A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of speaking to this year's Masters of Marketing Research students at the University of GA. I'm a teacher by nature - my Dad was a teacher; I went to graduate school to be a teacher; I love teaching. So, giving a seminar on my favorite methodology was a blast, but the best part of the seminar happened when the teaching was over.
That's when the straight-talk about employment began - client-side, supplier-side, B2B, CPG, big company, small company? So, many decisions when the world as at your feet. After the session, I received lots of LinkedIn requests and gratitude, but one particular student emailed me to ask for interviewing advice. I gave it a lot of thought because I used to do much of the hiring at my last employer. I didn't want to give her the same rote advice that you can find with a Google search. This is what I came up with, and I hope that it can help someone else out there...
Get Interviewing Training - Find it wherever you can, but learn how to tell the story of YOU. Obviously, be prepared for the most common questions, but go beyond that. Have 6-8 anecdotes prepared that you can whip out at any time to relate to any question. Know those stories well so that you aren't searching for answers and you keep your story on point. Think about the interview like a qualitative report - you want to tell a comprehensive story at the end of which they are compelled to take action. The only difference is that the action is hiring you!
If you are in school, check with the Career Center to see if they offer practice interviewing. You can also see if you can find a reputable interviewing trainer or at the very least practice with a friend.
Learn the Stereotypes about Millennials - I talk to a lot of other people that are still working for bigger companies, and there is often talk about Millennials. Some of it is positive, some negative, but the bottom line is that Millennials are challenging HR Departments everywhere. If you are a Millennial, you should Google the reputation and learn what people are saying. When you craft your narrative in #1, you want to subtly combat any negative perceptions. Don't go out and say, "I'm not a typical Millennial because blah blah blah," but find ways to weave some counter arguments into your stories. You want them to feel confidant that hiring you is easy and that they don't need to reengineer their entire HR department to deal with you.
I realize that you might not be a Millennial and that age discrimination is illegal, but think about what someone might say as an objection to hiring you. Don't be neurotic about it, but realize that the people that interview you will either rate all of the candidates or meet to discuss them. Don't give them an obvious reason to move you to the bottom of the list.
Know Your Strengths
- If you haven't already done the Strengths Finder assessment, do it now. Buy the book Now, Discover Your Strengths
, read the first chapter, do the test, and then you are on your way. I'm telling you to do it not just to help you with #1 but because I think it will help you evaluate the type of positions you should apply for. In addition, it will help you craft some really good questions to throw back at the potential employer. For example, one of my strengths is Learning which basically means that I have a restless mind, and I constantly need to be challenged with new information, topics, etc. So, I would ask an employer how this position might challenge me and what learning opportunities they provide. Those types of questions will not only help you evaluate the position, but will also signal to the employer that you know what motivates you and exactly what you are looking for. Win-Win!
Well, that's all I have. I really hope that this is helpful to someone out there