Interviewing Skills – more than answering questions

I attended a meeting at the Jewish Family Services Employment Workshop, hosted by Betsy Gamburg.

The topic was Interviewing, the Good, the Bad & the Ugly, presented by Abby Donnelly founder of The Leadership & Legacy Group.

Here are some of the points I captured during Abby’s conversation with the group.

The Many Purposes of an interview include:
– To sell yourself
– To get an invitation for a job offer
– To networking for opportunities
– To determine if the company is a good fit for you
– To share how you can have a positive impact on the business.

A Great interview occurs when the interviewer(s) are in awe about what you could do for their business or organization.
A Good interview occurs when you show that you are interested while being interesting.
A Bad or Ugly interview is one where you are not interesting or where you clearly do not show your interest in the business and interviewers.

When answering the interviewer(s) questions you must always answer in an engaging and interesting way.

When telling your story of successes and accomplishments, be interesting and succinct. Don’t consume too much time or drift off into irrelevant conversations.

If you do not appear interested in the business or interviewer(s), they could be less interested in you and may not think you are a good candidate.

Your questions must evoke even more interest from the interviewer.

The types of questions to ask should be business and/or strategic focus questions, relevant to the position. I.E., it may not be appropriate to ask about high level business strategy if you are applying for a bank teller question. However, asking about business growth and branch goals could be very useful to show that you are interested in the business.

Have confidence in who you are, what you can do and how you present yourself to the interviewer. Confidence is an important candidate attribute.

When asking your network for help in career transition, be clear about what you want to do, or paint a broad picture of career ideas that you may be interested in. Not being clear or focused on your career goals limits your network’s ability to help you.

During the interview you should look for fit. Fit will include lots of business attributes including:
– Culture
– Work style (Team or individual)
– Operations focused or Sales Focused
– Flexibility
– Yes – the overall compensation
– etc, etc.

The worst job for anyone is a job where you failed to look for the fit and then discover there is a big gap in the fit.

You can’t control an interviewer, you can however control how you may influence them with your words, story, body language and how you engage with them.

How do you respectfully get an over talkative interviewer to hear more about who you are? Start asking them questions relevant to the job.

Generally speaking, the person asking the questions is most in control of the interview.

People will think you are amazing if you listen well and ask good questions.

When answering challenging questions, recognize the past, look towards the future and answer in the positive.

How to answer the question “Why has it taken you so long to find a new job?” – “I am fortunate that I have been able to take time looking for the right job, where I can bring real value and be successful at what I do for the business I decide to work for.”

Use visualization and practice to get yourself prepared for your interview.

Visualization is a powerful way to do your absolute best at an interview.

The group benefited from the conversation about Interviewing.

What great tips do you have to share about interviewing?

Employed and looking for a Job – How do I use my network?

Personal Relationships trump just a business relationship every dayI met with a professional the other day who is employed and looking for a job. He is a business developer for a large brand and relies on his network to find opportunities and make new connections.

He asked me, “How do I use my network to find a new job while I also use my network to do my current job?”

I’m sure he is not the only one with this issue.

You don’t want to negatively affect your business network by talking about your job search needs at the cost of disrupting your business development momentum.

You don’t want to give your business network the perception that you don’t care about your current job and your business relationship with them as it relates to your current business. This could reduce their professional opinion of you.

It’s important not to do anything that will negatively impact your business, business network and your current job.

However, there is a way to use your business network in your job search, while still doing your current job.

Work to turn your business relationships into personal relationships. Maybe only in a general sense or maybe into a truly trusting, respecting and caring level. You can’t do this with all of your business connections, however you’ll be surprised to find that many business professionals also want to expand their network into stronger personal connections. This will take some time, but the benefits of expanding your business network into more of a personal network is significant.

A personal relationship will understand your needs to change jobs and be more willing to help.

Continue networking and working with your business connections as you need for your current job. However where appropriate and possible, begin to engage your network in more personal conversations.

Build a list of 5-10 people in your professional network that you feel could become personal relationships. People who already really like you, trust and respect you. As you can, expand the conversations into less business and more personal conversations. Talk about community, family, appropriate world topics and let the discussions go in ways you never considered when you thought of these people as business connections. Ask questions about your connection, make the conversations all about them and let them share and talk about any topic they wish, as long as the conversations are appropriate based on your developing personal relationship.

While you are working to create a higher level personal relationship with your business connections, do what you can to help them. Any amount of “give” will help you to propel your personal relationship building activity.

Eventually you business connection will begin to become a personal relationship that you are doing business with.

Better yet, eventually this new personal connection will ask you questions that opens the door for you to share with them that you are considering another career step.

Be respectful to your business relationship, while confirming your commitment to them professional and personally. Never bad mouth your current employer or talk ill about your current job. And, don’t ask for a job, instead ask for guidance, ideas and other connection possibilities. Share with your personal connection what your are hoping to do, keep the conversation positive and professional.

If you convert a business connection into a personal relationship, they are far more willing to help you however they can. And doing this work is far more rewarding and enjoyable than the old way of “Click, click, click, apply, apply, apply, pray, pray, pray.”

What ideas do you have about turning your business connections into personal relationships?

Allocating time for Job Search

Updated 3/6/14

clockAllocating time for Job Search

Job Search, like any other job, will be far more successful if you properly allocate your time to the tasks associated with the job.

Being hap hazard, random, inconsistent or un-focused with your time will not help you to be successful.

Here is a breakdown of high level activities associated with job search that if you follow will make you far more successful:

First of all, you have to invest a lot of time up front doing a review and deep dive analysis of “Who am I?” If you are not clear on who you are and what you want to do, you’re going to be unfocused and less successful.

You are not your last job title, industry or organization you worked for. You are bigger than that.

Spend time reviewing the activities you have done in your career and life. Try to qualify them as to what activities you enjoyed and were successful doing. It’s a big list and again, far deeper than your title.

Also, spend time talking with the people who know you. They may have some insight into this big question you have for yourself, “Who Am I?”

Get this question answered first so that you can create focus on what you wan to do.

Once you know who you are, have your initial Marketing material built, you can jump into the activities necessary to find that next great job or business opportunity.

How many hours a week to spend on Job Search activities

It’s your full time job, until you get another full time job. Treat it as you would treat any other full time job.

Here is a breakdown that I encourage you to use for this activity

Marketing Material Refinement – 5%

This activity is related to your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn Profile and any other online content. Once you know who you are this content should not change much at all. Maybe a few keyword tweaks, reorganization of content, a new recommendation or two. But generally speaking, your Marketing Material needs to support your focused goal.

Applying for Jobs – 5%

Far too many job seekers are investing far too much time applying for jobs. The reason they are wasting time doing this is because they either don’t know who they are or they are acting desperate. If you do the right things in your job search you will not waste time applying for jobs that are not you and that you are not totally convinced you should get.

Get over the feeling of success when you click apply and see that application go into the great ether of the job search world. It’s not helping you unless you “are that job” and have made some connections around and in the company you are applying to. (see below)

Professional & Personal Development – 5%  (added 3/6/14)

Regardless of whether we are the best at what we do and the best person we can be, we all have to constantly be improving and enhancing our skills.

Regular, even weekly learning is how we continue to thrive in life and our careers. It’s also how we find new ideas and skills that we can use to re-engineer ourselves for new career or business ideas.

Make sure that you are investing in your self, your career and your future by regularly learning.

Research – 30%

This is a critical part of your job search. Research creates knowledge, ideas, awareness, possible connections and organizations. Research lets you find companies who you have never heard of before who may have a need for your skills and expertise. Research helps you to develop new ideas of the types of work you could do and even positions you have either never considered or never heard of. Research is important in order for you to be different than all the other job seekers. Research gives you information about the companies, industries you are interested in. Research helps you to learn about company cultures, organizational changes, new companies in your region and people you need to connect with to keep your research growing (informational interviews).

Research is critical to your Job Search success. Get a library card and use their business research tools. Use LinkedIn and Twitter as research tools.

Failure often occurs because we do not have enough information. A job description and company website have only so much information. Look for way more and be better and different than all the other job seekers out there.

Networking – 55%

The most important thing you can do in your job search is to Network. Most experts in the career transition world tell us that 80%+ of all jobs happen through good networking.

Networking is where you get into conversations with the people you meet along your way.

Start with your front row, or inner circle, the people who already trust and respect you, maybe even love you. They may not know about a job opportunity, but likely they know someone else who may have ideas for you to consider, new people to meet. And, the cool thing about your front row or inner circle, they are likely to introduce you to other good people.

Networking is all about getting to know the person you are talking with. Ask opened ended questions, get to know them and get them to know you.

Networking is not about asking for a Job. – Repeat after me, “Networking is not about asking for a job”

You should never ask for something that you do not know exists. Instead, during the conversation as you get to know each other, once the conversation allows ask this question, “Who do you know that I should connect with?”

If you have done a good job of getting to know the person you are networking with and they have learned enough about you to trust and respect you (even if only a little bit), then they will be eager to share another one of their connections with you.

Read the book, “Networking for Mutual Benefit,” if you want to learn more about networking.

Summary

First spend time to determine “Who Am I,” and build your initial Marketing Material. This will take a lot of up front time.

Then slice your time up so that you are investing it in the most important and productive activities.

  • Marketing Material – 5%
  • Applying for Jobs – 5%
  • Personal Development – 5%
  • Research – 30%
  • Networking – 55%

Managing your Job Search Campaign

managing your job search campaign

FPCJobs of Greensboro shared the basics of this article with me a few weeks ago.

Managing your Job Search Campaign

When you become unemployed, don’t focus on your unemployment benefits and ignore the other necessary steps of your job search process. There are a lot of things to do, don’t let time run out.

The very first step is critical – Plan. Without a plan you will become far more frustrated than you should.

When preparing your plan, take into consideration the resources that are not renewable. Work hard to use them properly, don’t misuse or waste them – Your time & money.

Some of the steps you will need to have in your overall job search campaign include:

  • Developing and/or refining your resume
  • Developing a system to track information, such as jobs applied for, connections made, conversations had, where your resume was distributed, follow up dates, etc
  • Developing and managing a target company listing
  • Creating a work schedule including time for networking, research, applying for jobs, professional development, volunteering, self assessment, follow up time, filing for unemployment, managing your information, searching for new connections, one-on-one time including informational interviews, etc
  • Juggling your time to accommodate interviews, phone screens, etc

Some of the items you need to consider before developing your Job Search Campaign include:

  • Deep dive into your history including evaluating what positions you held that you were and were not successful at
  • Review any previously development plans that you have had in place
  • List satisfiers and dissatisfiers for each of your previous positions.
  • List major strengths and weaknesses for each position
  • List accomplishments for each position
  • Collect and review all of you performance appraisals you have received
  • Dig deep into deciding on the career path you want to be on. Be specific
  • List the job types you need in order to achieve your career path goals
  • What are your preferred compensation rates for the position you strive for? Base, OT, Bonus, Long Term Incentives
  • Have you reviewed the compensation surveys for the position you want? Use glassdoor.com, salary.com, etc
  • Dig deep into your real financial needs vs. wants. Review your honest and up to date personal & household budget.
  • What are your target companies? Industry, size, location, etc
  • How are you researching these companies and their business and employees
  • What benefits are nice to have or required? Vacation, holidays, medical, dental, disability, Profit sharing, educational assistance, Flexible Spending, Retirement plan, etc?
  • Will you relocate?
  • What is your maximum commute time?
  • If you have severance & unemployment – when do they run out?
  • Will you want and/or need the assistance of a recruiter?
  • Do you have any family concerns related to the job search or potential new job?
  • Where are you getting emotional support during this transition?
  • Do you have other career aspirations that you should be considering now?
  • Do you have an entrepreneurial plan that you could start now?
  • How will you differentiate yourself from all the other applicants?
  • Who do you know that can connect you to other individuals and companies who can help you on this job search?
  • Consider targeted mailings to specific operational managers in your target companies
  • Define your network, Chambers of Commerce, Library, job fairs, employment security office, church, networking groups, Recruiters, friends, family, peers, previous employers and fellow employees, neighbors, business associates, etc, etc.
  • Where are you publishing your resume? Indeed, Simply-hired, monster, career builder, etc?
  • What social networks will you join and build compelling profiles?
  • Review your personal social networking sites and make sure they are publicly acceptable.
  • Where are you volunteering? How often? Who are you meeting?
  • Who are your references? Have you talked with them recently about your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do your references know where you are looking for a new job and can they introduce you to good connections?
  • What training do you want and/or need? Where are you going to get it?
  • What online job search resources are you following and learning from?
  • Where are you practicing your interviews?

This is just a smattering of ideas you need to consider when building your new

Job Search Campaign

 

 

Sterile, Pristine or Naked Social Media Profiles

Have Sociable Social Media Profiles

Sterile, pristine, naked social media profiles

This article was sent to me three times this week.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/06/14/social-media-and-the-job-hunt-sqeaky-clean-facebook-profiles/

My take on this article is this: 

If you are going to have an online presence, make it real, honest and sociable.

Have a LinkedIn profile with a bold & proud Professional Profile

If you are going to have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc use them to connect and have public conversations with others. Stay between the lines (no politics or religion), but be open to diverse and enjoyable conversations.

Do not have a pristine, sterile or naked profile. 

Be sociable, engaged and connected.

What do you think about having Sociable Social Media Profiles

Dealing with Difficult Interview Questions

Dealing with Difficult Interview Questions

Dealing with tough interview questionsOften an interview is deliberately intended to be stressful on the interviewer.

Here are some ideas for dealing with Difficult Interview Questions

This is a Stress Interview. Per perfectyourenglish.com – Stress interviews are a deliberate attempt to see how you handle yourself under pressure. The interviewer may be sarcastic or argumentative, or may keep you waiting. Expect these things to happen and when they happen don’t take them personally. Calmly answer each question as it comes.

We suggest a “process.” These process will work no matter the question or circumstance. You may vary the processes to different questions, they’re not carved in stone.

Stress questions can be answered with various processes:

VAC Process – (Value added statement, Character statement & Action statement).

Example – “Why should we hire you?”

Answer – (V) I can add value immediately and consistently at both the operational and strategic levels. (C) Also, character is important, I bring integrity, tenacity and a learning/mentoring leadership style to the position. (A) Lastly, I’m an action oriented synergistic thinker that gets things done.

Question Process –  Some Stress questions can be answered with a question so as to control the interview

Example – “Tell me about yourself”

Answer – “Are you more interested in leadership style or management accomplishments?” Be ready for the answer to the question and be willing to spend 30-60 seconds response – IE – My leadership style is based on xyz or a recent accomplishment that I’m proud of is xyz.

Positive answer to a negative question Process

Example – “What is your biggest weakness?”

Answer –  While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including being a top performer in previous functions/positions, etc. I’ll have to learn this industry, but that’s a short term issue because of my tenacity to learn.

SAR Process  –  “S” – Situation, “A” – Action or Accomplishment, “R” – Results or Relevance

Example –  Tell me about a time when you:

  • Disagreed with your boss?
  • Had to deal with an insubordinate team member?
  • Failed to achieve your goals?
  • Had to clean up someone’s mess?
  • Felt you were not treated fairly?
  • How did you deal with a difficult co-worker?
  • How have you motivated a group of people?
  • How did you handle a marginal performing employee?

Answers – Each question has to be answered in a positive manner based on a situation where your action or accomplishment provided a positive result. Make the answer relevant to the type of work the interviewer.

Here are some questions and the type they are. Knowing the purpose of question helps you to better answer them.

Behavioral Questions

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Describe a time when you failed
  • How would your boss describe you, your subordinates, your associates
  • Tell me about on of your heroes
  • Do you work best with a team or by yourself
  • Of what are you most proud

Stress Questions (Also Behavioral)

  • What are your biggest weaknesses
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What can you do for me?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?

Illegal Questions

  • How old are you?
  • When did you graduate?
  • How old are you kids, are they in college, what kind of work do they do, etc
  • Do you have grandkids
  • Is your wife close to retirement?

Technical Questions

Be prepared for technical questions during the interviews. Often if you get a face-2-face interview they’ve already decided that you meet the technical qualifications and are looking for fit.

Tips

All questions should be answered with the 4Ps – Preparation, Practice, Positive (attitude & engagement) and Process

Process includes

  • Turning a negative into a positive to channel the discussion in your benefit
  • Answering a question with a question to control the interview
  • Using the SAR method – Situation-Action-Results (Accomplishments/Relevance)
  • Using the VAC Method of Valued Added statement, Action statement, Character statement

I compiled this information from a document that Greg Shelton shared at a job search group in Sept 2013

If you want more tough interview questions, just look for them via Google or Bing. There are plenty out there to review and even get ideas of how to answer. Stay focused to your process.

Dear Recruiter wanting to see my Personal Facebook Timeline

Personal Facebook Timeline

Personal Facebook ProfileMy Personal Facebook Timeline is just that – Personal

Dear Recruiters;

I respect your request to see my Personal Facebook Timeline as my personal friends do. I know you want to see my Facebook timeline so that you can get a better perspective of who I am as a person.  However, the only way I can let you see my personal Facebook timeline is after we become real friends.

Here are a few ideas you can consider if you want to become my Friend so that you can get a better perspective of who I am.

  • Join me at a restaurant and buy my dinner as we talk about all kinds of stuff beyond these interview questions.
  • Come with me as I volunteer at a community event where what we do is not about us, but the people friends volunteer to help.
  • Come to my house and help me spread mulch, plant flowers and rake leaves because these tasks are on my honey-do list and a friend would help me.
  • Meet me at Starbucks at 7am so we can talk about politics and religion, just as friends would.
  • Invite me to a football game, because friends do this.
  • Give me your cell phone number so I can text you when I have a joke for my friend.
  • Invite me to your home to meet your wife and kids, as any good friend would do.
  • Let me borrow your car and give $20 for gas, my friends would do this for me.

I offer these ideas in an honest effort to become your friend which is the only way I can allow you to have friend access to my personal Facebook Timeline.

So, at this point you have two choices:

We can go a burger and watch a game, or you can drop the request to see my Personal Facebook Timeline.

Thank you

T-Square Cover Letter creates Success

T-Square Cover LetterCreate job search success with a T-Square Cover Letter.

I’ve read thousands of cover letters. Far too often they all read the same.

They usually go something like this – “I found your job listing on XYZ job board. I am very interested in your company. I feel that I am a qualified candidate. Blah, Blah, Blah. “

Then one day I found what I now know as a T-Square Cover Letter. Wow, this was far better and it made me stop and read the resume.

Why? Because the cover letter was way different than everyone else’s. The applicant quickly introduced himself. Mentioned that he spoke to one of my staff about the job and then in a table format (or numbered bullet points), told me how he was highly qualified for the position by addressing the top job requirements.  Look at this sample

Here are two good examples of a T-Square Cover Letters

T-Square Cover Letter #1 (PDF on DropBox)

T-Square Cover Letter #2 (PDF on DropBox)

Here is another example of a T-Square Cover Letter Sample:

Mr. Willia Hireme
Recruiting Manager
XYZ Corporation
Kansas City, Mo 24109

Dear Mr. Hireme,
I talked with Steve Floormngr today and during our conversation he told me about the Marketing Manager position that is open at XYZ Corporation.  I spent some time reviewing your corporate website and my interest in the position and company increased significantly.

Please accept this cover letter and resume as my application to the Marketing Manager position. I believe the combination of my education, previous marketing experience and social media skills make me an ideal candidate for the position.

Here are the top position requirements from your job description and what I can bring to XYZ Corporation:

  1. Past retail experience – I have 3 years of retail marketing experience in a $65M company
  2. 2 years of developing product marketing plans – I have created marketing plans for numerous and varied product types and received accolades from executive management, business development and national marketing associations for my work
  3. Strong written and oral communication skills – I am an experienced Toastmaster, avid blogger and author.
  4. Exceptional Project management Skills – Over the past 5 years I have taken Six Sigma and PMP courses to enhance my project management skills.

I hope that you will be able to review my resume further to see the other skills, talents, experiences and accomplishments that I have which are relevant to the requirements of your Marketing Manager position.

I will contact you within a week to ensure you have received all the necessary materials and to discuss our next step. Please feel free to contact me at 336-555-1212 or via e-mail at NCWiseman@TeddyBurriss.com if you would like further information.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Give Me ABrake (Signature)
Give Me Abrake (Typed)
Enclosures: Resume and Transcripts

###

There is value in a T-Square Cover Letter, but only if you have the skills, expertise, talent and experiences that the job requires. If not, don’t apply for the job, PERIOD.

I hope that you see the value of a T-Square Cover letter and that it makes sense to you. It sure does for me and my recruiter and hiring manager friends.

Bonus Suggestion – Save your T-Square Cover Letter as page one of your resume. Save both documents as a single PDF. This way when you send your documents to a recruiter or hiring manager, they only need to open one file. Make it easier for them to see all your stuff.

Preparing your References

Preparing your ReferencesPreparing your references

You references are important to you for two very deliberate and different reasons:

  1. Recruiters & Hiring Managers all want and need to speak to your references
  2. If you have good references, they can help you network & connect on your job search journey.

Most recruiters or hiring managers will ask you for 4-5 good professional references.

There is more to do than just

Preparing your References

These individuals should be your supervisors, bosses, managers, customers, etc. Anyone who can clearly and without reservation speak to your skills, talents, accomplishments and passion relevant to the position(s) you are applying for.

If the recruiters only want to speak to a few, I encourage you to have 8-10 people picked to provide your references.

These folks can also help you to network, connect and have conversations that can help you during this job search journey.

Here are a few other things these folks can do for you:

  1. Provide deliberate, focused and strong referrences when they are called about you.
  2. Provide you with written recommendations relevant to the type of work you are looking to do.
  3. Provide LinkedIn recommendations regarding the work you have done for/with them in the past.
  4. Endorse you on LinkedIn for relevant Skills and Expertise that you have
  5. Introduce you to people who may be able to help you on this career transition journey
  6. Review your resume and LinkedIn Profile (when you politely ask for the help) and give guidance relevant to your specific industry and position

Another interesting point about Preparing your references: With the expansion of LinkedIn (& other social media platforms), you may not know who will be called for a reference.  A good reference may be someone from your past including managers, supervisors, etc. It could be useful to say hello and maybe chat with as many of your past supervisors, peers, etc as you can in the event they get a call.

Preparing your References is not about just listing them on a piece of paper