15 Tips misc
Simulation & Gaming:
An Interdisciplinary Journal
You may think that phone interviews are easier to coast through because
you don’t have to shake hands, dress up, or think about nonverbal
communication. But, phone interviews can be tricky if you don’t prepare,
are easily distracted, or pick the wrong place to answer your phone. Here
are three tips to help you get through your next phone interview.
Be prepared – Just like with a face-to-face interview,
you should take your preparation seriously.
Familiarize yourself with the company, and find out who you’re
interviewing with. Also, prepare questions to ask the interviewer, and
commonly asked interviews questions. For a phone interview, make sure
your phone is fully charged and has a good signal if you’re using your
cell phone. If you can, use a land line instead. You want to be able to
clearly hear the interviewers and have them hear you as well.
Stay focused – Schedule your phone at a time of day
that will allow you to prepare, and pick an appropriate location to answer
the call. Place yourself in a room or a corner away from distractions
where you can fully concentrate on your interview. Put your
cover letter in front of you so you can reference them if the
interviewer asks you a specific question regarding either one. Have a pen
and notepad ready so you’ll be better suited to take notes. Write down
questions you think of during the interview so you can remember to ask
them when it’s time.
Limit background noise – Creating a distraction-free
area will help you sound professional and stay focused. Phones can pick up
background noises very easily, so be sure to limit what you can. For
example, avoid chewing gum, drinking, or eating during the interview. It’s
okay to have a glass of water available, but don’t gulp it loudly. Turn
off the radio or television, and stay away from children and pets because
they’ll only create unwanted noise and distractions.
Just like a face-to-face interview, a phone interview can lead you to a
job offer, or keep you from landing a job. So, make sure to treat a phone
interview with the same preparation and professionalism you would for an
Professional athletes must spend many hours working toward their goals in
order to succeed. The same is true for job seekers. If you’ve been on the
hunt for a job for a while, you’re probably well aware of how intensive
the job search process can be. Applying and interviewing for jobs takes a
lot of time, energy, and dedication. To land the job you desire, focus on
beefing up your interviewing skills.
Stretch Your Small Talk Skills
In sports and in job interviews, sometimes you have to stretch yourself
beyond what you’re comfortable with. You may not like making small talk,
but your ability to converse well with interviewers plays a big part in
their impressions of you. If you find yourself clamming up or stammering
through chit chat with prospective employers, you need to practice your
conversation skills. To perform well at the “big game,” rehearse answering
common introductory questions such as: “What do you think of this
weather?” and “Did you have any trouble finding the place?” Practice will
keep your answers from being too abrupt or rambling.
Exercise Self Confidence
Star players don’t become MVPs by putting themselves down or being
pessimists. When you believe in yourself, others are inclined to do the
same. Even if you’ve been through 50 job interviews that haven’t resulted
in a job offer, keep a smile on your face and maintain a positive
attitude. Remember, successful athletes have to keep playing their best
even when they’ve lost a few games. So, refrain from making self
deprecating remarks or using sarcasm. Instead, convince employers that
you’re the right person for the job by demonstrating self assurance and
Strengthen Your Post-Interview Follow Up
When athletes are weak in a particular area, they train hard to become
stronger. If your post-interview follow up is lacking, you need to focus
on pumping it up. What you do after the job interview is nearly as
important as how you act during the job interview itself. You can’t win
the job offer without having a good follow-up game. Keeping in touch with
the employer by being available for repeat job interviews and sending a
thank you note are important steps in receiving the coveted job offer.
Make post-interview follow-up a top priority, and you’ll be rewarded by
becoming a candidate employers can’t wait to draft.
Do you ever feel like your job search skills are in need of a work out?
What type of “training” do you do before a job interview?
The first part of this series is on making a solid first impression with a
professional appearance. To read it,
Make sure your skills are competitive.
Every industry has its own set of rules for what skills are currently in
demand. Do you know what employers in your field are looking for in an
ideal candidate? If not, you need to find out. One way to do this is by
carefully reviewing help-wanted ads and looking for a pattern. Highlight
qualifications that you see listed repeatedly. These are the skills you
need in order to attract the attention of hiring managers.
After you’ve determined what abilities are in high demand in your
field, you’re ready for the next step – developing those skills. If your
skills are weak in a particular area, that could be what’s keeping you
from landing a job in your desired industry. Remember that you’re
competing with many other candidates for open positions, and those with
the best qualifications often receive top billing.
Perhaps you feel you don’t have the time, energy or finances to improve
your skills. That’s not necessarily the case. Have you thoroughly
researched what it would take for you to increase your qualifications?
Most likely, the time and money you spend now to improve your professional
abilities will pay off through better job opportunities in the future.
Have you been looking for a job for quite some time? If you’re beginning
to feel discouraged about your prospects, take heart – you can improve
your odds of landing a good job quickly by following the tips below.
Let your appearance make a positive first impression.
Appearances matter. To compete in today’s job market you need to consider
what your look is saying about you. When was the last time you updated
your hairstyle and wardrobe? If it’s been more than five years, it’s time
to get a makeover. Sporting a dated look makes employers wonder if your
skills and ideas may be old news as well.
If you’re not sure what’s in style, turn on the TV or flip through some
magazines to get a few ideas. Then go to your local department stores and
look for bargains on classic business garments such as button down shirts,
tailored jackets and black trousers and skirts.
Once you’ve got the clothes, it’s time to take a look at your hair.
Your hairstyle is one of the first things people notice about your
appearance, so make an appointment at a reputable hair salon to get an
updated look. Hair stylists can also help groom unruly beards, sideburns
and mustaches in a fashionable way.
Parts 2 and 3 of this series will touch on keeping your skills
up-to-date and expanding your job search.
You may have noticed that a job offer or promotion doesn’t always go to
the candidate with the most experience or best training. Instead,
employers often hire and promote the candidate who seems most willing and
able to learn the new role.
You might be asking yourself why a manager would ever pass up on a
candidate with greater experience or more up-to-date skills. The reason is
simple, really. While work history and capabilities are important, they’re
no match for a willing attitude. In any new position there will always be
new things for the employee to learn. That’s why the candidate who’s most
trainable is often the preferred choice.
Becoming more trainable will not only make it easier to learn a new
job, it will also boost your career by demonstrating to employers that
you’re ready for any challenge. If you’re not sure how teachable you are,
review the traits below and find out. If you fall short, don’t worry –
once you know where you’re lacking, you can work on making improvements.
1. Enthusiasm – Eagerness to learn is a quality
employers value highly in job candidates as well as internal recruits. A
go-getter attitude makes learning any job easier, and enthusiasm increases
a hiring manager’s confidence in potential employees’ abilities.
If your outlook toward work tends to be more ho-hum than vroom vroom,
you can kick up your career a notch by displaying enthusiasm during
interviews or at your current job.
Remember, it’s no fun to train someone who doesn’t want to learn.
That’s why when someone comes off disinterested, it’s no wonder employers
are skittish about offering a position. So, slap a smile on your face and
show some drive by demonstrating excitement about your work.
2. Humility – It’s impossible to learn new things if
you don’t think those around you have anything to teach you. Author C.S.
Lewis once said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people;
and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something
that’s above you.”
In order to be trainable, you have to come to new situations with an
acceptance that you don’t know everything. Being humble isn’t the same
thing as putting yourself down or having low self esteem. It’s important
to feel good about yourself and to display confidence, but that doesn’t
mean stepping on other people or refusing to listen to their instructions.
You can show your willingness to learn by valuing the opinions of
others and asking for advice from time to time. When employers see that
you respect the knowledge of those around you, they’ll be more inclined to
hire and promote you.
3. Commitment – Learning new things isn’t always fun.
Sometimes, training can be frustrating or boring. But, dedication is what
enables you to overcome hurdles and succeed in a new role.
Do you stick it out even when times get tough? Hiring managers know
that there’s a learning curve associated with any new position. That’s why
they want to hire and promote individuals who are willing to stay the
You can increase your level of professional dedication by always
following through on your commitments, turning projects in on time and
keeping your word. Employers will be convinced of your perseverance when
you can show a track record of dependability.
Do you want to be an in-demand employee? If so, focus on becoming more
trainable by demonstrating enthusiasm, humility and commitment. Your
efforts will be rewarded with interest and respect from employers.
You’ve probably heard that you should write a thank you note after an
interview. But have you followed this important advice or ignored this
step? Do you know if it affected your
? Here are three major reasons why you should always write a
thank you note following an interview.
1. It’s simple.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t write a thank you note. It doesn’t have to
be a long, exhaustive letter. It can be a simple, handwritten note that
expresses your gratitude to the employer for taking the time to
interview you. Or, you could send a thoughtful e-mail, especially if
you know the hiring decision will be made quickly. This is your chance to
demonstrate your professionalism and show that you’d be a courteous
addition to the team. Make sure to thank everyone you interviewed with and
use proper spelling and grammar. Learn how to write a
post-interview thank you note so you can follow-up quickly after your
2. It sets you apart.
I recently attended a meeting where the guest speaker spoke about writing
thank you notes. Out of 30 qualified candidates for her position, she was
the only one that wrote a thank you note. And she’s the one who was
offered the job. This just goes to show how important a thank you note can
be in determining whether or not you receive a job offer. Sending a note
doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a job, but it can help push you ahead if
you’re on equal ground with other qualified applicants. Interviewers take
notice of those who make this extra effort. So, set yourself apart by
taking the time to write a thank you note to your potential employer. It
won’t hurt your chances of getting the job if you send a note, but it
might hurt you if you fail to send one.
3. It’s an opportunity to provide more information.
A thank you note gives you the perfect opportunity to provide further
information to the interviewer. You can include information you forgot to
mention during the interview that would reinforce why you are the right
candidate for the job. Remind employers of your strengths or share new
information that entices them to request another interview or extend a job
offer. This is one more chance to make a great impression, so don’t pass
Taking a few moments to write a post-interview thank you note can make
the difference between receiving a job offer and having to continue the
job hunt. Don’t forget this important step, because your dream job could
be a simple thank you away.
Do you write thank you notes to those you’ve interviewed with? How has
it affected your job search?
looking for a job
, it’s a great idea to have a few references in mind
in case you’re asked to list some during the application process. But,
depending on your work history and what type of position you’re applying
for, it can be difficult to come up with sources for references. Here are
10 great types of people to look to for references.
1. Former employer. The most obvious person to look
for to get a job reference from is a former employer. Make sure this
person is someone who knew of your work. Depending on the size of the
company, this may be your direct supervisor or manager, or it could be the
company owner. If you use a former employer, don’t use one who fired you
due to performance or other job-related issues.
2. Current employer. Depending on your relationship
and status with your current employer, this can be a good place to find a
reference. If you’re subject to downsizing, are on a temporary assignment,
or serve as an intern, it’s perfectly fine to ask your boss for a
reference, because they know you’ll be looking for work. You can also ask
your current boss to be a reference if you’ve simply grown beyond the
current job you have and your employer supports this decision and knows
you are looking.
3. Volunteer supervisor. If you volunteer for a civic,
social or charitable organization, a supervisor or other high-level member
of the organization can serve as a terrific reference and speak to your
work ethic, attitude and willingness to go the extra mile.
4. Teacher or professor. Also consider people who have
played a part in your education, personal or professional development, or
job search. If they can speak highly of your work ethic, knowledge and
application of job-related concepts, they could be a great source for a
5. Business acquaintance. Sometimes, acquaintances you
know through networking or professional development groups can be a good
source for a reference, especially if they know of your work, have seen
you in action or have a relationship with a customer or client who speaks
highly of you.
6. Customer or client. Depending on the type of work
you are pursuing, a current or former customer or client can serve as a
reference. They can speak directly about your professionalism, timeliness
and value to them, along with your ability to interact and form
relationships. Sometimes, clients and customers will even take their
business to the organization you join. When a customer or client speaks
that well of you, it demonstrates your value to the organization beyond
your ability to get the job done.
7. Former co-worker. In some situations, it’s
appropriate to use a co-worker as a job reference, especially if they were
on a team with you and you don’t think your employer or supervisor would
make a good reference. But, tread carefully when considering a current
co-worker as a reference, because you don’t want to create gossip, hard
feelings, jealousy or maliciousness over the fact that you are considering
leaving your job, because that never makes for a positive reference.
8. Teammate or group member. People you’re played with
on sports team or fellow members of a hobby club or special interest group
can make good references, especially if you have played a leadership role
on a team or group outside of work. Those you’ve interacted with there
will able to highlight a different element of your personality and
demonstrate that you are a well-rounded person.
9. Fellow volunteer or board member. If you volunteer
with a group or organization, fellow volunteers can make excellent
references, particularly if they are in the same field you are pursuing.
If you serve on a board with other business people, they can be an
excellent source to demonstrate your professionalism and leadership.
10. Personal acquaintance. Depending on the type of
job and the type of references requested, you can use a personal
acquaintance as a reference to speak about your character and personality
off the job. This type of reference can show how well-rounded, consistent,
responsible and personable you are.
When you’re looking for references, select people who can speak to some
aspect of your work abilities, character, leadership, work ethic or
knowledge. Don’t forget to ask as a courtesy before you list someone as a
reference. And always double-check that you have the most up-to-date
contact information for every reference you select.
Who have been your best job references? Or, who have you thought about
asking but aren’t quite sure?
Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview! Maybe you’re even on your
second or third meeting with a particular employer. As things move along
in the process, you’re getting closer to the time of salary negotiation.
To ensure that you’re prepared when the time comes to talk about money,
check out the following tips.
Let Them Bring It Up.
You don’t want to be the one to broach the subject of compensation. If the
employer is interested in you, you can be sure that the topic will
eventually come up, so wait for that time to discuss it. That means you
shouldn’t list your salary requirements on your résumé unless you’re
required to do so.
Stating how much money you want too soon can box you into a figure that
is lower than what you might’ve received otherwise, or it can eliminate
you from consideration because the amount is too high.
Also, bringing up salary too early in the process is presumptuous and
can make it appear that you’re only interested in money.
Do Your Research.
Before the interview, it’s your job to find out what the going rate is for
the position you’re being considered for. This figure will vary depending
on your location, skills, experience and education.
To get an idea of what the salary for the job will be, do online
research on sites like salary.com, salary.monster.com or payscale.com. If
you happen to have friends who work at the company you’re interviewing
with or know people who work in the same industry, you can get a good idea
about what type of salary you can expect.
Researching compensation before the interview is an essential step to
receiving a competitive salary. After all, if you don’t know what’s a fair
price, how will you know if the interviewer’s offer is one you want to
Don’t Be Too Quick to Accept the First Offer.
Before you shout “yes” to the first number out of the employer’s mouth,
take a moment to think things through. Even if you’re satisfied with the
offer, it’s best to not be hasty.
Consider asking for a day or two to review the offer before committing.
During this time, evaluate the offer and ensure that it’s in line with the
position responsibilities and your background.
If the offer seems too low based on your research, try making a counter
offer. But be sure you have solid reasons for asking for increased
compensation or other perks. Employers won’t be inclined to dish out more
money just because you say you “need” it. That’s why you’ll have to be
able to explain why your skills and the position responsibilities deserve
a higher salary. Chances are, even if the employer is unable to sweeten
the deal, they’ll respect you for thinking things through and knowing what
Before going in for an interview, it’s important to know what a
reasonable pay range is for the position you’re applying for and to be
able to sell your skills to the employer. By preparing for salary
negotiations, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the competitive
salary you deserve.
You have been searching for a new job, so you’ve
worked on your résumé
, applied to a few places and have been offered
an interview. Now it’s time to practice your interview skills. To be
successful in the interview process and move you from the runner-up to the
person who is offered the job, here are some key mistakes to avoid.
Being unprepared. Not being prepared gives the impression
that you are not interested in the position or the company.
Research the company and be ready to answer basic questions such as:
“What do you know about my company?” or “What interests you about this
position?” Write down a few
questions for the interviewer, and then ask them at the appropriate
time. Practice ahead of time how you will
answer questions, such as those about your strengths and weaknesses.
Role playing with a friend or family member can provide you with the
practice you need for a smooth, and slightly less nerve-wrecking
Inappropriate attire. Dressing appropriately is
essential for a positive first impression. If you are not sure what to
wear, check with the company to determine their dress code. Then, dress
one level above that. For example, if a company’s dress code is casual,
wear business casual attire. If you are unable to determine the dress code
or are in doubt, wear a suit, because it is always better to overdress
than to underdress.
Poor timing. Don’t show up late for an interview; it’s
inappropriate and gives the impression that you don’t take the interview
seriously or value the company’s time. Plan ahead, know the route to the
location and leave early. If you are unfamiliar with the area, make sure
you drive by the day before your interview to ensure you don’t get lost on
your way. But, don’t arrive too early. Arriving more than 10-15 minutes
early may make it appear that you have too much extra time, making you
look desperate. Aim to arrive about 10-15 minutes before the interview,
and use the extra time to stop by the restroom to straighten your hair and
clothing. If you are going to be late, be courteous to the interviewer,
and call them immediately to reschedule.
Preparing and practicing for your interview can help you avoid these
common mistakes and can mean the difference between an awful interview and
a successful one. You’ll be ready for any interview that comes your way by
remembering to plan ahead, dress appropriately and be on time.
Have you made any of these mistakes in an interview? How do you think
it effected the outcome of a job offer? What mistakes would you suggest
others avoid during an interview?
On Monday I wrote about what you should
research about a company
before your first interview. Today I will
discuss the importance of that research as a vital step when preparing for
your interview. Being prepared will not only increase your confidence, it
will also create a great first impression for the interviewer. Researching
a company can also increase your chances of receiving a job offer for the
position you want, because you will be able to illustrate your knowledge
and enthusiasm about the employer.
Familiarizing yourself with the
company shows the interviewer that you are interested in working for the
company and care enough to do your research. When you ask insightful
questions, the interviewer will take notice. You will be demonstrating
your intelligence and preparedness by responding to the interviewer’s
questions with ease.
Knowing about the company will also help you determine whether or not
it’s a good fit for you. Do you believe in the company’s mission and
values? Do the company’s values, morals and beliefs match with your own?
This is important because it may be stressful if you accept a position
only to find out later that your values and the company’s clash. For
example, the research institute you’re applying to work for conducts a
type of research that you’re opposed to. If you’d known this fact ahead of
time, you may not have taken the position and could have avoided an
It is important to prepare for your first interview, and research
should be included in that preparation. You will feel and appear more
confident, leaving a better impression to the interviewer and increasing
your chances to get the job you want. You will also have the information
to make the right decision about a job offer.
How has research helped you land the job you wanted? What advice can
you offer to others in their job search?
Before your first interview at a company or organization you should
research your potential employer and be fully prepared. You don’t want to
miss out on a job because you didn’t research your prospective employer.
But do you know where to look for important information regarding your
potential employer or even what to look for?
Most of the company’s information is readily available to you. First,
check out the employer’s website and their competitors’ sites to learn
about the industry. Read the About Us, Facts, and Media Center sections.
Find journals, magazines, and newspapers that contain articles about the
company, and learn as much as you can so that you will be familiar with
the company’s successes and latest ventures. You can search the Internet
or visit your local library to access these resources. This will show the
interviewer that you care enough about the company to familiarize yourself
about it ahead of time.
If you know someone at the company, give them a call and ask them a few
questions before your interview. They can give you a personal view on the
company, its culture and employees, but make sure to double-check their
information. You don’t want to look unprepared by misquoting a fact during
Here are some key items to research:
• The year the company was established
• Products or services provided
• Mission statement and goals
• Business Model
• Profitability of the company and potential for growth
• Corporate culture
• Organizational structure
• Key employees
• Locations, if more than one
Are you going to be prepared with an answer if an interviewer asks,
“What do you know about my company?” or “Why are you interested in this
position?” These are popular questions, so make sure you know your facts.
Remember, research can be time consuming and should not be put off until
the night before the interview. Collect as much information as you can
about the company, prepare a few questions for the interviewer, and don’t
be afraid to ask the questions you prepared. Asking thoughtful questions
will show that you have done your research.
Researching the company before your interview can mean the difference
between getting the job and not receiving an offer. Research is an
important step to increase your chances of landing the job you want. So,
take the time to research the company, and you will be ready to tackle
your next interview.
Are you prepared for your next interview? What tips or suggestions do
you have for others preparing for their first interview?
Interviewing for a job
is a challenging task. If you’ve done things
and thought in advance about how to talk about your
qualifications, researched the company, practiced answering difficult
questions with a friend, dressed to match the company culture, and arrived
promptly, you may already feel pretty confident by the time you shake
hands with the interviewer. After you’ve
answered the questions
, demonstrated your industry and company
knowledge, shown you are a good fit for their team, and
made the connection
with everyone in the room, you may feel you’re on
the homestretch to landing the job.
But there’s one last thing you can
do to seal the deal before you walk out the door. And it will really set
you apart from other candidates. It’s a technique called closing the
In most scenarios, at the end of an interview, if things have gone
well, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. There are
many good ones to choose from. And, even if you think you know
everything about the job and the people sitting before you, you should
ask a few questions, because doing so demonstrates your interest in
the position as well as your enthusiasm and curiosity to know more.
But if things have gone well and you have connected with the
interviewers, there’s one question that
be your final choice for the meeting. It’s a closing question, and it
puts you in control, demonstrates your self-confidence, and is a memorable
final impression to make.
“At this point, what would keep you from hiring me?”
Most interviewers will be honest with you, and at the very least, you
will get some good feedback on how you’ve presented yourself. At the best,
the interviewer’s answer to this question will stick in their mind and
solidify you as a top choice. Asking this question may be one of the most
challenging things you’ve ever done, but having the confidence to close an
interview is one of the best ways to stand apart from a sea of applicants
and demonstrate that you know you are right for the job.
Age discrimination in the workforce is an
issue that is not often addressed; however, there are ways to get your
foot in the door if you’re a seasoned employee. According to a survey of
168 executives with a median age of 50 conducted by
a referral network, 74% surveyed are concerned they will be discriminated
against because of their age, and 58% believe they have experienced age
discrimination in the past. Although age discrimination does exist, it is
one of the hardest discriminations to prove, according to research by
If you find yourself struggling to find a job
and think that your age might be a factor, here are a few tips to aide you
in your job search.
Start with your résumé. When
searching for a job, make sure your résumé offers the most recent and
mature job applicants to reference only the last 10 or 15 years of your
job experience. Often times, candidates are overlooked because they have
too much experience. Try taking some classes that educate you on the
latest technology or trends in your industry, and make sure to list them
on your résumé. Also, avoid listing dates such as high school or college
graduation, as these can reveal your age.
Update your wardrobe. In an
nearly half of the respondents surveyed felt that older workers cannot
adapt to change. When you go in for an interview, make sure that not only
your résumé reflects your knowledge of current work trends, but your
attire reflects current styles as well. This doesn’t mean you have to
dress in the latest trends or fashion, but ensuring your wardrobe and
hairstyle aren’t aging you unnecessarily is always helpful when searching
for a job. This boosts your self confidence, and allows the employer to
see that you are up-to-date with what is going on around you.
Sell yourself. Don’t let the
age factor get you down. If you show you’re confident and skilled,
potential employers will be less likely to consider your age a factor when
making hiring decisions. You may feel that younger people are hired to
replace older workers, but keep in mind that younger workers feel most
jobs are held by people with experience. Instead of focusing on this
remember to sell your skills and abilities. Let the interviewer know you
are open to training and learning new things. Make sure they know why
you’re there and why you’re qualified for the position. Research the
company before you interview so you can offer insight on how your past
experience can benefit their company. Show enthusiasm and eagerness to
learn, but don’t sound desperate.
Network with peers in your industry.
You might feel as though you’re too old to network, but that couldn’t be
further from the truth. Find a local organization that specializes in your
desired industry. Get involved within your community and make contacts
with individuals that can help you get your foot in the door with
companies. By getting your name and face out there with people in your
industry, you will not only increase your chances of getting a job, but
you will develop valuable and up-to-date information on what is going on
in the field.
Age doesn’t have to be a negative factor when
searching for a job. It can actually work for you if you follow these
tips. Mature workers have confidence and knowledge in a time when we need
it the most. With so many workers reaching retirement age, there is a gap
in the knowledge between seasoned workers and younger workers just
entering the workforce. Utilize your expertise and show how you can be an
added value to the company.
Less than 40% of job seekers take the time to send a thank you note after
an interview, according to
an article by MSNBC
. But, this important follow-up can make the
difference between receiving the job offer and being written-off as
disinterested. In fact, because it’s such a rare step for most job
seekers, it’s a very valuable tool to show your professionalism and
enthusiasm for a job.
By being one of the few who take this important step, you can increase
your chances of landing the job. The tips below can help you craft a
winning thank you note.
Follow up quickly. It’s important to send your thank
you note as soon after your interview as possible. Mailing it the same day
is best. However, if the interviewers will be making a decision quickly,
you may not want to wait for the note to arrive through traditional mail.
In this case, consider hand-delivering or e-mailing a thank you note to
ensure it arrives quickly.
Use correct spelling and grammar. The only thing worse
than not sending a thank you note at all is sending one with lots of
misspellings and grammatical errors. Before sending your letter, make sure
you’ve thoroughly proofread it. If possible, have someone else look it
over for errors as well. Rewrite your note if it includes mistakes – don’t
scribble them out or use correction fluid. Sending a polished thank you
note gives you another opportunity to let your skills shine.
Thank everyone who participated in the interview process.
Often, job interviews involve meeting with multiple people. When you send
your thank you note, make sure to thank each person you met with. To make
sure you have the correct spelling of each person’s name, request a
business card during the interview. While it’s best to thank each person
individually, it’s also acceptable to send a group thank you. Sending a
group thank you note is practical when you met with some of the
individuals briefly or only interviewed with them in a group setting.
Restate your qualifications and interest. Not only is
a thank you note your opportunity to express gratitude for the time
interviewers took to meet with you, it’s also the place to restate why
you’re the right candidate for the job. If there are any relevant details
you forgot to mention during the interview, now is the time to share them.
Also, make sure you end by professionally expressing your enthusiasm for
When you make the effort to thank employers for their time, you set
yourself apart from other candidates. By communicating your interest and
gratitude in a concise and error-free format, you’ll leave a lasting
On Monday, I posted a list of some of the most common interview questions
and asked readers to think about how they’d respond to each one. Today’s
post digs in deeper and offers tips on answering these questions.
1. What do you know about our company? Here’s your
chance to show off the research you conducted about the organization
before the interview. That’s right, you’ll need to find out some basic
information about your prospective employer before showing up for the
interview. Good things to know include: how long the company has been
around, what they do and what’s unique about them. If the company has a
website, review the About Us pages. Other ways to get more background
include asking friends and family what they know about the company.
2. What are your strengths? When answering this
question, think about your strengths which would be most valuable in
relation to the job you’re applying for. Sure, being a trivia wiz or a
great dancer are fun abilities, but they’re probably not what the
interviewer is looking for, unless you’re applying to be the next host of
“Jeopardy” or a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
3. What are your weaknesses? This is one of the most
dreaded interview questions around. Nobody wants to list off their low
points to a potential employer. But don’t despair – answering this
question wisely can score major points with an interviewer. Instead of
focusing on character weaknesses, like a bad temper or laziness, mention
weaknesses that are job specific. Also, be sure to tell the interviewer
what you’re doing to remedy the problem.
4. How would your last boss describe you? It’s always
a little bit difficult to speak for someone else. In this case, it’s
usually best to cite something specific the boss said about you in the
past. For example, “My supervisor at Widget Manufacturing frequently
praised my ability to work quickly and safely.”
5. Why did you leave your last job? Be careful on this
question. You never want to bash your past employer or supervisor. You
also don’t want to sound money hungry by listing low compensation as your
main reason for leaving. Instead, try to focus on what the job you’re
applying for offers that your last job didn’t. For instance, the position
you’re interested in might have more opportunities for growth, be closer
to your home or offer better hours.
6. Where do you want to be in five years? This is your
opportunity to share your goals and interests. But, remember to keep it
professional. The interviewer doesn’t need to know that you hope to buy a
Harley Davidson or win the lottery. Most interviewers ask this question
because they want to know if you’ll stick with them over the long haul.
Even if you’re not sure where you’ll be in five years, try to give an
answer that shows you’d be open sticking around if things go well.
7. Why do you want to work here? The winning answer
for this question is not: “Because I need a job.” While that may be what’s
running through your mind, the interviewer is looking for specific reasons
their job opening appeals to you. When answering this question, think
about how your skills would benefit the company. For example, “I want to
work at XYZ company because your need for an energetic office manager is a
great fit with my background and personality.”
What interview questions do you have a hard time answering? How do you
prepare before an interview?
Do you have an interview coming up and need to get prepared? By reviewing
common interview questions and developing your responses, you can make a
good impression by appearing well-spoken and thoughtful.
While every interview is a little different, there are some questions
that are standard. Since the chances are high that you’ll be asked at
least a few of these questions, it’s a good idea to give some thought to
what your answers would be. Nothing’s worse than drawing a total blank
during an interview, so take a few minutes to think about how you’d
respond to these popular interview questions.
1. What do you know about our company?
2. What are your strengths?
3. What are your weaknesses?
4. How would your last boss describe you?
5. Why did you leave your last job?
6. Where do you want to be in five years?
7. Why do you want to work here?
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about some of the better ways to answer these
Interviews are more than a series of
questions and answers. To make the most out of your interview, make a
connection with the interviewer by initiating small talk. This will allow
the interviewer to see a little bit more of your personality, establish
rapport and leave them feeling as if they know more about you than just
what’s on your résumé.
Effective small talk can help you set
yourself apart from the competition. To help you get started, here are a
few dos and don’ts to keep in mind when engaging in small talk.
Do stick to safe topics.
Asking the interviewer if they had a nice weekend or commenting on the
weather, is a great opener when beginning the interview. This gets the
conversation going and helps the interviewer see that you’re comfortable
interacting with others under stressful situations.
Don’t overuse flattery. Most
interviewers don’t appreciate false praise. While being positive and
friendly are great traits, telling the interviewer that you love their
suit or wish you had a haircut just like theirs is a little much. So, try
not to over do it on the compliments during an interview.
Don’t be negative. If the
interviewer asks how your drive in was this morning, avoid negative
remarks such as: “The traffic was horrendous, the lights took too long,
and there wasn’t a parking spot close to the building.” Instead, focus on
positive thoughts – your excitement for the interview, pleasant songs you
heard on the radio or how peaceful the drive in was this morning.
Overwhelming negativity can end your interview before it even starts.
Interviewers want positive people working in their company, not negative
individuals who will constantly complain.
Do open up when appropriate.
If the interviewer mentions that he enjoys the same hobbies as you or
attended the same college, take a moment to comment on the topic. This
demonstrates your interest and connects you with the interviewer.
By making a connection with the interviewer,
you can increase your odds of getting the job because now you’re more than
just a piece of paper – you’re a real person with a story to tell.
Do you have any tips on how to initiate small
talk in an interview?
You’ve applied, interviewed and are waiting for the job offer that you
hope is coming. Then, the offer is made and you accept it, but even though
the interview is over, one more question for you awaits.
“When can you
How you answer that question depends on your current situation.
• No ladder. If you aren’t currently working, tell
your new employer you could start tomorrow. If that isn’t possible because
of child care or prior plans, ask the manager when they’d like you to
start. They might want you to start the next day, or they might prefer to
wait until the start of a work week or pay period. Of course, if you want
a paycheck as soon as possible, starting tomorrow is your best bet.
• Middle rungs. Giving two weeks’ notice is pretty
standard if you are already employed. This provides you with ample time to
complete or reassign any current projects. When some people turn in their
notice, they are told to immediately clear out their workstations and are
shown the door. If you think that might happen, tell your future boss.
Explain that you are going to turn in your two week’s notice but mention
the possibility that you might be available sooner.
• Top of the ladder. If you are a manager or have an
upper-level position, giving three weeks’ notice is a safe bet. Given your
position in the company, two weeks might not be long enough to make a
clean break. It’s important to never burn bridges with former employers,
and this is especially tricky for those in high-level positions.
• Pack up the ladder. If you are relocating to a new
city or state, starting in four weeks or a month is reasonable. If your
new employer balks at your timeframe, try and work out a financial
arrangement where you can start earlier while not being burdened with
bills from two residences for an extended period of time. You’ll have the
stress of leaving a job, packing up your worldly possessions, finding
somewhere to live and moving. Not to mention dealing with packing and
unpacking, change of address notification and all the other headaches
associated with a move.
What did you do the last time you changed jobs? Did you give your
notice in person, electronically or in writing?
On Monday night, I watched the Dateline episode, “Tangled
,” about a woman named Sandra Bridewell who was recently arrested
on fraud charges.
In 1985, Sandra was also the prime suspect in her husband’s death. The
Dateline story details how after his death she traveled the country for 20
years using a number of different names.
At one point, she worked as a caregiver for an elderly woman. The
woman’s family claims Sandra embezzled their mother’s social security
checks and nearly had the mother’s home put into foreclosure for failure
to pay the mortgage. Throughout the story, several individuals from
Sandra’s past are interviewed, claiming they were conned for thousands of
What surprised me was how easy it seemed Sandra was able to gain access
to personal information and large amounts of money, even though she had a
questionable history and most likely very few solid personal or
Like the individuals in the Dateline story, businesses are often too
quick to give an untested employee control of highly sensitive
information. According to a 2002 study, published by the Association of
Certified Fraud Examiners, occupational
organizations $600 billion a year.
How often could these devastating fraud cases have been avoided by
performing background checks and asking more in-depth interview questions?
An applicant may sound great on paper and may even be charming in
person, but what do their references have to say about them? Has a
background check been performed? What about a simple Google search?
I’m not saying people should hire a private investigator to snoop out
every new acquaintance, but it just makes good sense to perform
before giving a perfect stranger access to things like social security
numbers, company checks, banking information or other sensitive
What steps does your company go through before hiring new employees? Do
you feel these are sufficient? Have you or your organization ever been a
victim of fraud?
Asking questions is a vital step for any job-seeker in an interview.
You may think that asking questions makes you look unprepared, but the
opposite is usually true (unless you are unprepared!) Having
several specific questions in mind before you go to your interview can
ensure that you end the interview giving a good impression. If things
brought up during the interview intrigue you, ask about them. If you feel
like you have a good grasp on things, ask questions anyway. Even if you
land the job - and even once you've been on assignment - you won't know
all there is to know about it.
With that in mind, here are seven basic questions to pick from for your
next interview. Asking two or three questions like these can set you apart
from the pack and get you one step closer to getting the job.
1. What does a normal workday for
this position look like? This question can reveal a lot about the
job that’s not listed in the job description. It can also demonstrate to
you the level of knowledge the interviewer has about the job itself. And,
asking it shows that you’re interested in more than a paycheck and
2. What does your typical day at work
consist of? People love talking about themselves. Asking this
question not only gives the interviewer a chance to share about
themselves, their answer can show you how much someone in the position
you’re interviewing for would interact with you on a daily basis.
3. What is the biggest challenge
someone in this position typically faces? This is one of the
tougher, more insightful questions you can ask. It may put the interviewer
on the spot, but it also shows that you are thinking critically about the
job. The fact is, there are challenges in any job, and showing that you
know that and are willing to face them is a great trait for any job seeker
4. What are the opportunities for
career growth in this organization? You probably don’t want to
tell the interviewer that you want their job in the next two years.
Believe me. I’ve sat in interviews where job candidates said that, flat
out. (They didn’t get the job.) But demonstrating that you're interested
in career growth shows you’re committed to your field and the
organization. And, the interviewer’s answer can also tell you a lot about
whether this is an organization you really want to join.
5. What is the growth plan for this
company in the next five years? Asking this question shows that
you can think beyond yourself and your job. Managers are held accountable
for their department’s contribution to the company’s goals and bottom
line, so asking the interviewer about the company's plan for growth not
only shows your business acumen, it can tell you a lot about the stability
of the organization you’re considering tying yourself to.
6. Why is there a vacancy for this
position? This can be a tough question, but it’s often worth
asking. If there are personality conflicts or management issues in a
department, and someone left for those reasons, this is a great time to
find out. Sometimes, a position has been created because you’re joining a
growing team or a person left because they were promoted. Both are answers
you deserve to know.
7. When can I expect to hear back
from you? If you don’t ask this, you might never know. You can
end up spending a lot of time waiting by the phone if you don’t know the
interviewer’s schedule for filling the position you’re seeking. It can
also help you know when to follow up or send a thank you note. For
example, if they’re planning to make the hiring decision that day, you’ll
want to send an e-mail or leave a note at the front desk as opposed to
Remember, the interview is also your chance
to find out about your potential employer. If you land the job, you'll
spend a lot of time and energy working for the company. That's why you
need to make sure you want the job, fit with the organization's culture,
believe in its mission and understand its goals. So, on your next
interview, take the opportunity to ask meaningful questions.
What questions have you asked in past job
interviews? Were they a hit or a flop?
So you’re at the point in the interview where
you’ve given your background and qualifications. You’ve
demonstrated your people, problem-solving and follow-through skills.
The interviewer has asked their questions, and hopefully, you’ve
answered their unasked ones. But now, they toss things your way and
ask if you have any questions.
If you’re like many job seekers, you will say
simply, “No,” or “I don’t think so,” or “Not at this time,” take this as
your cue the interview is over and exit, leaving opportunities – and often
a chance at the job – behind.
What you may not know is the question-asking
time can be one that sets you apart from other candidates. Interviewers
are paying careful attention to what you say during this part of the
interview. They want to know that you have thought about the job beyond
the description you read when you applied. You can use this as an
opportunity to show your thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and self-confidence.
Asking well-thought-out questions can demonstrate:
Your knowledge of the company.
Your passion for the job.
Your curiosity about the industry.
Your ability to take charge.
Your desire to stand apart.
Check back tomorrow to learn what questions
you should ask when you're on a job interview.
Do you remember the episode of Friends in season two when Rachel and
Phoebe get tattoos?
It was Phoebe’s idea and Rachel had second thoughts, but then follows
through and gets a heart tattoo on her hip. Phoebe is scared of the needle
and only gets one pin-prick sized blue dot. It’s referred to as a tattoo
of the world (from very far away).
At the time Rachel and Phoebe got their tattoos their characters were
26 and 29 respectively. With 29% of the lead characters having a tattoo,
the 1996 show was a snapshot of American society 11 years later.
A recent study by the
American Academy of Dermatology sited that 25% of U.S. adults age
18-50 have tattoos. One-in-three (35%) adults age 18-29 have at least one
According to a 2006 U.S. appeals
court ruling, Rachel and Phoebe were wise to get their tattoos in
easily-coverable areas. The court ruled that police officers do not enjoy
First Amendment protection and can be subject to department uniform rules,
which required that tattoos be covered.
Employers are beginning to take a hard stance on excessive body art.
Companies hire individuals who match with the company image and culture.
If that doesn’t include visible tattoos, those who are noticeable inked
may be out of luck.
In many parts of the country police officers must wear patches or
winter clothes year-round to cover tattoos. Some police forces even turn
away applicants with visible tattoos.
Even Uncle Sam is taking a stand on image protection. The Air Force
prohibits tattoos that cover more than 25% of exposed body parts and any
above the collarbone.
Tattoos are a part of American culture and are firmly entrenched in our
society. But your body has a lot of canvas to work with. So, you might
want to hold off on that flaming skull tattoo you were planning to get on
your neck. I’m certainly glad I wear my art on my back.
What’s the tattoo culture like in your workplace? Have you experienced
tattoo regret? What have you done about it?
Countless eager job seekers are going to extremes to stand apart from the
crowd. But, their efforts, though well-intentioned, can miss the mark.
Last year, one
from an aspiring job seeker became a YouTube sensation
when it was posted without his consent after he sent it to several Wall
Street recruiters. The resume and the buzz it generated subjected its
creator to internet ridicule – and didn’t exactly help his job prospects.
But in some cases, a video resume has been just the ticket. Another
, featured by Career Journal, actually landed four job
offers from his video resume.
Video resumes aren’t the only new trend being used by job seekers to
stand apart from the crowd. Recruiting bloggers often post horror stories
of job seekers trying too hard to set themselves apart from the pack –
from dressing up in costume to sending lavish gifts to hounding recruiters
with frequent calls and e-mails. So how can job seekers figure out if
these efforts will help or hurt their job search?
The Brand Dame,
a professional recruiter, recently posted a
list of things not to do in a job hunt – from the perspective of the
person picking through resumes. Though it sounds a little harsh, her
insights should be taken seriously by job seekers. Recruiters, she says,
“…are looking for reasons to eliminate you.” It’s your job to sell
yourself as the right candidate for the job, not eliminate yourself by
making a dumb move. And in a competitive job market, it can be hard to
find the right balance between not trying and trying too hard. Here are a
few top ways you can ensure your resumes gets put in the “no” pile. (Hint:
Avoid these at all costs.)
- Try too hard. Give your job search serious effort,
but don’t become a nuisance to the recruiters and hiring managers you
are applying with. A unique way to stand out from the crowd isn’t
necessarily a wrong move, but whether it’s a right one or not will
depend largely on the type of job and industry you’re trying to get
into. An off-the-cuff video resume probably won’t appeal to conservative
companies or industries, but it might work for creative fields.
- Oversell yourself. Some people can make themselves
sound pretty impressive on paper. Others just make themselves sound
self-absorbed and self-important. Present your skills and your abilities
for what they are, and keep it at that.
- Bribe. Recruiters don’t take kindly to being bribed
for an interview. Some have legal obligations with the companies they
work for to not accept any gifts or outside compensation for their
efforts. Don’t go overboard on gestures you send recruiters. Keep your
efforts professional, simple and to-the-point.
- Lie. Don’t say you graduated from Yale, with honors,
if it’s not true. It’s the job of recruiters to verify your resume for
facts, and these days, a simple Google search or call to a university
can quickly uncover the truth and lies behind applicants’ resumes. A
story on Career Journal highlighted how one woman’s high-powered
career fell apart after it was discovered she fudged the truth on her
resume when she lied about her credentials.
- Hassle/harass. Yes, believe it or not, recruiters
have been hassled, even harassed or stalked by overly eager job seekers.
While a thoughtful gesture can set you apart from the pack, showing up
at a recruiter’s front door with a singing telegram and a $100 flower
arrangement probably isn’t going to land you a job. Unless you’re
applying to be a birthday party clown.
Do you have any stories of job hunting tips gone awry? Share your
experiences in the comments below.
The social networking site Facebook is now the
most used people search engine
Web according to data reported by Inside Facebook, an independent blog
dedicated to Facebook news. And, according to
, the site
is now the 7th most visited site in the U.S. and has 30 million registered
What does all this mean to you? That friends, acquaintances and
employers could be searching Facebook for information about you. If you
have a Facebook account, the thought of your boss or a random neighbor
perusing your profile may not sit well with you – depending on what you
have posted there.
The content on Facebook profiles has created career hiccups for some.
Miss New Jersey was recently involved in a blackmailing fiasco that
threatened to end her reign as a result of some questionable photos on her
According to CBS.com research, about 20 percent of employers are
routinely scanning the Facebook profiles of applicants. When employers
stumble upon racy or questionable content on applicants’ profiles, it can
do serious damage to the applicants’ chances of landing an interview, let
alone a job.
But just because employers are browsing social networking sites for
information on candidates doesn’t mean you should delete your Facebook
profile. Online profiles can actually be used to your advantage. For one,
they give employers an inside look at your personality, interests and
creative abilities – all of which can help you stand out from the crowd.
If you’re actively applying for jobs and you have an online profile,
consider including some of your career strengths and interests on your
profile in case a recruiter finds you online. Or if you have content on
your profile that you don’t want prospective employers to view, make your
What’s been your experience with Facebook and other social networking
sites? Have you searched co-workers, applicants or employees on these
sites? How would you feel if you knew a recruiter had looked at your
I’ve been on my fair share of job interviews. Now that I’m a manager, I
appreciate the importance of a good first interview. Committing to a
long-term relationship with a relative stranger can be intimidating for
the interviewer and the applicant alike.
Yesterday, I counseled a
colleague who is re-entering the job market after a six-year departure to
raise her son. She was looking to improve her interview skills.
I shared with her the top three things I look for in a successful
interview. If a candidate can demonstrate aptitude in these three areas,
there’s a good chance there’ll be a second interview.
Problem-solving skills. Creativity and thinking
logically are only part of the equation. What I look for are concrete
examples that prove a candidate can solve problems by providing workable
solutions. This gives the applicant a chance to provide real-life
experiences of past successes or how obstacles were overcome.
People skills. I actually had a candidate for a
receptionist position tell me that she didn’t really like people. That
interview ended about three minutes later. You might not have a job that
interacts with clients, customers or suppliers, but every job has some
level of personal interaction. You need to be able to demonstrate that
you’re trustworthy, accommodating and a team player. I’m especially
interested in a candidate’s listening skills, which are as important as
Follow through skills. I look for people who possess
follow through and can get things done. This is another opportunity to
share a story of how you closed the deal or completed the project. In the
movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”
there is a line that refers to the ABCs – Always Be Closing. It is
important that you can demonstrate that you can complete projects and not
just move from project to project.
When you are asked questions about your skills, try to focus your
responses in one of these three areas. What do you think is important to
convey in a job interview? What question do you dread being asked?
1. “I don’t like working with people.” Even if the job you’re applying for
doesn’t involve working directly with customers, basic people skills are a
necessity for virtually all jobs.
2. “When’s payday?” While you may be up to your ears in bills, asking
about money too soon gives the impression that’s all you’re interested in.
3. “I hope I get this job. This is my sixth interview this week!” Showing
enthusiasm is great, but if you give off a rejected vibe, interviewers
will wonder if they should pass you over too.
4. “So, would you want to go out sometime?” Sure, the workplace can be a
great place to meet people, but displaying eagerness to hook-up isn’t
5. “How much vacation do I get?” This question makes it seem like you’re
ready for a break before you even start. Wait until at least a
second-interview to ask questions about benefits.
What's the dumbest
thing you've ever said or heard in an interview?