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

giphy2

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

giphy5

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

giphy3

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”

giphy4

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

giphy

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!]

Advertisements

#Interview on Skype? 5 Tips to Help You Prepare

IMG_0972

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!

Saving Face, Booking Your Future: Using #Facebook for #JobSearch

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Facebook_like_thumb

There has been a lot of talk about LinkedIn to get people back to work. In fact, when I was asked to conduct a general social media workshop, the content I was given revolved almost entirely around LinkedIn. I consider myself to be a realist, and to not mention Facebook when talking about social media is incomprehensible. Facebook is wildly popular and trends suggest the social media giant will be around for quite some time.

When I do mention Facebook and employment in my workshop, people suddenly know someone who knows someone that was let go because of Facebook. A general search on Google provided me with multiple cases of Facebook causing people to leave a job unwillingly. Opening up your feelings in such an open forum can come back to you. The news outlets have plenty of examples of those who now regret what they said in a status update or a tweet. The news does not report how many people obtain jobs through Facebook. So how does one gear their profile to get them a job? Here are some pieces of advice:

privacy

Control your privacy

Make sure you get into your privacy settings and know who can see which parts of your profile. This is crucial, because if you haven’t been getting those calls for interviews and you’re wondering why, your Facebook profile may be accessible. Employers who can will access your profile and you want it to help you. The privacy settings can be confusing, but they are there to protect you. Remember that you can control who can see your photos, and other individual aspects of your profile.

professional

Keep it professional

You may find it amusing to have a profile picture from your last Christmas party. You may like to curse out politicians amongst your friends. Just remember that you can be found by people outside your group of friends unless you adjust your privacy. If a prospective employer sees you binge drinking in your profile picture, they will not like it. They will also not be too thrilled with status updates (if they have access to them) in which you decided to swear at someone. These are judgments that will be made against you and will impact your ability to be hired. Also remember that if you are asking someone for a reference, or having someone you know try to get you a job at a company, they may not want to vouch for you because of what they see on your Facebook.

group

Create or join groups

As with LinkedIn, Facebook has groups you can join. These groups may be relevant to your profession. I would recommend joining them and connecting with them. If you cannot find any for your profession, create one. I don’t see a problem with joining groups that are directly related to your hobbies. Just be aware that the employer may have access to the groups you do join. If they do, avoid controversial groups, or ones that may disclose too much information about you. Otherwise, groups are excellent networking tools find out about job openings. When networking through the internet, reciprocity is crucial Help others and they will be more inclined to help you.

help

Ask for help

Not everyone you are connected to may know you are looking for work. I have seen my fair share of status updates asking for a cover letter, a resume critique or where to find a job. The more people on your side for job search, the easier it will be to find a job. Maybe your network doesn’t know of any opportunities at the exact moment you posted your question. Hopefully from then on, you will be in the back of their mind so when they do hear about a position, they will let you know.

Facebook has really opened up the doors for social networking. Just ensure you can gear it towards obtaining employment. We all have our personalities, our personal lives which employers understand. However, it is an employer market in which the companies are looking for ways to cut down on such a large pool of candidates. Facebook can hurt; there is no doubt about it. The trick is to use any types of social media as a positive and by staying professional, managing your privacy and networking, you will have utilized Facebook to help you find a job.

Professionalism on LinkedIn Job Seeking Groups

By Erica Tew, CPRW

 The Dos and Don’ts of  Participating in  Job Seeker Groups on LinkedIn

networking

From previous posts and other blogs, you may already be well-aware of the many benefits of LinkedIn, including the fabulous recommendations  –  but there are also hundreds of great Job Seeking Groups on LinkedIn. You can search “Job Search” or any related keywords in LinkedIn’s search bar to find these groups.  Job seekers, career coaches and resume writers all network together and discuss strategies.  Members can share related articles they find particularly insightful or intriguing, opening up a discussion for members to weigh in on the topics with their own opinions.  At times, members can even share their job seeking troubles and ask the group for advice.  On this, I would caution everyone to not confuse LinkedIn Groups with anything else but a professional networking resource, so all members must try to maintain a professional image.

For an example, I have participated in groups where job seekers would give us a recap how their interviews or searches went.  These discussions were very effective; members helped the job seeker develop interview answers and avoid sending off any red flags to an employer, and focusing everything on the job opening in question.   The problem was this job seeker was providing details such as his general impression of certain interviewers’ personalities, company names to where he was applying and interviewing, and even making jokes when he shared that an employer asked a question that could be considered “illegal.”  (For the record, no question is ever “illegal.” That is a huge pet peeve of mine.  However, if an employer bases their hiring decision off of something not job-related and possibly discriminatory such as age, race, gender, etc – that is illegal.)

All of this sharing was received by the group of 400-500 members, but only around 45 were very active contributors.  From participating in a group, and getting to know people better online, it is natural that bonds can be formed.  I am virtual best friends with a few awesome women on Pinterest, in fact.  But differentiating your professional and personal networking profiles is crucial.  Posting very detailed and specific information on a LinkedIn group may become a huge regret if it gets you cancelled interviews or pulled from job offers.  Not all websites are as easy to delete posts as LinkedIn, but it is better to always think about your posts before submitting, instead of regretting later on.

I-immediately-regret-this-decision-anchorman

STRATEGIES

Strategy puzzle

In Connecticut, we have many no-cost networking groups available at our local job centers, and I will gladly provide more information on them if requested.  If you aren’t local and feel that online groups are your only resource, I recommend the following:

DON’T

  1. Share the company name or specifics where people could figure out the location.  This is a courteous gesture and will also help safeguard your place as a potential candidate.
  2. Give details about your negative impression of the interviewer (ie, if someone seemed unprepared, unprofessional, etc.) The details could be subjective and may relate to the company culture of being more “relaxed” instead of “unprofessional.”
  3. Speak to the group like you would a close friend or career counselor.  As tough as job searching is, LinkedIn is not an appropriate forum for venting, but we all need to do it every once in a while.  There are many resources and strategies to deal with job search and interview  rejection.  Take some time to clear your head until you can speak with someone you trust, but keep the discussion offline and in an appropriate setting.

DO

  1. Seek feedback.  Share the questions you were asked, how you responded, and see if you can find ways to strengthen your answer for the next interview.  This is a very proactive way to benefit from the knowledge of your fellow members.
  2. Share success.  This motivates other job seekers, and no success is too small.  Share if you landed an interview, or especially when you receive a job offer.  (Just keep in mind no specific details.)
  3. Reciprocate.  If people have given you helpful advice, they have done this out of kindness and the desire to network with you.  Help others by sharing what has worked for you.  This is the key to success in networking.  Which leads me to…
  4. Network.  Groups are a fantastic way to meet more professionals that you may not have had the opportunity of meeting offline.  Write personalized messages to the members you interact with and request to connect with them.

Explore the various job seeker groups.  Start joining a few and contributing with your comments or posts.  I hope you enjoy them, and let us know here if you have any questions!