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Preparing for management interviews

Preparing for management job interviews

How much do you currently earn?

How much will you earn over your career?

What would you do to enhance your earnings?

What difference to your life would it make if you could improve your employment prospects? 

These are the questions many managers and executive ask themselves.  This page is intended to educate managers and executives and help them understand why knowledge in the job search process is power, what happens behind the scenes and what you can do to help smooth the pathway of management and executive applications.

Almost without exception those who find themselves in positions of leadership have got there through sheer hard work and diligence, an entire career hangs off your achievements. Your reputation is everything. 

Changing employment for those in the executive or management sector can be a daunting task.  Making your availability known in the market place comes with risk.  In managing this risk there cannot be a better method for job seekers at this level to locate employment through a company like Automotive Employment NZ Ltd who are known to operate at this end of the market at a confidential level.

Being unprepared for your change in employment is no different than competing in a sporting event. You may well succeed on pure talent but the chances are you are up against other talented individuals who have trained for the event.  If you're unprepared, despite your skills there can always be a surprise waiting.    

The industry’s highest paying jobs generally attract a lot of interest, don’t underestimate the competition.  The back end of leading job boards in NZ have a function where you can search for candidates.  Employers can search this function through the posting of job ads.  If you have access to this facility as many executives do review what candidates are publically making their availability known.  This is a good start in assessing the competition, so too is knowing every executive role in the market place and recording each role as they emerge.  On each vacancy search the publicly available content of the executives LinkedIn profile who either held the role or is the incumbent employee.   You will discover the employment background of the person who held the role before you.  Information is power in an interview and this is part of the training.  World class sports teams assess the competition with a view of analysing the opponents strengths and weaknesses.  They then work out what it takes to win and make the adjustments.  This is just a sample of what you can do to increase your chances of securing top executives roles.    

What you can do to prepare

Resume Preparation

The minimum preparation required is a resume that has an impact so we will start here prior to moving on to more complex issues.  Corporate professionalism is required so have your resume prepared professionally.  Modern resume preparation should take into account consistent representation across your public profile.  Your resume, LinkedIn profile and social media presence are all likely to be reviewed by an employer.  Some consider leaving the content they feel is not relevant off their LinkedIn profile but I have heard many employers comment about the disparity during discussions on candidate selection. The safe bet is consistency.   

Take a close look at your Facebook profile and complete a Google search on yourself.  Manage this content as carefuly as possible.  Employers are often shocked about what is discovered online when they complete social media discovery.   


The employer is seeking details of past experience so it is important you detail the extent of the skills you hold.  You will need accurate dates of all employment, accurate contact details and a link your LinkedIn account included in contact details.  Job Titles and summarised job descriptions for the duties held and achievements in each role.

The resume will need to be detailed.  The assumption employers are looking for brief summarised content is largely false.  Often the resume will be read by a person screening the resume.  This may be an ad response company who you can identify from claims of providing inexpensive recruitment services or unqualified screening person who reviews your resume prior to it being passed onto the senior executive.  The biggest mistake you can make is to assume the person reading your resume has the knowledge to interpret your background.  Automotive Employment NZ biggest source of candidates come from employers using ad response companies to write the ad and vet applicants who are notorious for missing top skills.  There are two lessons here, one, check the person vetting your own candidates has the industry knowledge to vet your own vacancies and two, structure your resume with absolute clarity insuring there is no doubt as to the duties and skills you possess in each role.         


Remember.   The employer/recruiter, at the time of reviewing your resume, will likely be using an ATS system.  These “automatic tracking systems,” parse [copy] content from your resume to a screening page.  Being too clever such as setting up a webpage or including extensive imaging can lead to the resume becoming difficult to screen.  While a PDF is currently the accepted format for executive resumes keep an eye out for changes.  SEEK and LinkedIn for an example stores content and ATS systems are starting to integrate with these systems.  Expect this to continue as big data extraction from various sites that hold information becomes normalised.

“Boolean Searching”  

If you don’t already know what Boolean searching is, start by searching this phrase on Google.  Learn how recruiters search for information.  Not only is Boolean search used in search engines such as Google but you will now find most databases of information are also set up for Boolean search.  The recruiters [ATS] “Automatic tracking system and job boards are no exception when you upload your resume.  The same is true for LinkedIn and some other social media.  Learn how to use Boolean searching and then optimise your resume to be found.  You will note their are methods for searching so check how to phrase specific search terms you wish to be found and include rich keyword density.  The best of the resume preparation companies will know about Boolean Searching but you will likely have to lead the way and request inclusion of appropriate keywords in your resume so start learning and build your own advantage.  

Social media.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site and Facebook somewhere you post personal information to share with your friends.  Right?  Sadly or perhaps opportunistically depending on your viewpoint, not entirely. 

Behind the LinkedIn professional networking site exists an entire recruitment model.  This is how they make a great deal of their money.  Recruitment companies who have a recruiter license for LinkedIn have far more functionality and complexity in what content they view.  As your searching through LinkedIn on articles, jobs etc. You will need a cache of information, memcache was a term I heard used a few years ago but the technology behind this website is impressive and has advanced way beyond what you may expect.  This information can then be turned into searchable information for the recruiter.  We can’t see exactly what your doing but we can get a pretty good idea of when you looking for a job.  Most executives would be amazed at the knowledge a switched on recruiter has access to on public websites.  

LinkedIn also allows the recruiter to search for talent in an entirely different way.  GEO targeting, skills targeting and a whole host of search capability that may not be in the front end.  If you know what you can do in the front end, just imagine having 50 times the functionality.  Recruiters can advertise, search, and build pools of candidates then communicate with them making it look like each approach is a direct approach to one candidate when in actual reality we may be communicating with many.  Soon this will be seamless and have deep integration with the ATS systems I referred to above.

The trick to LinkedIn from a candidate perspective is, to ensure your profile is consistent with your resume and other media and make sure it is fully detailed.  Spend as much time as needed to build a high-quality profile.  Consider getting help from a social media professional.  Above all don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn.  If you have a weak account or worse still, no account you are really not doing yourself any career favours.    Do you need to be on LinkedIn? Of course, you do


Facebook

Facebook has more to it than meets the eye. To be fair the Facebook model is so well known by many we all realise that while we share our personal lives on Facebook it is actually an advertising platform.

Recruiters are increasingly using Facebook as a Platform for recruitment.  We can target specific groups, locations, employment backgrounds, interests, and a huge range of search criteria relating to employment. 

We can place ads in front of candidates easily but only when you place this information in the public eye.

Facebook differs from LinkedIn.  On LinkedIn, the recruiter largely searches for skills, on Facebook the recruiters look to market job ads or information to specific groups.

From an employment perspective, the executive or manager should realise the differences between the social media channels.  Just as LinkedIn is the place of suits, ties or professional careers, Facebook is the face of families, holidays and casual attire. Just as you should not wear casual attire on LinkedIn, so too should you not wear business attire on Facebook unless of course, you are posting from a company page.  We are discussing your personal profile here.

The executive or management job seekers when looking for jobs should understand Facebook take your privacy more seriously than you have been led to believe.      If your profile is not public it may be more difficult for you to be found than you think.  Change your settings, include your job title and include your location.  Add more content about the industry your involved in so you have more keyword content in your profile.  Visit the Automotive Employment NZ Facebook page, like the page and somehow engage with us.  By doing this the same memcache we referred to when discussing LinkedIn above in LinkedIn will identify you are job searching.  While this will be difficult for employers to pick up on you will start to receive feeds of jobs from Facebook and you will become easier for employers to market to.  You will achieve this without them even knowing it.

Your Facebook account should be kept clean for employment purposes.  Employers and recruiters will visit your page.  Photos from boozy parties, sexist or inappropriate comments should be removed.  Most of us don’t have offensive content but just remember.  Facebook is the world’s largest social network, more and more employers compete for a social media search as standard pre-employment screening.

Google. 

Our world’s biggest search engine compiles far more on us all than we think.  I would suggest more employers than any of us would like to admit complete a google search on the candidates they employ.    Very shortly the world has Google Jobs coming, the next big thing in recruitment. While Google jobs are designed to be able to search available jobs and deliver them to the job seeker it makes sense to tidy up your online presence also.  We expect this technology roll out to be much bigger than most expect.  

Interviewing

We are often surprised by how unprepared how executives are for interviews.  Very little research seems to go into preparing for an interview.    Here is a list of some of the more popular types of interviewing techniques recruiters use.  You don’t have to become an expert on them all but spend some time learning about interviews.  This will not only increase your own chances in securing senior roles but it will improve your chances of getting your own hires right.  As recruiters, we feel this is the most important skill for a manager to develop.  Get this one skill honed and you will improve your hiring ability.  Improve your hiring ability and you will employ better people.

  • Unstructured Interviewing
  • Behavioural competency based interviewing,
  • indirect competency-based behavioural interviewing
  • Problem Solving or Case Interviewing
  • Panel Interviews.
  • Task-Oriented or Testing Interview


Occasionally you will get interviewers asking very structured questions that seem highly unusual. The interviewer is collecting behavioural information which could be used to assess any number of work style attributes from teamwork to leadership and many more. Once again just work with the interviewer and give them the information they are seeking. Above all do so in a very willing way and be friendly and professional about it. The secret to remembering here is that the interviewer is collecting information and that will include your attitude.


Learn about the employer

We are constantly amazed job seekers don’t homework on their employer prior to making one of the biggest decisions of their lives.  Before you attend an interview, Google the employer’s website.  Find out all about them.  Who are the managers, owners, how big/small is the employer.  What does the companies’ office page say about the employer, who are the shareholders, directors?  What other businesses do they own?   Complete a Facebook search on the company, complete a general Google search on the company.   The content will enable you to understand more about their company culture and where they are heading or not heading as may be the case. 

​In a job interview, you can now talk knowledgeably about your research and this never fails to impress.  The converse also applies in that a failure to complete any research shows disinterest in the role you have applied to.