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Speed Interviewing… Preparation Is Key

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I attended an APICS holiday networking event a few months ago and met a pretty fascinating lady.  In fact, Absolutely Abby has been on my mind this past week as I went through the “speed interviewing” activity I do with my Principles of Management students.

You see, Absolutely Abby is one of those people you want to know.  In the few hours I spent with her at that event, I learned that she was a passionate corporate recruiter that felt a calling to help people. A genuine calling. So, she took her passion on the road and drives around the country in an RV helping people with their job searches. Wow! That sounds almost as fun as driving around in a van solving mysteries…

Abby shares her secrets for interview success in her book 101 Job Search Secrets: A Corporate Recruiter Hands You The Keys To Your Job Search Success.  There’s an additional pocket book that I picked up as well, which is the Top 12 Interview Questions Exposed.  A few that I incorporated into the recent management class activity include:

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    • You need to know this anyway. “Taking responsibility for your own career growth” is important. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” 
  • What kinds of positions are you looking for?
    • How can you make a difference? Where’s your passion?
  • Tell me why you are the most qualified.
    • Confidence counts!
  • Tell me about your least favorite manager.
    • There’s something to be said for turning lemons into lemonade. Stay in your happy place.
  • How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10?
    • Abby, I’m giving myself a 9 “since there is always room to improve.” 🙂 

Something else I’ll mention about Absolutely Abby is her marketing style. You can book her to speak on topics like World Domination With Social Media or What Floats Your Boat You Must Promote.  She also did an excellent job introducing herself to the APICS group and spent some time with me after the event. She’s the real deal, and passionate people inspire me. I hope we’ll be able to have her speak at a local ASQ meeting next time she’s in town!

I digress…

My interview tips to students over the years are very similar to Abby’s.  The “speed interviewing” activity I do is really to get them to acknowledge that they’re not as prepared as they think. It’s easy to derail in an interview because you’re stumped on a question and are increasingly getting stressed due to the length of time you perceive you’re considering the answer.  I give two pieces of advice to students:

1) Practice. Practice. Practice. 

I use cards with behavioral interview questions during the “speed interviewing” activity. I suggest they print out some of their own and go through them with friends and/or family. Or, as silly as it may sound, go through your response in front of a mirror.  I ask the student asking the question to quickly debrief the person answering on their nonverbal presence and their opinion on how they answered the question.  Critical thinking is what people want in an employee, and that incorporates analytical, creative and quick thinking components.  Practicing all three is the key to mastering an interview.

2) Five Superstar Moments

As I started going this activity each semester, I noticed the stress consistently crept in when they were searching through their entire catalog of brain content to answer a behavioral question.  This is unnecessary.  I suggest they prepare by having five solid examples that can be applied to a myriad of common questions.  For example, think of one example where you’ve motivated or lead a team, had an issue that you overcame successfully, an example that highlights your strengths, etc. Rather than searching through your whole library of experiences, you’ve got five. That’s a solid start and will get you through most situations, especially if you’ve adhered to tip #1… Practice!

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