Roy Notowitz: [00:00:00] This is the Noto Group Job Search Strategy podcast. I’m Roy Notowitz, Founder and President of Noto Group Executive Search. I’m talking with job search experts about how job seekers can effectively market themselves in a competitive field. I hope the tips you hear will help you find job search success a little bit faster and with greater confidence that you’re on the right path.
On this episode, I continue my discussion with career coach and marketing expert Merryn Roberts-Huntley. We’ll talk about how job seekers can successfully network and interview to help get the job they want.
Merryn, thank you for joining me. Welcome back to the podcast.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:00:43] I am so excited to be back. Thanks for having me Roy.
Roy Notowitz: [00:00:46] In the first episode, we talked a lot about preparation and planning. So let’s assume that a thoughtful job seeker spends two weeks on planning, prepping, researching, and organizing and it’s Monday morning on the third week. How should they get started?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:01:01] I love this question. So I would say the job seeker, on that Monday morning, has two big things to be doing.
One thing thing is pulling out that target list that we talked about and starting to make some progress on that. And the other obvious thing is to actually be searching for open positions. And there’s a lot of work against both of those buckets. Wouldn’t you say?
Roy Notowitz: [00:01:21] Absolutely. How much time should they be spending on the searching and applying for positions that they find online versus researching and focusing on who they want to connect with?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:01:34] I would say people probably put too much time into just looking for jobs and not enough time into building relationships that could actually lead to jobs. So if I had to put a number on it, I would say balance it at least 50/50. What do you think?
Roy Notowitz: [00:01:51] I think maybe even more towards networking and connecting with people, you know, I think you can pretty efficiently find and apply for jobs these days. Although I know that you would recommend somebody is very thoughtful and tailors their resume and their approach. I think also sometimes people apply to too many jobs, you know, oftentimes I’ll see somebody apply to like all the jobs on our website.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:02:14] I want to touch on two things you just said though, you know, one, which is, I would agree with you if I’m going to err on spending more time on either the applying or the networking, I would skew it towards spending time on networking. I totally agree with you. And then the other thing you said was people will apply for multiple jobs within the same company or with a recruiting firm that’s recruiting for multiple jobs. Right? And that, we talked about this in the last episode, really, you know, makes you look like you don’t have a clear direction and you don’t know your area of expertise.
Right? Because if you think that you’re qualified for five very different roles, that’s not sending a great message to that recruiter.
Roy Notowitz: [00:02:51] What’s the best way for somebody to approach somebody they don’t know. I mean, there’s a million different ways to connect with someone other than, “I’m looking for a job. Do you have one?”
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:03:01] We definitely don’t want to say that. Right? A couple ideas come to mind. The first one, and we talked about this a little bit on part one is, you know, do you have a mutual connection, right? And if somebody interests you on your target list and you see that a former coworker of yours is connected to them, start there.
That’s a great way to start. Another way to start would be research the person on your target list, who you’re trying to build a relationship with. Let’s see, maybe they’ve been featured in an article or on a podcast or somewhere that could be a hook that you could use to say, you know, “Hey Steve, I listened to your recent podcast episode where you were talking about A, B or C. I was really impressed with it. Would you be willing to free up five minutes of time for me to ask you a few questions ?” And then tell them a little bit about yourself. That’s another idea, or if there’s nothing that you can come up with in common, it’s still perfectly fine to send that person a message on LinkedIn or an email if you know their email address or can figure it out, but just be concise and polite about it.
Roy Notowitz: [00:04:02] So that’s interesting, “concise.” Let’s talk about that. We had talked about in our previous episode, people talk too much sometimes. The same thing happens in emails. I sometimes get a book when somebody is reaching out, which I understand they want to share everything they can, their entire story, but what’s your recommendation on how to write an email?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:04:22] You have to limit yourself. You’re just, you’re trying to build an initial relationship with this person. It would be like going on a date and telling someone, everything there is to know about you. It would scare them off, right?
Roy Notowitz: [00:04:35] Right.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:04:35] You wouldn’t… like baby steps, right? So put your best foot forward in terms of, “Hey, you know, this is my background. Here’s what I’m looking for. You know, I noticed this about your background. Can I ask you a few questions?” Right? So, you know, I would say that an introductory email that is three or four sentences would be great. I get nervous and I know you do as well. Roy, when I get emails that are like essays, because I know if I give that person time, they’re never going to stop talking.
Roy Notowitz: [00:05:04] Yeah. I mean, I understand too, that they spend a lot of time thinking about how they’re going to represent themselves. It’s almost like they put everything that they wrote in their planning session into that email
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:05:15] Ease into it. Right? So, first get the person on the phone and then see how it’s going, right? Gauge kind of how the connection is, but I would say start small and professional and don’t scare them off.
Roy Notowitz: [00:05:28] So should somebody set a goal for each week? This is one thing I’ve told job seekers before, sometimes, is to set some goals for each week or each month, what do you recommend there?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:05:38] I would say an active job seeker should be spending time against three things.
One would be doing outreach and, and networking. And that right now in the era that we’re in with COVID-19 would be virtual networking. Right? You know, outside of this, I think if you’re able to actually meet someone in person, if you get to that point, that’s a win, that obviously takes more time. But, so the pure networking should be a decent chunk of time.
I think that the next thing would be actually connecting on a broader scale. So that could be being part of some sort of a virtual community, whether you’re learning from career experts on a, you know, an online course or a podcast, right? So it’s just outreach that could benefit you indirectly. That’s still developing your career, developing you as a person.
And then the final thing that I think every job seeker should be doing each week is the actually looking for positions and considering applying if they’re ready. And you said this perfectly, the application doesn’t take that long. It’s all the pre-work that you should be doing to set yourself up for that application being best received.
So, you know, more time on the getting ready to apply, right? And if you’re looking for a job and you’re not every week having at least a couple networking conversations, then I think you’re being lazy.
Roy Notowitz: [00:06:58] I think the best way to do it is to think of what’s realistic because if you start setting goals that aren’t really achievable, then you start feeling like you’re not being successful. And I think, you know, I would say three to five networking calls, if you’re really good at it and really want to set bigger goals. I think you could try to get, you know, to 10 conversations a week. I think if somebody was really eager or aggressive, that could be possible.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:07:25] And another thing that I’ve been talking about lately is just, we are in such a unique time right now in which people who normally don’t have time for networking conversations might make themselves available right now. So as much as we want to be sensitive to what people are dealing with in their home lives and with their careers, I actually think you have a better chance right now, if you approach it politely and carefully of getting five minutes of someone’s time than you do in the normal chaos of everyday business.
Roy Notowitz: [00:07:52] I think that that’s true, especiall as time goes on, I feel like a little bit right now, it might be difficult just because people are still trying to land the plane. You know, there’s still a lot of challenges at work. A lot of challenges at home. And I do think it’s potentially, like if people might be preoccupied or busy a little bit now, more so than maybe a month or two or three from now, but you’re right. They are sort of a captive audience looking at LinkedIn and stuff too. So I don’t know the answer to that.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:08:24] Yeah. I think it’s a fine balance. And certainly a month ago I would have said don’t, don’t reach out to people. You know, people are in shock and trying to get their feet under them. But I, I definitely feel like with my network, that people are getting into a rhythm. It’s difficult, you know, and I can speak from experience.
I have three kids and you know, they’re all home and I’m working and it’s… I feel your listeners, the ones who are struggling right now. But I also, you know, I do think there is, interestingly, a little bit more flexibility in some ways, right? And I think people have a little bit more of a heart about it right now, too, because, you know, hear everything about, you know, we are in this together as crazy and unforeseen as it is. So I do think there is more kindness and, you know, helping each other out, which I love seeing.
Roy Notowitz: [00:09:08] Yeah, I’m definitely trying to, you know, be of service or assistance to anyone that I can, you know, within reason,
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:09:15] Well, and I think even just you doing this podcast is… it’s such a give back, you know? I think it’s awesome.
Roy Notowitz: [00:09:20] Thank you. So once somebody starts to make connections and let’s say they talk to three to five people a week for the first month. So that’s 20 people. What are some ways that they can maintain that connection or top of mind awareness over time?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:09:37] I get asked that question quite a bit. I want to start by saying not all connections are created equal, right?
So you may have, like, you’re suggesting, let’s say 20 new connections over the course of you working really hard in a month to build relationships. And you know, what 10 of them really just may not have felt genuine. They may not have felt like there was a mutual dialogue and interest going and that’s okay.
You still thank the person, you know, you’re still connected to them on LinkedIn, but you have to know when to push a little bit and when to just realize that that’s probably not going to go anywhere. So I would say with the ones that did feel natural and you sent a followup email, I would say within a month after that initial connection, I would certainly be sending a followup that would be serving the connection more.
Right? So we mentioned this a little bit on part one, which was, sending an article that might interest them, you know, and seeing if you might be able to have a followup phone call at some point, you know, a month after that initial phone call, I think would be fair and not overdoing it. What do you think?
Roy Notowitz: [00:10:41] No, I agree. I also like when people, and you’ve mentioned this before, have personal newsletters or things like you’re part of their community, and because of that, they’re like, “Hey, thanks everyone for helping me. Here’s what’s going on in my job search right now.”
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:10:55] Ooh, I really like that actually. One of the things I think that makes it different and better is when people personalize it. Yes. You’ve probably got the same block of copy that you’re sending to different people, but just, you know, it personally addressing it to the person who you had the call with a couple of weeks ago, letting them know, you know, their advice was really helpful. Here’s where you’re at in your job search. Taking them along for the journey and seeing if they bite.
Roy Notowitz: [00:11:21] Another question or, “Hey, I saw this opportunity over here. Do you know anything about that company?”
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:11:26] And some people are gonna respond and others, you know, it’ll take them a week and others you’ll never hear back from, you know, and I usually advise people to give it two followup tries and then you’re probably annoying them at that point.
Roy Notowitz: [00:11:39] I think the same thing, I think it’s very easy for an email, and this happens to me because I get 300 a day that get buried in 30 minutes and then it’s like, I saw it flash by, but I don’t remember an hour later. So, you know, it’s helpful to follow up, to be persistent without being annoying
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:11:56] Give it a week, right? So I don’t want to follow up email two days after you sent me the original email, but a week later I’m probably going to apologize because maybe I missed it.
Roy Notowitz: [00:12:05] Yeah, absolutely. That’s usually the case. What about like posting, liking, sharing and clicking on profiles on LinkedIn?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:12:11] Yeah. I’m really glad you brought that up.
You know, I know you and I are both really active on LinkedIn and we talked a lot in part one about how, you know, we notice who’s looking at our profiles, right? So if there’s a connection who you are interested in building a relationship with, be sure to be following their LinkedIn and commenting on their posts. Liking their posts. Or consider resharing one of their posts.
This goes back to our conversation about personal branding. Right. And setting yourself up in the right light. Right? So you want to be seen as, as an expert in your area or areas of expertise. And so yeah, making comments and sharing articles that are positioning you in that way is a great idea.
Roy Notowitz: [00:12:51] I think a good thing somebody could do is to research a topic that’s maybe current or relevant and to connect with people and write a blog or an article about something that’s relevant to what’s going on right now. A, It’s helpful, B, it sort of helps stay informed. And another thing I think to be relevant is to take time to read economic trends, consumer behaviors, like staying up to date, because if you are going to interview, you want to make sure that you’re up to speed and relevant on what’s going on in your industry or discipline.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:13:25] Absolutely. I love that advice because yeah, there’s a lot that’s changing right now and you don’t want to find yourself on a phone screening and being asked about, you know, trends in X or Y and you have no idea, you know, and I think that’s definitely part of that prepping for the interview.
Roy Notowitz: [00:13:40] So, taking classes and developing skills, is there a place that you recommend people go for that? I know LinkedIn has LinkedIn Learning.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:13:48] Yeah. I think LinkedIn Learning has a ton of good options. I think Udemy, which is U D E M Y is another platform that is great. I’m an instructor on there. There’s a ton of great content on there.
And the courses, honestly, are super cheap. Most of them are $10 or $15. This is a great time, if you have extra time right now, to be figuring out where might some of the gaps be in your skill set, on your resume and be doing some online learning.
Roy Notowitz: [00:14:13] I think it just shows your learning agility and adaptability and your appetite for professional development. So that’s a good thing.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:14:18] I totally agree. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all have things that we know are weaknesses for us, that we could, if we had time, which maybe you do right now, you know, we could develop.
Roy Notowitz: [00:14:29] Let’s talk about how mindset matters. You speak to that in your book. What do you mean by that and why does it matter?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:14:36] Big passion for me. I do talk a lot about this when I teach, you know, how you approach your career and your job search is such a big deal. And one of the things my students hear me say often is, “the hungry will be fed.” The career world is so competitive. And you know, if you’re only going to put in mediocre actions and efforts, you’re going to get mediocre results.
You’ve got to be the person who stands out. You’ve gotta be the person who does a little bit more. Who makes it tough for someone to say no, because you’re so determined. You want it. It’s hunger is what your mindset needs to be. And it’s not desperation. There’s a difference, but it’s hunger and you know, you and I, we see it when we’re evaluating candidates. You know this person is going to be successful. It’s just a matter of which company is going to be lucky enough to get them.
Roy Notowitz: [00:15:30] Yeah. I mean, there’s another phenomenon that I’ve noticed when talking to job seekers and it’s one I think we should bring up because it ties to mindset.
Sometimes people feel like they lose their sense of worth when they’re looking for a job or maybe when they’ve lost their job. And, honestly, their worth is the same as it was when they had a job. They just, I think, feel a bit defeated or insecure about it. And I understand how that feeling is, and it’s something that I think people can pick up on.
What are the things somebody can do to sort of stay in the right mindset and to stay positive and confident despite how that might feel otherwise.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:16:10] Yeah. Or despite the reality. Right? Because it is tough out there right now. You know, I mean, the first thing is just try not to be too hard on yourself. I mean, I know it’s human nature, but I think if you do things like create your target list and actually work on a daily basis, at least a weekly basis to making progress. There’s something that feels really good about accomplishing things, right? And somebody responding to you and having a positive call.
And then, like you and I were just talking about, continuing to do things to challenge yourself and develop your mind, whether it’s taking an online course, listening to a podcast every week that you love. Right? So keep learning. If you just apply online and wait for things to happen. Oh, it’s going to be a tough go. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but also do things to help lift yourself up, to help yourself feel challenged.
Roy Notowitz: [00:16:59] I think part of that too, is just taking care of yourself, making sure you’re getting enough sleep, maybe exercising, spending time with your family and friends for support.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:17:07] Yeah. Being around people who make you feel good about yourself, I think is key when you’re in the job search phase.
Roy Notowitz: [00:17:14] So what are some ways that job seekers can avoid wasting a ton of time?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:17:18] Applying for jobs that you’re not qualified for is certainly a waste of time. Right? You know, I also think if you are going to apply, do more than just sending in a resume. I think I’ve said this in the last episode, don’t just send out a whole bunch of resumes. You’re attacking the job from all sorts of different angles. So don’t waste your time just applying, really figure out who’s connected to that role. Who do you know, how can you stand out? Right?
Roy Notowitz: [00:17:44] How would somebody know if they’re going to be competitive in a pool of candidates?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:17:48] I have a tool that I suggest job seekers create, which is a suitability map. It’s a one pager on one side you have. The bullet points essentially from the job description. So those 5 or 10 things that they say they’re looking for. And on the other side, you directly map the experience that you have that meets that responsibility or requirement.
So it becomes, basically, a sell sheet for why you’re qualified, why you’re qualified for this job. And it’s pretty compelling, you know, and it would be something that I would bring to an in person interview as part of the portfolio. It wouldn’t be something I would email with a bunch of documents. I think that might be a bit overwhelming, but if you make a suitability map, that’s going to give you a pretty direct answer around if you’re qualified or not.
Roy Notowitz: [00:18:32] Yeah. I think the other thing to consider is the scope of the role and title, every company is a little bit different. Every company’s in different stages. So somebody who might be a director somewhere might be a VP somewhere else, or someone who’s a VP somewhere might be a director somewhere else and not to get stuck on those things.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:18:47] Yeah. I think that’s important, right? Because some people only view themselves at a certain level, but in a, you know, in a large organization and a global company, that title may be lower, but it doesn’t mean the pay or the responsibility is going to be lower. So I wouldn’t get hung up on that.
Roy Notowitz: [00:19:02] I think the other thing around suitability is there, there might be one thing or two things that maybe would be a concern if you were to put yourselves in the shoes of the hiring manager in terms of experience. It’s okay, sometimes, if there’s one thing maybe that you don’t have, right? But as you’re thinking about communicating with that company or that hiring executive, thinking about how can you head them off at the pass? How can you address that upfront a little bit?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:19:33] I do a lot of mock interviews, especially with senior level people preparing them for the actual interview. And this, this question comes up often, which is I don’t have exactly that experience. So the first place I go is, well, what is related experience that you have that we can talk to? Because you’re not going to say, “I don’t have that experience.” You’re going to say, you know, “Something that I’ve done, that’s quite similar to that is A, B or C.” Right?
Roy Notowitz: [00:19:58] I think you have to keep it real. And when you’re interviewing, if you can be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and fit with the role, it’s more believable when you’re talking about the areas that you actually do fit versus having to have all the answers for everything and trying to be the perfect fit.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:20:14] I don’t think it’s possible to give them absolutely everything they want. There are going to be some areas that will naturally be a stretch for you.
Roy Notowitz: [00:20:22] So that authenticity piece around making sure that you are, you know, as accurate as you can be about your capabilities and experience and competencies.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:20:31] I’m not going to highlight the weaknesses though. I’m certainly not going to lie about them, but I’m not going to come right out and tell you all about them.
Roy Notowitz: [00:20:39] True. But if you are asked in an interview about, you know, a weakness or a mistake that you made, or something like that, where do you go with that?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:20:47] Yeah. I mean, I’m always going to advise people to be careful with the ones that they choose.
Still be honest and genuine, but don’t suggest a weakness that is a key responsibility to the role. You know, again, it’s, for me interviewing it has to be strategic. It is a game and people don’t necessarily like that word, but it is a game and it’s about bringing the best parts of your experience forward so that you line up as best as you can genuinely honestly, with that position.
Roy Notowitz: [00:21:15] The goal is just to make sure that they have all the information they need to make a decision and that you have all the information that you need to make a decision. I think it’s both ways. And I do appreciate when a candidate does highlight maybe an area that might be a blind spot or an area that they haven’t had enough experience or a lot of experience in.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:21:35] I would advise that candidate though, to talk about how they’ve been working on that area.
Roy Notowitz: [00:21:40] Sure. Or maybe how they might ramp up on it or a time when they had a similar situation where they were able to learn something quickly.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:21:46] I think we can agree on that.
Roy Notowitz: [00:21:49] Okay. So let’s talk about your advice for interviewing. In your book, you really emphasize interviewing skills and how important the first five minutes are in making a favorable impression. You’ve talked about how someone tells their story and how that’s a direct reflection of how they represent the company. Given that competition is fierce, what’s your methodology around acing an interview?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:22:12] So I would say that there are three parts to acing an interview, and people don’t think about it like this, usually. So there’s the, before the, during, and the after, right? It’s not just what we’re doing while we’re sitting in that room or on that video call together. So let’s start with before the interview.
So, one of the things that I really think is not done enough is research in preparing for the interview, right? So researching the people who you’re going to be interviewing with, really understanding the perspective that they’re going to bring to the interview, researching the company and where it is at, where its priorities are.
Definitely you should be spending a lot of time on the company website, understanding its mission, products or services. Just really immerse yourself in the company. You know, I’d also say as part of that pre-work before the interview, can you get any endorsements from people within the company supporting your application? And that could be sending a note to the recruiter or the hiring manager saying, you know, “I heard Roy Notowitz is interviewing for the Sales Director role. I have experience working with him in doing A, B or C, you know, he’d be a great hire, blah, blah, blah.”
You know, and then I think there’s also just, even before you get to the interview, there’s just some prep that you need to do around making sure you understand where it’s going to be or how it’s going to be.
Right? If it’s going to be on a video call, do you have the technology already? You don’t want to be late because you’re unprepared. You know, you want to make sure that you have anything that you want to show during the interview ready. And then making sure you have questions, right? Come ready with those.
Don’t make those up on the fly. Give yourself some options that you can pull from. Honestly, one of my most impactful pieces of interview advice is before the interview even start, figure out the five stories that you’re going to tell that are going to get you this job. Have keywords that you’re going to write down in front of you that are going to cue you to those stories. So this is just, we’re not even in the room yet.
Roy Notowitz: [00:24:11] Having those stories and giving those examples is what makes you memorable and what will maybe help you as they’re trying to recall and think through their decision making.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:24:23] Oh, absolutely. And also you said this in part one, too, just around, don’t just share the example, actually share the impact or the result of it.
Roy Notowitz: [00:24:31] Yeah. I mean, I think also in the preparation, when you’re thinking about the questions you’re going to ask, you have to put yourself in the position and imagine yourself, it’s your first week working in the job, you know, what are the things you’d really want to know? Not just stuff that’s generic. What are the things that you’d really want to understand about their business, about the situation, about context, for what they’re trying to accomplish?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:24:54] You know, one other thing that we didn’t mention yet is figuring out what you’re going to wear. You want to make the right impression. Right? So I used to work at Nike and you knew someone was coming for an interview when they showed up in a suit and tie. And you knew that person wasn’t going to get the job.
Roy Notowitz: [00:25:10] I know when I was there. And if somebody wore anything other than Nike, too, that was kind of a faux pas.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:25:17] And people always will say to me, well, how do I know what to wear? Whoever’s scheduling the interview, you can ask them, you know, what would be appropriate attire? Do some research online or ask somebody who works there.
Right? But, you know, actually figuring out the right look. And making the right impression is really important. And even before we get to the first five minutes, you have to get there on time. Let’s say this is an in person interview. You have to make a good impression on whoever’s at the reception desk.
It’s all the little things that are going to add up. Or again, if you’re on a video call, make sure you’re early. Make sure that you’re in a good sound situation, a quiet room where you’re not going to get interrupted and that there’s not some funny background behind you with a bunch of wacky pictures. Right?
Roy Notowitz: [00:26:01] Okay. Let’s talk about the first five minutes.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:26:04] The interviewer, and almost every time, is going to say, “So tell me about yourself.” They’re going to say some sort of a leading question, and that’s where you’re going to have the chance to, in a very intentional way, tell the story of your journey that shows that it has been building towards this role.
Right? So talking about your background, your education, your experiences, what you’re passionate about. And you’ve got to practice this, right? Pulling parts of your story that feel aligned with the company. We know the interviewer is listening to that and they’re either checking boxes in their head going, “Yes, this person’s going to fit.” Or they’re going, “How did this person get here?”
Roy Notowitz: [00:26:47] So that first, “Tell me about yourself,” is absolutely, probably, the most important thing to practice beforehand.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:26:55] And practice it with, with somebody in your home or, or a friend over a video call and film it.
Roy Notowitz: [00:27:01] How long should it be?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:27:03] Sometimes interviewers will say, “I’m going to give you a few minutes or I’m going to give you five minutes. Tell me about yourself.” You know, I would say if they don’t say anything, they want more than the 30-second version, right? Err, on the side of about three minutes, no more than five.
Roy Notowitz: [00:27:17] Yeah. Going into an interview, I like to have a moment of mindfulness you know, breathing. Just making sure that you’re feeling sort of present. All that preparation is sort of like done.
And this is where you just need to be really present and pay attention and listen and, and smile. And some of those things to sort of enjoy the experience.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:27:37] I’m really glad you said that because I think what happens to a lot of people right before an interview is they go into this overdrive, sweaty, anxious state, and you’ve worked your tail off, and this is the chance to show it.
Own it be confident. Actually, and you said, you know, enjoy it. It is not supposed to be a terrifying, awful experience. This is your chance to talk about yourself and your, your experiences and see how well that lines up with the role. So believe in yourself.
Roy Notowitz: [00:28:08] Yeah. And I think there’s a balance between being overly confident and confident too. Like, you want to make sure you don’t come across as being arrogant or, you know, so obviously you have to understand the balance between those things.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:28:23] I also think, just kind of jumping into the interview a little bit, one of the things that people don’t do enough of is use tools in the interview.
So people just, just talk all they come with them, their resume. And if you build a portfolio that has resume, perhaps a letter of recommendation, perhaps a couple samples of work on one pagers, perhaps that suitability map that we just talked about, or even a 30, 60, 90 day plan.
Think about when you’re answering the questions, how cool it is, and helpful it is, you’ve made a portfolio for the person who’s interviewing you. It’s addressed to them. It says, you know, you’re a candidate for whatever the title of the position is. And it has, you know, the logo of the company on it. And let’s say, you’re telling an example, that’s one of your five key stories.
And that’s one of the work samples that you put in the portfolio. You can say and actually see if you flip to this page and the portfolio, you’ll see kind of what, you know, what I’m talking about. Or in a video interview actually showing, you know, showing somebody something.
Roy Notowitz: [00:29:25] Yeah, I think that’s great. You know, you might want to take out numbers and things that are confidential, but I think the suitability map and some of those things, you know, sometimes you have to be careful not to do too much too.
You can leave some things behind or you could say, Hey, I’m going to follow up because sometimes like the 30, 60, 90 day plan, for example, if you don’t really have the context, you might not know exactly how to do that. You know, oftentimes companies have candidates do projects these days, especially at the executive level.
And so I think the amount of energy you put into that can really make a difference as well. You know, one of the things that I also tell candidates to do is to think about a bunch of questions, or Google, like questions people typically ask, and then just go through that process of interviewing and practicing answering those questions.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:30:15] It’s funny how many people don’t do that. Right? But I talk about this in my book. I have 15 of the most common interview questions and 15 tough questions. Whether you get them from my book or you Google the same sort of thing, you’ve got to know how to answer things like, you know, what motivates you, you know, what’s your leadership style, right?
You’ve gotta be ready for these questions and it’s not just being ready, but it’s knowing the stories that you want to tell, that you up as best as possible to get this role. Right?
Roy Notowitz: [00:30:46] You know, a lot, the companies we represent are purpose and mission driven and they’re, they’re just good companies, they’re companies that have authentic leadership, meaningful career opportunities and great culture.
And those types of jobs are a little bit harder to get, right? And so one of the things that our clients are looking for is that connection to purpose or that connection to mission or that connection to, you know, the values and knowing what those are within yourself and how you use that as a guide for how you conduct business or make decisions and that it aligns with theirs. If that makes sense.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:31:20] And no matter what the company is, whether it’s like one of the companies that you work with or a completely different one, it’s about showing that it’s a fit. Right? And hopefully it just naturally is a fit. And that’s why you’re here, you know, but then choosing stories and examples that illustrate that.
Roy Notowitz: [00:31:36] Yeah. The difference between a panel interview in a one-on-one… any thoughts?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:31:41] It is quite different, right? Because in a one on one interview, you can build rapport with that one person, I think it’s less intimidating. In a panel interview, you really have to be speaking to, like making eye contact, and sometimes just one person will lead the panel interview.
And other people may just be in there to listen, or they may be in there to ask just one question, but that’s why I think asking this question at the end of, “What’s the number one thing each of you is looking for?” Will make each person feel like you care about their opinion.
Roy Notowitz: [00:32:11] Well, I think also during interviews, there’s certain things that people are looking for. I would call them just typical filters. Like for us, you know, are they a leader versus a follower? Do they use the words like “my team” or just, “I, I, I,” all the time as they’re describing their work? Do they have a learning approach versus being a know it all? Are they specific or vague with their answers? You know…
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:32:35] Team oriented or individual…
Roy Notowitz: [00:32:37] and then specific or vague? I mean, that’s where you need to give specific examples, right? To demonstrate. And that’s, that’s the story, but it’s also the example and the result and sort of the detail, I think ,needs to be there. Otherwise it’s hard to know what role they actually played in, in the success of that initiative. And then I think there’s an element that I always look for, that’s whether or not person is positive or negative.
If the interviewer is skilled, they’re going to pick up on those things. And the other thing is just passionate versus pedestrian. So like, energy. I think a lot of companies are looking for people who are passionate about what they do, who put energy into their work and who care. And so that comes through in every aspect about a person and who they are.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:33:22] Yeah. And nobody wants to bring someone onto a team who looks unhappy. I talk about this a lot with the presentation skills coaching that I do just around the difference that it makes just to smile. Even if you’re not talking, just sitting there with a happier posture. People want to hire teammates who are enjoyable to be around.
Roy Notowitz: [00:33:42] Another thing, and that is to recognize that sometimes people are really great interviewers and sometimes they’re not. And so when you’re interviewing with people, you know, if they’re really skilled in interviewing, just making sure that they have enough time, time to ask questions so that you’re not rambling too long, you know?
So you are giving a lot of detail and examples, but then you’re also stopping so that they can ask another question and dig deeper and learn what they want to learn. But if the person is not as skilled at interviewing, sometimes you have to sort of control the conversation or make sure that the things that you want to convey that you had talked about writing down in advance before you go in, these are the three things I want them to know if nothing else, you have to make sure that you’re able to sort of weave that into that conversation.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:34:26] Absolutely.
Roy Notowitz: [00:34:28] Is there anything anybody should say as they’re wrapping up the interview?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:34:31] Yeah. I mean, I, I definitely think you should have a couple of questions. One of my favorite questions is to ask each person in the interview. What’s the number one thing that they’re looking for in who they hire. First off, it makes everybody feel valued and heard, right? If it’s a panel interview and you’ve got four people in there, one of them might not have spoken. If there is an objection, right? If there is something that you are missing, That may be brought up and that will give you a chance to speak to it.
Roy Notowitz: [00:34:59] So they wrap it up. You know, you ask some questions at the end, then what happens when you leave?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:35:05] One other question I would definitely ask is, can they give you any idea of what their timing looks like for the process. Hopefully they’ll give you something. Usually they don’t give you a lot.
Within 24 hours, I would send a thank you email. So make sure you have contact information. If it’s a panel interview and you’ve met with several people, I would send an individual note thanking each of them for their time. And certainly if there was anything that was discussed that you wanted to follow up on briefly, you know, if they asked you a question and there’s something really important that you wanted to add to it, I think that’s fine to do.
Or if they made an interesting comment and you found an article that speaks to that. You know, and then I would say dependent upon what they told you about the timing, I would at a certain point follow up if you haven’t heard anything, just touching base, looking for any information on where they’re at with the process.
Roy Notowitz: [00:35:54] Yeah, I think that’s true. You know, another step here, which we didn’t talk about, but our third episode is going to be on how to work with recruiters and everything you need to know about working with recruiters. But if there is a recruiter that you need to follow up with, I think that there’s an opportunity after just sort of follow up with the recruiter, see if they have any feedback or information on next steps and timing.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:36:16] I think your listeners are going to be excited too, just to hear what your team has to say.
Roy Notowitz: [00:36:21] And we’re going to try to represent all the different types of recruiters and how their roles might be involved with that process.
So Merryn, what’s next for you or what are the things that you’re working on and how can people connect with you and, and work with you?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:36:38] Yeah, thank you for asking. So right now I am pretty deep in teaching, you know, and I’m just in this crazy world that we’re living in right now. I’m just trying to continue to be a source of support and inspiration to people. So I’m pretty active on my social channels with my company Made to Hire. The easiest way to access me is to read my blog.
I post a lot of career advice there and if someone wants more and they can buy my book, it’s on Amazon, or my online course, you know, and some people feel like online courses are scary, but there are no tests. It’s really just all my best career advice in an on demand format. Yeah. Lots of options to connect with me and, you know, certainly check out madetohire.com if you want to learn more about what I do.
Roy Notowitz: [00:37:19] Yeah. I recommend your online course and your book to everybody. And I think we’re just scratching the surface here. A lot of the stuff that you share in that book and on your course is definitely more in depth and could provide everything that somebody would need to get started and to be successful in their job search.
So thanks for pulling that all together. I know you spent a lot of time and energy and that you’ve been refining it over the years and it’s especially relevant right now. And I’ll make sure that we have a link to your website and everything in the show notes.
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:37:51] Thank you for that. And it’s also just been so fun having this chat with you because you know, you have so much great advice. It’s fun just doing this back and forth.
Roy Notowitz: [00:37:59] Thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you want to share before we sign off?
Merryn Roberts-Huntley: [00:38:04] You know, I know things are tough, but stay positive. Every week, chip away at your target list and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Roy Notowitz: [00:38:13] If you’d like to learn more information about Merryn’s work, check out madetohire.com. Next time, I’ll be talking with my team about working with recruiters.
This podcast was created by Noto Group Executive Search. We work with notable consumer brands in the athletic, outdoor, fashion, food/beverage, grocery, and natural product sectors.
Our producer is Anna McClain. You can find out more about her great work at aomcclain.com.Listen to the podcast