We’ve all been there before. The opening for the new manager position becomes available and we have everything in line. A gorgeous resume that outlines all our experience, education and job responsibilities. Two professional references from highly respected leaders within the company. A great attendance record that proves us to be reliable and punctual.
Interview day is here and we are ready to kill it! Our nerves are jumping but we relax after the second question because we’re prepared to talk about strengths and weaknesses all day long. We’ve even prepared a few questions for our interviewer and he seems quite impressed. Three weeks go by and we are super excited to hear back from the manager, only to receive an automated email that starts off by saying, “Thank you for applying, however you were not chosen for the position”.
Our heart sinks into our stomach and we immediately reflect on the great conversation we had during our interview. The laughs we shared and the constant head nods confirming that our answers were right on point. “Well, what happened?!” is now the dominate question that will rule our life until we get another chance to sit in that interviewing seat.
Well, keep reading. I’m going to share with you the Fab Four of leadership success when it comes to interviewing and taking home that leadership promotion. Even if you have no leadership education or experience, this will work for you too.
#1 – This is by far the most important of them all. If you do nothing else, do this. Talk about what you are currently doing to influence others and provide examples. The decision makers care about one thing and one thing only, can you influence others for the benefit of the company. If you’ve been labeled as a “negative Nancy” or a “tough cookie”, most likely you need to consider taking our “Growing into Leadership” course so that you can erase that stigma and start fresh. If that’s not the case, and I hope that it isn’t, you need to do a better a job of explaining why people are already following you and what direction you are leading them to. Did you recently help your team cope with a major change and give them directions on how to overcome the obstacles? Are you seen as the “go to” person and do people often look to you for advice? If the answer is yes, tell them that in the interview. Give recent examples and explain why people feel comfortable following you although you have not been given a leadership title.
#2 – Provide the decision makers with testimonials and performance updates from people you have mentored. This is another one that is extremely important in the eyes of decision makers. They want to be confident that you can motivate and develop others. What better way to prove that than to let them taste the pudding. Testimonials and performance charts that clearly show improvement after you got involved is a sure way to “wow” the decision maker and make it clear that you can get results. If you are not mentoring anyone or you haven’t had the opportunity to mentor, create an opportunity. Determine what you're good at and how you can help someone else find success. Offer to teach what you are good at to someone who may not be achieving the same level of success. Document your strategies and keep track of every progress point, even the small ones. This achievement chart will blow your interview out of the water!
#3 – Clearly articulate the company’s vision in your own words and describe how the team you want to lead fits into that vision. 10 times out of 10 the decision maker knows the company’s vision and mission statement as if it were their own. They live it, breathe it and walk in it every day. They want someone who does the same and understands that it doesn’t start when a title is given, rather when the decision was made to become a leader of that company. The decision maker doesn’t want you to recite the company’s mission statement or catchy tag line, they want you to talk about how you are living in and promoting the company’s mission through your everyday actions. They want to know what daily rituals you’re performing that reflect the company’s value and how you are passing that on to others. You need to be clear in your delivery of how the team you want to lead fits into the company’s mission and how you will help to positively impact that fitting. If you’re unclear on what your company’s mission statement is and what behaviors correlate with that mission from an individual and team perspective, do your research. Talk with other leaders or invest in a consultation session with a leadership coach, the reward will be well worth the effort.
#4 - Don’t rely on your resume to tell your story, give it some help. Submitting a resume alone just won’t cut it. Besides finding your contact information and checking to be sure your email address is professional and nothing crazy like “2DrunkPunk@yahoo.com”, decision makers are not analyzing resumes the way they used to. They are still a formal introduction for faceless candidates, however, you should give your resume some help in the war room to grab attention. I recommend creating a personalized leadership portfolio. This portfolio should be everything leadership in terms of you. Everything from customer kudos, to meeting agendas you’ve facilitated to hand-crafted emails announcing important updates. Your portfolio should give the decision maker a clean snap shot of how you have been operating in a leader capacity for the last 6 -12 months without an official title. They should turn the last page feeling like they understand your communication style, how much pride you put into your work, your dedication for excellence and how you will install those values into your team. Long after your perfume or cologne has left the room your spirit should still be lingering with a strong portfolio to remind them of why you are the best candidate even if you’re not the most qualified. Never forget this, character and heart will beat out talent and experience every day of the week. Own it and its yours.
If you’re planning on using one or all of these tips for your next interview and would like some help executing, leave a comment or send an email. If you have thoughts or other strategies that should be included, don’t be shy, leave us your comments.
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