Job hunting is rarely a fun experience, but it is even less so in a trying economy where unemployment is hovering near 10%. If you read the papers and watch the news you hear that jobs are out there, but those out of work often do not have the skill sets that these open positions require. So, the question for a job seeker is how do you gain, and more importantly portray, that you have these skills to a potential employers?
Stand Out Amongst the Crowd
Most interviewing cycles have several phases. A typical one would have you go through a screening interview with someone in HR, followed by a more in depth interview with the hiring manager, and then possibly talking to his or her boss, followed by conversations with other specialists in the company. The interviewer in each scenario will have a series of questions that you will, of course, need to be prepared for, but I find that the best candidates distinguish themselves when they prepare questions to ask me. It is particularly effective if they can introduce some idea of a process or methodology that could help me or my company. As a tip, next time you’re at this point in an interview try asking “What qualities do you or your company look for when evaluating high potential employees?”
The chances are that the hiring manager will struggle a little to answer that question, and that’s your opening. If there is a board somewhere, ask permission and go draw a nine-box on it demonstrating how you use the tool to evaluate yourself. The manager may have heard of a nine-box, but it is likely he or she never used it with any regularity. This gives you the chance to visually paint a flattering picture of yourself while introducing a useful scoring tool to the manager to run his organization. I can almost guarantee that he or she will remember you after the interview.
The reason the nine-box is effective is that strong leaders tend to be more visual than oral, so any chance you get to leave an imprint on their mind will likely leave you with a leg up on the competition. Good hunting!