A comprehensive report detailing your personalized assessment results and recommendations for career planning.

THINGS I NEED TO BE ALERT FOR—ON THE JOB AND IN A JOB SEARCH

People are successful in interviewing for new positions for a wide variety of reasons -- most of all, how good a fit they are for the job when compared with "the competition." Of course, everyone does his or her best to have, and be, what an employer is looking for.

But sometimes people's success is negatively affected by factors that have nothing to do with how well they would really perform if they were hired. They don't get the offers they "should," not because they're not as good as someone else, but because they didn't do as good a job of presenting themselves in their interviews as they could have. We don't want this to be the case for you (and, of course, neither do you). Read More >

The CareerLeader program contains a complex algorithm that assesses a combination of interest, skill and motivation variables that, taken together, predict when this is likely to happen. Your score on this algorithm is high enough (relative to the scores of your peers) to justify considering some extra effort, now, before you take an interview.

Read through the Interview Tips in CareerLeader 's online resources. Prepare, and practice, and practice! No matter how good you are, after a dozen interviews you'll be a lot better than you were at the start. So get those dozen interviews in before you sit down for a real interview for a real job that you really want. If you can, get some extra -- and early -- mock interview help.

Maybe we're wrong, and you have no cause for concern. If so, you'll go from good to great, so your time will still be well-spent. But if the assessment is right, let this be the push you need to go from wherever-you-are to great. Being well-prepared won't get you a job you're not qualified for, but it will help keep you from losing out on offers that you deserve.

Your assessment indicates that you are highly sociable, assertive, and outgoing. You like excitement, and want to be where the action is. You're not someone people would describe as shy or easily manipulated. These qualities are great assets, but they can also cause you some trouble in your career.

Because you tend to have a strong personality, you may find it hard to listen to other people and really hear their ideas, concerns, or objections. Instead of listening you may really be waiting. You may come on too strong, and be unable to take a back seat during a discussion or project and mesh with other members of a team. Without intending to, you may intimidate people who are less forceful than you are.

Habitually taking up too much "air time" during meetings poses a danger. Be careful that you don't get a reputation for "sucking up all the oxygen in the room." And remember that sometimes the best thing to say, especially during a negotiation, is nothing.

A final caution: being excessively assertive can also pose problems in job interviews, where most interviewers want to lead the conversational "dance." If your interviewer is a bit shy or is simply less forceful than you, you may feel tempted to dominate the discussion to an inappropriate degree. As you would with any personal asset, make sure you don't let these strengths become your undoing.
MY JOB SEARCH CAMPAIGN

arrowKnowing Myself

Our goal is to help you find your "calling" with as much accuracy as possible -- a clear sense of your personal career beacon. Think of a beacon guiding you to a safe harbor in the middle of the night. One of several things may happen:

  • Your beacon remains unchanged for the rest of your career. You sail to it, and ultimately, you successfully achieve your career goal. In other words, you "make it" to your ultimate destination.

  • Your beacon remains unchanged for the rest of your career. You sail toward it, but don't quite make it all the way there. However, you were always on the right track and still have a satisfying and successful career. (For example: If your goal is to head up Fidelity's Magellan fund, no matter how good you are, the odds are against you making it all the way there. But, you've been headed in the right direction anyway.)

  • You change over time, and so your beacon changes along with you. However, it's unlikely that you will change dramatically. So, the "mid-course correction" you need to make is going to be pretty small.

  • The world changes over time, and your beacon either changes, or may even "go out" entirely. For example, you had your heart set on working in an area of technology that has since become obsolete. Even so, at least you know why you were going toward that beacon in the first place, and you can work to find another that will be a match for your interests, motivators and abilities.

Careers are dynamic, and they require you to act dynamically. But, your core business interests, deepest motivators and most basic skills will not change. If you stay true to yourself and those core elements over time, they will continue to guide you well no matter what changes "out there."

arrowHow Do I Chart My Course?

Now that you have specific career recommendations ("My Career Match") to consider, we'd like to give you a framework for thinking about them, and then translating them into your own career action plan. It's important to follow this process step by step.

  • Begin by looking at your interests, as they are the foundation for your career. The importance of this point cannot be overstated. List all possible careers that would allow you to express your key interests. Be as inclusive as possible as you define your "career interest universe." Even if it's only a "might be a match" career, leave it in. Be creative as you think about careers that could be a match for your interest pattern. Who knew ten or fifteen years ago that website design would be a place for people interested in Application of Technology and Creative Production?

  • Then, look at your motivators dispassionately and honestly. There are no "shoulds" when it comes to your motivators. If you really want to make a lot of money or have a lot of power, admit it and work with that information. But, when you factor in your motivators, be reluctant to eliminate careers. They should be "innocent until proven guilty." However, once it is clear that a career won't provide you with the rewards you want, eliminate it ruthlessly.

  • Now, look at your skills just as dispassionately and honestly. Think about what strengths you actually want to use. (Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you have to keep using it.) Then, think about what weaknesses you want to work to strengthen. (It's fine to leave some weaknesses weak. You don't have to try to improve in every area). Now, go back to your "career interest-and-motivators universe", and eliminate any careers where your weaknesses would mean certain failure. But, do so reluctantly. People often make the mistake of not going into a field because they assume they would need to have certain knowledge or skills that, in fact, they wouldn't. There are lots of people working in high tech firms who couldn't write a line of computer code. But, inevitably, some people who might be happy and successful working in the field (in marketing, for example) will steer away from the industry because they don't know the bits and bytes. Don't make this mistake.

  • Once you have the list in hand of careers that have passed all three "screens" – your interests, motivators and skills – it's time to begin your next stage of research. Read all that you can about the industries, companies and types of work you're considering. Then, talk, talk and talk to people who know about the fields you're thinking about. Only then, can you be really sure of what you'd be getting into.

  • Remember that the functional role is the most important to identify, and that there are several industries that will offer a good match. In other words, don't get paralyzed by a search for the "perfect" industry.

  • When looking at individual organizations, be sure to consider the all-important dimensions of learning potential, career path, organization's position within the industry, and organizational culture.

All of these factors should contribute to how you set sail towards your career beacon, so that you are sure to maximize your career success and satisfaction.

arrowPlanning My Strategy

After your career self-assessment process is complete, you will begin exploring the career paths that were a match for your personal combination of interests, motivators and skills.

This research will take many forms: on the Internet, in the library, and through conversations with people you know in the career paths you're considering. In your conversations, some of the most important questions to ask have to do with the actual work done in that job on a daily basis:

  • What's an average day like, hour-by-hour?
  • What's an average week like?
  • What people succeed and enjoy working in this role? in this industry?
  • What people might succeed, but don't seem to enjoy it?
  • What people are drawn to this work, thinking they'll succeed and be happy, but seem to have come for the wrong reasons?

Use all of the information you gather, and keep organized notes. Review your notes from time to time, and think about the comparison between different paths you are considering. How do you feel about each path the more you learn about it? Are you learning about different work cultures that might suit you best?

After your career self-assessment process is complete, you will begin exploring the career paths that were a match for your personal combination of interests, motivators and skills.

This research will take many forms: on the Internet, in the library, and through conversations with people you know in the career paths you're considering. In your conversations, some of the most important questions to ask have to do with the actual work done in that job on a daily basis:

  • What's an average day like, hour-by-hour?
  • What's an average week like?
  • What people succeed and enjoy working in this role? in this industry?
  • What people might succeed, but don't seem to enjoy it?
  • What people are drawn to this work, thinking they'll succeed and be happy, but seem to have come for the wrong reasons?

Use all of the information you gather, and keep organized notes. Review your notes from time to time, and think about the comparison between different paths you are considering. How do you feel about each path the more you learn about it? Are you learning about different work cultures that might suit you best?

Which industries are sensitive to economic and political considerations? Which industries offer only limited career paths? Which have a broad range of opportunities? The industry sketches offer you insights into these and many other questions. These sketches are short overviews designed to give you a handle on what the industry is all about. After reviewing them, your next step will be to do more serious investigation into the specific business career profiles, and how you match up with each.


arrow Advertising

You know it when you see it, read it, or hear it. It's that moment when you experience an emotion or other reaction -- laughter, thoughtfulness, intrigue, surprise, acknowledgment -- and your mind makes a connection between that feeling and a product or idea. That's the goal of advertising.

Advertising got its formal start in the United States in 1841, the year that Volney B. Palmer reportedly opened the nation's first advertising agency, in Philadelphia. Palmer's and other ad agencies' success was fueled in part by the Industrial Revolution sweeping the country at the time. That revolution had ushered in several radical new technologies, including a cheap papermaking process that catalyzed a boom in the newspaper business. Consumer-goods manufacturers, overwhelmed by the proliferation of newspapers and then magazines had difficulty deciding where to promote their products. To help them out, some entrepreneurial individuals offered to select publications, negotiate advertising rates, and create and place ads -- all for a handsome commission. Thus the advertising agent or broker -- a precursor to the advertising account manager -- was born.

Today, advertising constitutes a considerable part of the global economy. Advertisements are literally everywhere, taking the form of magazine "advertorials", highway billboards, TV and radio "spots," text printed on cash-register receipts, banners and pop-up screens on company Web sites, and images of products depicted on gas-nozzle handles at fueling stations. In fact, ads can now be found just about anywhere information (text, pictures, streaming video and audio) can be placed -- including the sides of automobiles!

The goal of advertising is to raise consumer awareness of company offerings, to sell products and services, or to change a consumer's impression of the way a company does business. Corporations' commitment to advertising is an important indicator of the economy's overall health. The healthier the economy, the more optimistic executives feel about their business prospects, and the more willing they are to invest in advertising. Of course, when times are tough, companies cut back on spending, and advertising activity (along with other types of investment) dies down. These cycles make it especially difficult for companies to conduct long-term planning.

Some organizations have creative-services groups that handle advertising. Others hire an advertising agency to conduct that part of the business. But every advertising campaign has two basic components: 1) strategy, or the desired outcome of the campaign, and 2) execution, the process of creating the required pieces (print or television adds, direct mailings, etc.) to meet the campaign's strategic goals.

A handful of large, global marketing conglomerates -- most of them headquartered in New York -- dominate the industry. These giants include Omnicom, Interpublic, Publicis Worldwide, the WPP Group and others. Big agencies bill their clients hundreds of millions of dollars each year, boast impressive corporate offices, and compete vigorously for business.

arrow Agribusiness

Industry Sketch - Agribusiness

arrow Arts/Sports

Industry Sketch -

arrow Automotive/Aerospace/Transportation Equipment

Industry Sketch - Automotive/Aerospace/Transportation Equipment

arrow Biotechnology

Industry Sketch - Biotechnology

arrow Chemicals

Industry Sketch - Chemicals

arrow Commercial Banking

Industry Sketch - Commercial Banking

arrow Computer Hardware

Industry Sketch - Computer Hardware

arrow Computer Software

Industry Sketch - Computer Software

arrow Construction

Industry Sketch - Construction

arrow Consumer Products

Industry Sketch - Consumer Products

arrow Education

Industry Sketch - Education

arrow Energy (Traditional)

Industry Sketch - Energy (Traditional)

arrow Energy (Renewable)

Industry Sketch - Energy (Renewable)

arrow Event Planning and Management

Industry Sketch - Event Planning and Management

arrow Financial Planning and Stock Brokerage

Industry Sketch - Financial Planning and Stock Brokerage

arrow Food/Beverage

Industry Sketch - Food/Beverage

arrow Healthcare (Payor)

Industry Sketch - Healthcare (Payor)

arrow Healthcare (Provider)

Industry Sketch - Healthcare (Provider)

arrow Hospitality (Lodging and Food Services)

Industry Sketch - Hospitality (Lodging and Food Services)

arrow Industrial Equipment

Industry Sketch - Industrial Equipment

arrow Insurance

Industry Sketch - Insurance

arrow Investment Banking

Industry Sketch - Investment Banking

arrow Investing (Private Equity)

Industry Sketch - Investing (Private Equity)

arrow Investing (Public Equity)

Industry Sketch - Investing (Public Equity)

arrow Investing (Venture Capital)

Industry Sketch - Investing (Venture Capital)

arrow Management Consulting

Industry Sketch - Management Consulting

arrow Media

Industry Sketch - Media

arrow Medical Technology

Industry Sketch - Medical Technology

arrow Military

Industry Sketch - Military

arrow Non-Profit Management (Higher Education, Government and Human Services)

Industry Sketch - Non-Profit Management (Higher Education, Government and Human Services)

arrow Pharmaceuticals

Industry Sketch - Pharmaceuticals

arrow Public Accounting

Industry Sketch - Public Accounting

arrow Real Estate Development and Finance

Industry Sketch - Real Estate Development and Finance

arrow Retail/Wholesale

Industry Sketch - Retail/Wholesale

arrow Telecommunications

Industry Sketch - Telecommunications

arrow Transportation

Industry Sketch - Transportation

One of the biggest reasons why so many people find industry choice so difficult is that most people could build a satisfying career in several different industries. Therefore, the search for the "perfect" industry is often an illusory quest. Industry choice will never be as important as functional choice (what you are doing in that industry). And, for most people, industry choice is not as important as the organizational culture where they will work. A better goal is to find an industry whose product or service interests you, and which is a good setting for the development of your particular career path.

If your career goal is to achieve the most senior general management roles (CEO, COO, President, etc.), it is best to pick an industry that is "driven" by your area of functional expertise. This aspect of an organization is easy to research. The resumes of all senior officers of public companies are a matter of public record, and can be easily researched in the reference section of a good library. For example, consumer product companies are typically driven by the marketing function, and a review of company leaders typically shows that most have come from a marketing background. In companies driven by sales, finance or engineering, the majority of senior managers started their careers in those respective functions. Typically, though, even that amount of research is not necessary. Often, an informational interview with a current employee is all it takes to get a handle on this aspect of an organization's culture.

When it comes to industry choice, and all of the many possibilities out there, the most difficult challenge is getting started. Once you take the first step, the ideas will begin to flow.

arrow Leveraging My Resume

Leveraging one's resume refers to choosing an industry based on maximizing the competitive advantage that you can derive from your education and previous experience.

Let's suppose that you have discovered a passion for marketing. You are sure that you want to be a marketing manager, and are looking at a range of industry possibilities. Let's also suppose that you have an engineering degree, and that you acquired several years of engineering experience before developing your interest in marketing. Perhaps you can attribute your newly discovered passion for marketing to the many interactions you had with product managers in your role as an engineer.

You may be just as interested in marketing consumer goods for Procter and Gamble as you are in marketing hardware for Intel. But, choosing an engineering-oriented product in an engineering-oriented company will give you a distinct competitive advantage in the Intel job. Internal managers and customers will attribute authority to you based on your education and experience.

Using the competitive advantage of previous education and experience is one way of narrowing the industry universe.

arrow Enthusiasm for Products or Services

Enthusiasm for a product or service is perhaps the most valuable approach to industry choice. Some people will say that it makes no difference what they sell, or market, or manage, or where they do their financial analysis. However, most people derive more satisfaction when they have some inherent emotional connection to the product or service that they are, directly or indirectly, providing.

So, you need to ask yourself some questions. What products or services do you regularly use, or admire? What organizations seem to be doing exciting things? What do you enjoy doing recreationally, and what organizations relate to those activities? What articles regularly attract your attention in both the business and regular press? What types of books do you most often read?

Look at the themes of your life and your passions. At first, they may not seem to be directly connected to any particular industry. Then, for one week, keep a log of what you read, notice, daydream about, and talk about with friends and family. What industries or organizations touch on these realms?

arrow Geography

For many people, geography becomes a major determinant of industry choice. Whether the job of a partner or the love of a particular place, the choice of geography means that your career path will have to be expressed by what is available within a reasonable commuting distance.

This results in a double-edged sword when it comes to industry and organization selection. On the one hand, you have eliminated a vast number of industry opportunities by saying that you will only live in, or near, one city or area. On the other hand, unless you have chosen one of the largest cities, you have narrowed the possibilities to a very workable list that you can explore in great detail, even on an organization-by-organization basis.

arrow Growth Potential

If your career goals include significant management responsibility as soon as possible, your chances for achieving them will be greatly increased if you choose an industry, and a specific organization, that has strong prospects for above-average growth potential.

Rapidly growing companies have more responsibility to delegate than they have qualified people to accept it. In such environments, proof of project management skills during a first job often leads to a significant management role much more rapidly than in companies with average or below-average growth

The opportunity for exceptional responsibility due to extraordinary business growth potential is one of the main reasons why some particular organizations can be attractive to those aspiring to general management careers.

The four most important factors in choosing a particular job with a specific organization are learning potential, career path, the organization's position within the industry, and organizational culture.

arrow Learning Potential

Learning potential is the most important. Careers are built through learning, and the learning opportunity of a specific job should be its most scrutinized feature. "What will I learn by doing these things and working with these people?" is an important question to ask about any job prospect. Time and again, people put other criteria first: immediate compensation value, prestige, or title being three of the most common. Everyone would be much better served by asking themselves three questions:

#1: "Where do I want to be in five years?"

What is your career vision for that period, perhaps two to three jobs from now? This period forms the nearer limit of career imagination. A two-year goal is going to be grounded in your immediate situation, and involve practical trade-offs that you face right now. A twenty-year goal belongs truly to the realm of deep imagination. However, a five-year goal is a blend of your deepest vision for your life, and what is almost within reach.

#2: "What do I need to do and what do I need to learn to be the most qualified person for the job that represents my five-year vision?"

When you put together the five-year vision, your plan must be informed by the realities of:

  • Who would you hire for the position you want in five years?
  • What experience does she have?
  • What skills is he known for?
  • What experience and what skills will distinguish me from the competition?

#3: "Where will I best learn what I need to learn between now and then?"

Now that you have an idea of what you want, and what that goal requires, you have to determine how you are going to develop yourself in order to get there.

Most well-managed organizations offer jobs that will provide challenges and allow you to expand your skills, but that is not the point. Those are the organization's challenges, not necessarily the ones you want. Developing your five-year vision, and then working backwards from it, provides the discipline necessary to identify the specific knowledge and experience most important to your vision and plans.

Without that bedrock beneath you, you will be faced with learning opportunities that may indeed be substantial, but not the most relevant for your vision. Faced with multiple offers with learning potential, and having no criteria to distinguish amongst them, you may well fall back on the types of dimensions mentioned above (immediate compensation, prestige, title, etc.) to make your actual choice.

The result is often that the most important decision factor, learning, has been neutralized by its apparent ubiquity. You must know what you most need to learn.

arrow Career Path Options

The second factor to consider when choosing a specific job is your career path. Too often, people make their job decisions based on the opportunity and rewards offered to them for a specific job that typically lasts for a period of only one or two years. They have not sufficiently explored the career path associated with that particular job at that specific organization. For example, some strategic planning jobs are one to two-year platforms for launching a career as a line manager in operating units of the organization. Other strategic planning jobs lead only to other staff analyst roles, working on larger and higher-level projects.

You need to know the history of career paths associated with the job you take at the time of entry into the organization. This is information easily researched, and is an important topic to discuss during the interview process. Once an offer is made, you should talk to other individuals in the organization who are two to five years down the career path after having entered in the position you are now considering.

Related to career path is the issue of compensation. Again, too many people focus too narrowly on the compensation associated with an initial job offer. Career paths within organizations have different "trajectories." Some jobs start with relatively low salaries, but take a large jump up after a relatively short period of time. Other jobs have very high initial salaries, but then only increase modestly for a relatively long period of time. Do not trade long-term dollars for short-term nickels. Know the compensation trajectory of the career path associated with the job you are considering.

arrow Organization's Position

The third factor to consider when looking at a particular job is the organization's position within the industry. Whether or not you aspire to the rapid advancement associated with high growth industries, you will want to join an organization that is positioned to survive and prosper, even if your goals for financial reward are modest. If the organization is publicly traded, there is a host of information you can gather on its current performance, as well as analyst opinions about future performance. Much of this information is easily available, and often offered free of charge.

Questions you should investigate include:

  • What are the biggest issues facing the industry?
  • How is your prospective organization positioned to address them?
  • What is your organization's market share? Is it growing or shrinking?
  • Who are the organization's biggest competitors?
  • Are there any emerging technologies that have the potential to be disruptive and adversely affect the way that the organization does business?
  • Will the organization be able to respond to these challenges?

Perhaps the most important aspect of an organization's strength is the quality of its management at all levels. What is the reputation of the current senior management? How long have they been in their positions? Where did they come from, and what did they accomplish there? Are they well regarded by both the employees, as well as outside analysts?

When you are considering a job with a start-up or other small organization, the organization's prospects and the track record of management will probably be much more difficult to analyze. The experience and accomplishments of key managers in previous organizations will be more important criteria. If the organization is very young, there is inherently more risk which should be factored into your decision. Other attractive features such as learning opportunity and culture must be correspondingly higher to compensate for the additional risk.

arrow Organization's Culture

Finding an organization with a culture that is well-suited to your personality and work style is essential for career success. Too often, people do a good job of identifying the right function and industry, but fail to properly analyze the organization's culture before accepting a job offer. Spending time with your CultureMatch™ results will assist you with this analysis.

arrowTips for Successful Interviews

If you follow these twenty strategies for successful job interviews, you'll be as prepared a candidate as any interviewer has ever seen.

arrow 1. Research the industry and organization.

An interviewer may ask what you perceive to be his or her organization's position in its industry, their competitors, their competitive advantages, and how they should best go forward. For this reason, avoid trying to thoroughly research a dozen different industries. Stay focused on just a few industries in your job search instead.

arrow 2. Clarify your "selling points" and the reasons you want the job.

Prepare to go into every interview with three to five key selling points in mind -- i.e., what makes you the best candidate for the position. Have an example of each selling point prepared ("An example of my strong communication skills was when I persuaded an entire group to ..."). And, be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want the job -- including what interests you about it, what rewards it offers that you find valuable, and what skills it requires that you possess. If an interviewer doesn't think you are really interested in the job, he or she won't give you an offer -- no matter how good you are!

arrow 3. Anticipate the interviewer's concerns and reservations.

There are always more candidates than there are openings, so interviewers seek ways to screen people out. Put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself why they might not want to hire you ("I don't have this, I'm not that, etc."). Then, prepare your defense: "I know you may be thinking that I might not be the best fit for this position because [their reservation]. But, you should know that [reason the interviewer shouldn't be overly concerned]." Remember, a good defense is always a strong offense.

arrow 4. Prepare for common interview questions.

Every "how to interview" book has a list of a hundred or more "common interview questions." You might wonder just how long those interviews are if there are that many common questions! So, how do you prepare? Pick any list and think about which questions you're most likely to encounter given your age and status (looking for summer internship, about to graduate, mid-career change). Then, prepare your answers so you won't have to fumble for them during the actual interview.

arrow 5. Line up your questions for the interviewer.

Come to the interview with some intelligent questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your knowledge about the organization, as well as your serious intent. Interviewers will always ask if you have any questions. And, no matter what, you should have one or two ready. If you say "No, not really," he or she may incorrectly conclude that you're not all that interested in the job or the organization. A good all-purpose question is: "If you could design the ideal candidate for this position from the ground up, what would he or she be like?" If you're having a series of interviews with the same organization, you can use some of your prepared questions with each person you meet (i.e., "What do you think is the best thing about working here?" and "What kind of person would you most like to see fill this position?"). Then, try to think of one or two others during each interview itself.

arrow 6. Practice, practice, practice!!!

It's one thing to come prepared with a mental answer to a question like "Why should we hire you?" It's another challenge entirely to say it out loud in a confident, convincing way. The first time you try it, you'll sound garbled and confused -- no matter how clear your thoughts are in your own mind. Do it another ten times, and you'll sound much smoother and more articulate. But, you shouldn't do your practicing when you're "on stage" with recruiters, so rehearse before you go to the interview. The best way is to recruit two friends, and practice interviewing each other in a "round robin". One person acts as the observer, and the "interviewee" then gets feedback from both the observer and the "interviewer." Proceed for four or five rounds! Another idea (but definitely second-best) is to tape record your answer, and then play it back to see where you need to improve. Whatever you do, make sure your practice consists of speaking out loud. Rehearsing your answer in your mind won't cut it.

arrow 7. Score a success in the first five minutes.

Some studies indicate that interviewers make up their mind about a candidate in the first five minutes of the interview, and then spend the rest of the interview looking for things to confirm that decision! So, what can you do in those five minutes to get through the gate? Come in with energy and enthusiasm, and express your appreciation for the interviewer's time. (Remember: He or she may be seeing several other candidates that day, and may be tired from traveling. So, bring in the energy!) Also, start off with a positive comment about the organization – for example, "I've really been looking forward to this meeting [not "interview"]. I think [the organization] is doing great work in [a particular field or project], and I'm really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute."

arrow 8. Get on the same side as the interviewer.

Many interviewers view their job in an interview as adversarial -- candidates are going to try to pry an offer out of me, and my job is to hold onto it. Your job is to transform this "tug of war" into a relationship in which you're both on the same side -- which you are! You could say something as simple as, "I'm happy to have the chance to learn more about your organization, and to let you learn more about me, so we can see if this would be a good match or not. I always believe that the worst thing that can happen is to be hired into a job that's the wrong fit -- then nobody's happy!"

arrow 9. Be assertive and take responsibility for the interview.

Perhaps with the goal of being polite, some perfectly assertive candidates become overly passive during job interviews. But politeness doesn't equal passivity. An interview is like any other conversation. It's a dance in which you and a partner move together, both responding to each other. Don't make the mistake of sitting and waiting for the interviewer to ask you about that Nobel Prize you won. It's your responsibility to make sure that the interviewer walks away from your meeting knowing about your key selling points.

arrow 10. Be ready to handle illegal and inappropriate questions.

Interview questions about your race, age, gender, religion, marital status, and sexual orientation are inappropriate, and in many areas illegal. Nevertheless, you may get one sometime. If you do, you have a couple of options. You can simply answer with a question ("I'm not sure how that's relevant to my application"). Or, you can try to answer "the question behind the question" -- "I don't know whether I'll decide to have children in the near future. But, if you're wondering, I am very committed to my career and frankly can't imagine ever giving it up." But, don't say to yourself, "I don't want to work with an organization that asks questions like that." Remember: it wasn't the organization that slipped up; it was one inappropriate person!

arrow 11. Make your selling points clear.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? More important, if you communicated your selling points during a job interview and the interviewer didn't hear them, did you score? On this answer, we're absolutely clear. No! To avoid this, don't bury your selling points in long-winded stories. Instead, tell the interviewer what your selling point is first. Then, give your example.

arrow 12. Think positive!

Nobody likes a complainer. So, don't dwell on negative experiences during an interview. Even if the interviewer asks you point blank, "What courses have you liked the least?" or "What did you like the least about that previous job?" don't answer the question. Or, more specifically, don't answer it as it's been asked. Instead, say something like, "Well, actually, I've found something about all of my classes that I've liked. For example, although I found [class] to be very tough, I liked the fact that [positive point about the class]" or "I liked [a previous job] quite a bit, although now I know that I really want to [new job]."

arrow 13. Close on a positive note.

If a salesman demonstrated his product to you, thanked you for your time and walked out the door, what did he do wrong? He didn't ask you to buy it! If you get to the end of an interview and think you'd really like that job, ask for it! Tell the interviewer that you'd really, really like the job -- that you were excited about it before the interview, are even more excited now, and that you're convinced you'd like to work there. If there are two equally good candidates at the end of the search -- you and someone else -- the interviewer will think you're more likely to accept the offer. Thus, he or she will be more inclined to give it to you. Even better, take what you've learned about yourself from your self-assessment and job search process, and use it to explain why you think this is the job for you. If you follow this tip, you'll be (a) asking for the job, (b) explaining why you think it's a good match, (c) displaying your thoughtfulness and maturity, and (d) further disarming the tug-of-war dynamic that interviewers anticipate. You'll be making the strongest possible "close" -- and that's worth a lot!

arrow 14. Send thank-you notes.

Send a thank-you note after every interview, either on paper or by email, depending on the interviewer's preference. Customize your note by referring specifically to what you and the interviewer discussed. Handwritten notes might be better if you're thanking a personal contact for helping you in your job search, or if the company you're interviewing with is based in Europe. Whatever method you choose, notes should be sent within 48 hours of the interview. To write a good thank-you note, you'll need to take time after each interview to jot down a few things about what the interviewer said. Also, keep notes for yourself on what you could have done better in the interview, and make adjustments before you head off for your next one.

arrow 15. Bring a copy of your resume to every interview.

Have a copy of your resume with you in every interview. If the interviewer has misplaced his or her copy, you'll save a lot of time (and embarrassment on the interviewer's part) if you can just pull your extra copy out and hand it over.

arrow 16. Don't worry about sounding "canned".

Some people are concerned that if they rehearse their answers, they'll sound "canned" (or overly polished or glib) during the interview. Don't worry. If you're really well prepared, you'll sound smooth and articulate, not canned. And, if you're not so well prepared, the anxiety of the situation will eliminate any "canned" elements.

arrow 17. Make the most of the "Tell me about yourself" question.

Many interviewers begin their interviews with this question. So, how should you respond? You can go into a story about where you were born, what your parents do, how many brothers and sisters and dogs and cats you have, and that's okay. But, would you rather have the interviewer writing down what kind of dog you have -- or why the organization should hire you? Consider responding to this question with something like: "Well, obviously I could tell you about lots of things, and if I'm missing what you want, please let me know. But, the three things I think are most important for you to know about me are [your selling points]. I can expand on those a little if you'd like." Interviewers will always say, "Sure, go ahead." Then, you can say, "Well, regarding the first point, [give your example]. And, when I was working for [organization], I [example of another selling point]." Etc. Etc. This strategy enables you to focus the first 10-15 minutes of the interview on all of your key selling points. The "Tell me about yourself" question is a golden opportunity. Don't miss it!

arrow 18. Speak the right body language.

Dress appropriately, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, have good posture, speak clearly, and don't wear perfume or cologne! Sometimes, interview locations are small rooms that may lack good air circulation. You want the interviewer paying attention to your job qualifications -- not passing out because you're wearing cologne that gives them a headache!

arrow 19. Be ready for "behavior-based" interviews.

One of the most common interview styles today is to ask interviewees to describe experiences that demonstrate behaviors that the organization thinks are important for a particular position. You might be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, displayed a high level of persistence, or made a decision under pressure with limited information, for example. So, Step 1 is to anticipate the behaviors this hiring manager is likely to be looking for. Step 2 is to identify at least one example of when you demonstrated each behavior. Step 3 is to prepare a story for each example. Many people recommend using SAR (Situation-Action-Result) as a model for the story. And, Step 4 is to practice telling the story. Also, make sure to review your resume before the interview with this kind of format in mind -- that can help you to remember examples of behaviors in advance.

arrow 20. Don't give up!

If you've had a bad interview for a job that you truly think would be a great fit for you (not just something you really want badly), don't give up! Write a note, send an email, or call the interviewer to let him or her know that you think you did a poor job of communicating why you think this job would be a good match. Reiterate what you have to offer the organization, and say that you'd like an opportunity to contribute. Whether this strategy will get you a job offer depends on the organization, and on you. But, one thing's for sure: If you don't try, your chances are exactly zero. This approach has worked on numerous occasions, and isn't it worth giving it one last shot?

arrowDecision Time

Ultimately, the time does come to make a choice. For some people, that's easy. For most people, it isn't. Some rules of thumb to follow…

Think want to, not should.

Very intelligent people sometimes make the dumbest career choices because their friends, family members, etc. tell them they should choose this career or that job. Remember:

  • They're not going into the office every day for you.
  • "Shoulds" matter, but only in service to a genuine want. If you want to be a doctor, you should go to medical school. But, to say that you should be a doctor makes no sense at all.

Think interests first, skills last.

Skills can be gained (or lost), but interests are either present or not. You can't fake being interested.

  • Remember that your competitive advantage is your interest in the work. You may be good at changing tires, but are you interested in it?
  • Remember that skills are "threshold variables" when it comes to success. You have to be able to jump over the bar, but the interested person who can clear it by a couple of inches is likely to be more successful than the uninterested person who clears it by several feet.

If you're deciding between two or more opportunities, do the following:

  • Choose one. And, if you've learned all you can but have still been agonizing over the choice for weeks, setting a hard deadline can help.
  • Call the organization and accept their offer.
  • Immediately call any other(s) and say the following: "I've accepted an offer with.... I'm very grateful to you for your offer, and it was a very difficult decision for me to make. But, I wanted to let you know as soon as possible, so you can extend that offer to another candidate." Always accept first and decline second. Because, if you call and say, "I've decided to accept..." or "I'm going to accept..." you're leaving the door open for that organization to have another go at convincing you to come with them.