Category Archives: Interviews

Don’t be powerless at an interview 

weak helpless powerless insecure man

Do you feel powerless at some point in your job search?

The job interview was at 2:00 pm.  The candidate, Bill, called at 1:45 pm.  He was in their parking lot.  Showtime.  That great candidate was going to shine. He told the receptionist he was there and sat down to wait.

At 3:15 pm the VP of HR called to apologize.  Bill finally came in for the interview.  This well qualified candidate sat in the lobby for 1 ½ hours.

Don’t just sit there

The receptionist didn’t do her job right. It wasn’t Bill’s fault, but he could have done something about it.  He could have asked the receptionist to double check that the right person knew he was there.  He could have asked to speak to the administrative assistant of the person he was there to see.  It wasn’t Bill’s fault, but he wasn’t powerless.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. (Shaw)

Don’t be abused by accident

People don’t want to be rude to you.  People you work for don’t want to waste your time.  The receptionist doesn’t want to stand in the way of your goals and ambitions.  It is not human nature to wish the worst on strangers.  Most often they are in your way through ignorance, incompetence or fear.

Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway

The best solution is to swallow your own fear of making waves.  Sure, you are afraid.  They probably are too.  It is time to step up to the person in your way and work with them to clear the roadblocks.  Your boss or coworker, the receptionist or police officer all want to help.  Give them a chance.  Patiently work with them to get what you need.

I am always asked by candidates, “Why didn’t I get the job?”  I answer with what I’ve been told, and that is helpful.

A great question to follow up with is, “Can the person who rejected me, help me in my next job application?”  You may get a great boost from calling the person who rejected you and asking for specific help.  You can ask them if they see a way to improve your resume or interview.  Enlist them to help you with your NEXT interview.

It’s scary to ask for more help from a receptionist who just told you to wait.  It’s hard to call back someone who told you they do not want to hire you and ask for help.  If you feel the fear, work your way through it, and do it anyway then you’ll get what you want and need a lot more quickly.

Something To Do Today

Read the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It can help you take control of your situation.  It gives you tools to stop letting the world get in your way and step on your dreams. The cheapest place to get it is still your library.

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Coming up:     Signs that you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

One hour interview prep

References

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Down by 20 at halftime in your job search

Overwhelming football tackle

You can recover from a bad interview, or 20 of them, if you go at it right.

Every job seeker has a bad interview occasionally.  Often you will have a great interview and NOT get the job.  Your resume may be perfect for a lot of jobs, but you get no call backs.

Here is how a football coach handles a problem like that.

At halftime the team is down by 20 points.  In the locker room the coach says: “Yes, we got beat in that game we just played. Now we are going to play a new game.  It’s time for payback.  A new game starts when you step out on that field. You’ve got to adjust the score in your mind.  It is 0 to 0 now.  It’s a new game. Let’s go out and give that other team the beating of their lifetime.  We owe it to them.”

Remember, every time you apply for a job, it is a new game.  The person seeing your resume doesn’t know or care that the last 74 people who saw it didn’t even acknowledge getting it.  The person calling you on the phone can’t tell that you’ve only had 3 callbacks and not one in-person interview.

Get coaching to improve your resume, phone interview and in-person interview skills.  Find out what works.  If you need a certification so that your resume stands out, get it.  If you get phone interviews, but no in-person interviews, find out why.  Give some of those interviewers a call back and ask for their help.  Half of them will give it to you.

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in.  This is too much of a temptation to the editor.  (Lardner)

Go out and actively look for successful people to coach you.  Asking a person for help can be a form of networking.  The secret is to ask for help with one particular thing.  Ask for help making the first job listed on your resume more attractive. Pick a small part of the job application process and ask for help.  It lets the person know you are trainable, eager and looking for a job.

There are cycles people go through when they are unemployed or looking for a new job.  The important thing is to accept that you will lose more often than you win.  If you approach each resume submission, phone interview and in-person interview as a fresh start, a new game, you’ll quickly become the winner.

Something To Do Today

Your attitude can be adjusted.  Engage your mind. Lift your spirits.  Listen to books, music and shows that get your spirit soaring while you drive or exercise.  Start fresh for every job application.

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Later:  Feel the fear, and¼.

Signs you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

One hour interview prep

References

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Dead fish – arsonist firefighters and job hunting

“You’ve done well on your final interview.  I was told you can expect a job offer in the next couple of days.  Congratulations.”

“Wow.  Uh, Bryan, are they doing a background check?”

“Yes. This is a bank.”

“There’s one more thing you don’t know.  I haven’t told anyone because I was afraid it would keep me from getting the job.  Three years ago I…”

briefcase-923847_640-pixabay

Is there a dead fish hiding in your briefcase?

Hiding a dead fish in your briefcase won’t make it smell better when you finally have to open it. We’ll talk about job hunting in a minute.  Projects are easy

Dead fish and the project arsonist

In project management hiding a serious problem will turn you into an arsonist firefighter—the guy who causes months of sleepless nights for his team.  For projects, let your boss know of the problem by asking for his help to find a solution.  If you ask early enough, he may still be able to get you training, equipment, or people to help you.

In job hunting, you need to make some choices if there are dead fish in your briefcase

You can make two mistakes.  The first is to put everything that might disqualify you on your resume.  That keeps you from being considered at all.  The second is to hide the information as long as possible. The first is like slapping someone with a dead fish instead of shaking their hand when you first meet them.  The second is like taking that dead fish and hiding it in your briefcase and putting it out in the sun.  The smell will get stronger and stronger over time.  Dead rotting fish don’t smell better after a few days.

First make sure it is a real skeleton.  Age, marital status, sex, sexual preference, and country of origin are often considered to be a problem by a job applicant when they are not.  Don’t bring them up.  They are not skeletons.

Problems that disqualify you from a job are another matter.  The only way to win with a serious problem is to find a champion.  It could be the manager who wants to hire you, the HR (Human Resources) person, or someone you know who overcame a similar problem.  You’ll have to take a risk in letting someone know during the interview.  Often your champion will be an agency recruiter.  As your champion gets to know you, he can break the bad news to the hiring team with a positive recommendation.  That may be before or after the first set of interviews.  It will never be just before a job offer is made.

Let’s face it, a disqualifying problem disqualifies you!  You are asking for an exception to be made.  If you can get someone to go to bat for you, you have a chance.  Don’t try to hide a major problem in your briefcase, hoping no one notices.  A rotting fish never smells better after a few moist days in the sun.

Something To Do Today

Are there problems you bring up in your resume?  Do you apologize for something?  Do you proudly display your age, sex, sexual preference or country of origin in your resume?  Get rid of that stuff.  It makes people worry you will be a flaming activist.

Bigger problems?  Decide how you will enlist a champion.  Will it be a recruiter or someone you know outside the interview process?  Will you recruit someone within the interview process?  You need a plan.

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Later:               Poisons

Liars

How to work a convention

15 ways to blow your job interview subliminally

No one will know for sure why you were turned down, but you will be out of the running for a job because of these 15 interview mistakes.

5 Weeks – How to find a job in 5 weeks

Do you need a job now?  Then use the best job search plan ever created.

Come on!  How could it possibly be the best EVER created? Because it was created for only one person.  You.

I have seen it happen over and over.

One guy is out of work for less than a month, and he gets a job offer with a raise.

free from a bad job

Find a job in 5 weeks – that is freedom

It takes 6 months to get a job for the guy who sat next to him.  This poor guy was doing exactly the same job, got better performance ratings, and would get rehired first if the job was re-opened. To make things worse, the guy who took six months accepts a huge pay cut.

          It isn’t fair, but it happens every day.

It isn’t luck.  The guy who finds a job quickly did things differently.  He may have instinctively done the few most critical steps within the first days of losing his job.  He may also have mapped out a strategy and executed it.  Either way, he got the critical steps executed.  He got the job.

The critical steps most often screwed up by the guys who take 6 months to find a job.

For 22 years I’ve been watching people get jobs in days, or wait a year to find a job.  The steps most often screwed up are:

  • The resume stunk, and he never found out.
  • He burned his best leads before he was prepared.
  • Monster became his momma.
  • HR (Human Resources Department) was his master.
  • He never expanded his network, but he talked to a zillion people.
  • Interviews never seemed to go right.
  • He waited for a phone call back.
  • He thought recruiters were his friends

Give me a call or research these topics on my blog.

If you want to have the shortest job search possible.  Fill out the survey at this link and then contact me.  bryan@dilts.us or call Bryan Dilts at 717-975-9001.

No, I don’t guarantee that you will get a job offer in 5 weeks.  But I will put 22 years of experience behind your job search.

The critical email most job seekers fail to send

A successful email

A very short email was sent out by a candidate after a brief phone screening for a top level job.  I got a copy.  It helped set that candidate apart from all the others in a quiet way.  The next day that email was replied to with an invitation for an in-person interview.   That’s a successful email.  That email said, “Thank you for the chance to talk with you about your company and that opening.”

I admit it.  The email did NOT get him the interview.  His phone presence, background, cheerfulness and “can do” attitude got him the reply.  Still, the “thank you” email helped.

100 applicants for a job is not unusual.  Phone interviews with 10 solid candidates is common.  Often the choice between the top 3 candidates is only based on chemistry, the feelings of the moment.  So what can you do?

  1. Send a thank you by email after every interview.
  2. Also send a paper thank you.
  3. Dwell on the positive.
  4. Never complain about a previous job, boss or coworker.
  5. Tell interviewers what you like about the job.
  6. Ask for the next interview or for the job.

In the interview be the type of person you most like working with.  After the interview, be thankful.  That’s an unbeatable combination.

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There’s no secret about success.  Did you ever know a successful man who didn’t tell you about it? (Hubbard)

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Later:                          The guy who invented running died

I make the milk every morning

Propagating blueberries guerilla style

Great ideas are a dime a dozen

2 critical interview questions you should always ask the hirer

The interviewer’s first worry (out of 7)

You may be talking yourself out of a job. Your resume and your interview may combine to scare the interviewer.  He may think he will lose control of his situation if he even makes you a job  offer.

The hiring manager for any job usually already feels out of control. Someone quit, or there is more work to do than his team can handle. He is losing control of his own time because he is being forced to review resumes and set up interview times.  He is feeling out of control.

Then you make it worse.  He looks at your resume and asks himself, “Why does this candidate want to come work for me? What does he have in common with other people who quit? Will he even accept the job if we offer it?

Will he even accept the job if we offer it?

That is the first huge question you have to remove from the hirer’s mind. There are two types of questions you can ask to help soothe the hirer.  Ask the first one in the middle of the interview. Ask the second one at the very end. The second question is critical.

  1. What do you like most about working here?

Your purpose is to convince the hirer that they have connected with you about what makes the company great.  Give them a chance to say what they like the most.  While they are talking about it, lean forward and listen intently.  If the hirer feels you like his explanation, he will feel a lot more comfortable that you will accept the job.

  1. Can I have the job?

At the end of the interview you have to be bold.  You have to ask for the job.  There are several ways you can put it.

  • This sounds like a great opportunity. I like the people, and the job sounds great.  Is there anything you have seen in me that would keep you from hiring me?
  • This is the exact job, company, and coworkers I have been looking for. Can we set up the next step in the hiring process right now?
  • I really appreciate the chance to talk to you. What a great job and company! I want to work with you. How soon can I start working here?
  • This has been great. Can I have the job?

You will notice that the last example above is the condensed version.  It is the shortest and most direct way to ask for the job.  However you say it, say it at the end of every interview.  Never forget it.

The will practically never make you the job offer, or set up the next step right then.  The point is to let them know you really really really want the job.

Remove all doubt that you will accept the job if a decent offer is made.  Do it by letting them know you are interested. If you ask some variation of question 1 and question 2, you will dramatically increase your chances of being seriously considered and hired.

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More on these topics is coming later:

You have to help them regain control before you are hired

In order to soothe your potential boss, you have to give them as much control as possible.  If you can prove a few basic things, they will hire you immediately.  You need to prove:

  1. You will take that job and keep it.
  2. You can do that job
  3. You won’t take too much training
  4. You will take the initiative to do things within their system
  5. You learn quickly
  6. You get along with all kinds of coworkers – good and bad
  7. You will quickly take other burdens off the boss’s back and give them back control.

How do you prove it?

We’ll talk about that over the next few days.

How to overcome an employer’s resistance to hiring you

Why won’t they hire you? Do desperate employers resist hiring anyone?  Do they resist change? Or is it something else they resist?

Would you like to win a million dollars tax free?  But isn’t that a change?

If Oprah gave you a new car and money to pay the taxes on it, how hard would you resist? That is also a change.

Did you notice that I added that line about taxes in each question?  I had to add that because you might resist otherwise.  It isn’t the taxes, it is what the taxes represent in your mind that may cause you to resist.

Employers have the same resistance to hiring you that you might have to accepting a new car or even a million dollars.  They are afraid there is a hidden tax, a hook, a hidden problem.  They are afraid they will be forced to do things they don’t have time or energy for.  It can all be boiled down to their fear of losing control. People are afraid of losing control of their million dollars or their new car due to taxes. They are afraid of losing control if they hire you.

They lose control when they make you a job offer

As long as the employer is looking at resumes, interviewing, testing, talking about candidates, doing reference checks, and thinking about making offers, they are in control.  The second they make you an offer, they lose control.

Suddenly it is all up to you.  They get edgy.  To regain some control they will put a time limit on their offer. Usually they will give you overnight.  Sometimes they will give you up to a week.  But they want to have control over the process.

They have even less control when you start working for them

I am sure your new boss has worked with someone who was hired and was an absolute disaster. That person looked like the solution to their problem and was a horrible mistake.

You look like the perfect solution to their problem.  But, if they hire you, they lose control. When you come on board, there will be training, detailed supervision, review of your work, correction, adjustments to team duties, interpersonal conflicts, and a lot of other things that change. They will lose control of all those things the second you start with the team.

You have to help them regain control before you are hired

In order to soothe your potential boss, you have to give them as much control as possible.  If you can prove a few basic things, they will hire you immediately.  You need to prove:

  1. You will take the job and keep it
  2. You can do that job
  3. You won’t take too much training
  4. You will take the initiative to do things within their system
  5. You learn quickly
  6. You get along with all kinds of coworkers – good and bad
  7. You will quickly take other burdens off the boss’s back and give them back control.

How do you prove it?

We’ll talk about that over the next few days.

How to beat personality tests and FAQ

Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open.  (E. Letterman)

 

Here is how your boss decides to use personality tests.  Then we will show you how to “beat” them.

His story

Your job as boss is in danger.  3 more people have quit.  5 of the last 10 people you hired are having performance problems.  Technically they are proficient.  At least you got that right.  They just aren’t working hard.  They complain constantly. They don’t fit in.  What can you do to keep your job?

You’ve got to hire better, right?  You go to HR (human resources) and ask for help.  Jill, the VP of HR, has no time for you.  In desperation you blurt out, “Can’t we test these people to see if they are good team players?”

Jill stops, smiles and says, “I’ve seen just the test for the job.  It costs $95 every time you give it, but it will do the trick.  With your sponsorship we can make it mandatory for all new hires.”  Now she has time for you.  Why? You just saved her job too.  She is also under fire for all the hiring problems.  Testing will prove it is not her problem.

A mistake hirers often make is getting the personality they want.  Got it?  They hire the exact person they want.  They just want the wrong person.  An accurate test won’t fix that. Better interviews won’t fix that.  And truthfully, the tests are a pain to take, but reasonably accurate.

FAQ

How do I beat a personality test?

Be yourself.  Answer honestly.  Don’t get upset.  Really. It works.

So, what do you do when asked to take a personality test?

Take it. Do your best.

Should you worry about the company that asks you to take it?

No. Someone there is trying to hire scientifically.  It may work and it may not.  It depends on their attitude towards the test, and you have no way to measure that.  So don’t worry.

Can I change my answers to score better?

No.  Don’t try.  You will probably fail miserably.  Test makers work hard to make their test detect liars.  Anyway, do you really want to get a job that a company thinks is a bad fit for you?  Just answer honestly and openly.

Isn’t there a chance I’ll be wrongly excluded?

Yes, yes, yes.  That’s the biggest problem with personality tests.  It is also the biggest problem with interviews.  Hirers sometimes are looking for the wrong person. Get used to it. And sometimes you really are the wrong person for the job!

Personality tests are just another form of interview.  Companies pay huge amounts for interview training that may or may not help.  They also pay for tests that may or may not help.  Don’t take it personally. They are trying to figure out how to hire better.  Work with them.  Do your best to help them make a good hire.

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Something To Do Today

For the fun of it, go online and find a free personality test.  Take it.  Does it get close to your personality?  It probably does.  That means the problem is not the test or you.  The problem is that the hiring manager is looking for the wrong result, or that you really are the wrong person for the job.

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Later:             Resume blasting

Certifications – gold and lead

Recruiter motivation

Job interview – Good manners

Good manners soothe people in a potentially bad situation.  In a positive situation good manners make everyone involved even more pleased.  Manners are society’s way of helping people cope with each other.

Here are some situations and how to deal with them:

I really want this job:  At the end of the interview say, “This sounds like a great opportunity.  Is there anything you’ve seen today that would keep me from working for you?”  Then say, “Can we set up the next step of the process right now?”    They will probably say they’ll call later.  That’s okay.  They know you really want the job.  Send an email and ground mail thank you letter.

In the interview, I realized I don’t want this job:  Never walk out of an interview unless they are asking you to do something illegal or immoral. You may be interviewing with this person in 5 years for a different job. Companies change. Opportunities change. If you get the feeling the job is absolutely not for you, stop the interviewer and ask very specific questions and explore your reasons in the interview. Don’t let your interviewer bypass your concerns. They may have solid answers, they may not. Once you are sure the job is NOT for you, look at the interview as a network building opportunity. You may have a chance to talk with a manager who will have a different hiring need, and get the job you really want. Networking for an extra half hour in an interview is easier than getting a manager to go to lunch with you.

They ask how much they have to pay you:  Answer them, “I really like this company.  The opportunity seems like a good one.  I’d like to go to work for you.  In my previous job I earned $(amount), I certainly wouldn’t want to work for less.  What I would like is to entertain your best offer.”

You are concerned they won’t pay enough:  Ask the recruiter or HR person what the pay range is for the job.  Don’t ask the hiring manager about money unless you become convinced they won’t pay near enough.  Better to ask, “Considering what I have done previously, how will this job continue to challenge me?”  That lets the interviewer know you are concerned that the job sounds too easy.

You want to know about vacation time and benefits:  Wait a bit.  The first interview is absolutely NOT the place to ask.  If at some point you talk with an HR person who is already explaining that stuff, ask away.  If you are working with a recruiter, ask him.  Otherwise, when they are offering you the job is early enough.  You don’t have any bargaining power until they have made a decision to hire you.

They ask an improper question:  You don’t have to answer.  Better to try to understand what they want to know.  Reply, “Why do you ask?” or “Have you had a problem with that in the past?”  Another way is to answer the underlying question.  If they ask, “How old are you?” You can answer, “I’m in perfect health.  I haven’t missed a day of work in years.” That gives them the information they need without answering a question you may dislike.

I will be late for my interview:  stop and call the person you are to meet.  Apologize and tell them when you expect to arrive. Add 10-20 minutes to the time so they are pleasantly surprised when you arrive earlier than you said you would.

I don’t want to go to the interview:  call the person who set up the interview, the recruiter, HR person or manager, and explain why.  Explain your true reasons and then listen.  After a couple of minutes of discussion, finalize your decision to go or not.  Let the person who set up the interview tell the people who would interview you.

You don’t want them to call your boss for a reference:  Just tell them you don’t want to jeopardize your current job.  They will understand.

 

The basic ideas are: 1. Ask the question at the right time.  2. Let people know your concerns in as positive a manner as possible.

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Something To Do Today

Make an interview preparation list.  What things do you want to review before you talk to your next boss?

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Later: Skipped parts

Referrals vs. Monster and CareerBuilder