Knowing the Right Answers, Pedersen & Partners, "WU Executive Academy"

Vienna, Austria - Getting the job of your dreams is easy-provided you go about it the right way. The approach you need to take involves your network of contacts, but it is completely different from what most people would think.

Many assume you cannot succeed unless you know the most influential decision-makers in person and rub shoulders with the bigwigs, which is why they spend a lot of time on the golf course trying to get close to the rich and powerful. Do not fall into this trap. If you understand one important thing, you can make life much easier for yourself.

Showing up at an interview with the right background informations helps you know how to steer the conversation (through your answers) to your advantage.

Finding the Job of Your Dreams and the Ideal Partner

The process of finding the ideal job is similar to conquering the love of your life. Imagine you want to win the heart of a wonderful woman. As women are known to be fond of chocolate, you decide to give her a box of chocolates. Alas, your plan backfires because your love interest is dieting.

Still eager to show her your love, you present her with a huge bunch of red roses. After all, women love flowers. However, she coolly rejects that gift as well.

You keep puzzling over what you may have done wrong until you learn, from her best friend, that the woman of your dreams hates roses but loves sunflowers. Now you have the perfect gift for her, and your relationship can finally develop the way you want it to.

When Qualities and Skills Become Strengths

Career-wise, the situation is similar. You have to know what information is needed to succeed; otherwise, you cannot make the most of your qualities and skills by presenting them as strengths. What is more, when it comes to talking about your weaknesses, you can choose something that is irrelevant to the job you are interviewing for and hence will not work to your disadvantage.

Let me give you an example: The recruiter tells you that the successful candidate for the position of sales manager must have years of experience of working in Eastern Europe in general and in Russia in particular. Specific industry experience is, however, not required.

During the interview, you should thus make sure you subtly get across that, as far as Eastern Europe and Russia are concerned, you bring a wealth of sales experience to the table. When the interviewer asks you about your weaknesses you can reply: "Well, I have no particular expertise in your line of business." As the successful candidate is not required to have industry experience, this will not work to your disadvantage.

In order to be well informed about the potential employer, it's best to be keep tightly connected with your information sources, such as your contacts.

Your Network is a Valuable Source of Information

Going into a job interview with the right background information is like taking a math exam after working through the very problems you are expected to solve. You know how to push all the right buttons to succeed.

The question, then, is how do you obtain the information you need to set you off on the right track? You can get it through your network of contacts, which comprises all the people with whom you have a relationship of trust and who know the organization well. As a rule, current employees, recruiters or former co-workers are particularly valuable sources of information. They will be able to provide you with background knowledge that is not available on the organization's website.

You can ask for the following information to get a better understanding of the organization in question:

  • The names of the most important contacts and what kind of person they are
  • Networks that exist within the organization
  • Current developments, future business plans and strategies
  • Application processes
  • Team size and team development
  • Organizational climate and ways of doing things
  • Dos and don'ts of the corporate culture

Here are some more tips that you should follow to ensure you are fully prepared for your interview:

  • Ask the recruiter about the profile of the ideal candidate and compare it against your professional experience.
  • Prepare examples and stories from your professional life that demonstrate that you are the right person for the job.
  • Find out what personal qualities and skills the organization and your contacts consider to be particularly important.

An Environment That Allows You to Be Who You Really Are

Knowing the right answers makes your interview much easier, but there is one important thing you need to keep in mind: As tempting as it may be, do not fall into the trap of pretending to be somebody you are not just to get the job. If you have to put on a façade all the time, you will sooner or later experience burnout.

The purpose of your fact-finding mission, as it were, is to ask specific questions in order to find out which of your genuine abilities, experiences, qualities and beliefs are particularly valuable assets to your new employer. This helps you to understand what you can bring to the table that the organization really needs and appreciates.

Achieving career success is first and foremost synonymous with convincing others of your potential. There is hardly anything more frustrating than doing something for someone who does not appreciate it. And virtually nothing is more satisfying than working in an environment where you are valued and respected for your contribution.

It is only in the right environment that your personal qualities, abilities and achievements become strengths-and it is only then that they matter. A single sunflower in the right place can do more than a truckload of roses.

About the author:
Conrad Pramböck, born 1973 in Vienna, has been Head of Compensation Consulting at Pedersen & Partners, an international executive search firm with 53 offices in 50 countries, since 2012. Vienna-based, he consults companies operating in Europe, Asia, and the Americas on compensation issues, providing them with up-to-date market information on salary ranges and design of bonus systems across all industries for. Pramboeck, who holds a PhD in Law from the University of Vienna, has conducted projects in more than 40 countries. After his studies, he started his career in 1998 with the German consultancy firm Kienbaum in Vienna, leading the company’s compensation consulting business in Austria. From September 2004 to October 2011 he worked with Neumann International, one of the topAustrian executive search firms, as the Head of Compensation Consulting.
Since April 2013, Conrad Pramböck has been offering WU Executive Academy Alumni exclusive career consulting services at reduced rates.

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