interviewing

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.

After you do what everyone else is doing – try this to land a job 1

 

What Associations have you researched?

So you have subscribed to the weekend edition of the NY Times, you are reading the job listings on jobs boards and you went to a job fair. You have contacted Aunt Millie who knows a guy who knows a guy at a company you want to work for. Your resume is out there and you’re sitting pretty waiting for the offers to roll in.

If this strategy isn’t producing the desired results yet, you may want to include this in your  job search tool bag. Do some research on Associations and trade groups relevant to your industry, or the industry you hope to break into. These publications can  help in your job search. Many companies advertise in industry publications to attract talent that is already skilled in the field.

You can also use these industry publications to network. By scanning each issue, you can quickly see who is being recognized for their work, who has landed a new position and even who is retiring. This sets up a great reason to contact these people. You might send: a personal note from you congratulating someone on a promotion, a note recognizing the value of the research someone published or a card thanking someone for their years of service. Done the right way, you have created a personal connection. This would not be the time to discuss you and your job prospects. It needs to be about them.  A follow-up down the road can begin a more specific conversation.

For my jobs board One Stop Jobs Online I belong to the International Association of Employment Websites. One of the resources offered is a Directory of Associations by category. This would be a good place to start if you are not currently researching Associations  in your job search.

Another benefit of Associations is to  see what is going on in your industry. This gives you great talking points when you interview.

So do the traditional job search activities and then look for the not so obvious. It may be the lead that lands you in your new hire orientation!

 

You’ll never believe the tool I found to prepare for an interview 0

One of the keys to success in the job market is to research the companies you are interested in. This has been made almost child’s play with Google Alerts.

If you have not set up an alert for each company you are seeking a job with, then you are missing out on an easy to use tool. You can search just the company, you can add the names of individuals you will be interviewing with or the CEO  of the company. Another search might be the industry you are in.

Google alerts can be sent to your email as they happen, so you have up to the minute information. Or if your inbox is very crowded, they can be sent daily.

Don’t skip the research step in your job search. Information is power. The more information you have, the better you will feel during the interview.  Try this out and let me know what you think.

 

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!

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!

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.

 

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.