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Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room

Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room

Job interviews generally fall into one of two categories. They are either a complete waste of time or they can be something that leads you to greatness. If you are looking for the latter, then here is the plan that I follow in order to keep #winning at job interviews.

The Week Leading up to the Interview

When it comes to wanting to nail your next job interview, the first thing you should do is outline the company’s ideal interview profile, or as I like to call it their IIP. An IIP is not the same as Ideal Candidate Profile, which is based on your skills and work history. You see, those are the things that got you the call. What I’m talking about are the things that make you look amazing during the interview and beyond.

The IIP is where you research, visualize and bullet point important notes so you can focus on learning and producing exactly what the company wants. Note, the key to doing this is thinking long term; you don’t want to pull a fast one and just be this person for the interview only.

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Contrary to popular belief, picking out what you are going to wear to an interview should not be the first step in your plan. The first step needs to be a research phase because it’s nearly impossible to dress the part without knowing the details of the part you are up for!

During the research phase, you need to act like a super sleuth and find out as much as you can about the following things:

  • The person(s) who will be interviewing you. Specifically find out who they are, what job they do and what they like.
  • The previous person who held the position. Can you dig and find out why they left? Were they a shining star or kicked out?
  • What is the actual position that you are interviewing for? Try to find out if it is a new position or existing so you can see what are you up against.
  • The company, including the culture, mission, charity work and news.

This type of in-depth research takes more than just going to the company website and memorizing a mission statement. Doing that is a given, and these days with the job markets being so tight, it’s not something that you will get interview brownie points for. Also, in the research phase you can set up Google Alerts with the company name to see what kind of juicy info you can get.

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Once the research phase is completed, the next step is to create a visual plan. To do this, try to make a mind map or checklist so you can clearly see what needs to be completed. Also, I highly recommend that you grab a friend and use this list to do a few practice runs.

Think of it as an interview to-do list that helps you remember everything. You need to reserve your energy for the interview so doing this will help keep the stress to a minimum. When possible you need to try and do this at least a week out from the interview as it may take you some time to secure everything you need.

On the checklist, you are going to write down the following things:

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  1. What you need to study before the job interview.
  2. What you need to buy or find before the job interview.
  3. What you will be eating and drinking on the day of the job interview (think fresh breathe people!).
  4. What route you will be taking to the job interview.
  5. What follow-up process you will be using after the job interview.

Now compile your list and get to studying the important stuff. Don’t skimp; this isn’t cliff notes the interview version. You need to be able to uncover the things that may help you answer, or avoid, depending on what the interviewer asks of you.

Once I was invited to interview at a large animal rights organization for a dream job that I really wanted. When I made my checklist, I realized I had inherited a car with leather seats and while most people could care less about what you drive to an interview, this organization may actually care. So I looked their building up on Google Maps Street View in order to see if there was a security gate where someone would notice what I was driving. Then I was able to weigh my options and make any last minute changes to my strategy. If I hadn’t done the research, it could have ended up being pretty embarrassing for me.

The Night before the Interview

On the night before your interview, you are going to need to review your study notes again and be sure there isn’t anything left to prepare from your list. Go down the checklist slowly and again, don’t cut corners. If you followed all of the above instructions, you should have a good list of everything you need for the interview tomorrow. Pull the clothing you be wearing out of your closet and hang them in a spot where they won’t be disturbed. Be sure and grab your shoes, sock and other accessories too.

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It’s now crunch time and with careful planning, you are going to be able to be 100% ready for your interview tomorrow. Remember to eat well, avoiding any foods with strong odors and get a good night’s rest.

The Morning of the Interview

On the morning of the interview, you are going to want to get up early, eat a healthy meal and check your google alerts one last time along with your bullet points. It’s been proven that positive self-talk increases confidence, so remind yourself that you are ready for this job and that you will nail this job interview.

Review your notes once more and practice your quick witted, but highly educated answers. Stay calm and know that you’ve just upped your game, and you are now officially ready for the interview.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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