Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Shine in a Second Interview

Congratulations! You've made it past the first round of job interviews, and an employer wants to talk to you again!

If you thought your nerves were bad for the first interview, get ready for some more when you meet for the second time.

In this round of talks, you're likely to meet officials who are higher up in the company food chain. You'll be asked even more questions, and possibly meet with other employees. The questions may be tougher as the company tries to zero in on your strengths and weaknesses.

When you're called in for another interview, begin reviewing your notes from the first interview. What questions were asked more than once? What answers do you wish you could improve? Did any of your answers sound too rehearsed and fake? Just because you answered certain questions in the first interview doesn't mean you won't be asked them again by different people for the next round. You want to make sure that you don't show any impatience with being asked these questions and continue to keep your voice and demeanor confident, enthusiastic and professional.

Now it's time for a little sleuthing. Did the interviewer mention issues that were unfamiliar to you? Did he or she drop names that weren't familiar? Were industry issues mentioned that you don't understand in depth? If so, it's time you went online or tapped into your network to find out more. The interviewer probably gave you even more clues about subjects or people that are important -- check into all of them.

It's also important that you make sure you're aware of the latest news regarding the company. Did a key official retire since your first interview? Will recently passed legislation impact the industry? You need to show that you're keeping abreast of anything that will affect the employer's bottom line so that you can tailor your answers accordingly.

Finally, think about more questions you would like to ask. This is the time when benefits and compensation will begin to come up, so know your bottom line. (It doesn't make sense to accept a job that won't pay you enough to pay your bills.) You also need to think about any issues that concerned you about the company or position, or have the interviewer provide more detailed explanations to clear up confusion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Here's What Managers are Doing Wrong When Trying to Implement Change

No organization these days can afford to ignore the fact that change has become a permanent part of the business landscape. Those who are not prepared to transform quicklymay find themselves left behind.
But research finds that even when organizations embrace change management, they’re falling short. 
Specifically, a study by the Katzenbach Center at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Co.) found that 48% of change initiatives fail because companies lack the skills to ensure that change can be sustained over time.
Further, the study found that only 54% of major change initiatives are successful, which can be costly not only financially but in how it adversely affects the company culture and employee engagement and productivity.
Management guru Peter Drucker once said that half of the leaders he met did not need to learn what to do – they needed to learn what to stop doing. So, here’s a look at what leaders and organizations are doing wrong when it comes to change management – and how to fix it.
1. Asking for too much.  Among the biggest obstacles to successful change cited by respondents in the survey is “change fatigue.”  In others words, workers are asked to take on too many changes at one time. This can occur when a change is rolled out with little planning, or rushed along to meet a deadline or pressures from senior leaders. Managers also can cause problems when they eagerly embrace the idea of change – but quickly abandon it when things don’t go smoothly. They begin to blame others, which quickly leads to disillusionment and fatigue among the teams.
The fix:  Culture is critical. The survey finds that even though 84% agree it’s critically important, less than half believe their companies do a good job of managing culture. This underscores the need for a more holistic approach to change. Companies need to find a way to implement change that fits with the existing culture so that it doesn’t overwhelm workers and seem forced or contrived. Before asking workers for too much too soon, leaders need to think carefully about how they drive and sustain change if they want change initiatives to succeed.
2. Managers lack the right skills.  Change efforts often can’t go the distance because those in charge of leading them lack the necessary abilities to reach the finish line. There is often doubt and confusion among employees when faced with new initiatives, and they (read more here)

Monday, March 23, 2015

85% of Managers are Looking for This

Recently I received an interesting study from Instructure that showed:

  • 85% of managers place the highest emphasis on hiring candidates with fundamental skills like attitude and hard work.
  • When hiring, 79% of managers said that prestigious schooling was the LEAST important consideration, and only 40% emphasize trade skills.
  • Only 8% of managers say millennials are very prepared to contribute immediately at work.
I think this is a wake-up call for anyone searching for a job, but especially for young people. You might have a spanking new degree from a school that has left you (or your parents) in debt to the tune of $100,000, but a hiring manager may not be as impressed with it as you may have hoped.

The key is that hiring managers want to know that you're going to show up for work on time, every single day. They want to know that you're going to jump in to help when it's needed, even if it means you stay late and miss your bus. They want to know that you get along with people, treat them with respect and don't get in a huff when things don't go your way.

It's all pretty basic stuff, but I think this survey shows that it's something that concerns hiring managers.It might be because there is widely held belief that millennials don't -- or won't -- work hard.  (My friend and colleague Alison Green wrote a great post here on that subject.) It may also be because they have first-hand experience with clueless job candidates who ask immediately about vacation and benefits instead of expressing interest in the company and the job.

I'm sure there are several reasons, but let's look at what a job candidate can do to overcome such beliefs:
  1. Get a job. Yeah, I know. You're trying to get a job. But while you wait for that $60,000 a year offer from a big employer, show that you're willing to work hard. It's much better, for example, to show that you've put in time slinging burritos at Taco Bell than just sitting in your mother's basement playing video games. Some of the most successful job seekers I know worked such jobs during high school or college, and they say employers were impressed by their efforts.
  2. Volunteer. Even if you can't get a job, find some challenging volunteer positions to fill. Work for Habitat for Humanity during spring break or commit to Big Brothers or Sisters while still going to school. Those are attainable positions and will demonstrate your desire to help others.
  3. Write a blog. Start writing about issues in the industry where you seek a job, or even write a blog that focuses on positive events. Don't write anything that you wouldn't want your grandma or a CEO to read. You can use your writings to show you're a positive person who is staying abreast of industry developments and seeking to educate others. 
  4. Attend conferences. Industry conferences offer you a golden opportunity to meet others and demonstrate your ability to be professional and communicate well with others. Even if you think it may be too expensive to attend, check into discounted rates for students. In addition, some associations may be willing to pay your way if you volunteer to help with the conference before, during and after.
The key to remember when you're a job seeker is that part of the challenge will be to overcome preconceived notions a hiring manager may have about you. Think about how you can overcome any obstacles before you enter the interview, and you'll already be ahead of the competition.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

5 Things New Leaders Say That Employees Hate

Young leaders are faced with numerous challenges, but perhaps none are greater than learning to communicate and connect with employees. If they fail in those areas, they may find their teams underperforming and their own careers in jeopardy. Consider these points from Gallup and Edelman:
  • High-performance managers know what employees are working on and don’t take a “laissez faire approach to management”.
  • Employees who believe their managers are ignoring them are 15 times more likely to be actively disengaged than engaged.
  • Effective communication with employees is critical to bottom-line success.
Of course, some young managers may worry that they’ll be thought of as micromanagers if they try to communicate too much with their teams.
“But there is a distinct difference between micromanaging and being involved in your employees' work lives,” the Gallup report notes. “Micromanagers take control of the process and the outcome. Great managers support employees by helping them define the right outcomes, then letting them use their unique talents to choose the process that works best for them.”
So, how do young managers strike the right leadership qualities and communications balance? Dianne Booher, a business communications expert and author of What More Can I Say? explains the bad habits to break:
  1. Avoiding conversations: New leaders — often in an effort to save time — may rely on texting or email to communicate with employees, which can hurt collaboration. “They send an email or text that says, ‘This is what we’re going to do. Let me know (read more here

Monday, March 16, 2015

5 Things to Never Say in a First Job Interview

Blogs, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter provide forums to share our thoughts on a daily basis. We might complain about the rotten weather, how long we had to stand in line to get coffee or the dog that barked all night and kept us awake.

But when it comes to interviewing, you need to be more careful in what you choose to say because what your followers on Twitter may see as a funny rant against a slow barista comes across as whiny and immature to a hiring manager.

Employers want employees who will be positive, and are willing to overcome any obstacle with a can-do attitude. If you come across as someone who can't handle what life throws at you, the interviewer will move onto someone else with a brighter outlook.

So, let's look at some of the things you should NOT say in your first interview with an employer:

1. Don't complain about the traffic, or how difficult it was to find a parking space. There's nothing a hiring manager can do about either thing, so don't dump your woes on him or her.
2. Don't whine about the weather, especially if you're from another area. Boston got hammered this winter, but natives take pride in the fact that they didn't give in, but just kept shoveling. Again, there is nothing a hiring manager can do about the weather.
3. Don't complain about not getting enough sleep, or not feeling 100%. More studies show the cost of sleep-deprived employees on the bottom line, and employee illnesses cost businesses billions every year. Neither of those complaints will make you more attractive to the hiring manager.
4. Don't admit to your nervousness. You can always say you're excited to be in the interview, but an interviewer will expect you to conquer your nervousness by being prepared and professional.
5. Be careful about name-dropping. In a first interview, it's best to focus on your skills and what you bring to the table. You might be tempted to mention the name of someone you know at the company, but make very sure this person is highly regarded within the company. Mentioning the name of someone who is seen internally as a slacker or troublemaker could hurt you. 

Finally, remember that hiring managers are pretty smart folks and they're going to see through your gushing remarks about how you just "love" their apparel, hair, jewelry, etc. They know you're trying to butter them up, but it's better to focus on making sure they have a copy of your resume or samples of your work. Demonstrating that your focus is on meeting their needs is always the best way to set a positive tone in the interview.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

5 Reasons Millennials Want to Quit -- and How to Make Them Want to Stay

A recent Gallup survey found that 28.9% of millennials (age 18 to 34) are disengaged. The reason? Many faced a difficult economy when they graduated from college, forcing them to take jobs that didn’t necessarily use their talents and strengths.
The problem for employers is that as the economy improves and hiring picks up, millennials may be wooed away to other companies. In addition, a new Accountemps survey finds that 57% of millennials believe that changing jobs often is good for your career. Since replacing an employee can cost $15,000 to $25,000 per worker, according to Lee Hecht Harrison, millennials jumping ship could be very costly.
So how do employers hang onto their young talent? Accutempts and Lee Hecht Harrison found that:
  • Career development is nearly as important as money
  • 30% of millennials believe the greatest benefit to job hopping is gaining new skills
Beverly Kaye, founder of Career Systems International and author of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, stresses that career development doesn’t have to become a big headache for managers and doesn’t require hours or days of research and reports. Here are five things that drive millennials out the door and what managers can do to change their minds:
  • They don’t feel they’re using all their skills: Kaye suggests that managers look at a job interview as the beginning of a conversation and continue to talk (read more here)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Answers to "Why Are You Looking for a New Job?"

"Why are you looking for a new job?"

This is often a question asked by interviewers as way to set the tone for the interview. If you answer something like "my boss is a total a**hole," then the interviewer knows he or she can make the rest of the interview fairly short. Why hire someone who badmouths a supervisor, even if the boss is an a**hole?

But if you provide an interesting answer that mentions the skills you can bring to the table, the interviewer is more intrigued. 

In other words, the way you answer this question can make or break your chances at moving closer to getting the job.

So, what do you say when asked this kind of question? (There are other variations, such as "Why do you want to work for this company?" or "What interests you about this position?")

Here's a good roadmap to follow:
  • Don't be wishy-washy. If the interviewer asks you why you're looking for a new job, describe your reasons concisely without attacking anyone personally (like your boss) or giving some long, meandering question about embracing new experiences. "I am looking for a new job because I'd like to use my skills more fully. Right now, my current employer is restructuring and the constant turmoil has stifled growth. I think your company is more competitive and innovative, and I'd like to explore whether my skills could be put to better use."
  • Promote your abilities. Take this opportunity to talk about why you have valuable skills, such as "I've always believed it's important to be proactive in your career, and I'm taking continuing education classes in analysis and data collection."
  • Explain why it matters. "As more business and their customers turn to data as a way to stay competitive, including this company, I'll be prepared to hit the ground running the first day because of my experience and education."
Remember, interviewers are busy people. If you grab them from the beginning, chances are they'll be willing to give you more time to see if you're a good fit. By establishing your credentials and interest in the company from the very beginning, you're more likely to receive closer attention -- instead of quickly being shown the door.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Demonstrating Emotional Intelligence Important in a Job Interview

Customers no longer just want a great product and good service – they want a great customer experience. But the challenge is not only how to provide that in a sustainable way, but how to hire those who will be able to provide it.
One company, the Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE), believes it has found the key to hiring employees with the emotional intelligence to drive long-term customer experience satisfaction.
Colin Haupt, PURE’s vice president of human resources, says the company’s focus on emotional intelligence when making hires helps develop employees who become “promoters” of the company – and the proof can be found in the bottom line. Specifically, the company is reporting its eighth straight year of at least 40% annual growth, he says.
“Everyone has some degree of emotional intelligence. For several roles – notably those that interact regularly with our membership – we seek out candidates that possess exceptional levels of it,” he says.
The company, with about 300 employees, looks at four personal characteristics of job candidates: self-management, self-awareness, empathy and the ability to build successful relationships. To find out whether applicants have such qualities, Haupt says some questions asked during an interview can include:
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to use creativity or imagination to come up with a solution to a customer’s issue. (empathy, urgency, creativity)
  • Tell me about a time where you had a disagreement with a co-worker on an issue. How did you approach that issue to pursue consensus and maintain a positive relationship with the employee? (relationship management)
  • What frustrates you and how do you deal with your frustrations (read more here)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why Your Weight May Determine Your Career Success

If you're one of the millions of Americans who are overweight, it's going to be more difficult to get a job or promotion at work.

That's because according to a new paper by Wharton University, "The Affective and Interpersonal Consequences of Obesity," there is clear bias against the obese -- even by those who themselves are overweight.

Some key insights from the paper:
  • Both men and women are biased against obese people.
  • If overweight people are found to be "warm," they can change the bias against them. 

"We're surprised at how important this idea of warmth is -- that is, this idea about expressing your close relationships with your family, your friends, your pets," Schweitzer says. "When people express warmth they're judged to be much more sympathetic. They're liked much better. And, in fact, these expressions of warmth could be even more important than actually losing weight in changing the way we're perceived by others."

Based on this research, it's clear that managers need to address their own biases when hiring and promoting workers. There needs to be unbiased questions that look at a worker's or applicant's skills -- not at the number on a scale. 

At the same time, colleagues need to think about how they possibly discriminate against those who are overweight -- and consider whether they may also be the targets of bias because they are also obese.

As Schweitzer notes, "The bias against overweight people, I think, is particularly pernicious because it's judged to be acceptable."

Finally, I think there are lessons for all workers about the power of being more personable on the job. While you may want to keep some details of your life private, it's always worthwhile to show a more "human" side so that people feel a stronger connection to you. That "warmth" may pay off with a new job offer or promotion.