is the author of Knock Em Dead – The Ultimate Job Search Guide
, now going into its 32nd edition. It is the keystone of a 17-book series, with each book addressing a different aspect of job search and modern career management. Collectively published in some 63 foreign language editions, the Knock Em Dead way is unique in its scope and global acceptance in industrialized nations. His years in career management include successes as an international technology headhunter, as Director of Human Resources for the technology division of a public company in Silicon Valley, and as Director of Training and Development for a multi-national employment services company.
You advocate a different approach to interviewing: the candidate should help interviewer make the decision and hire them. How is it possible to get inside the interviewer’s head and understand what they really want to hear?
MY: In all jobs and professions the same two truths apply: “The customer is always right” and “Find out what the customer needs and give it to them.”
Because people get hired based on their credentials rather than their potential, the first step is to determine a target job title that you can make a strong argument for on paper and in person, and a job where once you hit the ground running you won’t trip over your own feet.
You do this by looking at job postings and determining the right job to pursue. One you have determined the right target job, collect a handful of job postings and determine how employers prioritize the skills they want, and the words, phrases and acronyms they use to describe their needs; with this information you have a template for the story your resume must tell to get interviews, and a cheat sheet for the topics that interviewers will want to discuss.
Even the most experienced candidates have difficulties answering tricky questions during the interview. Is there the golden rule how to answer expected, but difficult questions about desired salary or your biggest weakness?
MY: Every job exists to identify, prevent and solve the problems that typically occur every day within the geography of that job’s responsibilities. The employer will choose the candidate who most clearly explains this understanding by the way s/he executes each responsibility.
Further, employers not only make hiring decisions on how you answer questions, they make evaluations on the questions you ask, because those questions demonstrate the depth of your knowledge, and your genuine engagement with the work: Asking about the biggest challenges of a particular responsibility, or who fails and why speaks to your knowledge, engagement and intelligent enthusiasm, while asking about the dental plan tells a somewhat different story.
... desired salary?
MY: When you give a single number that is rejected out of hand, you were asking too much. When you give an answer that is accepted immediately you probably asked for too little.
The best approach is to create a salary range for yourself. It starts with identifying three numbers and then reduces to two numbers:
- Least I need to keep a roof over my head
- A fair offer considering my experience and location
- The offer that will make me drop dead and go heaven on the spot.
Once you have these three numbers, never discuss the lowest number with anyone. Instead when asked about money you respond with the range from your mid-point to high point, therefore dramatically increasing the odds of coordinating with the salary range that every job opening has had approved.
... your biggest weakness?
MY: The “weakness” question is one of the most common and feared questions of all.
We all have weaknesses, and interviewers’ have heard every phony answer imaginable. Your goal is to be honest and advance your candidacy—something you can do. You achieve this by talking about a real weakness that everyone shares (even your interviewer), and then explaining what you are doing to turn a weakness into a strength. One example, would be keeping up with the ever-increasing demands for improved productivity – a universal problem for everyone.
Your answer starts by talking about the general difficulties in keeping up with the constant need for increased productivity, and then move on to address what you are doing about it.
You are working on your multitasking skills or time management and organization skills, by reading “these” books or watching “those” podcasts that address improved time management and organization. Give examples of how you apply this to different aspects of your Job, “ At the end of every day I review what was completed and what needs to go on tomorrow’s agenda. I then rank those tasks A, B & C so that I can always be focused on the most pressing needs. So I review the day plan for the next. Another plus is that I come in the next day, properly rested, properly focused and ready to hit the ground running, knowing I will be focused on my role in the department’s most pressing needs, and not wasting our time.”
Can you share the five secrets behind every hiring decision which you reveal in your book KNOCK EM DEAD JOB INTERVIEW?
Let’s imagine the candidate has been offered a job. What are the tips to negotiate for the best possible salary?
- Ability & Suitability.
Do you have the skills to execute your responsibilities and do you understand the workings of the professional environment in which they will be executed (because all professions operate in their own unique way).
- Problem Solving.
Every job is about knowing the geography of your responsibilities well enough that you can anticipate and prevent many problems from materializing. And when they do you know how to handle them effectively, with timeliness and consideration for the people who must in turn continue their responsibilities with the results of your your work.
- Transferable Skills.
There are certain skills relevant to all jobs, they are known as transferable skills because whatever it is you do, these are the skills that empower you to do it well: They are the practical skills of your work, Analytical thinking, Communication. Time Management & Organization, Teamwork, Leadership and Creativity, which latter comes from the inter-play between all the foregoing.
- Intelligent Enthusiasm.
Allow your natural enthusiasm for your work and for this job opportunity to shine through, rather than hide it because of interview nerves or a misconstrued sense of professionalism. When it comes to a tightly run job race between equally qualified candidates, the job offer will always go to the most intelligently enthusiastic candidate. Why? Because she or he will be seen as easier to work with, harder working and more conscientious.
- Teamwork & Leadership.
Companies tackle complex problems that require many hands and minds to work cooperatively together, which requires you work productively as a member of a group focused on achieving large-scale goals. Taking responsibility for the success of a task is a leadership trait and as everyone knows, no-one can becomes a successful leader without having first been a productive team player.
MY: When you answer a salary question with a single number that is rejected, you know that you were asking too much. When your answer is accepted immediately you kick yourself knowing you could have gotten more. But how?
Think like an employer, they always have a carefully calculated and approved salary range for each and every position. You should do the same: Create a salary range for MeInc. Identify three offers you might accept:
- Least you need to keep a roof over your head
- A fair offer considering your experience and location
- The offer that will make you drop dead and go heaven on the spot.
Once these three numbers are determined, kick out the bottom one, that’s for your information only.
Now, when you are asked about money you respond with the range from your mid-point to high point, dramatically increasing the odds of coordinating with the job’s approved salary range, and finish with a question of your own, “How does this fit with the job’s approved salary range?”
With the answer you’ll have clear signals about how high you can reasonably push, and for that special dream job, you also know just how low you can go and still have food on your table.
What books, blogs or other resources would you recommend to our readers who want to get their dream job?
MY: I would recommend the Knock Em Dead books
on resumes, interviewing, social networking, job search and management and absolutely anything written by Joyce Lain Kennedy
Thank you for the interview.