interview practice

Do you make these four mistakes that cost you the job interview? 6

Has this every happened to you? You have applied to 17 companies over the past 3 weeks. You know some of the companies have gotten your resume because you have gotten a couple of form letter post cards thanking you for applying and informing you they are reviewing all applications. Then the phone rings!

When you answer, it is company number 7, which is similar to companies 6 and 12. So you are not sure which company is calling you. To make things worse, you answered the phone while driving and now you are distracted because you are trying to pull over as you just saw a cop and you are still trying to figure out which company this is because the few notes you do have are at home.

If you do not handle the telephone interview correctly, you will never get to sit down face to face with an employer . You need a plan to make sure you aren’t missing key details that will help you get hired.  You need a way to keep track of each job listing and be able to put your fingers on the information when  the phone rings.

Here are four mistakes people make during the phone interview and simple ways to avoid them:

  1. Not answering the phone in a positive manner- Each time your phone rings, smile before answering it. You will be surprised how positive and engaging you will sound.
  2. Sounding nervous during the phone interview - Stand up as you speak. This will allow you to breathe deeper and will help calm your nerves . Remember, it’s ok to be nervous and to have butterflies, you just need to get the butterflies to fly in formation.
  3.  Not being organized – Invest in a small binder or accordion file and put all the information you have gathered about each company in one place. This would include the research you have done about the company, the information detailing the job they are advertising and a copy of your  cover letter  for that company.
  4. Not  being prepared- This is the hardest mistake to recover from.  Carry the information with you or have access to it at all times. You never know when the phone will ring and you will need to flip to company 7.

Have a plan to correct these mistakes and you will significantly improve your chances of getting the face to face interview and ultimately, the job.

If you have things that are working for you and want to share them with my readers, please leave a comment. Your success just might land someone else a job, too!

The most dangerous threat to your job search 2

What are you telling yourself?

You probably guessed it before you began reading. The most dangerous threat to your job search isn’t the competition, the out of the blue interview questions or even the lack of jobs in your field. The most dangerous threat to your job search is you. This threat shows up in many ways, but negative self-talk can keep you on the sidelines. Alleydog defines Self Talk as:

Self Talk: Self Talk refers to the ongoing internal conversation with ourselves, which influences how we feel and behave.

For example, you find yourself in a traffic jam while rushing to work one morning. You self-talk could be pessimistic and you might think, “My whole day is ruined. If I don’t get to work on time, I’ll never hear the end of it. My boss will think that I’m no good and will surely pass me up for that promotion I’ve been working all year for.” You will then start your day in a bad mood and feel demotivated thinking that there’s no point in working hard since you already ruined your chances for a promotion.

On the other hand, you could have a more positive self-talk and think, “I’ll probably be no more than ten minutes late. I guess I’ll just have to take a quick lunch instead of going out to eat. If I can turn in my report before the end of the day and make sure that it’s error-free, I might still have a chance to get that promotion.”

I know it is hard to be objective when you are focusing on yourself, but that’s when you must.  Self talk can either work in your favor  and fuel your success or it can undermine your actions and keep you from landing your dream job. As you go through the job seeking process, you almost need to think of yourself as the job coach for yourself.

If you were advising a sibling, a close friend or your own children about a job, what advice would you give them? As you think of your own situation, is the advice you are giving yourself what you would tell them? If not, then you are not thinking clearly about the job prospect or yourself.

And don’t over think. The interview today may lead to a job offer, but you must remain focused. Talking yourself out of continuing the job search because you have a possible opportunity that sounds promising sets yourself up for disappointment.

So talk to yourself about how you are talking to yourself. It may just be what you need to  change negative thought into positive energy. The end result will be that warm fuzzy feeling that comes when you are sitting in your new hire orientation!

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.

“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.