5 Helpful Hacks to Stand Out in Your In-Person Interview

One of the students in my Organizational Behavior class recently reached out to me for advice on how to stand out in a job interview. I jotted down a handful of ideas and sent them off to her. Out of the blue, I received a thank you that she had received a job offer for a position she really wanted. She said she used all these tips and they helped her a lot. I hope they help you too.

1. Prepare.

You think this would be a given, yet I am often surprised by how many candidates I have interviewed who come to their interview unprepared. Being prepared and practice allows you to easily tap into your mental repository of great answers.

Here are some things you can do in advance. Study the company and people you will be interviewing with. You can glean tidbits about their priorities or likings and keep them in your back pocket to strategically drop into your answers.

Know their business, mission, and values. Their website, press releases, Google searches, and the job description are other good places to find salient information. Talk to people you trust who have insights into the company. Take the time to read your interviewers’ LinkedIn profiles and web bios so you answer in ways that will connect with them.

Plan and practice the key points you want to bring up in the interview. This helps you clearly and concisely respond to questions. Your answers should show how you contributed and made a difference in your previous companies. Being polished and prepared will help you stand out with confidence.

2. Be nice and pay attention.

Be nice to every single person and every time you interact with your prospective employer. Employers want team players. You negatively stand out if you’re only nice to whom you perceive are the decision makers. A little HR secret is that employers often confer with other employees like the receptionist or interview coordinator to see what you are like when your guard is down.

Pay attention during your visit. Make mental notes of your surroundings – the people, the environment, what’s important in that company. One of your interview goals is to connect with your interviewers. When you have a chance to ask questions or talk more, you can tailor your remarks to what’s important to the company. This will help you stand out.

3. Ask this question first.

At an opportune time and preferably the beginning of the interview, say this: “I am very happy to be asked to interview for this opportunity. I was curious to know what about my background and experience made you invite me in to interview?”

Why ask this first? You do this to “pre-suade” your interviewer. Dr. Robert Cialdini, the worldwide expert on influence and persuasion, explains that you want to anchor your interviewer to start thinking immediately about your positive traits. You will prime him or her to be biased positively towards you from the start. I will add that it also reveals what the interviewer thinks is important. (People I’ve shared this with have raved about this hack.)

4. It’s really about the manager and the company – not you.

Even though the interview is centered on you, keep your answers focused on how you will add value to the manager, team or company. The reality is that they are thinking about themselves and if you can help them or solve their problems. Unless you are asked directly, do not ask or talk too much about what’s in it for you. You can ask more questions when you get the offer.

Keep the interview discussion as positive as possible. Never speak ill about previous companies or management. This won’t necessarily make you stand out but if you speak ill about a previous employer, it will quickly kill your chances of moving forward.

5. Leave positive lasting impressions.

Be as nice and courteous leaving as you were coming in. Send a thank you email or note after you interview – especially if you want the job. Even better if you send the follow-up with something you learned in the interview and a subtle reminder of how you will help the manager. This is old school; however, it still works. It isn’t done as much anymore so it will make you stand out.

Good luck with your interview and landing your next great job!

New Traits of Exceptional Multicultural Leaders

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Advice for the Next Generation of Multicultural Leaders

At the National Diversity Council’s 2nd Annual Multicultural Leadership Roundtable in San Diego in August, I was among five leaders of color who hold executive positions within their organization asked to speak on topics related to multicultural leadership and diversity.

This is a very timely topic. The world is reeling right now with intense discussions around religious conflicts, political discord, and challenging social issues. With all this in the background, people and companies continue to move into new geographies, expand operations, and want to sell in new cultures. More students, tourists, and workers are globetrotting around the world. As a result, the world is getting smaller and leaders are presented with more global challenges every day.

How does this generation of leaders (and the next) navigate through these unavoidable cultural differences and clashes? By developing the four main traits that exceptional multicultural leaders possess.

1. Great leaders resist being ethnocentric.

Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture. The aptitude to understand and be introspective about your own culture is an indispensable talent of a multicultural leader. The capability to see your own biases and know how you view others through your own cultural lens is vital as well.

My mother, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 25 years old, taught me my earliest life lesson about ethnocentrism: “People speak, act and think differently from you; just remember, they are just as right as you are.”

Trusted and respectful multicultural leaders understand, relate to, and can adjust to the perspectives of others. All leaders learn valuable lessons when they are open to see the significance of diversity of thought, perspective, and cultures. Exceptional leaders actually search out different perspectives and opinions which, in turn, challenge them and others to reach higher.

2. Great leaders plan ahead for cultural differences.

Highly effective multicultural leaders wisely avoid minimizing cultural differences and, better yet, plan for differences. Business guru Peter Drucker said it quite aptly, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” 

Leaders who work across cultures know, with certainty, that cultural differences will surface with interactions among employees, peers or customers. The best leaders will plan and help their teams to recognize and adjust to these cultural differences.

3. Great leaders foster personal connections and relationships while building trust.

Effective leaders foster positive relationships and trust. Shrewd leaders understand that the first step to building rapport and trust is establishing personal connections. The challenge is that blazing the path to constructive connections, rapport and trust is unique in each culture.

Great leaders proactively plan and prepare to build bridges, not walls. This starts with asking key questions, such as:

  • Does this culture expect a business-first or a relationship-first approach?
  • Do managers and employees interact in an equal or a hierarchical manner?
  • Are communication styles direct or indirect?
  • How does this culture value time?
  • How are decisions made and executed?
  • How do we move these diverse groups closer together?

Forging trust is a difficult and fragile concept, even in one’s own culture. Doing it in another culture takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and effort.

4. Great leaders have high cultural intelligence (CQ). 

Successful multicultural leaders have high cultural intelligence (CQ), which is the capability to relate to and work effectively across cultures. The concept of cultural intelligence was developed by the work done by Ang and Van Dyne (2003) as a research-based way of measuring and predicting intercultural performance.

CQ can be thought of in the same way one considers an individual’s intellectual quotient (IQ) or emotional intelligence (EQ). These “quotients” are research-based measurements of human competence and capability. The remarkable thing about cultural intelligence is that it is malleable and can be increased. People with high CQ can lead, adapt or blend in more effectively within any environment than those with a lower CQ.

Mastering these key competencies will help multicultural leaders to successfully navigate cultural differences in this rapidly changing world.

Research has also shown that teams with higher levels of CQ are more successful. While homogenous teams will outperform diverse teams if both teams have low CQ, a diverse team with high CQ will outperform a homogenous team by an estimated factor of five. This concept can be crucial for leaders who are reaching for higher levels of innovation, productivity, profitability, speed, efficiency, employee engagement, marketing, and selling into cross-cultural markets. Cross-cultural explorers can take a CQ assessment to measure their baseline CQ levels and participate in training programs to enhance it, thus increasing their effectiveness across cultures.

Developing these four traits will help leaders understand and embrace the value of diversity and be most successful in this multicultural environment.

Originally published on Sharpheels.com/experts

 

CA Diversity Council: 2016 Multicultural Roundtable – Aug. 30th at Ashford University

2016 Multicultural Roundtable

August 30, 2016 from 8:30 am – 11:30 am

Ashford

The 2016 Multicultural Roundtable is an insightful half-day event that brings together four to five leaders of color who hold executive positions in their organizations. Each leader will have their own table and speak with a group of professionals who want to learn more about their experiences as individuals of color in the workplace. By rotating the leaders to other tables during the event, attendees have the opportunity to learn about some of the obstacles diverse individuals encounter in the workplace.

 

Ashford University
13500 Evening Creek Dr. N
San Diego, CA 92128

Hosted by the:

CA Diversity council

CQ Works for Business, Millennials and In-Laws (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our discussion on cultural intelligence, we explored how CQ helps leaders and employees in a global business environment. Since anyone’s CQ can be enhanced and improved, organizations are bringing cultural intelligence assessments, CQ and cross-cultural training to their business leaders to help them succeed in an ever-expanding, multicultural global business world.

As promised in Part 2, we will look into how CQ principles can help us to effectively maneuver through other cultural situations such as within families and generations.

We appreciate that culture fits in a variety of contexts. Culture is defined as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time”. Beliefs and customs can vary dramatically between generations, organizations, ethnicities, families as well as geographies. Let’s explore how cultural intelligence principles can apply in other cultural contexts.

Family: Your In-Laws

Without even being aware of it, you possibly at some level already use this problem-solving tool in a social (cultural) environment familiar to you or similar to your own. Even though the environment may not be considerably different than yours, it still varies and you may need to adjust.

There is a good chance you’ve been invited before to a relative’s or in-law’s house for a dinner or party. Within their home, your hosts have their own lifestyle (i.e., “culture”). So what happens when you go? We imagine a situation similar to this:

First, Before you go, you may be really looking forward to the occasion or dread having to go. This is your Drive.

Secondly, You think forward to the event or you may flash back to your last visit there. Who will be there? Will they serve food or alcohol? What time do they serve dinner? What are the activities and conversations expected when we’re there? The list can go on and on. This is your Knowledge.

Third, After acquiring knowledge, you plan your Strategy on how to behave. Do you know they eat dinner at 9:00 pm and you usually eat at 5:00? Should you eat a little before you go or do you just plan to be hungry until they serve dinner at 9:00?

Lastly, you arrive and if you’re motivated, you put your knowledge and strategy into Action. For example, you know the dinner guests often talk politics or religion and have divergent views than your own. When you’re there, do you actively engage in the lively discussion or do you decide to be an observant bystander?

Cultural Intelligence components can be applied with less effort when the cultural or social differences are small and adjustments need only to occur over a short period of time – like a dinner party. When the four CQ components are applied well, it can mean the difference between a good or bad experience for you, the other guests and your hosts.

Generational: Millennials

Let’s look at a more complex cultural scenario: generations. CQ principles can be applied to generational cultures too. For example, millennials (aka Generation Y) are the generation born between approximately 1980 and 2000, They are soon to be the largest generation ever both in size and in the workforce.The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that millennials will make up approximately 75% of the workforce by 2030.

If you’re an employer, how do you prepare to this new influx of employees who have their own ideas, beliefs and customs? First, you decide that it matters.You’re motivated because you have a business need to understand this generation.

Because you will hire this generation that’s now entering the workforce, let’s take a high-level look at “recruiting” this group. What knowledge should you gain to attract millennial candidates? Knowledge such as Gen Y is very social media and Internet connected. The millennial culture is life- and friend-centered. Millennials also expect career development and approachable managers.

When developing your recruiting strategy, you should consider how millennials find out about jobs (social media) and how they apply (mobile apps). When you’re wooing these candidates, do you have the right employee benefits packages and attractive work schedules and environment? Are your interviewers delivering the messages that resonate with Gen Y-ers?

Finally, if you’re competing for the best, have you put into action the necessary strategies and steps to effectively recruit and attract millennials?

A note of caution: If you work and recruit in countries outside of North America, the traits listed above are attributed to millennials in this geography. Recent research has shown that millennials in other regions and countries have very different expectations and needs. This give us even more reason to further explore and become more knowledgeable in principles of Cultural Intelligence.

Recruiters Hate When Employers Take Care of Their Employees

custom_classifieds_12091All of us who are searching for great talent can feel the recruiting landscape becoming more difficult. Case in point, we recently started a search to fill a hard-to-find technical management position. We eagerly launched our campaign after developing a strategic recruitment plan where we engaged headhunters, large and boutique recruiting firms, tapped into our LinkedIn, social and personal networks, and posted on all the right sites.

In preparation for a slew of great candidates, we mobilized the interview troops and were ready to find our next game changer. On the Monday morning after our launch, we checked our applicant tracking system and Inboxes. What an underwhelming response! Ok, this was not going to be easy. We persevered and continued the search.

Finally, an outside agency came through and sent us the resume of the perfect candidate. (I’ll call her Jane.) Jane fit our profile exactly! We quickly set a phone call with her.

An hour before our scheduled call, the agency called. Jane had pulled herself from consideration. Of course I asked why. The headhunter explained Jane decided to stay with her current employer because the CEO and CFO approached her to let her know how much they personally appreciated her work and contributions. Then they sealed the deal with a meaningful clarification of her role, a promotion and a bump in her salary.

We had a little stretch left in our offer budget so I asked the obvious question, “What if we matched or exceeded her increase?” The agency rep confirmed what I already knew. It was too late. She already asked Jane the question and Jane informed her that she was going to stay. After all, the two most influential senior leaders acknowledged her contributions and gave Jane the recognition she needed. They went even further with designing meaningful work, promoting her and raising her salary to a satisfactory level.

I said to our rep, “I hate it when employers take care of their employees!”

Managers, HR and Leaders: We’re reminded again and again, if employers take care of the things that matter most to employees – good employees stay. Jane was ready to leave her employer. The employer intervened with the appropriate measures before it was too late.

Why employees leave are illustrated by Leigh Branham, author of “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave”. In addition to the hidden reasons, Branham describes a number of “push” and “pull” factors that are the root causes why an employee leaves. “Push” factors are related to an issue originating within the workplace while “Pull” factors are related to an external attraction. Employers take notice. The top 20 reasons listed are “Push” factors which means they are related to something that is happening inside the workplace. Factors the employer has control over.

In Jane’s case, we extrapolated that her CEO and CFO addressed 14 out of the top 20 reasons that were “pushing” her to look somewhere else. They included: #1) Lack of trust in senior leadership #2) Insufficient pay #4) Company’s lack of concern for development #6) Unfair treatment #7) Lack of open communication #8) Lack of encouragement of input or ideas #11) Lack of opportunity for training and development #12) Lack of recognition #13) Lack of clear expectations #14) Uninteresting or unchallenging work #15) Pay not based on performance #18) Lack of encouragement of input or ideas #19) Unfair pay practices and #20) Uncertainty about job.

Our search goes on.