How to Gain the Upper Hand during your Next Job Interview

Gain the Upper Hand In an Interview

If I hire the wrong person for my team who doesn’t show results or ends up to be the “wrong fit,” my credibility as a people manager among my fellow vice presidents (and the CEO, my boss) will be on the line.

That’s the nagging feeling I always had as a hiring manager whenever I needed to add or replace a person on my team. And I believe that’s a fairly common concern for anyone in a position of making a hiring decision today.

Add that general concern for making a right hiring decision to the added distraction of considering a job candidate who happens to have a disability and you often end up with a fairly intense (and tense) selection process.

But, as a jobseeker with a disability you have an opportunity to diffuse that stress among everyone involved during your next job interview.

Here’s how. Do company research to identify one of the organization’s consistent pressure points (a “pain”) or a long-sought-but elusive objective (a “gain”). You then lay out a brief “30-60-90-day plan” of how you would work toward alleviating that “pain” or making some progress toward achieving that “gain” during your first three months on the job.

That approach can be a game changer in your job hunt if you take company research seriously as a key tool in your job marketing plan. Choose your most-preferred employer, network with past and present employees of that organization on LinkedIn and ask questions such as:

  • What do you like about the company? Why?
  • In your opinion, what does the company need to do to remain competitive in the marketplace? What does it need to do to gain more market share?
  • What are the most common traits of the company’s top performers?
  • Would you consider the company disability-friendly? Why?

You’ll then be in a position to ask strategic questions during your first interview with company representatives. Those questions could include:

  • Why is the position open? How long has it been open?
  • What are your expectations for the successful candidate during the first 60 to 90 days on the job?
  • What do you consider the biggest challenge in this job?
  • What results do you expect from the person holding this job during the first year?
  • How confident are you that I can fill this role effectively? Why?

After you have answered the unasked concerns about your disability with a brief statement upfront during the first few minutes of that first interview, your follow up to the answers to the five strategic questions above are a gateway to discussing your specific qualifications for the job.

But, that’s only the foundation for your “30-60-90-day plan,” which Peggy McKee, founder of careerconfidential.com, says can change the dynamics of the second or third interview you’ll likely have with your future employer.

She recommends using your company research and the knowledge you gain from your first interview to lay out what you hope to accomplish during the first 30 days, 60 days and 90 days on the your new job.

This does not have to be an elaborate plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect. McKee says it could be just a four-page handout (a cover page and one page for each 30-day period). Bring it to the second interview and use it as a tool to show how you plan to be successful in your new job.

At the end of that interview (and discussion about your plan), you can then ask: “If I do this, will I, from your perspective, be considered successful? Why?” The replies to those two questions can give you some idea of well you have conducted your interview. 

Here are five examples of how you can develop a “30-60-90-day plan” for specific situations.

For a Job Involving Website Development

30-day objective: Gain approval for upgrading the organization’s existing website so it’s more interactive and gains more traffic within niche audiences.

60-day objective: Introduce a forum for gathering viewpoints and feedback from the organization’s niche audiences.

90-day objective: Start adding video summaries of key content to main pages of the organization’s website.

For a Job Involving Market Expansion

30-day objective: Gain approval for a marketing plan to tap the sales potential within your social media network.

60-day objective: Update your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. to reflect the company’s overall marketing strategy and the plan you developed for tapping the sales potential of your network.

90-day objective: Start implementing networking tactics outlined in your marketing plan.

For a Workplace Where Disability Inclusion Can Be an Issue

30-day objective: Gain agreement from your immediate supervisor about how to best put team members, customers and vendors at ease about your disability and start implementing “our inclusion plan” among your immediate coworkers.

60-day objective: Roll out “our inclusion plan” among other employees with whom you must interact as part of your job.

90-day objective: Roll out “our inclusion plan” among customers and vendors with whom you must interact as part of your job.

For a Job Which Requires an Accommodation Plan  

30-day objective: Research, obtain and implement any needed workaround accommodations so you can effectively carry out the duties of your job from day one and gain approval of your more comprehensive recommendations for needed on-the-job accommodations.

60-day objective: Work with employer’s IT professionals to implement the comprehensive accommodations plan that gained approval.

90-day objective: Work with employer’s IT professionals to evaluate implementation of the comprehensive accommodations plan and suggest any needed modifications.

McKee says your “30-60-90-day plan” can change the dynamics of your second interview with a prospective employer. It shows how you plan to be successful as a new member of your hiring manager’s team. It helps the hiring manager visualize you as a member of that team.

But, most of all, it alleviates much of the doubt the hiring manager may have about his or her own potential vulnerabilities within the company’s management structure. It can also eliminate many of the pitfalls (in terms of extra time, money and stress) he or she may have falsely envisioned as a result of hiring someone with a disability.

Copyright © 2015. Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Jim Hasse (www.jimhasse.com), Global Career Development Facilitator, has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both jobseekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com/), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. He’s the founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, a comprehensive career coaching guide for parents of youngsters with cerebral palsy, and owner of Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC, which develops win-win direct mail fundraisers for champions of disability employment.