How To Get A Job Offer… The Questions & Comments YOU Make During Your Interview to Set Yourself Aside from the Competition!

How To Get A Job Offer… The Questions & Comments YOU Make During Your Interview to Set Yourself Aside from the Competition!

Let’s look at the interview process from a thousand feet in the air.

The employers – and therefore the interviewers – you will encounter during the interviewing process have other candidates to consider other than you.

Notwithstanding your background and qualifications – what can you do to stand out – make a great impression – have each of your interviewers exclaim “he/she is the hire”! Let’s assume that most of your competition is also “qualified” and can walk and chew gum at the same time. Your objective is to stand out from the pack! How to do it?

One way is to make comments/observations and ask questions that set you aside from other interviewees! To achieve this, your questions and comments need to be astute and reflect that you aren’t just looking for a job but rather the RIGHT job (there is a good-questiondifference!). They need to reflect that you are articulate in presenting your thoughts and credentials. Finally they need to reflect that you understand the specific issues/challenges in the industries/job classifications where you are interviewing and that you have some thoughts regarding those issues.

Another of your objectives with regard to these questions is to also learn as much as you  can about the organization and the job. You don’t want to unknowingly jump into a pit of problems!

Here are some questions and comments that will set you aside from your competition:

1. What do you see to be the biggest strategic challenges facing (the department,, division or organization where you are seeking a job offer). What do you see to be the role of the person you will hire to help address them? Hmmm…what particular skill set would be helpful to do that successfully?

2. Virtually every organization in the U.S. is grappling about how to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka “Obamacare. It would be to your advantage to understand the overall provisions of the ACA and how they might apply to the organizations you are interviewing with. If you are interviewing for a job in HR or Accounting you will be dealing with the ACA for sure and you should know and understand the basic current information about it. Stay away from the politics regarding the ACA… but do ask the question: How is XYZ approaching the Affordable Care Act…or is it still too soon to have plan in place?

3. I’ve been reading about some of the issues facing your industry. It appears that your organization is ahead of the “power curve” on addressing (whatever it is). Would you agree? Of course you have in fact identified some issues and are prepared to discuss them if asked!

Now – recognize several things:

a. The interviewer may not be up-to-speed on the matters you raise; their job is to screen against a set of criteria. Therefore they may not be able to respond. Be careful you don’t talk down to them… quit this approach if that is the case. Do recognize, however,  that you probably have impressed them with your questions.

b. Don’t come across as a know-it-all… make your questions conversational.

4. Do you see any disconnects in my background?; anything that  seems to not be what you might be looking for?

5. How would you describe the culture here – the “personality” of the organization? Formal or informal? How would you describe it?

6. Why do you like working here?

7. What are the career path opportunities for whomever you hire for this job?

8. What single piece of advice would you give a new person starting here at XYZ in this job?

Remember – your objective is to stand out from the competition by asking questions and having a dialogue that is more in-depth and that will impress your interviewer with your sophisticated approach to your job search! And after a day of many interviews…. you want your interviewer to remember you above all others! Good Luck!!

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How to Find a Job – Interview…. AND Raise No Red Flags!

How to Find a Job – Interview…. AND Raise No Red Flags!

Two recent posts have detailed the most memorable and most common mistakes made by people seeking a job while interviewing…the results of a survey done by Career Builder.

Interviewing cLet’s talk about how to avoid those blunders and mistakes that disqualify you from further consideration.

The mission of the person interviewing you is to ask both fact-finding as well as behavioral questions  and then to determine if you are a possible match for his or her organization and the job in question.

Typically you will have multiple interviews with an organization before getting a job offer. In many cases, they will be with more than one person; expect multiple interviews with multiple interviewers.

Your mission is to make the cut each time; this is a “single elimination” process!!

Some of this is determined through reference and background checks, and perhaps testing, but much of it will come from the verbal back and forth of in-person interviews.

Before an offer can be extended, the interviewer and the organization need to anticipate what they will know for sure after you have been on the job for a few months.

You want to be sure that three things happen as a result of the verbal back and forth of these interviews.

  1. You answer all questions fully to the satisfaction of the interviewer…AND in doing so, paint the most favorable (but honest) portrait of yourself.
  2. You fill in the gaps in the interviewer’s battery of questions to make sure all of the positive and favorable aspects of you and your employment history are covered.
  3. You don’t raise red flags… don’t give the interviewer a reason to screen you out!

We are going to focus on #3 in this post.

As you interview, keep in mind the dynamics facing interviewers and the organizations for whom they work. It is not the hiring of people that gives HR people and CEOs nightmares… it is the “un-hiring” of people that does!

A bad hire that leads to a termination is – at best – troublesome. It will negatively impact co-workers, and perhaps customers. In our litigious society, a bad hire that results in a contested termination can become a disastrous nightmare… lawsuits… huge settlements… tarnished reputations… and the list goes on

Is it no wonder therefore that one of the basic objectives of an interviewer is to screen out potential problem candidates? Yes, their mission is to sell the job and sell the organization to each person they interview, but they also don’t want anyone to slip through the screening process that can  become a problem employee and trigger the need to terminate.

That is why you need to be primed to commit no errors that raise red flags. You must  demonstrate that you do not have a “chip on your shoulder”, and furthermore, that you are not the kind of person to have one. You don’t want to exhibit  those personality characteristics and background history aspects that say “this person could become a problem”.

You need to demonstrate beyond a doubt that you have a teamwork attitude, that you are adaptable to change, that you speak kindly of all.

  • Watch your attitude – you must display a positive one. Ask those who know you to tell you true – do you sometime demonstrate a negative attitude? If so, work on it.
  • Watch your language and articulation. Don’t be a mumbler that requires questions to understand what you are saying. Don’t speak at a whisper and don’t use your “outdoor” voice. If you are a loud talker, turn the volume down! Purge any slang or lingo that might creep into conversation. And do I need to remind you to      NEVER use curse words or coarse language?
  • Eliminate any annoying mannerisms… ear-tugging, hair-twirling, knuckle-cracking, etc. Use your hands only for emphasis as you speak!
  • You want to be seen as friendly, warm, and congenial. Be sure you pass “The Tulsa Test” (would a total stranger enjoy sitting next to you on a long-distance flight to Tulsa?).
  • You want to project that you are a rational, logical and adaptable person and that you understand that the real world is not perfect.
  • If you have ever cited an employer – filed an action against an employer – bring it up and explain it thoroughly. If it was discharged as without merit, you have a problem. Sorry about that, but you carry a red flag the size of a blanket on your      back. The best you can do is to explain the circumstances and make your      case… logically.
  • Be yourself… but also project a person that is likeable, realistic, enthusiastic and not argumentative.

OK… now go back and review two recent posts – “Interviewing Blunders” and “Interviewing Mistakes”…and Remember that one of your objectives is to NOT raise any red flags!

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Moving Up the Career Ladder; How to Get that Next Job

Moving Up the Career Ladder; How to Get that Next Job

MovingUpTheLadderA job can be static – no change from day to day. A career, however,  is a progression; increased responsibility, new experiences, increased knowledge and wisdom, more money and usually a more rewarding position.

The big question is – how to make it happen after several years in the same job? You know your job inside and out… and do a good job of it. How to leverage it into your next career step?

Keep in mind that while luck plays a part in any success story, lucky people also make their own good luck! With that exception, however, your career and career path is no one’s responsibility but yours! So – how do you go about building a career path?

Like almost every endeavor – you need a plan:

1. Put together a “brag book”. It really isn’t a book and it isn’t bragging if you actually did it! Create two files – and suggest you make them both digital as well as hard copy.

  • File #1 – a series of documents you have written that detail your achievements and accomplishments. e.g. – “Chaired companywide meetings and efforts to define needs and requirements for a new phone system.” Or “Member of a small steering committee responsible for moving our offices to larger quarters including acquiring all new furniture and installing modular work stations.” These statements will end up in your resume and be talking points for future job interviews. This file includes any certificates you have received for participating in training sessions, community events, etc.
  • File #2 – includes copies of every performance review as well as letters and emails from other complimenting  you on your work. If you get a favorable  comment from a co-worker, supervisor, customer – anyone – document it in this file. Just be sure to include what it was about. “Bill told me thanks and that I was doing a great job” won’t hack it. Rather “Bill complimented me on the results we achieved for 3rd quarter – we were under budget for costs with zero errors” –  more like it!

This file will also provide material for future interviews and your resume but unlike file #1, these come from third parties and are “endorsements” if you will. When you get one – ask the person giving it to go to your LinkedIn profile and “endorse” you for that skill or area of performance. Be assured your LinkedIn profile will be reviewed by every prospective employer and you want those endorsements there!

2. Look ahead to the options available for your next job – specifically if with your current employer and generally if you need to move to a different organization to move up the employment food chain. e.g. –  if you are a staff accountant, your next job might be accounting manager, controller, A/R – A/P manager or some accounting specialty (tax, payroll). If a salesperson, perhaps sales supervisor or lead account sales.

 3. Once identified, research what you need to have in the way of experience and accomplishments to be eligible to apply for that next step. You can ask for more responsibility in your current job or the areas you seek. Offer to assist others….anything to gain the requisite experience. Identify people  who either have or have had the jobs you aspire to. Talk to them and ask them candidly to evaluate your candidacy for such a position. Talk to staffing service professionals that work in your area of expertise and ask them the same questions.

Your objective is to really understand what you need to possess on your resume in addition to the contents of the two files in your “brag book” to be qualified for the next step. Furthermore to know where your shortfalls are so you can work on them.

Also keep in mind that the process is not finite; organizations and hiring authorities have varying standards that must be met – some make sense and some may not. The only way to know for sure is to test the waters. With your current employer ask your boss, “I want to move up in the department – where do you see the opportunities are for me and what do I need to do to be qualified for them”. Register with one or two really good staffing services and go thru the  process of interviewing for a new position. Discreetly if currently employed; you don’t want to jeopardize the bird in hand!

4. Finally – exhibit positive factors critical when interviewing such as:

  • Possess and exhibit a great attitude.
  • Possess and exhibit a great work ethic.
  • Mirror the behavior, dress and communication skills of those you see as role models.
  • Understand and “talk the talk” of your current employer; exhibit pride to be working there –  be an ambassador for the organization to the outside world.

And as you go through the process – be reasonably patient. See my post of March 18 “To The Kid At The End Of The Bench – Careers and Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight”.

You don’t want to be someone who changes jobs every 2 or 3 years…unless it is with the same employer.  Changing employers frequently brands you as a “job-hopper”!

Good luck moving up the career ladder!

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To The Kid On The End Of The Bench; Careers and Success Don’t Happen Overnight!

Careers and Success Don’t Happen Overnight!

A sign hangs on my office wall that is entitled “To The Kid At The End Of The Bench”. It has been on every office wall I have had since my first job with an office to sit in. It has been both a motivator as well as reminder.  A motivator to keep me on track and focused. A reminder that it takes time to achieve success. As the phrase goes “Rome Kid at end of the benchwasn’t built in a day”.

“To The Kid At The End Of The Bench” – powerful words….maybe hang them on your wall?

Champions once sat where you’re sitting, kid.

The Football Hall of Fame (and every other Hall of Fame) is filled with names of people who sat, week after week, without getting a spot of mud on their well-laundered uniforms.

Generals, senators, surgeons, prize-winning novelists, professors, business executives started at the end of the bench, too.

Don’t sit and study your shoe tops.

Keep your eye on the game.

Watch for defensive lapses.

Look for offensive opportunities.

If you don’t think you are in a great spot, wait until you see how many would like to take it away from you at the next spring practice.

What you do from the bench this season could put you on the field next season as a player, or back in the grandstand as a spectator.

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Job Success… and Career Success…is Dependent on Great People Skills!

Job Success… and Career Success…is Dependent on Great People Skills!

Periodically I offer you an executive summary of a book that offers real value regarding achieving success in a job and building a career.  Books that enlighten as to how to view and approach workplace issues and situations successfully. Books that I encourage you to read, underline and mark-up and use as a roadmap to achieve greater job and career success.

Life's a CampaignChris Matthews is a familiar face to many Americans for his fast-paced TV talk show “Hardball” and other media appearances.

He is also an accomplished author as a reading of his “Life’s A Campaign” book will reveal. Subtitled “What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success”; the book is broken into four segments – one for each of the four factors in the subtitle.

Chris starts off with “To get ahead in life you can learn a lot from those who get along for a living.”

At 190 pages it is an easy and fast read… but by no means is it a light-weight of a book. Each chapter has a very catchy title, along with a quote or two, and then drives home the lesson being made with real-world examples from Chris’ experiences.

For example Chapter 5 (in the Friendship section) is entitled “The Best Gift You Can Give a Stranger Is an Audience”, followed by two poignant quotes:

Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.                         Lord Chesterfield

Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery…If you want to influence someone, listen to what he says.        Dr. Joyce Brothers

Matthews then details one of Bill Clinton’s most endearing attributes: his ability to make the person he is listening to feel like the only person in the room. “To have someone listening to you is flattering – but if you let them do the talking, they’ll be far more interested in you.” says Clinton. Examples such as this abound in this book.

Most people strive to be successful….and successful people wish to be even more successful. This book has message after message that will assist in both objectives.

Other chapter titles include:

Friendship – “People don’t Mind Being Used; They Mind Being Discarded”

Rivalry – “Attack from a Defensive Position” – Matthews tells the story of Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey. As a young member of the Massachusetts legislature, Markey got in hot water with its Democratic leaders by pushing a bill they didn’t want. To teach him a lesson, they removed him from his place on the Judiciary Committee and  took away his office, forcing him to re-locate his desk into the hallway. Markey struck back. Running for Congress he shot a TV ad showing him in front of his desk in the hallway – arms crossed – staring straight at the camera. He then uttered the comment, “The bosses may tell me where to sit. No one tells me where to stand”. He won the election!

Reputation – “Don’t Pick on Someone Your Own Size” & “Keep Good Company” –  Matthews summarizes – “Pick your friends carefully. They are the neon lights that illuminate the way to you, that fairly or unfairly declare your character. Lie with dogs and you’ll pick up fleas. Sing in the choir and they’ll think you’re holy.”

Success – “Aim High” & “ Speak Up”. My blog post of last September 11th  “Not Too Keen on Making a Speech?” was taken from Chapter 23 “Speak Up!” of this book. Chris gave a perfect outline and approach for anyone having to make a speech or do some public speaking for the first time.

This is a book well worth reading…. and keeping at hand for reference as you pursue success!!

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Interview Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make! – How to Not Find that Next Job!!

Interview Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make! – How to Not Find that Next Job!!

Employers Share Most Memorable Interview Blunders – Part 2 of 2

CHICAGO, January 16, 2014 – When it comes to a job interview, the first few minutes may be the most crucial. A new survey from CareerBuilder finds that nearly half (49 career  builder logopercent) of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview whether a candidate is a good or bad fit for the position, and 87 percent know within the first 15 minutes.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from November 6 to December 2, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Common Mistakes

The top most detrimental blunders candidates make in interviews are often the most common, according to employers:

· Appearing disinterested – 55 percent

· Dressing inappropriately – 53 percent

· Appearing arrogant – 53 percent

· Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 50 percent

· Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 49 percent

· Appearing uninformed about the company or role – 39 percent

· Not providing specific examples – 33 percent

· Not asking good questions – 32 percent

· Providing too much personal information – 20 percent

· Asking the hiring manager personal questions – 17 percent

Communication involves much more than simply words, and forgetting that during an interview could harm your chances. Employers weighed in on the worst body language mistakes candidates make in job interviews:

· Failure to make eye contact – 70 percent

· Failure to smile – 44 percent

· Bad posture – 35 percent

· Fidgeting too much in one’s seat – 35 percent

· Playing with something on the table – 29 percent

· Handshake that is too weak – 27 percent

· Crossing one’s arms over one’s chest – 24 percent

· Playing with one’s hair or touching one’s face – 24 percent

· Using too many hand gestures – 10 percent

· Handshake that is too strong – 5 percent

“Employers want to see confidence and genuine interest in the position. The interview is not only an opportunity to showcase your skills, but also to demonstrate that you’re the type of person people will want to work with,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Going over common interview questions, researching the company, and practicing with a friend or family member can help you feel more prepared, give you a boost in confidence, and help calm your nerves.”

About CareerBuilder® – CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.careerbuilder.com/.

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Interviewing Blunders – How to Not Find that New Job!!

Interviewing Blunders – How to Not Find that New Job!!

Employers Share Most Memorable Interview Blunders – Part 1 of 2

Nearly Half of Employers Know if a Candidate is a Good Fit Within the First Five Minutes

career  builder logoCHICAGO, January 16, 2014 – When it comes to a job interview, the first few minutes may be the most crucial. A new survey from CareerBuilder finds that nearly half (49 percent) of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview whether a candidate is a good or bad fit for the position, and 87 percent know within the first 15 minutes.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from November 6 to December 2, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

You Can’t Make this Stuff Up – Most Memorable Mistakes!

When asked to share the most outrageous mistakes candidates made during a job interview, employers gave the following real-life examples:

· Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think her interview was indicative of her personality

· Applicant acted out a Star Trek role

· Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor

· Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview

· Applicant asked for a hug

· Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview

· Applicant brought personal photo albums

· Applicant called himself his own personal hero

· Applicant checked Facebook during the interview

· Applicant crashed her car into the building

· Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits

· Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview

· Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “impress me”

· Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity

· Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.careerbuilder.com/.

Part 2 – “Most Common Interview Mistakes” follows soon!

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