The person who gets the job is not the most qualified for the job; it’s the person who is the most qualified at getting a job!
This is a guest post by Darnell Clarke.
If you don’t remember anything else, remember that quote! Your resume was created and submitted for only one reason; TO GET AN INTERVIEW! Interviewing is addressing one question and that is; “What can you do for me”? What “Value Added Proposition” (VAP) can you bring to an organization that will help solve a business problem? This is the ‘bottom line’ question that all employers want YOU to answer. The better you can answer this question the better chance you will get hired. You must be in the problem solving business. Everything you do and say in the interview must address this VAP question.
Answering the Value Added Proposition (VAP) Question
During my interviewing of candidates, there was not one candidate that could give an example of their Value Added Proposition (VAP). What is a VAP, you ask? Briefly, the Value Added Proposition is what you bring to an organization that the next person doesn’t. What makes you or what you have to offer unique and worthwhile. You should be able to sum up your VAP in as few sentences as possible. Your VAP is a personal version of a mission statement. In much the same way that a mission statement should be clear and concise, so should your Value Added Proposition. In effect, you are selling yourself to a company in the same way that an organization is selling itself to its customers via its mission statement.
For example, my VAP is “I get things done…PERIOD”. Companies can count on me to do what I say and say what I do; ALWAYS. That’s called ACCOUNTABILITY. As your experience changes, so will your VAP. The more projects you take on and the more time spent in your field, the better your VAP will be. Therefore, consider your VAP to be an evolving statement of what you have to offer; a living, breathing, tag line, so to speak. And my tag line is ACCOUNTABILITY!
When you interview, employers are looking to see what you can do for them. It is the age old WIIFM factor, “What’s in it for me?” Employers wants to know why they should hire you, what you are going to provide for them in terms of cost savings, reduction in time or retargets, increased sales/revenue, etc. It is when you can provide an employer with the answer to a need they didn’t recognize they had, that you will find yourself on the receiving end of the offer. So, I ask each and every one of you to sit down and figure out your Value Added Proposition.
How to define your Value Added Proposition (VAP)
Every interview you go to, you should have already determined what your VAP will be for that employer. Below are three actions I used to create my Value Added Proposition:
Action 1: Define what you are good at and what you are not
Get in the zone and stay there – Find out what you do well and keep on doing it. Don’t ask what I’m doing right; ask what I’m doing WELL?
a) Make it your mission to find out your strengths. Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it. This is the fire that fuels sustained individual success. This is the discipline of getting things done! You need to work with your strengths and manage around your weaknesses. Weaknesses reveal little about strengths.
b) Knowing your strengths. The most common interviewing mistake is the inability to discuss your job strengths. Why? Because most job seekers, like yourself, do not take the time to think about all the things you do every day in the workplace. When you know how to do something, you do it automatically. So get to know your strengths.
c) To excel in your chosen field and find everlasting satisfaction in doing so, you will need to understand your unique strengths. You will need to become an expert at finding, describing, applying, practicing, and refining your strengths and talents. This is the secret to sustained success (i.e. making the greatest possible impact over the longest period of time) lies in knowing yours strengths.
What will guarantee sustained success is:
discover your strengths and cultivate them. Build your careers and live around them and discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it
What are Strengths?
- Strengths consist of near perfect performance in an activity
- For an activity to be a strength, you must be able to do it consistently and you must derive some happiness from it
- An activity is a strength only if you can see yourself doing it repeatedly, happily and successfully
Strengths are something you can do well right now. An employer will hire you because of your strengths. These strengths tell the employer if you have the necessary background and experiences to do a good job. Everyone has strengths.
Knowing your job strengths also allows you to plan a more effective job search. You will have greater success by picking job openings that match what you have done before and what you already know how to do. If there are not a lot of jobs using your strengths, then you might want to consider getting retrained in something that the marketplace has a demand for. Try to match what an employer is looking for with the strengths you have learned from other jobs.
By thinking about your strengths in advance, you will choose jobs better suited for you. You’ll be more confident in interviews, you’ll know how to write better resumes and you’ll find a job that is more satisfying.
Action 2: Creating your 30 second (Value Added Proposition VAP)
Your VAP Elevator Pitch – An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define your value added proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately sixty to ninety seconds or less.
The problem is too few people are prepared to deal with such a situation. They haven’t considered what they would say, much less prepared something to say or previously rehearsed. As a result, instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, they just let it walk out the door. But not you; listed below are action steps to help in these types of situation.
How to answer the interview question: Tell me About Yourself
At some point in the interviewing process, every job seeker will be confronted with a question along the lines of,
“So tell me about yourself?” How you answer this question will make or break you.
a. Your VAP pitch must be concise, direct and to the point. You want to make it clear to prospective employers that you are a team player and will get along well with others.
b. Your VAP pitch must be compelling. You need to make sure that your interviewer(s) understands that you possess some knowledge or skill that will help them solve the problems they are facing.
c. Your VAP pitch must be conceptual. During your elevator pitch; you don’t want to get into the specific, daily duties of the jobs you have held. Instead, you should just talk about your skills and the projects you have completed at a high level.
d. Your VAP pitch is NOT a rehash of your resume. Employers want to hear about your real-life attributes and skills.
Action 3: During the Interview
Memorizing your VAP pitch and unique strengths – by completely memorizing your VAP pitch and strengths you will display the confidence and attitude that most employers are looking for. If your pitch and strengths match what the employer is looking for, you will get an offer.
Once you have ascertained the company’s needs, you must continuously answer the question “What can you do for me?” This is best accomplished by giving examples of accomplishments you have previously achieved for companies that are relevant to the position for which you are interviewing. The basic theme of any interviewing process is that behavior tends to repeat itself. Winners continue to be winners and losers are continuous losers.
Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Whatever the interviewer finds a pattern of the past they will assume it will repeat in the future. Like it or not, your past accomplishments are the manifestations of your present worth. Remember that the interviewer’s interest in you is purely selfish. It is no different than your selfish interest in the company. They want to hire the person who can do the most for them. All attention should be focused on what the company wants and your agenda should temporarily take a backseat. If the focus of attention is on you, you will get into trouble or find yourself in trouble.
Remember what I said: “The person who gets the job is not the most qualified for the job; it’s the person who is the most qualified at getting a job”. If you don’t remember anything else, remember that quote! This includes preparing in advance to answer every question an interviewer might ask. You may wonder, “How is it possible to know in advance what an interviewer might ask?” There are only a few questions that an interviewer will ask, remember, they are looking for someone they can count on. I have already given you 50% of the answer, by having you create and memorize your VAP “Value Added Proposition”. Every answer to every question should be addressed around your VAP.
Every interviewer is ready to hear what you can do for them. So when the interviewer asks the question: “Tell me about yourself”, your answer should go right into your VAP, which describes your strengths and how they will help the interviewer and the company get things done.
Darnell Clarke is the author of “Employmentology”, A Practical Systematic Methodology of Finding and Obtaining Employment by a Hiring Manager.
He may be reached online at www.darnellclarke.com.