Bait the interviewer to ask great questions

Bait the interviewer to ask great questions

James talks portfolios

Once you’ve made it to an actual interview for your next position, the challenge, among others, is to explain how you achieved your business results from your work. I advocate the CAR method – Context, Actions, and Results. Here is the context of the work needed, here are the actions I took to get the work done, and, because of the work, we achieved these business results.

The problem here is that interviewers don’t ask the right questions so you can easily slip into this great answering approach. It’s not that they don’t want to know how you achieved your results from your work, it’s that they don’t know how to ask about the work you do. They know their business; they don’t know your business, how it works, what products are produced, how you are organized and how you fit in.

Generic questions result in generic answers

Because interviewers don’t know about your company and work, you get asked generic questions – What do you do every day? How is your job organized? You get asked responsibility questions, not result questions.

Or you get asked “behavioral” questions – “Tell me about a time you ran into a rock and had to recover…”  Personally, I think behavioral questions were invented because interviewers didn’t know what to ask in order to figure out if a candidate knew how to do the work.

Those types of questions are not satisfying for either the interviewer or the interviewee – you.

Bait your interviewer to ask great questions

How do you start this “results questioning” during the interview?

It starts back on the resume. Most resumes list job responsibilities and not results. That gets you questions about your responsibilities. You’ll be fortunate to get a position if those are the types of questions asked. So make sure your business results from your work are on the resume. That will at least start you on the path to talking about your business results and talents needed to get them.

The real resume key, though, is this: put one, perhaps two, sentences that provide context for your work so that the interviewer has something to start the conversation along the results path.

For example

It’s easiest to see with a project: “This project was to covert the medical codes to match up with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.” Then you bullet point the results…how many codes, time for the conversion, number of forms checked, new codes placed to match the ACA.

Instead of saying that you evaluate requirements for a project with no other context, you’ve now provided a perfect way to ask about your work – it’s specific (medical codes), it’s important (the ACA became law and now the company needs to align with it) and it impacts customers (because those codes bring about reimbursement). If you’re in the health care field, believe me, having that one line of context on the resume will result in great questions about your work.

Now the interviewer can start a conversation with you about your work. Now you can respond back with Context, Actions, and Results right into the conversation. You can tell stories that show how you accomplished your results. You can ask great contextual questions back to the interviewer extending the conversation – “Tell me how your company looked at your current systems to line up with the ACA.”

The payoff

At the end of the day, interviewers (and people) remember stories. They remember that you “get it” while other people don’t. They know you got results from your work, even though they may not remember the specifics without going back to the resume.

All because you took the time to figure out your business results and provided the interviewer a great way to open up questions that focuses directly on your accomplishments on your resume.

How could you help the interviewer to ask great questions to show your work?

photo by: Gangplank HQ
Cube Rules Links — February 28, 2014

Cube Rules Links — February 28, 2014

Cube Rules Links

Here’s what I’ve been saving for you from the Internet this week. These are posts that don’t necessarily match up to my mission of supporting transitions in your career, but are about the career path.

The best investment advice you’ll never get

This is long, but if you read nothing else, read this one.

As Google’s historic August 2004 IPO approached, the company’s senior vice president, Jonathan Rosenberg, realized he was about to spawn hundreds of impetuous young multimillionaires. They would, he feared, become the prey of Wall Street brokers, financial advisers, and wealth managers, all offering their own get-even-richer investment schemes. Scores of them from firms like J.P. Morgan Chase, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Presidio Financial Partners were already circling company headquarters in Mountain View with hopes of presenting their wares to some soon-to-be-very-wealthy new clients.

Rosenberg didn’t turn the suitors away; he simply placed them in a holding pattern. Then, to protect Google’s staff, he proposed a series of in-house investment teach-ins, to be held before the investment counselors were given a green light to land. Company founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt were excited by the idea and gave it the go-ahead.

Outcome or process — what investment strategy works over time?

We’re not investment bankers or stock traders — but knowing how to invest is a needed skill to succeed in achieving Employment Security.

While two-time Super Bowl-winning coaches are process-oriented, Wall Street thrives by appealing to our tendency to be outcome-focused. We rank fund managers, best asset classes, top-performing sectors, highest-returning mutual funds. Note that all of these are ranked not by repeatable process, but by outcome. This is a brilliant bait-and-switch.

How much more would you have for retirement, if only you could squeeze 1% more per year? The answer, as it turns out, is a lot.


When paying off debt, gain strength by starting small

When I work with people who are in debt through a ministry at my church, I have them list their debts, starting with the one with the lowest balance. I call it the “Debt Dash” plan because the goal is to pay off something quickly.

Let’s say you have five credit cards with balances of $10,000, $2,000, $900, $4,500 and $1,700. Under the Debt Dash method, you would start your debt-repayment plan by paying off the credit card with the $900 balance. The goal is to get some momentum.

Do what you love, love what you do: An omnipresent mantra that’s bad for work and workers.

In ignoring most work and reclassifying the rest as love, DWYL may be the most elegant anti-worker ideology around. Why should workers assemble and assert their class interests if there’s no such thing as work?

How to best respond to a poor performance review

However, be wary of a manager who is dismissive of any plans you have to improve, Green says.

“That’s a sign that she may have moved past the stage of wanting to be constructive and is instead using the meeting as a formality before she can let you go,” Green says.

If you can’t get direction on specific actions you need to take and the feedback seems vague or subjective, that’s also a bad sign, Green says.

The open office trap

But the most problematic aspect of the open office may be physical rather than psychological: simple noise. In laboratory settings, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance.

Why The Office Is The Worst Place For Work

“There are benefits to social interaction at work, but most work is ultimately solo work,” says Fried. While it makes sense to have a gathering place to brainstorm ideas every once and a while, once tasks have been delegated, everyone disperses to their own areas to do the real work.

It’s the end of February and we’re still in the deep freeze here in Wisconsin. Fortunately, the snow has melted off of the solar panels and we’re a mini-power plant here.

Enjoy your weekend.

photo by: Yandle
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