To paraphrase Mr. Gump, an interview is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. Sure, you might have certain expectations for the interview to go a certain way, or perhaps you expect to be asked certain questions, but sometimes (read:often) life likes to throw you a curveball and mix things up a bit and you get a question out of left field. Then you’re stuck staring blankly while your brain is switching directions suddenly and the interviewer is left wondering if you speak English or if you’re just dumb. It’s embarrassing, but we’ve all been there.Read More
Today John and Larry field some questions from our studio audience as portrayed by Robert. Things like how to cancel an interview, what type of references to use and answering questions about termination.
We’ve all been there. You show up for the interview five minutes early. They remember your name. Everyone’s smiling. They’re asking questions; you’re answering smoothly and professionally. Then the smiles start to fade. You keep talking, and their smiles keep slipping and slipping until they look like they’re at a funeral instead of an interview.Read More
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and, among the 754 (I’m exaggerating a bit) “things” you must get done ASAP in your Plant or Department, you lean back in your chair and say to yourself, “Why can’t I fill the this job opening?” Well, Mr./Ms. Busy-Busy-Lot’s-To-Do, this article is a must read. It should help put things in perspective.
- Having unrealistic expectations. When they are looking to fill a position, everyone shoots for the sun, moon and stars in terms of talent. As I tell employers that we deal with, it doesn’t take a wizard to realize that there is a shortage of talent out there and that holds true in all the fields. And here’s a news flash: It’s only going to get worse. When you are identifying skills sets necessary to successfully do the job, you need to prioritize which skills are critical and where there can be flexibility. If you stand pat and require every little skill set, you may never fill the need.
- Lack of commitment. What that means is that everyone in the hiring process has to be “on board” when it comes to interviewing and qualifying potential candidates. Hiring is very time consuming, and when you are trying to do the 754 “things” I mentioned in the beginning, it’s easy for interviewing, and hiring, to fall lower on the list of priorities. It’s not intentional but it easily happens.
- Bureaucracy. Many employers have trouble filling their need or needs because they are stuck in bureaucratic “limbo”. That could be from HR crossing “T’s” and dotting “I’s” and going through all sort of gyrations, or simply waiting for some “mysterious” higher up to give the OK to interview a candidate. Well, as I mentioned in point #1, with a shortage of talent in the market, companies need to be more nimble in interviewing and hiring candidates. When it comes to hiring in this day and age, you must be a Navy destroyer (quicker to turn, quicker to react), and not some big, old, WWII battleship (slower to turn and slower to react).
- Lack of urgency. Read point #3 again. Need I say anything more?
- You think you know it all. When I have a plumbing problem in my house, my wife will say, “Call a plumber!” and my response is always, “Nah, waste of money, I’ll fix it myself.” But after seven hours, 16 trips to Lowes or Home Depot later and countless expletives, I succumb and call the Plumber. The same is true in hiring. I can’t fault anyone in trying to fill a need on their own, but there comes a time where you need to go to a “Pro”- someone who can help identify and qualify talent for your search. Remember, the key is to find a Recruiter who can not only identify, but qualify talent for you. The qualifying is where a good Headhunter can be of immense value.
The next time you find yourself struggling to fill a need, look at the 5 points above, identify which of those you are guilty of and then DO something to correct it. You’ll be surprised how quickly a few changes here and there can help. Happy Hunting!!!
Even if you’re lucky enough to live close to the career hub for your industry, chances are that you are going to have to do a preliminary interview over the phone at least once. Those chances are multiplied if you’re applying for remote positions or for companies that are large enough to be using (third party or in-house) recruiters who like to assess potential candidates over the phone before recommending them to the internal hiring team.
Each time a writing contract ends, I am put back into interview mode. This past week, I had five different phone interviews (and three video interviews…which we’ll talk about soon), and it inspired me to jot down tips I’ve learned over the years:
Five Tips for Slaying Your Phone Interview
- Smile and Move Around Often. This might sound crazy since the person on the other end of the phone can’t see you, but have you ever talked to someone on the phone while they were watching TV? You could totally tell that they were distracted, right? Similarly, your interview will pick up on your positive energy and enthusiasm for the job if you act as though they can see you smile and nod. Walking while you talk will help keep your energy up and blood pumping, which will send the message that you’re excited about the job.
- Minimize distractions. For me, this includes locking my cats in the bedroom, shutting all the windows, and turning off my TV and laptop. Even if you think you’re super focused, it’s human nature to attempt to ease nervousness of new situations by falling back to the familiar, so you might not be able to prevent your eyes from wandering to the TV. If your apartment or home is too full of distractions or you don’t live alone, consider taking the call somewhere, such as in your parked car.
- Prep ahead of time (don’t depend on notes). Phone interviews might seem like a slam dunk since the interviewer can’t see you. If they ask you a question you aren’t sure how to answer, you can always look something up on your laptop, right? Wrong. Although using your laptop is okay for an emergency, you shouldn’t depend on it. Prep for the call as though it were in person. The time it takes to look up an answer or research the company will be noticed by the interviewer and might make you feel self-conscious, which could throw off your confidence for the remainder of the call. If you prep for the interview, then just keep in mind that you are qualified and you know the answers. Trust yourself!
- Be ready for a call at any time. Once you submit an application for a job, you should be prepared to receive a call from the recruiters at any time. They might email you ahead of time, but they might not. If you don’t have the time to focus on the call (or you’re driving, feeding an infant, etc), it is absolutely okay to reschedule the call for another time. This is much better than not giving the best interview you could have because you were distracted, and your caller might even be impressed by your polite manner. Similarly, if you aren’t able to be able to talk professionally (i.e. three beers in at Happy Hour), let your voicemail get it…because, you already recorded a professional voicemail message before applying.
- Don’t forget to follow up with a Thank You note. Since your conversation took place over the phone, it’s easy to forget to send a thank you note. However, sending an email within 24 hours of the call is essential after phone interviews because it will keep you top of mind during a critical step in the hiring process: the initial screen. Chances are that whoever you spoke to probably spoke to several other candidates, and you want to make sure they remember you, specifically. Thank them for your time and refer to specific parts of the conversation. Offer to send any additional materials needed for the application and include all of your contact information. Since I’m a writer, I usually include my writing samples again, even if I sent them in the initial application, to make it easier to forward on. Include your resume, too, if you think it’s appropriate. Make it as easy as possible for your interviewer to move you to the next level!
Best of luck on that phone call! Next time, I’ll give you some tips on acing the newest and perhaps most panic-inducing type of interview: Video!
You sit down with a prospective employer, you have your shiny resume in front of them, and you expect to start discussing your wonderful credentials. Then, just as you settle in you get, “Well ______________, tell me a little bit about yourself.” With that question you totally freeze, not knowing what to say. Is he interested in your My Little Pony collection? Does he want to know about your crippling addiction to online surveys? That you have an imaginary three legged hamster for a best friend? Probably not. The question is a little trickier than you might think at first.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to handle this question. Some advice has been, “What would you like to know?” Another is, “Well, I was born in a little log cabin in Blah, in the great state of Blahblah.” With some employers we’ve dealt with over the years, either answer could send the wrong signal, and as a result, you have to be careful. Many employers aren’t going to narrow it down for you, and if they do, it’s likely going to end up a boring question about your hobbies. So make sure you take this opportunity when it presents itself.
What we have found over the years is that the best way to answer that question is to say, “Well Mr. Employer, I find myself to be a—,” and at this point, start your sales pitch. What you want to do is focus on the strengths you have that would apply to the job you are interviewing for. Talk about your managerial ability, leadership skills, attention to detail, reliability, etc. Whatever would best tie into what the employer wants. Sometimes it is pure guesswork, but it is a much better way to address that age old question. Every question in an interview is an opportunity to sell yourself. Don’t let even one get away from you.
For you to do this effectively, you must prepare for it, and rehearse it. You may never get asked the question, but as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, then memorize it. Your mind can go blank when you’re on the spot, and you may struggle to just remember what your strengths are. But if you memorize a list of them, you’ll have an easier time recalling them when under pressure. Before any interview, go over your list, and try to find ways to apply them all to the job you’re interviewing for.
As mentioned above, there is a lot of advice out there, and everyone has an opinion. But, we know for a fact that the approach suggested above does, and has worked. Everytime you speak on an interview, you should be demonstrating some way you’re the perfect candidate. Being ready to tell an employer about yourself in a positive and beneficial manner will only help you nail the interview.
The amount of information that is available on the Internet can be overwhelming (and even scary, if you’ve ever had a blind date with someone who seemed to know way too much about you). However, as a job-seeker, social media can be your best friend. You just have to use it correctly! For example, here are five ways to use social media to prepare for an interview:
What is the company’s point of view? Go to the company’s website and read their About Us section, as well as any other content that explains the history and objective of the company. Jot down a few questions about this content to ask at the conclusion of the interview.
What does the business do? This might sound like an easy question, but, in the tech world, it is sometimes difficult to know what it is you’re selling. Browse the product selection and price points. Test check out. If you have time, look up some of their competitors, so you have a better idea of the landscape of the industry.
What type of press has this company received? Has this company recently gotten a round of funding? Involved in a lawsuit? Been ranked in the Top Ten in a magazine? This information will help you to make your decision in regards to whether or not you want the job and also give you an idea of what topics to bring up and what topics to avoid.
How do current employees and former employees rate the company? Web sites like Glassdoor.com display reviews of companies just like Yelp does for restaurants. This is a great way to get a sense of what it’s “really” like to work somewhere. Just remember to check the date of each review; companies can change as quickly as within a year!
What do you find when you Google yourself? You should know by now that it’s not a good idea to have college photos of you chugging beers on the Internet for anyone to see. However, just because you have made sure nothing scandalous has ever been posted to Facebook, you want to Google yourself to make sure that you know what will surface. Employers use social media just as much as you do and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Being tech-savvy includes knowing how Google portrays you to the outside world.
Think of looking for a new job or opportunity as a home improvement project. As with any project, you must have the right tools. Most people who decide to paint a room, or repair something around the house think to themselves, “What will I need to get this done and do it right?” That same attitude needs to be taken into a job search. So think about finding a new position the same way. Below is a checklist to help you have the most success possible in completing that job search project.
- Have the right attitude to use the tools in your toolbox. When looking for a new job, whether you are working or unemployed you must have a positive and upbeat attitude. Employers, like most people are attracted to candidates that project success and are positive. Any negative thoughts, no matter how bad MUST be left in your tool box, and should never be taken out and used. We have seen many a fine candidate, with great skills, not get hired because they let negative words seep into an interview. No matter how tempted you are, negative language regarding previous jobs, bosses, or companies should never be used.
- Keep your tools in tip top shape. As with any project the tools that you use need to be in working order. In relationship to a job search, this means your appearance. Unfortunately there is only so much you can do with how you look. But, make what you were born with as good as possible. The one thing you can control is your grooming and the appearance of your clothes. We beat that same old subject to death, but many people still do not get it. Before you go on an interview, look in the mirror and honestly say to yourself, would I hire this person?
- Make sure your tools work. How is that resume? Is it accurate? Does it represent you effectively? Make sure it does before you send it out for all to see. It represents you and the quality of work you will do. It is similar to showing your neighbor Ralph or Mary the fence you built, and saying to that person, what do you think? The one thing you want is that fence not to be toppling over and crooked. Check your work before you advertise it!
- Have your tools ready to go! You never know when a project may come up at home, and when it does you want your hammer, screwdriver, or whatever clean and ready to be used. Take that same attitude into your job search. Always be prepared! That phone call or e-mail regarding a new opportunity may come at any time and you want to be ready. The bus (not Jerome Bettis) taking you to a new opportunity only comes by so often, and it makes only so many stops, so do not miss it, and be left behind.
Keep these points in mind as you begin your job search project. They will keep you focused and ready. For more fun filled job search advice visit our other blogs. Happy Hunting!
John, Dan, Larry and Jason sat down to do the podcast, but John didn’t have a topic. So we went around the table, everyone pitched in and we ended up discussing a variety of things that might help you hire someone or find the right person. For more tips and tricks to get the job, check out our site, GloverSearch.com
Music by: Bensound.com