Thursday, February 26, 2015
If you Google “performance review phrases” you will turn up more than 4 million sources offering advice such as how to deliver “good” feedback (the employee “is ready for any challenge”) to the “bad” review (the employee is “hostile to feedback or criticism.”)
Monday, February 23, 2015
Job seekers often worry that if they practice responses to interview questions too much, they will come off as insincere, their answers having that "canned" quality.
I think that's partly true, but you also don't want to use it as an excuse not to prepare for an interview.
So how do you strike a happy medium so that you're prepared for anything, but don't sound like a robot?
Here are some ideas:
- Think about the general questions most interviewers will ask. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Then, instead of coming up with a general response, think about how you've used those skills at work or overcome deficiencies.
- Talk about results. When you're contemplating how you used your abilities at work, relate how this led to greater efficiency, improved relations with a customer -- or even how you learned a valuable lesson about how NOT to handle a situation.
- Don't ramble. When you think about the skills you want to highlight, telling a story is always an effective way to make yourself memorable and showcase your abilities. But, you don't want to blather for 15 minutes. Make the story as concise as you can while relating the key points. It shouldn't last for more than a couple of minutes.
- Make sure it's relevant. It's always a good idea to clarify the question with the interviewer if you're not exactly sure what's being asked. Don't start talking about your skills when the hiring manager asks "So, what do you like about our culture?"
Remember that it's natural for you to be nervous in an interview, which is why you must prepare before the meeting. If you've thought about your skills and how best to relate them, chances are greater you'll be able to push through your nervousness to make a great impression.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Monday, February 16, 2015
It can be frustrating when you interview for a job and then aren't offered the position.
"What a waste of time," you think.
But it doesn't have to be.
That's because you can always learn from every interview, and taking the time after meeting with a hiring manager to sort of "debrief" yourself can provide valuable insight so that the next interview could be the one to nab you a job.
After every interview, take the time to think about:
- What kind of questions were asked? Did the interviewer seem to have prepared questions that came from a form? Did the hiring manager question you about your personal thoughts and attitudes? How well did you do when highlighting your best traits?
- Did the interviewer focus on past jobs? How well did you explain the skills you used in each position or how you made a bottom-line difference for that organization?
- Were you questioned repeatedly about certain weaknesses? Did you quickly redirect the conversation so that it focused on your strengths?
- Was the interviewer off-topic? Did the interviewer ask random questions? Were you still able to highlight your strengths or were you taken so off guard you didn't get to talk about key abilities?
- Were you so comfortable with the interviewer it was like talking with an old friend? Could you have revealed too much personal information in that chat?
- What might you have said that could work against you? Did you say anything that would be inconsistent with the organization's culture?
No interview should be a waste of your time if you look at it as a learning experience. Honing your ability to promote yourself and your abilities is important in a job interview, but also throughout your career. So always look at an interview as a chance to grow skills that will pay off in the long term.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Hiring managers often make judgments about you within a few seconds of meeting you for the first time.
That's why it's so important that you not sabotage yourself by making some mistakes with your appearance that could -- either consciously or unconsciously -- turn the hiring manager against you.
Here's a checklist that can help you make that critical good first impression:
- Clothes should be neatly ironed (front and back). Check buttons to make sure they're not hanging by a thread and hems are neatly done. Don't wear pants that are so long they're dragging on the ground (it gives a sloppy impression and hems can quickly get dirty). Skirts or dresses should be no shorter than mid knee. Shoes should be clean and shined, and women should avoid wearing heels that make them totter around like newborn colts.
- Don't carry a backpack or oversized tote. It's more professional to carry a nice laptop case, briefcase or handbag. Make sure whatever case you use is clean and in good repair.
- Your hair should be clean and neatly styled. If you can manage it, get a haircut two weeks before an interview, which gives you the best chance of looking well-groomed.
- No smoking. Try to avoid smoking before an interview, since it's likely an interviewer will smell it on you. Many companies these days will not even hire a smoker, and you never know the personal prejudices an interviewer may harbor against smokers.
- Keep jewelry to a minimum, and cover tattoos unless you're interviewing at a tattoo parlor. While the hiring manager may have a tattoo under his or her shirt, you don't want to take the chance that a tattoo will not be well received.
- Give yourself enough time before an interview that you can duck into a restroom and do a final check. Men should check their tie and their fly, while women should ensure there is no lipstick on their teeth or smudged mascara.
- Leave off the perfume or after shave. Again, a hiring manager may secretly dislike scents, so don't give him or her a reason to write you off.
- Brush your teeth. Most people won't forget this step, but some brush their teeth and then follow it up with coffee on the way to the interview. Try to only sip water before the interview, which will help keep your breath fresh.
- Don't chew gum.
- Turn off your phone as soon as you enter the building for your interview. You don't want to be caught playing Candy Crush before the interview or texting your BFF. It will also ensure no interruptions during the interview.
- While waiting for your interview, read an industry journal -- it makes a good impression and shows you as someone who is professional. Remember: You're under scrutiny the minute you show up.
- Have a clean handkerchief or tissue ready. Constantly sniffling or wiping your nose on your sleeve won't impress an interviewer.
Finally, when you're brought into an office for the interview, don't sit until the hiring manager directs you to a chair. Place your briefcase or purse beside the chair and sit up straight. Refer to the hiring manager as "Mr." or "Ms." unless you're instructed to do otherwise.
What other etiquette tips should job candidates follow?
Monday, February 2, 2015
I've heard many horror stories over the years about job interviews gone wrong.
Many times the mistakes are made by interviewees because they didn't prepare. It wasn't a matter of what they didn't say -- but rather what they did say. It was often a case of TMI.
Interviews can be emotional -- you're often excited and nervous -- and that can lead to things slipping out of your mouth that you later will regret.
For example, I've heard about interviewees who said things like:
- "My boss says I'm about a subtle as a freight train."
- "I like just wandering around at work and shooting the breeze -- I find it's a great way to get to know people."
- "My No. 1 interest is fantasy football. I'm addicted."
- "I don't get along with my family. In fact, the less I have to do with them, the better."
- "I'm somebody who needs a lot of stroking -- criticism really depresses me."
While you may think such people are clueless, it's not unusual for even really bright people to reveal too many personal details in an interview -- or phrase something so badly they look like idiots. This can often happen at the end of an interview because you feel such a sense of relief that the "formal" interview is over that you relax and don't watch your words as carefully.
That's why it's so important to understand that you need to set boundaries for yourself before an interview. The hiring manager's job is to make you so comfortable that you let your guard down and reveal things about yourself that you might not otherwise.
Before an interview, remind yourself that you should not talk about intimate details of your personal life, disagreements with colleagues or bosses or any insecurities. Think about how you can best answer questions regarding your work style so that it comes across as professional -- not needy, immature or silly.
It's great when you have a nice rapport with an interviewer, but just remember that it can have a downside if you start revealing unflattering information to your new BFF. Draw your boundaries beforehand and stick to them.