I just returned from speaking on career transition strategies and doing personal career consultations with attendees at the 2016 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Global Fraud Conference in Las Vegas. This was my 7th year providing career strategy presentations and consultations for the ACFE, and it never fails that at least one attendee each year will confess to me, “I have a great cover letter and résumé that gets lots of interviews, but I just can’t seem to swing the job offer.”
Let’s assume for the moment that variables external to the hiring process are not influencing the hiring decision and look at some things that are in your control but might be causing you some problems.
- You don’t understand the importance of impression management (“likeability”). We all use impression management for all social occasions, and I’ve blogged about the subject in the past. Impression management is not about being someone you’re not; it’s about bringing forward those qualities that garner favorable first impressions and draw people to you. You can’t walk into a job interview looking like you just came from your grandmother’s funeral (yes, we all know people who seem to have one bland expression for all the emotions) because the first impression that telegraphs is “what’s eating this person?”
- You just don’t get the idea of impression management. See the guy in the photo above, or this guy…who also doesn’t get it…
3. Your impression management language fails to focus on the future benefits of your expertise as it applies to solving the hiring manager’s problems; it’s less about the features of your past experience. It’s projecting your expertise forward as the hiring manager’s “wing man” (or “person”).
4. You don’t ask questions with a built-in assumption that you will be getting the job offer. Three such questions: (1) “What would be the first project I would be working on?”; (2) “What is your highest project priority and how do you envision my involvement with it?”; (3) “Do you have any other questions about how I can help the team/department/project?”
5. You fail to answer THE QUESTION correctly: “So, tell me about yourself…” The majority of candidates will launch into a narrative about what they do (it’s already on the résumé, Einstein) and not who they are. They miss the opportunity to express a meaningful, memorable response. The best response I ever received to the question was from a software programmer candidate who told me, “I’m a cello-playing kids soccer coach and president of the PTA who also happens to be a damn good programmer with an eye on your delivery schedule and budget.” In on short sentence, I learned of his interest in classical music (my interest as well), his involvement with kids, the community, and how he’s going to be my solutions provider.
I decided then and there after that response that he was my No. 1 candidate and extended the job offer to him.
The hiring process–especially the interview portion–is always about what the hiring manager needs.
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My name is Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.
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