Preparing for a Job Interview is Batting Practice

Most job seekers are unprepared for a job interview.  They spend the majority of their time trying to land a job interview and once they do they believe the hard work is done.  The only thing remaining is to show up for the interview and impress the recruiter or hiring manager with their qualifications.  Sounds simple and since 80% of being successful is showing up how hard can the remaining 20% be?  Apparently not that hard because most job seekers put little or no effort into preparing for a job interview.

That’s okay because most hiring managers put little or no effort preparing as well.  So the playing field is level.  Before you relax, consider this, why would a hiring manager be unprepared to interview you?

For one, it takes time to prepare and who has time.  Second, they have been doing this for years and they have their favorite questions.  They instinctively know the right person when they see them.  However, the real reason is they have never been trained on how to conduct a job interview.  You may think this is a good thing but it is not.

The most important hiring decision that someone will make about you is being done by a person who does not know what they are doing.  As a job seeker your fate is in the hands of someone whose gut instinct is going to tell them whether you are qualified for the job and how you will fit into their organization.  HR handed them your resume.  They looked at it for 60 seconds (if you are lucky) and this will be the person determining your future.  There are exceptions but they are few.  Unprepared meets unprepared and let’s hope for the best.

It is amazing that somehow the right people get hired or do they?  Makes you wonder.  What if at least one person in this equation was prepared for the job interview, would the outcome be the same or different?  I would say the odds would be in favor of whoever was best prepared.

Consider a baseball metaphor.  Every baseball player steps into the batter’s box looking for a pitch they can hit.  Preferably a fast ball, a smart pitcher knows this so they throw sliders and off speed pitches hoping the batter will chase them.  When they do, they finish them off with a high fast ball.  However, this scenario changes if the batter is ready to hit whatever pitch is thrown.  That takes practice and preparing for a job interview is the equivalent of batting practice.  Once you are ready step into the batter’s box and:

  1. Swing at the first pitch.  One question asked 99.9% of the time usually at the beginning of an interview is “tell me about yourself?”  This is the baseball equivalent of a soft ball.  However, most job candidates take a half-hearted swing.  A swing and a miss is still strike one.  While hitting it out of the ball park is unlikely it will set up the next pitch.
  2. Make them throw strikes.  Know what the job requires and provide specific examples of how your qualifications best match their needs.
  3. Be patient and aggressive.  While a job interview is a series of questions there are some questions you can really drive.  Make sure you do.  What are those questions?  If I told you would you prepare for them?  I told you one in Step 1 but most of you forgot about it.  Here is a hint.  Your accomplishments are great now tell me how you did it.
  4. Be prepared for every type of question.  In baseball a great hitter is only great one-third of the time.  That means the pitcher wins two-thirds of the time.  The odds of you getting a hit at the right time improve when you can hit whatever pitch is thrown.

Most hiring managers are trying to strike you out.  You can be ready but it takes practice.

Tom Cairns has hired and promoted hundreds of executives and professionals. He is a career development and coaching specialist. He understands the job search process, knows how to create a compelling resume and build an effective network. He knows how to interview like a star and exploit internet resources. Tom is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Business Azusa Pacific University, former S VP HR NBC Universal and Presidential appointee as Chief Human Capital Office US Department Homeland Security. He has the ability to provide all you need to know to jump start or continue your career search. You may contact him via e-mail at tom@cairnsblaner.com. Follow him on Twitter. His website and blog is: http://www.cairnsblaner.com.

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