As a former P-3 mission commander, I knew the success of my mission and the safety of my crew depended on paying close attention to the intelligence briefing. Now, as a business owner, I know the success of your mission – finding the right job –depends upon paying close attention to interview preparation.
The world’s smartest think tanks are renowned for developing a killer strategy, one that is sure to work, but one that is static. When the strategy is put into action against enemies, where adversaries and competitors lurk, it often fails.
You’ve worked hard to fine-tune your fighting skills, whether it is as an aerial targeter, a paratrooper or a torpedoman. You’ve passed your exams and the oral boards. You know your hardware and how different systems communicate. The CO has anointed you. You’re up to speed.
Now comes the next step in your qualifications: You must know your enemy. You must know when he sleeps, where he eats, how he will defend and react to your offenses, and how you will counter his. You must anticipate his every move.
You know this, yet time and again when it comes to interviewing for a civilian job, you skip the intel briefing.
A hiring employer will weed through 50 resumes to fill a position and select five people to interview who meet the requirements of the job. Based on the résumés alone, any of those five could fill the position; the interview is the determining factor on who will get hired.
The interviewer is looking for someone who possesses the intangible attributes for long-term success, someone who will fit in well with the company culture and, most importantly, someone who shows initiative and ambition. As someone who has conducted hundreds of interviews, I can tell without question the person who knows the most about my company, its successes, its problems, its products and its goals will be the person I ultimately hire.
Why? It shows that you are truly interested in working for my company and it shows that you are ambitious enough to have done your homework. On the other hand, if you show up at my interview and I need to spend 30 minutes teaching you basic information about my company that you could have already learned by spending 30 minutes on my website, you’ve wasted my time.
Another way to look at this is to consider the opposing motivations of the interviewer and the interviewee — the “what’s in it for me?” dilemma. As an interviewer, I’m looking to hire a person who will represent my company well and provide a positive return on my investment. As an interviewee, you are interested in getting the most satisfying job that will pay you the most money and offer security for you and your family. The company you work for is probably an afterthought. But rest assured the interviewer doesn’t think so — they want to hire someone who bleeds their corporate colors!
The interviewer isn’t looking for you to solve his or her company’s problems during the interview. A very basic understanding of the company’s mission, products, divisions, distribution channels, customers and recent press releases; all information that can easily be found on their Web site, is a great start. If you let them know you know their CEO’s name or their current stock price, you’re even farther ahead of the game!
In the military, know your enemy and win. In your civilian job search, know what makes your interviewer tick and you will win!