Four Tips for Acing Your Job Interviews

Four Tips for Acing Your Job Interviews

I spoke to a career group last weekend and my speech was titled Seven Critical Career Questions. The questions covered topics that ranged from choosing a profession to improving your interview results. I want to share what I told them about interviewing in this blog post. As I mention in Chapter 14 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), “Interviewing has become a performance art and the person who handles the interview process best tends to get the job.” What do I mean when saying that interviewing has become a performance art? Just like an actor auditioning for a part in a play, your job interview is your audition for a part in a company’s daily operations. In each case the desired result is picking the candidate who will perform best in their role. So, here are four tips to improve your performance: Do your research – Be prepared to demonstrate that you have done your home work. You need to be able to discuss the company intelligently and know enough about the interviewers to engage them with your knowledge of them. The company website, Google searches, and LinkedIn are generally helpful. Smile more. The fact is that people many times get nervous when they interview and fail to smile. Smiling more makes you appear friendlier and well adjusted…. even easygoing! Smiling also tends to cause the interviewer to smile, which reduces their nervousness and makes them feel better. Keep answers under 60 seconds – Interviewers are regular people and regular people have short attention spans. Keeping your answer compact will keep their attention. It also forces you to...
New Year’s Resolution: Get a Coach?

New Year’s Resolution: Get a Coach?

Last week I was contacted by a late-thirties executive who was seeking a career coach. He said he had worked previously with a coach in another state, the result of which was a move to Atlanta with a step up to a Vice President position and considerably more income. I asked him why he called me and he said he was ready to take the next step in his career. He said he had been very happy with the help he received from his last coach and wanted a local Atlanta coach to work with him in making his next step upward. I smiled … outside and inside. A common expression some coaches like to use is “Even Tiger Woods has a coach.” They say this in an attempt to wake people up to the fact that every level of performer can benefit from being professionally coached. Because many people are resistant to change, I believe that this comment tends to fall on deaf ears. Engaging a coach is an action that openly invites change. If you are like the VP who called me and are open to change, then professional coaching may be right for you. Most career seekers I speak with each week are not like my VP caller. They have gaping holes in their thinking when it comes to career planning and career changes. They want some free advice and then, upon receiving it, go along their merry way. But, if you are the exception and are interested in learning more about the benefits of coaching, then professional coaching may be right for you. Coaches seek to determine if a prospective client is “coachable.” Even if you are open to change, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are willing to do the work. It also doesn’t...
Want a Better Career? Smile More!

Want a Better Career? Smile More!

I have been leading a volunteer job seeker workshop for the past six years. My mission in this workshop is to help active job seekers improve their job interview effectiveness. By now, you are probably guessing that the first thing I tell the participants in my workshop is to smile more. This is also the first item I list in my job search book, Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!): “Smiling and appearing friendly without interviewer coaxing makes you more appealing, regardless of your credentials and work experience.” What if you are not looking for a job right now and don’t need to worry about doing well in a job interview. Should you really consider smiling more? According to 15 Fascinating Facts about Smiling posted by nursingschools.net, some of the benefits include: “Forcing yourself to smile can boost your mood: Psychologists have found that even if you’re in a bad mood, you can instantly lift your spirits by forcing yourself to smile. It boosts your immune system: Smiling really can improve your physical health, too. Your body is more relaxed when you smile, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system. Smiles are contagious: It’s not just a saying: smiling really is contagious, scientists say. In a study conducted in Sweden, people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own. Smiles Relieve Stress: Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, even when you force it. This sudden change in mood will help you feel better and release stress. Smiling helps you...
Job Search-Viewing Prospective Employers: Mirror or Glass Door?

Job Search-Viewing Prospective Employers: Mirror or Glass Door?

Job Changes in the 21st Century Face it: Most people are changing jobs more often than ever before.  Some by choice, many against their wills.  Average tenures, even at executive levels, are running 18 to 36 months.  This steady-state churn means you are likely to be conducting many job searches in your lifetime and contemplating many new employers.  If you are in your early 50′s and want to work 10 more years and then retire, expect to work with three employers during that time period.  If you are a twenty-something millennial, it would be reasonable to expect to work for 12 or more employers if you intend to have a “corporate career.” Job Decisions – Good and Bad Your decision (however well intended) to go to work for a rotten boss or employer may result in you being back on the street in short order, with a black eye on your resume which you must explain.  Conversely, your decision to go to work for a great boss or employer could provide you fabulous personal/income opportunities and a wonderful work environment in which you thrive and are deliriously happy. Job Search Savvy-Sizing Up Prospective Employers Most job seekers and career changers I meet, and I meet a lot of them every month, either don’t have the tools to evaluate prospective employers properly or they are simply careless.  I can relate.  When I was corporate job searching earlier in my career, I would do my best to evaluate the new boss and company culture throughout the interview process.  Having an engineering background, my powers of perception were… how can I say this politely and not...
“Tell Me About Yourself” Revisited-Job Interviews

“Tell Me About Yourself” Revisited-Job Interviews

One of the most dreaded requests job seekers struggle with while networking, and during job interviewing, is “Tell me about yourself.” As my recruiter friend Skip Freeman noted in his 2012 blog post titled Beware The ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Job Interview Question, a poor response to this request in a job interview can have dire consequences: Blow the answer and you risk irrevocably and immediately branding yourself as just another “run of the mill” candidate and ending up blowing  the entire job interview. Nail the answer and… well… good things certainly can follow! How to Nail this Interview Question Your response needs to encapsulate your thoughtful personal branding in an attractive and compelling fashion. This article offers an alternative formula for creating such a response, often described as an elevator speech. As outlined in the job interviewing chapter in Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), I  recommend keeping most responses under 60 seconds during job interviews and networking conversations.  Here is a simple five bullet chronological (which makes it easier to remember) elevator speech that you can use the next time you encounter a “Tell me about yourself” request: Interview Elevator Speech 1. To start, tell them something personal about your origins, family, etc. prior to completing your education. This adds human interest, which I think is important (more on this in another article). 2. Assuming your education is adequate for jobs you are pursuing, next mention your most notable educational achievements/degrees. 3. Next, describe your early work experience or total experience to date. 4. Next, mention a recent notable business/professional accomplishment, one that has the most chance of impressing your listener. This could vary, based upon the audience and job...
Negotiations-Talking Money: It’s All About the Benjamins!

Negotiations-Talking Money: It’s All About the Benjamins!

OK. It’s not ALL about the Benjamins. But they are important to most of us. Money discussions and job offer negotiations have been a consistent concern in job interview seminars I have conducted over the past six years and proper handling can offer the potential to add $10,000, $25,000, or far more to a job seeker’s annual income. The contents of this blog are a general introduction to this important and complex topic. I will write more on this important subject in future posts. Negotiations 101 – Don’t Talk! First, as discussed in my book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), consider the classic admonition that “He who speaks first loses.” Keep this in mind throughout your job search — and particularly once you have begun discussions with a potential employer. Speaking first may (a) lock you in to a number that sets the bar too low, thus lowering your possible income or (b) immediately eliminate you from contention due to you setting the bar too high. Negotiations 102- Be Clear, but Cautious Next, consider the following general perspectives for guidance:  If you strongly desire to move past the current step in the job interview process, no matter where you may be, then be more cautious with your responses.  If you are unsure about your interest in the position or clearly have no interest unless a certain minimum income is available, you may want to quote a specific amount (or at least a bottom level in a range) that is your firm minimum. This will better insure that you do not go through an extensive interview process, only to learn that your income desires have no chance...