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Growing up in Nashville, we only had minor league hockey. Over the last 15 years, many locals, as well as transplants, have fallen in love with the Predators (myself included).Since training camp opened five days ago, the hockey buzz is beginning, especially with a new offensive minded coach and several new players.

I love professional hockey; it is a hard-hitting, fast moving game for 60 minutes. However, nothing beats a tie hockey game with under 5 minutes to play (ok, maybe Sudden Death overtime or a playoff series Game 7). Attending a game in person is the ultimate, whether you are a casual fan or a life-long season ticket holder. So, how do interviews and hockey relate? Keep reading!

Interviews can be fast-paced and exciting as well (minus the fisticuffs). I liken the first few minutes of an interview to the 1st period of a hockey game, where teams are sizing each other up; checking out the ice; evaluating the crowd. For interviews, the action is contained to handshakes, smiles, eye contact and small talk. It is so hard (really impossible) to control the other person’s actions/reactions. All you can do is perform these fundamentals and prepare mentally for the 2nd period: the grilling session (aka – the main body of the interview).

Here of course, you are a goalie of sorts. The company (one or more hiring managers) are firing the puck at you. Sometimes, the game may take place over the phone (or Skype) for one or more initial/remote interviews. This makes it even harder to gauge if you are being successful. It is usually a relief when this portion wraps up; now it is your turn to shoot the puck and score some goals!

Just like hockey, crunch time for an “interviewee” is that final session of time. This is when you are afforded the opportunity to ask interviewer(s) questions. In my 11 years of External Recruiting & Executive Search, I have always been a proponent of closing strong. Let me explain with some context from a recent executive candidate interview.

This week, I had a great interview with a former Chief People Officer of a national restaurant chain. Additionally, this Human Resources Leader spent over 15 years with a multi-billion dollar retail chain. We covered a lot of ground but one point was paramount: “the more people talk, the more they like you.” This is a great transition to my conclusion.

How do you get people talking about their favorite topics? Family, career success, hobbies, etc. A few classic examples: What is the culture of the company? How have you been successful here? Why is this a great place to work? What kind of candidates are attracted to this firm?

Well-crafted, insightful questions validate your intellect, demonstrate your detailed preparation and confirms your interest in the client’s opportunity. This is your last chance to make a lasting/positive impression with a company. I often tell candidates this simple truth: “the maybe’s of today are the no’s of tomorrow.” So here is my recommended recipe for the winning slapshot; it goes something like this: “Mr./Ms. Smith, thanks again for your time today. It has been rewarding and informative to learn more about Acme Company’s culture and structure. I am very interested in this position and want to continue forward in the hiring process. If I have missed anything during our interview, I would appreciate any feedback or the chance to clarify.”

What does this do? Several things:1. Appreciation and gratitude for the chance to interview.2.Confirms your sincere interest in the position. 3. Serves as a check-in (if necessary) to clarify or properly answer a question.It is OK (and recommended) to have all of YOUR questions prepared in advance. Typed or written on a note pad – it matters not.

Interviews are tough (well, not really, when compared to the professional hockey). You need to have strong shots at the end of the game. Practice, practice, practice, both your offense (asking questions) and defense (answering questions). Detailed, written preparation prior to suiting up will pay dividends and result in winning interviews and ultimately job offers. Best of luck and be sure to check out our firm on Twitter: @PlumleeAssoc and our website: www.plumleeassociates.com

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