Don’t Wait to Get the Job. Earn It! ~ Jaxi WestI am a ﬁrm believer, you should always strive to set yourself apart from others in anyway you can, in almost everything you are doing or seeking to do. It makes life a lotmore exhilarating and it makes you memorable.And, it goes without saying, due to the historical number of individuals unemployedtoday, you absolutely need to distinguish yourself from the massive amount ofapplicants that are vying for the same job you are.So amongst the numerous ways to do this on your resume, and how you build yourPackage You (get in touch to learn more about this), there is a unique way to do this inthe interviewing process -no matter if it is a one or three level interviewing process. Andthis is ﬂexible enough for you to do no matter what type of job, from a waiter to amanagement ‘Corporate America’ job.1st: Start with your due diligence on the company. When I say this, don’t just readabout the company. Read about the people who lead the company and ﬁnd out whatyou can about them. Then, do some due diligence on their prime competitors. You don’tneed to spend as much time on this, but this allows you to have a more intelligentconversation with the interviewee because it shows you know the ‘players’ - and theirstrengths and weaknesses. This allows you to offer an objective opinion on thecompetition, and possibly suggesting improvement for this company you areinterviewing with - all which will impress the interviewee.And don’t forget to do your due diligence on the industry itself (trade magazines) to getcurrent with things such as: possible new regulations that might take place, pendingincoming competition, new industry certiﬁcation requirements, etc.Phenomenal Source for Due Diligence: Nowadays, you are armed with more pertinent &timely information than what you use to be (ex: Dunn & Bradstreet), with all the socialmedia platforms giving you a wealth of information about companies. Such as, what isthat company doing for their social media strategy? How are they fairing in theirinteraction with the marketplace in general, and more importantly, with their customers?You can also learn a lot about what others think about the company and their products/services.So take notes. If you think you would have replied to a customer complaint better orcustomer question better, jot it down, bring it with you to the interview. If you think theyare going about their marketing strategy all wrong, tell them what you logically think.Even if you aren’t an expert in this area, sometimes the experts have their head in thesand, and they don’t realize they are missing the opportunity to really grab theirprospects. If you think their tweets are useless, tell them. Tell them you don’t follow
them because you get no value from their messages. Believe me, they will appreciatethis more than they would throw an ‘how dare you - you want a job with us’ attitude.Doing wonders with information: Just as knowledge is not power unless you use it,information depreciates quickly because it’s almost always being replaced with moreadvanced or new information, especially in our fast paced 21st Century. But, you canboost the value of the information you have, if you use it strategically. Here are a fewexamples of how you can use some of this due diligence:You researched the company and found out the owner brings his dog to the ofﬁce dailyand is constantly bringing rescue dogs back from lunch every month. He also donatesan enormous amount to animal non proﬁts and raises awareness about dogs that needrescuing (I recently researched this company out of FL, this is true).Whether you interview with the owner or not, on the day of your interview, you send theowner an email (if they give it out on the website or the secretary is willing to give it onthe phone) and in the subject line, you write: “Interviewing with your company today.”You either attach an article about a fundraiser event for dogs that you think he mightwant to know about or a new article posted that day on dogs from a different country (heis probably signed up for every dog article in the USA).Or you go one step further, and you attach a receipt showing you donated a few dollarsto a dog charity in support of his dedication to dogs. You also inform the owner in thisemail you did this because you would if you were an employee and you are conﬁdentthis interview will prove your value, but you don’t want to forget to do this gesture in allyour excitement of getting the job and getting to work, so you are just taking care of thisnow.Or when you walk in for the interview, you leave a package for the owner (if you aren’tinterviewing with the owner, if you are, you hand it to him) with a dog bone in it for thenext stray dog he brings back from lunch with a note saying “I will bring one forxxdogname (owners’ dog name) on my ﬁrst day here next week (or whenever the job isslated to start) You get the idea - you can do so many with this.Please understand, these suggestions are not bribes. I am not about that. There is a bigdifference between genuine gestures or making creative effort and bribes. Bribe’s canbe smelled miles away and there is usually little thought that goes into it, let alone littleresearch. Gestures are appreciated and are usually transparent to the recipient in theamount of thought, effort or time put into it.So by doing all or any of these, it shows: you paid attention to the owners love, that youtoo, like dogs, that you are already a team player, you are a contributor, and if you didpurchase or donate something, that you are willing to put your money behind thiscompany before they even issue you a paycheck. It also lets them know you would bean active participant in their corporate contribution/volunteer area.
A Sleuth Way to do your Research: Do your own Mystery Shopping of the company. Asa former private investigator, I did this on occasion on the side, and I can tell you ﬁrsthand, you can learn more about a company than the owner knows about their companyif you engage in this!What is Mystery Shopping? You “shop” this company but don’t let anyone know you are.If they are the headquarters of a toy store, you shop the toy store. You pay attention toeverything -cleanliness, shelves stocked, friendliness of the staff. You can go as far aspurchasing a product (just donate it ) to see the entire process from walk in to walk outand how it ﬂows, is their music playing and is it blaring or inappropriate, is the staffchewing gum when they are talking to you (you have to be proactive and ask aquestion), if you are waiting online forever, the care of how they bag your product -everything. If you want to test them more, purchase the product, then return in a weeklater and see how it’s handled.Look around the store and pretend you are the store owner. What would you dodifferent? Do you think a different toy should be displayed in the front vs where it is? Doyou think one of the toys that you would consider more ‘dangerous’ is too low on theshelf where a kid could grab it and possibly get hurt -should it be placed at a higherlevel - not in kid reach. Are the ﬂoors slippery or sticky? How about the bathrooms & theparking lot - clean or trash all over? Is there a light out anywhere outside in the parkinglot or in the business name signage? Are employees huddled around talking aboutnothing when you walked by an aisle that looked like it had just been looted? Thesekinds of things.Anything you notice, good or bad, any of your experience, good or bad, remember tobring it up in that interview. I bet you will be the only candidate to have recently walkedin that store. It shows you care and really wanted to know about the most important partof that company - not the headquarters - but its store - where it gets its revenue andwhere there could be a lawsuit - it shows you are protective, savvy and already thinkinglike an employee :)You can do mystery shopping with any company - whether they have a store front ornot. Order something, return it. Call them up, see how that goes. How are you treated?If you are on hold, is the music horrible? Is there a constantly repeating message that isreal annoying? Do they use UPS or Fed Ex?See how long they take to respond to an inquiry email. Judge their automated emailresponses back to you: “we have just received your inquiry and will respond within 24hours” is the most common. Could they take this opportunity to make a much morefavorable impression upon the prospect or customer? Perhaps offer a rewordedsentence or two highlighting something great about the company or displaying acustomer testimonial or informing of an upcoming new product or service they are goingto launch.
Call the company and ask to speak to the person that will be your boss. See how heanswers the phone and how he responds to all this: if he answers, tell him you arelooking forward to the interview and you wanted to say hello and that you have thoughtof a few ideas for the company you are looking forward to sharing with him and youwanted to know if it would be okay to present them in the interview.Find out the hours he works. If they say he is in before everyone else- then you willknow a lot right away about that boss: he is hardworking or has so much to do he can’tget it done in typical hours or he is unorganized or he likes to start work before thephones begin and everyone gets in.Whatever the reason, it gives you more insight about this person, than just walking in forthe interview and shaking his hand and meeting him for the ﬁrst time. You have inessence already envisioned him at his desk early and working early and/hard, etc (buthe doesn’t know this). There is something that comes with that. It’s a pre-familiarity thatallows you to be a bit more comfortable with that person because in a sense, you feelyou ‘know’ him a bit. This will help you be more relaxed in the interview, and it will leadto a better rapport without you even trying. You will be amazed.The ideas are endless. By now, you should be thinking much more ‘out of the box’ inhow you can use the due diligence you learn and where you should interject eachobservation point or suggestion in the interview.Interview by Interview: It’s important to to feel the situation out and determine if you aregoing to interject these pieces of observation in your questions, or at the end of theinterview, or you are going to be bold and take charge of the interview and start withsharing the information with them ﬁrst.It is your comfort level on this and again, it also depends if this is a one interviewprocess or three interview process. Usually a multi-interview process is a screeningweed-out, so you wouldn’t even be talking with the boss you’d be working for in the ﬁrstinterview, so you might want to save your ‘brilliance’ for the boss only, not to the HRperson. It is up to you. This is also probably going to vary interview by interview, sodon’t make it a rule with yourself that you are going to do this at the end each time,because that might not be the most opportune time to inject these knowledge bits.2nd: Deﬁne on Paper Deﬁne your goals for the job (top 3-5 goals) and also deﬁne howyou want to grow in your job (top 1-2 aspects you wish to improve on or learn). Be onewith the job. Pretend it’s yours already. Pretend they hired you already and you are onlygoing in to ﬁnalize a few things and to give them this piece of paper that itemizes theseparticulars because they wanted to know them before you start.You need to go into the interview presuming you have this job. If you do, that conﬁdencewill exude itself in a way that is unlike any other applicants conﬁdence. You can havepersonal conﬁdence and you can have conﬁdence in your skills and experience, but it
takes a much higher level of conﬁdence to show this person you believe you are -without even knowing the other candidates’ background or experience - the bestcandidate for the job.We all use to write this in our cover letters or thank you letters: “and that is why I believeI am the best candidate for this job.” Who hasn’t written that? So mean it! If you don’tbelieve you are the best, then you shouldn’t be interviewing in the ﬁrst place. You arewaisting their time, and you are waisting yours.This is not arrogance, this is conﬁdence. You reinforce this by handing them this pieceof paper at the end of the interview.The ﬁrst set, your goals: tells them what you will strive to do for the company, thedepartment you work in, the team you are on, etc. and also in your own work product (ifyou will be producing reports, etc). You are dedicating yourself to the company as if youare on day one, and it shows them you sat down and thought seriously about allaspects of this job, you have a good understanding of what you will be doing, and howyour work comes into play in relation to the bigger company picture.The second set, your growth: tells them what you expect back from them and showsyou are smart enough to know this is a two way street - you are providing them yourskills and talent, but you need something from them besides a paycheck. It also showsyou are growth oriented & want to constantly improve. What you have done here isveriﬁed a lot.You didn’t just spit these great sounding positive attributes out in the beginning of theinterview when asked about some of your strengths, and you just didn’t list them asbullet points on your resume because they sounded good. Now you are bringing thosewords (they hear all the time) to life in a new way - a solid commitment on paper. Plus,you are giving them this commitment before they asked and whether or not they wereever going to ask or not. This will speak volumes to any interviewer and you willoutshine all the others. You will be remembered.3rd: Ask the hard questions back. Many believe that an interview is much more aboutthe employer asking the questions and the prospect getting the chance at the end toanswer ‘any questions you have for me’. But in fact it is not.An interview is a conversation and it’s a dialogue. It’s not a grilling process where youget a chance to speak for 2 minutes only at the end. Your questions are equally asimportant as theirs, and sometimes we have to remind the old fashioned interviewers ofthis important point. You are interviewing them and evaluating them each step of theway, just as much as they are you interviewing and evaluating you. If you haven’t been,then start to. And if you think asking just one question is asking enough, then you betterchoose that question very carefully. If you don’t ask questions, you might regret thislater.
I like to think of it this way: how can you not ask questions? This is where you will spendthe majority of your waking hours every week for xx years. In many cases, jobs are likesecond marriages because you have a ‘family’, you spend so much time there, and it’spart of the source of your happiness, passion and also at times, stress.So, I ask: “would you not ask the person you are going to live with and marry more thanone question before you did?” No! So, I am sure you can think of at least one questionor more than just a measly question to ask the interviewer, your potential boss. Again,keep in mind, you should gauge when and where to ask questions or how many to askin each interview, but if it’s only a 1 interview process, ask away before you leave!Now, when I say: Ask the Hard Questions Back, I mean ask things like: “If a teammember and I have a signiﬁcant personality clash and it’s affecting our work product,how will you handle that.”“If I produce work product for you and it is not to your liking, what do you do?” Thingsyou want to look for in their answer - they hand it back to you and tell you to do it right,or they tell you what they like about it and what they don’t and what they would preferyou focus on or clarify more. You can tell a lot in these 2 questions alone on how yourdays will go and what the overall tone of the department you are working in is about -how your boss runs it. You have to determine if these are things you are okay with justas much.Other questions: “what is your preference of discipline?” Things to look for: they tellyou on the spot (doesn’t make a difference if others are around), written notice is left onyour chair or is emailed to you, or your brought into their ofﬁce and they close the doorand discuss with your privately, or they ﬁre you instantly, etc.Whatever questions that are most important to you fall under the Ask the HardQuestions Back category as well.I always asked: “what happened with the person before me” if I am replacing a job and ifit was a new job created or new company “do i have the freedom more or less to takethis job and go about it any way I want within reason?” And I always asked: “what isyour biggest ‘pet peeve’?” and “what are my red ﬂags?”If you have a chance to address any of your red ﬂags once again perhaps in a different,more positive light, then do so. Please don’t be afraid to bring these up. Don’t think youare reminding them of your red ﬂags. Believe me - they know them. They will see youare brave enough to bring them up to talk about them and they will admire and respectthat.It’s the Interviewer’s Turn: Don’t be afraid to ask them what their weakness is either. Ifthere is going to be a trusted open relationship, they should share it. They asked you toreveal yours, why should this be a one-way street? Is this person an authoritarian? Orare they willing to show they are human (not without faults) and also willing to show they
are a team player just as much as a boss? You mine as well ﬁnd out now, becausedepending on your job and how closely you work with your boss, their weakness canaffect your every day.Be Considerate: Since this is a pretty daring/bold move, ask this question in a way thatshows them you care -not because you want to have your ‘card’ should you need it.More importantly, let them know you will respect this area - this weakness andeverything that it touches. Then, let them know you might be able to help them with it.So, for example, the interviewer might say their weakness is: they are unorganized, orthey save all emails until the end of day but then end up being in ofﬁce until 7pm, orthey are snappy when under pressure. Anything you can know that will help youformulate your decision about working with this potential boss, is better known upfront.If they are hesitant to tell you - you can approach the question this way: “if I help youwith your weakness, will you help me with mine?” Once they tell you, offer that help:“let’s be supportive and accountable to one another and eliminate these weaknessesonce and for all!” I am sure no candidate has said that to them. Already, you areoffering to help this boss beyond the scope of your work and leverage him as aprofessional. They will remember this gesture.4th: You Aced The Interview! Finally, if you get the job, of course celebrate! But besure your employer celebrates as well! Your employer should be equally thrilled andexcited you are going to start - so send them a congratulations card & balloon too :)This is much better than a ‘thank you I am looking forward to starting’ letter. I bet you noone has ever done this. You’re just constantly reminding them how memorable you areand what a tremendous asset you will be to their company.The Excited Interviewee: Not many are excited to interview - but maybe by now with allthis new ammo, you will be! I love to get people charged up and passionate about alltheir endeavors, yes, even interviewing! :)So put on your sleuth coat and have fun with what you can investigate, learn and use.Get ﬁred up for your interview because it’s really, in essence, getting ﬁred up aboutstarting your ﬁrst day on the job! Remember, you own that job because you made amemorable, unique impression and you know you are the best candidate to do that job.All these things take you from being a candidate who waits to get a job, to being acandidate who is willing to earn it - by putting this time and creative effort into acompany before you are even hired.Choice is yours: You can Wait to get the Job, or you can Earn Your Job!For more coaching tips on interviewing, or to learn more about creating the PackageYou, please get in touch. I am on a mission to help Junior Sanchez at http://