Sunday, October 4, 2009

Job Interviewing Lessons Learned from Chicago's Olympic Bid Loss

IOC Politics. Latin America never hosted the games before. Conspiracy. These are all reasons we saw in the media why Chicago and the US Delegation failed to win the bid to host the Summer 2016 Olympics Games. In truth, Chicago and its representatives failed in part due to many of the same mistakes people make on job interviews.

1. It's not about you! It's about what you can do for them!

In some of the most high profile speeches of supporters of the Chicago bid, the focus was on personal stories and what the Olympics could do for Chicago. Instead, the focus should have been on what Chicago can do for the Olympics. When companies are interviewing you they want to know what are you going to do for them. They don't care about your sob stories. They care about two things. How are you going to favorably impact the bottom line and how are you going to make the decision makers look good. The Chicago bid failed in both accounts.

2. Understand the Decision Making Criteria

Many of the IOC voters have never been to Chicago before and knew very little about the city. Additionally, the Chicago and US delegation knew very little about each IOC voter. When Oprah and others were out there shaking hands of the IOC members and smiling for the camera they should have been asking each IOC member what was important to them in their decision making process. Then, Chicago should have tailored its pitch to key aspects that were important to the majority of the voting bloc. When job interviewing you want to find out the decision making criteria of each decision maker and position your strengths and pitch towards that criteria.

3. Let the interviewer do most of the talking

Throughout the week in Copenhagen the Chicago delegation talked and tallked and talked about the virtues of Chicago. Instead, they should have been listening to what the IOC wanted. Most job interviewers make the mistake of talking too much in job interviews. Instead you should be listening for clues of decision making criteria and objections and make your case accordingly.

4. Know the objections and overcome them

For quite some time it was known that their were a few core objections to the Chicago bid. 1) Percieved "unfriendly" customs and attitudes towards foreign travelers. 2) Crime and Corruption. 3) Rift between IOC and USOC. Chicago, rather than avoiding those objections should have addressed them head on. Chicago could have addressed the first concern by showing pictures of its many neighborhoods with grocery stores that are Polish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Indian, etc. Hardly any visitor to Chicago could possibly get homesick because there are so many ethnic neighborhoods where they could have felt welcome and at home. As for the second concern, Chicago could have talked about how the President was sending high level advisors to the city to address the recent crime issues. As for the rift between the IOC and the USOC, Chicago could have stated the concern and an action plan on how the USOC wants to improve relations.

When it comes to the job interview, it is natural for hiring managers to have some sort of concerns or objections about your qualifications. Maybe it is your level of experience. Maybe it is your salary. Maybe it is your history of quick hops from one company to another. Regardless, it is important in the interview to ask if there are any outstanding questions or concerns about your bid to get hired. Then you need to acknowledge the validity of those concerns and overcome them.

5. Strong Close

In the job interview it is important to go for a strong close. To recap the needs and to show how you are the best candidate to address those needs. Then you have to ask for the order. You have to ask what is the next step in the process for you to become a value added member of their team. By many appearances, the Chicago bid lacked a strong closing punch. It did not adequately recap the needs and desires of the IOC and demonstrate how Chicago was best positioned to address those needs. Instead, Chicago tried to win based off of emotional appeals. That in itself would not necessarily have been bad if it was appealing to the emotions of the IOC voters. But, instead, the Chicago delegation was appealing to its own emotions and appealing to emotions that seem to win elections in the US, not in other parts of the globe.

At the end, RIO won by addressing objections head on and showing how the IOC would look like heros by voting for them. Learn from RIO. When you are in a job interview. It is not just about you. It is about showing how you will be a great asset to the company, how you will make the company money and how you will make the decision makers proud of their decision to hire you. You want to play to the emotions of the people interviewing you and make them feel confident about hiring you.

About the Author

Todd Bermont is the author of the books "10 Insider Secrets to a Winning Job Search" and "10 Insider Secrets(tm) Career Transition Workshop. Todd's books are available at, and Barnes&

Todd is also the online instructor for the course 12 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL JOB SEARCH!

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