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November 23rd, 2009
If television sitcoms of the 1980s and 1990s are to be believed, every parent in America argued with a teenager who wanted to wear ripped jeans and ill-fitting shirts to school. These shows also implied that the youth of America ran around speaking like Valley Girls and using slang no one over 17 understood.
I thought these fashion battles were dramatized TV nonsense and never happened in real households.
I was wrong.
Judging by the amount of inappropriate attire job seekers wear to interviews and employees wear to work, many adults are taking advantage of the freedom to wear whatever they choose. And some of them seem to be wearing the exact clothes their parents disapproved of more than a decade (or two) ago.
The first opportunity you and your wardrobe have to impress an employer is during the interview stage. Unfortunately, this initial meeting is the one where you have the least amount of information with which to prepare. At this stage, you probably haven’t been to the company before and don’t know the specifics of the dress code and office culture.
How should you prepare? Better to overdress a little than underdress, says Marianne Hancock, account supervisor for public relations firm Golin Harris.
“Our office is pretty casual and is a creative setting, but an interviewee wouldn’t know that coming in,” Hancock says. “I expect business attire, preferably a suit. I want the interviewee to look like they mean business and are mature enough to handle a fast-paced workplace.”
Hancock’s skepticism comes from seeing her share of inappropriate fashions walk into interview rooms.
“If they don’t wear their best business attire to an interview, it makes me wonder if they really want the job,” she says. “It is hard to take someone seriously wearing flip-flops, a butterfly sweater set and a white puffy skirt.”
Tanya Roth, a wardrobe stylist for wardrobe styling agency Urban Darling, knows that many industries embrace business casual attire, yet she cautions against employees mistaking casual for careless.
“I think it would be ideal for work to appear to have made an effort, just as you would with your work product,” Roth advises. “Even if [women] wear jeans to work, I would suggest pairing them with a jacket, classic tee or top and a heel. I believe in people showing a little personality at work, so a great color in a shoe, bag or necklace with a classic suit or pants outfit would be not only appropriate but should be encouraged.”
For whatever reason, many new employees still arrive at the first day of work wondering what to wear. Research is your best friend, says Louise Lamorte, the director of career services at La Salle University in Philadelphia.
“[Candidates] should be observant of employees’ dress during on-site interviews,” Lamorte recommends. “It is also good practice and appropriate for new employees to ask the HR department or immediate supervisor about the company dress code before the first day of work, especially in these days of business professional, business casual and dress down styles.”
Dos and don’ts
So what are you supposed to wear? You’ve got some employers wanting you to dress a little better than the code for interviews, but if you overdress you appear ignorant of the culture.
While no strict universal rules exist for dress code, there are some guidelines you can think about when dressing for interviews and work:
· Know your audience
Whether you’re dressing for an interview or just a Tuesday on the job, you want to show that you fit in. Jeans and a T-shirt won’t work for a lot of industries, but a suit and tie might not work for others. Look at the industry and the workplace and take cues from other people.
· Don’t get lazy
Once you’ve been on a job long enough, you can be tempted to throw on whatever’s clean (or clean enough) and stumble to work. Employers don’t stop assessing your work ethic once you pass your first-year anniversary. Your appearance is a constant factor in how others perceive you and your professionalism.
· Use common sense
In most circumstances, you can be certain that the kind of clothes you’d wear to a club or the beach don’t translate to the workplace. Torn or extremely faded jeans, shirts that show a lot of skin, flip-flops, t-shirts with skulls on them, ragged tennis shoes and purple hair don’t belong in workplaces. Of course, if you work on the beach or in a club, you probably can wear some of these things.
· Read the dress code
If your company has an official dress code in its employee handbook, read it. Maybe everyone in the company bends the rules, and that’s fine, but you should be aware of what the official guidelines are in case you ever have to deal with a complaint.
· Dress for the position you want
Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Dressing for the position you want and not the one you have is a good way to make a strong impression on your boss and clients or customers. If you want to be the manager and notice that everyone at that level has a more sophisticated look than yours, emulate them.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
November 19th, 2009
Interviewing is a lot like dating. When two people agree to go to dinner or watch a movie with each other, it’s generally because they had something in common, found each other interesting and wanted to spend time together.
When interviewing job candidates, interviewers are looking for these same things. They don’t want to hire just anyone. They want to hire a candidate who can do the job and connect with others in the workplace. Therefore, it’s not enough for job seekers to highlight their skills, knowledge and experience. They must be able to create chemistry and connect with the interviewer if they want that person’s buy-in for the job, according to Susan Britton Whitcomb, author of “Interview Magic, Second Edition.”
“During an interview, you will be judged on three dimensions: chemistry, competency and compensation. The first dimension — chemistry — is critical. You’ll want to connect with the company’s mission, its people and its customers. And you’ll certainly want the interviewer to connect with you,” Whitcomb says.
Given only a brief amount of time, many people find it very difficult to connect with interviewers, who are often complete strangers to them. Further complicating the task is the fact that many people think of interviews as high-stress, pressure-packed situations. This attitude influences job seekers to spend their time worrying and trying not to make mistakes, instead of making an effort to connect with interviewers.
To help job seekers overcome this common obstacle and quickly create chemistry between themselves and interviewers, Whitcomb offers the following tips in “Interview Magic”:
1. Share commonalities
Discuss your passion for your field or enthusiasm for a new product or service, as well as personal commonalities such as family (i.e., children of the same age), recreational activities, hobbies or interests.
2. L.I.S.T.E.N. attentively
Laser your focus. Investigate and be curious. Silence your tongue — hold your judgment and open your mind. Take brief notes and take time to formulate your response. Elevate the other person. Note the nonverbal, including your body language and that of your interviewer. It is impossible to connect with others if you don’t listen well.
3. R.E.S.P.O.N.D. well
Remember your objective; Engage the interviewer. Share succinctly. Point to benefits. Offer proof. Never drone on. Dedicate yourself to a win-win relationship.
4. Pay attention to the ‘howchas’
The “howchas” are how you say something (as opposed to what you say). Tone, inflection, body language, attitude and motive combine to make how you say it just as important as what you say. To improve your ‘howcha’s,’ remain deferential, respectfully curious and concerned about the interviewer/company’s welfare. Use verbal and body language mirroring to enhance communication, matching aspects of your interviewer’s voice, language, mannerisms and body language.
5. Recognize their learning style, whether auditory, visual or kinesthetic/tactile.
Offer variety in your interview so that each style is addressed. This might include answering questions for the auditory learners, writing an outline on a whiteboard or showing a PowerPoint demonstration for the visual learners, and engaging the kinesthetic/tactile learners in activities or encouraging them to take more thorough notes.
6. Understand their temperament
Theorists (often seen in executive roles) value impressive training or credentials, and stress vision, logic, innovation, mastery, progress and excellence. Catalysts (often seen in human service roles) value harmony in work relationships and appreciate ideal, meaningful work environments. Stabilizers (often seen in finance and management roles) value factual, reality-based responses in a sequential, detailed fashion. Improvisers (often seen in sales/marketing roles) value action, excitement and variety, and prefer solutions that are practical and effective to help them get what they want.
Making these efforts throughout the interview will go a long way toward impressing the interviewer and positioning yourself ahead of other candidates. Even if you don’t win the job offer, the interviewer may be inclined to recommend you to others or keep you in mind for future opportunities if he or she developed a connection with you.
”Acing an interview — even for a job that isn’t perfect for you — will put you on the radar screen of those who can help you in the future,” Whitcomb says. “Remember that interviewers have their own network of contacts that will likely be valuable to you.”
Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST’s Job Search and Career Blog.
November 18th, 2009
Job fairs are a great way to shop for new job opportunities, network and make personal contacts with recruiters at various organizations.
Here are some techniques recommended by experts to ensure that your performance at the fair doesn’t turn into a circus:
Do some scouting. If you’ve never been to a job fair, attend the next one that comes to your city for observational purposes. Pay attention to recruiters and fellow job seekers to pick up some pointers on how to dress, how to approach a company’s booth appropriately and how to successfully work the room.
Do some research. Find out which companies will be represented and learn about them in advance through corporate Web sites or other tools. The more you know, the more you can converse with the company representative in the booth and the more memorable you will be. You will also appear much more professional than unprepared job seekers who make the mistake of starting off their conversations with company representatives by asking, “What does your company do?”
Deliver your key messages quickly. Interviewers are very busy, so don’t waste their time. Work on a “sound bite” that says what your skills are, the type of work that interests you and the kind of company with which you want to associate.
Plan some questions. If you have additional time, be ready to ask intelligent questions. Ask how departments are organized and how your skills might be utilized within the framework of the company. Also show you know something about the company by asking questions about a recent product release, acquisition or other relevant news. And make sure to ask the interviewer what he or she likes best about the corporate culture to better assess if this company is right for you.
Get the interviewer’s business card. If an interview goes well, you will want to follow up with a letter that reinforces the points you made and the facts you learned. If you made a good impression at the fair, the interviewer probably has made a note to that effect and will remember that you passed his or her on-site screen.
Take advantage of the obvious. Sometimes recruiters will post job openings at their booth and provide written information. Grab all of the information you can on site before you get in line for an interview so you won’t waste precious time discussing the obvious.
Dress appropriately. You are going to a job interview, so dress the part. Break out the business attire and shine your shoes. It’s better to error on the side of the conservative than to be too casual.
Show your pearly whites. Smile when you meet the interviewer. Give a firm handshake. (If you are prone to sweaty palms, bring a handkerchief to use as a towel.) Keep breath mints on hand and make eye contact.
Be organized. Bring plenty of resumes with you. Keep them in a nice folder so you don’t get fingerprints all over them. Have a notebook for memos to yourself.
Avoid the shopping spree. Many companies give out freebies at their booths. It’s OK to pick up an item or two, but don’t leave the impression that you are shopping for your kids. The main impression you want to make is that you are very interested and very qualified for a job.
Keep lively. The lines may be daunting, but don’t fail to maximize this opportunity. Talk to every company that fits your experience and ambitions. If you meet with 20 recruiters, at the end of the day you will know 20 people by name. That sure beats sending a blind resume to “Personnel Director.”
November 2nd, 2009
“I’m not wanted in this state.”
“How many young women work here?”
“I didn’t steal it; I just borrowed it.”
“You touch somebody and they call it sexual harassment!”
“I’ve never heard such a stupid question.”
Believe it or not, the above statements weren’t overhead in bars or random conversations — they were said in job interviews.
Maybe you were nervous, you thought the employer would appreciate your honesty, or maybe you just have no boundaries. Whatever the reason, you can be certain that you shouldn’t tell an interviewer that it’s probably best if they don’t do a background check on you. (And yes, the hiring manager remembered you said that.)
We asked hiring managers to share the craziest things they’ve heard from applicants in an interview. Some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, others are jaw dropping — the majority are both. To be sure, they will relieve anyone who has ever said something unfortunate at a job interview — and simply amuse the rest of you.
Hiring managers shared these 43 memorable interview responses:
Why did you leave your last job?
“I have a problem with authority.” – Carrie Rocha, COO of HousingLink
Tell us about a problem you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it
“The resolution was we were both fired.”- Jason Shindler, CEO, Curvine Web Solutions
What kind of computer software have you used?
“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.” – Greg Szymanski, director of human resources, Geonerco Management, Inc
What are your hobbies and interests?
“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.’” – Petri R.J. Darby, president, darbyDarnit Public Relations
Why should we hire you?
“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group
Do you have any questions?
“Cross dressing isn’t a problem is it?” – Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates
“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?” – Megan Garnett, Articulate Leadership Team, Articulate Communications Inc.
“What do you want me to do if I cannot walk to work if it’s raining? Can you pick me up?” – Christine Pechstein, career coach
“I was a Chamber of Commerce Executive once hiring a secretary. [The candidate asked] ‘What does a Chamber of Commerce do?’” – Mary Kurek, Mary Kurek, Inc. Visibility Consulting
“Can we wrap this up fairly quickly? I have someplace I have to go.” – Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing, Clare Computer Solutions
“What is your company’s policy on Monday absences?” – Campbell
“If this doesn’t work out can I call you to go out sometime?” – Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching
“How big do the bonuses really get once you make associate? I hear it’s some serious cash.” – Bolzan
“[The candidate asked,] ‘Can my dad call you to talk about the job and the training program? He is really upset I’m not going to medical school and wants someone to explain the Wall Street path to him.’ The dad did call. Then that dad’s friends called and I ended up doing a conference call with a group of concerned parents … long story.” – Bolzan
“If I get an offer, how long do I have before I have to take the drug test?” – Bolzan
“When you do background checks on candidates, do things like public drunkenness arrests come up?” – Bolzan
“Can I get a tour of the breast pumping room? I heard you have a great one here and while I don’t plan on having children for at least 10 or 12 years, I will definitely breast feed and would want to use that room.”- Bolzan
“So, how much do they pay you for doing these interviews?” – Jodi R.R. Smith, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
Why are you leaving your current job?
“Because I (expletive) my pants every time I enter the building.” – Abbe Mortimore, Human Resources Manager, True Textiles, Inc.
“I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes.” – Smith
Why are you looking for a job?
“Cigarettes are getting more expensive, so I need another job.” – Pechstein
“My parents told me I need to get a job so that is why I’m here.” – McGowan
Why do you want to work for us?
“Just for the benefits.” – Jennifer Juergens, JJ Communications
“My old boss didn’t like me, so one day, I just left and never came back. And here I am!” – Matt Cowall, communications manager, Appia Communications
“I saw the job posted on Twitter and thought, why not?” – Rebecca Gertsmark Oren, Communications Director at The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
What are your assets? (as in strengths)
“Well, I do own a bike.” – Pam Venné, principal, The Venné Group
What are your weaknesses?
“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein
“I had a job candidate tell me that she often oversleeps and has trouble getting out of bed in the morning.” – Linda Yaffe, certified executive coach
“I am an alcoholic and do not deserve this job.” – Deb Bailey, owner, Power Women Magazine & Radio Show
“I’m really not a big learner. You know … some people love learning and are always picking up new things, but that’s just not me. I’d much rather work at a place where the job is pretty stagnant and doesn’t change a lot.” – Michaele Charles, Voice Communications
When have you demonstrated leadership skills?
“Well my best example would be in the world of online video gaming. I pretty much run the show; it takes a lot to do that.” - Rachel Croce
Is there anything else I should know about you?
“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.” – Venne
When can you start?
“I need to check with my mom on that one.” – Bolzan
Use three adjectives to describe yourself
“I hate questions like this.” – Katrina Meistering, manager of outreach, National Fatherhood Initiative
Tell of a time you made a mistake and how you dealt with it
“I stole some equipment from my old job, and I had to pay for its replacement.” – Meistering
Have you submitted your two weeks’ notice to your current employer?
“What is two weeks’ notice? I’ve never quit a job before, I’ve always been fired.” - Meistering
“One guy [said] ‘it would probably be best’ if I didn’t run a background check on him. Of course, I did, and learned all about his long, sordid past of law-breaking. Our client actually offered him a job as a staff accountant, but quickly retracted the offer when I had to tell them all about his recent arrest for a meth lab in his basement.” – Charles
“[A] guy said he did not have a mailing address, as he was living in a gypsy camp at the airport.” – Sandra L. Flippo, SPHR
“I went into the lobby to pick up a candidate. As he stood up, his trousers fell to the floor! [He said] ‘Oh, my gosh — they told me I needed a suit for the interview. I’ve got no money — so I borrowed this thing. It’s too big!’” – Beth Ross, executive and career coach
“Wow — I’m not used to wearing dress shoes! My feet are killing me. Can I show you these bloody blisters?” – Bolzan
“May I have a cup of coffee? I think I may still be a little drunk from last night.” – Smith
(During a telephone call to schedule the interview) “Can we meet next month? I am currently incarcerated.”- Smith
“[A candidate] was asked whether he could advocate impartially on behalf of the various universities he would be representing since he had attended one of them. He responded, ‘Well, I don’t like to poop where I eat, but I thought my education sucked, so I certainly wouldn’t put that school above the others.’” – Darby
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CBwriterRZ.
October 5th, 2009
“Make eye contact.”
“Research the company.”
“Have a firm handshake.”
Any of these pointers sound familiar? They should because you’ve heard them thousands of times. While the above suggestions are great (and valid), the truth is that this kind of advice can get a bit generic.
We decided to turn the tables and make you — the job seeker — the expert. After all, you’re the ones out there interviewing, so really, it’s not too much of a stretch. We asked you to share what you’ve found to be successful during your interviews.
Check out these interview tips from real job seekers around the country. Have you tried any of them yet?
Ask the important questions
“One thing I always ask at the end of the interview is, ‘Have I said anything that would lead you to believe I’m not the best person for this position?’ This gives me an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings and it also gives me a chance to redeem myself or explain where I am coming from on something. It also shows that if there’s a problem, I am capable of fixing it.” – Brooke Kelley, magazine editor
“During an interview, you are always told to have a set of questions to ask. A question that is helpful, that they do not expect: ‘I know you are interviewing a lot of candidates for this position and I’d like to leave this interview feeling like I’ve done my absolute best. Where do I stand in comparison to the other candidates so far?’ shows boldness and that you are aggressive in your job search.” – Jeannie Lee, PR manager
It’s not all about you
“The interview is not about the candidate, it’s about the job. No matter how great you are as a person or employee, the interviewer is trying to fill a position. Hence, talk about the job as much as possible. Ask what a perfect candidate would be like. Only occasionally talk about yourself and only to show how you suit their requirements.” – Dave Field
Research the company — and the interviewer
“Find out some information about your interviewer(s). See if you share anything in common and understand that they’re a person, too, with interests, background and hobbies. Whether or not you know who will interview you, you’d better make sure you know as much as possible about the company and don’t be afraid to let them know what you know.” - Josh Bob, regional manager
Can you take the heat?
“I’ve found that saying that I can take constructive criticism has a big impact on employers. They need to know that you are not going to fold under scrutiny. Especially with the younger generation, where we have been coddled quite a bit with excessive praise and self-esteem boasters, you need to show you are resilient.” - Liz Cauley, teacher
Make a list
List five things you’ve accomplished during your previous job and concentrate on those items during your interview. “Each time I prepared for an interview, I was reminded of five things that I had accomplished under my last employer. That gave me a boost of confidence when going to the interview. It helped me to decide how I wanted to frame the answers that I gave to the interviewer.” – Sue Chehrenegar
Make it personal
“One thing that I do that has gotten positive feedback is I send a handwritten thank-you note. I have had numerous people comment and thank me for doing this.” - Danny Kofke, teacher
Show your research
“Print out a couple pages of the Web site from the company you’re interviewing with and bring it with you to the interview. Keep it on top of your résumé … when you open up your notebook or binder to take notes or pull out your résumé, the interviewer will see the printed company materials and assume you’ve done your research. Of course, ideally have you have actually researched the company … in which case you’re showcasing that fact.” - Katherine Opie, senior executive recruiter
Know the job description
“Reviewing the job description will help you customize your answers by addressing the specific needs of the organization and requirements of the position to your skill set. Many people have no idea what the job entails or how their skill set makes them better qualified.” - Cristina Castro, director of marketing and communications
Keep your answers to questions short and to the point
“Don’t volunteer extra information. In my case, I talked about my children. We discussed that I had been a stay-at-home mom. Even though I had impressive writing credentials, he told me that I wasn’t a ‘corporate person.’ (His exact words.) Of course, I never learned if this was why a job offer wasn’t forthcoming but I’m 99.9 percent sure I said too much.” - Marilyn Pincus, author and ghostwriter
“Be polite to absolutely everybody. If someone gets you a cup of coffee, thank them; hold the door for someone else — that kind of thing. Give the receptionist or the last person you see a cheery goodbye. You want to leave a good impression.” - Phyllis Harber-Murphy, executive assistant
Assume the position
“Steal a page from the presidential candidates and talk if as if you already have the job. Say ‘I will,” not ‘I would.’ ‘I can,’ not ‘I could.’ This will remove doubt instead of inject it. Bosses like someone confident and proactive.” - Josh Schwartzberg, director of new media
Use social networks
“I get a lot of my job interviews through social networks. I get recommended through others and it is significantly better than applying and actually interviewing. They basically feel like they interviewed you already!” - Albert Ko, business owner
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
September 29th, 2009
In a competitive job market, just one wrong move during the application process can take you out of contention for the position you seek. Not sending a thank-you note after an employment interview is one of those wrong moves. In fact, no thank-you note may translate into “no, thank you” from an employer that was considering hiring you.
A thank-you note is a chance for you to make a lasting, positive impression on a hiring manager who may have interviewed dozens of candidates. Nearly nine out of 10 executives polled by Robert Half International said sending a brief letter after an interview can boost a job seeker’s chances of landing the position.
Here are some tips for writing a winning thank-you note:
Keep it formal. After an interview, some job seekers use their cell phones or PDAs to send off a quick thank-you note to the hiring manager — in “text speak.” But hiring managers won’t be impressed by “thx 4 ur time.” Just as you wouldn’t wear shorts and flip-flops to an interview, avoid such informal language, which could come off as unprofessional. Also, saying thanks so quickly after the interview makes it seem like you haven’t given the meeting proper thought — that you’re sending the note as routine, not because you truly appreciate the opportunity. A better tactic is to send an e-mail message to thank the interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. Then, follow up with a letter sent through the regular mail.
Be specific. In your note, bring up points from the conversation you had with the hiring manager. For example, if a prospective employer stressed that the open position calls for knowledge of a particular software program, use the thank-you letter as an opportunity to remind the person that you’ve worked with the application on a range of projects.
Repeat yourself. While a lot of what you include in your thank-you note may seem repetitive, remember that a hiring manager who has interviewed a dozen candidates may not remember all the specifics about your skills and experience. Just like an advertising campaign for a consumer product, a certain amount of repetition is necessary to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Make it personal. If you discovered the hiring manager shares your passion for travel or mystery books, referring to this commonality could make your letter even more effective. Personalizing the note will remind him or her who you are and that you paid close attention during the interview.
Allay concerns. A thank-note is your chance to address any concerns the hiring manger expressed, especially if you were unable to do so in the interview. Perhaps the interviewer was worried about your lack of industry experience, and during the interview you forgot to mention a temporary position you had in the sector. You can bring it up in your note, along with a few points about how that experience contributed to your knowledge or interest in the field.
Don’t stop at one. If you interviewed with more than one hiring manager, send a thank-you note to each person. Address every letter to a specific individual, even if you have to do some research to uncover the spelling of someone’s name or locate his or her contact information. Also make sure the content of each letter differs; hiring managers often compare notes — literally.
Add an extra. Perhaps during the interview you mentioned an article you recently read that’s relevant to the firm’s business. Send it with your note, along with a brief explanation of why you thought your contact would be interested in the information. Indeed, whether it’s a news article or a link to an interesting Web site, you’ll make yourself more memorable by demonstrating that you’ve gone beyond the basics.
Finally, keep in mind that sending a well-written thank-you note at other points in your job search can be advantageous. This communication shouldn’t be limited solely to the employment interview. It’s also worth sending a short letter of thanks to a contact who clued you in to a job lead, a former colleague who served as a reference or a manager who accepted your request for an informational interview. On the job hunt, the little things count. Displaying good manners can help you forge stronger relationships and ensure people are happy to lend a hand when you need their help again.
September 21st, 2009
Most job seekers have a case of the jitters before going on a job interview. Anxiety’s normal, but almost always those butterflies were in your tummy for nothing. The interview goes well, you don’t make any serious mistakes and you exhale the moment you walk out of the room.
Sometimes, however, the interview goes terribly wrong. We’re not talking about little mistakes, like spilling coffee on your shirt while you’re in the waiting room. No, we’re talking about the odd behavior that 99 percent of us wouldn’t commit. Hiring managers have given us some examples of the worst missteps they’ve seen in interviews, and we’ve compiled the best.
Here are eight interview faux pas hiring managers have witnessed and that you should avoid if you want to get hired.
1. Bad manners
“A cell phone goes off — which you should just apologize for and turn off promptly, but I’ve had candidates look at the number, which really ticks off an interviewer.” – Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, co-founder of SixFigureStart Career Coaching
“[The candidate asks,] ‘When can I start?’ Presumptuous and inappropriate.” – Will Robinson, co-founder of VirtualJobCoach
“‘Do you have something to eat? I am hungry.’” – Robinson
“One candidate opened his briefcase and started snacking on crackers while interviewing.” – Kent Johnson, partner with Davinci Search
2. Being weird
“Strangest thing ever — a [University of Chicago] MBA student was doing very well during an interview, when a tape recorder spilled out of his briefcase. Very, very odd. He would have gotten a call back for a second round, but not after we saw that tape recorder. We still don’t know what that was about! But we stayed away — big time!” – Thanasoulis-Cerrachio
“I’ve heard some interesting ones, but the most bizarre was a prospective hire asking me if I was Jewish. Any religion would have been weird to inquire about in that situation … maybe she was trying to form a bond?” – Justin Seibert, president of Direct Online Marketing
3. Giving a bad reason for wanting the job
“One answer to a question about why the applicant was looking to change jobs left me speechless. The candidate, a 20-something with about five years of work experience, said, ‘Well, I’ve been twiddling my thumbs for six months.’” – Dana Byrne, manager of talent acquisition and professional development at RMJM
4. Letting nervous tics control you
“You shouldn’t repeat a phrase over and over again. I had one candidate say ‘There it is’ at the end of about seven or eight responses. Very annoying and not impressive.” – Thanasoulis-Cerrachio
“Nervous leg bouncing syndrome: I once had a candidate who rocked her leg so much that she was physically moving during the interview. We ended up hiring her, which was a huge mistake — one of the worst hires ever.” – Thanasoulis-Cerrachio
“I once had a candidate tell me her last boss was a drug addict and did cocaine regularly. Talk about inappropriate disclosure. I am sure there was a much more tactful way to talk about why she left the job.” – Raquel Garcia, president of Silicon Valley Human Resources
“[One candidate said,] ‘I’m a little worried about the background checks. Do you guys do background checks? Because my credit is terrible. I’m trying to get it fixed, but the credit agencies are a joke.’” – Brett Coin, vice president of business development for Resume Donkey
“In response to, ‘We’d like to offer you this job. When can you start?’ [the job seeker] replied, ‘I don’t know what to say. I’ve been through 16 interviews and no one has offered me a job.’ This came from the mouth of my junior designer, who was referred to us by one of our clients. Tip: Be ready to accept a job. Like the Oscars, you might want to practice your speech. Not every employer is as forgiving as we are.” – Nance Rosen, CEO of Pegasus Media World
“[I was asked,] ‘What is your drug-testing policy?’” – Robinson
6. Poor presentation
“Another candidate wore a skimpy sequin dress and fedora hat to an interview claiming she just came from a photo shoot. We all guessed it was a bit more of an X-rated photo opp.” – Johnson
“Candidate: Hi, I’m [so-and-so].” (leans in towards us).
Recruiter: (leans ever so slightly away to minimize the odor).” – Mary H. Roome-Godbolt, HR recruiter for Cox Communications Northern Virginia
“I once had a recent graduate who looked fantastic on paper, but showed up wearing flip flops. During the interview, he would lean back in his chair, flex his hands over his head and he even said several curse words in his responses. It was so bad I e-mailed him afterwards to point out his most obvious blunders!” – Nickie Doria, marketing director for Emmer Development Corp.
“One huge pet peeve is when an applicant comes in smelling like a smoke stack! It is a free country, and I realize that there are no laws against smoking cigarettes in the workplace, but that is no reason to come in reeking of smoke. People get nervous and might want to puff a quick cigarette before the interview, which is understandable, but when they arrive smelling like smoke, it is a real turn off.” – Doria
7. Coming unprepared
“I happen to be hiring right now. One line that is a definite door-closer, that I have surprisingly heard several times: ‘No, I haven’t really had time to look at your Web site yet’ or words to that effect. How interested should I be in a candidate with such a low level of interest in and knowledge about our company?” – Alexander Seinfeld, executive director at Jewish Spiritual Literacy, Inc
“In response to the interview question, ‘So what do you want to do next?’ The worst answer of all is to say, ‘I’m totally open … I’ll do anything,’ or ‘I’m completely flexible … I can go wherever the company’s greatest needs are.’ This answer leaves the hiring manager with the burden of figuring out where the candidate belongs in the organization, and no hiring manager has the time or energy to do that kind of work. And with the economy the way it is today, candidates are feeling the need to be flexible and keep their options open, and I am hearing from hiring managers [frustrated] over this kind of answer.” – Jeanne Knight, career and job search coach
8. Forgetting to clean up digital dirt
“Of course, for those who are MySpace and Facebook junkies, make sure your pages are set to the private setting. We actually had a girl apply for a leasing position with one of our companies, and she did very well during the interview. Later, the manager wanted to learn more about her, and found that her MySpace name was … well somewhat promiscuous at best! Needless to say, she never even got a call back! – Doria
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
September 15th, 2009
The job market has tightened, the economy is down and you’ve got to find a job, now. You have a job interview coming up and you need every possible advantage to win that job. What do you do?
Recent studies have shown that employers will form an opinion of you within the first 10 minutes of the interview.
But here’s the kicker: It’s not always based on what you actually say, but on something we term “body language.” For instance, 85 percent of what you communicate is not with words. It’s through the tone of your voice, the way you sit and a wealth of other messages that your body involuntarily sends. This is according to Greg Hartley, a body language expert who earned his chops with 20 years as an interrogator in the Army.
With this in mind, here are six dos and don’ts on the art of non-verbal communication to give you a winning advantage in a job interview.
1. Be real from the start
When you greet your interviewer, smile a real smile that engages your eyes, and offer a firm handshake. Say something like, “I’m pleased to meet you” to provide a positive anchor.
Janine Driver, a body language expert also known on the Internet as the “Lyin’ Tamer,” states that maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest. She advises that in the U.S., 60% eye contact is ideal. She suggests focusing on the upper triangle of the face from the left eyebrow across the bridge of the nose to the right eyebrow. Avoid staring at the other person’s forehead, lips and mouth.
2. Watch the excess energy
The more energy you have, the more will need to be vented. This often results in mannerisms Hartley terms “adapters.” What this means is that excess energy gets dissipated into fidgeting, a definite sign that you’re nervous or ill at ease. While it’s easy to say, “Watch the fidgeting,” Driver suggests you never touch your face, throat, mouth or ears during an interview. The interviewer may think that you’re holding something back, typically, the truth. Although this is a false assumption, to try to establish credibility, it’s necessary to avoid touching your face.
3. What to do with those hands and arms
Driver says that clasped hands are a signal that you are closed off. A palm-to-palm gesture with one thumb over the other thumb sends the signal that you need the interviewer’s reassurance.
To come across as confident, receptive and unguarded, have your hands open and relaxed on the table. When your body is open, you project trustworthiness.
Avoid crossing your arms over your chest. When you do, you signal that you are close-minded, defensive or bored and disinterested.
4. Crossing those legs
Don’t cross your legs. According to Driver, this posture creates a wall between you and your interviewer. It can also become a distraction when you keep crossing your legs back and forth. Crossed ankles are a “no-no” because you are signaling that you want to be elsewhere.
A straight posture is imperative during an interview. Pull your shoulders back and sit up straight. You’ll give yourself a burst of confidence and allow for good breathing. This can help you to avoid, or at least reduce, feelings of nervousness and discomfort.
6. Finger gestures
Bet you never thought you had to worry about your fingers during an interview. Driver suggests that steepling your fingers makes you look arrogant. She also says to never point your index fingers like gun barrels. These are the types of aggressive messages you want to avoid sending.
Source: www.CareerBuilder.com and www.JobChangeSecrets.com
As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Author of “Job Search Secrets Unlocked” and “Paycheck 911,” Turner has interviewed on radio talk shows and offers free insider job search secrets at: http://www.jobchangesecrets.com/.