Preparation will help to keep your head in the game!
I’m pretty serious when it comes to sports. I can’t even remember the last day that went by where I wasn’t playing in a sporting event, attending a sporting event, or busy making plans to do one or the other in order to quench my voracious thirst for sports.
Football has always been my favorite sport. I wait eagerly for March, when hundreds of top collegiate players congregate in Indianapolis with hopes of impressing coaches and scouts with their elite skills and talents. A bad showing can cause a player’s draft position to plummet, which can result in the loss of millions of dollars. Or, even worse, a lackluster performance could mean never landing a job in the NFL—period!
What if job seekers were afforded the opportunity to compete for jobs in the same fashion as an NFL draft player? Drawing on my knowledge of the NFL and observations from years of assisting both job seekers and employers, I can assure you the processes for both are very similar.
A job interview is essentially a screening process to determine if a candidate possesses the essential skills and attributes to assist the team in accomplishing its goals. Both the NFL coach and the employer is looking for the best talent possible.
Without stop watches to determine your sprinting ability in the 40-meter dash, minus the record keeping to reveal how many times you can pump out 225lbs on the bench press, your ability to react and respond during the interview process determines if you will separate yourself from the rest of the pack. Many applicants will remember to look their best, speak clearly, provide lots of eye contact, and be prompt. There are still more important ways to ensure you are leaving your best effort out on the field.
With the current economic downturn creating havoc in the workforce, you must maximize each and every opportunity you have when meeting prospective employers. Your resume and background got you into the game, but it’s often the interview that blows it for many. I talk with employers all the time who are often flabbergasted as to how many people come to interviews poorly prepared. While many candidates sport great credentials and come across as professional, very few can strategically articulate how they fit with the organization. These same employers find it pretty obvious that most candidates also fail to dedicate themselves to the process of learning about the company before the interview–skimming through a few newspaper articles simply won’t do.
There are a plenty of business journals and online publications available to prepare for interviews. One of my favorites is The Book of Lists–which profiles the top ten companies from all industry sectors in the Houston area. You can look for it at your local library. The public library is another great source for up to date information. The library offers several databases with enormous amounts of pertinent details about prospective companies. Plus, almost every company has its own website available for public consumption.
Once you land an interview, make an effort to find out who will conduct your interview. What if it turns out to be more than one person? There’s nothing more intimidating than to arrive for an interview expecting to meet with one individual and then discover that you are to sit before a panel of five or six people.
Often, the person who schedules the interview is more than willing to provide beneficial details about your interview. It might not be a bad idea to ask if it’s ok to contact them if you need anything before the interview. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be. Remain friendly, not overbearing– this could be the person that has the decision maker’s ear.
Finally, at the conclusion of the interview have two or three questions ready for the interviewer(s). Just make sure that you ask open-ended questions that will allow for substantive feedback. It’s important not to broach the topics of salary or benefits at this point. You will have plenty of time for that if an offer is made. Asking smart, relevant questions will demonstrate your ability to gather facts and process information.
Thorough preparation can take hours of dedicated effort, the return is worth it when you become the number one draft pick.
Happy interviewing! And remember to always keep your head in the game.
Wil Smith is a Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. Wil has collected over 20 years of expertise in the areas of Corporate Training & Development, Recruitment and Operational Management; with the majority of that time working with a Fortune 500 Corporation. He has also worked in the Sports/ News industry as a Reporter and Broadcaster.