How To Differentiate Yourself In An Interview (in Construction, Facilities Management, Engineering & Architecture)

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Limited employment opportunities within the architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C) and facilities management industries are creating strong competition among professionals for ideal career roles.
Helbling's executive search consultants outline their suggestions for making yourself stand out in the highly competitive landscape.

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How To Differentiate Yourself In An Interview (in Construction, Facilities Management, Engineering & Architecture)

  1. 1. How To Dif ferentiate Yourself In An Interview ~  Sami  L.  Barry  &  T homas  M.  DunnT                alent  management  is  one  of  many  challenges  facing  organizations  involved  in  architecture,  engineering  and  construction  (A/E/C)  and  facilities  management.  As  a  professional  within  this  sector,  you  may  be  presented  with  a  similar  issue  -­‐  career  management.  Limited  employment  opportunities  are  creating  strong  competition  for  ideal  career  roles,  making  good  interviewing  skills  more  critical  than  ever.  That  is  why  it  is  important  to  understand  how  to  appropriately  prepare  for  interviews  and  how  to  differentiate  yourself  during  and  after  meetings  with  potential  employers.As  retained  executive  search  consultants,  Helbling  &  Associates  is  well  aware  of  the  importance  of  interviewing  skills.  From  our  experiences,  we  have  developed  the  following  suggestions  for  making  yourself  stand  out  in  this  highly  competitive  landscape  to  get  the  career  opportunity  you  really  want.Before an interview: Prepare appropriately Gather  your  thoughts  on  how  to  summarize  your  professional  career,  highlight  specific  achievements,  and   articulate  how  your  experiences  (along  with  your  skills  and  competencies)  could  bring  value  to  the  organization   and  to  the  role. View  yourself  objectively  and  allow  yourself  to  be  self-­‐critical  in  a  positive  way.  This  portrays  a  high  level  of   emotional  intelligence  which  is  an  attractive  attribute  in  today’s  talent  market.  (Read  emotional  intelligence  blog.)   Consider  your  short-­‐  and  long-­‐term  career  goals  and  be  prepared  to  explain  how  the  role  and  its  opportunity   complement  them. Beyond  reading  an  organization’s  web  site,  gather  information  about  its  financial  stability  and  initiatives,  its   competitors  and  customers,  and  recent  news.  You  can  obtain  this  information  by  utilizing  search  engines  or   reviewing  the  company’s  LinkedIn  page.  In  addition,  you  can  often  become  familiar  with  the  specific  interviewer   by  using  similar  approaches.   Develop  a  list  of  questions  regarding  the  organization’s  goals  and  growth  strategies  and  how  the  role  may  impact   them.  This  will  illustrate  your  genuine  interest  in  the  company  and  the  long-­‐term  opportunities  it  provides.During an interview: Present yourself as a solutionprovider. Throughout  the  interview,  make  connections  between  your  skills  and   experiences  and  how  they  apply  to  the  position  and  its  expectations.   Reiterate  your  willingness  to  expand  and  diversify  your  skills  and   competencies  to  adapt  to  the  role  and  potentially  take  it  to  another  level. When  discussing  your  career  achievements,  provide  quantitative   statements  with  numbers  and  specifics.  Describe  in  detail  how  you  may  have   reduced  costs  or  improved  a  process.  You  may  also  want  to  explain  how  you   identified  a  particular  challenge,  and  how  you  subsequently  developed  and  implemented  a  solution.
  2. 2. Asking questionsMany  times,  candidates  show  more  intelligence,  competence,  motivation  and  interest  by  the  questions  they  ask  during  interviews.  Questions  we  recommend  addressing  at  the  appropriate  time  are:‣ What  are  the  overall  short-­‐  and  long-­‐term  goals  of  [organization]?‣ In  which  of  those  goals  does  this  role  have  involvement?‣ What  is  the  overall  impact  this  role  can  have  upon  [organization]?  ‣ What  are  the  key  projects,  tasks,  and  expectations  of  the  role?‣ Who  does  the  position  interact  with?    What  are  their  work  styles  and  attitudes?    What  is  the  management   structure?‣ What  is  the  corporate  culture  and  the  particular  work  environment  of  the  role?‣ What  is  the  average  tenure  within  the  role’s  department?    ‣ What  are  the  opportunities  for  advancement?‣ How  is  the  role  incentivized?For roles within architecture/engineering/construction:‣ What  makes  [organization]  different  from  its  competition?‣ What  are  [organization’s]  plans  to  strengthen  its  competitive   advantage?‣ What  is  [organization’s]  backlog  of  work?‣ What  are  [organization’s]  current  and  planned  technological  initiatives?‣ What  are  [organization’s]  plans  going  forward  to  streamline  the  design  and  construction  process?  Is  it   exploring  alternative  project  delivery  methods  to  adapt  to  owners’  needs  and  wants?‣ What  are  [organization’s]  strategies  for  maximizing  the  pursuit  of  target  markets  and  are  there  new  vertical   and  geographical  markets  being  explored?‣ How  does  [organization]  perform  succession  planning?For roles within facilities management:‣ What  are  [organization’s]  current  sustainability  plans  and  future  goals?‣ How  is  [organization]  aligning  information  technology  and  facilities  to  effectively  manage  utilities,  buildings,   capital  projects  and  budgets?‣ What  are  [organization’s]  plans  for  improving  energy  management?  (i.e.  strategic  procurement,  production   and  distribution  practices,  initiation  of  commissioning  and  decommissioning  programs)‣ What  alternative  project  delivery  methods  are  being  considered  for  capital  projects?‣ What  are  [organization’s  ]  short-­‐  and  long-­‐term  capital  programs  and  building  initiatives  (including  green   building)?‣ What  are  [organization’s]  financial  commitments  for  capital  projects  and  maintenance  initiatives?‣ How  well  does  [organization’s]  administration  team  support  facilities  management  efforts?
  3. 3. Interviewing for executive-level roles Due  to  the  strong  competition  for  senior-­‐level  roles,  executive  candidates  need  to  be   keenly  aware  of  the  ways  they  can  differentiate  themselves  from  other  high-­‐caliber   professionals.  Suggestions  for  accomplishing  this  are:   Provide  as  much  substance  as  possible  in  initial  meetings  as  it  sets  the  tone  for  future   discussions  and  establishes  you  as  a  viable  candidate.   If  the  prospective  position  is  responsible  for  managing  profit  and  loss,  quantify  past   experiences  and  successes  with  hard  facts  and  data.  Highlight  key  financial  growth  initiatives  that  you  have  led  as   well  as  the  scope  of  staff,  geography,  and  vertical  markets  that  you  have  covered  during  your  career.     When  appropriate,  do  not  hesitate  to  project  yourself  into  the  role  that  you  are  interviewing  for  by  citing  similar   past  experiences.  This  shows  that  you  have  the  abilities  to  perform  similar  tasks  to  what  the  employer  would   require  while  also  emphasizing  that  you  are  actively  interested  in  the  position  and  thinking  about  the  tangible   results  that  you  could  achieve  if  given  the  opportunity.   Ask  direct  and  candid  questions  to  extract  information  which  will  allow  you  to  fully  understand  the  pros  and  cons   of  the  position  and  the  organization.   In  the  engineering  and  construction  communities,  it  is  likely  you  have  shared  acquaintances  and  colleagues  with   an  interviewer.  If  the  opportunity  presents  itself,  discuss  those  shared  connections  as  it  is  usually  beneficial  to  do   so.  This  shows  that  you  are  well  connected  within  the  industry,  and  it  can  also  provide  a  discreet  avenue  for  the   potential  employer  to  get  an  outside  opinion  on  your  personality  and  capabilities  (with  your  permission).           Remember  that  an  executive  interview  is  as  much  of  an  information  gathering  session  as  it  is  a  forum  to  highlight   your  personal  successes.   *Note  that  it  is  common  for  initial  meetings  for  executive  positions  to  take  place  at  a  neutral  location  with  the   interviewer  also  being  the  person  to  whom  you  would  directly  report.         After the interview: Express your appreciation Send  a  personalized  thank  you  card  or  email  to  all  interviewers  within  48  hours.  Because  many  candidates  do  not   take  the  time  to  do  this,  it  is  an  opportunity  to  continue  differentiating  yourself.  Writing  a  simple  note  that   expresses  your  appreciation  also  demonstrates  professionalism.  If  you  want  to  add  specifics  about  the  interview,     remember  to  be  brief  as  you  only  want  to  express  your  gratitude.  It  is  also  worth  noting  that,  in  this  highly-­‐ technical  world,  a  handwritten  note  garners  more  attention  than  a  standard  email.     While  waiting  for  a  second  interview,  continue  researching  the  organization  to  gain  additional  knowledge  and  be   prepared  for  future  meetings.   To  read  more  articles  about  talent  and  career  management  and  the  A/E/C  and  facilities  management  sectors,    subscribe  to   Helbling’s  quarterly  newsletter  and  blog  at: W:   h el bl i n g s ear c h . c o m B :   blo g. h elblin gs earc h . c o m HELBLING & ASSOCIATES, INC. RETAINED EXECUTIVE SEARCH C o n s t r u c t i o n   •   F a c i l i t i e s   M a n a g e m e n t   •   R e a l   E s t a t e   •   E n g i n e e r i n g RESPONSIVE RELIABLE Motivation  and  urgency  to  fulfill  your  needs Comprehensive  and  accurate  market  intelligence RESULTS Performance  that  exceeds  your  expectations RESOURCEFUL RELATIONSHIPSExtensive  network  of  contacts  in  your  industry Consulting  based  upon  trust  and  commitmentPittsburgh w w w . h www.helblingsearch.com c h . c o m elblingsear 724.935.7500

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