Posts Tagged ‘interviews’

Simple Interview Tips That Work

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Job interviewing never seems to get any easier – even when you have gone on more interviews than you can count. You are always meeting new people, having to sell yourself and your skills, and often getting the third degree about what you know or don’t know. And, you have to stay upbeat and enthusiastic throughout each interview.

That said, there are ways to make a job interview much less stressful.

Invest a little time prior to the interview getting ready, and it will be much easier to handle. The key to effective interviewing is to project confidence, stay positive, and be able to share examples of your workplace skills and your qualifications for the job.

Brush up your communication skills, so you can speak clearly and concisely about the assets you have to offer the employer. Take the time to work on your interview skills – effective interviewing will help you get hired.

Here are a few simple job interview tips to help prepare you to interview effectively:

Practice and Prepare

Practice your responses to the typical job interview questions and answers most employers ask. Think of concrete examples you can use to highlight your skills. The easiest way to do this is to make a list of the job requirements, and match them to your experience. Providing evidence of your successes is a great way to promote your candidacy.

Also, have a list of your own questions to ask the employer ready.

Research the Company
Do your homework about the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question “What do you know about this company?” Try to relate what you have learned about the company when answering questions. Know the interviewer’s name, and use it during the job interview. If you’re not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. Building rapport and making a personal connection with your interviewer can up your chances of getting hired. People tend to hire candidates they like, and who seem to be a good fit for the company culture.

Get Ready Ahead of Time

Don’t wait until the last minute to pick out an interview outfit, print extra copies of your resume, or find a notepad and pen. Have one good interview outfit ready, so you can interview on short notice without having to worry about what to wear. When you have an interview lined up, get everything ready the night before. Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. Bring a nice portfolio with extra copies of your resume. Include a pen and paper for note-taking.

Be On Time (That Means Early)

Be on time for the interview. On time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, take some time to drive to the interview location ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Give yourself a few extra minutes to visit the rest room, check your outfit, and calm your nerves.

Try to Stay Calm

During the job interview, try to relax and stay as calm as possible. Remember that your body language says as much about you as your answers to the questions. Proper preparation will allow you to exude confidence. Take a moment to regroup if you need it. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Listen to the entire question (active listening) before you answer, and pay attention – you will be embarrassed if you forget the question.

Show What You Know

Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your career accomplishments, match them to what the company is looking for. Use examples from your research when answering questions, “I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.” Take the time to make a match between your expertise and the company’s requirements, and to sell yourself to the interviewer.

Follow Up

Always follow-up with a thank you note reiterating your interest in the position. You can also include any details you may have forgotten to mention during your interview. If you interview with multiple people send each one a personal note. Send your thank you note (email is fine) within 24 hours of your interview.

So with some advance preparation, you’ll be able to nail the interview and showcase the experience that makes you the ideal candidate for the company’s next new employee.

Good luck!

7 Interview Tips That Will Help You Get the Job | by Alison Doyle via the Balance.

Dress for Success at Your Next Job Interview

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that can sabotage your career, so it pays to sweat the details.

When you’re invited to a job interview, for example, one wrong move can blow your chances. Even wearing the wrong thing can distract an employer from your polished resume and outstanding experience.

Before you schedule your next interview, be sure to review this list of the six worst things to wear for a job interview.

Ill-Fitting Clothes

If you haven’t worn your interview outfit recently, you might find it doesn’t fit the way it used to. Don’t try to pull it off, though. You won’t look your best and you won’t feel comfortable — and it will show.

Better to wear an outfit that is tailored to suit you, rather than anything that feels or looks too tight or too short. It may not only give the wrong impression, it may also be distracting. Tugging at your skirt hem, for example, is another distraction that takes away from the focus on you and your skills.

Overly Casual Clothes

Even if you’re interviewing at a laid-back workplace, it’s still possible to take the casual concept too far. Do not wear jeans, tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirts, hats, flip-flops, or any garments with messages or brands written on them. For men wearing a suit, do not wear loud, obnoxious colors, busy-printed shirts or overly patterned ties. Take the conservative approach, and save the fun stuff for after you’ve got the job.

Anything Distracting

There’s a fine line between standing out and wearing something that’s just distracting. In the interview process, you should err on the side of caution and tone it down. Better to choose subtle patterns over brighter ones, and dark or neutral clothing versus neon colors or anything distracting. You should be the focus of the interview, not your clothing.

Women should not wear anything too revealing or low cut. No platform heels, no sun dresses, nothing too trendy. Make up and jewelry should also be toned down. For men and women both, it’s generally a good idea to stick with the basics: a black, blue, or grey suit and the associated conservative accoutrement.

Excessive Accessories

You might like to make a statement with your jewelry, but the job interview isn’t the time to do so. Stay away from jewelry that jingle-jangles, which can be very distracting for an interviewer.

Experts advise against wearing perfume and cologne as well. You may feel like something is missing when you refrain from wearing your favorite fragrance, but this is one more thing that can be distracting during the interview. In addition, many people have sensitivity or allergies to fragrances. Play it safe!

Something Very Different from What the Interviewer Suggested

It’s a good idea to ask about what’s expected of you when you’re setting up a job interview. Always ask the point person that set up the interview for advice on what to wear. If you wear something that is significantly different than the instructions that you were given, then you stand a good chance of turning off the interviewers.

The Obvious

Never attend any interview with ill-fitting, sweat-stained, smelling like smoke, dog or cat hair covered clothing that looks like something you slept in. Never wear the same ensembles you would wear out to a bar or nightclub with your friends. Ridiculously sculpted fingernails on women and pointy shoes and contrasting socks for men are no-nos.

When in doubt, overdress for the first interview.

Good luck!

The 6 worst things to wear to a job interview | Catherine Conlan via Monster.com.

Why You Need to Hire a Professional Resume Writer

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

If Your Resume Isn’t Opening Doors, Get Some Professional Help

Job searching sure is expensive. After all, it costs money to dry clean your interview suit, fill up your tank and drive to each and every job interview. And at a time when you’re counting every nickel and dime, you don’t want to spend any more cash than necessary.

But if you’ve been job searching for some time without success, it may not be what you’re saying, but how you’re coming across on paper. That’s where a resume writer comes in. Resume writers are not just professional writers, but they’re experts in making your resume stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. Here’s why you might need a resume writer, and why it’s such a good investment.

1. U Can’t Right Good

Let’s say you’re an accountant.

Dollars and cents are your game, not words. So if you’re struggling to express your previous work experience well—and your writing confuses HR professionals like advanced math perplexes most of society—a resume writer can help. He/she can discern what needs to be on your resume (and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t), and express it all professionally.

2. You’re Stuck in the Past

When you look at your resume, you think it looks totally awesome. But when a hiring manager sees it, all he’s seeing is the year 1986.

Like music and fashion, even resumes have to be stylish so they can get more than a passing glance from a potential boss. If you’re not sure of what the current trends are, a professional service can give your resume the extra savoir-faire it deserves. From the quality of the paper it’s printed on to the template used, the writer will make sure that your resume reads—and looks—its best.

3. You’re Not Getting Interviews on Your Own

You know your work experience is impressive and your workplace skills are stellar. So why aren’t you getting any interviews?

The main reason could be your subpar resume. A professionally written resume can open doors for you that might lead to a great job. It’s also good to keep in mind you might even need several versions of your resume, depending on the type of job interview you have. These advanced nuances are things with which a professional resume writer can assist.

4. You’re Shy

To you, a resume is a necessary evil. It’s basically a depiction of all your previous accomplishments and accolades, and frankly, you’re not the bragging type.

You might need an expert to help you through the process if you have a hard time talking about yourself, much less writing it all down on paper. There’s no shame in getting help with this because writing about yourself is one of the toughest assignments, and you’re often your own worst critic.

A professional resume writer will know how to spotlight your most worthy accomplishments because he’s looking at them with fresh, unbiased eyes. Let him turn your resume into something that’s personable and professional.

5. You Have Issues

Maybe you left the workplace so you could raise your family, and now there’s a huge gap in your employment history. Or perhaps you’re changing career fields and don’t quite know how to revamp your resume to show off the skills you have for this new industry. While you can’t rewrite history, a professional writer will know just how to accentuate the positives on your resume, and write away any negative aspects.

Hiring a resume writer may not be an option for everyone and some people can do the job on their own. But for those who have the necessary skills but are struggling to get interviews, a professionally polished resume can be one of the best investments you make as you continue on your job search.

So if you’re looking for an edge, an upgrade, and a boost to your job search contact us today!

5 Reasons to Hire a Professional Resume Writer | Sara Sutton Fell via Salary.com.

What to Research Before a Job Interview

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

You know that weird feeling between excitement and dread that accompanies an invitation to interview? It’s especially strong when you know next to nothing about your potential workplace.

However, even if the first time you’ve ever heard of the company you’re interviewing with was the day you sent in your application, you can still walk in like you’ve known about the place for years. The key is to do some pre-interview research to make sure you can handle anything specific to the company that might come up (and offer suggestions to address the company’s particular situation if afforded the opportunity). Below are some topics and strategies you might consider.

Keep in mind, of course, that they will likely be researching you as well, going beyond just your resume and cover letter. So make sure you research yourself as well and clean up your online presence as much as possible!

1. The skills and experience the company values.

First and foremost, you should know what the company looks for in a qualified candidate. This enables you to position yourself as the best candidate for the position.

To discover the skills and experience the employer values, read between the lines of their job postings. You can also find out information on the employer’s career page to get an idea of the type of employees their desire. In addition, reach out to current employees who work there and ask them about what their employer values most in the workplace.

2. Key players of the organization.

The key players within an organization are those employees who hold important positions in the company. These individuals can be managers, department directors, and especially the CEO/president of the company.

You can find out who the key players of the organization by reading the employer’s “About” page and employee bios. It’s also a good idea to check out what these individuals say on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn what employees say about the company online.

3. News and recent events about the employer.

When you go into a job interview, it’s always a good idea to be knowledgeable about the company’s latest news and updates.

Most companies have a page on their website dedicated to press releases and events. This is a great source for you to find out information regarding the company’s latest news and updates.

4. The company’s culture, mission, and values.

Job seekers should be able to confidently say they’re good fit for the company’s culture during any job interview. In fact, a Millennial Branding study says 43 percent of HR professionals believe cultural fit is the most important quality job seekers can have during the hiring process.

As you research the employer, pay attention to what’s written on their website regarding the company’s values and mission. You can also learn more about the company culture by following the organization on its social media networks.

5. Clients, products, and services.

As a potential employee, you need to have an idea of the type of work you’d be doing once hired. By having a general idea of who the company’s clients are and the types of products and services are offered, you’ll be more prepared for the interview, too.

To find out the company’s offerings, you can usually find them on the company’s website. You can also read through the company’s blog, case studies, and white papers to give you a better idea of their accomplishments.

6. The inside scoop.

To ensure you’re fully prepared for the job interview, websites such as Glassdoor help job seekers discover the inside details of a company that can’t be found on the employer’s website.

With these sites, you can typically find information such as salary figures, employee functions and duties, company reviews, details about the hiring process, and more.

7. The person interviewing you.

Finally, you should find out who the interviewer will be. This will give you an advantage during the interview because you’ll have a better chance of connecting with them and sparking a meaningful conversation.

Now it might be a little tricky trying to find out who the interviewer is, but you should be able to locate the person’s name with a little investigation. First, try locating the person’s name from email you received regarding the interview. If you can’t find any information, reply to the email politely requesting the name of the person who’ll interview you.

Once you acquire the interviewer’s name, do some research on LinkedIn and Twitter. This will help you learn about the interviewer’s background, their position with the company, and even some common interests you both share.

Good luck!

7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview | Heather Huhman via Glassdoor.

How to Survive a Stress Interview

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Stress interviews are a job-seeker’s nightmare—unless you’re prepared.

Everything is going smoothly in your job interview. But then you’re asked why a tennis ball has fuzz.

In another interview, your questioner treats you rudely before asking, “How do you think this interview is going?”

Should you run for the hills? Not necessarily. You’re likely experiencing a torturous technique called the stress interview. This method involves making an interviewee uncomfortable to see how he or she can perform under pressure. It’s especially prevalent in the tech industry.

Creative companies like Google and Facebook are famous for using stress questions. They want to see if potential hires are flexible and confident.

The bad news: stress interviews are increasingly common. The good news: the five tips below should help you keep cool.

Don’t sweat the details. Your interviewer cares less about how you answer a stress question than about whether you can stay confident. So concentrate on your attitude, not on the specifics.

Listen. Take time to listen to the question and fully understand it before you start talking. A question like “Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?” is easier if you don’t rush. (Answer: Mt. Everest.)

Do your research. If you can, set up an informational interview with a contact inside the company to learn about the interview process and the company in general.

Be honest. Some stress questions test your honesty, such as “What interests you least about this job?” You can answer tactfully without lying: “I’m sure this job will have some menial tasks I won’t enjoy, like paperwork. But that’s part of any job.”

Own it. Even if your answer is a complete disaster, stay confident and secure in your choice. Your composure will make an impression.

Good luck!

5 Ways to Survive the World’s Worst Job Interview | Rose Cahalan via The Alcalde.

How to Get Over Imposter Syndrome

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Recently landed a new promotion? Finally got that manager position you’ve been working towards for years? Been recruited by some top companies for great new roles (maybe even that dream job you’ve been waiting for)? Feel like you don’t deserve any of it?

Yes? Welcome to the club! You’re experiencing the often crippling effects of “imposter syndrome.” It happens to the best of us, even the most famous and successful people out there.

Imposter syndrome occurs when we feel like a fraud—when we feel that our successes are undeserved. We convince ourselves they’re based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of embracing the fact that we’re actually responsible for having made those successes happen. Imposter syndrome makes us think irrationally about our aptitudes and performance: We don’t believe we’ve excelled, and we don’t believe we deserve the rewards that come along with our success.

The irony is that the further you go in your career, the more opportunities there are for imposter syndrome to rear its ugly head. You didn’t get that promotion because you earned it, you got it because you were lucky. You didn’t get to lead that project because you had the most experience on the team—you got it because timing worked out. That dream job wasn’t offered because of your stellar resume—maybe you’re just a diversity hire.

The bad news is: It’s not likely you’ll ever be able to fully rid yourself of imposter syndrome. But the good news is: There are ways to combat it! You can train yourself to quickly identify it, manage it, and live to rise again.

Identify What’s Shaking Your Confidence

Is it your new job title? Is it a certain senior-level meeting you’ve been invited to attend? Is it a high-stakes project you’ve been asked to lead? What is it that’s making you feel doubtful?

In most cases, the answer will be obvious: I don’t deserve to lead this project because so-and-so is more experienced than I am. I haven’t worked at the company long enough. I only aced my last project out of luck or good timing. That spot where you’re underselling yourself is likely the root of the problem.

Once You’ve Identified the Confidence Culprit, Tell Someone

Pick someone you trust to talk about your waning self-confidence. If it’s a work problem, make sure to confide in someone who isn’t your co-worker or manager. Choose someone who sees you outside of that environment: He or she can identify when those feelings of fear are irrational and remind you of your strengths.

Remind Yourself of All of Your Achievements

If you don’t have an accomplishments box, start now by recounting your most recent accomplishments (or even better, get those achievements on your resume). Take a look at everything you’ve achieved, and reflect on all the hard work you’ve put in to get to where you are now. Embrace the fact that you got yourself to where you are. You’ve earned your spot—your accomplishments are proof of that.

Remind Yourself That the People Who Got You Here Are Incredibly Competent and They Did Not Make a Mistake

You did not pull a fast one on anyone. Your boss or hiring manager—who you may believe didn’t see the many gaps in your resume—is not an idiot. Don’t doubt the intelligence of those who have promoted you, hired you, or offered you opportunities. They have made deliberate choices based on your experience and potential. You really do deserve to be there.

Take a Risk

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Write it down, say it out loud, tell someone else, and do it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work. So what? Do the work and keep going. Don’t let imposter syndrome derail you from what’s rightfully yours.

Take a Hard Look at Your Language and Update It

Do you say “I feel” a lot? How about using “I think” to start your sentences? Have you been pitching ideas prefaced with “It might just be me, but?” Rein in that doubt! Update your language with more confident, assertive phrases, and you’ll start to believe in what you’re saying. Assume your questions are valid, and that you’re probably not the only one to have them. Try: “I have a question—and I’m sure I’m not the only one.” Champion your ideas through more assertive language.

Reframe Your Story by Writing it Down

Imagine you’re speaking at a conference and that you have to provide an introductory bio for the panelist moderator. What would you say, and how would you say it? Would you tout your accomplishments or brush them off as if they were insignificant? Take an afternoon to write out your personal story. Who are you and how did you get to where you are? Let yourself shine on paper. Then, accept that it’s all true.

Try Mentoring

Guess what, imposter syndrome sufferer? You have expertise to share. Share it with someone who needs it. Not only will you realize how much knowledge you really do have, you’ll also likely uncover new strengths in the process. Mentoring can reveal skills you took for granted or mistakenly assumed came from luck. It’s empowering to know you are helping someone in their journey.

Take Solace in the Truth That Imposter Syndrome Is a Symptom of Success

Famous actors, authors, artists, CEOs—the most successful people are those most likely to have imposter syndrome. If you’re feeling like a fraud, believe it or not, you are doing something right. So play your pump up jams. Say your personal mantra. Do your power pose. You’ve got this.

No matter how successful someone is or has been, no one is free from lingering doubts regarding their own abilities. It’s easy to get sidelined by worry about your own competency, concerned that everything you have earned is due to luck, deception, or blindness on the part of managers, rather than your own talent. But whenever your confidence wanes, keep that list of accomplishments on your resume firmly in your mind… let the successes of the past serve as the foundation for your future success, not as excuses to fall short or reasons to doubt.

Good luck!

How to Banish Imposter Syndrome and Embrace Everything You Deserve | Ximena Vengoechea via The Muse.

Interview Hacks

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Seems like everyone has “hacks” these days… hacks for parenting, hacks for eating, hacks for computing, and even hacks for life. For every standard way to do something, someone out there on the internet has found an innovative way to do it .001% better, guaranteed to transform your life in 10 easy steps.

We’ll pass over the question of whether it’s really efficacious to use string to cut cheese or to microwave your deodorant to get the last little bit out. The idea of hacking itself is sound: re-envisioning everyday activities to perform them more productively, more efficiently, more cost effectively, and more successfully.

Since many of us will interview for jobs many times over the course of our careers and competition for even the most basic positions always seems to be intense, it behooves us to apply as many tricks, tips, and hacks as we can, if for no other reasons than to make the experience easier to endure or to streamline failure.

hacking

So what can you do to improve your interviewing skills? Here are a few quick expert tips:

Bring A Cheat Sheet With You

Everyone knows it’s a good idea to bring extra copies of your resume and business cards with you when you interview, but it’s also a great idea to bring a job history cheat sheet with you.

Prepare a write-up briefly detailing two accomplishments for each of your past few jobs. It’s a great way to overcome brain freeze during an interview or to get things back on track if the conversation has derailed.

Beat the Clock to Beat Your Nerves!

Nothing can make a stressful situation more stressful than anticipation and dread… Having to wait all day for an interview is a quick and easy way to build up a major case of the butterflies.

Rather than spend the whole day worrying and building yourself into a frenzied ball of anxious nerves, try to schedule your interviews for early in the day.

Not only will you have more confidence, but you’ll appear fresher and more alert.

It’s also been proven that interviewers tend to remember the first few people they interview in a day much more clearly than those they subsequently interview later.

pilot_interview

Identify a Problem and Fix It

In many cases, a company will be hiring for a position in order to solve a problem or remedy an issue they have been facing. By studying the job description you can often tell if this is the case for the position you are interviewing for.

If this is the case, take this opportunity to prepare a one-page proposal that outlines how you would solve the problem that the company is facing… and be specific!

Even if they aren’t looking for you to solve the problem in the interview, they will be impressed that you took the initiative and more importantly, that as a hire, you will bring a lot of value to their organization.

Be Nice!

Did you know your interview starts the minute you walk through the front door of the company you are interviewing with? How you treat everyone around you, from potential future co-workers to the receptionist at the front desk, can help determine if you get a job or not.

By being open, friendly and professional with everyone you encounter (not just your hiring manager) you’re helping to pave the way for positive feedback because as everyone knows, people talk… and if they’re going to talk about you, it’s always best to have it be about positive aspects of your visit!

In addition, hiring managers will often use the receptionist/secretary as a “secret screener”. What does this mean? It means that they often give the receptionist a list of questions to ask you and have them take notes on your responses. Then after the interviews are done, they have a quick debrief to discuss what you said. I’ve actually heard of people who had immaculate job interviews that failed to get the job because they showed a different (and not positive) side of their personality during the “secret screener”, so keep this in mind the moment you walk through the door!

Connect Before Diving In

The best way to start an interview is to not start the interview.

When you first meet whoever is interviewing you, get them to talk about anything except the interview. Use those first moments to build a rapport with your interviewer.

Remember, they’re potentially interviewing hundreds of people and the ones they’ll remember are the ones that stand out for the right reasons.

People want to work with people they connect with, and by taking just a moment to talk about something other than your potential job you’re helping show that you’re a nice, friendly and interesting person.

Your ultimate goal with an interview is to have a good conversation with your interviewer and an easy way to kick off that conversation is by starting with an easy small talk opener.

Example topics can include the weather, a recent sporting event, the office, or anything else you can think of that is quick to discuss.

Try to skip controversial topics and make sure that you don’t go overboard or ramble on for too long. It’s still an interview, after all!

Be a Copycat

It’s been psychologically proven time and time again that people respond better to individuals they feel they are in “sync” with and the best way to help drive that home is to subtly mirror your interviewer’s nonverbal gestures and body language.

Don’t go overboard and do everything they do, but if you keep your movements similar to theirs, it’ll build a sense of cohesion and understanding between you two.

Try to mimic their pitch, tone, body language, posture and body orientation.

And while you’re at it, DON’T FIDGET! Fidgeting can undermine your credibility and give an interviewer the impression that you’d rather be anywhere but in that room as well as make it appear you’re anxious or even lying.

Instead, focus your gaze on whoever is interviewing you and show them that you’re fully invested and paying attention to the interview.

Turn the Tables

A good interview is more than just you sitting in a room rattling off prepared answers to questions. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn about the job, the company and your potential role within that world.

Make sure to have a few questions prepared before you interview and find the time during the interview to ask them. Make sure they are thoughtful questions that help reinforce the idea that you’re the ideal candidate.

When you get the chance to ask your own questions, take the opportunity to “tailor” the questions. You want to show that you have the qualities that the company puts a lot of value in, so utilize this opportunity to do so.

Here’s an example:

If you know the company is big on “collaboration” as a quality, you may want to ask a question like:

“In my previous jobs I’ve really thrived in an environment where I get to work with others and have found that using my abilities in a collaborative setting has really allowed me to add a lot of value to my team. Do you envision this role having a collaborative element and if so, do you think that this ability will help me succeed in this position?”

Just a few easy tips to add to your interview toolbox. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tried and true hacks for interviewing that you’d like to share.

Good luck!

16 Genius Job Interview Tips & Hacks | Jeff Gillis via The Interview Guys

The Worst Interview Advice People Love to Give

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

So, you’ve passed the difficult hurdle of actually landing an interview, navigating the resume submission process and perhaps even passing an obligatory phone screen.

Keen to avoid any obvious mistakes, you ask around for advice from friends, family, maybe even coworkers (or former colleagues), especially if you’re a bit of a novice at interviewing. And people are always willing to give advice, whether it’s about what to wear, what to talk about, how to answer certain questions, or what to bring along. And while undoubtedly some of what they say might be helpful, it can be difficult to determine what to follow and what to ignore.

So here is some advice that you won’t hear from the experts (i.e., the kind of stuff you can probably ignore). Some of these tips seem common sense enough, or have become conventional wisdom to the point where they frequently show up on top 10 lists… but in this case, you’re better off not following them:

singing_interview

Always wear a suit

Yes, you want to look put-together and professional, but it’s more important to fit in with the vibe of the company than show up dressed to the nines. Wearing a suit when everyone at the office is dressed more casually sends the message ‘I don’t understand your culture.

An easy trick: check out a site like Glassdoor to get a feel for the office culture, and dress one or two steps up from that. Dressing appropriately shows your interviewer that you took the time to research and understand the company, which ultimately tells them you care.

Make sure you arrive in plenty of time

While arriving late to a job interview is definitely a huge no-no, experts agree that arriving too early can also hurt your chances at landing the job.

There is a fine line between showing interest and looking desperate, and you don’t want to send the wrong message.

Arriving more than 15 minutes early can be frustrating for a hiring manager especially because it could throw a curveball into their schedule. Instead, if you want to make extra sure you arrive on time, head to a coffee shop in the area of the interview early and hang tight there until your scheduled time.

Say ‘I’m a perfectionist’ when asked, ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’

Everyone has heard the classic advice to say something that’s actually a strength when asked what your biggest weakness is. But while this may seem like a sneaky way to make yourself seem more qualified, it actually comes off as fake and cliché.

You’re missing an opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness and a willingness to adapt.

Instead, honestly explain one of your weaknesses, then say what you’re doing to fix it. This way, instead of presenting a problem, you’re presenting a solution.

Be yourself

You want to show your interviewer why you’re the best person for the job, not wait for them to figure it out on their own. It’s your job as the candidate to figure out what the hiring manager is looking for and tell a story that shows you meet those requirements.

You should never lie or present a false version of yourself, but it’s important to play up your best features and make a memorable first impression.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can just be who you are. You need to nail those first few seconds by carrying the right props, sitting in the right place, and handling the handshake properly.

food_interview

Don’t ask about salary

Staying silent throughout the interview process about salary could send the signal that you’ll be happy with any job offer they make.

You have to bring up salary by your second job interview at the latest, or you will be walking straight into the common and frustrating scenario where you get presented with an insultingly low-ball offer, because you never asked, ‘What does this job pay?’

While you don’t want to put money first, asking about the pay range for the job sooner rather than later can save you countless wasted hours and energy on a job that won’t pay what you want.

So, any of this sound familiar? Amazing how what people say over and over again can so frequently be wrong.

Of course, your own experience may vary, especially if you’ve already interviewed with many companies over the course of your career. But when you’re just starting out, always remember to dig a little deeper into conventional wisdom; sometimes it pays to not just follow the crowd.

Good luck!

The Worst Job Interview Advice People Love to Give | Emmie Martin via Business Insider

Strategies for Explaining Employment Gaps

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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For every professional whose career is a straight road, always gradually sloping upwards, neat and tidy, from promotion to promotion, there are a dozen people whose path not only oscillates up and down like a heartbeat but whose straight road has a few bridges out and big gaps between.

The employment gap, no matter how long ago, no matter the totally and completely justifiable reason for its existence, is the bane of job seekers everywhere. Maybe you took time off to go back to school or raise a family or take care of a sick relative or just couldn’t find a job for a few months during the last recession… that empty space on your resume seems to grab the eye of every recruiter, HR professional, and hiring manager who looks at it, demanding a complex and harrowing explanation.

But if gaps affect so many people, there must be some way to handle them properly? A few experts weigh in on how best to deal with this difficult topic:

Be Honest

Whatever the reason for your time away from work, honesty is always the best policy.

Don’t hide it; explain it. During the entire process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it. Jobs come and go, but being known for being truthful—and conversely, deceitful—can last a lifetime.

An example: When a candidate went for an interview recently, she was certain the gap would come up, and it did. When she told the potential employers the truth — that she’d wanted to be home with her children and felt fortunate that she was able to do so — an excruciating silence followed. In an attempt to lighten the mood, she joked that during that time she’d done some freelance work, but she also spent a fair amount of her day tackling mountains of laundry. What happened next surprised her: They laughed and thanked her for her honesty.

“You have no idea how many people come in here and fumble through telling us about some extended project they were working on,” one of the interviewers scoffed.

So even though you might be tempted to invent some elaborate story explaining away your employment gap, it’s best to keep it concise and honest and hope the company understands, rather than running the risk of getting caught in a lie.

Be Prepared

Stuttering and stammering your way through your first sit-down is as unimpressive as showing up late or calling your female interviewer “sir.” Just as you’d prep to discuss your previous positions, employers are going to ask about your time off, so be ready to address that as well.

Whether you managed a household, co-chaired an event that raised much-needed funds for charity, or trekked across the globe, chances are you picked up some important skills along the way—think communicating persuasively, becoming a master organizer, or adapting to unknown situations. Identify them, think through how they apply to the job at hand, and craft a short, compelling statement you can use in interviews.

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Be Confident

While the thought of discussing how you came to be unemployed, especially if you were let go or fired, might make you uneasy, don’t panic. Resume gaps are not as uncommon as you might think.

If a company doesn’t understand what has happened to our economy since 2008 and the impact on individuals, well, you likely don’t want to work there anyway.

So, while answering questions about any period of unemployment can be uncomfortable, know that you’re not alone. Just be sure to prepare for whatever questions come your way, maintain honesty in your explanations, and have confidence in the skills you’ve attained during that break. Taken together, this can go a long way to bridging the gap with poise and professionalism.

Good luck!

How to Explain the Gap in Your Resume With Ease | Elizabeth Alterman via The Muse

The Strangest Things Job Seekers Have Done to Get Hired

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

When it comes to getting the attention of potential employers, being a little out there can be a good thing – but a little goes a long way. Here are four do’s and don’ts for job seekers hoping to stand out for the right reasons.

There’s “crazy good” – and then there’s just plain crazy. When it comes to getting the attention of potential employers, being a little out there can be a good thing, but a little goes a long way, as some candidates have found out the hard way. A recent study about unusual job seeker efforts to stand apart, conducted among 1,078 hiring managers, makes it clear that some job seekers don’t know where to draw the line between getting noticed – and getting notoriety.

When asked for their accounts of job seekers’ most off-the-wall stunts, hiring managers didn’t hold back. These were the best of the best (err – worst of the worst?). You be the judge):

The candidate…

  1. …found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and picked up the tab.
  2. …lit a corner of their resume on fire to show their “burning desire” for the job.
  3. …had a cake delivered to the hiring manager with the words “Congratulations! [candidate’s name] got the job!”
  4. …answered a call during the interview stating that another company was calling to discuss a job offer.
  5. …sat on the floor during the interview and asked the hiring manager to take a picture of him with the company mascot.
  6. …tried to impress the hiring manager with the history of the business, which was incorrect.
  7. …had her resume gift-wrapped.
  8. …showed pictures of their relatives working at the company many years prior.
  9. …acted like a game show host.
  10. …brought a bag of props into the interview and pulled them out as they were relevant in the questions/answers.
  11. …sent the hiring manager a coupon for free meal.
  12. …had his daughter call the hiring manager in advance of the interview to thank the hiring manager “for giving her dad a job.”

Clever — or cloying?

Hiring managers gave a mixed bag of reactions when it came to whether they thought job seekers’ off-the-wall tactics were effective.

On one hand, candidates should get props for trying to stand apart among the sometimes hundreds of others vying for the same position. Unfortunately, “props” don’t necessarily equate to employment.

As one hiring manager advised – candidates are wise to focus more on making sure their skills and experience are up to par than on whether that “I love ABC Company” tattoo will land them the job:

“While these tactics may succeed in impressing hiring managers, what ultimately determines if they get the job is having the necessary skills and experience hiring managers are looking for.”

So how can you as a candidate get smarter about your own methods for standing out – and get real, positive attention for your efforts?

Here are four suggested do’s and don’ts for job seekers hoping to stand out for all the right reasons:

  1. DON’T confuse pestering with persistence. Most hiring managers don’t mind –and even appreciate – a follow up phone call or email, as it indicates enthusiasm and initiative. Bombarding the hiring manager with phone calls or emails, however, can come across as desperate, annoying or even creepy.
  2. DO know your audience. What charms one hiring manager may turn another off. You can’t always predict what will work for one company and what won’t. Just keep in mind, however, that a company that doesn’t appreciate your unique line of thinking might not be the company that’s right for you.
  3. DON’T overthink it. Sometimes the simplest approach is the best approach. Many of the hiring managers we surveyed were blown away when a candidate sent a handwritten thank you note.
  4. DO keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t let your unusual approach distract from what you’re really trying to do: Sell your skills and qualifications. Even when trying an unusual approach, tie it back to your skills and why you are qualified for the job.

So shine on, you (not too) crazy diamond – and best of luck in landing that next job.