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Are You Interview Ready?

Dear JHS followers, this is an article from my business partner C.A. It can be relevant to everyone. I hope you learn something from her true story:

This anecdote is for all the people out there who love their job, have a strong commitment to their employer and would never think about leaving for another job.

I met a candidate for a senior position today. She had over 15 years of experience and her resume was strong, so I decided to skip the phone interview and meet her in person.

The first question I asked was, “Could you walk me though your resume?” I expected she would have a lot to say, but it took her only two minutes to summarize her fifteen-plus years of experience. After several questions, I realized that though she might have had a lot to talk about, she had no idea how to organize her thoughts or provide relevant examples to reply to my questions.

After a little bit of digging, I learned that she had been out the job market for 15 years. She’d never thought she would need to find a new job: she’d loved her job, her company had valued her contributions, and she’d had a very nice boss who’d helped her develop her skills. She had started as an administrative assistant and had climbed to a very high-level position at her company. Unfortunately, after her boss left the company a few months earlier, her new supervisor had been so horrible that she decided to seek other opportunities.

She soon found that after 15 years of living in her comfort zone, she had lost the skills to find a new job. It was very difficult to start all over again and to get back on track. I am sure she will get there eventually, but just think about the good opportunities she will miss because she is not interview-ready!

I shared this experience with a friend who is in a similar situation and also has spent most of his career with his current employer. His answer really inspired me (and Heather asked me to share it with you): he said that even though he loves his job, he still interviews with other companies when there is a match in the market or a headhunter contacts him, just to keep his interview skills sharp in case things go south one day.

His answer reminded me of the benefits of keeping interview-ready:

  • When the opportunity of a lifetime comes along, you will be ready to seize it. Interviewing has its own language, just like dating. If you don’t practice, it will feel like the French you learned in high school — slowly fading away from your memory, with the words you need most forgotten at the worst possible moment. Practicing your interviewing skills will also help you identify and learn how to sidestep or deflect certain topics or areas you want to avoid. Ask your friends, or go to your career coach from time to time to practice and keep yourself at the top of your game.

  • Keep up to date with how much you are worth in the marketplace. When you talk with a recruiter, you may be asked about your salary expectations. You will be able to tell from these conversations if you are under-market or over-market. If your salary expectations are under-market, the recruiter will suggest a salary range to impress you with how much your expertise would be valued at his or her company. If your pay is aligned with the market, the recruiter might express concern that you may not be attracted by their salary. He or she might say it is “in the range” and start to sell the company’s benefits package. If you are over-market and beyond their affordability, he or she might be very straightforward with you, telling you they can only offer so much, and are you still interested?

  • Expand you network. Even if you reject the offer at the end of the process, your professional relationship with the hiring manager can continue. It’s a small world and your paths will probably cross again someday.

Happy Job Hunting!

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