It’s not the what – it’s the how – Mastering the Interview

A Recruiter's Perspective

Defining Success book Title
It’s not the what – it’s the how – Mastering the Interview
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About the Author

Laura Machan

Laura Machan

Laura Machan is a Partner, Recruitment Solutions for a major human resources consulting firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Although she has been recruiting for quite a few years, she still gets a big thrill from calling someone to set up an interview and an even bigger thrill when she hears a happy dance as she tells them when their new job starts. Laura lives with her family in Oakville, where she has lived for over 25 years, and is a significant contributor to the Canadian Federation of University Women - Oakville and Women in Nuclear, Golden Horseshoe Chapter.

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It used to be that hiring managers could ask about your significant accomplishments and if you had the right ones with the right numbers, you were in.

That is not always the case now. You may have increased sales by 15% or reduced the employee headcount to record lows. Be prepared for that fact that that might not be enough.

Companies are interested in how you did what you did, not just what you did.

How did you increase sales? Did you offer deep discounts or develop new customers? Did you add to the sales team or improve the existing sales force? Maybe you singlehandedly increased sales. I can’t tell you what the right answer is, but your answer will either resonate with the company and their values or it won’t.

There are some companies that value “lone wolf” sales people, and other companies want to make sure that everyone not only contributes but also benefits.

It’s the same with a head count reduction. Just saving the long term costs of those workers is not enough. You need to be able to describe how you decided who would go, how they were treated and how you took care of the survivors. That will be the big indicator of your character and style. That is what is really being assessed.

Accomplishments alone are a short term indicator of success. Demonstrating that you approach situations and implement solutions in a manner consistent with the company’s values is likely to be an indicator of long term and sustained success.

One of my clients told me that they were very happy with their new hire except that he does not seem to be willing to talk and listen to the folks on the floor about his plans. He views himself as the expert and indeed, that is one of the factors that got him hired. Implementing change if everyone in production ignores it or, worse, sabotages it, will not lead to long term success. Even though he is a clear expert, it is not what he needs to accomplish his goals. It’s how he intends to make it so.

So when you are preparing for your next interview, think about how you have approached situations in the past. Identify a few successes, some learning moments and even a few times when things did not go well. Be prepared to talk about how you decided what to do, how people were impacted and how you dealt with that.

You will present a fuller picture of yourself and how you do what you do. It’s pretty powerful stuff. You might not get hired any faster but you’ll put on a great show.




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