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!!

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!

Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

My LinkedIn profile

follow me on twitter

#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?”

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!

My LinkedIn profile  follow me on twitter  

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?”

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!

follow me on twitter  My LinkedIn profile  

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!

follow me on twitter  My LinkedIn profile 

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?”

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!

follow me on twitter  My LinkedIn profile 

Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

4 Barriers to Getting That Job Offer!

The Shocking Truth About Your Image

Four bizarre reasons customers may not like you (or people may not hire you!)

By Jeff Mowatt

I came across an interesting article that address some of the issues that get in the way of interviewing well and ultimately getting a job offer. The four principles Jeff mentions:

  1. You look different than expected (dress for success when interviewing)
  2. You’re hard to understand (verbal skills aren’t good)
  3. You exaggerate (don’t puff your experience or fib on your resume)
  4. You’re indiscreet (don’t ever bad mouth a past boss or employer)

….all apply to the job seeking process. I found the article a refreshing reminder of the barriers to success and getting job offers. With that said… read on! I have added a comment or two and put them in italics to distinguish them from Jeff’s original article. Many thanks to Jeff for letting me share this with you!

Jeff Mowatt

Jeff Mowatt

Whether it’s fair or not, we are often judged on first impressions. This harsh reality is nowhere better seen than in today’s ultra-fast business world where customers size-you-up in a nano-second based on your personal image. Since their impression of you will determine whether or not they want to do business with you (or interview you… or hire you), the impact on your career and on your organization’s bottom line can be staggering.

Ironically, when corporations bring me in to speak at conventions on how to boost customer retention, I often find that there’s been little or no professional training for employees about personal image. Since it’s often awkward to confront employees on these sensitive issues, you need some ammunition to make the task easier. Here are 4 image-related reasons that customers may not like you or your employees. Incidentally, customers will never tell you these reasons to your face — they’ll simply do business elsewhere.

1. You look different than expected.

Customers prefer conducting business with individuals who meet their visual expectations. So if you want to keep customers, dress in a manner that customers expect. A plumber dressed in an Armani suite makes the client uncomfortable. An alderman in khaki shorts would shock the council members of City Hall. A waitress with too much makeup, sporting tattoos and body piercing would likely put off a patron in an upscale restaurant. On the other hand, a bar tender in a conservative suit and tie may appall a customer in an alternative nightclub.

“But that’s not fair!” decry so many employees at the thought of being told what to wear. Again, first impressions may not be fair, but they are the realities of the business world. You hire employees to take care of customers — not for the sake of expressing their sartorial individuality. They can do that on their own time. Your job as a business owner or manager is to create an environment, including staff wardrobe, where your customers feel comfortable.

The most effective way to convey this message to employees is to have a written dress code. When writing your code, it’s best to check with an attorney for the laws that apply in your jurisdiction. The great thing about a dress code is it often weeds out would-be applicants who wouldn’t feel comfortable in that environment. That’s better for everone.

2. You’re hard to understand.

Customers don’t want to strain themselves to understand front line staff. If you or other employees don’t speak the local language clearly, then customers will generally go to your competitors where they won’t have to work so hard to communicate — or to spend their money. This is doubly important when speaking on the telephone, where customers don’t have the benefit of non-verbal communication to help them interpret what’s being said.

This concept has nothing to do with discrimination based on ethnic differences or nationality. It has to do with basic communication skills that are essential to do the job. If it’s a question of improving your knowledge of the local language, then take courses until you’re fluent and easy to understand- not just enough to get by. (If English is not your first language – enunciate very carefully and practice your verbal skills.)

3. You exaggerate.

Don’t exaggerate to tell customers what they want to hear. If a task will take 15 minutes to complete, don’t say, “It’ll only be 5 or ten minutes.” This is called lying. Customers hate that. Organizations that stay in business over the long term, adhere to the age-old adage, under promise and over deliver. ‘Nuff said.

4. You’re indiscreet.

‘Indiscreet’ describes the cashier at a self-serve gas station who chatted with his friends while I entered to pay. He barely stopped his conversation with his buddies to take my money. I felt like I was crashing a private party. I never went back.

While this obvious display of rudeness is relatively rare, a much more common example is when employees converse amongst themselves in front of the customer. Numerous times I’ve been on airplanes when the flight attendants, while rolling food carts down the aisles, are so engaged in their personal conversations that they barely stop long enough to take the dinner orders. Meanwhile every passenger has to listen to their private conversations, whether they want to or not.

To top-off the indiscretion list, far too many employees inadvertently tell customers more than they want to hear. For example, when a customer asks a front line employee, “How are you?”, they really don’t want to hear complaints. It’s just a greeting. Yet some employees take this as an excuse to complain with, “Oh, I’m 60-40″, or as a security guard once told me, “I’m vertical.” (Yikes)! Some employees respond with, “I’ll be great when my break starts.” In other words, the employee will be happy as soon as he or she can get away from their job and us — the customers. All of these indiscretions make customers wish they were dealing with professionals. (By careful of what you say and where you say it. I have heard far too many things I should have NEVER heard in elevators and from the next table over at lunch!)

There is hope.

Awareness of these problems is half the battle. A lot of employees simply don’t realize they’re committing these offenses. Another part of the solution is training. Bringing in a professional trainer to address the employees as a group provides the advantage of third party objectivity, in a fun non-threatening manner. One thing is clear though, if you do nothing about these issues, your business will continue to suffer without anyone else telling you why.

Jeff Mowatt is a customer service strategist, award-winning speaker, and bestselling author. For more tips, training tools or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team visit www.JeffMowatt.com.

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!

follow me on twitterMy LinkedIn profile

How to Best Follow-Up After an Interview!

How to Best Follow-Up After an Interview!

OK….the interview seemed to go well… you are now on your way to your next destination and you are thinking to yourself “wonder when I will hear from them?”

You have already made a serious interviewing error!

follow upPart of your responsibility during the interview comes near the end when you say, “I have really enjoyed talking with you….and it would seem that my credentials and experience are a good match for your open position. If that is the case from your perspective, what is the next step?”

 

Listen carefully and ask questions to flesh out the details.

What you want to know is:

  • How many follow-up interviews with other people is part of the process?
  • What else is involved (reference checks, etc.)?
  • When might those take place?

Without being overly assertive, you want to end this line of dialogue with a statement such as, “so what I hear you saying is that all things being equal, I should hear from you – one way or the other – by next week?”

In other words, you close out the interview so that as you head to your next destination you KNOW when you will hear back!

But you aren’t done yet… there are several other things you can do to promote your candidacy:

Send a one-page (only!) follow-up letter via U.S. Mail. Not email… U.S. Mail gets opened and read. Mail it the same day or the next day at the latest… you want it to arrive very quickly so it can have an impact on the deliberations regarding the different people interviewed for the open slot.

In that letter you of course thank the interviewer for their time, state that you are very interested in taking the next step…AND you mention one of key factors of the job as one of your assets…what you bring to the table. …such as “I think my recent experience installing a new accounting system at XYZ Corp will enable me to hit the ground running on day one!” If at all possible “mirror” the job listing with words and phrases that will have the interviewer saying “wow – this seems like a very good fit!”.

I wrote before about creating a “brag book” (Moving Up the Career Ladder; How to Get that Next Job – March 24, 2014). A “brag book” is a collection of positive things about you written by others… testimonials if you  will. If you have done this, dig out a short one and include it in your follow-up letter. Such as:

“A year or so ago, I received a note from my CFO that read in part – “Bill – thanks for the great job on the transition team. Your contributions were critical to success”.

Third-party testimonials can help further confirm that you are the hire to make!

Now what to do when the employer doesn’t get back to you as discussed? Stay cool…no need to get upset about it. Stuff happens. Shoot an email to your contact or make a tele call. “I am sure you are busy, but I wanted to follow-up on our interview last week. I recall understanding that I would hear back by now. Can you give me a status report? By the way, I am still very interested.”

Closing out the interview will let you know when to expect to hear back as well as give you a chance to further sell yourself!

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!

My LinkedIn profilefollow me on twitter 

Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

 

The absolute worst – and dumbest – question to ask in an interview!

The absolute worst – and dumbest – question to ask in an interview!

I recently was at a dinner function talking to a senior HR manager at one of the Fortune 100 companies. She was in the process of hiring a new administrative assistant that would report to her.

As is usually the case in most interviews she asked “do you have any questions?” after she had completed asking her battery of questions to best understand the candidate,

You can't be serious!!

You can’t be serious!!

To which the person replied – here it comes – “Yes, I’d like to know how soon I can have a one-on-one lunch with the CEO?”

My dinner companion was stunned!! Had the candidate lost all perspective of what I call “the world of work”?? An AA working for a multi-national multi-billion dollar firm can count on NEVER having a one-on-one lunch with the CEO even if he or she is the AA to a senior corporate manager.

I have heard of many inappropriate questions candidate ask while interviewing… but this one “takes the cake”!!

Other equally WRONG questions you should never ask include:

“When can I count on getting a raise”? The correct question is “what is the performance and salary review process”?

“Does the company have any resort facilities for staff to use”? Dumb question – has no basis on the job-seeking process. You will find out soon enough is such a thing exists …and if you are far enough up the food chain to enjoy it!

“How big of an expense allowance do I get”? The issue of expense allowances only arise in two situations:

You will be traveling on company business …or you are interviewing for a sales position where you will incur everyday expenses (parking, tolls, etc.). The correct question in those circumstances is “How are travel/everyday expenses handled”?

“What kind of charitable work does the company support”? If this is important to you – discover the answer via research rather than taking time in an interview to ask it. Asking the question begs the response – “why – is it important to you”? Which in turn triggers in the interviewer’s mind that you might be more of a social activist than they want to bring on board.

In summary – there are right questions to ask … and there are wrong questions to ask. Be sure you know the difference!! Getting a job offer may depend on it.

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!

follow me on twitterMy LinkedIn profile

Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

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!

Follow me on Twitter to be notified of new posts to this blog.

follow me on twitter   My LinkedIn profile  

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/.

Follow me on Twitter for notices about new blog posts.

My LinkedIn profile  follow me on twitter