interviewing

My Garbage Man said “I’ll check with my office” 0

 

“I’ll check with my office”

It wasn’t just that he said “I’ll check with my office” when I asked him about a special pick up, it was the way he said it. If my eyes had been closed I would have pictured him in a three-piece suit standing at one end of a large conference table with Board Members and Senior Executives all waiting to hear what he had to say next.

And it wasn’t forced. His comment was as natural as if he was asking you to pass the butter at the dinner table. His answer was also sincere. He really wanted to take care of my needs, as the customer, and I walked away from our interaction just knowing that he would “check with his office” and I would get the extra pick up I needed.

I once had an employee leave because he felt he was being asked to do something that was beneath him. He wasn’t able to project, even to himself, an attitude that says “I’m proud of myself and I take pride in what I do.” He got lost in what he perceived the “status of the job” to be.

Having a positive attitude about yourself works in your favor in so many ways. Here are just a few:

  • You want a promotion at work – If your attitude is that you already have the job and your actions show you are doing the job, you will be in the right place when the opening occurs
  • You are interviewing for a job – Your positive, I can solve your problem, attitude will strike a chord during the interview. Combine that with some specific examples of how you have solved problems in the past and you are on your way to hearing “when can you start”

It has been over 10 years since my garbage man told me “I’ll check with my office”. He made a huge impression that day. Think about your attitude, adjust as necessary and let me know how this works for you.

 

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.

Ladder vs. Jungle Gym – Is there room for a leader anymore? 2

Is this replacing the corporate ladder?

Has the Internet and social media destroyed the corporate ladder? Is there even a ladder to climb now? I’m hearing the instant collaboration via the Web has created more of a jungle gym interaction. People will tell you that there is no longer a leader, that the expression “lonely at the top” is no longer relevant because there is no top.

I have been trying to wrap my arms around this for the past two weeks. Having grown up in the “leadership generation” my bias is towards having one central figure in charge. You know; George Washington… Abraham Lincoln…  leading the nation kind of stuff. I’ve been trying to picture Abe tweeting all of his generals about the status of the Confederates, then creating a strategy in the White House. I remember reading Abe famously sent a  note to one of his generals suggesting that if the general wasn’t going to use the Army, he would give it a try. I’ll bet that would have garnered more than one RT.

I would welcome your thoughts on what defines leadership these days. The issue may be larger than I think. It could be a paradigm shift between my generation and my children’s. I do know that each of my children is dedicated to and is passionate about what they do, but not in the same way I am. While this is to be expected, it creates challenges as each generation has different expectations from their work experience.

As an aside (and a future blog post) the definition of leadership and it’s expectations becomes more relevant as those hiring and doing the interviewing change places. The  Ladder generation interviewers are no longer the only ones doing the hiring. Many Jungle Gym interviewees have been hired and are now the new Interviewers . The rules about how to interview are changing with the change in leadership. If you haven’t figured this out, you’re not getting those second interviews and the “when can you start” phone calls.

Please weigh in on this topic. My readers and I look forward to hearing other’s opinions .

“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.