need to bring you in once or multiple times to verify that?) But even if you are going in for the first interview, and they ask you what seems like the possibly obvious “Overqualified Job Interview Question,” here is what it tells me: it tells me the company has interest in you. Think about it. They probably already know that you are overqualified. In most cases, they can tell from your resume. So if you are told that at some point in the process, I believe you are not getting rejected for being overqualified—it is something you said.
As an overqualified candidate, you need to convince the hiring manager how your situation will benefit them, if they hired you—and don’t focus so much on why it is good for you to take this job. How you handle the question determines if you are advanced through the process. Here are the most unique ways you can answer this question:
“I have hired and overseen ‘bad’ overqualified people and I simply won’t perform that way, if hired.” I have hired talented, overqualified people who seemed to have brought in their Mr. Hyde side upon starting work and have acted badly on the job: i.e. bossy to others, undermining of management, taking on initiatives without communicating, usurp duties from others resulting in redundancies of efforts, taking credit for other people’s work, not being a team player since they clearly were above it all and even more. In hiring me, I would ensure you would be benefiting from what I learned from my mistakes.
“I have managed ‘good’ overqualified staff. I will clearly emulate the good, if hired.” I have been lucky to have hired and overseen fabulously overqualified talent who saw themselves as someone who had a job to do that was part of a team. That overqualified person I managed realized early on they can’t lose if they do the work to exceed the company or department goals with no drama. That is the person who I will be, if I am hired.
“I want work that interests me and keeps my hands dirty, so to speak.” The one not-so-great thing about rising up through the ranks, is you get to a point where you are managing managers who manage other managers. Executives can sometimes get far removed from the sales process, client interaction, operations line or field. By taking on this manager-level role, I can resume working with the team again. That type of work really excited me in my career and I would be thrilled to get back to it! I want to be challenged in a different way now.
“If hired, I believe it is my job to make my management team look good. If you look good, I look good.” I had great staff working for me and I would be conducting myself in the same manner working for you. I would hope you can benefit from my experience when applicable and know that I would give generously to the group’s efforts however I can.
“I know it is important to follow direction at times and just run with it at times. I have developed the judgment through my experience to know when each of those instances need to happen at the right time.” As a previous Director, I know that there were many times I wanted my team to simply run with it and leave me out of the minutiae of the decision. On the flip side, I remember instances where I wanted to remain in the loop or even give direction. The employees that had the judgment to know when to run with it and when to bring me in, became my go-to people. I would aspire to be that person for you.
“I would never take a job that I was not interested in nor where felt I would not make a long-term contribution to the job in which I have been hired.” To be blunt, I have made hires that were not the best match before and it was because I did not thoroughly ask about the what the employee needed and so they just focused on what I needed throughout the interview. I am glad we are discussing this and I appreciate that you are asking me about what I need in evaluating this match between us. I really do not want to be a bad hire within a firm. With that said, I am interested and very much able to do this job as offered. I feel it would benefit us both greatly if you hired me.
Like everything else about interviewing, it is about being genuine and motivated. No manager can make an employee be genuine or motivate the employee to perform. So that is what every job seeker needs to come to the interview with when discussing how they are under-, over- or perfectly qualified for the job. If you do not get moved to the next step after the overqualified question, it is because the hiring manager was not convinced you would be a good employee match for them—whether they are right or wrong is not totally the issue.
It is the job seeker’s job to convey the message they are properly qualified for the job. If you show the hiring manager how they will benefit from hiring you, you increase your chances of getting moved on to the next level of interviewing. Good luck!
Understanding how to ask for a raise and negotiate a salary increase is a professional skill everyone needs to master. When you ask for a raise, there are many things you can do ahead of time to increase your odds of landing the salary increase you want.
Studies by management consulting firms show the average salary increase in 2012 will hover around a 3% salary raise. After reviewing research, I find using the following salary negotiation tactics can optimize your pay and maximize your raise, when done right:
(1) Prove yourself before you ask for a raise. Many times employees ask for a raise but have not proven their value to the firm. View your potential raise as an investment made by the organization and that company is looking to see what will be their return on the investment made in you. Place yourself in visible positions and promote yourself to ensure the decision makers understand your value.
(2) Volunteer for a project that is critical to the company’s success or mission. One way to gain visibility is to offer your talents, time and abilities to challenging projects that are viable to the firm’s success. This way you will be working alongside key players within the company who can vouch for your work ethic and commitment to bring results.
(3) Record your performance – track your achievements. Do not assume your boss knows what you have accomplished. Keep a log of all of your successes and wins, no matter how big or small. This will allow you to make a significant case demonstrating your value to the company, justifying the firm’s investment in you in the form of a pay raise.
(4) Capitalize on a recent, significant success. Have you just completed a project that went well? Diplomatically brag about you and your team’s success to your boss and other critical decisions makers. If you don’t promote you, no one will.
(5) Do your homework – see what your profession is worth. Using websites such as salary.com and other industry specific websites, acquire the information about your profession and see if you are above, below or at market rate for your skill and experience. If you are at or below what the market is paying and have significant successes under your belt, this could form a strong case for you warranting a raise based on your credentials and achievements.
(6) Tie your raise to your performance and success. Offer to lead a project and put your money where your mouth is—outline the parameters for success and propose to tie a bonus or raise to meeting these parameters. If your project is to streamline expenses or raise revenue, then proposing that you receive a piece of that financial success pays for itself.
(7) Look at other options besides money. If money is tight, regardless of your performance, consider other forms of compensation to be flexible with your employer, while still allowing them to reward your contributions.
(8) Think, “Would you give you a raise?” Be the person you would want to give a raise to. It is that simple. Do you make your boss’s job easier? Do you make your boss look good? Would he/she be excited to lobby for you to his/her managers to obtain their approval to give you a raise? Do you make it worth the risk for them to stand up for you?
(9) Be a top 5% performer for your employer. If you are a top 5% performer in your organization, then the answers to all of these questions would be ‘yes.’ If you did not receive the salary raise you were looking for this past year, look at the tactics included in this article for clues.
(10) Invest in yourself and your professional development.When was the last time you furthered your professional education? Attended an industry event? Companies want to invest in people who invest in themselves—again, demonstrating an ROI on monies the firm gives you in the form of a salary raise.
(11) Timing can be everything—ask at the right time. The decisions for issuing raises are completed often well before review time or fiscal year begins. Ask for a raise the quarter or two before the raises are normally given out to put yourself on the radar. Bad times to ask are when poor financial information has been issued or when raises have been announced. By then it is too late.
(12) Ask your boss what you can do to get one next year. Did not get the raise you were hoping for? Allow your boss to be very candid with you and share what you could do to improve your chances in landing a raise next year—solicit specific feedback to projects you can handle and your performance up to that point. Do not be defensive when receiving this information. It is meant to help you improve, so you land in a higher salary bracket next year.
(13) Be realistic and be grateful. No one wants to give a raise to someone who is asking for a 65% raise or feels entitled to getting a raise. Those types of employees will never be happy, so companies do not invest their precious dollars with these people—don’t be one of these people. Stick to a 5-10% range and have your documentation ready. Whether you get what you want or now, be gracious, thank them for their time and consideration, and be grateful for what you have. Set your plans to make the following year the best ever.