Tag Archives: job interview

Will you do anything we ask? – the interview question

waist deep in water

Will you really do “whatever it takes” ??

“Will you do whatever it takes to get the job done?” is a common interview question.

In “The Firm” a new lawyer finds the perfect job: great pay, wonderful benefits and  a really high flying lifestyle.  Then he finds out he is a part of the mafia and can’t get out unless he is the guest of honor at his own funeral.

Let’s get realistic.  Even in high flying corporate scandals no one is murdered.  If you feel you have to blow the whistle you can go to newspaper reporters and the police.  You will be safe physically.  Your only real worries are social and financial.  The company’s risk is to its very existence.  It can be destroyed just by bad press.  Also, legal action can take away any profit the company has had for years.

There is no reason to suspect that your employer wants you to do something illegal.  It is much more likely he wants you to work late.

Go ahead and be enthusiastic when they ask the question, “Will you do whatever it takes?”  The proper answer is to give examples of how you have gone the extra mile in previous jobs.  Tell when you worked late to finish projects or help a teammate.  Carrying a pager is a great example of doing “whatever it takes.”  Mention the inconvenient business trips.  The support you had from your family when you had to work late or travel is a valuable story.

I hate to go back to it, but, don’t mention when you did something borderline illegal.  Don’t assume they want you to do something immoral.  If they ask you to do something that is wrong, ask them to clarify.  Ask for examples.  If you are sure they are asking you to do something illegal, immoral, or fattening, refuse the second interview or the job offer. You can even bring it up with the CEO or the SEC.

Some people have been burned by a previous bad employer.  You may have been hired by a place with dubious morals. You are out now, or in the process of getting out.  Assume the best of the companies you are visiting.  Give examples of how hard you are willing to work to succeed. Focus on what you can do for the company.

Something To Do Today

Assume the best.  Ask for examples.

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything. (J. W. von Goethe)

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Tomorrow:     Where else are you interviewing?

Later:              Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

The company’s reputation

Which Reference Is Knifing You In The Back?

ninja with a knife

Which reference is killing you?

Trust enthusiasm. Fear okay.

If something always goes wrong in your job interviews after the point where references are checked, you probably want to rethink your references.

References – phantom friends

Some of your references may be knifing you in the back.  They are your phantom friends. You thought they would give good references.  They were always friendly.  Still, they may have thought you were a poor worker.  They might just be unable to compliment anyone.

Trust enthusiasm, fear “okay”

You can’t trust a reference to tell you directly, “I’m going to say bad things.”  If you ask someone to be your reference and they say, “I’d love to.  You were a great worker.  I will brag about how well you did.  You were wonderful”, they are probably a good reference.  If they only say, “Okay”, be careful.

Interrogate okay

Ask Mr. Okay, “Will you say that if it was up to you, you would rehire me?”    If you get any hedging, don’t use this reference. For instance, “I’ll tell them I would rehire you under the right circumstances,” is hedging.  “Jim, you know I don’t have the authority to rehire you,” is also hedging.  “Of course! I’d rehire you and give you a raise.  I really wish you were still here,” is the positive reference you are looking for.

If you are concerned that someone might be a phantom friend, drop them from the reference list.  Find someone else.  That’s the safest bet.

Have someone else check your references

You can always have someone check out your references for you.  They will call up and say, “I’m checking Jane Doe’s references. Would you recommend her for the same job she had?”  They also have to ask, “Would you rehire her?”

Your references are one of your strongest job search weapons.  Make sure they really are good references.  It will make a huge difference.

Something To Do Today

Go back over that list of potential references you gave yesterday.  Make sure none of them are phantom friends.

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Next:               You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Later:               Resume magic

Imperfect and highly paid

The most common interview questions

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

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.

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.

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

How early do I get to the job interview? (and what if I am late?)

How early should you get to a job interview?  That depends on how far you have to travel and how slow the traffic is likely to be.

If you are sure you will get there right when you expect to, arrive 10 minutes early in the parking lot.  Grab your notes and go over them.  Practice the interview questions you have written out.  Go into the building 5 minutes before the interview is to start.  You want to be on time, but avoid waiting too long in the lobby, getting nervous.

If you are going a long distance, you may need to plan on arriving 15 to 30 minutes early.  In that case, tell the interviewer of your dilemma when you set up the interview.  Waiting 20 minutes in your car is a waste of your time.  Your interviewer can often set up a soft start time and see you immediately when you show up early.

Perfect timing: walk into the building 5 minutes before your interview.  If you will have to wait more than 5 minutes in your car, go in earlier.  Horrible timing is 5 minutes late unless you have called ahead to let them know you will be late.

If something anticipated arrives too late it finds us numb, wrung out from waiting, and we feel…nothing at all.  The best things arrive on time.  (Gilman)

If you are late: your best job interviewing tool may be a cell phone.  If you are going to be late you can call the person you are going to meet with and let them know you will be late.  Tell them a time 10-20 minutes later than you really expect to arrive.  That way you can still arrive “early.”

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Something To Do Today

Before your next job interview make a list of questions that show your desire, interest and motivation.  Use those 5 minutes in the car for interview preparation.

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Next:     The phone interview

My last job stunk, what do I say?

“My last employer lied to me.  He looked me straight in the eye and lied to me twice in the employment interview.  Then he spent the next year undermining me.  He made it impossible to reach the pay level he promised me.”

When he told me that, I understood.  I’m an agency recruiter. I could see from his previous jobs that he was exceptionally good at what he does. Before he goes out on a job interview I’ll tell him how to handle that situation.  Eventually he’s going to have to get over that job wound.

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  (Gandhi)

Remember, your attitude is everything.  Managers know that some bosses reek.  Every manager has also had an employee who was terrible.  Your interviewer has to decide if you or your boss was the problem.  Because they lack facts, they will decide whose fault it was by your attitude.

When they ask you about that lying, thieving, disgusting, wife beating boss you had at your previous job, be careful.  Remember, the slimeball’s dog still loves him.  Say only, “At my last job I accomplished..” and list the good things you got done.

If asked, “Why did you leave?”  Say, “My boss and I did not see eye to eye.”  Then add something else that is positive that you accomplished.

Never say more than one sentence at a time about that vile, filthy, back stabbing, dog kicking boss. Remember the Grinch’s cat still purrs when he pets it.  Make each short comment about him as positive as you can.  Follow that sentence with something positive you were able to get done at that job.

The best thing you can do is GET OVER IT.   Forgive the louse.  No.  Forgive the man.  Stop brooding.  It affects your attitude.  Hate will make it much harder to get a job.  Interviewers can smell your discontent.

Forgive, forget, and get on with your life.  Do you really think you will be telling every interviewer for the next 20 years about that boss?  You won’t.  The time to stop telling people about that boss is now.

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Something To Do Today

Had a boss you hated?  Make a list of 10 things you accomplished there.  Not your job duties, things you made better.  Accomplishments.  Use that list every time you are asked about the job.

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Later: Fired!

Job search progression

How much do we have to pay you? – The correct answer

It’s your first interview.  Things are going well.  The wall clock says you’ve been here 45 minutes.  That’s good.  Then the hirer sits back in his chair and asks, “How much do we have to pay you?”

This can be a disaster.  If you come up with too big of a number, they won’t hire you.  If the number is too small you won’t earn as much as you could.  Is there any way to win?

Your answer needs to show a great attitude.  It can’t sound like you are greedy.  It must leave the door open for negotiations.  It has to get you a job offer so you can really start negotiating. Try this:

 “I really like the opportunity you have described to me.  This is a great company.  I would love to come to work for you.  In my last job I earned (amount), I certainly wouldn’t want to work for less.  What I would like… is to be able to entertain your best offer.”

Show them your attitude first.  Let them know you like the company and the job.  Give them the historical fact of what you last earned.  Then defuse the question by saying you want to see their best offer.

This line works.  Most of the time they’ll stop asking you for a number. If they ask you again, repeat the line. Eventually you’ll be negotiating wages, but try to put it off until they really want to make you an offer.

Use the money question to show your attitude.  You’ll get more job offers. You’ll also make more money.

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Something To Do Today

Put this question and answer down in your interview preparation notes.  Practice saying it five times before every phone interview or in-person interview.

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Later:             My last job stunk

Fired!