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5 Secrets to Negotiate Anything You Can’t Ignore

Do your knees shake, your pulse fastens, your hands sweat when you need to negotiate anything? Get over it. Discover 5 seldom-discussed secrets to negotiate your salary, a contract, a promotion or your new car. I’ll tell you how I did it!

To negotiate from strength you must first know what you’re negotiating

Negotiation quote by Sheryl Sandberg

Negotiation quote by Sheryl Sandberg

1Whatever you’re negotiating, that is not the only thing on the table

Say you sell web design and support services and you’re sitting with a prospective client. If you are only prepared to negotiate your fee you’re missing the point. Many people can design a website. And there will always be someone who can charge less than you. What do you offer that is worth hiring you to do it? What are your terms? What kind of service do you offer once you turn the site over to your client? Can you offer to design a second, personal website, for free? Could you offer an update after a year?

The same is true if you’re negotiating a promotion or a salary. To negotiate from strength, remember to be creative. Think beyond what’s in front of you. Even circumstances and rules you might think are fixed, are not. Everything is negotiable.

Learn to negotiate how to buy your car

Learn to negotiate how to buy your car

Here’s my own example. I recently ordered my new Acme car (obviously not the real brand!) It was my fourth Acme. My third with the same dealership. Second time leasing. I was scheduled to pick up my car on Friday. On Wednesday, I received a call. It was about a $1,000 cash back sale that was taking place at my dealership on Saturday. When Paul, the salesperson who sold me the last three cars, called me to confirm my pickup date, I asked for the $1,000 cash back. Here’s a synopsis of the dialog that followed:

“You don’t qualify because you ordered the car several weeks ago. You have to buy your car on Saturday to qualify. It’s the rule.”

“Paul, the rules are relative. Who do I have to talk to in order to get my discount?”

“It doesn’t work like that. The rules come from Acme Headquarters. There’s not much I can do.”

“Wait, are you punishing me for being a loyal customer? This is the third Acme I buy from you…”

So what do you think happened? Read on to find out!

Don't miss 3 key negotiation strategies for women!

2

You always negotiate with a person

Whether it’s a job offer or a car lease you always negotiate with a person. Regardless of the size of their organization. Obviously, it could turn out that a couple of people make the final decision. But you get what I’m saying. This means it’s important to connect with the person who’s there to negotiate with you. The more you know about them and what would make them look good, the better. So research the person you’re likely to negotiate with, ahead of your meeting. Think about what would benefit the other person. What they need to win and what they can afford to lose.

In my conversation with Paul, I knew he didn’t want to lose a loyal customer. I also knew there was a problem that he could pass on to his organization so that he could save face with me. So that he could look like he was on my side.

Here’s how the dialog continued:

“I don’t care what the small print says. Your dealer hired a company to conduct the flash sale and gave them the list of customers. You guys should’ve removed those customers who already bought cars. So we wouldn’t get a call like this.”

“Let me see what I can do.”

Can you guess how it turned out?

Women tend to think that circumstances are more fixed than they really are.

Women tend to think that circumstances are more fixed than they really are.

3

Decide ahead of time your bottom line

Yes. You have to have a number, below which you refuse to negotiate. Why? Because if you don’t, you run the risk to negotiate against your own interests. This goes for your salary, for any project and for anything you sell. And it’s the reason why cultivating ingenuity and creativity goes a long way. Think of a variety of items to negotiate above and beyond what’s on the table.

My call with Paul was an active negotiation. My goal was to get the $1,000 discount. But I had already given a down payment on the car and was bound by the contract I had signed when I ordered it. So, I decided that if I could get $500 I’d be happy.

When I walked into the dealership that Friday, the lease was already written out. With my $1,000 discount! Yes. It was that simple. I just had to ask and insist on it. But wait. Because the negotiation didn’t end there.

4

Build your confidence right before you have to negotiate

If negotiation doesn’t come naturally to you, here’s a trick. Create a ritual that you do before you have to negotiate. It could be that you strike a power pose for a couple of minutes. Hands on your waist, standing on open legs. (The Wonder Woman stance.) Or, with your arms up in a V shape as a champion. (Like the athletes do when they win.) It’s proven to elicit a chemical boost of confidence.

You can also create a mantra. “I’m a powerful negotiator.” “I love to negotiate. It’s fun and exciting.” Whatever suits you. It will help you feel stronger and focused right before you hit the ground running.

A couple of weeks after I drove my cool new car home, I received a letter from Acme Financial Services. It was a bill for around $1,000! What? They listed items that shown “excessive wear and tear” of my previous car. The one I had turned in. So guess who I called first? Yup. Paul.

He promised to look into it. And he did. He got his dealership to knock $300 off the bill. Now I had to call the financial company and get the rest taken care of. Ommmmmmm…

Build your confidence with a power pose

Build your confidence with a power pose

5

Beware of signs that “this” is not a negotiation

Let’s be honest. There are times when people offer you a job interview even though they already have the candidate for the position. It’s a legal thing. They have to interview certain number of potential candidates. Or they already have the vendor they want to use. Stay alert so you pick up those signs and avoid investing too much time and energy. But don’t waste the chance to make a great impression. You’re there already. You never know what might happen in the future. So take advantage of the opportunity and show your best self.

Okay. So I called Acme Financial Services and spoke very kindly to the customer service rep.

“I don’t understand… You guys inspected the car and everything was fine and suddenly, 200 miles later, when I turn it in, the car needs new tires? At 19,000 miles? Could you please look into it for me?”

He didn’t really know what to respond. He knew this wasn’t a negotiation. He knew he had to make this bill go away.

And so he did.

Career Quiz: Test Your Negotiation Skills!

How to negotiate with confidence for what you want

The successful story of Elaine Del Valle

One of the best ways to learn how to negotiate in your career is to ask those who have done it successfully. Enter Elaine Del Valle. Award-winning actor, writer, producer and philanthropist.

You think you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Think again. When you are multi talented like Elaine Del Valle, it’s not really about how to negotiate for the roles you want but how to create them. And these roles are not only on stage or on screen but also as a writer and producer of the material she really cares about.

Elaine Del Valle headshot

Elaine Del Valle, actor, writer, producer and philanthropist is a great example of how to negotiate with confidence

Trained as an actor under the legendary Wynn Handman, Elaine wrote and developed her multiple award winning off-Broadway one-woman play “Brownsville Bred“– her true coming of age story set in the tough neighborhood of Brownsville Brooklyn NY. She’s been featured on films such as “Elliot Loves”, in comedies such as the web series “Los Angeles” and in the short film “Stereotypically Me.” Recent television appearances include CBS’s Blue Bloods opposite Donnie Wahlberg Elaine. She has hosted the Annual Hispanic Choice Awards taped for broadcast on CBS. And she also enjoys a long, lucrative voice-over career. Most recently, she licensed the series “Gran’pa Knows Best” to HBO. As a philanthropist, Elaine has raised over a million dollars for children with autism through the charity cycling event she founded The Mansion Ride for Autism Charity Cycling Event.

Having a career as an actor is not easy. When did you learn how to negotiate your roles?

I learned that being an actress, especially an ethnically ambiguous, commercial-looking Latina Actress, yielded little power. It wasn’t until I took on the role of writer that I yielded power. The question for me was not so much how to negotiate a role but how to create a role that fitted my interests and talents on the stage and on screen, and also behind the scenes.

I am best known for writing my autobiographical one-woman play, “Brownsville Bred.” The play has led me down more paths than I can state and is still creating inroads for me. Because it was my true Latina coming of age story, my audiences were privy to me and my life philosophy. It created powerful connections between me and those who saw it.

One such connection was with the Multicultural Media Forum and Time Warner Hispanic Employee Group, Viva. The groups invited me to perform my life story several times…I had the gift of being seen by network people and later being able to call them my friends.

I learned that my Latino community was hungry for a voice, especially a female voice telling a true story. I also learned that the voice was so strong that people remembered it.

Inspirational quote on how to negotiate by Elaine Del Valle . "I went into the meeting with a basic trust. The dealings were never adversarial. We all wanted the same thing."

To learn how to negotiate, you first need to know what you want.

I knew that I had to continue to write and so I created a web series, “Reasons Y I’m Single”. Writing, producing, directing and acting in the series became an impressive feat that marked me as a proven player in what we, in the NY Latino Entertainment inner circle, call “The Latino Media Mafia”. I built my reputation with hard work, fairness, helping others, appreciation and a very Latina Point of View. And getting to that point enabled me to negotiate projects that were always close to my heart.

These days I wear the hat that I need to in order to accomplish my to do lists. Every morning I wake up and say “I run my own studio. Del Valle Productions, Inc.” It has many divisions, and I act on the needs of each division as they arise. It also means I’m constantly negotiating.

Don't miss 3 Key Negotiating Strategies for Women

Where did you learn how to negotiate larger and larger contracts like the one you just signed with HBO? Did you have mentors and coaches that guided you through the process?

When I was going into the negotiation for HBO to license “Gran’pa Knows Best” I did my homework on the network and how to negotiate with it based on its past negotiations. I spoke with three people who had had former dealings with them. They acted as my mentors and coaches. I felt this was important to get a foundation, so that nothing would take me by surprise.

I was reassured each time that HBO was the very best network to deal with, especially for first timers. I went into the meeting with a basic trust. The dealings were never adversarial. We all wanted the same thing: For the series to air on HBO. I didn’t bring in an attorney until the very end, because I learned long ago that attorneys make money when there is conflict and I didn’t want anyone to mess up a relationship that I worked so long to cultivate. I went to the attorney with the contract that I was happy with and consulted with her to ensure that I understood the legal language correctly.

In a way HBO held my hand through the process. They spelled out what they needed and I worked my way through to the fulfillment of their needs. It was a great example of how to negotiate by focusing on the outcome both parties want rather on what only you want.

Read more about coaching and mentoring here!

Tell us a little bit about the series. It’s a first of its kind on HBO, right?

Elaine Del Valle and William D.Caballero, director / creator of "Gran'pa Knows Best", the new HBO series

Elaine Del Valle and William D.Caballero, director / creator of “Gran’pa Knows Best”, the new HBO series

Yes, it is. I am currently in production of Season 2 of Gran’pa Knows Best—A comedy web-series starring a 4 inch 3D printed likeness of our Director/Creator, William D. Caballero’s 87 year old grandfather, Victor Muriel. Originally from Puerto Rico, Muriel voices the character and offers his real advice on various subjects. The series offers viewers an interactive experience as advice seekers. The questions that grandpa answers.on each episode are selected from social media users who post tweets tagging @ask_granpa and using hashtag #GranpaKnowsBest. Those whose questions/topics are selected get featured in an episode by way of their first name and social media profile photo.

The Gran’pa character poses are modeled by Chang Kim, using the computerized Zbrush program, and are printed in polymer resin using 3D printer technology. Each one is hand painted by Amy Yamashiro and Kate Keisel. They are then placed in a miniature model home designed and 3D printed by Seth Burney. Graphic design and text animation by Chris Cookson accompany the voice and real advice of Gran’pa Victor Muriel. William D. Caballero directs the series, filming in macro perspective, alongside dozens of miniature and life size props. B roll is added to enhance the visual and comedic effect.

Elaine Del Valle and William D. Caballero film HBO series GKB

Elaine Del Valle and William D. Caballero film HBO series GKB

Were you nervous about meeting with HBO about how to negotiate with a large media company?

As anyone could imagine the idea of sitting in the offices of a huge, respected network such as HBO could be intimidating. While I was nervous, my years of stage performances afforded me the luxury of being able to work through the nerves. Of reaching a relaxed center that gave me the ability to focus and more importantly, LISTEN. I think listening is the most important thing you can do in any meeting. Active listening allows for organic reaction. Knowing what you want to accomplish in a meeting is important. But being overly rehearsed, can make you anxious to get your point across and never leads to the openness that the best working relationships are built on.

More on negotiation: 3 Sure Fire Negotiating Tips

What were some of the lessons that can help others learn how to negotiate with a much larger counterpart?

Know what you are willing and able to give before you enter the meeting. Click to Tweet
Never over promise. Get a baseline on what to expect, so nothing shocks you out of sorts. Take notes. Use those notes to follow up with. In my case, we negotiated terms and I sent an email that spelled out the agreed upon terms. They were happy to have them and used my notes to develop the contract.

Elaine Del Valle Headshot

Elaine Del Valle has succeeded in her career thanks to finding her voice and letting it be heard

Listen to the needs of the company. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For a licensing deal, there are insurance requirements, deadlines you have to be able to make, Trademark and copyright, clearances, etc. It is a long and arduous road that I learned a great deal from accomplishing. And I’d add that if you have never negotiated anything important before, seek mentors and coaches who can guide you on how to negotiate.

For many women it’s hard to negotiate salary and contracts. Particularly difficult for women who are in the arts and social sciences. Do you have any suggestions for them?

Research. In my case, I reached out to a friend whose attorney had many negotiations with the company, another colleague who had a deal that did not reach fruition and a friend who had successfully licensed a film to HBO. I learned from listening to all those experiences.

 You can connect with Elaine Del Valle at:

Tweet her @BrownsvilleBred or @Ask_Granpa

Instagram users can follow her on @DelValleProductions. Follow her on Facebook @DelValle Productions & Casting and @GranpaKnowsBest

And Best of all WATCH GRAN’PA KNOWS BEST on HBO Latino, HBO GO, and HBO NOW! New episodes are on every Wednesday at 7:55pm and also air in between programs on HBO Latino.

 

3 Key Negotiation Strategies for Women

Can women ever know enough negotiation strategies and tactics to ensure they get what they bargain for?

In this article, I share three negotiation strategies that women can use to get what they bargain for.

The gender pay gap is real and pervasive, and it affects all women. On average, full-time workingwomen earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Though Asian women are also impacted, for Latinas and most women of color is a lot worse.

Negotiation quote by Lily Benjamin - 'Generally speaking, while men negotiate salary, women compromise to avoid being stereotyped."

Being aware of your subconscious need to avoid being stereotyped, will help you improve your negotiation outcomes.

Latinas make 54% of what a white male makes. African-American women make 64%. This substantial gap persists even after education, industry, and work hours are taken into account.

Why women don’t negotiate salary offers?

Research shows that women are more reticent than men to negotiate salary offers. Women may fear being perceived as “pushy,” a social stereotype attributed to women who advocate for themselves in the workplace. This is interesting because studies show that the opposite occurs when women advocate for others; they are rewarded! Generally speaking, while men negotiate salary, women compromise to avoid being stereotyped.

Several studies reveal that the difference in men and women’s propensity to initiate negotiations may be explained by how each gender is treated when they attempt to negotiate. In other words, the propensity to negotiate salary is not necessarily linked to a lack of confidence or negotiation skills on the part of women, but to avoid being stereotyped as pushy.

Three key negotiation strategies that women can consider to successfully advocate for themselves

1Be aware of your personal negotiating style

Because I am a big advocate of self-awareness, I will first suggest that you become aware of your personal negotiation style. There are many negotiation style assessment tests, but a very common one looks at two dimensions: concern for the relationship or cooperativeness and concern for the outcome or assertiveness.

Negotiation diagram by Lily Benjamin

By identifying your negotiation style you’ll be able to devise negotiation strategies that suit you best

Look at the diagram and try to identify your negotiation style. Learn as much as possible about it, and learn different strategies on how to flex it depending on the situation. No one style is superior to another. What is important is that you know the style you are most confident with, and ideally that you have a sense of your counterpart’s style as well. Being able to identify a counterpart’s preferred style and to adapt your own style accordingly can be incredibly helpful in building productive relationships.

The Red Shoe Movement has an online Negotiation Style Quiz. Take it now!

2Know your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)

Knowing your own BATNA is basic to negotiating salary an anything else you wish to negotiate. But knowing your counterpart’s BATNA is also critical to the success of your negotiation. After you know both parties BATNAs the best way to aim for a Win-Win is to find the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA.)

BATNA diagram

Finding the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA) is your best negotiation strategy for a win-win outcome

 

Here’s a great Harvard Business Review article about BATNA

3“Think personally, act communally”

After you identified your negotiating style and both parties’ BATNAs what is left is the dialog where you negotiate. Let’s learn from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and one of the highest paid executives in Silicon Valley, who once suggested that during negotiations you should “think personally, act communally.”

Sheryl Sandberg negotiation quote- Of course you realize that you're hiring me to run your deal teams, so you want me to be a good negotiator

When negotiating salary, make the value you will add to your organization known

This means that you should communicate your intent to negotiate and the value that this skill will add to the potential employer. For example, after stating her counteroffer, during her negotiations with Facebook Sandberg told them, “Of course you realize that you’re hiring me to run your deal teams, so you want me to be a good negotiator. This is the only time you and I will ever be on opposite sides of the table; I am clear that we are on the same team here.”  This was a persuasive “think personally, act communally” approach of her negotiation process.

Don't miss this earlier post on Salary Negotiation Strategies.

Another way of paraphrasing this dialog is, “This is a very appealing and competitive offer, and this part (be specific) of the compensation is short of my expectation by X amount. (Thinking personally.) Please understand that negotiating is one of the skills I will add to your team and one of the contributions I’ll make in the best interest of the company. (Acting communally.)”

Woman and Man shaking hands cartoon by Natchie

Aim for win-win situations. Drawing by Natchie for Red Shoe Movement. – www.NatchieArt.com

This “think personally, act communally” or “I-We” strategy will help you not only reach the ZOPA, but also show your confidence and leave a strong impression. Remember, preparation is the key to success. Prepare thoroughly, be clear about your choices, practice your pitch, and celebrate your success!

Never shared secrets on how to prepare for a job interview

There are tons of generic tips on how to prepare for the job interview out there. But very little that is this insightful, and particularly addressed to diverse women.

Lily Benjamin

Tips to ace the job interview form Lily Benjamin, one of the top talent management experts

In a room full of people, you may first notice her because of her physical appearance. Tall (5.8 without heels) attractive and vivacious, she looks much younger than her age. But don’t be fooled, her wisdom goes beyond her years. Her young energy coupled with her insights, attracts all types of generations, including Gen Ys, among other diverse groups. Yes, this is Lily Benjamin, one of the most insightful and successful Talent Management and Organization Development executives I’ve met in recent years. Her depth of knowledge and her ability to convert it into concrete advice makes her the ideal person to discuss little known secrets on how to prepare for a job interview, among other subjects.

Lily has over 20 years’ experience in Organization Development, Talent Management, and Diversity and Inclusion. Throughout her career, she has traveled all over the world acquiring a rich international experience while working in multiple industries: health, pharmaceutical, finance, and consumer goods. These experiences have fed her passion for cross cultural leadership development and for building inclusive environments that foster meaningful contributions to the business.

Make sure to check out: 3 Sure-Fire Negotiating tips for Women

What are the three most important things women should keep in mind when they prepare for a job interview?

Ready yourself to bust stereotypes

It is important to recognize that all human beings have biases, some of them are conscious, and others are not. They just need to be effectively managed. As an interviewee, it is important that you are aware of this and anticipate which unconscious biases may pertain to you, and be ready to bust any stereotypes. The way in which you bust those stereotypes is to intentionally bring your uniqueness into the conversation as an asset and discuss how it complements the work you do. For example: “As a woman, I tend to be cautious, yet committed, which makes me reliable…” If it’s a global company and you are Latina, and the job could grow into the Latino market, you can say, “As a Latina I bring the perspective and richness of the Latino market into consideration to help broaden our perspectives…” The ‘busting of stereotypes’ has to be subtle. Do not overdo it, as it could come across as disingenuous and hurt your credibility. A personal example I use to bust whatever stereotype is out there regarding my accent is to directly talk about it. I do so by referencing how speaking several languages has given me insights into the nuances of different cultures. Busting the stereotype of accents is valuable and gives me a competitive advantage in a world where our clients are increasingly more multicultural.

At a job interview bust all stereotypes

Be ready to bust stereotypes that may play against you

Know your audience and prepare for them

Leverage any social media to learn about the interviewer that you will be meeting, the leadership of the company, and the history of the job (if it is public.) Align your examples in a way that is relatable to the person who is interviewing you; that references past experiences of that person as captured in social media, or that are relevant for their generational group, cultural background, and so on. For example, you should read about the communication styles of Baby Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y and be prepared to flex into the uniqueness of their respective styles. The caveat here is that a lot of what you read are generalizations. Don’t forget that each person is an individual. So stay alert to adapt as you deem necessary in case your interviewer does not meet the generalizations that you researched. Always avoid putting everyone in one box.

Promote your personal brand and competitive advantage, tastefully

At the interview you have to ‘sell a product’, and that product is YOU. You must sell your brand and competitive advantage. Be clear on how to communicate both in good taste, without turning people off.

Promoting your personal brand and competitive advantage plays a really big part in preparing for an interview. Could you speak to this?

Your competitive advantage is what makes you unique and the reason why someone should hire you over any other candidate. One of the tools that have been very useful to me is the StrengthFinder from Gallup. Take the test online and identify your strengths. They constitute your competitive advantage. Then consider how that strength can be value added for the job you are interviewing for.

Your brand is the image you want to project in a consistent basis. How do you want people to refer to you when they speak about you? Do they think of you as a trouble-shooter, as a thought partner, as indispensable? Then you need to make sure that you project that image. During the interview you can give clear examples that reinforce your personal brand, and how you want the interviewer to remember you. Ensure the communication of your brand is done with taste, which is what we call ‘healthy self-promotion.’ For example, if they are looking for a trouble-shooter, you may say, “My teams know me as being resourceful and good at trouble-shooting. Whenever there are issues around technology, people tend to reach out to me. I can usually help them resolve the situation, and if I can’t, I find the way to partner with them and sort things out.”

In preparing for an interview remember that you are your own agent.

If you don’t do some healthy self-promotion, no one will do it for you. Generally speaking, it is something hard to do for women and for certain cultures. But remember, potential employers are calling you in to talk about you, provide context, examples, and so on.

From a recruiter’s point of view, what is the one thing women do much more often than men at the interview stage which loses them opportunities to get hired?

In some cultures more than others, women can come across as tentative, apologetic, or not able to effectively balance assertiveness vs aggressiveness. And no one wants to hire an ‘insecure, aggressive’ person. This is an opportunity to bust that stereotype, by not coming across as such. Aim for balance, by reading the impact you are having on your audience and recalibrating accordingly.

Let’s talk about this. Can you share how women can come across as assertive and not be considered aggressive?

Unfortunately, being a woman, even if you are not being aggressive you may be stereotyped as aggressive if you speak up. But don’t panic, this label is also bustable. You just need to be aware of this fact and be intentional with your actions.

Understanding the fine line that distinguishes assertiveness and aggressiveness is a big step towards a successful job interview

Understanding the fine line that distinguishes assertiveness and aggressiveness is a big step towards a successful job interview

First know the difference between the two. Aggressiveness shows up declarative, individualistic, and close minded. In essence, it looks as though a person is pushing their perspective on others. Assertiveness shows up self-assured and confident, yet open and not threatening others’ points of views. In order to do that, you need to be very aware of how you convey your opinion, how it is received, and how people react to it.

I refer to it as you being ‘part of and apart’ from the conversation. That means that while you are confidently communicating your perspective, you are being part of the conversation. When you separate yourself from your perspective to see how others are receiving your words and how they are reacting to you, you take yourself apart. You distance yourself from your perspective and get closer to the perspective of others. So be prepared to share your experience, while reading your environment and checking frequently how you and your stories are been received. Be mindful that when it comes to communication your words only account for 7% of the message, 38% is your tone, while 55% is body language. Be in the look out for how you are received, as well as assess the tone and body language of your interviewer. For example, as Latinas, we can be passionate and extremely expressive, which can be misconstrued as being aggressive. If you are aware of that, it is easier to effectively manage a stereotype by articulating your intend, or what I call “flashing your intention.”

Here’s an example of how to flash your intentions to erase any gaps between them and the impact your communication produces:  “As a Latina I am very passionate about ‘this’, so if you see my expressions changing and my voice raising, is all good. This topic is very close to my heart…”   By articulating your intention, you are preparing the interviewer not to unfavorably jump too quickly to conclusions.

Although the interviewer asks about your past experience, they really want to assess your potential. How do you let them know what you’d be able to do for them and justify it with your past experience?

Organizations that recognize great talent and hire well, value experience yet look for potential. Interviewers look for both. When they choose to recommend you to the next step in the process, their credibility is on the line. Be a good partner from the beginning and support them by representing yourself accurately and demonstrating what you do, as well as what you can do in support of the shared goals. Start by preparing yourself for the process. Have your story organized around what you have done (experience) and what you can do (potential.)

An interviewer asks about your experience but is assessing your potential

To ace the job interview, make sure you address not only your experience but your potential

Demonstrate depth and breadth with examples.

For instance, Marisa, a woman I recently coached, had been part of different teams in her previous job. She had a specialized role in each team, but she understood well the roles of every person as well. The job Marisa applied for required for her to actually do the jobs of all the team members. So during the interview process she shared what she actually did (experience) and put the focus on discussing what she knew of the roles of others, which illustrated to the interviewer what she could do (potential.) She spoke with confidence and authenticity, and she got a job that had responsibilities beyond what she had done before. Due to her successful performance, just recently, her responsibilities have been expanded even further. The caveat here is that you must do your research and know all of those roles you’re speaking about to demonstrate your interest and knowledge on the subject. That’s how you show potential.

What’s the best way to prepare for an interview?

Prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare, and once you are ready, PREPARE!

How to dress

  • Dress on par with expectations, don’t be afraid to dress better than what the job requires.
  • Be conscious of body odors: have fresh breath; smell good but stay away from overwhelming perfumes.
  • Heels are ok, but don’t overdo it; do not wear shoes you will wear to a club.
  • Keep jewelry to basics, don’t have your attire be memorable or compete with what you bring to the organization.

How to present yourself

  • Be on time and mindful of time.
  • Show up organized, with your questions ready for them – have questions categorized on strategy, industry, people, job, structure, cultures, etc.
  • Be the expert of your subject, and show both experience and potential.
  • Read your audience and adjust accordingly to the clues you are picking up.
  • Share relevant names or contacts if they can strengthen your credibility, but don’t come across as a ‘name dropper.’

How to follow up

  • Send personalized, brief, thoughtful thank you notes, one or two days after your interview so you have time to organize your thoughts. 

How to ace the job interview with amazing research

What kind of research will help people ace the job interview?

In order to ace the job interview you must seek to understand the job description, know the industry, know the business, know about their competitors, and learn about the company’s culture.

You are the best at being you. You're powerful. You are strong. You can do anything. Never forget that!

Forget about trying to be someone or something you are not. Interviewers can easily detect your lack of authenticity. You are best at being you.

One of the many ways to learn about the culture is by researching their history, vision, mission, and values; all of this is available online. Leaders set the tone of a corporate culture. So learn about the organization’s leadership and any relevant information that can connect the interview conversation to them. This means, look up the leaders’ career path, where have they been before, what kind of culture those companies have.

If the leaders you are meeting with published something, read it. Then, only if appropriate, mention it to your interviewer and connect it to the job you are going after. This gives you an opportunity to relate to the company and to show you have done your homework, something all interviewers like to see.   In addition, seek to network with people that do the job you are interviewing for in other organizations and ask them questions to help you understand better what the job entails. This practice will help you show your potential by speaking about specifics and possibilities.

What other considerations are critical when preparing for the job interview?

Preparation is essential. Most interviews are behavioral interviews. What that means is that the interviewer is looking for specific examples. The best way to use your time with them effectively and memorably is to come with your examples ready and organized; put them in a CAR. That stands for C = Challenge (situation), A = Actions taken, and R = Results accomplished. And make sure that you stress your role and contributions in the examples.   The interviewer doesn’t necessary need the details, unless he or she asks for them. Be mindful of how you are sharing your CAR, communicate it as an engaging story with a clear ending. For example:

Question: “Give me an example of how you conducted a project you are proud of.

Answer:

  • Challenge: “We needed to establish a Corporate University.”
  • Actions: “It takes a village for this type of projects, so I used my relationship building skills (promoting your personal brand) to create strategic alliances with senior leadership, put in place business cases, put a team together, found a sponsor and budget, created the strategy, and led its implementation.”
  • Results: “Consequently, we created learning opportunities for all segments of the organization— senior leaders, managers, and individual contributors. These increased engagement scores as seen in the Associate Engagement Survey, as well as retention levels. My responsibility was to spearhead and lead the initiative.” (If you have numbers, offer them.)

In this example you have promoted your personal brand with confidence, and succinctly provided a description of the impact that you made in the organization. Have the interviewer ask for details if they need them. Emotions are contagious. Your preparation and ease on how you present yourself will fill you with confidence, which will in turn make the recruiter feel confident about you and more eager to promote you with the hiring manager. Ensure that before you are done, you clearly and succinctly ask about the next steps in the process. Then send a personalized, brief but substantial thank-you note. You have one to two days to do so. Take your time to be thoughtful.

Many people think that to ace the job interview they must only focus on the interviewer but there are many other people involved, right?

 The process starts with the receptionist at the door, and it includes everyone you cross paths with in the hallway, the parking lot attendant, and security personnel as well. Be poised through the entire process and promote your brand with good taste by leaving positive and memorable experiences of you. Be thoughtful when you speak with people or connect with them. All of these considerations are important because the hiring manager will ask others what they think of you. Even if they don’t ask others, and people’s experience of you were either good or bad – in a memorable way – they might volunteer their opinion of you. Once you pass the screening process with the hiring recruiter, find out with whom you are interviewing next. Be mindful that the interviewing process is not only with the people you are scheduled to meet with. In addition, we are talking about your personal brand, so make sure that after you are hired you keep that image of you to strengthen your reputation and grow in your career.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly- By Robert F.Kennedy

Dare to take risks and you’ll see amazing rewards!

When speaking with the hiring manager or others, it is good practice to ask the interviewer how ‘this role’ (don’t say job, you don’t have the job yet) will interact and support their role. You will be showing partnership and collaboration.

When gathering your thoughts to write the thank you note. Make sure that you took good notes during the interviews on topics or conversations that you feel were important to the interviewer and relevant to the job. Go back home and do some research about those topics. If you find a brief yet relevant article on that particular subject, share the link and make the connection with its relevancy regarding the position in your thank you note. That will demonstrate thoughtfulness, partnership, and resourcefulness. It will show your interest in learning and demonstrate healthy levels of ambition; this combination is inspiring and welcomed.

If you need coaching to get you ready for the job interview, consider signing up for our RSM Step Up Program. We'll help you be you. Amplified!

Any final words?

You are the expert on YOU and know the value that you add to teams and organizations. They are looking to learn more about you, from you. So don’t be nervous, be confident.

Remember that while the interviewers are making their assessments, you too have the opportunity to assess if the organization is a good fit for you. Take every job interviewing opportunity seriously; the interviewing process is a job that you must excel at. If you are not selected, having had a good experience will further prepare you for the dream job that is awaiting you. So be positive and welcome each opportunity. This perspective should strengthen your confidence so you can be at your best.

You are the one who makes your future happen. Go for it! Best of luck!

You can connect with Lily Benjamin on LinkedIn

3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women to Get Hired

Three amazing negotiating tips that will turn you into an irresistible candidate!

It’s ironic that we still need to discuss negotiating tips for women when women have a ton of advantages over men when it comes to negotiation. We are great listeners, we have a cooperative style, and we are naturally equipped with the most powerful tool of all – empathy!

The problem is that, unless you are ultra aware of your advantages and you learn how to use them for your own benefit, they are worthless. Keep them front and center and combine them with these powerful negotiating tips, and you’ll never complain that you make less than your male counterpart again.

3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women

1Showing (not telling) your value

Angie was looking for a job as director of training and development in order to leave her current position. She felt that her employer lacked real commitment to professional development of women employees. A friend referred her to an opening as a manager of training and development, which was below her current pay scale. But because it was at a company Angie really liked, she applied nevertheless.

More negotiating salary tips you can't miss!

She went through three levels of interviews, and at every step she asked lots of questions regarding the company’s vision and the short- and long-term goals for retention and promotion of female personnel. Armed with this information, Angie offered valuable suggestions. She also brought up potential challenges that the company might face, along with ways to overcome them.

Show the value you bring to the table - 3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women

Show the value you bring to the table
Photo taken at NAHJ workshop conducted by Mariela Dabbah

Through it all, Angie remained honest, was generous with her ideas, and avoided attaching herself to the outcome of the interview process, which enabled her to be authentic. She knew that the best way to start a new relationship with a potential employer was by being herself.

As a result, the interviewers were so impressed with Angie that they decided to create a new job description so that they could hire her as a director, rather than as a manager. This would enable them to pay her what she really deserved. So before Angie had even begun to negotiate her salary, the hiring team already knew they needed to sweeten their offer to entice her to leave her current job and come to work for them.

2Projecting your experience into your future potential

It’s a well-known fact that women candidates are more often judged on their experience while men are judged on their potential. So what’s a woman to do during the interview process to set up the stage in her favor?

Lily Benjamin, VP Global Talent Management and D&I PVH Corp., suggests that you integrate your past experience into concrete examples that demonstrate the depth and breadth of that experience. Choose examples that show how flexible you are during periods of change and ambiguity. And then take it all into the future to paint a clear picture of where you could take your skills next. What you could do for this organization to help them achieve their goals. How you are willing to take risks and are ready to embrace new challenging assignments.

3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women | Lily Benjamin, VP Global Taent Management and D&I at PVH Corp.

Negotiating tips from one of the top leaders in Talent Management

Benjamin also point out the need to promote yourself healthily during the interview. And a good way to do so is by sharing the fact that you are a sought-after thought leader in your industry and within your organization. That you are the go-to person when a fresh perspective is needed to solve problems, develop a new product, identify a new market, and so on. Or that you are frequently invited to present at industry conferences. In other words, that you are seen by others as a leader.

3Always connect yourself to the bottom line

In a recent article, Jeff Haden, Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor, suggests that the one question every interviewer should ask of their candidates is, “What one skill do you possess that will most benefit our bottom line?” Haden argues that this is a great conversation starter for the recruiter to build on rather than having a list of canned questions that don’t relate much to what they need for the open position. I completely agree that this question focuses attention in what really matters to the company.

Test your Negotiation Skills with this fun Quiz!
Connect your skills to the bottom line | 3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women to Get Hired

Connect your skills to the bottom line
Photo Credit: Michaelangelo’s hands painting

Conversely, if even when you’re not asked the question directly, you prepare for the interview keeping it top of mind, you’ll position yourself as a much more attractive candidate. You do this by finding opportunities (and giving concrete examples) to confidently convey how your skills would positively affect the company’s bottom line. In the process you show your knowledge of the company’s business and an understanding that every function has a responsibility for driving profitability. And of course, the best way to really connect these dots is by learning as much as possible about the culture and what drives value for the company you’re interviewing with.

The reality is that the negotiation process starts with the first interview. When you present yourself as a knowledgeable candidate (and you prove it by showing your value rather than only talking about it), you substantially increase your negotiating position way before it’s time to discuss a concrete offer.

Find the support you need as you negotiate your next job offer or your next promotion in our community. Sign up for the Step Up Program today and be you, amplified!