Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interview Success - the way Zagorski did it

In the April 2000 issue of the Reader’s Digest magazine, Nick Corcodilos, a famous headhunter, recounts how Zagorski, a professional seeking a new job, wowed an interviewer at a big corporation and got the job.

Zagorski went for an interview at AT&T. At the outset, even before Zagorski could settle in his seat, the interviewer told him that he had only 20 minutes to spare. Instead of feeling belittled or nervous, Zagorski got up and walked up to the marker board. He then started writing down the challenges faced by the company.

Fifteen minutes later, he wrote down his estimate of what he would add to the bottom line. When he paused to take a look at the interviewer, he found him completely dazed. The next thing he heard was interviewer telling him that there was no need for any further interview. The interviewer called in his team, introduced Zagorski to everybody and they began a working meeting, which lasted for two hours.

Most people go to interviews hoping to be questioned and assessed by an interviewer. They go anxious and worried, wondering whether they would get the job. People like Zagorski approach an interview with a completely different mind-set. They go well-prepared to demonstrate how they would fit into employer’s needs and bring value to their business. They go as a value provider, not as a job seeker.

Would you also like to impress your would be employer just like Zagorski? If yes, the next time when you get an interviewcall, don’t lose any time and get down to preparing a powerful presentation. Here is a road map:

1. Know the employer
Go to the company’s Web site and learn about its products and services. What initiatives this company is taking? Who are its competitors, and what challenges this company is facing? Read the “news” section to pick up the latest happenings there.

2. Review the job
Next, zero in on the job that you are pursuing. What are the employer’s expectations in terms of responsibilities, actions and goals? Also note the job requirements–qualifications, experience and skills–employer is expecting the right candidate to satisfy.

3. Review yourself
Look at your resume and review the assets you have: your experience, education, achievements, skills, knowledge and strengths.

4. Prepare a presentation
Having done the homework, now it’s time to prepare a short PowerPoint presentation. The presentation should essentially comprise the following parts:

Part 1: About yourself
Prepare a short introduction of yours in terms of education, experience and achievements.

Part 2: Employer’s business
This part is about showing your understanding of company’s business: products, services, markets, competition, etc.

Part 3: Employer’s needs
In this part, list all of employer’s expectations–responsibilities, actions and goals—you will be expected to meet. Also talk about the challenges you will be facing in the job.

Part 4: How would you deliver?
This is the heart of your presentation where you would demonstrate how you would tackle the challenges and go on not just to meet employer’s expectations, but exceed them. To make it credible, share actual examples from your past experience and use quantitative information.

On the whole, keep your presentation limited to 10 slides and 15 minutes long.

5. Practise: The last and final step is to practise delivering the presentation. More you practise, more relaxed, confident and convincing you will be during the interview.

Zagorski wouldn’t have been able to make that job-winning presentation if he had not done thorough preparation. Now, it’s your turn to follow his way and enjoy success at interview.

Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction.

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