Job Interview Mistakes Smart People Make, with Thea Kelley

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Transcript

Find Your Dream Job, Episode 131:

Job Interview Mistakes Smart People Make, with Thea Kelley

Airdate: March 21, 2018

Mac Prichard:

Hi, this is Mac, of Mac’s List. Find Your Dream Job is presented by Mac’s List, an online community where you can find free resources for your job search, plus online courses and books that help you advance your career. My latest book is called Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. It’s a reference guide for your career that covers all aspects of the job search, including expert advice in every chapter. You can get the first chapter for free by visiting macslist.org/anywhere.

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 Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List.

I’m joined by my co-hosts, Becky Thomas and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about job interview mistakes smart people make.

Most of us avoid rookie blunders in a job interview. But hiring managers says they see even the savviest of professionals make some errors again and again. This week’s guest expert is Thea Kelley. She and I talk later in the show about mistakes smart people make in job interviews and how to avoid them.

Understanding your own personality can help you get clear about what you want in your next job. But the typical personality quiz found in a magazine, while fun, probably won’t help you do that.  Becky has found one test, however, that could make a difference in your career. She tells us more in a moment.

You interview for a job and finish second. Then you learn of another position with the same organization. Should you ask the person who didn’t hire you for an introduction to this other hiring manager? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Jay Townsend in Portland, Oregon. Jessica shares her advice shortly.

As always, let’s start with the Mac’s List team.

Becky, I know you have taken over Ben’s job. You’re out there now looking through those nooks and crannies of the Internet. Looking in other unexpected places too, to find books, websites, and tools our listeners can use in a job search and their careers. What have you uncovered  this week?

Becky Thomas:

Thank you, Mac, for that wonderful introduction and for regular listeners, I’m going to try to fill Ben’s shoes as I bring you the resource of the week, every week.

Jessica Black:

You’re gonna do great.

Becky Thomas:

I’m transitioning. I have a cool resource today that’s sort of nerdy but I think it’s really helpful for job seekers. It comes from FiveThirtyEight. Fans of data analysis will know it as… it’s known most for its election predictions done by founder Nate Silver. I know that there’s been a lot in the news around election cycles and things like that but they also analyze data in all sorts of other areas. They have some really cool articles so I would encourage our listeners to check that out.

This week I want to look at this article about personality tests.

Jessica Black:

  

I like personality tests.

Mac Prichard:

They’re really popular.

Becky Thomas:

It’s really nerdy and really fun.  The article is called Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn’t. 

Jessica Black:

Interesting, let’s hear it.

Becky Thomas:

It’s a very interesting take on… the author has a really cool voice, too, so it was fun to read. She talks about how she’s mildly addicted to personality tests and quizzes. She also doesn’t think they’re very accurate. She calls them  “astrology for nerds”.

Jessica Black:

  

Usually, the reason you take personality quizzes is just for the fun of it and not to actually… just the same way you look at your astrological profile, if you do. It’s not to actually devote your life to whatever it says, it’s just for fun.

Becky Thomas:

Right. I tend to agree, though I have found a lot of value in taking these tests myself. Particularly, I know we all love the Gallup StrengthsFinder for how your personality specifically aligns with your career direction.

Jessica Black:

  

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Anyway, according to the article, there actually is a “science to personality”, and it’s something that researchers really can put into a quantified, testable format.

They talk about an assessment known as The Big Five, which judges you on a spectrum of five big “clusters” rather than specific columns of personalities. It’s based on the idea that you can assess personality based on the words people use to describe themselves and others.  Your results don’t assign you a neat set of letters like the Meyers Briggs. Instead, it puts you on a scale between 1 and 100 for each of these 5 big clusters of  traits. It’s compared against everyone else who has ever taken the test.

It’s actually a pretty short test; I’ve taken it myself and it gives you a lot of different assessments on where you’re at, in terms of whether you’re extroverted, your level of agreeableness or compassionate or politeness; conscientiousness, so how do you look at things, how do you look at problems, how do you pay attention to details or not. Negative emotionality or neuroticism, how emotionally stable or resilient are you? And then openness or open-mindedness, whether you’re open to new ideas and activities. Then it puts you on a scale for each of those things.

I liked that  test and I liked the article because it breaks down some of that Buzzfeed, “Which Disney princess are you”, style of personality test that makes it look really silly and it’s actually really powerful. It can be applied to your career.

It asks straightforward questions. It’s not about revealing some unseen or deeply hidden part of yourself that you never knew existed. It’s really about being honest about the way we approach our lives in more of an ongoing way. That’s why the test results have actually held up over time more than any other test.

It feels really relevant to folks who are looking for a new job or trying to find direction in their careers. How important it is to think about who we are in a direct, honest, unromantic way. When you get a new job you’re not going to become a totally new person. But it is helpful to know who you are deep down, how you interact, and what you need from others, and how to apply that to your job search.

I loved it and, plus, it’s just fun to take personality tests. I definitely recommend it to our listeners. Check it out.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I do like your focus on how it is fun but it’s also really insightful to be able to help you. I think, especially in a career trajectory, to be able to understand yourself a little more deeply.

Especially for listeners or job seekers who maybe are in that limbo zone. Maybe they’re changing careers, or are doing a bit of a self-reflection, self-analysis type thing. It’s really helpful to get that concrete data about… “Oh I always thought I was really open-minded but I do tend to need more time to get to that open-mindedness.” Those types of things that really does help you. That you… I think that we all have a idea in our heads of how we are but being able to have that concrete data to show the ways that we interact with the world is really helpful to able to guide us into the right next steps or just help us make sure we’re going in the right direction in general.

Becky Thomas:

Right, and you’re not gonna learn some… that you’re a totally different person from taking this test.

Jessica Black

Totally.

Becky Thomas:

You are who you are for the most part.

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Becky Thomas:

You’ve got a lot of that foundational stuff and it’s so important for a career… for any professional to really understand that about themselves.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, definitely.

Becky Thomas:

Cool, thanks.

Mac Prichard:

Well Becky, how long does it take someone typically to do this?

Becky Thomas:

It took me 10-15 minutes to take the test and it’s free. The link is also in the article so you can take the test from that article.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I second Jessica’s point about the importance of knowing who you are and what you offer because again, what we hear from a lot of job seekers is people struggle with finding the right fit. What I love about tests like this is, and particularly one that’s recommended by such a good source, is it helps you paint that picture and really get to understand yourself.

Becky Thomas:

Yep, totally.

Mac Prichard:

Good. Well thank you, Becky. Great job. If you have got a resource that you’d like to see Becky share on the show, please write her. Her address is becky@macslist.org.

Now, let’s turn to you our listeners. Jessica is also stepping into a new role this week. Congratulations.

Jessica Black:

Thank you.

Mac Prichard:

So you’re answering listener questions.

Jessica Black:

I am.

Mac Prichard:

Becky officially turned over the Maclists mail bag to you.

Jessica Black:

She did. She handed it over last week.

Becky Thomas:

Last episode.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, last episode.

Mac Prichard:

Well, what did you find in the bag at the top of the pile this week, Jessica.

Jessica Black:

This week, we have a question from a listener here in Portland, Jay Townsend, and he emailed his question so I’m going to read it here.

Jay asks: “I recently interviewed for a job but didn’t end up getting the position. (I was told that I was runner-up.) The hiring manager really seemed to like me and encouraged me to stay in touch.

Another job has opened up at the same organization but in a different department. Would it be appropriate to reach out to the person I previously interviewed with and ask her to recommend me to the new hiring manager?”

I think this is a really great question. Thank you, Jay, for asking that because I think a lot of people struggle with this. It’s kind of an awkward situation. You don’t really know how to maneuver that.

Number 1, I do think that it would be appropriate and acceptable; I want to give a couple of caveats as well, though.

I do want to make sure that the position that you’re applying for in this new department is similar or very similar to the job you have applied for before, because that might look a little bit strange if you are applying for something vastly different. Although, adjacent could also work.

As long as your skill sets match up with both jobs so you can have that explanation to be able to demonstrate that, “I applied before, I was a runner-up, and then this new position is similar. I do have the same qualifications and am just interested in working for this organization.”

I’d also hope that Jay has stayed in contact with the hiring manager or the person who interviewed him before. It’s wonderful that she seemed to like him and encouraged him to stay in touch. I think that’s a really great sign and really wonderful but I know that it’s often hard to follow through with those things when you are laser focused on trying to get a job. It doesn’t seem like an important step at the time but it is really important to take people up on their offers to help. So hopefully, Jay has, like I said, has stayed in contact with this hiring manager so it’s not… this request isn’t coming out of the blue, only when this job is available; because that also looks a little bit strange and disingenuous.

Another rule of thumb, I know this is… I don’t know how long ago this job was open that he interviewed with the previous hiring manager but another good rule of thumb in these types of scenarios is to… when a hiring manager offers to stay in touch, or encourages you to stay in  touch, that’s a good opportunity to request feedback on how you did; not necessarily how you did in the interview, but what else you could improve upon and how to best position yourself for future career endeavors.

Again, these are things that would be taken for future reference, but being able to jump on the chance for those, to be able to request some feedback, and then that way you can position yourself well for the next time.

Lastly, I would just suggest that Jay, in this current scenario, when you are applying for this new position in the same organization, submit application materials through the formal method   and then follow up with the original hiring manager that you have that connection with. So that you are making sure that your materials are going through the way that they have been requested, through the job description, and then following up with your direct connection.

If there are ways to make other connections within the organization, I would suggest not having it be with the hiring manager directly but with other folks within the organization…to have informational interviews, to just get some more information about what this position would be like and the different department.

Do you guys have anything else? I know I just gave a lot of feedback there but hopefully it wasn’t too all over the place.

Becky Thomas:

No, I think that was great. I think the keys of Number 1) having a… applying for a job at least somewhat similar to the job you applied for because you have to know what your key skills are and if you’re applying for two totally different positions, that original hiring manager is probably going to be like, “Well, I don’t really get why you’re applying for this other job so I’m not going to recommend you.” So yeah, that’s definitely key.

Then just that you already have been doing that ongoing relationship with that person, because it sounds like he has a solid foundation.  Having that person be like, “Please keep in touch” is a really good sign. I think he should go for it.

Jessica Black:

That’s right. Cool, thanks.

Mac Prichard:

I think that’s spot on Jessica, to get to your original point about the awkwardness that sometimes we feel when we’ve been passed over for a position, if you can, just manage through that.

Jessica Black:

It’s never awkward as you think, it just feels that way.

Mac Prichard:

Exactly, so reach out to that hiring manager and say, “Hey, I just want you to know I applied to this other position. I’d be grateful if you reached out to your peer and let them know about our experience talking together, and that you had recommended that we stay in touch.”

Another point that I’m really glad you brought up is the importance of making sure you do all the right things when you apply for a job and you don’t get it; sending the thank you notes, connecting with people on Linkedin. You just never know where the people you meet in an interview process might surface later, and while you may never meet them again, it’s always good when you do things the proper way. It can pay dividends down the road.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, especially when the hiring manager is encouraging you to do so. I think, again, we talk about how people want to help you. So if someone is offering to help you and a way to stay connected, I think that taking someone up on that is the right way to do things. Not neglecting

that offer.

Mac Prichard:

People really do want to help.

Jessica Black:

That’s right.

Mac Prichard:

So say yes. Good luck, Jay. Let us know how it goes and thank you, Jessica, for that terrific answer.

If you have a question for Jessica, send her an email; her address is: jessica@macslist.org. You can also call our listener line. We love recordings. That number is 716-JOB-TALK, or post a  message on the Mac’s List Facebook page. If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. We’ll be dropping Jay’s copy in the mail soon.

We’ll be back in a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Thea Kelley, about job interview mistakes even smart people make.

Have you ever been asked a question like this in a job interview?

“Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with your boss.”

That’s a tough one, right? What would you say?

This is what a hiring manager call a behavioral interview question. And it’s a common tactic.

Employers use these kinds of questions to explore your fit for a job based on your past experience. It can also be an easy question to answer…i you have the right strategy.

I share my own tips for how to answer these “gotcha” questions in my new guide, 100 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Know. This free resource teaches you a simple four-step process for expertly answering the most common behavioral questions.

To get your copy, visit macslist.org/questions.

Now, let’s continue with the show.

Now let’s turn this week’s guest expert, Thea Kelley. Thea Kelley is a job search and interview coach based in the San Francisco Bay area and she serves job seekers nationwide. She’s also the author of the Amazon best seller, “Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview.”

She joins us today from Albany, California.  Thea, thanks for coming on the show.

Thea Kelley:

Sure, it’s always great to talk to job seekers.

Mac Prichard:

Well, you know a lot about that world. You’ve been working in the field for some time now and that’s given you an unusual perspective about our topic this week. It’s the interview mistakes you’ve seen smart people make. So let’s talk about that.  Thea, what kind of mistakes come to mind when you think about this topic?

Thea Kelley:

Well, even the smartest candidates, even those who are really great at doing their job, they often fail to be proactive and strategic about selling themselves in the interview. Job search is like marketing and sales, especially the interview. You and your expertise and your time are the product, and you need to make that product stand out from the others. That’s what an interview is really about. It’s not just showing that you’re qualified because they already have a pretty good idea of how qualified or you wouldn’t be there at the interview. It’s to show… It’s to stand out, to show why you’re the one who is the one they should want to hire. What makes you stand out is something you need to identify, so you need to know what your top differentiators are. Maybe the top two or the top four or the top five.  You might think of these as your unique selling proposition, your brand, your selling points. I call them your REV points because I have an acronym for what makes a key selling point really work and it’s REV.

Mac Prichard:

Okay.

Thea Kelley:

R-E-V

Mac Prichard:

Let’s dig into that and step back, just for a moment Thea, because I think people understand the importance of preparation for an interview and they do want to stand out.  How do you recommend people figure out what those differentiators are?

Thea Kelley:

Okay, so, one thing is, it’s a matter of asking yourself some questions. You might ask yourself the question “What am I the go to for? What do they tend to call on me for at work? What do they tend to most appreciate about me? What have I, in any way, been recognized for?”

If you’re fortunate enough to work in a workplace where they do recognize and appreciate people. “What do I have that’s hard to find?” For instance, if you’re looking in job postings and you’re seeing “okay, here are the requirements, but here are the ‘nice to haves’”, that they don’t necessarily require but it’s extra points. Maybe you have some of those things. Or maybe some of those basic requirements you have in spades, you have more of, you’re the best at that certain thing.

So, asking yourself questions like that; you want to make a good, long list. Then narrow it down to the top most important ones that you’re gonna emphasize in the interview. The way you narrow it down is by what I’m going to tell you about what the REV acronym stands for.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, and let’s get to that in a moment, but I know our listeners have to be wondering, “Well, that seems pretty basic. Why do, presumably, smart people not do this?” What stops them from doing it Thea?

Thea Kelley:

Yeah, a lot of people tend to feel that it’s the interviewer’s job to figure out why they would want to hire you. So you might tend to go into the interview just passively sitting back waiting for questions to come at you and answering them one-by-one, without having an overarching strategy, without going into it knowing, “Okay, these are my core messages and I’m going to make a point of making sure these things come up.” Does that answer your question, Mac?

Mac Prichard:

It does, but what do you say, Thea, to people who think, “Well, this job interests me. I’d like to learn more about it. Let’s have a conversation with the hiring manager and I’ll see if I, indeed, really want to chase this.”  What would you say to a candidate like that?

Thea Kelley:

Well, an interview is a two-way street and you are trying to find out more about it so that you could make a decision, but at the same time if you don’t go into that interview already feeling like, “I probably want this job,” and already having a certain sense of excitement and passion about it, you’re probably not going to be the one who gets the offer. So I think you need to do enough research upfront. Researching that job title, making sure you understand thoroughly what the job entails, researching the company by asking through word of mouth, through Glassdoor.com, and through other online resources. You need to go into it already with a pretty good sense that you want to get an offer.

Mac Prichard:

What would you say, Thea, to somebody who truly is on the fence? They’ve done the research, they’re not certain if they want the job, do they still need to come in ready to make a case for themselves?

Thea Kelley:

Absolutely, yes, and I would say, see if you can just go on the assumption that you do want the job and work from there. If there’s one, I was going to say, if there’s one major question about the job that would make or break it for you, and it’s not a question about pay or benefits, maybe you could find a way to ask that early on in the process, ideally when you’re in the phone screening, or perhaps in the interview, but it would really be better to just be going there on the assumption that you want the job. So, there may be a little bit of acting involved there.

I do like to encourage people to be authentic, but if your not sure whether or not you want the job that’s one thing that I suggest you really let show.

Mac Prichard:

Do you, advise people, Thea sometimes, if they’re just not particularly enthusiastic about the position, not to come in for that first interview?

Thea Kelley:

In other words, should you interview for a job that you don’t think you want?

Mac Prichard:

  

They’ve done their homework and they’ve decided, “Well, I’m not sure if this is a good fit for me.” Should they still invest the time in going in and selling themselves or should they just focus on other opportunities?

Thea Kelley:

Well, I’d say it would be better to focus on other opportunities. There is something to be said for going to the interview anyway for practice, but on the other hand how authentic is that? You’re representing yourself as someone who is interested in the job when you’re not really. That’s a question for each person to answer for yourself. Are you comfortable with doing that?

Mac Prichard:

Alright, terrific. So, you need to do your homework before you walk in the door and be prepared to  sell yourself.

Take us through that acronym you mentioned earlier. Those three letters, tell us what they are and what they stand for and how people can put them to work.

Thea Kelley:

I talked about key selling points and identifying those is a real big part of being strategic in the interview not being  passive, being proactive. Knowing what your key messages are and what you’re trying to say. I talked about how you can ask yourself some questions that try to determine a good, long list of things that might be your key selling points. When you get to narrowing that down, you need to have a criteria. What’s going to make you decide that one selling point is more crucial than another?

That’s if it has REV. If it’s a true REV point, as I call them, it’s going to have Relevance, that’s the R. It’s gonna be very relevant to the employer’s needs, it’s really what they’re looking for. Maybe it even addresses some pain points of theirs, it’s what they want.

It’s going to have E, which is the E in REV, it’s for Exceptional. It’s going to be something that not everybody has. It’s exceptional, it’s hard to find. You’re exceptionally good at that thing or you have a certification that most people don’t have or you have something that is above and beyond.

Then the V in REV means what you’re talking about has to be Verifiable. Now, facts are naturally verifiable, so if one of your REV points, one of your key selling points, is the fact that you have an MBA from a top school, that’s pretty much verifiable, it’s a fact. They may check it out in the background check, but when you say it in the interview they’re not in too much doubt that you really do have that, but if you’re saying something like, “I’m really good at motivating teams”; that sounds like an opinion rather than a fact.

It isn’t terribly verifiable unless you make it verifiable by offering some kind of evidence for it. What the evidence would be, if you’re trying to make a key selling point out of “I’m good at motivating teams”, it might be a story for example or it might be Linked In recommendations of your team members saying, “She’s very motivating. I loved working with her.” It might be an accomplishment. Something you were able to achieve, something very tangible you were able to achieve. Dollars and cents, because your team was so motivated.

I can give you an example of that.   

Mac Prichard:

That would be great, Thea.

Thea Kelley:

Yeah, because it’s these intangible key selling points, like good at motivating teams or a good communicator, those that you really need to prove.

So, I had one person working for me who was a sales manager, and she had a great track record of motivating teams, and so she made it verifiable with a story. She said, “I inherited a reward and recognition program from the previous manager but I wasn’t sure the rewards and recognitions were really appealing to the team. They didn’t seem to be what the team members really wanted so it wasn’t motivating. So, I met with them individually and found out more about it, and found out that that wasn’t what really motivated them something else did, and redesigned the program. In the end, that unleashed a flood of excitement and performance. Our sales went up from twenty thousand to forty-two thousand.”

See, that story verifies that she really is good at motivating teams.

Mac Prichard:

I know you’re a big fan of telling stories and a lot of people don’t do that in job interviews, do they?

Thea Kelley:

Right, a lot of people don’t and it’s super important. For one thing, if they’re asking behavioral questions like “tell me me about a time when…” then you really have to have a story, but even if they don’t, even if they ask a question like “tell me about your skills with or your experience with this or that”, you can talk about it generally but it doesn’t really become real and memorable and it isn’t quite as believable if you don’t actually tell them a story. Because the story has details in it that show that it’s a real story. Then they can ask you questions about the background of the story and you’re going to be able to answer them and all of that makes it all so much more credible.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about questions. Some of the mistakes you’ve written about in the past that we’ve touched on here are the importance of having preparation, having a selling proposition, being proactive in the interview and making a case. Why is it important, Thea, to have questions when you walk into the room and why don’t people do that?

Thea Kelley:

I’m a little baffled as to why anyone would not as least plan some questions but I think a lot of times what happens is, they’ve planned three or four questions and by the time they get to the end of the interview, in the course of the discussion, the interviewer has already answered those questions. Then they’re stuck saying, “Well, I don’t really have any additional questions”, which really makes the candidate look like they’re really not all that interested, not all that curious. So one thing you need to do is be sure that you’ve got a lot of questions. I would say a list of about ten. You’re not going to ask all those because, like I said, some of them will very likely  already been answered, but having that many gives you a back-up.

People often ask me, “Can I actually bring a list of questions?”, and yes you can. You don’t want to bring a list of things like your selling points because that’s about you and you’re expected to simply know about you, but your questions can actually be written down on a notepad. You want to come in armed with that, but you know questions, Mac, are not just for the end of the interview. That’s another thing a lot of people misunderstand.

Mac Prichard:

So you encourage people to ask questions throughout the interview.

Thea Kelley:

Yeah, there are a number of places where asking questions sooner can really help you gain insights, understand the job better, and the employers needs, and better be able to sell yourself. For instance, at the very beginning of the interview you, here’s a great one, you can, right when you’re thanking them, say, “Thank you for inviting me to this interview.” You can go ahead and say, “May I ask what made you decide to interview me? I’m wondering what it was in my background that made you decide to call me in here today?” What you’re going to learn from that is what your key selling point is in their eyes. Which is even more valuable than knowing what it is in your eyes. At that moment, you might revise your idea of what is the main thing you want to emphasize throughout the interview.

Mac Prichard:

I love that because it gives you an opportunity to key in on what their interests and concerns are, doesn’t it?

Thea Kelley:

Right, and then you can emphasize those. You can emphasize those the same way you’d emphasize any other key selling points or REV points. By talking about it in answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself,”  so that right at the beginning of the interview you’re talking about the important things. By making sure you tell stories that relate to those key selling points and even mentioning them at the end of the interview when you’re wrapping up. That’s really important.

Another way you can ask questions in the middle of the interview is at the end of an answer sometimes you might want to say something like, “What questions or comments do you have about anything I just said?”, or, “Would you like to know a little bit more about what I was just talking about?”

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. So, bottom line be prepared, know what you have to offer, be proactive, don’t sit passively responding to questions, and engage your interviewers, don’t be afraid to go back and forth.

Thea, it’s been a great conversation. I know for some listeners these might seem like obvious steps but I’ve seen candidates make these mistakes myself. Candidly, early in my career, I made a couple of them myself. Thanks for joining us today.

Tell us, Thea, what’s coming up next for you?

Thea Kelley:

I’m always writing articles about job search and people can read these tips by visiting GreatJobSooner.com. That’s my blog, GreatJobSooner.com and right now you can actually get a free gift if you subscribe to the blog. The subscription is free, of course. The gift is very relevant to what we’ve been talking about today; it’s a report called “How to Stand Out in Job Interviews”. It walks you through how to develop and use those key selling points, or REV points, I was talking about. So, if you go to GreatJobSooner.com and on every page you’re going to see a button that says subscribe for free gift, just click that button and proceed. You’ll find once you do that you can actually get a second gift as well and I’m going to leave that one to be a surprise.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well we encourage people to go to your site and I know people can also learn more by visiting Job Search and Interview Coach.com.

Thea, thanks for being on the show today.

Thea Kelley:

Thanks, my pleasure.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Jessica and Becky. What were some key points you heard Thea make in my conversation with her? Which one of you wants to go first?

Becky Thomas:

We were just pointing at each other, Mac. You called us out.

Mac Prichard:

I saw that.

Becky Thomas:

The listeners wouldn’t have known.

Jessica Black:

We try to keep it smooth and produced.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

I really liked her comments at the very end about preparing questions to ask the interviewer at the end because I do think that that is something that, even though it is more common sense and ingrained in people now, I think that’s still is going back to the level of agreeableness.

Becky Thomas:

Right, yeah.

Jessica Black:

That people just want to go in and like, “Nope I’m all good. I don’t want to cause any waves or make you think less of me,” or whatever. “I just want to get through this and I’ve made my case and get me out of here,” thing.

Mac Prichard:

Good point.

Jessica Black:

But it is a really crucial component of the interview process, and it is, again, what she was mentioning a really good way for you to be able to make sure that it’s a right fit for you not just…

I know she said that it’s a two way street, and we’ve said that before as well, but it’s true. It is an opportunity for you to be able to make sure that the organization, and just the job in general, is the right one for you and are you the right one for the job?  It’s not just a one way thing and so asking those questions are really crucial and I’m really glad she mentioned that you don’t have to wait until the end to ask them.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, make it a conversation.

Jessica Black:

That it is… and hopefully, when it is the right fit it will be more of a conversation that way; it will naturally evolve that way. Where things are clicking and you are feeling like you’re able to speak up, without fear of not being taken seriously or whatever. You will be comfortable enough and assertive enough and confident enough to be able to do that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and it’s a nerve wracking experience doing a job interview. As with public speaking or an important meeting, preparation and having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish can help you manage those nerves.

I loved her, to your point, Jessica, her idea about having ten questions instead of three or four. Because chances are, if you walk in with three or four, they’ll probably be answered most of the time.

Jessica Black:

Well yeah, that’s happened to everyone. Where you’re like, “Oh, I had so many questions but you answered them all and now I’m left with nothing.”

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, but you have a plan B.

Jessica Black:

Then being able to ask those within the interview helps so that you’re not left at the end. I think she made great points about that. I was really excited.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, well Becky, what are your thoughts?

Becky Thomas:

I agree with you guys.

I was also thinking about how she was really focusing on how you need to know what your top differentiators are, what makes you stand out. I think we talk a lot about this but a lot of people still struggle with it. I think that, to the listeners that are listening today you might be like, “Oh yeah, personal branding. I get it”, but do you really know how to talk about yourself and can you really present verifiable facts?

Jessica Black:

I was just going to say, the concrete back-up.

Becky Thomas:

And skills and differentiators that also tie to that employer. Because that is how you’re going to stand out and if you sit back and just let them tell you everything about the job and answer all their questions, that’s not enough.

Jessica Black:

No, it’s not. I’m glad you said that.

Mac Prichard:

I think she did an excellent job, I thought, of talking about the importance of what you need to say and how you could put that message together.

She touched on this, about the importance of why you need to say it, because if you do want to stand out you have to understand the employer’s needs. I’m glad she brought up the importance of research.

Becky Thomas:

For sure.

Jessica Black:

It was a great interview.

Mac Prichard:

Well, thank you both, and thank you, Thea, for joining us this week, and thank you our listeners for downloading today episode of Find Your Dream Job.

Now, don’t let yourself make any of those mistakes that Thea talked about or get surprised by behavioral interview questions the next time you talk to an employer. Download today our free copy of 100 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Know. Go to MacsList.org/questions.

Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Christie Mims. She and I will talk about Linkedin mistakes we all may be making.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you Find Your Dream Job.

Most professionals avoid rookie blunders in a job interview. We do the research, practice answering questions, and shake hands and make eye contact in the meeting. But hiring managers say even the savviest of professionals make some interview mistakes again and again. And many of these errors are based in a lack of communication and self-knowledge. Our guest this week, Thea Kelley, says you need to know what makes you stand out, and sell yourself to the employer in the interview.

About Our Guest: Thea Kelley

Thea KelleyThea Kelley is a job search and interview coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area who serves job seekers nationwide. She’s also the author of the Amazon best-seller Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview.

Resources in this Episode:

  • New tool: Have you tried “The Big Five” personality test? It’s scientifically-based! Learn more in “Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn’t.” from FiveThirtyEight.
  • Listener question: Jay Townsend of Portland, Ore. asks whether it’s a good idea to ask for an internal recommendation from a hiring manager who turned you down for a previous job.
  • More from our guest: Read Thea Kelley’s job search blog for more advice.