employees interviewingMany falsely assume that preparation for a successful interview is simple, fast and straightforward.  In reality, it is not.  Such assumptions serve as the fatal flaw that causes so many candidates to perform poorly. They preclude even the best candidates from being invited back to the next phase of a hiring process.

Leon Joseph Suenens once stated:  “ Happy are those that dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true”

What price are you willing to pay to achieve your dream position?  Surprisingly, paying the price to achieve your professional dreams does not have to be a difficult or expensive proposition. It simply must be deliberate, focused and disciplined. None of which are tremendous prices to pay for a successful career.  So that you are better prepared, interviews should always be approached in a manner that, at minimum, includes these seven elements:

1)   Affirms your purpose and vision.  Before considering the job opportunity before you, have you taken the time to consider what your desired purpose in life is?  When your life has ended, what do you want to be remembered for having achieved? Given that purpose, what then is your vision for your career?  Answer these two questions and you can answer virtually any question asked during a job interview about you and your career goals.

2)   Emphasizes your unique qualities. There are no two people on earth who are exactly the same. Yet whenever we decide to pursue to a job opening, we attempt to shoehorn ourselves into whatever attributes are being advertised by the organization. Have you ever thought about sharing “your” unique qualities, skills and strengths with the interviewer while explaining why and how they comport with the organization as well as the benefits that the organization will receive?

3)   Identifies your “predetermined” values. Many foolishly fail to understand the importance of declaring and committing to a set of values that will define and guide their lives early on in their career.  Nonetheless, you should never, ever attempt to define your values in a moment of truth or during an interview process. If you have not thought about what you stand for and why, it will definitely be a red flag for any organization of quality.

4)   Defines your leadership style. If you cannot explain your leadership style in one concise paragraph or less, avoid applying for any position other than that of an entry level one.

5)   Enhances your personal brand. Like it or not, we all have one. How do others view you? Are you considered energetic, helpful, positive, a team player or are you viewed as being negative, a complainer or someone who simply tries to do the bare minimum on the job? As with Nike or Coco Cola, always work to enhance and protect your brand. If you do not choose to define it someone else will.

6)   Incorporates effective communications mechanics.  Understanding what it takes to convey our thoughts to others is crucial to effective communications, especially during an interview.  Take the time to understand how these dynamics work.

7)   Creates a comprehensive, yet flexible strategy that will lead you to a successful interview outcome. Take the necessary time to fully research the position requirements and the organizational culture, but also such key data regarding the stability of the organization you are seeking to join. By carefully studying such information as their municipal bond ratings, budget priorities, midyear budget adjustments, stability of their senior personnel, pension fund ratios and internal transfer of funds activities, you can better gauge the quality of the organization. Such reviews will also allow you to anticipate the types of questions that will be asked during the interview process, better prepare you to respond to them and assist you in offering ways to address their organizational challenges.

Your preparation for an interview can be approached using the more common – cross your fingers theory or you can choose to approach it after investing the necessary time and attention that leads you to your professional goals.  It is not the simplest choice, but rest assured, in the end it is always the better one. Just ask the successful.

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