Surprise interview – are you ready?

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Surprise interviews are unusual — but not unheard of when you have built a great personal brand for getting things done in a company where managers are hand picking the talent they want on their team. A person I know was approached by a manager from a different department with a simple request: could she interview for an open position tomorrow morning? The manager thought she would be a good fit for the job, knew of her current work in the company and wanted to explore the possibilities.

What person wouldn’t say…yes?

Saying yes or no is easy — but would you be ready for the interview? This person demonstrated “interview readiness.” Here’s what she did:

Her resume was consistently updated

We get a job…and we let the resume get stale. No current accomplishments from the current job to show; it is if you joined the company and then nothing happened the entire time you were there.

Here’s the test: hand me your resume right now. Does it have the great accomplishments you’ve done on your current job? And if you have been in the job a while, does it have the great accomplishments you’ve done over the last six months? My fearless forecast is no. But she did.

She knew the organization and built contacts inside it

A lot of us go to work and sit in our little groups, visit with our coworkers and go to meetings and never make the cross-departmental relationships that help build our business network. And if you don’t like the “business network” term, just think of it as you never get around to talking in normal conversations about what you are doing and accomplishing in your work with people in other departments. Nor are you offering any help to someone in a different department.

You become just another person in another bland cubicle staring at their computer screen — and missing out on the jobs. She knew the organization, what the goals were, the people in the organization — and therefore knew how her talents and job skills could fit in that department to help them meet their goals.

She understood the culture of the department

Corporate culture — the rules of the road to get things done in an “acceptable” way in your job — is both company-wide and department specific. In any company over, say, a thousand employees, there is enough differentiation in departments to be able to say that THIS department gets it and THAT department is in trouble and that OTHER department is completely clueless. Look around your company, say a department name, then ask yourself what the people in the department stand for and get done. That’s a culture clue.

How you fit into a department, or a work group, is largely determined from matching the way you like to work with the culture of the specific department you are in — or want to be in. But if you don’t know what you want out of a job and you have never paid any attention to how other departments work, you’ll never figure out if you would match up with the culture — much less showing it in an interview — as to how your work fits with how the department works.

Are you ready?

Okay…you are reading this right now. Right now, I come up to you and say something like, “Hey, we have a job opening in my department that I think you might be good at. I’ve already cleared it with your manager to speak with you…could you send me your resume and interview with me at two o’clock this afternoon?”

Would you be ready? If not, what do you need to plan to get done mighty quick to be ready?

Photo by andrewrennie

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