Nail Your Next Interview With One Word: PREP

With over 17 years of recruiting experience at all levels, I’ve been amazed at the lack of preparation with interviewing. One of the most precious commodities in the world we live in is TIME. By interviewing for a new job you are losing time at your current job. So, why not be diligent in preparing so that you get the job offer.   I believe a successful interview is something that requires preparation. This is where my PREP method will help you Nail the interview.

I recommend taking 30 minutes and sitting down with a pad of paper and pen, then write out 6-10 examples where you made a successful contribution in your role. It’s a well-known psychological fact (Wray Herbert. Ink on Paper: Some Notes On Note Taking*. Association for Psychological Science. 2014) that writing things out offers better internalizing of information and long term memory storing, plus this will also create the “front of mind” phenomenon. Using those 6-10 examples, write out a couple of paragraphs that utilize the systematic format of describing the Problem, Resolution, Explanation, and Performance (PREP).

Problem can be described as the “what”. In other words it’s describing the project and/or problems that arose. Every job in the market has some element of solving problems, so it’s important to identify these issues in projects. Take some time to describe all aspects of the project or situation.

Resolution is really the “how”. This describes “how” you approached the project and/or “how” you solved the problem.   There is always more than one way to get things done, so it’s important to be clear with how you arrived at the solution.

Explanation can be characterized as the “why”. What we mean here is “why” did you choose that approach in solving the problem or approaching the project. It allows the interviewer to get inside your head and understand how you systematically think in terms of solving problems. It also in the more technical positions allows interviewers to understand your depth of knowledge in knowing when to use certain tools and/or technology.

Performance is described as the “outcome”. Providing tangible results in how you’ve significantly made an impact in your role. The Performance step is where you have an opportunity to use any quantitative data, facts, and figures. Quantitative data is going to be the best measure in helping to tell the story of your business impact.  As an example it could be something like reducing the launch time of a project by months because of a process that you innovated during the project. If you are in sales, it could be growing year over year sales by 13%.

In my experience the major reason candidates do not get job offers is because of not going into enough detail about their work experience. The PREP method will allow you to develop talking points, so you are prepared to have clear and concise examples of your success. By doing this exercise, it allows you to take time to pull out relevant experiences that in some cases may have slipped your mind. The PREP method will make it easier for you to recollect details on experiences that happened several years ago and make them fresh in your mind. There is nothing worse than walking away from an interview wishing you would have answered a question in a different way or that you should have brought up a relevant experience. Before your next interview, use the PREP method to secure the job offer.

3 Vital Questions for Succession Planning Success…

No matter the size of an organization one of the most critical pieces to a company’s success is getting the “right” people on the team. We are in an economic climate where it’s essential to do more with less.   So when you are hiring with succession planning in mind, it’s critical to have a balance of both long and short term objectives in hiring.

Being in the recruiting business the past 17 years I’ve noticed an emerging trend recently where applicants are not only being evaluated for their ability to do the functions of the job today, but are also evaluated on the potential to perform the next job “up” within an organization. Many of our clients are expecting growth over the next several years and are hiring with this growth in mind.  In a day and age where a good portion of the workforce is nearing retirement, having the depth organizationally is vital. As these employees retire, so do their skills and knowledge about an industry. Another important factor to consider is what cultural or leadership dynamic these people bring to the organization. I think there are a couple of key questions that you need to ask before beginning the acquisition process. How companies are positioned to address Industry emerging trends will determine future growth success. The Training and Development programs that organizations offer will be paramount to a healthy company.y.

Where are the biggest gaps in the organization and what skills/leadership will be leaving the organization in the next 3-5 years?
It seems that in every organization there are one or two areas where if one or two people leave it would be devastating to the success of meeting deadlines. I’ve also seen the impact in how an organization struggles when leaders are lost who have been key stakeholders in building the culture. This is devastating to productivity, so it’s important to identify these areas. Having set process and programs in place to ensure the appropriate knowledge transfer will take place will be the lifeline to a healthy organization. This is not an easy task at times in an environment where resources and budgets are tight. This is where cross-functional training and rotational programs can help create depth in your organization.

What are the emerging trends in our industry and how are we positioned to address those (talentwise)?
With the technology that’s available in the world today, it’s getting easier to predict trends and buying behaviors from both current and potential customers. With this in mind it’s important to conduct a sanity check of how your talent is positioned to perform with these emerging trends, putting a greater focus on hiring for adaptability and/or flexibility through their past experience. Has this person taken on more responsibility every year or two? Have they worked in 2-3 different industries and made a significant difference?

What Training and Development programs do we OR could we offer to shorten the gap in succession planning?
In a day and age where technology and markets change rapidly, skills can be become easily outdated. While building your talent pipeline from within, it’s critical to offer continuing education for leadership intelligence and skill enhancement. In larger organizations, I’ve seen Leadership Rotational programs have great success with allowing employees to get a broad diversity of functional skills and in some cases an opportunity to work across different industries, while in smaller organizations providing “cross training” opportunities. This could add value to provide an opportunity to evaluate performance and increase depth across functions.

In summary, Succession Planning will continue to be paramount to the success of an organization. Being realistic with organizational gaps and forecasting market trends will be key ingredients in formulating the answers to the 3 Vital Success Planning Questions.