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This book has 146 pages of practical and how-to advice about tactics, strategy, resumes and interviewing, uncovering jobs in the “hidden and unpublished” job market….and more.

Confidence comes from preparation….and this book fully prepares a job-seeker to embark on a seach for employment.

The book includes the common mistakes job-seekers make that hurt their chances!

I have been in the “jobs business” virtually all my adult life and was inspired to write this book seeing the frustration of otherwise qualified job-seekers that just didn’t “know the ropes” of a job search.

Your comments regarding the book are most welcome!

3 Ways to Prevent Interview Jitters…Interview Nerves

3 Ways to Prevent Interview Jitters…Interview Nerves

Job-Interview-Nervousness“Jitters” is defined as “feelings of extreme nervousness”.

Interview jitters… or nerves… come about because you are going through a process which is new to you (interviewing) and it is really important to do well …so you are worried that you won’t do well. Not too dissimilar from worrying about what will happen when you go to the dentist to have some dental work done. You anticipate what can go wrong (or in the case of the dentist – about the pain)!

There is a way to overcome those interview jitters:

1. First….be prepared. There are three things you need to pay attention here:

a. Anticipate every possible question you might be asked (you can use the extensive list in my book – shameless promotional plug!!). Write them down. Then draft a response. Rehearse it. A short-cut in this process may well doom you to a less-than-strong interview! This includes knowing cold your self-introduction “elevator speech”.

b. Know where you are going – how to get there – how long it takes to get there – where to park, etc. Being late to the interview is guaranteed to result in shot nerves…AND a poor first impression! Scope it out in advance…make a trial run if in doubt about the details.

c. Dress for success…you are headed into a business meeting. Appropriate business attire and demeanor is a must!

2. Think “Inner Interviewing”! As discussed  years ago by “The Inner Game” guru Tim Gallway:

Tim Gallway

Tim Gallway


“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How you play this game usually makes the difference between success and failure. The inner game is played against such obstacles as fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus and limiting concepts or assumptions.”

For your interviews that means start your “inner interviewing” well before an interview. Visualize yourself as self-assured, answering each question with great answers and charming the interviewer with your poise and personality. Focus on that image…lock it into your mind.

3. Put your voice and eyes to work for you. When you are nervous you might have a tendency to speak too softly or for your voice to crack. When you are nervous you might have a tendency to have your eyes wander over the landscape. Controlling both will give you confidence. Use a normal speaking voice – if you tend to be a soft speaker – kick it up. If you drown our co-workers with volume – turn it down. Keep your eyes on the interviewer and your notes.

Interview jitters …interview nerves …CAN be avoided…or at least minimized… provided you have a strategy and are thoroughly prepared. Good luck…and go for it!!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

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10 Critical Things To Do When Changing Jobs!

Before you move on……there are 10 Critical Things You Need to Do When Changing Jobs!

moving-up-16814834Congratulations are in order! You are on your way to a new job. Your great resume and  your strong interviewing skills paid off! Exciting times ahead!!

But before you turn in your office keys, however, there are few things to take care of first:

  1.  Jot down full contact information for whomever in your company’s HR department will be processing your exit. You may need to contact them after you have left to iron out any details concerning your 401(k) plan, your COBRA coverage for a bridge until new insurance kicks in, etc.
  2. Print out your address book entries if it is on your employer’s server or in the cloud via your employer’s network. Once you leave you will no longer have access to it. If possible import it into your personal email account and then delete the ones that are not of value.
  3. Forward to your personal email account any emails in your work email account that you want to save or be able to reference in the future. If there are emails that you can add to your “Brag Book” (see my blog post) be sure to do so. While you are at it…see if there is anyone in the organization that might write a letter of recommendation for you that you can include in your Brag Book. Be sure that it includes specifics vs generalities. Don’t overlook others outside of the organization that you might have dealt with – vendors, etc.
  4. Change the details in your LinkedIn profile so that contact info is your personal email and not your work email. Same for other social media.
  5. If you have used your work email address for any credit cards, frequent flyer accounts, etc. be sure to change them. Often that process requires verifications sent to the original email…and you can’t do that if you no longer have access!! Same for phone numbers if you had a company cell phone and used that number as contact info for credit cards, etc.
  6. Know what you are entitled to with regard to un-used vacation pay. Sick pay usually isn’t paid but vacation pay is. If you have receipts to put against a Flex Plan do so…and find out where to send them after you leave to clean out the balance left behind.
  7. Pack up your stuff …but only YOUR stuff!! If you have some of your employer’s stuff at home – bring it in and be sure someone vouches for its receipt.
  8. If there will be an exit interview think it through and prepare for it. If there are areas where improvement can be made and that won’t be overly critical of the organization or specific people – mention it. Don’t, however, blast people or policies that can’t be fixed or that you are critical of but others don’t seem to be. Remember….you will need the organization’s goodwill in the future for a reference.
  9. If you have an employment agreement, get a copy of it. If it includes prohibitions against certain practices once you have left – know what they are and observe them.
  10. Finally make the rounds. Thank all you have worked with for the opportunity to do so and let them know how to reach you if you can be of assistance to them in the future.

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

Skepticism Is Necessary For Good Decisions!

Skepticism is critical to solid decision-making!

skepticismSkep – ti – cism …. A skeptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something; doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted

The fact is that skepticism is a positive force that successful managers apply regularly in making decisions. All managers as well as those that are asked to follow a particular path need to be able to test the conclusion if the impact of a bad direction or decision could make a difference or have a negative impact on organizational mission or people.

As individuals, those with real-world smarts accept few things at face value, while organizations tend to accept without questions the decisions made by “the system”, especially if they are based on reams computer printouts.

There are six common sense rules that guide decision-makers in the skillful application of skepticism.

  1. Don’t be a knee-jerk skeptic. Establish a basis in fact before voicing skepticism, rather than acting on gut reactions.
  1. Double check all facts and assumptions, especially those introduced with “As everybody knows…”. Look for the underlying facts and trends.
  1. Use skepticism  particularly when he outcome of an issue is really important.
  1. Be tactful and constructive when expressing doubt. Use terms such as, “I wonder if you have thought      about…?” “Have you considered…?” What would happen if…?” “Are you sure you want to do that/proceed in that direction….?”
  1. Turn on the skeptic’s radar when a presentation is loaded with sweeping generalities. Remember, there are no sure bets; no gains without risks.
  1. Be skeptical about your skepticism. A healthy level of suspicion is needed to survive and thrive, while at the same time, you must suspect this attitude if it crops up constantly about all things.

Ask yourself if a claim, statement  or pitch which you are being asked to weigh in or implement makes sense? Is it based on a re-play of history? Are the facts being used to support it logical and sound? There is no substitute for organizational history. Does it pass the smell test?;  I refer to it as my “crap-detector”!

Skepticism Can Be An Uncomfortable Role

The role of the skeptic is not easy. It is often uncomfortable as well as hazardous. “Group Think” is hard to resist. Too often the call for team play means the suspension of healthy doubts.

No one is comfortable and happy taking the heat of doubting the steamrollers that come running through a meeting when all of the “facts” and “conclusions” are projected on the screen in dazzling slides and printouts, enclosed in handsome three-ring binders, are passed around for further study. Especially if a senior executive – or your boss – is doing the presenting!

To paraphrase a popular adage, “To question the presentation when the majority is applauding is to be the proverbial bastard at the family reunion.”

Skepticism Wins Over Blind Faith

Nevertheless, common sense says you’ll get farther along the career path with a healthy dose of skepticism than you will with blind faith in what the organization says and does.

Bertrand Russell, the renowned British mathematician and philosopher, had this to say about the place of skepticism in career success:

“For my part, I should wish to preach the will to doubt…what is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite. In all affairs, it is a healthy thing, now and then, to hang a question mark on all things you take for granted.”

If you are skittish about using skepticism as a tool to accelerate your trip on your career path, run a test. For the next 60 days observe those whom you respect for their prowess in mastering the dynamics of life in organizations. See how many times they act as skeptics and how they do it.

If you find skepticism working for successful managers, what makes you think it won’t help you reach your career goals?

Use skepticism as one more tool in your quest for success and building your career. Good luck!!

This essay is an adaptation of an article written by John Barney and that appeared in an issue of Business Time Zone Magazine ( http://businesstimezone.com )

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5 Very Positive Things that Successful People Do!

5 Very Positive Things that Successful People Do!

thumbs up“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

Successful people have developed very powerful and deeply held habits.

Here are 5 of them:

1. They live for the future and they don’t dwell in the past. They learn from mistakes and errors but they never brood over “what could have been.” Successful people know that the past is history and that taking risks involves the possibility of failure…but taking reasonable risks is also necessary to succeed.

2. They don’t obsess over perfection. It is not attainable in any measurable way and making perfection the objective is a Sisyphean task and sets one up for failure. Successful people are realistic in their goal-setting and apply themselves and do the best they can. When the job or task is done…it’s time to move on. History will judge if it was good enough.

3. They associate with successful people. And avoid people who are “downers” …those who are negative. Just as a positive attitude is contagious, so is a negative attitude. Negative people can poison a team or an organization. Putting up with negative people is a waste of time and energy that can be used to build positive relationships and networks. Associating with winners helps people become winners themselves. You can’t pick all you interact with … but you sure can for a lot of them. If you are a supervisor – don’t tolerate it in any of your reports. If you supervise supervisors, instruct your people to not tolerate it and train them how to eliminate it from their domain.

4. They never stop learning. Successful people learn on two different tracks: first, studying the components of success and failure and secondly learning more about what interests them personally. The first one is the same for all successful people; learning what the dynamics of success are, how to achieve them as well as learning from past mistakes. One way to do so is to study the success and failures of others. What were the habits, practices, mindsets, and strengths of the great successes of history; Winston Churchill, George Washington, Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel that became U.S. Steel),  Steve Jobs (Apple), Jack Welch (GE)…and Michael Jordan, to name just a few. These great success also made mistakes – big ones along the way. Learn from these greats.

The second area of learning will also make you a more interesting and personable person! In my case, it is history – especially of the American Civil War and the two World Wars. My two universes of learning are therefore reading  biographies and military history. The lessons to be learned overlap. Every now and then, however, an Elmore Leonard novel sneaks in!

5. They bring a healthy amount of skepticism to the table when it is appropriate. They have a bit of “Missouri” in them – Missouri being the “show me state”. It helps them separate the “wheat from the chaff” – the useful from the not-so-useful when absorbing information or needing to decide a course of action. The world is full of people with agendas. A certain amount of skepticism helps to get through that minefield. They know not to take things at face value without probing the details and understanding the consequences of the action being considered. They challenge claims that just don’t seem to make sense.

Step back mentally and evaluate how well  you do in these five dynamics. Make them part of your personal planning journal and incorporate them into daily thinking. Good luck!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

#5 of 5 Tough Interview Questions – “How have you resolved an interpersonal conflict in the workplace?”

#5 of 5 Tough Interview Questions – “How have you resolved an interpersonal conflict in the workplace?”

A five-part series of really tough interview questions… and how to respond!!

5 tough eThus far we have addressed these questions:

#1 – “Why have you changed jobs so many times?”

#2 – “Why should we hire you?”

#3 – “Tell me about yourself.”

Last week’s essay covered question #4 “What salary are you looking for?”.

You need to know and understand that interviewing for a new job is a “single-elimination” process! Get it right and you usually move on to the next step in the job-seeking process with that organization. If you don’t do well…it’s then time to start over elsewhere.

The job-seeking process requires the need to prepare for interviewing – you really do need to be ready to answer all the questions that will come your way…. especially the tough ones… the ones where a bad answer will end your opportunities with that potential employer.

Let’s look at the fifth and final of the five toughest interview questions:

“How have you resolved an interpersonal conflict in the workplace?”

Why is this a tough question? Because you need to first tell the story as to why you had such a conflict….and then tell the story of how your arrived at a winning solution.

As you prepare your answer, keep in mind the objectives of the interviewer; it is to learn from your answers:

  1. How well do you get along with people such as co-workers, a difficult customer or vendor, your boss?
  2. How well do you handle stress?
  3. Are you able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective?

The conflict may have come about because a co-worker wasn’t doing their fair share …and it reflected poorly on you and the department.

The conflict may have come about when you were hired and one of your reports felt they should have promoted to your job.

It may have been because of conflicting priorities between you and a co-worker.

However it came about there are some important rules to follow when answering this kind of question.

  1. Describe – briefly – the situation: “We were developing a new website for one of our divisions and I was in charge of the project. I assigned different graphic and writing pieces to others along with deadlines when I needed first drafts.”
  2. Describe what the conflict was: “The person responsible to get the graphic layout options ready to present missed the deadline by a full day. Furthermore when I asked about it, this person came unglued – almost yelling at me in the open office layout we have that I had no idea how hard the task was and how busy he was with other responsibilities.
  3. Discuss what you did: “I said hold on Barry… let’s not let this become a fistfight.”  I said this with a big smile to disarm his temper. I then said “Let’s go offline on this so we let others get back to work.” We went to a more private location – one of our conference rooms. I then said, “Barry – why didn’t you come to me and let me know you were up against a wall of conflicting priorities? A day or two isn’t a deal breaker, especially when I know about it ahead of time. When do you think you will have it ready for review?” He responded , “Sorry I got a little reactive there – I can have it by tomorrow afternoon.” I said, “Great – and in the future be sure to let me know in advance if you are running out of time so I can either adjust or change the priority of things”.

Then comment to the interviewer, “I understand that conflict is part of life and the workplace. The key thing is don’t let it become personal and don’t let it get out of hand.”

If the follow-up question is “How do you handle stress?” a good response might be:

“I try to think ahead and plan ahead so that there are no surprises… it is often the surprises that lead to stress. Surprises are for birthdays not the workplace! But still stress can sometimes occur. I take a deep breath… maybe standup for a minute… and then put the situation into perspective:

  • How serious is the issue; does it require an immediate resolution or not.
  • What was the triggering action or event that brought it on?…and how do I turn it off?”

If you are a supervisor and two or more of your reports are in conflict  and you need to resolve it, then a different course of action is called for…and you may use an example of this type of conflict resolution to answer the question.

Let’s go back to the three step process:

  1. Describe – briefly – the situation: “One of my departments consists of a sales team and also people internally that ship out product based on what the sales team generates.”
  2. Describe what the conflict was: “Two of my reports were having an ongoing feud. One was in sales and the other fulfillment. The sales person – Susan – wanted to know why the orders they got weren’t taken care of quicker; they had a complaint of sorts from a customer. Meanwhile the fulfillment person – Bill – was also handling a big influx or orders from another department. It was getting nasty.”
  3. Discuss what you did: I called them together in a neutral location – one of our conference rooms. I said, “Susan – Bill – you are both very valuable to achieving our mission and we need to find a resolution to  your differences. Susan – please tell me what you think Bill is upset about and what his concerns are. Put yourself in Bill’s shoes. Bill – we will both just listen – no comments.” After Susan was done I said, “Bill – your turn. Tell me what you think Susan’s concerns are and why she is upset. Susan – same rules – we just listen.” This almost always defuses the situation and each party begins to understand the other’s issues.

We took it from there and developed a course of communications that enables Susan to ask about an order without being critical of Bill and letting him know of high priority orders….and Bill letting Susan know in advance that a shipment might be delayed a day or two.

In summary, as you prepare to interview and prepare your responses to questions think through from your experience what conflict you can talk about in a manner that illustrates your skills in this area.

OK… you now know how to answer “How have you resolved an interpersonal conflict in the workplace?”

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

#4 of 5 Tough Interview Questions – “What salary are you looking for?”

#4 of 5 Tough Interview Questions – “What salary are you looking for?”

A five-part series of really tough interview questions… and how to respond!!

5 tough eLast week’s essay covered the question “Tell me about yourself”.

You need to know and understand that interviewing for a new job is “single-elimination” process! Get it right and you usually move on to the next step in the job-seeking process with that organization. If you don’t do well…it’s then time to start over elsewhere.

The job-seeking process requires the need to prepare for interviewing – you really do need to be ready to answer all the questions that will come your way…. especially the tough ones… the ones where a bad answer will end your opportunities with that potential employer.

Let’s look at the fourth of the five toughest interview questions:

“What salary are you looking for?”

Why is this a tough question? Because you feel uncertain answering it.

Give a number that is too high and you feel you may disqualify yourself right off the bat.

Give a number that is too low…and you feel you will leave money on the table.

One great way to respond is to not really give a number…but rather paint the picture of a scenario:

“I look at the issue of salary this way. If I am the right person for the job – the person you and your organization wants to bring on board… and the job seems to be a good fit and opportunity for me… then I am sure the offer will be both fair and competitive.”

If the interviewer says “all well and good.. .but give me a number… I want to make sure we are in the same ballpark”, you need to respond.

Here your answer will depend on whether you know the salary range – either from an ad, posting or another source.

If you do know the range –  you answer: “I know the salary range is $X – $Y. My last salary and bonus plan paid $Z on an annual basis. While I feel my experience qualifies me to be at the high end of your range, I am primarily looking for opportunity first and am prepared to be flexible about the compensation package”.

If you don’t know the range, then you answer: “well, my last salary and bonus plan paid $Z on an annual basis. While I would prefer to make some upward strides, I am primarily looking for opportunity first and am prepared to be flexible about the compensation package”.

Never inflate your current or past compensation. It is not uncommon for an employer to ask to see a W-2…and you are sunk if it doesn’t match what you have said.

By these responses, you have put a salary number on the table.

I have read of some career advisors telling  job seekers to not give a dollar figure when pressed by the interviewer. I think this is ridiculous….the interviewer is in charge of this dialogue. What can be gained by refusing to answer the question “tell me about your current compensations package… what is your salary?”  Refusing to give an answer is a sure way to end your chances for a job offer!

Another factor is that you must be competitive. If you have been in your current job for a lengthy period of time – say 10 years or more, you might have benefited from compensation “creep”….getting a 3 or 4% raise every year just because you were there. Less likely in a large organization…but very common in small ones. This conflict will occur most often when making a lateral move.

An example is in order. You are a staff accountant in a small organization (a total of less than 100 employees). The most recent salary survey conducted by NRI Accounting Resources indicate the base salary range for this position in that sized organization is $38 – $57,000. You have been on board for 14 years… getting raises every year and nice ones when business was good. You are now at $64,000. Your firm has been acquired and the accounting department is being folded into HQ in Dallas and you don’t want to relocate. You like being a staff accountant (and not managing people). You are looking for another staff accountant position. Fact – you are overpriced in the market at $64,000.

Supply and demand play a large role in compensation. There are other qualified candidates also interviewing whose compensation is well within the $38 –  $57,000 range.

So how do you navigate this salary question? A variation of an earlier answer:

“Well, my last salary and bonus plan paid $Z on an annual basis. I believe this is above market – I was at the firm for a long time and  the compensation management process was pretty loose. While I would prefer not to take a pay cut, I am realistic and I am primarily looking for opportunity first and am prepared to be flexible about the compensation package”.

Finally – you need to know what the competitive numbers are! Look into the job boards, classified ads – especially in The Wall Street Journal for higher-level jobs – and what you absorb from newspapers and magazines. You need to be informed to navigate the salary issue when interviewing.

OK… you now know how to answer the question:

“What salary are you looking for?”

Next week we will wrap up this 5-part series and answer question # 5  – how to answer “How have you resolved an interpersonal conflict in the workplace?”

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area – visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

#3 of 5 Tough Interview Questions – “Tell me about yourself”

A five-part series of really tough interview questions… and how to respond!!

5 tough eLast week’s essay covered the question “Why should we hire you?”

You need to know and understand that interviewing for a new job is “single-elimination” process! Get it right and you usually move on to the next step in the job-seeking process with that organization. If you don’t do well…it’s then time to start over elsewhere.

The job-seeking process requires the need to prepare for interviewing – you really do need to be ready to answer all the questions that will come your way…. especially the tough ones… the ones where a bad answer will end your opportunities with that potential employer.

Let’s look at the third of the five toughest interview questions:

“Tell me about yourself”

This a question full of opportunities for you to screw up. Why? Because there can be a tendency to give a really bad answer!! Really bad approaches and answers include:

Touchy-feely. Baring your soul about personal information – your children, your spouse, that you moved from Texas because of a divorce, how much you enjoy being a cub scout den leader, yada – yada – yada. An answer along these lines doesn’t tell the interviewer a thing about why you are a good candidate for the job. I can’t begin to count how many times over the years I have interviewed people and been subjected to what my children refer to as “TMI”… Too Much Information… of a “who cares”, unpleasant or even embarrassing nature.

I gotta get outa there. If your motivation to be on the job market is to get away from an unfavorable situation (bad boss or bad organization), this not the place to bring it up at all. Never, never, never badmouth a former boss or employer. If indeed you are leaving a job for reasons of incompatibility or a boss that you want to throttle, explain your decision in terms of seeking new challenges – that you are no longer learning – seeking an industry that is growing, and so on.

I think this is what you want to hear. Of course you pay attention to this –  you are only going to say good things about yourself – but an experienced interviewer can easily spot a candidate that is trying to leave no possible good trait unmentioned.

What an interviewer wants to know in response to this question is:

What is it about you that makes you a strong candidate for the job? What do you “bring to the table” that will make hiring you a good decision?

The secret to answering this wide open-ended question is to hone in with laser sharpness on what you want to say and how to say it… then script it and rehearse it in the form of an opening statement.

The Opening Statement

It will consist of “talking points” – concise statements of capability and achievement. Use them to answer this question,  and if this question isn’t asked, find a way to work in your opening statement in the first few minutes of the interview. If the first question is “why do you want to work here?”… say “well, first let me tell you a little about myself”… and go into your opening statement. Then answer the question that was asked.

Sample opening statement:

“I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how my background and achievements might be a good fit for the position of (position title) here at (name of organization).

I am a graduate of (college or university) with a (degree granted) and have had an exciting and rewarding career in (field) thus far (only if your degree was granted less than 10 years ago – skip this if it was more than 10 years ago).

I believe my record will indicate that I have strong people skills, an analytical approach to problem solving, and am both a team player as well as team builder. For example, the department I supervise recently moved into office space adjacent to another department in the company and there was a real problem getting good inter-department cooperation. My team was frustrated by it and making nice was not solving the problem. So I went to the other department head, who was also frustrated, and suggested that we institute two things:

First – a weekly pizza lunch meeting with both departments attending – a mandatory lunch meeting.

Secondly – at those meetings, each person had to address the group. One time it was to tell what they did and with whom they interacted. Another time, it was to tell the group something about them that the other group members would not know if they hadn’t been told. For example, I told them that I played the trombone in my high school band.

Within a month, we had peace and harmony between the two departments. I am really proud of that accomplishment.

I have been fortunate to have had a chance to make presentations on behalf of my current employer, be on the new client orientation team and otherwise contribute to the growth of the firm.

I am easily adaptable to change and eager to make a real contribution wherever I end up.

Does that sort of paint the picture for you?”

Total time to recite this – about 2 minutes. Draft your one or two concrete examples of what you accomplished – ”what happened  because you were there and made it happen”. They become the specific selling points for your candidacy when answering this question. You want to indicate the kind of value contribution you will bring to your new position if hired.

NOTE – you will need in many cases to modify your opening statement depending on the job you are interviewing for – just as you modified your resume for each specific position.

Another idea for the beginning of your opening statement might be:

“Those who know me in the workplace would say that I am driven to succeed, that I am bright, that I see the big picture very quickly and am very conscious that success often lies in the details… that I sweat the small stuff.”

Then take it from there.

Keep in mind you must know it cold… and that calls for rehearsal. If you are conducting a job search but haven’t but haven’t interviewed for a week or 10 days… go back and rehearse it again.

It is important to note that the interviewer will be also very interested in how you present yourself – you need to exude confidence, a sense of “knowing thine own self” and poise.

Finally, about your opening statement:  Be brief, be specific, be focused, and don’t ramble (but why would you – you rehearsed it – right??!!).

OK… you now know how to answer the question:

“Tell me about yourself”

Next week – how to answer “What salary are you looking for?”

Follow me on Twitter for notices of these posts.

For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

#2 of 5 Tough Interview Questions…and How to Answer It

#2 of 5 T5 tough eough Interview Questions…and How to Answer It

A five-part series of really tough interview questions… and how to respond!!

Last week’s essay covered the question “Why have you changed jobs so many times

You need to know and understand that interviewing for a new job is “single-elimination” process! Get it right and you usually move on to the next step in the job-seeking process with that organization. If you don’t do well…it’s then time to start over elsewhere.

The job-seeking process requires the need to prepare for interviewing – you really do need to be ready to answer all the questions that will come your way…. especially the tough ones… the ones where a bad answer will end your opportunities with that potential employer.

Let’s look at the second of the five toughest interview questions:

“Why should we hire you?”

The questions could also be worded as:

“Why are you the best person for this job?”….or “Are you the right hire for this job?”

Platitudes such as “I’m a hard worker”, “I’m a loyal team player”, “I can hit the ground running on day 1” and so on won’t do it. They are just words.. words from a stranger with no basis for trust that they are indeed correct. And by the way – what others will also say in response!

First – recognize that this is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself. Anyone that has been trained to give media interviews knows the technique of answering the question AND making positive a statement as part of  the answer. At the same time – be careful not to come across as too cocky… expressing an “of course I am the one for the job…anyone can see that!”…attitude…is far too much over the top… you are just going to annoy the interviewer!

The correct approach is to combine one or more aspects of your experience and accomplishments with some aspect of the job description and criteria. This requires you to really know what the job requirements are all about.

“I believe my five years of audit experience  –  the last two as team leader – with emphasis on not-for-profit accounting and tax treatments qualifies me to be a strong candidate for this position. My audit team always got the work done on time and error-free.”

“I have done very similar work… under very tight deadlines where team play was critical to get the job done. In that position I demonstrated leadership, decision-making and the ability to quickly prioritize. This is why I feel very qualified for the position.”

IMPORTANT – If you are a new grad.. you have a special challenge. You probably have little or no work experience that translates to the job you are interviewing for. Keep your answer/statement brief and to the point:

 “As a new grad I have no specific experience for the job. However, my grades, academic references and my attitude to excel show me to be a quick learner who perseveres and can be counted on to perform. I would  bring those same skills and attitude to your job.”

“I spent two summers in an internship with XYZ doing research and drafting documents  to be included in client reports. Frankly I did so with little or no instruction… I was just told what the final work product should address….and I just figured it out. I bring strong analytical and writing skills as part of my overall qualifications.. and the ability to learn on the fly. I can do the same for your organization.”

It is important that you itemize the factors of your background to bring into your response based on the job in question…and the requirements to the extent you can determine them. Then draft – rehearse – and re-draft your answer until you know it cold.

Chances are very, very good this will be one of the questions you will be asked… and you want to nail the answer cold!

OK… you now know how to answer the question:

“Why should we hire you?”

Next week – how to answer “Tell me about yourself?”

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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5 Tough Interview Questions…and How to Answer Them

5 Tough Interview Questions…and How to Answer Them

5 tough eA five-part series of really tough interview questions….  and how to respond!!

Interviewing for a new job is “single-elimination” process! Get it right and you usually move on to the next step in the job-seeking process with that organization. If you don’t do well…it is then time to start over elsewhere. You really want to avoid the knock-out interview factors….such as bad answers to an interviewer’s questions.

The job-seeking process requires the need to prepare for interviewing – you really do need to be ready to answer all the questions that will come your way…. especially the tough ones… the ones where a bad answer will end your opportunities with that potential employer.

Let’s look at one of the five toughest interview questions:

“Why have you changed jobs so many times?”

Note the wording is inflammatory… the reference to “so many times”. The interviewer is saying that for one of two reasons: a. they believe it is a lot of times; or b. they are challenging you… testing you… to see how you answer. The question could also be asked, “Your resume indicates a lot of jobs; why do you seem to change jobs frequently?”

Suppose you have had five jobs in the last 8 years. Your answer needs to demonstrate that each move was to a better situation; more opportunity; more responsibility; a bigger or better territory; a better organization. After all – you did change for a series of reasons – right? So package the most recent reason or two into a short and concise answer. No need to explain all five unless you are asked. Just paint the picture of someone seeking upward mobility.

You might respond:

“Yes – it really seems like a lot when listed on paper. For each of them, it made sense to me to make the change. For example my job at (next-to-last-job) was in a location without public transportation, often required an hour or more drive twice a day in terrible traffic and was located in a pretty sketchy area that lacked the access for a place to eat lunch, take laundry in on my way to or from work and so forth. I compare that to where I would be if I worked for your organization – a world of difference – as it is for my current work location. I don’t mind a reasonable commute… but I could never predict if it would be 45 minutes or an hour and 45 minutes.”

Or:

“My last two jobs were ones where it seemed I had a new boss every 3 or 4 months; I never could settle into a routine where I know what was expected of me and how to communicate with my boss.”

Of course if the reason was that your employer went out of business or was acquired and you had to relocate across the county to keep your job – these are easy to explain.

Analyze what were your reasons at the time – why did you make the change – and create/draft an explanation for each of them that is credible. If one or more of the moves was a “mistake” on your part be prepared to say so:

“Accepting the position at XYZ was a mistake. I didn’t do a very good job analyzing the match before I accepted their offer. I have learned since then and haven’t made that mistake again… and won’t.”

IMPORTANT – you also MUST include a statement to the effect “In spite of those five jobs over the past 8 years, I am really seeking stability. I don’t like changing jobs; I want to find a place where I can establish myself and make a continuing contribution.”

Demonstrate that you understand the interview’s concern and that you are looking for a break in the pattern!

OK… you now know how to answer the question:

“Why have you changed jobs so many times?”

Next week – how to answer “Why should we hire you?”

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions!

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions!

blank list of resolutions on blackboardMany people contemplate New Year’s Resolutions; some actually make them – either mentally or in writing. During my academic years, I really liked the start of school – new notebooks and binders… and a clean slate grade-wise. Today it is the beginning of a new calendar year that has me thinking of the opportunities that will present themselves in the new year….and those that can be made to present themselves.

More importantly, however, is to keep in mind the basics. What are those basics to make the new year a winner?

Here is my top five “gonna do it…or continue to do it…in the  new year”… resolutions  – in no particular order:

  • Pledge to stay in (closer) touch with those who are important to you. Spend more – and quality –  time with your spouse or significant other, your children, and stay in touch with distant relatives and college/high school friends. Time flies by – don’t let it slip by. I took my daughter to college yesterday and today she graduated a year ago – that is how fast it seems that the time has zipped by. Be mindful of the lyrics to “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin –  lost opportunities to relate and share time with others  that will never return.

http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/harry_chapin/cats_in_the_cradle.html

  • Get organized. Clean up, sort, file, throw away. In a two words – Get Organized. One stack at a time grab that pile of papers, newspapers, magazines, etc. and sort into three piles:
  1. Toss/re-cycle
  2. File
  3. Back into the to-be-read-or-processed pile

I live in a paper world – and it can get the best of me. I go through this process a few times a year (yes – I am aware of the “only touch a piece of paper once theory” – and it is just that – a theory that rarely works with ALL of the stuff I get). My to-be-read-or-processed pile is aways big – but at least this process winnows out the chaff and junk!

I file a lot of stuff – mainly two categories of it. American Civil War articles by battle or biographic subject. It is a favorite subject/hobby of mine and I have visited, re-visited or plan to visit many of them over the years ahead… so I have accumulated a wealth of source material and add to it regularly. The other category is stuff that makes my family look at me and wonder – such things as the history of Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC  or underwater photos of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I am sure it will all be of continuing interest over time! I give you the green light to do the same!

  • Do something you have wanted to do for some time… but never got around to it. Target a project you want to get done by spring or summer… or at least make headway on it. I want to write an essay on a Civil War direct ancestor of mine. I will get started in January and make weekly progress. What is yours?? Identify it – and put it near the top of your “to do” list. Build a patio? Better organize the garage? Color code your sock drawer? <smile> Whatever it is – identify it – and do it. You will feel better afterwards!
  • Stay – or become – fit. Your body is the carriage you ride in every day 24/7. If you aren’t fit – it will manifest itself – and more frequently as you get older. Exercise and eat what is good for you and sparingly what is not so good for you. Many of mankind’s ailments are self-inflicted through bad habits.
  •  Chill – enjoy every day. Take – or make – the time to enjoy life. Read a great book. Take a walk in the rain or snow. Walk the dog. Visit a museum. Take a local tour. You get the idea. Falls into the category of smelling the roses. As the phrase goes – “we are only passing through”… so enjoy each and every day.

A big “thank you” to all of the loyal readers of this blog – I hope it has been helpful and interesting! More career, job-changing and management stuff coming in the New Year!!

Look out – 2015 is right around the corner!! Happy New Year!!

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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