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How to Interview - the Process & Elevator Speech

Tina asked:

I applied for a job online at a really large company, got a missed call from someone from their HR department that If I am still interested in the position call her back. I am going to return her call. Should I be prepared for a phone interview? I mean, what is the process? do they usually call to schedule an interview or ask some human resources questions to see if you are a good candidate for them? If so, how well do they expect us to be?

MTG Answered:

Good questions Tina – You sound like someone I would hire. Your questions are packed with desire to succeed and show an ability to plan, strategize and act!

 The basic process works like this:

  1. You and lots of other folks apply.
  2. The HR person usually sifts through the resumes/applications and pulls out the 20% that are most likely to produce a good employee. They won't always stick with 20%, it is more like pulling a few day's work out of a bucket. If they cull on Monday, they want to be done with initial phone contact by Friday so they can go to phase two next week.
  3. The HR person calls the 20% to pre-screen them. This is a process of eliminating anyone who is obviously not a technical or cultural match for the company. Some of the focus here is on how you come across because they already looked at your application/resume for detail on qualifications. Be positive, energetic, and sound like someone you or anyone would really like to work with. They may setup interviews or say we'll get back to you. Tell them you look forward to talking again and learning more about the team.
  4. Next phase is a follow-up call to set-up interviews with anyone that was a maybe in step 3.
  5. First interviews are where they ask detailed questions about how you handle things. This gives them a chance to observe how you'll behave in the work environment and under pressure. They also get some more details on your experience.
  6. Second interviews are usually last looks at the top candidates. Sometimes they make an offer on the spot. Other times, it comes days or weeks later (after background checks are done).

Regarding on-line applications:

Applying for a job on-line is the least productive way to get a job. You and 5 million or so other people all have the same opportunity to compete for that one job. You should always be prepared for a telephone interview. You need to separate yourself from the crowd by applying in person, or emailing the hiring authority directly. If you want to learn about best practices on job hunting, Dan Miller has a good website and book on subject. The book is titled 48Days to the Work You Love. I'll put the website in the sources block.

Regarding being prepared for a phone interview:

You should always be prepared for a telephone interview. Opportunity will call or knock whenever it wants to and it doesn't give advanced notice. Your best bet here is to develop what we call an elevator speech. This is what you would say to someone if you found yourself in an elevator with someone who said, "I wish I could find the right employee to hire".

How to create your elevator speech:

  • Take a minute and write down three short paragraphs about why anyone would want to hire you.
  • Start by listing your three strongest and most transferable skills/traits.
  • Add two sentences of support to each trait.
  • Add an introductory paragraph that say your name, what you do & who you are in life.
  • Add a two line closing paragraph that says why you'd be the best member for any team and how to reach you.
  • Now read that paragraph out loud 10 times.
  • Go give your elevator speech to a mirror twice.
  • Give it to three people you trust to give your feedback.
  • Keep practicing until you have a clean and compelling speech that takes less than 30 seconds.
  • Record your speech and watch it, then adjust accordingly.

Hope this helps & Good Luck With Job Hunting Tina!
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Tags: elevator, interview, pitch, speech

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Comment by Ann Musico on October 4, 2012 at 6:40am

This is great information!  And the elevator pitch is also important when speaking to prospective clients who would consider working with you.  It's definitely worth the time to craft a good one.

Comment by Seth Haigh on October 3, 2012 at 10:22am

What makes your elevator pitch good?  What could make it better?

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