Waiting? 3 Post-Interview Tips to Improve your Job Search

interviews, waiting by phone

image via bestbuy.com

If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview, don’t be idle. Use this time to continue your job search and keep making a positive impression.

  1. Send a thank you note or email.

Sending this email will show your interest in the job and may set you apart from other candidates that have note sent any follow up communication.

A thank you note does not have to be long, but it should be customized for each interview. Reflect on a topic of conversation unique to your meeting and mention how you learned from the interviewer or enjoyed the discussion. Reiterate your interest in the position and state that you appreciate the time he or she took to meet with you.

If you’ve interviewed with a panel, send a customized note to each interviewer. If you didn’t get business cards after the interview, try searching on the company website or contacting the company’s front desk for correct spelling of names.

  1. Analyze how you interviewed.

Right after the interview is the best time to assess your performance.

  • Were you on time and dressed appropriately?
  • Was there a question you struggled with answering?
  • Did you answer any questions very well?
  • Did you learn something new?
  • Did the interviewer seemed interested in a particular answer?
self assessment, interview, after interview assessment, evaluation

image via shutterstock

This self-assessment will make you aware of any short falls. If you realize you failed to mention something during the interview that you feel is very important, you could incorporate that information in a follow up correspondence.

More than anything, this self-assessment will help you prepare for future interviews. Based on your review, determine if you should do more research on the company or practice answering questions in a mock interview. You can schedule a mock interview with a Career Development Specialist at one of our local American Job Centers in Connecticut.

  1. Update your job search records.

It’s critical to keep your job search organized. You should log your contacts and follow up results in a manner that is convenient for you.   Job search records can be saved in a notebook, day planner, or Excel spreadsheet. You can also categorize your emails to save employer correspondence.

Keeping information organized only takes a few minutes a day, but has great benefits. With a log, you can review your progress and see how your efforts have paid off. The log can also be an indicator if you should try a new strategy in your job search to yield more contacts. The record can assist in achieving short-term job search goals and make you feel more motivated to continue on in your search.

A sample job search log for a week is below, but you can search many templates available online or customize your own to your preferences:

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Contact 3 employers

Notes:

Complete        O Not Complete

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Applied to ABC Co. online (Customer Service Rep) and followed company on LinkedIn. Sent cold contact email to Admin Recruiter, J. Cruz. Attended networking event. Met A. Sanders, Manager of Office Co. Interviewed for Office Assistant position with XYZ Corp. during recruitment event. Emailed thank you note to XYZ Corp. recruiter.
Notes: Application receipt notification. Notes:

Sent resume by request, Cruz mentioned emailing me next week to discuss.

Notes:

Connected on LinkedIn.

Notes:

Struggled with, “Why did you leave your last job?” – Overall, interview went well. Will contact me within 2 weeks.

Notes:

These tips will keep your job search focused, active and goal-driven. Use the interview as a time to market yourself for the open position, but use the time after the interview to assess yourself and continue making progress in your search.

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Interviewing 101: Relax!

By George Bernocco

“What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind!” – Homer Simpson

You’ve done it. A call has come in scheduling you for an interview. You’ve been practicing with your friends, family and even your hairdresser about how to answer interview questions. The interview date is approaching, everything is lining up for this dream job you are hoping GOING to get. You’ve planned your route, outfit, childcare, meals for the day. The routine is set and the big day has finally arrived.

Now what?

Feeling nervous is the body’s natural response to perceived stress. Everyone reacts differently to stress but it can be described in various forms: butterflies in your stomach, shortness of breath, body pain, sweating, and migraines are just some of the symptoms. As you can imagine, these might distract you from your interview game. So now, let us talk about ways to minimize, if not remove, these symptoms that can affect your big day.

  1. Look before you leap

Planning ahead will minimize your stress immensely. Nothing can stress you out more than being stuck in traffic and your interview is in two minutes, or not finding the required interview paperwork before you leave to your interview. Making the interview day as easy as possible by planning ahead will give you more of a sense of control, and control is good. Scrambling around for unwrinkled interview pants on the day of the interview may leave you flustered and it can impact the interview negatively. Plan anything and everything, down to when you will leave your house to how many copies of your résumé will already be printed out.

  1. Rock-a-bye

Going along with planning your day, you will also want to plan the night before. Getting the right amount of sleep can help reduce stress. This involves being your own parent and instituting a bed time. Save the all night benders for your celebration and the Netflix marathon for another time. Ensure your alarm is set before you go to bed and start counting sheep.

  1. Nitrogen-Oxygen-Argon-Carbon Dioxide-Methane

Taking moments during your big day to slowly inhale and exhale will produce a calming feeling. As you read this post, hopefully you have tried taking a deep breath in and released it slowly. Doesn’t that feel good? Even if you are not experiencing shortness of breath, the slow breathing will give you pause and more of a sense of control.

  1. “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Stay positive! Look into that mirror and compliment yourself. Use this to assure yourself that the position is right for you. Providing yourself with this positive outlook will make the interview hurdle seem that much smaller. Also, believing you are fit and right for the job will become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the interviewer will believe it too. Doubt and negativity will only impact your interview poorly, so make sure you spend some time casting doubts aside.

  1. Crochet your day away

When you’ve done the planning for the interview and you have spare time, spend it doing the things you love. Hobbies keep us entertained, relaxed and sane, so it makes sense to use this to your advantage. Go for a run, peruse through your stamp collection, finish that 3-D puzzle or turn on your X Box. Just like dessert comes after the meal, use your hobby as a treat for all your interview preparation. If you’re using your hobby in place of preparation, then it’s counterproductive and just regular old procrastination.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the things to do to stay calm, let’s discuss some of the things not to do. We are going to turn our attention to the interview itself, which may be the most stressful time out of the whole ordeal. All employers/recruiters know interviews can be stressful and the interviewee is most likely nervous. By the interviewee appearing more confident rather than nervous, the employer will have more confidence in you. When we are nervous, even just a little bit, we all have bad habits. Here is a list of habits to avoid doing as they can distract the interviewer so that you, the interviewee, can appear more confident:

  1. Fidgeting

Shuffling around in your seat, crossing and uncrossing your legs, looking all around the room, touching your face, playing with your hands. Avoid all of the above and keep your focus on the interviewer(s). Locking eye contact with the interviewer will have you less likely to shuffle around and more focused and “honed in”.

  1. Biting your nails

Avoid at all costs. If you are a nail-biter, keep your hands folded during the interview. Usually people who nail bite don’t even realize they are doing it, so at the start of the interview keep your hands folded in your lap or on the table in front of you.

  1. Playing with your hair

Not only does this nervous habit demonstrate anxiety, but it can also be tied to other negative opinions about you. The interviewer may feel you appear uncertain when you listen/talk while twirling your curls. Lock your hands by folding them in front of you, like the nail-biters, to prevent you from doing this.

  1. Biting your lip or cheek

Biting your lip or cheek subliminal indicates to the employer that you are uncertain or even deceptive. You want to avoid it at all costs. By constantly smiling, it makes it harder to bite your mouth and chew on your lip. So smile away, and that is much more of a positive action.

Tattoos and Piercings at the Interview

By Erica Tew, CPRW

Recently, the question of tattoos and piercings at the interview arose and we debated what was appropriate.  We stuck with the conservative approach as general guidance: always cover up best you can in a professional outfit, and possibly remove any facial piercings. The goal is to be remembered for what you said, not your appearance. 

However, there is another layer to this subject I would like to address.  Before I delve into it, I want to share a few ground rules. I do not think under any circumstances should you show a tattoo that is religious, political, or offensive (lewd imagery, foul language, or gory/violent) in any way. I also think facial piercings should be on the smaller side, to not take too much attention away from your words.

Personally, I am a fan of tattoos and piercings. I think the creativity and skill involved in a well-done tattoo can be really beautiful.  I have a few of my own and have even weighed the interview appearance question on whether or not an industrial piercing or a nose ring should be removed. In my conservative workplace, a small nose ring is becoming very common, but I still tend to cover the industrial with my hair down.

Depending on your company’s culture and attire, tattoos or piercings may be acceptable, or even welcomed.  For example, there is a common belief that you should never trust a tattoo artist that doesn’t have any tattoos of their own.  It happens, but it is really difficult for an artist to make it without some of their own. Places that typically do not mind tattoos could be laborious jobs such as warehouses or shipyards. In retail, many shops welcome their staff to be creativity and display their own artwork; not minding tattoos or piercings.

What you may not realize though, is many of our corporate sectors are tolerant of tattoos and piercings as well. Some universities where you may be working independently can be accepting. Small businesses, startups, and other employers can be a mix- but my advice is, when possible, to simply walk into the building before applying.  See how the employees and managers dress. Note any tattoos or piercings and reflect manager norms in your own interview attire. Even if the employees have visible tattoos or piercings, but the managers are more conservative, you are safest with dressing on the conservative side for your interview. Some companies may not mind tattoos or piercings on employees, but when promoting an employee, they may prefer someone who more closely reflects executive style choices. Dress for the job you want, at the company you want.

Overall, researching the company culture will be most important when determining your interview appearance. Although tattoos and piercings are increasingly accepted, many companies still want employees to reflect their corporate brand at all times, and a tattoo may clash with that brand. If you really love a company and aren’t sure of their policy, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and cover up. If you have further questions, please leave a comment below!

Old School vs New School #GenerationCompany: 5 Tips to get #Hired

By George Bernocco, CPRW

old fashionednew

One of the most important steps to getting your ideal career with your ideal company is research. Understanding the company will give you an advantage during the hiring process. But we must also look at a company’s hiring process on the whole. Is the company up to date with technology? Are they still trying to catch up? Do they rely on “standard” methods of communication? Does the position you are applying for require you to assist with the transition into newer technology?

Although some of these questions I’ve posed require “insider” knowledge, others can be deduced by you noticing the company’s and it’s employee’s behavior. Also being very aware of what the job posting is requiring from you, especially computer skills may help you get a better idea about where the company is in today’s technological age. Gaining insider knowledge involves listening to any current or former employee’s perspective about their work can also give you clues into the company’s culture.

We are at a stage where more and more careers require some method of computer interaction. However, some companies are still trying to advance themselves into the technological age. Recognizing where a company you wish to work for stands on the spectrum of technologically advancement will give you insight into the job laid before you.

Here are some basic tips to give you an advantage with your job search:

  1. You’ve Got Mail

mail

More and more companies are cutting down on the length of time for the application process. If a company is asking you to submit your application over regular mail, it should immediately notify you that they are not up to date with technology. Also, I would even go as far as to say that because everything is done over mail, the pace of the company is much slower. Asking for your application information over e-mail tells you they are more advanced. In this case, I would recommend sending a “thank you” e-mail after the interview. If you sent a “thank you” e-mail to a company who required everything over fax or postal mail, they might view it negatively.

  1. What’s Up, Doc?

Doc

Understand your file types! When applying for a job on the internet, the website or e-mail instructions may require you to upload a file for your resume or application package. Depending on what they ask for can give you a hint to how advanced they are. For example, asking for a .DOCX file format can tell you they expect you to know Microsoft Word 2007 or later. Asking for a .PDF may require you to have understanding of Adobe Reader and conversion of your resume into that format. Asking for a .DOC or .RTF would signify to me they are not as advanced when it comes to Microsoft Office.

  1. Socialite

social

Any mere mention of social networking sites during the application process should give you a big clue that the company is more advanced. Most likely you might see a way to use LinkedIn to apply for the job on their website (a feature becoming more and more popular). Also, if the company has social networking profiles gives you an idea about where they are on the technology spectrum. Some companies, particularly large companies, will have multiple profiles on a website like Twitter (some geared specifically towards their career openings). Knowing that a company consistently utilizes social networking should get you bonus points when you are asked during the interview: “What do you know about our company?” Getting yourself involved in social networking sites can also assist you with standing out. On the other hand, knowing about this information for a company who is behind can produce a selling point on your behalf. Let the company know you are more than willing to assist in the transition to the technology age.

  1. Have You Heard?

newspaper

How you heard the job and where you found it will provide basic clues to the company. An extreme example would be finding a job in the newspaper versus finding a job on LinkedIn. If the job was in the paper, I might stick to more traditional ways of applying. For example, mailing in my resume (or dropping it off in person) and calling for an interview.

  1. Show Off

webcam

Communicating with the company through the computer may mean interviewing through the computer as well. Teleconferencing gives you a big indication of the company’s stance on technology. Some companies may require you to travel long distances (flight and all) for an interview, as opposed to conferencing over the internet. Having the capability to teleconference and understanding how to use Skype and other teleconference services would be an advantage for you. Fumbling around with your computer during a teleconference interview because you can’t get the audio to work would work against you.

A company is an intricate and complex organization which relies on procedures to function. Companies that fall behind in technology will see themselves struggle to stay afloat. Knowing where a company is technologically will be a great advantage to you in the hiring process. Make sure you are up to date with current technology. Some companies will be hiring to help transition themselves into the technological age. Make sure that is a topic you cover during the interview to really make you stand out.

5 Tips: What to Do at the #Interview

When you make it to the interview, you want to be on point. Prepare answers ahead of time that show situations, actions you took, and results to respond to many behavioral questions. Research the company: the company culture, mission, news, and services, can help you relate your skills in a way that shows benefit to the hiring manager. The interview will go even smoother if you follow this advice:

1. Silence your cell phone

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Most people will say to shut off your cell phone or leave it in the car. However, if you use it to schedule appointments, you may want it handy if asked for a follow up appointment or date for a second interview. If your phone does go off, it’s not an immediate “fail.” It all depends on how you recover. Don’t look at who is calling; just shut it down and apologize immediately to continue.

2. Smile

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Sure, interviews make everyone nervous. It may be a combination of nerves and adrenaline, but researching and practice will help build your confidence before the interview. If you’re too worried about how you sound or are constantly wondering if you relayed everything you wanted to say, your face may not read that you’re someone who is excited about the opportunity. Take a moment, breathe, and smile right when you shake hands. If this is a phone interview, smile as you talk as well. Your voice transforms when you’re smiling and makes you sound more enthusiastic and engaged. Plus, everyone likes being around a friendly person. Would you want to work everyday alongside someone who constantly keeps a serious face on?

3. Don’t talk money or benefits

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Unless specifically asked by the interviewer, do not be the first to bring up pay or benefits. Save these questions for the job offer. The interview is a business meeting where you and the employer are trying to see if you will be a quality match for the position. Show that you can do the job and you want to work for the company. It can be a major turn off if a candidate doesn’t use this time well, but rather just asks how much they would make. If the interviewer does bring this information up first, research average salaries from Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information website. Always provide a range for salary to avoid being too expensive or underselling yourself. For more information on Salary Negotiations, see George’s post.

4. Speak clearly and avoid the “Yeahs, Ummms, and Likes”

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If you need to briefly pause and think about your answer before responding, take the time to do it. The interviewer may need you to be a representative of the company, and depending on how you present yourself, speech included, your casual way of speaking may be off-putting. “Umms” and “Like” are fillers that can be reduced by practicing your answers beforehand. I am guilty of the “Yeah” abuse, but in an interview, the answer is always “Yes”.

5. Dress Appropriately

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You can never go wrong with a button-down/blouse and dress pants/conservative skirt. This rule can be modified from company to company. Some company cultures prefer very professional attire. If that’s the case, then suit jackets and ties should be worn. Everyone can benefit from having at least one great suit in their closet. If the office is more casual, perhaps replace the dress pants for some khakis. Research the company and try to match what the manager would be wearing. Ask ahead of time if you think you may be touring any facilities that may require boots, a hardhat, or similar special circumstances. In general, I don’t know of a time where shorts, flipflops, sweatpants, anything low-cut, or anything revealing could be considered acceptable interview attire. Try on your outfit ahead of time to ensure proper fit, and remember: you want to be noticed for what you said, not what you wore. For more on this topic, check out Uriela’s blog post about appropriate interview attire.

If you have questions or concerns about these suggestions or anything related to your upcoming interview, please drop us a line in the comments below!

[All gifs thanks to giphy!]

5 Tips for the #SecondInterview

By George Bernocco, CPRW

round two

Getting the call back from the employer is always a good sign. Something about your resume may have stood out, or something about your first interview made them want you. However, you might not be the only one that has caught their eye. They may need further information to determine who the qualified candidate really is. Having made it through a first interview, you may not know what the second interview will entail. Here are some expectations, information and suggestions when you get the call.

  1. The follow-up interview should not be a surprise

When the employer asked you at the end of the first interview if you had any questions, one of them should have been “when can I expect to hear back from you?” In the answer, the employer might tell you they are looking to narrow down a pool of candidates. Or they might tell you “there will be another round of interviews by this date”. Even if you didn’t get a response about a second interview, you should always expect it. Phone interviews (or teleconference interviews) can typically lead to in-person interviews. A strong candidate will know that there is always more to say about how qualified they are for the position, and should not be afraid to come back in to do it.

  1. You were seen as a viable candidate

Coming in for the second interview, you stood out to the person (or people) who interviewed you the first time. If you do encounter this person at the second interview, chances are that they will not be alone. They will be demonstrating you to their boss, colleagues or your future coworkers. Acknowledge this person, and don’t be afraid to reference anything you spoke about in the prior interview. This person is your key to the success of the second interview, and you want to make sure you elaborate. By the time the second interview has commenced, you should know why they identified you for the next round.

  1. What wasn’t asked, will be asked

If you feel like there were areas you didn’t cover in the first interview, rest assured you have your “second chance”. The second interview will be tougher, meaning more questions, more elaboration, more about you and more about the position. Some second interviews will bring up your salary requirements so be prepared for that question. Just remember that you should always let the employer bring up questions surrounding salary and you should never initiate the discussion. Situational questions, stress questions and/or tests will be provided to really distinguish you from the rest. Details you did not have time to cover in the first interview should be elaborated upon. Think of it this way: the first interview was generic, the second interview is specifics.

  1. Third interview is always a possibility

Don’t assume the interview process is complete when you walk out the door of the second interview. A third interview and beyond can occur when an extremely large amount of people applied, or the employer just wants to be extra sure about whom they hire. Usually with the third interview, they’ve narrowed down the applicant pool to less than a handful of possible candidates. By now you should be more than confident about the position, and at this phase the employer will be discussing very specific details about the job to see how your knowledge and skills can apply.

  1. Don’t forget the Thank You letter

Just as with the first interview, make sure you follow up with a thank you letter. The same rules apply: send or e-mail it out within the first 48 hours (the sooner the better). Mention specifics about the second interview and send it to any individual you met with. One page should always suffice and specifics from the interview should be mentioned.

Do not get discouraged if you are not offered the position after the second interview. You’ve stood out; they’ve seen your resume and talked with you. This company will remember you if other positions are available. They may contact you as soon as the position is posted, before any one else applies. Interviews are a way of networking, and you should have the name(s) of any one who interview you as a connection for the future.

In the years before the job market seemed to crash, second interviews were usually a great sign. They combined an interview with an orientation of the job, having the job seeker fill out necessary employment paperwork as well as negotiating salary. Now that the amount of job seekers has increased significantly, second interviews are ways of narrowing down the pool even further. Just remember that you have stood out, and elaborate on that fact. The employer will ask, in their own way, how you stand out from the other candidates. Ensure you are able to answer this as the most qualified and best person to work for their company, and your second interview will end in success.

Expect the Unexpected: Seven things to know when you get called by the #Employer

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Bad-Phone-Interview-8.28.13

Besides residing in a digital age, the house phone is slowly becoming obsolete. Most resumes nowadays contain one number and it is a cell phone. As most of us know, there are pros and cons to having a mobile device that you carry with you. First and foremost, you can be reached at any time and it is only at your discretion if you choose to answer the phone or not. Employers are also joining in on the digital age, and more often they contact candidates over e-mail. Phone conversations are not obsolete yet, so be prepared for that employer to give you a ring.

After completing an application and after an interview, it is important to be on high alert when it comes to expecting the call. Your phone should already be set up to be as professional as possible:

  • No “ringback tones”.

  • Voicemail recording with your full name.

When you do get the call, there are seven things that you should be aware of:

  1. Number Recognition

phone

A call to your cell phone from an unknown number can mean numerous things. After you’ve applied to several jobs recently, it is easy to assume that it can be an employer. If you’ve done your company research (or even called the employer before), you may recognize the number immediately. If you try to find the number before they attempt to call you, it will be less stressful on your behalf and also less of a mystery.

  1. Availability to Talk

Subway Loud

Recognizing that you may not be able to talk at the time of the call is important. If you are in the middle of a crowded supermarket or entertaining guests at your house, you have a decision to make. Should you try to get some place quieter to talk, or should you let it go to voicemail? Be aware that I have heard stories from jobseekers who attempt to call the employer back after a voice message and have been notified that they are no longer scheduling interviews. Most employers understand and are human, and know that you may not be able to pick up the phone that instant. Just call them back at your earliest convenience.

  1. Preparation

phone prepared

When you answer the phone and decide you want to conduct the conversation then and there, you should at least grab a writing utensil and paper, or open up a blank document on your computer to take notes. You want to grab what you’ll need for the conversation (resume, cover letter, reference numbers, etc). Usually the employer will ask for what they need and it is ok to let them know that it will take you a moment to pull that information up. It does not look good on your behalf if they hear you constantly fumbling around for information. If you cannot pull up what they require, ask them if you can submit it to them at a later date.

  1. Accidental Answer

oops

You may get caught off guard by an employer call and suddenly be trapped. You answered the phone without looking at the caller ID assuming it was someone else, or you “unlocked” your phone just as they were calling. It is important to know to keep calm. Depending on why they are calling you, they may ask you if this is a good time to talk. A decision has to be made on your part if it truly is a good time to hold a conversation. If you are out and about, no where nearly quiet to talk, or about to parachute from an airplane, you should let the employer know that you cannot talk this very instant and you would like to reschedule. If you do reschedule a talk, make sure you mark it down and are available. Rescheduling again is not an option.

  1. Phone Interview

old-telephone-icon

A phone interview is a time consuming process. Employers can schedule this in advance (usually in place of an in-person interview). However, every once in a while an employer may call and interview you on the spot. This is highly stressful, and can be viewed by the employer as a “stress test” to see how you respond. Usually they may ask you questions such as “why did you apply for our company” or “tell me about yourself”. It’s important to be aware and prepared for questions like this once you apply for the job. Make sure you get the person’s name, title and contact information for a follow up thank you letter or e-mail. Ask them for their information at the beginning and/or end of the interview.

  1. Job Offer

job offer

When you get the call and it’s a job offer, you will need to instantly be prepared for dialogue with the employer representative. This includes questions about accepting the position, salary negotiations and a start date. Make sure you are in a place to write this information down so you do not forget.

  1. Thank You

thank you

As the conversation ends, ensure you are grateful for the time that was given on your behalf. Always try to get the person’s name whom you spoke with and have it placed somewhere for you to save for the future, especially if it was a phone interview. If you somehow forgot to say thank you, send an e-mail as soon as you get off the phone ensuring that you appreciated the time they took to speak with you.

#Interview on Skype? 5 Tips to Help You Prepare

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If you’re broadening your job search and open to relocation, you may be applying to places hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away.  In these cases, it is not always financially possible to meet and have an in-person interview.  Skype interviews are becoming more common for long distance candidates.  If you have yet to participate in one, here are a few tips to consider-

1.   Have a professional username– Just like an email address and voice mail greeting; keep your username simple and professional.  If you are embarrassed to share your Skype ID with an employer, create a new registration and change your username.

2.  Ensure your equipment is functioning – Skype has many test features for you to see if your microphone’s quality will be effective during the interview.  Check to see if you can transmit both audio and images.  Test this at least a few days ahead of time with a colleague in case you find out your microphone needs to be replaced, or any various other technical glitches.  You can expect technical glitches during the interview, but preparation and practice ahead of time will save you some of the hassle.

If you are new to Skype, I recommended just getting started and talking to a friend or family member.  Get used to seeing yourself in the corner of your screen if using a webcam is entirely new to you.  It can be distracting, but remember- eye contact still counts!  Practice looking towards the camera lens when you reply to your friend, and not right at their image (or with your eyes down, looking at your own image.)  This way, you will know you can maintain eye contact during the interview.

For the technical aspect of testing the functionality of your equipment and hardware, I recommend browsing WikiHow for most issues.  Skype’s website also has tutorials and FAQ sections for reference.

3.  Close all other programs– Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the keyboard is a quick way to open the Task Manager.  Close unnecessary programs so Skype can smooth and quickly.

4.  Proper lighting and plain surroundings– Nothing is worse than the creepy factor of a low-lit room while you are Skype-ing.  Play with light sources or lamps available to you and see what set up produces the best lighting so the interviewer can see you.  Having plain surroundings will also help them focus on you alone, and not your personal items, posters, or shelves filled with collectibles or family photos.  If you are using a PC and it is too difficult to move these items, try putting up a curtain or backdrop as a quick fix.

“A cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea about your organizational skills.  Also, rid the area of personal items- no need to share too much information.  A blank or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop.”

-Forbes “7 Ways to Nail a Skype Interview” April 2013

5.  Treat this like an in-person or telephone interview– Schedule a block of time without any distractions and in a quite environment.  Have a glass of water and your company research notes nearby for reference.  Dress professionally and practice your previously prepared interview responses.  Most importantly, take a deep breath, smile, and show your excitement for this potential opportunity!

#Interview Success: Align Your #Goal

By George Bernocco, CPRW

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If you want to pass the interview and get the job, it revolves around a simple idea. You were selected to see if you match what the company is looking for. Even though it is considered an “employer market”, it is important for your goals to align with the company’s goals.

Alignment

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Companies want to know if you can do the job, simple enough. The company has goals of their own which usually involve staying in business and getting more business. An employer also wants to know if you mesh with their idea of a perfect candidate. A necessary question you must ask the employer during an interview is:

“What is your idea of a qualified candidate?”

Their response will give you the information required to correctly align yourself as that qualified person. However, it is important for you to know what your plans are if you get hired.

1. Is this job a place you plan on staying for a while?

2. Are you going to be seeking a promotion?

3. What is your ultimate goal when you get within the company walls?

These are questions employers are wondering, even if they do not come out and ask during the interview. The questions they do ask will give them an idea of what your goals are. Assumptions will be made, and it is important for you to either verify or adjust any assumption the employer makes. For example, if you are considered “overqualified” for the position, the assumption might be made that you will not be at the company for long because you may be offered something that better suits your qualifications.

When you identify any incorrect assumptions about your goals, and correct them during the interview, you have aligned your goals with that of the employer. Addressing the issues at hand can be a direct question asked to the employer:

“Is there anything I have mentioned during this interview that concerns you?”

The direct approach can work in your favor, but it is up to you to determine if it is appropriate to ask and to have the courage to ask it. Once you’ve demonstrated that your goals are similar to the employers, you’ve successfully passed the interview. Qualified candidates have the ability to ask questions to the employer during the interview to gauge what they are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they think about you as it can help you stand out in a positive manner.

Success and Progress in #JobSearch

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Yesterday I was at home, Netflixing a television show I’ve come to love, and I heard this bit of advice, “Life will knock you down more times than you will ever image, so you can’t knock yourself down.”  It came when a high school junior didn’t want to attend college interviews because she felt she always ruined her good opportunities. What seemed at first like depressing reality ended up being motivating wisdom.  If you don’t believe you can do something, or succeed at something, why would anyone else believe you could?

This ties in to job search and any other career struggles we may face.  If you don’t believe you’re the best person for the job, is that same feeling becoming apparent to your boss or the hiring manager conducting the interview?

With all of the troubles life throws at you, don’t have your own negative self-talk be another obstacle. Success comes from trying.  You can’t fail if you don’t try, and sometimes the greatest successes come after what seems like the biggest failures.  I could share the countless times I’ve felt like I completely messed up in my career- some experiences ranged from being too young to understand professionalism with proper communication, and some have just been downright embarrassing- and although it might make some of you laugh, it would detract from my overall message.  The point is it was during those points that I really began to shape who I was.  We have the freedom to make choices; in how we act, what we say, how we treat others- and those choices influence our opportunities.

Routine means both a regular schedule and unsurprising, predictable, and monotonous.  If everything always runs smoothly, there will never be a reason to change or analyze your actions.  How we recover and progress forward from the obstacles in our lives, professional or otherwise, will shape the course for the rest of our lives.  That is why when you’re job searching, it is most advantageous to keep a routine, but vary the ways you job search every day.  If while you were working, you woke up at 8AM every day, continue to wake up at 8AM every day.  If you went for a run every other day at 2PM, keep doing that.  During your job search hours, switch the activities.  Perhaps one day you can complete applications, and another you can work on your resume.  You could take a free workshop on interviewing techniques at a local job center, and later on attend an industry networking event.  Maybe every Friday you attend a job search club as well.  Keep a routine, but don’t make your job search routine.  You have to vary the ways you market yourself to get results, and part of that comes from trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone a bit, and not being afraid to fail.

If networking in person or writing an email to someone you’ve yet to meet gives you some anxiety, then meet with a career advisor or research best practices so you don’t try to “go in cold.”  Education is one of the biggest ways to gain confidence because the more you know about a topic, the more comfortable it is to approach that topic.  If you’ve had a bad experience at a potential networking opportunity, remember that we consider an experience “embarrassing” when we think we are not meeting our own standards of what is acceptable.  There’s no need to over-apologize for embarrassing moments, but try to learn from it or laugh about it.  We are our harshest critics.

It’s okay to be afraid, and you have to put yourself out there to get noticed.  Just don’t let the fear of something going wrong stop you from doing anything you want to do.  Things will go wrong.  Something always does.  The question is, will a failure set you back from progress, or will you keep trying?  Success is temporary, but it makes all the struggles in between worth it.

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