January 2011 Conference Lessons Learned – Playing the Game
My son is almost nine years old and loves to play basketball. When he started playing a few years ago, I spent a lot of time with him working on the basics, the mechanics. It was about how far apart his feet should be and where his hands should be placed on the ball when taking a shot and how to dribble a ball using his fingertips and not the palm of his hand. While he still practices the fundamentals, over time, he has transitioned from a very lock-step approach of learning to shoot, dribble, etc. to now going out and playing basketball. If you look at the great players in all sports, they are the ones that work at the fundamentals during practice and the offseason but when it comes to game-time, they are no longer thinking about the mechanics and instead focused on their opponent, reacting to what is happening on the court/field, and even thinking a step ahead.
This same idea goes for interviewing during your transition to Corporate America. Our Development and Preparation Program (DPP) is designed to help you learn key business concepts but perhaps most importantly, it’s designed to help you really know yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you build and lead teams? What are your most significant accomplishments? How do you deal with difficult people, etc…? When it comes time to attend a conference and interview with 10+ companies, the time to be thinking about these questions is past. Your focus must be on understanding the industry, the company, and most importantly, the position and how to connect your experiences in the military to it. Simply put, you must now play the game. If you go into an interview and are still working through the mechanics, you are unable to truly listen to the interviewer’s questions, read his/her body language, and have a meaningful conversation.
This preparation is also how you avoid delivering a “canned” answer. In keeping with my sports analogy, a team can work on different plays but when it comes to the game, your opponent rarely reacts exactly how you expect them to. You then have to adapt the play to the real game situation. The same goes for the interview. Most likely you won’t get asked a question that is word for word the way you practiced it. But, if you’re well prepared and are able to “play the game”, you can adapt your answers to the specific question asked while always keeping in mind the position you are interviewing for.
This is a valuable lesson we saw at our January Career Conference and one that we have seen in past conferences as well. This is one of the primary reasons we are one of the only recruiting firms that prefer potential candidates to come see us as early as possible. The more time you have in the DPP, the better prepared you will be in terms of understanding how your skills and experiences translate to business, how to communicate them, and ultimately be ready to “play the game” during your interviews.
To further illustrate my point, I’ve included another video of one of our January 2011 candidates discussing the value of the Cameron-Brooks Development and Preparation Program.