Interview Prep: No Pain, No Gain


no pain no gain1 300x214 Interview Prep: No Pain, No Gain

Photo by lempkin

This month’s Career Collective tackles the all-important interview prep topic, from references, to company research to story  ‘articulation’ to follow-up and negotiations.

To  see how other Career Collective bloggers responded, please scroll to the end of this post, or follow #careercollective on Twitter. Shout out to my colleague and partner, Miriam Salpeter, @Keppie_Careers, in co-organizing this monthly career blogging initiative!

As in any job search success story, most seemingly abrupt interview triumphs aren’t sudden at all; instead, they are borne of behind-the-scenes, rigorous and enduring labor that began weeks, if not months, prior to the actual interview. Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness, and in the world of job search, this saying reverberates.

If done well, the long-time job search that ‘suddenly’ results in an interview scheduled with little lead time will be a welcomed opportunity as the mountains of preparedness equip you to ramp up for the particular interview in short order.

The key, therefore, to interview victory is daily career work-outs well in advance of the interview ever appearing on your radar screen. Prep your career message muscles, ferreting out and refining those career stories and fine-tuning your interview instrument well ahead of the interview meeting.

Simply put, this is the best way to ward off the drama that sparks when unpreparedness meets opportunity.

As in annual dental appointments, regular physicals and your automotive tune-up, your career messaging materials and value clarification should regularly be checked upon, revised, adjusted and revamped.  Akin to the results of when a doctor’s physical identifies the need for a major nutrition overhaul and exercise routine ramp up, consistent and dutiful management of one’s career messaging documents and value clarification will uncover deficiencies and offer opportunities to empower your talk points not just during the initial job search phase, but also during the interview process.

In any goal-setting initiative, certain rules of thumb must apply. In my own recent-year’s determination to ramp up my physical self, I’ve discovered — and continue to discover — new insights:

1. Working out, like career management, should never become status quo, easy and routine; in fact, if there is no pain, then there truly is no gain. In this competitive job search climate, being stronger and more resilient than your competitor is vital. To achieve and maintain career fitness, continual and progressive career muscle flexing and limits-testing must occur.

2. In working out, repeating an exercise routine over and over, no matter how vigorous, will create muscle memory, and ultimately, progress will screech to a halt. As such, to build muscle and to add value to fat-burning and stamina enhancing routines, diversifying your routine is important. Likewise, in job search, even if you religiously invest 8+ hours per day checking off the ritualistic to-dos, you may still fall short. Following a basic plan with the essential tools and activities is good, but tailoring and continually tweaking your routine to push beyond your comfort-zone limits and amp up your results requires a bit of pain.

3. To overcome the ritualistic job search enigma, reach out to others for ideas, either resume writing strategists, career coaches or other experts and career motivators with proven, pragmatic ideas who may fan the flame. Whether you invest in a career strategy service or attempt the self-service approach, keys to success include applying your intellectual introspection to both your career past AND career future and connecting the dots between the two.

4. Your likelihood of winning the interview race greatly increases if you first move yourself through the intellectually brain-wringing exercises that tap your historical career reserves while also applying your best research skills that locate and assess target companies and THEIR needs. Knitting together the results of these two exercises is vital to rising above the competition, as you articulate your VALUE during the interview.

5. Your chances for interview success plummet if you cannot clearly, succinctly (and yet, expansively, when needed), tell your story that compels the interview listener that you can solve their unique pain points.

6. Invigorate your job search exercise plan until you grimace, and then push through that pain until you hit a new stride. For me, moving from a 30-minute brisk bike ride to a 60-minute power ride was (and still is) an arduous experience, one that I find both great pain and pleasure in. I’m not through. I’ve got barriers to bust through to achieve both fitness and weight loss goals.

7. Job seeker, what barriers must you bust to insure that when you get to the interview chair your value articulation is at peak performance?

career collective Interview Prep: No Pain, No Gain

Following are links to other Career Collective member posts on this subject:

Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward

How to Stand Out in a Job Interview @heathermundell

Avoid These Reference Mistakes @DawnBugni

Unspoken Secrets of Job Interviewing Prep: How Your Nonverbal Presentation and Behaviors Impact the Impression You Make@KatCareerGal

Prep for Interviews Now: Snuff out the Elephant in the Room Later! @chandlee

What Should Job Seekers Do Now to Prepare for an Interview @erinkennedycprw

Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview @barbarasafani

Are You Ready for the Elephant in the Room? @WorkWithIllness

“Tell Me About Yourself” (Oh, Yikes!), @KCCareerCoach

The job interview as a shared narrative @WalterAkana

Prepare your references for job search success @Keppie_Careers

Job searching? Take a cue from the Boy Scouts @LaurieBerenson

Preparing for Career Success Starts with Interviewing the Employers@JobHuntOrg

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  12. I think you’re right on target in your message that no pain often means no gain (in the job search and workout worlds!) Job seekers need to hear that pushing outside their comfort zone is expected.

    Also, continual preparation is definitely the best strategy for interview preparedness. In this way it’s like flossing your teeth – if you don’t floss your teeth until a week before your check-up appointment, (um, not that I’ve ever done that!) you’re not fooling the hygienist. The evidence of your 5 1/2 months of non-flossing is there. ‘Nuff said on that I think!

    • Heather,
      Thanks for ‘getting’ the message. Enjoyed your analogy to flossing teeth! So true about not fooling the hygienist when we wait until the ‘last minute’ before our check-up to floss. Love that!

      Interview prep truly is an ongoing conversation about one’s value. This message should be practiced and prepped until the word muscles are pumped and strong!

      Jacqui

  13. Jacqui,
    Great analogy. Career Management requires the dedication and commitment that athletes place on their sports.
    Interviewing, as a crucial part of career management/job search, requires practice. Consider the Olympic athletes, how many hours, days, years do they practice for their event? And will they succeed? There are no guarantees.
    I love your writing!

    • Hannah,
      Vivid illustration regarding Olympic athletes!

      As with the Olympics, competition abounds in job search, and through dedicated practice, the odds for success DO increase. So, even though (like with the Olympics), you may not earn the ‘gold,’ your likelihood of rising to a new level of performance WILL increase each hour, day, etc. that you put forth the focused effort to improve.

      Thanks for your compliment on my writing, as well! Much appreciated.

      Jacqui

  14. Meg Montford says:

    Right on re: no pain, no gain. In addition to pushing forward with the tedious job search tasks, overcoming the pain of rejection is key to landing that most wanted job. I see my job search clients’ biggest struggles coming from within themselves – everyone’s yin vs. yang can become a precursor for failure. Believe in yourself and everything is possible!

    • Aw, key points, Meg! Because the likelihood of receiving several rejections before getting the esteemed job offer is great.

      Learning how to not only manage, but surmount that roadblock to move onto the next great (right) gig is integral to surviving, and hopefully thriving in our job search and careers!

      Thanks!
      Jacqui

  15. Gayle Howard says:

    I think this is one of your best articles ever Jacqui! Not only was it well written, but it was filled with such solid advice that I felt like one of those nodding dog ornaments of the past! If I had nodded any more vigorously I would have given myself a headache! Endorse all of your advice wholeheartedly and adore the analogy. I feel like giving this to all my clients!

  16. Wow – a wonderful compliment from my esteemed colleague! Thank you!

    So glad to hear this message resonated, and I would be honored if you shared it with your clients, Gayle!

    Jacqui

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  22. Kim says:

    I totally agree about practicing the pitch. I recently had an interview for a job that I thought would be so easy (both the job and the interview). I was so unprepared — all these questions came my way, and I had no good answers!

    Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, and I will be practicing my responses for the future.

  23. Jeff Morgan says:

    Hi Jacqui,

    There is no doubt about the fact that finding an appropriate job is becoming hard these days especially when you have a tough competition in the interview session. I loved all the points you mentioned; the fact that one should take coaching from experts is a good option, It’s always a good idea to find help in making a good resume. Thanks for sharing!

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