The preemptive strike

In military jargon, the preemptive strike refers to seizing the initiative and taking action against an opposing force, before they take action against you, to maximize your tactical or strategic advantage.

Let’s consider this tactic with regard to the job interview. We all have issues that may be perceived by the interviewer as questionable or outright detrimental, and the older we are the more issues we may accumulate. So, what is the best way to handle these issues; take the burden off the interviewer; and get the job?

First, we need to understand the interviewer’s concerns. They want to hire a candidate that will provide good value for the salary offered. In addition, the candidate must fit in with the culture at the organization and be “low maintenance” with regard to management. One thing that is always on the mind of the interviewer is how to ask probing questions without getting into legal trouble. Knowing this, the candidate can conduct a preemptive strike and take much of the pressure off the interviewer.

Before the interview, sit down and go over your resume (and your life) in great detail and look for issues that may present a problem for the interviewer.

  • Do you have several gaps in your employment history?
  • Did you have several short periods of employment (job hopping)?
  • Have you had significant health issues?
  • Are you a single parent raising young children?
  • Have you been incarcerated?
  • Have you had difficulties getting along with co-workers or managers?
  • Have you been out of the workforce for some reason?

None of these issues will necessarily keep you from getting hired, but the wise candidate will take the opportunity to openly discuss their issues during the interview before the interviewer develops concerns about them.

The preemptive strike may go something like this……“you may wonder why I have a five year gap in my employment history.  I was caring for an elderly parent, and now that my assistance is no longer needed, I am returning to work, with a new-found sense of care and compassion for others”.

So…………..don’t be afraid to do a preemptive strike during the interview.  It can put you in a good light and lead to a successful interview; followed by a job offer!

 

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Where do we go from here?

You’ve done your research, practiced your responses, put on your best interview outfit and bravely engaged with the interviewer. The interview has gone well to this point and you are feeling confident.  And of course you’ve asked probing and insightful questions!

One of the most important aspects of the interview, that the job seeker actually controls, relates to the questions that they ask the interviewer. Asking meaningful and relevant questions puts the job seeker in a very favorable light and shows their interest in both the job and the organization itself.

Asking questions is expected and the interview can even be steered by asking specific questions of the interviewer. At some point, however, the interview will be concluded.  The interviewer my be looking at their watch or giving other signs that the interview should end.  This is one of the most critical points in the entire interview.

Even if the interviewer fails to remember everything that has been said to this point they will react to your final question…………….”where do we go from here?”

By asking this key question the entire dynamic of the interview has shifted.  The job seeker has put themselves in a position of strength that the interviewer will instinctively respect and respond to.  It shows that the job seeker is focused, organized and looking toward the future.  It also helps tie up the interview in a positive and clear manner.  

The interviewer may share their future plans regarding filling the position (we have three more candidates to interview), but will also be obliged to give the job seeker some insight into when the position will be filled and when/if someone will follow up with the job seeker.

So……….even though the interviewer controls the majority of the interview, you can close with a powerful and and valuable question that will put you in a very favorble position to get the job!

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Interview phobia

We all have various fears from time to time in our lives (heights, spiders, sharks, strange places, clowns) so it’s to be expected that some of us will fear the job interview.

If you feel anxious about interviewing for a new job, either in-person or over the phone, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from various types of social anxiety disorders that can affect their willingness to be interviewed.  Don’t be discouraged and don’t stay in a job that doesn’t support your goals just because of fear.

Many fears can be overcome simply by self-determination and logical thought training.  Interviewing is a skill that can be learned and developed over time.  Many of us are uncomfortable in an interview setting but there are many things one can do to mitigate and overome the uncomfortableness (if that’s a word).

Here are some things to try as you go about conquering your fear of interviewing:

  • Take stock of your life to date and recount all the exciting and uplifting things you have accomplished; both personally and professionally.
  • Think back to a time when you were truly appreciated at work and use that as an encouragement for future growth and advancement.
  • Think of the job interview as an opportunity to meet new and interesting people who really want to get to know you too.
  • Update your resume and include all your recent accomplishments; to include recent training and education, volunteer work, awards and new skills you’ve developed.
  • Meet with a friend and discuss your future goals and dreams.
  • Seek out a mentor at work, church, in your family, or a friend that will encourage you and help you overcome your reluctance to seek that new job.
  • Envision your next job or position and experience how that will make you feel.
  • Practice-practice-practice your interviewing skills with a friend or mentor and get comfortable in that setting.

Many employers today are desperate to find new qualified and motivated employees.  The labor market is really tight right now and your chances for selection for that dream job haven’t been better in years.  In other words, the job candidate is in a very good position to land that next job and move up the career ladder.

So…………what are you waiting for?  Your next great job is out there and all you have to do is GO FOR IT!

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Beware the pregnant pause

In today’s environment of legal protections during the job interview (no questions relating to age, religion, political affiliation, etc), the interviewer is at somewhat of a disadvantage in how deep their interview questioning can go. This can be both good and bad for the job candidate. On one hand, the candidate can maintain their privacy regarding topics and issues that may take them out of the running for the job; on the other hand, the employer will be limited in how much they can really get to know the candidate personally.

One tactic that the interviewer can use to gain additional (and sometimes illegal) information is the “pregnant pause”. This is when the interviewer intentionally remains silent for several seconds after the candidate answers a question. This pause can often cause the candidate to assume that their answer to the last question was insufficient and will automatically try to expand on what they’ve already shared with the interviewer. BEWARE! The extended answer can often venture into otherwise off-limits areas and cause the candidate to divulge information they’d rather keep under wraps.

Here’s a typical question the interviewer may pose……“I see from your resume that you graduated from Slippery Shoe University, is that correct?” This is a legitimate question as it relates to the candidate’s educational qualifications. The candidate responds in the affirmative. Here’s where the pregnant pause comes in……….The interviewer doesn’t say anything, leaving an extended period of silence, which is intended to make the candidate uncomfortable. This discomfort will often lead the candidate to divulge additional information such as, “I graduated in 1987, with only a C average, because my duties at the fraternity took so much time from my studies. I was the party coordinator and very involved with making sure the university didn’t find out about our unauthorized parties.”

See what just happened? Without even asking, the interviewer obtained some additional information from the candidate that could reflect adversely on the interview!

While not every pause in the conversation is an attempt to pry additional information out of the candidate, it is a tactic to be aware of and to respond to appropriately. If you absolutely can’t bear a period of silence, you can fill the pause with a question of your own, such as “what does a typical day in this position look like?”

So…….. be ready for the pregnant pause and don’t be tempted to reveal something you’d rather keep to yourself (at least until after you are hired)!

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It’s a fifty-fifty proposition

One of the often-debated aspects of successful job interviewing is how much should a job candidate talk and how much they should listen. A job interview is an opportunity for a perspective employer to get to know the candidate and what attributes the candidate would bring to the hiring organization. At the same time, the interview provides an opportunity for the candidate to learn more about the organization and the specific requirements of the position for which they are applying.

A candidate that dominates the conversation with long and rambling responses to the interviewer’s questions may be seen as self-centered and insensitive to others. This type of candidate may also be viewed as unwilling to listen to guidance and as a “know-it-all”. These are not attributes that most employers are seeking. Candidates displaying this type of behavior will not be viewed as team players or as someone willing to fit into the new organization.

On the other hand, a candidate that responds to the interviewer’s questions with one-word answers may be viewed as disengaged and not really serious about being hired. By not engaging the interviewer and joining in the conversation, this type of candidate may be viewed as trying to hide something or being less than fully truthful in their responses.

Either one of the above candidates will have a hard time convincing the interviewer that they will be a stellar employee.

Most interviewers will give the benefit of the doubt to candidates who talk too much or too little and they understand that nerves and emotions can influence behavior during the interview. It’s a stressful and challenging event, and candidates are not always as calm and collected as they’d like to be.

Candidates can help themselves by adhering to a simple speaking and listening ratio of 50:50. This ratio will keep the candidate within reasonable bounds during the discussions and help them avoid either extreme.

So, if you tend to be long-winded or overly shy, help yourself out at your next interview and go 50:50 with your interviewer!

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Sorry, but you’re overqualified

Many of us have heard these disappointing words at the end of an otherwise outstanding interview. After finding a position we’d be perfectly suited for, and qualified for, and knocking the interview out of the park, we are expecting to move into the compensation discussion phase only to be told we are overqualified and shown the door.

There are several reasons why you might be deemed overqualified by a perspective employer and not all of the reasons are legitimate. 

  • You may have more experience than your supervisor (this raises a concern that you may be a threat to your supervisor)
  • You may be much older than you supervisor (of course it’s illegal to discriminate due to age, so you are told you are overqualified)
  • You may want too much compensation (the employer doesn’t want to be perceived as cheap, so you are told you are overqualified)
  • The job description may not have been accurately written and the level of experience is not in line with what the employer is seeking
  • You may actually have too much experience for the position!

Whatever the case, you won’t be offered the job, so it’s best to be gracious and move on.  Besides, do you really want to work for an employer that doesn’t value your experience and isn’t willing to compensate you appropriately?

So, what do you do?  It’s time to take stock of the level and types of positions you are applying for and determine if you are, in fact, overqualified!  You may actually be selling yourself short and you may find that applying for more senior positions will suite you better and be a better fit for your level of experience.

Finding the “sweet spot” of experience and qualifications can be a bit tricky but once you have figured it out and start applying for the appropriate positions, the job offers will come and you will be glad you didn’t accept that position for which you were overqualified!

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Remove the Distractions


About ten years ago, I interviewed a talented network administrator for an overseas IT position.  He was cleancut and articulate and fully qualified to fill the position – so I hired him.  After he’d been deployed for a number of months, he returned to the States for R&R and some additional training.  Much to my surprise, he was fully decked out with multiple facial adornments (rings/piercings/studs/and other various attachments).  I later came to discover that his nickname was “fishhook” which accurately discribed his facial appearance!

Would I have hired him if he’d worn all his attachments during the interview?  Maybe; but they would have been a significant distraction during the discussion and could have caused me to pass up an otherwise fully qualified and competent candidate.

The point here is, that it is usually best to remove any distractions from the mix during your interview.  This could include things such as:

  • an overabundance of jewelery
  • exposure of significant tatooing
  • outlandish haircuts
  • exagerated facial hair styles
  • outlandish hair color
  • dramatic makeup
  • clothing advocating a particular cause/sports team/political preference/religious persuasion
  • facial piercings

While there is nothing wrong with most of these things, and most are allowed in the modern workplace, they can become a distraction during the interview and could trigger an adverse bias on the part of the interviewer.  You want the interviewer to concentrate on what you are saying and not focusing exclusively on your appearance.  It’s best to hold off on expressing your individual grooming style and adornment preferences until after you’ve been hired.  While dress, grooming and personal adornment standards have been greatly expanded (relaxed) over the past decade, the person that will be interviewing you may be from an older generation and not fully embrace the new norm in personal grooming and expression.

So, if you want the job, it may be wise to come to the interview with a conventional and non-distracting appearance and reserve expressing your creative side until after you’ve actually started your new job!

 

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Un-Retiring

So, you’ve been out of the workforce for a year or more.  You’d decided to retire, but are now having second thoughts.  How do you go about reopening the door to employment that you’d closed in the past?

There are many reasons to leave the workforce on your terms, and actually retiring is a commendable accomplishment after many decades of grinding away in the workforce.

There are also many reasons to rejoin the workforce after a period of retirement.  Some of these reasons may include:

  • Boredom
  • Financial need
  • Desire to pursue a new career path
  • Need for social interaction

If you intend to rejoin the workforce after a period of inactivity, there are several things you will need to do to.  In addition to updating your resume and references, you will want to re-energize your professional network and get the word out that you are looking for work again.  This task should not be ignored since it’s estimated that over 80% of job-seekers get a job through someone they know.  If, however, many of your professional colleagues have also left the workforce, you’ll need to expand your network through new connections.  Try to include younger friends and others that you have met during your period of retirement.  Don’t overlook those in the community that have broad exposure (teachers, bankers, business owners, realtors, civil officials).

Get ready for job interviews by preparing your response to certain questions that are unique to your situation, such as:

“I see you’ve been out of work for the past year, why have you decided to go back to work?”

“If I hire you, how will I know that you won’t decide to re-retire in a few months?”

You will have your own unique reason (or reasons) for returning to work, but be sure you can articulate your reasons in a way that is both truthful and compelling, so that you will be taken seriously and given prime consideration for the job.  Be able to clearly convey your desire to go back to work and exactly what valuable capabilities you will bring to the organization.

Enlist the help of friends and family, and practice your response to various questions you may face during the interview; especially if it’s been a while since you have interviewed for a job.

So, if retirement isn’t your cup of tea, go ahead and take the plunge back into the workforce and apply your considerable experience and talent to the growing economy!

 

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What is your kryptonite?

An interview question that seems to be popping up more frequently these days is, “what is your kryptonite?

This can be a tricky question, since it not only requires the candidate to know what kryptonite is and what it does, but how it would relate to their behavior!  For those devout Superman fans, the knowledge of kryptonite is universal.  Kryptonite is a green crystallin substance that was formed through the explosion of the planet Krypton (Superman’s home planet).  Exposure to kryptonite takes away Superman’s powers and can even be lethal to him.  Bad guys have used kryptonite over the years to weaken and attack Superman.

When you hear this question in an interview, the interviewer is asking you what takes away your power or tends to make you weak or ineffective.  It is a question that is similar to the old standby “what is your greatest weakness?”, but with a unique twist.  Since kryptonite exerts an external force, you will need to address what external influences tend to take away your power.

The dilemma for the candidate is how to answer the question without revealing a fatal personal flaw.  We all have weaknesses or areas in which we don’t always perform at our best, so understanding this and having a truthful answer prepared will help the candidate answer this question with ease.

So, what are some typical forms of “kryptonite” that may affect you?

  • A noisy or chaotic workplace
  • Co-workers that don’t pull their load
  • Unclear expectations or guidance
  • Lack of organizational vision and goals

Notice that these are all external factors that not only affect the candidate, but can also reflect adversely on the organization itself.  This can put the interviewer in a unique (or even uncomfortable) position and give the candidate an upper hand, by deflecting the question back toward the organization.  Most interviewers will try to assure the candidate that “they will not experience any of those conditions in their organization” and quickly move on to the next question!

If, however, you happen to strike a nerve with the interviewer, who then becomes defensive about your answer, you need to see this as a red flag.  It could be that “your kryptonite” is actually embedded there already, and this may not be the place for you at all.

So……….the next time you are asked about your kryptonite, you will be impervious to its effects and ready to ace your interview!

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Let’s do lunch

The lunch interview can either be lots of fun or very unsettling depending on your level of preparation.  This specialized form of the job interview is often used as a final exam for the candidate and can include several people from the organization you are hoping to join.

If you’ve been through one or more prior interviews, the employer may invite you to a lunch interview to put you in a different environment in order to discover another side of your personality and see how you interact in a more social environment.

This is where your personality and people skills really come into play, and how you handle yourself in this setting can seal (or spoil) the deal.

Let’s look at some things to do in preperation for your lunch interview:

  • Brush up on your table ettiquete – you know, the things your mother taught you, like keeping your elbows off the table, putting your napkin in your lap, etc.  Never heard these pointers before? better get a book on table manners and read it cover-to-cover!
  • Read the morning news – you will want to be prepared to discuss current events during the meal and show that you are interested in what’s going on int he world.  If you’ve had previous interview sessions with the person you’ll be having lunch with you should already know some of the issues or causes they are interested in and what sports or hobbies they follow.
  • Find out what specialty the restaurant is known for and order it.

Now…………some things to do during the meal:

  • Turn off your phone before the meal.
  • Remember the name of your waiter/waitress and address them using their name.
  • Do not order an alcoholic drink, even if your interviewer does. Alcohol can cloud your thinking and cause you to babble on about things; or worse, cause you to do or say something you will regret later!
  • Be kind and appreciative regarding the waiter/waitress – how you treat them will make a lasting impression on the interviewer.
  • Be ready to continue discussions from previous interview sessions.
  • Have a couple of probing questions ready, based on previous discussions.
  • Don’t overeat, as if this is the first solid meal you’ve had all week (even if it is).  Glutony is not a favorable attribute!
  • Complement the interviewer on their choice of restaurants and how great the food was.
  • Do not offer to pay – the meal is on the interviewer – but do thank them for the enjoyable meal and interesting discussion.

As in every interview, you are being graded, so…………. don’t let your guard down and don’t lose sight of your goal – landing the job!  Enjoy the meal and the discussion and reiterate you desire to work for the employer.

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Questions the interviewer wants to have answered, but will probably never ask you directly

Looking at things from an employer’s standpoint, here are some questions they will want you to answer; but won’t ask you directly.  During your interview they will ask you many questions in order to get to know you.  The questions will address who you are, what motivates you, and where you are headed in your career, but the discussion will actually revolve around 5 specific questions that they will never ask you directly!  The 5 most important questions they want to have answered are:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you fit in with the rest of the team?
  3. Will you increase the company’s earnings?
  4. Will you help grow the company?
  5. Will you require much hand-holding?

Most employers don’t want to waste their time (or yours) with pointless questions like “if you were an animal, what animal would you be, and why?”  While this question could generate some interesting discussion, they are much more interested in addressing the 5 critical questions above.

  1. Can you do the job? – They want to know what your specific qualifications are relating to the position for which you are interviewing.  This will include areas such as formal education and training, licenses and certifications, security clearance, prior job experience and references.  Likely question: Explain to me how your background makes you qualified for the position.
  2. Will you fit in with the rest of the team? – They have built a great team and want to add to the team in a positive and constructive way.  They do not want to bring someone on-board that will cause friction or otherwise disrupt the organization.  Likely question:  Tell me how you are a team player, with integrity, and not just out for yourself.
  3. Will you increase the company’s earnings? – Companies are in business ultimately to make money.  Even non-profits and government agencies have a funding motive.  All organizations require funding to survive.  Likely question:  Tell me how you will help the organization make (or save) money.
  4. Will you help grow the company? – While earnings or funding is a short-term goal of the organization, growth is always a critical long-term issue for any organization.  They will want to know if you will be able to fit into the company’s future growth plan, and whether or not you will be able to continuously learn and grow with the organization.  Likely question:  Tell me about your ability to learn and grow, and your willingness to take on additional responsibilities.
  5. Will you require much hand-holding? – All new employees require a certain amount of support and assistance during their orientation period.  They will want to know whether or not you will be able to take basic guidance and carry out tasks with little, or no, additional support.  They are looking for people who are self-starters and are able to figure things out on their own.  I once had a boss who told all his employees, “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions”.  Likely question:  Tell me how you are willing and able to get the job done even under challenging conditions.

So……….if, during the course of your interview, you can effectively answer the 5 questions that they won’t be asking you directly, they will most likely hire you!

 

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Make use of analogies during the interview

When explaining a concept or work situation during the interview, it can sometimes be very useful to employ an analogy.  According to Webster an analogy is:

Pronunciation:  a-nal’-a-jee

Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -gies
a) resemblance in some details between things otherwise unlike; b) comparison based on such resemblance

Analogies can be used to help others understand a new or complicated concept by relating it to something they already understand or are familiar with.

I recently had the opportunity to employ an analogy during an interview; not to explain a concept to the interviewer (he understood it completely), but to show that I understood the concept, and could put it in simple terms that could be universally understood. 

Here is the question I was asked by the interviewer:

“As it relates to a project, can you explain the difference between risk and an issue?”

I answered the question like this……….“Every project involves an element of risk, and everything possible should be done to mitigate or minimize that risk.  Also, issues do happen, and when they do they must be dealt with accordingly.”

This is when I employed an analogy to make my answer more relate-able.  Here’s the analogy:

“If I go hiking in the woods, there is always a “risk” that I may encounter a bear.  I will therefore do everything I can to reduce that risk by making noise as I walk down the trail and not carry bacon sandwiches in my backpack.  Now, if I do encounter a bear, this becomes “an issue” and I must deal with it immediately to affect a positive outcome.  This could involve backing away quickly, or otherwise discouraging the bear from attacking me.”

This analogy, while somewhat simplistic, does tend to show an understanding of specific concepts and the ability to relate those concepts to other events that may be more universally understood. 

If you have the opportunity to employ an analogy during the interview be sure and use terms and situations that others can relate to without talking down to the interviewer.  It can be tricky, but the rewards can be worth the effort! 

So……….when answering an interview question, try using an analogy to make your point both relate-able and memorable, and you may just be offered a job!

 

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Are you High Maintenance?

One of the unspoken questions that the interviewer will seek to have answered during the interview is whether or not you are “high maintenance”.  This is a term that relates to the degree of hand-holding and other special treatment you may require on the job, of management and those employees working with you.  During the interview, you don’t ever want to be perceived as high maintenance.

What are some indications of a high maintenance candidate? 

  • focusing on oneself instead of on the job 
  • asking endless questions relating to the working environment 
  • inquiring about special office accommodations such as chairs/desks/lighting/noise/etc
  • asking about how the company can accommodate your particular personal needs (being demanding)
  • focusing on time off and holiday policy instead of on what is expected of you

Here are some high maintenance questions NOT to ask:

Can I bring my cat to work?

Can I play meditation music in my cube?

Can I work in scrubs (unless you are a medical professional)?

Are gluten-free snacks available?

Do I get a reserved parking space?

Can I have a special 35″ UHD monitor at my desk?

Asking questions like these during the interview will most certainly shorten your interview and cause you not to be hired.  While these questions can be valid, it’s best to hold them until after you’ve been offered the job! 

Employers want to hire employees that are low maintenance and require the minimum in special treatment.  Low maintenance candidates will focus on the specifics of the job, and the company, and show how they can support the company (not how the company can support them).

If you have a tenancy toward high maintenance, there are some things you can do before the interview to eliminate how you will be perceived:

  • do extensive research on the company before the interview
  • talk to people currently or formerly working at the company, and ask them lots of questions
  • remind yourself that you are seeking a good job and are thankful for getting an interview
  • understand that there will be unpleasant aspects of any job, but they will be far outweighed by the favorable aspects

So……………….go into your next interview with confidence and convey the image that it’s not about you and you will be valued as a low maintenance candidate!

 

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Driving your CAR during the interview

Preparing for your next interview must involve your CAR!  No, not the vehicle, but the acronym which stands for Challenge Action Result.  Keep this term in mind as you prepare your responses for your upcoming interview.  

Interviewers want to quickly discover your level of competency and many of their questions will be designed to do just that.  They will want to know if you are up to the task for which they are hiring.  Typical competency questions will go something like this; “Tell me about the time when you faced a major challenge on the job and how you overcame it”, or “How did you deal with a team member that wasn’t pulling their share of the load?”  When you hear questions like these, it’s time to drive your CAR! 

Let’s break it down

C – the interviewer will want to know what challenge you’ve faced in your current or former positions.  These challenges could include everything from tight deadlines, budget constraints, working with other team members, or demanding customers.  Most challenges deal with either time, resources or processes.  Try to have an example of each type of challenge that you can recount during the interview.

A – what action did you take to overcome the challenge you were facing?  By recounting how you came up with, and implemented a course of action you will not only be showing how you rose to the challenge in the past, but how you will solve problems in the future.

R – after you took action you will want to tell the interviewer exactly what the results of your actions were.  This is where you point out exactly what you achieved as a result of your actions.  Be specific and use quantifiers relating to time, money and specific process improvements.  A powerful results statement would be, “I restructured my team and was able to accomplish the project 2 weeks ahead of time, reducing costs by 30% and eliminating 3 steps in the former production process”

If you are able to clearly tell your CAR story, using specific numbers, you will make a powerful impression on the interviewer and will show your competency for filling the position for which you are being interviewed.

So………..be ready to drive your CAR during your next interview!

 

photo: pixabay

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Get a Grip

Your handshake is one of the few elements of the job interview that you have complete control over (in addition to dress and grooming)!  If you are involved in a live interview, there is one thing that’s almost certain; you will be shaking hands with someone! Your handshake is a crucial part of your first impression, so take it seriously.

Your handshake says a lot about who you are without you ever speaking a word, and it can be a powerful lead-in to your interview.  Interviewers will often instinctively form an initial impression of you based, in part, on your handshake.  Whether or not this is fair is really irrelevant; you want to make the best first impression possible.

Whether or not you realize it, you have shaken hands hundreds, or thousands of times throughout your life!  You have done this with both old and young; friends and strangers, without giving it much thought.  Now is the time to think about it!

Try to remember handshakes with others that were particularly memorable.  Put them into two categories (good or bad).  Next, using the attributes in the “good” category establish your new and improved handshake!

Some things to consider are

  • forcefulness – your grip should be firm but not “bone-crushing”; about the same force you would use in turning a doorknob
  • pumping or pulling – don’t work someone’s arm as if you were pumping water; and don’t grab and pull them toward you 
  • palm up/down/vertical – don’t ever extend your hand with the palm down.  This is a signal of dominance or control.  Conversely, a “palm up” position signifies openness and compliance but could also signal that you could be taken advantage of.  A vertical palm (as in the photo above) tells the interviewer that you are confident and willing to meet them halfway.
  • duration – short or lingering – a typical handshake in America is about 2-3 seconds in duration.  It is often longer in other countries, so adhere to local customs
  • release – try to be observant of the interviewer’s grip and release your grip based on their lead

What if you have super-sweaty palms?  You may have a condition called palmer hyperhidrosis.  Don’t let this discourage you – there are things you can do to combat this!  Check out information provided by the International Hyperhidrosis Society.

There are many other subtle considerations pertaining to the handshake, but this will get you started and on your way to a winning handshake at your next interview!

photo: pixabay

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Job Fairs and the Speed Interview

Attending a job fair can be a very efficient way in which to interact with several recruiters at one location.  It allows you to speak to many potential employers and get your face and name out there for all to see.

In many ways, job fairs are like speed dating, in the sense that you only have a limited time to interact and make a favorable impression.  How you prepare for the job fair should mirror your preparations for an actual interview.  There are several things you will need to do prior to the job fair if you want to be effective and have your resume put on the “potential hire” pile.

So, what do you need to do prior to the job fair?  Here are some pointers:

  • Find out which companies will be represented and focus on the ones you are interested in speaking with
  • Do your research on those companies and find out what types of jobs they have available
  • Develop several meaningful questions to ask the recruiters
  • Update your resume and print out several copies to take with you (only print on one side of the paper so it can be scanned effectively, and no staples).  Make sure your name is on all pages
  • Get a small notebook to use for taking notes
  • Have a business card printed up with your contact information on it (even if you are currently unemployed)
  • Put together a conservative business outfit in which you feel comfortable and focus on personal grooming

Now that you have the basics put together, let’s take a look at a strategy for maximizing your job fair experience.  If you’ve never attended a job fair before, it can be a little overwhelming.  There may be hundreds of potential candidates all vying for an opportunity to speak with specific recruiters.  This is why you need to get to the job fair before the doors are opened and be one of the first candidates to enter the room.  Prioritize the companies you want to speak with and approach them in that order.  Make a bee-line to your number one company.  Have in mind the specific points you want to make with the recruiter regarding how you are a prime candidate for their company, and how your education, experience and potential make you the one they want to hire.  You may only have a couple of minutes to make your case, so put together your pitch …….and practice it!  

After hitting your top choice, move on the the next one.  As the time goes on, be prepared to stand in line to speak with the more sought-after recruiters.  Use this time to review your notes and think about what you will say to the next recruiter.  Just as in a regular interview, be sure and get a business card or contact information from the recruiters, so you can follow up with them later.  You may also want to send a thank-you note to certain ones.

After several hours,  everyone will begin to tire and candidates will have a tendancy to begin looking and sounding the same to the recruiters.  This is why you will want to get to the the job fair early; while you and the recruiters are still fresh and alert! Want to score some points with a specific recruiter? Toward the end of the day, take them a cold water bottle.  They will be thankful and will remember you!

So…………… get out there and attend a job fair and get ready to do some “speed interviewing”!

 

photo: pixabay.com

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