One of the worst things that can happen to you in a job interview is to get a tough interview question that makes you freeze, like a deer in the headlights. You are surprised, you don't know which way to go, and so you just sit there waiting for disaster.
I received this great comment from a hiring manager on interviewing, and thought her insights would help you in your next interview, when you answer interview questions.
My observations as a hiring manager are in line with what you are saying in this video. I've interviewed candidates for a position in software development team and asked them a standard question: "Where do you see yourself in three years?" Many responded enthusiastically, "I want to be a manager", not realizing that this be viewed as a threat to the continuous employment of a manager :) A safer answer is "I want to be a senior programmer."
The biggest assumption people make is that if they tell you what they did, you will understand that they will and can do the job. I think this approach is far from perfect, and they will be better understood if they spell this out explicitly. For example, "I can support Oracle database and resolve performance issues because I have such and such experience to rely upon." What I heard often was "I am passionate about Oracle and done a lot of Oracle programming" - how [your passion helps] me was not spelled out for me.
The big ideas here are to remember who you're speaking with and adjust your answers accordingly, and give evidence-based answers (especially quantified ones that include numbers, dollars, and percentages) instead of only talking about your passion. Passion and enthusiasm are good, but evidence is better.
Preparing an action plan for your job interview is the best job interview prep in the world. It will help you speak more confidently about your ability to do the job, and demonstrate that you are someone who not only can do the job, but will do it and be very successful at it.
How do you do an action plan for your job interview?
The best way to come up with an action plan is just like with any other goal: break it into smaller goals and figure out the steps to reach those.
An action plan can refer to any length of time you'd like--from 30 days to a year. Most people use an action plan for the first 90 days, or a 30-60-90-Day Plan.
When you break up your plan into 30-day increments, it becomes easier to figure out what you should be doing in each section.
The first 30 days normally focuses on learning the ropes: meeting co-workers, support teams, customers, clients; learning software and systems; and getting settled into the job.
The next 30 days (60-day section) usually finds you digging deeper, past the surface stuff. You're learning more details and becoming familiar with the job and the company, and you're getting feedback on how you've done so far.
Sales job interviews are different from other job interviews.
Watch this video to see how they're different, and then check out the tips below for how to prepare for a sales interview.
Prepare for a behavioral event interview. Hiring managers in sales like these because it helps them see how you'll represent the company in everyday situations, as well as in difficult situations like the ones you'll surely be in on the new job. Examples of how you've handled things in the past provide evidence they can use to determine whether you're a good fit for the job. Think about possible behavioral interview questions for a sales position and come up with outstanding examples of your fine selling and customer service skills.
Quantify your interview answers as much as possible. This means providing examples in terms of numbers, dollars, and percentages. The job of a sales rep is to ring the cash register, so show how you've done that.
Bring a 30-60-90-Day Sales Plan. Show your future sales manager how you'd attack the job in the first 90 days. It shows who you are and what you can do, and is the best tool for showing you're the one they should hire.
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These questions are pulled from my How to Answer Interview Questions Series. The series contains 101 questions, so feel free to explore and get even more interview answers that will get you the job. Also, Forbes has a great list of 50 questions to ask before hiring sales employees. I encourage you to look over this list for additional questions you may be asked, and practice how you would answer them. When it comes to interviews, it's always better to be over-prepared and ready for anything.
The best tool you could ever bring to any job interview is an action plan for how you would attack the job and be successful in it. Writing an action plan shows who you are and what you can do in a substantial way, and makes you stand head and shoulders above those who did not write their own plan.
Just like with any big goal, the best place to start is to break it down in to smaller, more specific goals. So, with an action plan for the first 90 days on the job, you'd break it up into smaller sections: the first 30 days, the next 30 days (60 day) and the last 30 days (90 day).
Then you'd think about what specifically you'd need to take action on in each of those time frames.
Got a sales job interview coming up? Get ready to talk about your sales strategy. Giving the interviewer a sample sales strategy is a great way to demonstrate how you will operate on the job.
When you are asked about a sample sales strategy, it will likely come in some version of the classic challenge: "Sell me this pen." This is a role-playing exercise that many sales managers love as a part of their job interview questions. After all, there's no better way to see how you sell than to see how you sell.
There are a lot of opinions (ahem...) about this issue, but I will tell you that as a sales recruiter, I can ask this of my candidates and tell what someone's skills are like, or if they are missing skills using this strategy. So this is very valuable to hiring managers, so expect that you may be asked to role-play a sales scenario.
No matter what they ask you to 'sell' to them, the principles and the strategy are the same--just use the same principles you would use in any sales process. I am a big fan of SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implications, Need-payoff.
The words you use to describe yourself in the job interview should be as strategically chosen as any job interview answer you give. Every word you use in the job interview should work for you to sell you for the job.
What are great words to describe yourself in a job interview?
Dynamic – this says that you can change and adapt in order to succeed
Successful – if you are successful in some areas, chances are you’ll be successful in others
Strategic – you can make good decisions with the big picture in mind
Motivated – great for sales positions
Creative – this is a must for creative-type jobs, of course, but also good for companies that need problem-solvers
Focused – you don’t get distracted by unnecessary or unhelpful things
Organized – organized means you are in control and things happen the way they are supposed to
Enthusiastic - this means you will also be motivated to work hard and well
Valuable – this is a great lead-in for some way you have made or saved money for your previous employers
Think about what qualities you possess that would be especially valuable for this job, and point those out in your interview.
For more words to describe yourself in a job interview, see these posts:
A 90 Day Interview Plan is also known as a 90-Day Plan, a Business Plan, or a 30-60-90-Day Plan. Whatever you call it, the point is that it’s a plan—a plan for how you will attack your new job in the first 90 days of employment. Having a plan, or a strategy, in place helps you show your true value to a potential employer.
Why does a 90 Day Interview Plan give you a better interview?
Discussing your plan with the interviewer goes much deeper than standard interview questions and answers. It helps them “see” you in the job and shows them who you really are and what you can do to benefit their company. It’s one of the best interview tools to enhance your communication (which is what interviews are all about).
What’s in a 90 Day Interview Plan?
The easiest way to create a plan is to subdivide it into 3 sections:
First 30 Days – This usually consists of getting familiar with the company and all the details of your new job. You’ll meet your co-workers, counterparts, customers, and support departments. You’ll organize yourself and get situated before you can be effective in your job.
Second 30 Days (60 Days) – This is when you get more involved in the details…become more active, make evaluations of your actions so far, and get feedback.
Last 30 Days (90 Days) – By now, you should be on your own…implementing changes, beginning projects, generating ideas, going after new customers, etc.
Every plan should be customized for the job you’re interviewing for, and each section should be at least a page long. If you can do this on your own, that’s great. If you know you need help creating a job-winning 90 Day Interview Plan, get my proven 30-60-90-Day Plan with template, samples, and coaching. It will be the best move you can make before your next interview.
I received this great letter from Stephanie about how the 30-60-90-Day Action Plan helped her shine in her phone interview and face-to-face interviews and beat out 3 internal candidates for the job!
I wanted to take a few moments to compliment you on the 30-60-90 Day Action Plan... Last month, I used them to prepare for a series high profile [face-to-face] interviews.
[I first had a phone screen.] After receiving feedback on my phone screen, the interview panel said that I did not distinguish myself from the other candidates in the pool. Once I heard this... I was on a mission!
I...decided to sign up for Career Confidential and download the [30-60-90-Day Action Plan] tools (Word doc and [PowerPoint] template). I thought I knew how to do an action plan - was I wrong! ;) Your course and tools made me even more confident during my [2nd] phone discussion with the hiring manager. I was very capable in discussing my specific plan if I were given the job assignment tomorrow. And he bought!
As a result, I was invited to participate in 8 F2F interviews with 3 VPs, 3 Directors, and 2 Sr. Managers. With your help... I delivered! I could tell that each panel member was very interested in my thought process and was very impressed that I had given great thought to my action plan for the first 30-60-90 days. Apparently, the other candidates did not have an Action Plan. Following my interviews with the Leadership team, I had a 3 1/2 hour lunch with the hiring manager. His first question was, "Tell me, how did you prepare for this interview?"
He was blown away by my in-depth review of the job and what would be needed to on-board the new hire quickly. And get this... I am an external candidate and the competition was three internal candidates!
I am very happy to report that yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call with their intent to move forward with me and they will have a job offer in my hands tomorrow! I can't believe this all took place in less than 4 weeks! Thank you!!!
Now, since I have to negotiate the salary, I will be checking out your course on this topic tomorrow. ;) [Salary Negotiating]
Thanks again for your awesome videos and practical tools needed to shine during interviews. Well done!
Please notice this about Stephanie...in her first phone interview, she was good, but she did not stand out. The only thing she did differently was to add a 30-60-90-Day Plan to her interview preparation and conversation. The plan made an enormous difference for Stephanie and ended up getting her the offer, even over 3 internal candidates.
If you are doing well in interviews, but not getting the offer, I encourage you to create a 30-60-90-Day Action Plan for your next interview so that you can get the offer, too.