interview questions

Want a job? Four reasons you must follow-up 0

Recently I presented my “You’re Hired” keynote for the New Jersey Department Of Labor’s Jersey Job Club

Interview, job search requires thank you notesThere were many excellent  questions both before and after my presentation. One stood out in my mind. Tim (not his real name) asked:

“Why should  I spend money to send a thank-you card if I felt the interviewer was not interested in me?”

Several audience members almost jumped out of their seats. Each said the cost of a stamp and five minutes of their time was minimal compared to the potential of a job offer. One person told of getting a call after sending a thank you note. In the note,  she had offered several suggestions to a problem the interviewer had told her the company was facing. She ended up landing the job.

Tim’s question reminded me of a job offer I once received after sending a thank you card and later following up with a phone call. I was immediately asked to come to the office and was hired  when I walked in the door. I was actually told by the interviewer  that my follow-up was the reason I was offered the job. It was the final test.

Back at the Jersey Job Club, I spoke with Tim.  He was missing the point about what a thank you note is about.

  • Tim did not see the chance to add value by sending the note.
  • He did not see the chance to separate himself from other candidates by highlighting an aspect of the interview.
  • He did not see he could share additional information about something the interviewer asked.
  •  Tim did not see that he could include information about a shared hobby, his answer to a company challenge that was discussed or an idea sparked by the interviewers questions.

A few days later, I received an email from Tim. He had re-thought the ideas we had discussed. He saw the value of consistent, specific, follow-up. Tim said he is now investing in his future when he mails a card.

Following up with a snail mail card is more than an obligation. It is a chance to stand out, to show your value to  an employer. Done right, the next thing you sign after the thank you card will be all of the forms during your new hire orientation.

Do you really want a better job in 2013? 0

 

The more I hear from recruiters, the more I believe some people really don’t want a new job. Sure they say they want a better job, they say they are looking, they say they are serious, but… they do not want to do the work required to land a new job.

It reminds me of the verse in Choo Choo Ch’Boogie by Asleep At the Wheel

I need some compensation to get back in the black,

I take the morning paper from the top of the stack,

I read the situation from the front to the back,

the only job that’s open needs a man with a knack,

so I put it right back in the stack.”

In 2013, if you really want a better job, resolve to do the work to get it.

Job Seeker Tip #32 – Never Chew Gum During An Interview 1

Recently I was asked for tips on acing a job interview. After giving the matter some thought, I came up with 101 Job Seeker Tips.

Today I want to tell you about tip #32 – Never chew gum during an interview.

I’m sure you will see why.

Have You Given Yourself Permission To Succeed? 0

The Atlantic

Are you uncomfortable bringing up salary during an interview? Do you assume that the employer will let you know when to talk about compensation? During the hiring process, did you negotiate your starting salary?  Do men and women approach this differently?

Take a look at today’s article, Negotiate,  in The Atlantic by Eleanor Barkhorn.  In it she documents work done on salary negotiation by men and women . One of the key requirements is permission.

In March I wrote a blog post  about successful job applicants. 1.3 million jobs created – Five reasons why you did not get one In it, I talked about permission.

I give you permission to re-read this entry and be successful in your salary negotiations.

Five Ways To Bring Your Job Search Into Focus 4

Is Your Job Search In Focus?

Yesterday I had an eye exam. I was left alone by the nurse and  I was looking at all of the equipment. I realized that together these were tools to help my Doctor understand clearly what was going on with my eyes, helping him bring my vision into focus.

As he was very busy, I had a few minutes to ponder how job seekers could bring their search into focus. Before he came into the examining room, I came up with five:

  1. Know What Your Greatest Strengths Are – If you really understand what you do best, you can match that to specific job postings, not wasting your time “spraying and praying”.
  2. Include Key Words on Your Resume – If you are applying online and you are not doing this, you are probably wondering why you haven’t heard from anyone. LinkedIn offers help with Key Words. Click on Your Profile, go into “more” and you will see Skills and Expertise. Enter key words from the job posting and you will see additional ideas
  3. Do Your Homework – If you need to ask the interviewer “what they do”, you are wasting their time. Set up Google alerts for every company you are considering. Search the companies websites for interesting facts. Read up on regulations that may affect the industry.
  4. Practice – The more you practice interviewing, the more comfortable you will be. Enlist a friend or family member and conduct mock interviews. Or put sample questions on cards, stand in front of a mirror and practice answering them,
  5. Stay The Course – It’s easy to get very excited when the phone rings. Landing an interview could mean you are one meeting away from a job. But you need to treat your job search as an on-going process. Your focus needs to be on the big picture, which means continuing to research companies, continuing to send out resumes and continuing to follow up on applications you have submitted.

My Doctor, when he finally got to see me, corrected my vision and brought things into focus. You can bring  your job search into focus by doing these five things.

3 Reasons The Jobs Report Is Good News 0

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1. There are still jobs being created

2. If you are consistently doing the right thing, you can still land a job     

3. You will be successful if you give yourself permission to get the job  

Forget everything you have heard about interviewing 1

I have written many, many articles about the responsibilities a person has when going for an interview. But what about the responsibilities of the interviewer? In speaking with job applicants recently, I am hearing that the person conducting the interview:

  • was late for the interview
  • was unprepared
  • asked inappropriate (and sometimes illegal) questions
  • was unclear about the job description for the position they were hiring for

So all of the preparation candidates do by practicing the answers to basic questions and having great questions to ask may not be enough to land the job. While forgetting all of that preparation really isn’t the answer, my suggestion is that you have a plan for the interview. Don’t wait to be asked. Have a plan to communicate your abilities, but more importantly how you use those abilities to solve problems. Regardless of the job you are applying for, the reason there is a job opening is because the company has a problem and they are hiring to solve it.

It may be that they are swamped with phone calls for orders and so their problem is they don’t have enough experienced sales people or the company is looking to expand into China and they don’t have an experienced manager who is fluent in Mandarin. By identifying the specific  problem the company has, the problem the interviewer is hiring for, you can land the job by showing that you can solve the problem.

In the end, it is up to you to show, with specific stories, that you are the right person for the job. By understanding that the person doing the interview may be more nervous and much less prepared than you are, you can help them by showing them what they need to know to hire you.

While that’s not what you usually hear about how to land a job, in today’s market, it may be what you must do to stand out, to end up in your next new hire orientation!

3 Ways Job Seekers Tell Stories During An Interview 3

What kind of story are you telling?

The more I speak with job seekers, the more I am certain that those who are getting hired tell a better story. They have taken the time to think about their past experiences and have practiced telling specific stories about specific actions they have taken.  They can tell an employer what the problem was, what action they took to solve the problem and how it came out.

During an interview for any position that involves interaction with customers, you will most likely be asked something like “tell me about a time when you had a problem customer; what was the problem, what did you do to resolve the problem and how did it turn out”?

Here are three ways people answer:

1. Having interviewed several thousand applications, almost two-thirds  will gloss over their answer. It’s as if they are taking a few experiences and mashing them together, then talking in general terms about it. There is a generic “someone was upset, I called a manager, I think it was ok”. Even getting that out of many applicants is a struggle. Sadly, many applicant stand out because they can’t tell a simple story of how they helped someone.

2. Without a magic potion that will make the applicant’s nose grow with each “untruth” they tell, an interviewer can never be 100% certain if the applicant is telling the truth. Yet some applicants feel the need to embellish their story in order to make themselves look better on paper or sound better in an interview. Most experienced hiring managers will understand what is going on. Just be yourself, sincere, honest and enthusiastic. Making up stories is never the right answer.

3. Having taken the time to think about your job experiences before the interview and the ways you have helped customers, you pick the experience that most closely fits the job you are applying for and you simply relate the story like you would tell it to a family member.

“It was Christmas Eve, I was the store manager for Best Products in Hopewell, VA. My phone rang about 8:30 PM and it was a customer who had bought a large ride on car for his 4-year-old son for Christmas. He was putting it together and found the battery was missing. He was very upset that his son’s Christmas was going to be ruined.

I told him to meet me at the store and I would get him the battery. I called my assistant manager to meet me there, just in case it was a setup (it wasn’t) and I went to the store. We found the battery the man needed and his son’s Christmas was saved.”

While you may not have solved a customer problem on Christmas Eve, I am certain you have gone out of your way to take care of a customer issue. Maybe you dropped off a set of plans on your way home, you called someone and got a needed repair done quicker or  you beat a deadline for a customer and made him or her look good as a result.

Take a few minutes right now and go back through your customer service experiences. Then you will be ready for your next interview, standing out for the right reasons. You will set yourself ahead of two-thirds of the applicants just by this one idea.

And if you feel like sharing, I know we would all benefit from hearing your personal “Christmas Eve” story.

Five Questions to ask yourself before the interview 1

How do you handle the unexpected? That is one of the things you may be judged on during the interview.

As you can see from this cartoon about  IKEA, you may need to think on your feet.  Most interviews stick to established questions about work history and what you can bring to the table. Then there are those who like to see beyond the ordinary. You may remember in the 1990′s, Microsoft was famous for asking “why manhole covers are typically round”?

Review these questions and  make notes for yourself to be ready for the expected and the unexpected:

  1. Have I researched the company I want to work for?
  2. Have I thought about what they might ask me in a phone interview?
  3. Have I thought about what they will ask me during a first interview?
  4. Have I thought about salary and when to talk about it (and when not to talk about it)?
  5. Have I thought about that off the wall question I might get asked and how I would handle it?

After you write down your answers, then review them daily. You never know when the phone will ring.

And how can you tell if you got the right answer to that off the wall question?  The answer is –  you are sitting in your New Hire Orientation!

Job hunting is a delicate balance – Here are three ways to cope 1

Are You Stressing Over Your Job Search?

“Job hunting is a delicate balance between pride, desperation and humiliation.”        Amy Crabtree

Here are three ways to cope:

  1. Don’t stop- You may have found a lead to the best job on the planet and you’re sure after the telephone interview that next week will be it because they scheduled an interview. Now you have six days to kill until the interview, so you start thinking why should I keep looking, this job is in the bag. Instead of stopping your job search, pause for a few minutes, write down everything you remember from the phone interview, especially things that got a positive response and then keep searching. It  doesn’t matter if this job works out,  you have many more coming. Don’t stop until you are in a new hire orientation
  2. Don’t marry the company - I’ve said many times before, you can end up on an emotional roller coaster if you play the “I’ve got to have this job, it’s perfect” game. All jobs have perks, benefits and all jobs have drawbacks. Make sure you are painting a realistic picture of the company;  you may decide after the first interview that you don’t like their culture. Be open about the company and realistic about what they are offering and your stress will be less.
  3. Don’t think traditional – With all of the competition for jobs today, standing out is imperative. In the end, it’s about getting the attention of the company you want to work for. Within the corporate culture of the industry and workplace you are targeting, you need to tell your story. Share your personal brand with specific stories that give the interviewer a reason to remember you.

Amy caught the spirit of the problem. “Job hunting is a delicate balance between pride, desperation and humiliation.” Don’t be so proud that you stop searching because “they would be nut’s not to hire you”. Don’t be so desperate that you take the first thing that comes along, without making sure it is a good fit for you. And don’t worry about being embarrassed when you market yourself in a memorable way. It may end up being the talk of your first company picnic.