How to Convince an Employer You’re the Right Person for the Job, with Priscilla Weninger Bulcha

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 352:

How to Convince an Employer You’re the Right Person for the Job, with Priscilla Weninger Bulcha

Airdate: June 15, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

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You walk into a room for a job interview. 

What’s the best way to persuade a hiring manager to pick you for the position?

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha is here to talk about how to convince an employer that you’re the right person for the job.

She’s a human capital management consultant, a Latinx career coach, and the host of the Early Career Moves Podcast. 

Priscilla is passionate about helping BIPOC professionals change careers with confidence and ease. 

She joins us from Austin, Texas.

Well, let’s get started, Priscilla. How important is that impression that you make as a candidate in the first two minutes of a job interview?

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

It’s incredibly important. I find it to be, sometimes, one of the only things that hiring managers tend to remember from candidates and their experiences with them is how those first few minutes go in the interview and how a candidate presents themselves and answers the question, tell me about yourself or walk me through your resume. 

Mac Prichard:

And that’s a lot of pressure. So why is that first impression so important to hiring managers? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, I mean, when you think about it, in today’s world, the average attention span for an adult is now eight seconds. So, we live in a world where we’re constantly distracted, and hiring managers are human beings just like the rest of us, and so they really want to be hooked at the beginning and have it explained to them why they’re there in the room with you, and why you’re the right fit for this job. So, it’s really important and critical to prepare ahead of time to plan how you’re gonna sell yourself, how you’ll capture their attention quickly so that they are engaged and excited to know you even further. 

Mac Prichard:

I know you have a three-part strategy for how to do that that you share with your clients, and we’re gonna talk about that and unpack it. Before we talk about how to make a great impression in that first two minutes, and especially when answering the “tell me about yourself question,” what are common mistakes you see applicants make, Priscilla, that create a poor first impression at the start of an interview? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, I would say the first mistake that I see often is just not preparing what this sixty-second or maybe two-minute value proposition answer might be like, might be structured, and so that can come across really quickly as someone who’s not prepared, and it sounds like, you know, potentially starting to talk without a sense of direction; there’s no cohesion or organization with the way that the question is answered, or maybe the actual “tell me about yourself” response starts with, I was born on a farm in Wisconsin. And so, now we’re wondering, who long are we gonna be here? And how long is your answer going to be? And how relevant will it be to the job? So, I would say just not having a clear structure and prepared answer, and potentially veering off course and starting to talk about details that might not be as relevant in the beginning. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to answer that question, and the first step, I know, that you recommend is to describe your experience, to highlight the work you’ve done in a way that relates to the job you want. Why is it important to do that? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, so when folks are interviewing you, they really want to know what is the connection between the candidate’s previous experiences, their strengths, what they bring to the table, and what is being asked for in the job description. And so, it really is your job when you’re interviewing to connect the dots for the hiring manager and do that work proactively to prepare in advance for the interview so that the hiring manager doesn’t have to do that work themselves. You almost want to do that for them, and you do that by preparing this response ahead of time and doing that analysis. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to do that analysis and prepare that answer. You want to make that connection between your experience and the job you have. What’s the way to do that research and prepare that response? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, great question. So, the way that I like to think about it, it really is two columns on a piece of paper. The first column is what you bring to the table as a candidate, and it’s all about looking into your own past experiences, your strengths, what I like to call your greatest hits. Which is basically, what are your top professional accomplishments that you’re really proud of? 

You want to think through what are the pieces of feedback that you have received from previous managers, previous colleagues that are strong selling points for you? You know, what is that career portfolio that you bring to the table. So, that’s the left side of that chart. 

On the right side, you want to start to think through, for this particular role, what are the skills that this organization is really looking for and prioritizing? And that’s where it’s really important to dig deep into the job description or what you’ve learned around what they’re looking for in the job. 

You also want to look at the actual employer themselves, the organization, what’s going on for them right now? Start to do some of that research in the news, or maybe look at trends for their industry to understand what is their position in the market? What might be important to them at this point, especially with this role? 

And so, those are the two different parts of the chart, and you want to find the bridge and the connections between those two. 

Mac Prichard:

So, when you work with a client, Priscilla, and have them do that exercise, how many items are they ending up with, typically, in each column on the chart? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, so that can be a long exercise at times. It really depends on how deep you want to go into filling out the left side or the right side of the chart, but I would say for this particular exercise, to prepare for the “tell me about yourself” question, I would say you really want to come up with five main points that are essentially five marketable pieces of information about your background that directly connect to what is being asked for in the job description. 

And so, you want to bullet those out because that is what I’d consider to be your value proposition, the meat of what you’re going to share when the hiring manager asks you to tell them about yourself. But really, what they’re asking you is why should I hire you? And so, you really want to be able to have those points ready to go. 

Mac Prichard:

And when you’re making that list of five points that you’ll match up with responsibilities from the job posting, what’s gonna be most persuasive to a hiring manager, in your experience, Priscilla? What kind of accomplishments, results, or success are they looking for? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

So essentially, what you want to think through these points they want to correlate with what’s clearly stated in terms of what they are looking for. So, let’s say they are looking for someone who has management experience. Potentially, in this role, you would be managing a team of people. You’re a people manager, one of your points should probably be around your experience around managing others, leading teams, or being someone who has a mindset around being a people manager or a people leader. 

And if you don’t have that experience, then that’s just not one of your points. Right? Perhaps you’ll choose a different section of the job description to really be able to make that connection. So, that’s just one example. 

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well, I want to take a break. When we come back, Priscilla, I want to talk about the second part of your three-part strategy, which is to, after you talk about your experience and how it relates to the job, to connect your answer to why you’re excited about the role and the employer. 

So, stay with us. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Priscilla Weninger Bulcha about how to convince an employer you are the right person for the job. 

A resume is a marketing document. 

And the best ones can convince an employer to hire you.

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Go to macslist.org/topresume.

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Go to macslist.org/topresume. 

You’ll get detailed feedback you can use to make your resume more persuasive. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Priscilla Weninger Bulcha.

She’s a human capital management consultant, a Latinx career coach, and the host of the Early Career Moves Podcast.

Priscilla is passionate about helping BIPOC professionals change careers with confidence and ease. 

She joins us from Austin, Texas. 

Now, in the first half of the interview, Priscilla, we were talking about your three-part strategy for answering the “tell me about yourself “question as a way to persuade an employer at the start of an interview that you’re the right person for the job, and I want to dig into that second part of your strategy which is to, not only talk about your experience but connect your experience to why you’re excited about the role and working for the company itself. 

How will doing this help convince an employer to hire you? Why is that an effective strategy? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, it’s really important to be able to tie your experience and why you’re here today with why this is the absolute right next step for you and a natural next step to be hired into this role. And this really gets into some broader human capital questions. Bear with me. But essentially, hiring managers are not just trying to find someone who can do the job, but many times they’re looking for someone who they can envision having at the organization long-term. They are also thinking about how long you’ll stay. Will you stick around? 

And that is why you want to convey why it is that you’re so excited about this particular organization, maybe even their mission or their vision, and how this connects with your experience, and it’s really important that you really get that across so that they feel reassured that you have done the work to convince yourself that this is the right next step for you. 

Mac Prichard:

And what’s a good way of doing that, Priscilla? Because I certainly meet a lot of hiring managers who want to accomplish what you just described, which is to attract people who want to stay with a company and build a career there or at least a significant part of their career. How can you talk about your excitement in a way that conveys that this matches your career goals?

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, so I think this is where informational chats can be so helpful getting some of that intel into the organization, some of their challenges, but also what is really great about working there. And so, I really recommend to my clients, as much as possible, to have informational chats with people who do work at these organizations so that they can have real live recent examples of what is happening in that organization, things that they can genuinely talk about with excitement and with a lot of authenticities. 

So, I think doing that research informally, getting some of that anecdotal evidence, will really show that you have gone above and beyond. You haven’t just googled it and tried to see what words come up on the vision statement. You actually have gone ahead and talked to people at the company. That is very reassuring to the hiring manager. 

Mac Prichard:

And I’m curious – I would assume that most candidates would talk about their excitement about a position or a company. In your experience, does that not happen all the time?

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

You know, you would think that this would be an easy check on the checklist to convey that excitement. But I think that, sometimes, candidates get so nervous, or they over-prepare in other areas of the interview prep process, that they might overlook this portion of it, and they might think to themselves, well, of course, I want to work at this company, and then move on from there. 

But there is some leg work to do there, and it should be combined with your company research. To be able to find, what are the winning aspects of this organization? And how does it connect with where I’ve been and also where I’m going? And that story needs to be very cohesive, and it’s really important for that to make sense to the interviewer. 

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well, the third part of your three-part strategy to convince an employer to hire you is to talk about your purpose and how it relates to this employer and this job. What’s an effective way to do that, Priscilla?  

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, so this is tied to your personal brand, your professional brand, your strengths, and I think it’s really important to be able to show a little bit of yourself when you’re answering these questions. Right? You are a real human being, and bringing in a little bit of your personal background can be a helpful way to do that. 

For example, I used to work in the education industry, and many times, when we interviewed candidates, we wanted to hear why they were passionate about education, why they were passionate about, you know, different aspects of changing educational opportunities for students and, you know, maybe working through HR or finance. However that played out for them, we wanted to understand what role did they want to play in this larger vision? How did it tie back to their purpose? 

Sometimes, if you’re able to have a short personal story as to why you’re passionate about this vision, or industry, or purpose, that’s great. But if not, then you do want to be able to give a few examples for why it is. Why did you choose this career? People want people that walk with meaning and with purpose, and that’s becoming more and more apparent in the job search. 

Mac Prichard:

So, those are the three parts to an answer to the “tell me about yourself” question that you’re gonna get in those first moments of the interview, and those three parts, again, are describe your experience that relates to the job, the second part is, connect your answer to why you’re excited about the job and the employer, and the third part is, talk about your purpose and how it relates to this company and this position. 

How long should a typical answer be, Priscilla? When you’re covering those three parts.

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, that’s a great question, and I do think, you know, what we just covered could become a very long answer, and we want to avoid that. We want to be very concise when we’re answering these questions, which is why it does take a little bit of rigor and planning ahead of time. It’s not something we can do off the cuff. 

And so, what I recommend is writing it out and then pulling out, what are the most critical points that you want to be remembered by, and I would recommend to try to first fit into a sixty-second answer, and maybe with sixty seconds, you’ll only be able to do those five points that I mentioned. And then, when you’re in an interview setting, you might be able to have thirty extra seconds to convey those last two pieces that I mentioned around, you know, why you’re so excited about this role and how that ties into your own personal purpose and mission. 

Mac Prichard:

And what kind of practice do you recommend? You suggested writing it out – the answer. But typically, how much preparation does someone do to answer this question in a concise way? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, so this, eventually, you want it to become second nature, you want to almost kind of memorize it, you want it to roll off the tongue. And so, what I recommend is even using the voice app on your phone. So, actually recording it on your phone, listening to it yourself, imagining that you’re listening to someone say it. I also recommend finding a friend or, you know, your partner and actually practicing it live with them and asking for their feedback. Of course, you want to watch for, you know, filler words and try to clean it up as much as possible so that it can be very concise but also sound very natural at the same time. 

Mac Prichard:

And what do you do, Priscilla, if you don’t get this question in the first few minutes of a job interview? Should you have a plan B for sharing this information in other ways during the course of the conversation? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Of course. So, those top five points that I mentioned earlier are points that you want to iterate over and over again throughout the interview. So, when you do the preparation for behavioral interview examples, when someone asks you, tell me about a time when you did X, you know, that’s your opportunity to go back and reinforce one of the bullet points that you were meaning to share at the beginning of the interview. 

So, just because you might have stumbled through the first couple of minutes or the intro part of the conversation, it’s not game over. It just means that you do need to work a little bit harder to reinforce those points in the different questions that do come up later. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a great conversation, Priscilla. Now, tell us, what’s next for you? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

Yeah, so I work with BIPOC folks and women of color seeking to change careers, and so, happy to help anyone who’s looking to make a big career transition and navigate all of the challenges that come up your way. So, definitely, you can find me at my podcast or just at my website, ECMpodcast. 

Mac Prichard:

Terrific, well, we’ll be sure to include that URL, ecmpodcast.com, in our show notes and on our website, and I know you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and if they do, so I hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job. 

Now, Priscilla, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to convince an employer that you’re the right person for the job? 

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha:

You know, in the most plain way to say it, you’re on the marketplace, and you’re selling yourself as a product, and you’ve got to know your buyer. You gotta know what the buyer is looking for. Are they buying a condo, a townhome, a three thousand square foot house? That is a metaphor for you. Right? What is it that they are looking for in a candidate? You want to find and connect the dots for what you bring to the table and what they’re looking for, and then communicate what that bridge is as you answer that question. 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Max Chan, the founder of Chan With A Plan. 

Max is a career coach and podcaster who helps frustrated professionals become focused and confident in order to excel in their careers.

Every job interview is different. However, you can expect employers to ask many of the same questions. 

But which questions? 

Join us next Wednesday when Max Chan and I talk about how to predict and answer job interview questions. 

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo.  Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It may be a cliche, but when interviewing for a job, it’s true. Those first few minutes make a lasting impression in the hiring manager’s mind, so you have to use them to your advantage. Find Your Dream Job guest Priscilla Weninger Bulcha says you need to connect your experience and vision with the position. Share the reasons you’re excited about the job and how you see yourself growing in the role in the future. 

About Our Guest:

Priscilla Weninger Bulcha is a human capital management consultant and Latinx career coach based in Austin, Texas.

Resources in This Episode: