|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Best-Seller
35 Years in Career Management
The top secret for acing job interviews is to understand what your customers are buying and what you need to sell them in response to their needs. Learning how and why employers prioritize and express their needs the way they do, will lead you to the three top secrets for consistently turning job interviews into job offers. Take the time to learn how your customers think and you’ll understand:
· How employers evaluate success and potential employees
· The challenges associated with every aspect of your target job
· How you handle the challenges associated with each aspect of the job
· The probable topics of focus during interviews
· The likely questions that will be heading your way on each topic
· Which examples from your work will best illustrate your answers
· The behavioral profile of the person each employer wants to hire
Secret #1. Get inside the employer’s head and prioritize his needs. Collect six job postings for the job you are best qualified to do. Look through the six job postings for a single requirement that’s common to all of the job postings. Take the most complete description of that single requirement and copy and paste it into a document you call Target Job Deconstruction (TJD). Put a (6) by each requirement that it is common to all job descriptions.
Repeat this process for responsibilities that are common to five of the job postings, then four of the postings and so on, until you have a document that gives you a prioritized list of employer needs; you’ll also know exactly how those needs are expressed.
Secret #2: Without problems your job would not exist. Your job, like all jobs, is concerned with identifying, preventing, and solving the problems that occur in your area of expertise every day. Consequently, every job requirement in a job posting is related to problem solving and helping the company make money, save money or improve productivity.
Review each requirement in your TJD to identify the problems that typically arise when you are executing your duties in this area. Then for each problem identify:
How you execute your responsibilities to prevent these problems from arising and how you tackle them when they do occur.
With an accounting job where, “Eight years’ accounts receivable experience required,”
the “Eight years’ experience” is actually less valuable than the problem solving skills you have developed in those years. For example, this aspect of the accountant’s job is concerned with getting money in the door to pay bills and wages, skills in this area are critical to a company’s stability. As an accountant, you would examine the ways you execute your duties to prevent accounts receivable going over thirty days. You would also recall examples of 30 and 60 day delinquent accounts and how you dealt with them.
Problem identification, prevention and solution skills are at the heart of every job, and knowing how they apply to your responsibilities gives you ammunition to position yourself as an altogether different candidate.
Secret #3: There is a common sense behavioral profile for success. Revisit each individual requirement you noted in the TJD and recall the best person you have ever known doing that aspect of the job. Identify specifically what made that person stand out in your mind as a true professional. Thinking about the best person you’d ever seen doing, for example, Accounts Receivable, you might write:
*Angela Ciccine. Well-dressed and groomed. Great problem-solving skills, listens well, smiles, supportive, team player, great organizational and time-management skills. Firm when she needs to be.
You then repeat this little exercise for every itemized requirement you identified in the TJD process. When complete, this exercise will give you have a behavioral profile of the person every employer wants to hire, and a behavioral blueprint for your subsequent professional success.
Putting It All Together. You know how employers prioritize their needs for your job, and you have thought through the issues that complicate your job every day. You have examples of the ways you execute your duties to prevent typical problems from arising, and you have examples of you tackling the problems that everyone in your job has to face every day. On top of this, you understand the behavioral profile of the person employers want to hire.
This TJD process makes you examine the real guts of your job and tells you what is going to be important to your interviewers and the topics they will likely address in their questions. You will be ready.
P.S. A Word of Caution. Hiring managers hire candidates based on credentials, not potential. When doing a TJD, you might come across skills that you don’t have: “Everyone’s looking for six sigma and lean management skills and I don’t even know what those words mean.” As a rule of thumb, and especially in a tight job market when competition is fierce, you need about 70 percent of a job’s requirements to pursue that job with reasonable hope of landing interviews and a job offer. If you complete the TJD process and realize you don’t make the grade, you have probably saved yourself a good deal of frustration pursuing a job you had no real chance of landing. What you need to do in this instance is pull your title goals back one level and pursue a job where you have the majority of the required skills. Then you can subsequently use this TJD and the missing skills it identifies as a professional development tool: you’ll need to develop those skills to warrant a promotion.
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