Being Prepared For Interview Questions

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process.  This week’s blog is preparing you for answering interview questions.  This is the eighth article in the series.  To review any of the previous seven articles, go to our Home Page at http://www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

Brian was excited to share his good news as the mentoring group arrived for their weekly meeting.  His interview earlier in the week went well and he was offered the job.  Brian accepted the position and is now the new Senior Web Designer at E. G. Enterprises.

The group shared in his excitement and they spent the first 10 minutes of the session wishing Brian well in his new ventures.  As the well-wishing was dying down, Cece asked what helped him the most in his actual interview session.  Brian was quick to explain how he learned how to properly and effectively answer interview questions in chapter seven in the book “Getting Hired in College Sports”.  Rob was familiar with this book from his days as an athletic director and had each mentee purchase a copy so they would be properly prepared for every aspect of the interview process.

Brian continued to explain what he had learned, and shared that there are five basic types of interview questions:

  • Personal questions
  • Competency-based questions
  • Performance-based questions
  •  Company-based questions
  •  Position-specific questions

He continued by sharing that personal questions focus on you and your personality.  This includes information on your background, your character, and your value system.  The intent of these questions is to find out if you would be a good fit within the organization.  An example of a personal question is “Tell me about yourself”.

Competency-based questions are designed to determine if you are qualified for the position.  They focus on your skills, abilities, strengths, and experiences.  An example of a competency-based question is “What are your strengths (or weaknesses)”.

Performance-based questions focus on how you have performed in your previous positions or how you would handle a specific problem.  These types of questions are also designed to see if you are qualified for the position and to see if you are a good fit within the organization.  An example of a performance-based question is “What is your greatest accomplishment”.

Company-based questions are designed to see if you will be a good fit within the organization.  They focus on why you want to work for that particular company.  Company-based questions can include “Why do you want to work for us” or “What distinguishes you from the other people we are interviewing today”.

Finally, the fifth type of interview question is a position-specific question.  They are designed to test your knowledge about the actual job.  An example of a position-specific question is “What is your management style”.

Brian went on to explain that in order to ace your interview, you will need to be prepared to answer questions from each of these five categories.  You will want to prepare yourself by writing out answers to possible interview questions and then practice reciting your answers.  This practice is important so you will be able to respond naturally and without hesitation to the questions asked by the search committee.  Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, which will be released on October 1, 2013 and is currently available at a pre-publication discount at http://www.execute4success.com.

 

Completing Your Interview Preparation Form

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process.  This week’s blog is on being prepared for your interview by completing your interview preparation form.  This is the seventh article in the series.  To review any of the previous six articles, go to our Home Page at http://www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

Rob welcomed the five mentees as they arrived to this week’s meeting.  As the session began, Brian was the first to speak up.  There was a sparkle in his eyes that the other members haven’t seen before.  He is typically painfully shy, but today his demeanor was one of excitement.  As he spoke, he thanked Rob for the help and guidance he’s been providing the group.  Brian had needed help with promoting himself and last week’s session on developing the personal sales pitch was exactly what he needed to bring him out of his shell.  He was able to use this information to sell himself during a networking meeting and was able to secure an interview for next week.

As you remember, Rob is a retired coach and athletic director, and he is extremely skilled in the job search process.  The group congratulated Brian, and Rob stated “this is perfect, because this week we’re discussing the interview process and the need to have an organized Interview Preparation Form.”  This form is from the book Getting Hired in College Sports and can be used and adapted for anyone who is looking for any type of job.  Rob passed out a worksheet on the form, and the group was able to learn how to become very organized in preparing for an interview.

The Interview Preparation Form is a worksheet that is designed to help you prepare for your communications during your interview.  It includes five sections that outline:

  • The answers to questions you anticipate you’ll be asked during the interview
  • Your personal sales pitch
  • Five stories you can tell the search committee (everyone loves stories)
  • Questions you should askThe six talking points you’ll want to communicate in order to properly close the interview

After nearly two hours of discussing these items, Rob began to wrap up the session by encouraging the group to complete their Interview Preparation Form and then “. . . practice your answers, stories, and responses.”  He also presented a handout on how to develop the “stories” section of your Interview Preparation Form.  He stated “these forms will take quite a bit of homework in developing the proper communication structure for having an effective interview and next week we’ll continue by discussing how to prepare your answers to interview questions.”

Brian was grateful for the help and the mentoring, and he promised the group that he would take the Interview Preparation Form to heart. He promised that he would be extremely organized in his communication, and would outline and practice each of the five sections. He now knows that there is both an art and a science to the interview process and he is learning as much as he can so he can secure an interview, ace the interview, and land a job.  He is buying into the concept that ultimately, the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, which will be released on October 1, 2013 and is currently available at a pre-publication discount at http://www.execute4success.com.

Developing Your Personal Sales Pitch

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discusses all aspects of the job search process.  This week’s blog is on developing your personal sales pitch and is the sixth article in the series.

Last week, the coffee house mentoring group discussed the four basic elements that a person should perfect so they can effectively promote themselves for a particular job or to a particular organization.  The group discussed the purpose, structure, and format of both the cover letter and the resume.  This week, the group would pick up where they left off and would discuss the purpose and structure of the personal sales pitch.

Rob welcomed the group and asked if any of the mentees had experience with a personal sales pitch.  The group had briefly touched on the sales pitch last week, but they hadn’t gotten into the nuts and bolts of the pitch.  Without much hesitation Rick spoke up and said that he had some experience with sales pitches.  Of course he would since he was a basketball coach.  Coaches need to be able to sell themselves and their programs to the student-athletes, parents, boosters, and administrators.  And Rick was quite glib in his approach.

In discussing the personal sales pitch, Rick mentioned that he believed that a quality pitch is needed in all of your correspondence and communications.  This includes selling yourself in cover letters and in how you answer interview questions.  He goes on to say that through his research, he has developed a personal sales pitch that is composed of three sections.  One section is an overview of your education, experiences, and achievements; or basically a summary of your resume.  The second section lists your skills, abilities and traits, while the third section describes your current situation.

Depending upon the question you are being asked in a job interview, you could answer it using the entire pitch, or just one of the three subsections.  For example, if you are asked the question “What is your experience in working in this industry”, you would answer this by reciting your first section, the summary of your resume.  If you were asked the questions “What are your strengths” or “How would your colleagues describe you”, you would answer this by using your second section, a listing of your skills, abilities and traits.  Finally, if you are asked the question “Why are you looking to leave your current position”, you would answer this by reciting your third section, your current situation.

As the group was feverishly jotting notes and discussing the topic, Rob reminded them that the sales pitch needs to be created in a manner that really sells them, but adjusted or tweaked so it is tailored to the position you are applying for.  He went on to emphasize that a person needs to make sure that they communicate their personal sales pitch with clarity and enthusiasm.  For this reason, it is important that you practice reciting your pitch so it comes across in a natural manner.  Practicing your pitch will allow you to control your message and will help you to eliminate poorly phrased responses and long uncomfortable pauses during your interview.

Rob closed out the session by encouraging the group to really be prepared and organized so they are effective in selling themselves.  This is accomplished by developing an organized personal sales pitch.  He went on to remind them, as he does every week, ultimately, the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, which will be released on October 1, 2013 and is available at a pre-publication discount at www.execute4success.com.

Effectively Promoting Yourself During the Job Search Process

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process.  This week’s blog is on promoting yourself during the job search process and is the fifth article in the series.

During the last mentoring meeting, the group discussed how to effectively target the job they really wanted.  It provided them with the contents of three worksheets that helped them to become organized in their job search.  It also helped them to know exactly what businesses, colleges, or organizations they want to work for.  Once you know where you want to work, you will then want to begin to promote yourself to those organizations.  Therefore, this week’s mentoring session is designed to show each mentee how to properly and effectively promote themselves so they can secure a job interview at one of the organizations they are targeting.

Brian Graham, the mentee who had worked with designing and managing websites, has brought with him a copy of his latest resume and cover letter.  He wants the group to analyze his materials and provide him with feedback.  Knowing that promoting themselves for a specific job was the topic for the week, Cece was also prepared to discuss her findings for how people should properly promote themselves for a job opening.

Brian began the session by passing his resume and cover letter to each member of the group and asked them to review his documents.  Four or five minutes later he asked the group for their opinion.  Rob was the first to respond.  “I like how your resume is simple, clear and easy to read.”  “These are the key elements to writing an effective resume or vita.”  “You know, most employers will only spend between 15-20 seconds reviewing a resume.  Your resume must convey to the hiring manager or the search committee how you meet the qualifications for the position.”  The group would go on to discuss the composition of the resume, the type of paper it should be printed on, and various strategies on style, appearance and format.

As the conversation began to slow down, Lizzie wanted to discuss Brian’s cover letter.  Lizzie was surprised at how simple it was and how it really did a great job of selling him.  Brian responded by sharing that the cover letter, like your resume, should be viewed as a marketing tool.  Its purpose is to sell you, provide insight into you as a person, and show why you are a good fit for the position.  The group continued to discuss the proper formatting of the cover letter and how the letter needs to be individually tailored to each position you apply for.

Rob continued on by discussing the last two major promotional pieces people should prepare for themselves.  This includes a personal sales pitch and a list of your references.  Both of these elements seemed pretty straightforward. But as the group began to discuss these promotional tools in greater detail, they uncovered why strategy is extremely important when deciding who to list as references.  They also discussed the three sections of a quality sales pitch.

This week’s mentoring session ran long as the group had a lively and detailed discussion about one of the most important parts of the job search process – promoting yourself.  The take-away they came to understand was that there are four main elements used to promote themselves: (a) their resume, (b) their cover letter, (c) having the proper references, and (d) having a sales pitch that is organized and really sells you.

For more information about the job search process, please contact Howard Gauthier at howard@sportscareersinstitute.com or go to our website at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.  Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process.  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!  

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his latest book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.  Howard’s new book, entitled “Execute for Success”, will be released on October 1, 2013.