Useful article on today’s Times on Interviews

An article in today’s Sunday Times ‘It’s a question of being logical’ illustrates some of the more interesting interview questions being asked these days. Many fit into the category of ‘brain teasers’.

They reference a web-site (www.glassdoor.com) which gives candidates the opportunity to post  and search sample interview questions by company.

Performance Review Meetings

In my experience, the full benefit of performance reviews is not typically achieved. My top three suggestions to increase their effectiveness are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprises: An individual should not be surprised by feedback at a performance review. Feedback should be given throughout the year so the individual knows how they are getting on. If there is a culture of surprises at appraisal time, this leads to nervousness and difficult conversations which can be easily avoided. If you are in this situation now with reviews coming up, it might be worth putting yourself in the individual’s shoes so you can decide how best to give the feedback.

Treat reviews as sacrosanct in your diary. Often reviews are postponed, rushed or even cancelled, all of which send the wrong message to the individual. If this meeting is treated as important it sends a message to the individual that they are important to you and the organisation.

Try to avoid an over-emphasis on scores: Scores often end up hijacking appraisal meetings. It may be worth leaving any scoring until the second half of the meeting, so you can focus on having  a meaningful discussion about the individual’s career and contribution to the organisation in the past year and also in the future. Of course scores may come into it, but it should not be the singular focus of the meeting.

Finally, I came across this article recently by Paula Weir which may be worth reading especially if you are embarking on performance reviews in the coming weeks or months (Annual Review Meetings).

So you have successfuly got an interview…what next?

Due to feedback I received on my CV article, I have compiled some suggestions regarding interviews also. I will extend this to looking at the role of psychometrics in the hiring process at a future stage.

So the question I will address today is where do you start when preparing for an interview?  Every situation is obviously different so what I will do here is attempt to highlight some of the typical areas which present challenges and make some suggestions along the way.

(1)  The biggest challenge I have seen people facing is their ability to talk positively and succinctly about themselves, particularly after redundancy.

Rather than focusing too much on explaining what has happened and ‘telling your story’, it may be helpful to focus on your elevator speech and ensure that this is framed in a positive and forward looking manner.

(2) Someone told me once that an interview is all about two things (a) why do you want the job? and (b) why should the company hire you? This is in fact the essence of any interview.

In the current climate, many people feel that the answer to part (a) is obvious i.e. they need a job. When it comes to part (b) many also struggle to convey their strengths and articulate their fit with the role in a confident manner.

In my opinion these are the most important questions to reflect upon and bottom out beforehand. I would strongly suggest talking these through in advance with a coach or a friend as they are critical to the interview process.

(3) For many people at a senior level it may be 10 or more years since you faced an interview, and even then you may have been approached for the role rather than seeking it out yourself. Many feel frustrated and some intimidated by the prospect of facing into a long interview process.

It may be useful to frame each interview as simply a conversation where both parties are trying to understand the level of fit with each other and the balance of power is more or less equal. By doing this you may be able to present confidently and proactively ask questions to understand if this is indeed the right role for you.

Finally more than every before organisations are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they hire the best candidate. The market has changed significantly, and preparation is more important than ever. Also, psychometrics are playing a greater part in the hiring process. As mentioned earlier, I will prepare a note on their use in the coming weeks which might shed some light on the context in which they are being used.

MBA Coaching Programme

The full-time MBA class of 2010/11 in the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business have completed their first semester and have dealt with all the challenges that this brings. Alongside their busy academic schedule, they are now also endeavouring to work out what the MBA will mean for their future careers. To support them with this challenge, the Smurfit Business School provides a coaching programme which consists of 3 coaching sessions spread throughout the year. Last year this programme was run as a pilot and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. One student went so far as to say that it was the best part of the MBA programme.

This year Brian Marrinan (MBA Careers Manager) has enhanced the offering further. Coaching is now firmly integrated with the other elements of the professional development programme. The coaches have a good understanding of these other elements and can now encourage students to bring other materials to bear on the coaching agenda where appropriate (e.g. results of team and individual psychometric testing, career planning sessions, networking skills sessions). By doing this, students can now address coaching agendas relating to Leadership Style as well focusing very specifically on their career options post-MBA.

This year there are 4 coaches assigned to the 45 students and I am thrilled to be part of this team. I genuinely feel energised when working with the MBA students, and I look forward to working with them again this year.

Increase your chances of getting that interview

A CV has one function, and that is getting you to an interview. I am conscious a lot of people entering the job market now may not have applied for a new job for 10 or more years so I have written my top 5 pointers to consider when building your CV:

#1:  Start with a blank sheet of paper, and consider the biggest achievements of your career. What are you most proud of? What are the key skills demonstrated by those achievements? Reflect these in your CV.

#2: The key points should jump off the page. Most recruiters spend no more than 30 seconds on most CV’s. Give your CV to a friend and ask them to spend no more than 30 seconds looking at it – what jumped off the page for them?

#3: Focus on deliverables not responsibilities. Two people can have the same responsibilities but do the job to different standards. What real legacy have you left behind you?

#4: Ensure the bullets are dynamic, tangible and in order of importance where possible. This can be achieved by using a past tense verb at the beginning of sentences (e.g. delivered, achieved, led) and by quantifying your achievements.

#5: It goes without saying but tailor the CV to the job and ask someone else to look at it through the eyes of the recruiter.

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