How Over-Delivering on Homework Gets You the Job

How to get the job – The new interview process demands more than just handing in an impressive resume. More employers are asking interviewees to present answers to real-life business questions to evaluate your skills and willingness to do what it takes to get the job. Here is how to prepare for that pop quiz interview.

Before you spend too much time tailoring your suit for the next job interview, you need to know that handing in your résumé in impressive style can only take you so far. The new interview process demands more — you may even experience “working for free” to show your worth. Your preparedness for these types of real-life application questions can make or break the interview. The Harvard Business Review article Projects Are the New Job Interviews states, “[ ] everyone in the enterprise now ‘gets’ that people only get hired if and only if they deliver something above and beyond a decent track record and social graph.”


Recently, a client worked with me to prepare for an interview for a high-level position at an industry-leading soda company. We worked on the kind of questions to prepare for and how to engage the interviewers and then made sure his résumé was competitively up-to-date. James called me afterward to report that the interview had gone well and that he was to return the next week with a 30-minute presentation answering: “How would you suggest we go to market with our new soda line?”

This assignment is an excellent example of what every interviewee needs to be ready for and willing to undertake. In this instance, James’ strategic design for taking a new soda line to market would reveal his level of knowledge and ability to formulate a bold and thorough plan. This particular company was, in fact, introducing a new soda line soon and might very well benefit from James’ ideas. In some scenarios, depending on the kinds of questions you are asked, you may experience a sense of “working for free,” and only you can determine your comfort level in doing so. However, opting not to do the assignment will likely end your interview. Giving the assignment all you’ve got could land you the job.

Other clients’ assignments have been something similar to: “Share with us a presentation that you’ve done before” or “Pitch to me how you would pitch to one of our prospective clients.” Remember, when preparing a presentation that includes information from a former position, do not share any proprietary information, but present what you can with confidence and expertise.

Regardless of the question, when evaluating your homework assignment, make sure your answers illustrate these five important qualities all effective senior executives must have:

  1. You know how to answer questions.
  2. You know how to present yourself.
  3. You have a high level of intelligence.
  4. You have a high level of commitment.
  5. You would be a great representation of the company.

Leave Them Wanting More

At this point in the game, if you’re still a candidate, then you’ve provided an excellent work product and answered their questions well; it now becomes most important to continue selling you. In addition to what they’ve asked you to focus on, raise items and issues that could be further explored. Like a consultant, come prepared with ideas that show your expanded knowledge of the company and how your past experience and expertise could greatly improve an area or current strategy.Present thoughtful observations and questions that leave them wanting more.

Insider Tip: If you are interviewing for a sales position, have ready a list of people whom you’d reach out to as prospective clients. For instance, if CMOs are your target, then go online and find CMOs (ideally ones whom you share some connection with) as a good starting point to fill up a sales prospecting list. Following your presentation, share that list of clients with your interviewers as a leave-behind.

Prepared Interviewees Have the Upper Hand

You may have the best résumé, but if you struggle to produce an effective and strategic work sample, you aren’t well enough prepared. Don’t just rely on past work experience when competing in today’s job market.

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Source: Melissa Llarena (Ladders)

in Job Search

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