How to Land Your Next Job – 4 Levels of Interview Expectations

Categories Human Resources, Your CareerPosted on

Imagine that you are about to interview for a job. You want to do well and land the position. You are about to enter the interview room. Now, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your mindset about the interview?
  • How do you intend to behave?
  • What points do you want to emphasize?
  • What choices will you make?

I’d like to help you CRUSH your next interview by providing a different way of looking at your mindset, choices, and behaviors.

Take a moment to think about this reality.

When you walk into your next job interview, you are one in a line of people interviewing for the same job. Only one person will get the offer.

There is a good chance that when they are going through their notes and deciding who to hire, someone will refer to you be asking, “Now, which person is this?”

If you want to CRUSH your next job interview, you need to consider your mindset, behaviors, and choices.

Here’s a run down of what each it looks like to meet, exceed, anticipate, and establish expectations in your next interview.

1.  Meet expectations:

  • Enter the room.
  • Adequately answer their questions.
  • Provide a decent looking resume.
  • Thank them for their time.
  • Off you go.

You met their expectations. You likely won’t receive an offer.

2. Exceed expectations:

  • Enter the room with a quality handshake.
  • Effectively answer their questions.
  • Provide an impressive resume.
  • Thank them while clearly conveying you want the job.
  • Off you go and you follow-up with a thank you note.

You exceeded their expectations. You will likely get an offer, especially if everyone else simply met expectations.

3. Anticipate expectations:

  • Enter the room with a quality handshake and a clear understanding of who you are meeting.
  • Impressively answer their questions and ask good ones yourself based on a firm understanding of the company and the job.
  • Provide a resume tailored to the open position, showing that your experience maps to the role.
  • Thank them, let them know you want the job, and send a well written and thoughtful thank you note.

You anticipated their expectations. You should get an offer!

4. Establish expectations:

  • Own the room, without being egotistical.
  • Teach them something they didn’t know, without lecturing.
  • Demonstrate that you have already done what they are looking for, without being arrogant.
  • Make them forget that anyone else interviewed, without saying a negative word.
  • Let them know that you appreciate their time and want the job, without being patronizing.

You established their expectations. Now, here’s the twist…

You may or may not get an offer. That’s okay.

If they offer you a job – take it. They value you and your approach. You will likely thrive in the culture.

If they don’t offer you a job – be good with it. Move on…it wasn’t a good fit. In the long-run, you would’ve likely been disappointed.

Final thought…

In most situations, meeting, exceeding, anticipating, or establishing expectations is a choice!

It starts with you choosing how much you are willing to prepare, practice, perform and put it out there.

Now go and CRUSH it!


Over the years, I’ve had the chance to interview and hire a lot of people. My first hiring experience occurred at KPMG Consulting when I was looking to expand my team. More recently, as the owner of a consulting firm with offices in three states and an ever growing staff, I made hiring decisions for 11 years as we experienced tremendous growth.

The Power of Creating a Culture of ‘Owners’​

Categories Culture, Human Resources, Leadership & ManagementPosted on

In our forthcoming book on culture, my colleague, Shawn Moon, and I pose the question.

“Who washes a rental car?”

Our answer: “No one.”

Why? “Renters don’t own rental cars.”

As this idea settles in on you, allow me to expand a bit on the concept of ownership. In doing so, I’m going to argue the following:

Don’t give your employees another program in hopes of increasing engagement, give them something to own!

Our typical concept of ownership, especially in the Western world, stems from how society sees ownership. Owning something is protected by the legal structure and comes with a particular set of rights. We therefore think in terms of owning a house, a car, furniture, and even a business.

In this discussion, I’m not referring to this type of ownership. True, you can offer employees equity in a business, but their are limitations to this approach and the sense of ownership it provides.

Instead of focusing on the legalistic concept of ownership, let’s discuss what business scholars call ‘psychological ownership.’ Psychological ownership is not necessarily recognized by the legal system, but it is grounded in the individual who holds the ‘ownership’ feeling.

“We conceptually define psychological ownership as that state where an individual feels as though the target of ownership or a piece of that target is ‘theirs’ (i.e., it is MINE!).” –  Pierce, Kostova, Dirks

Some of you may be interested in reading the details of Pierce, Kostova, and Dirks research on the topic. Simply click here to do that.

Psychological Ownership in Action

I recently had a chance to see the power of this type ownership in action.

In my role at Vanderbilt University, I’m fortunate to work with students in a number of situations both in and out of the classroom. About a year ago, Tom Carroll asked if I would be willing to serve as an advisor to a group called Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations (SCNO).

SCNO was formed by students and is run by students. It isn’t a business. Students don’t have an equity stake in it. Revenue is not generated, but in every way possible, the students own it.

Each year SCNO sends out a campus-wide invitation offering undergraduate students a chance to apply to be a member. Membership is selective. Selectees are expected to devote their limited free time to help one of a select group of non-profits solve a business problem. Problems include issues such as technological advancements, operational improvements, or volunteer and fund raising support.

The year’s SCNO clients were Hands on Nashville, Junior Achievement, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Tennessee Environmental Council, and ThriftSmart.

These students give a tremendous amount of effort to the program. In addition to their coursework, they collectively spend hundreds of hours each year working on real business problems for real clients.

After the completion of the final SCNO event for the year hosted by the group’s president, E. B. Armstrong, I took time to reflect on what I learned. By allowing the students to ‘own’ their project, solutions, clients, and work, I saw six amazing takeaways.

  1. Overcome obstacles: Like any project team, the students ran into obstacles. Everything from scheduling conflicts to ‘scope creep’ emerged throughout the course of their efforts. Since they owned the projects, they also owned dealing with the obstacles. Their creativity emerged and allowed them to go around, move out of the way, or tackle any obstacles that hindered progress.
  2. Grow personally: The results delivered were a function of individual contributions to the team goal. While the team grew collectively, team members grew individually. Allowing them to own the work led to this individual growth.
  3. Find purpose: As I worked with the students over the course of the project, I found that some discovered a passion for consulting. Others learned that it wasn’t the right fit and a different career path would be more fulfilling. Many found working with non-profits invigorating. I’m sure some learned differently. The point is owning the work allow them to explore at a deeper level and find purpose along the way.
  4. Share burden: Let’s not sugarcoat the situation. I’ve worked with enough teams to know that burdens aren’t always equally shared. At times one person carries the weight of the project on her shoulders and others evade most responsibility. That said, my work with the teams revealed an amazing amount of burden sharing. Because they had many other responsibilities on their plates and collectively owned the work, the vast majority stepped up and willingly shared the burden.
  5. Deliver results: Overcoming obstacles, sharing burdens, and the like are all good things, but in the end, the teams had to deliver results. And, they did. Why? They owned them. There was no handing off to another person to finish the work, each team member stood up in front of the clients and owned the results of the team’s efforts.
  6. Build pride: As I watched the students present to their clients, I saw people with their heads held high. They made it happen. They owned it. In turn, they had a sense of pride in what the accomplished. Being prideful might be a bad at times, but being proud of what the group accomplished for their clients is a positive.

What about you and your people?

I fully recognize that your situation might be very different than the example I provided. You are likely not working with students who volunteered and were hand selected to participate in a group. You may work with people who you ‘inherited’ and seem not to volunteer for anything.

The situation may be different, but the concept of ownership is still very applicable. I encourage you not to dismiss the idea out of hand.

I encourage you to look for ways to increase ownership among your team members. To that end, I offer a few questions to consider about how well you are transferring ownership to your people:

  • Do you give guidance and suggestions to your people, but allow them to own it? Or, do you step in and direct or takeover?
  • Do you look at the risks associated with failing on a task and work with your people to determine who owns what? Or, do you assume they can’t do it?
  • Have you fallen into the trap where you feel you are too busy or too important to invest the time needed to let them own it? Or, do you make the investment now to reap benefits in the long-run?

Here’s your challenge. Find one way this week to allow a team member or colleague to own something.

How Great Leaders Communicate: 5 Key Choices…

Categories Culture, Human Resources, Leadership & ManagementPosted on

“Leadership is first, and foremost, a communication activity.” – Hackman & Johnson

We’ve all benefited from the communication efforts of great leaders.

We’ve also suffered through the pains of poor communicators in leadership roles.

I’ve found that great leaders regularly make five communication choices. I invite you to review each, assess how well you are doing, and consider a few quick challenges to improve yourself. I also recommend you share these with new or struggling leaders to help them improve their performance.

1. Choose to Address Poor Performance

Key Question: How did we get to the point where not providing performance feedback, or doing it poorly, has become commonplace?

Brief Thought: Keeping your mouth shut when an issue should be addressed does not lead to things getting better on their own. Avoiding the issue might seem an easy route in the short-term, but you will pay a price. Your reputation will be negatively impacted, your influence will weaken, and others team members may become cynical or disengaged.

In addition, the under performer is not being protected; he’s actually being disrespected. As GE’s former CEO Jack Welch put it, “A person shouldn’t come to work not knowing where he or she stands. That’s the cruelest form of management.”

Quick Challenge: If you’ve allowed a performance issue to go unaddressed deal with it this week in a respectful and productive way.

2. Choose to Understand What Motivates

Key Question: Why do we assume that everyone wants to be treated exactly the same?

Brief Thought: Look around. Everyone is different, and that’s a great thing. In the best organizations, the strengths of one team member makes up for the weaknesses of another. Unfortunately, in an effort to treat everyone the same, some leaders have turned a well-meaning concept into an ineffective behavior. As a result, they fail to tap into the unique potential of each employee.

Treating people as individuals doesn’t mean that you apply policies differently among your team members or that you use unfair and inconsistent promotion practices. It simply means that you recognize that what motivates one employee doesn’t necessarily excite another. Or, that the potential of one person for a certain role is different than that of another. The key is to see and appreciate each person for his or her unique commitment, capabilities, and contributions.

Quick Challenge: Speak with two or three team members this week to learn what really matters to them.

3. Choose to Listen

Key Question: Does it seem that many leaders chose to talk more than listen?

Brief Thought: The expression, “you have two ears and only one mouth, use them in proportion,” is lost on some leaders. Whether the function of an organization’s culture (leaders talk; everyone else listens) or the personality of specific leaders, talking too often should be unlearned.

The ability to ask one good question at a time and then listen (really listen) with the intent to understand is a key leadership skill. Many issues would be avoided or more quickly resolved if more leaders chose to listen first.

Quick Challenge: The next time you ask someone a question, ask only one question and listen to the answer with the intent of truly understanding. Don’t get wrapped up in your own head preparing a response. Instead ensure that you truly understand what is being shared with you.

4. Choose to Talk Straight

Key Question: How have we come to think that someone can become a great leader without being controversial or upsetting at times?

Brief Thought: Leadership is a tough, often isolated role. The leader must make decisions, deliver messages, and convey information that can upset some. Not every leader is up for this task. As a result, some leaders water down their messages or avoid addressing a subject in a timely and direct manner. This helps no one.

The business goes down the wrong path, money is wasted, and lives are impacted. If something needs to be said, “say it.”

Quick Challenge: The next time you are faced with conveying bad news, chose to speak the truth in a respectful, timely, clear, and compassionate manner.

5. Choose to Share Perspectives

Question: Have you or your people ever refrained from sharing an insightful perspective out of fear that you may sound silly, uninformed, critical, etc.?

Brief Thought: Your organization hires people to collectively produce better results. To do this, ideas need to be thrown on the table, critiqued, and ultimately selected for implementation based on their individual merits.

You should create a culture that is open to new ideas and not one where individuals are unwilling to share certain perspectives out of fear that they might upset someone.

Quick Challenge: If a potentially productive idea pops into your head this week. Chose not to squash it out of hand. Instead, elect to speak up and share.