Based on insights into who is really getting the job (plus exactly how they do it), this podcast is a new and simple approach to job interview preparation. Each episode is only five minutes long. This way, you can make progress even if you only have a couple of minutes. It contains one specific topic, gives you the relevant background and a clear and simple, step-by-step approach to help you prepare the perfect answers.
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During this episode, about applying for a new role, I will share an interview preparation strategy, that has proven to be successful for many candidates I have coached.
Hi, and welcome to today’s episode, during which I explain what additional things to prepare when applying for a new role. I have seen many applicants struggle with this, and I will share a strategy that has proven to be successful for many candidates I have coached. First, I will walk you through four simple steps to prepare for your interview, and at the end of this episode, I will give you some additional tips and recommendations.
Step 1: Your motivation
If you apply for a new role, you most likely want to move upwards in the hierarchy by taking on more responsibilities or move horizontally by taking on a position with a different focus. In both cases, you must convince the interviewer that this career move is a thought-through decision. So, think about how and why this role aligns with your skills and past experiences and what motivates you. For example, a customer service representative applying for a sales role might say, “It’s the right next step in my career, well aligned with what motivates me and what I am best at. I thrive at work when I can have direct customer interactions and help solve their problems. I also received a lot of praise from my manager for successfully selling customers service add-ons. As a sales rep, I will be able to build upon my existing experience to help my customers and your organization be successful while, at the same time, taking on new responsibilities and further developing my sales skills.”
Step 2: Your skill set
Read the job description and make sure you understand what is required to succeed in the role. List all these requirements, regardless of how well you can meet them. Then, prepare one example for each of the skills you master that shows how, in the past, they enabled you to produce great results. Try to pick examples with quantifiable data points; for instance, if you apply for a manager role, you could say, “I have excellent leadership skills that helped me successfully manage large projects with up to 20 team members.”
Step 3: Addressing skills gaps
Look at the list of skills again and identify those you don’t currently possess. Don’t be discouraged if there are a couple of them; this is completely normal when applying for a new position. And, after all, the recruiter is well-aware of your background, so if you are invited to interview, this shouldn’t be a red flag. However, you must be prepared to answer potential questions regarding these skills gaps. You can either address the need behind the skill by applying another one or explain that you will be able to learn it quickly and provide some supporting arguments for this. For example, suppose the job description asks for “experience in contract negotiations,” which you don’t have. In that case, you might say, “I don’t have any hands-on experience in contract negotiations, but I am sure I can quickly learn this. I’ve read several books on this topic, have a proven track record of building trust in different customer-facing roles and have excellent communication and problem-solving skills, which I consider some of the key enablers to successful negotiations.”
Step 4: Have a plan
It’s not unlikely the interviewer will ask you a question like, “What do you consider your biggest challenge when transitioning into this new role and how would you address it?” So, preparing a convincing answer showing self-awareness and bias to action is a good idea. Start by asking yourself what you need to do to be quickly up and running. This could, for example, be building role-specific knowledge, establishing relationships with key stakeholders and familiarizing yourself with your new responsibilities. Use positive language and focus on your actions – not the potential challenge. For example, a candidate aspiring to transition into a senior leadership position might say, “This role will allow me to work more on a strategic level than I had the opportunity to do in my previous positions. I am convinced my experiences leading two of the strategic initiatives at my current job will come in handy. To quickly contribute, even on the decision-making level, I would focus on three things from day one:
- Understanding your company’s vision, main objectives, challenges and the current status of the ongoing strategic initiatives.
- Building a network with key stakeholders.
- Getting involved quickly in the strategic work.”
These were the four steps. As promised, here are some additional tips and recommendations:
First, make sure to have the new role in mind when preparing answers to other questions you can expect during the interview. A common pitfall is establishing yourself as the ideal candidate for your current position instead of the new one. For instance – using our previous example about transitioning into a senior leadership role – if you are asked about a time you had to make and implement a difficult decision, then choose an example that shows you are ready for a more senior role. So, talking about a very operational decision, like vacation planning, is not a good choice.
Secondly, prepare a list of three – four smart questions you can ask at the end of the interview so you are not perceived as unprepared or unmotivated. You might, for example, want to understand whom you will report to, which other departments you will collaborate with most, what the team looks like or tasks and projects that need to be immediately addressed by the new hire. If applicable, ensure you understand the size of the budget or team you will be responsible for, as these details often aren’t disclosed in the job description.
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.