I admit it. I am an Olympics junkie and have been watching the highlights of these events every night. Who cannot be inspired by the amazing athletes of the Sochi Winter Olympics? Think of all the years and years of training each athlete spends for their one shot to stand on the medal platform and represent their sport and their country.
As a talent management consultant, I couldn’t help but see a parallel with athletes training and applicants preparing for their job interviews. Okay, it’s a little bit of a stretch, but you get the picture. Like an athlete, you have one shot to make it to the medal round so why not prepare to put your best foot forward?
Here are some pointers on how to make it to the medal round of the job search process:
- Do your research! Make sure to read through the organization’s website and/or any brochures. Read through staff bios and get a sense of the culture of the organization from pictures and videos. I’m always amazed when I have applicants ask me about something that is clearly stated on the organization’s website or if they even ask me to tell them a little about the mission of the organization.
- Ask around to former colleagues or peers who may know something about the organization. If you know someone who used to work there, even better. They would be able to give you an inside scoop of what is going on internally, for better or for worse.
- Think of questions that you’ll face. Most hiring managers want to get a sense of the kind of work you have done and what results you yielded. Practice with a friend to answer commonly asked interview questions.
- Be prepared for some non-traditional questions to see if you can think on your feet. I was once asked at a job interview to choose the best beverage that describes the type of person I am. My choices were milk, water or orange juice.
- Be positive, no matter what type of situation you left from a previous employer and definitely do not disparage any former employees or supervisors.
- Keep your answers to the point. Don’t go off on too many tangents. Don’t risk losing the interest of the interviewer and coming across as unfocused.
- Ask questions at the end of the interview. This shows you are inquisitive and thoughtful. I always ask about the interviewer’s background. Everyone likes to talk about their own experiences and how they got to their current position.
Finally, be genuine and passionate about the mission of an organization. If you truly believe in the organization’s mission, this will come across during your conversations. What athlete made it to the medal round without true passion for their sport? Speaking of which, I need to go back and finish watching tonight’s prime time coverage.