Interview

On April Fool’s Day – Are you fooling yourself about the Job Interview? 4

Is the joke on you?

When my children were teenagers, their running April Fool’s Day joke at our house was to take a rubber band and put it on the hand sprayer attachment on the kitchen sink. When my wife or I would turn on the faucet in the morning to make coffee, we would get sprayed with cold water.  Getting fooled by your children, even when you know it’s coming, is harmless fun. Fooling yourself is something different.

On April Fools’ Day, I keep thinking about why people would fool themselves about a job interview?  I’ve said before that there are five things you must do to be successful in an interview: research the company, relate specific stories about how you have; increased sales, decreased expenses and improved customer service and finally you must give yourself permission to have the job. The more I speak with people about their job interviews, the more I feel people are glossing over the permission part

On some level, they do not feel they deserve the job. As the interview progresses, their concerns about their self-worth leak out in unexpected ways and this sabotages the interview. This is bad. But the good news is your attitude can be changed once you realize where it comes from.

For me, I have always been an optimist. Very early on I bought into the glass half full; I mean it just seemed to make more sense to me than the reverse. Not that the glass half empty people weren’t right too. The fact that we could both look at the glass, see it in two different ways and both are right was exciting. The lesson for me is my view of the world and my place in it is controlled by how I chose to view it.

Recently I realized that my view  was being filtered by my accumulated life experiences;  the teachers I had in school, the lessons I learned from my parents, where I lived growing up  and even the books I read. All of this blended together to make my personal filter, my lenses through which I saw the world. Having this knowledge of how I viewed my life gave me the power to change things that weren’t working for me. Once you understand why you think the way you do about yourself, you are on your way to accepting yourself, which is very important, and then addressing anything that is holding you back.

So are you fooling yourself about the job? Do you really feel you deserve it? If so, your chances of landing it are very high. If not, then the interview will be an April fool’s joke, only you will be the one getting sprayed with cold water.

1.3 Million Jobs created last year – Five reasons why you didn’t get one 16

1.3 million new jobs created last year

The radio announcer was excited to report that in the past year there have been over 1.3 million new jobs created. With that many new jobs out there, I got to thinking why someone might not get one of those jobs. Those of you who have not landed a job should review the list and see what you might want to brush up on before your next interview.

Here are my top five reasons you didn’t get the job:

  1. You didn’t research the company – If one of the first questions you ask is “what exactly do you do?”, then you are wasting the interviewer’s time. Learn as much as you can about the company, including a recent headline that you can drop into the opening conversation
  2. You didn’t show how you increased sales - You need to demonstrate that you can contribute to the bottom line. Even if your job does not have the word sales in its title, you have ways you can increase revenue. Think of at least three specific examples and be ready to share them
  3. You didn’t show how you decreased expenses – There must be hundreds of little things you have done over the years to save companies that you have worked for money. Think of three examples tailored to the company you are applying to and then relate the story of how you saved the dollars and the impact that had to the company’s bottom line
  4. You didn’t show how you provided excellent customer service – There are times in everyone’s job where they interact with customers. Being able to give specific  examples instead of saying “I’m a people person” will give the interviewer a story he or she can remember when the final hiring decision is made. Be sure to include the problem, your solution and what the final outcome was.
  5. You never gave yourself permission to be successful – Napoleon Hill noted almost 100 years ago that most people need to be made “success conscious” before they can achieve their dreams. You need to be comfortable about the salary and the position. If deep down (maybe sub-consciously) you do not feel you deserve the job, then something will get in the way of your achieving it.

The good news is there are still jobs being created. Review my list and adjust as needed. Then enthusiastically go after that next job. I’m sure you will end up in a New Hire Orientation before you know it.

When it’s your turn to ask questions 2

Last October, I wrote a blog post titled During the Interview, It’s Not About You. I outlined reasons why the interviewer must get certain things from the interview to justify hiring you. I recently came across this quote from Louise Garver, an executive coach for the past 23 years from Broad Brook, Conn., and founder of Career Directions, LLC. It reminded me that the way you approach the interview will determine your ultimate success.

When talking about asking questions of the Interviewer, she says “The best questions are really all about them and not about you”. You can find her list of questions to ask during your interview on her blog

The more I speak with individuals who are actively interviewing, the more I feel they are not giving this part of the interview enough thought. It’s not enough to be qualified and enthusiastic, you need to show that you will fit in. The interviewer must be able to visualize you working for her company, interacting with her employee’s, contributing to her company in a positive way. Using your questions to give the Interviewer a reason to hire you is a great tool to have in your job seeking tool belt.

I encourage you to spend as much time thinking about the questions you will ask as you do preparing for the questions you will have to answer. The difference may just be you will hear “when can you start?” sooner than later.

How’d the interview go? Can you face the music? 2

I recently heard from a gentleman who is 62. He has  a very long record of success in his industry. Looking for a new job, he has gotten many first  interviews, but is not getting called back. He feels the interviews go great, but I told him if that were true, he would be hired by now.  I then suggested several specific things he could do during his next interview.

Having a positive attitude is one of the best attributes a person can have during the hiring process. But it shouldn’t get in the way of thinking clearly about how you are approaching your interviews. As with the gentleman above, he didn’t think there was anything wrong with the interview from his side, yet he is not getting hired. Once he opens himself up to seeing the situation from a different perspective, meaning from the interviewer’s eyes, he will begin to see what he needs to change to land the job.

The whole process of putting yourself out there in an interview can be intimidating. It is a contest of sorts, with the winner getting the 401k and the two weeks paid vacation. We pump ourselves up before the interview, do research about the company, practice interview questions and then arrive early for the appointment. But what do most people do after the interview?

Well, after sending a hand written thank you card, the serious candidate will honestly assess the interview.  George Bradt, of Forbes Magazine says there are only three true job interview questions: 1. Can you do the job? 2. Will you love the job? 3. Can we tolerate working with you?

Assessing my 62 year old candidate: Yes, he really does have the experience for the job. He has a passion for the work, you can hear that when you speak with him. So on some level, the interviewers must have felt he wasn’t a good fit for their organization. That’s where he needs to focus.

Preparing for the interview is a huge part of landing a new job. Facing the music after the interview, though, may be more important.

“Meat In The Tube” or How to stand out in an interview 0

In order to get hired, you need to give the interviewer a reason to remember you. Having specific, memorable stories related to your work experience is a must. And I mean specific, not a general “I’m a good structural engineer”. Instead it’s; “I’m a great structural engineer, I  recently  created the XXX, to solve problem YYY and the result was ZZZ, saving my employer millions in start-up costs.

I’m always interested in stories people are using as they interview, and I was thinking about a client I had worked with recently. She was asking about how to be remembered after the interview and I related this story to her:

As I traveled Interstate 64 towards Hampton Virginia, I was listening to the morning traffic report. The on-air personality was describing the traffic conditions in Chesapeake, Smithfield and up in James City County. Then he turned his attention to the tunnel that connects Hampton with Norfolk. That’s when he said “watch for back-ups at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, there’s a lot of meat in the tube“.

I can honestly say I had never heard that expression before. And even though it has been 3 years since I heard it, I still remember it! And I’m willing to bet that some of you decided to read this post just because you wondered what in the world “meat in the tube” had to do with the interview process.

To get hired you must get noticed. To get noticed you must stand out. To stand out, you need specific, memorable stories. I am sure each of  you have many great stories about your work successes. Think about them, practice them and  have them ready for your next interview and you will surely stand out, just as that radio announcer did.

think and speak on your feet – part two 3

In part one I said that the ability to “think and speak on your feet” is an important skill that often determines your success in job interviews. And once you land the job, many kinds of careers and occupations require this skill. To practice for your upcoming interviews try this exercise.

The exercise had you: print out a list of questions before you read through them. Cut them apart and put them in a jar. When you are ready to practice “thinking on your feet”, stand in front of a mirror, pull out a topic at random and talk to the mirror for two minutes about whatever is on the paper.

Now I want you to do the same exercise, but this time with real interview questions. It’s ok to look at them before you cut them up and put them in the jar. In fact, I would suggest you write notes  for yourself about each question before you begin the exercise. When you actually practice your responses out loud, do not use the notes, as you won’t be able to do that in the actual interview.

Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Can you give me an example from a previous job where you have shown initiative?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Are you a team player?
  • What qualities do you find important in a coworker?
  • Can you think of a time when you dealt with a customer problem? What was it, what did you do to resolve it and how did it turn out?
  • How does your previous experience relate to this position?
  • When can you start?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

 

If you have been on interviews and were asked questions that you had trouble with, be sure to add them to your list so you will be better prepared the next time. And feel free to post those questions in a comment so I can share them with other job seekers.

The more you practice, the easier the next interview will be. Let me know when you hear those wonderful words, “you’re hired!”

think and speak on your feet – part one 0

The ability to “think and speak on your feet” is an important skill that often determines your success in job interviews. And once you land the job, many kinds of careers and occupations require this skill. To practice for your upcoming interviews try this exercise.

Print out this list of questions before you read through them. Cut them apart and put them in a jar. When you are ready to practice “thinking on your feet”, stand in front of a mirror, pull out a topic at random and talk to the mirror for two minutes about whatever is on the paper.

  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go first and why?
  • If you could have only 3 electrical appliances in your house, what would they be and why?
  • Why does glue not stick to the bottle?
  • What nocturnal animal would you be if you had to choose and why?
  • If Abe Lincoln and George Washington got into a fight who’d win?
  • If you had a snail that could magically grant wishes, what would you name it?
  • If you had the chance to go back in time for 24 hours, where and when would you go?
  • What’s your worst/best memory of high school and why?
  • What was your favorite pet you had as a child and why?
  • What is the most rewarding experience you have had and what made it so?
  • Who or what inspires you and why?

Now that you have practiced thinking on your feet, you are ready to answer specific interview questions. Check back soon, I will post a list of interview practice questions that you can do the same exercise with.

Have an Attitude? 0

I was talking with my dentist recently, which is hard to do when he has his fingers in your mouth. We were discussing his office staff and I was remarking how well the office flowed. He said that it wasn’t always that way.

When he first began his practice, he hired based mainly on qualifications, degrees achieved and schools attended. He hired a very qualified staff. But he realized later that he didn’t hire employees who understood his customer service philosophy. This created tension between himself, his patients and the staff. Once he realized he needed to find employees who shared his ideas on office etiquette, thinks began to click. Ten years later, he has virtually no turn over and business is better than ever. It seems odd to say but it’s almost a pleasure to go to the dentist

When  looking for a position, attitude is key. The right attitude can get you hired.  So let your positive attitude shine and land the job you’ve been searching for.

Is your resume a list of your responsibilities? Then it’s wrong 0

Think about that for a moment. Anyone can make a list of job titles they have held, committees they have been on, even positions on local boards or volunteer agencies. But the biggest question to a future employer is what did you actually accomplish?

If you can’t get that across, it doesn’t matter how important the positions were you held. In order to make a lasting impression on an interviewer, they need to understand that you get things done. That you get things done in an efficient manner. That you get things done on schedule or even ahead of schedule.

And after you say that, then you must give a specific example of a problem at your last job, what action you took and most importantly, how the outcome was far better than your Boss had ever expected. The interviewer will remember that specific example and remember you.

As an example, when asked about your customer service skills you could say, “I’m a people person”. Or you could say:

As the Store Manager for Best Products in Hopewell, Va., I received a call one Christmas Eve from a customer about a ride-on toy he had purchased for his 6 year old son for Christmas. It was 8 PM when he noticed that the specialized battery for the car was not in the box. So I told him I would meet him at the store and we would get him the battery. I called my Assistant Manager (just in case this was a set-up) and I headed down to the store. We found the battery in another box and I sent him home, relieved that Christmas wasn’t ruined for his little boy.

Now that is a true story and it sticks much better than “I’m a people person”.

So as you prepare or review your resume, think about what you have specifically accomplished and the results you have produced. Then write that and be sure to share that in the interview. The results will amaze you.