Interview Feedback from a Recent Career Conference

At each of our Career Conferences, after a company interviews Military Officers, they sit with someone on the leadership team at Cameron-Brooks to give feedback on how each officer did in the interview. At our recent November 2014 Career Conference, I sat in the feedback out brief with hiring managers from one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. They were interviewing for a Manufacturing Team Leader in one of the company’s largest consumer products manufacturing facilities.  Essentially, the essence of the role is to lead a team of 60 manufacturing professionals to achieve defined production goals and to partner with operational, functional and management personnel to develop and implement methods of continuous process improvement in the facility.  One of the managers who was interviewing is a Cameron-Brooks alum from 2012, so he has inside knowledge of Cameron-Brooks and what it takes to be successful at a Career Conference.

Here are some of the take-aways from the out brief:

It’s WHAT You Say and HOW You Say It. A big point that the managers kept reinforcing is that they are looking for leaders with good interpersonal skills.  Specifically, leaders need to be down-to-earth – someone who is easy to get to know and easy to like. They were looking for someone who came across as “real.”  At the Career Conference, some very qualified officers were ruled out because they were too stiff or too timid in the interview.  I know each of the officers who were ruled out and I know that they are not too stiff or timid. In the interview, however, they were nervous and they were not themselves. They were too focused on delivering the perfect answer and saying things they thought the managers wanted to hear. Certainly connecting their background directly to the job in an interview is essential, but so is developing rapport and demonstrating interest in the company and in the position.  The easiest way to do that is to come to the conference prepared to interview. By that, I do not mean having all of your answers memorized verbatim. Instead, know yourself inside and out – your strengths, weakness, failures, accomplishments, methods of leadership and confidently and concisely communicate them in relation to the job for which you are interviewing, all the while building rapport and showing interest.

Imagine Yourself In the Position. In every professional interview, it is important to first put yourself in the position. Imagine the environment, the people and the goals of the team or organization. By doing so, you will be able to better connect your specific background and accomplishments directly to the role for which are interviewing. In this particular role, as a Manufacturing Team Leader, the environment is mechanical. It is a manufacturing facility with large machines running constantly. Because the company makes consumer products, it is a relatively clean environment and each machine is using electric and mechanical energy to do what it was designed to do. The officers who connected best with this role were the ones who talked primarily about their experience in a mechanical or technical environment in the military. They effectively highlighted leading teams of people around equipment and achieving goals. Of course the environment in the military was different, but the ideas and concepts are similar and it was easy for the hiring managers to envision those officers in the roles for which they were recruiting.

Highlight the Value You Bring. When discussing your background, approach it from a standpoint of bringing value to your team or organization. Some of the officers were ruled out in this interview because they failed to discuss how they were able to bring value to their team.  As you consider your leadership experiences, ask yourself what value you bring your team to allow the team to reach its goals and be sure to convey that in an interview.

Pete