Your Next Job Interview: Preparing For the Dreaded “Do You Have Any Questions For Me?”

Standard

unemployment14In my ongoing quest for meaningful employment, I was privileged to participate in three job interviews last week. One interview was with a professional association and two interviews were with an international corporation with a gross revenue of $1.4 billion per year.

While I sit here waiting to hear back from them, in fulfillment of their promise to respond “the first part of next week”, I find myself, once again, being circumspect in how I handled myself during these interviews, which, immediately afterward, I felt like I aced.

I firmly believed that I had my act together, as I reviewed my “Job Interview Checklist” before leaving…

Professional Appearance? Check.

Arrived Early? Check.

Brought Copies of Resume and References? Check.

Researched the History and Financials of the Association/Corporation? Check.

During the interviews, I was on point, affable, yet professional, knowledgeable, but not overbearing.

Then…came the moment that we have all experienced…when the Interviewer turned the tables on me, asking the dreaded question,

“Do You Have Any Questions For Me?”

Why should the interviewee ask questions of the interviewer, anyway?

Simple: You want to appear intelligent and engaged.

In other words, you want him/her/them to come away believing that you are a business professional who is not only concerned about what sort of work environment exists at their corporation/association, but also, what your professional future would be like, if they make a job offer to you.

The problem is, if you are not prepared to provide a response to the interviewer, you can come off looking like a local news anchor whose teleprompter just died.

The following advice comes courtesy of an article posted on May 15th of this year on businessinsider.com,

“The very process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview and the hiring manager’s perception of you,” says Teri Hockett, chief executive of What’s For Work?, a career site for women. “Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to discover details that you might not have otherwise unveiled.”

Amy Hoover, president of TalentZoo, says there’s another reason you should always prepare questions. “It’s expected — and if you don’t ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like.” You should have at least four questions prepared, though, in case your original two are answered through the course of the interview.

But, Hoover says, don’t just ask questions for the sake of it. To actually benefit from them, you’ll need to think carefully about what you want to ask.

“Your questions can, in fact, make or break an interview,” she explains. “If they’re not thoughtful, or if you ask something that has already been addressed, this can hurt you way more than it can help. Asking smart, engaging questions is imperative.”

Also included in this article, was the following list of 11 questions you should ask at the end of the interview..

  • Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
  • Who held this position previously? Why is he/she leaving the role?
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • Can you walk me through the typical day of someone in this role?
  • How do you evaluate success here?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture?
  • Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager during the interview process?
  • Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?
  • What distinguishes this company from its competitors?
  • Is there anyone else I need to meet with?/Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?
  • What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?

If you do not feel comfortable asking some of these questions. That’s fine. Some of them might seem “too forward” to you.

As your interview progresses, you will get a “feel” for your interviewer’s personality, and, when your turn comes, you will have a better grasp of which questions you need to ask.

This “Art of Job Interviewing” is not Rocket Science…it’s about  giving a good “first impression”.

Interviewers will judge you by the questions you ask.

Be prepared. Be engaged. Be professional.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Good luck!

-Allen

 

 

How Not To Be a “Stranger” During a Job Interview

Standard

unemployment14To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

On September 29 1977, Legendary American Songwriter and Recording Artist, Billy Joel, released an album titled, “The Stranger”. The title track of the album, whose intro sounds like the theme to a moody foreign film, includes the following lyrics…

Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and
Show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on

We all have self-doubt when preparing for a job interview.

I have at least one interview scheduled for this week, myself, and have been thinking about how I need to present myself to the interviewer(s), in order to put myself in line for a second interview.

I’ve been asking myself such questions as,

Okay. How can I ace this interview? Should I come off looking and sounding like Larry the Cable Guy or Gordon Gecko? Should I “wear the face of ‘The Stranger'”?

According to the experts over at careerbuilder.com,

Only if you are an actor trying out for a character role.

It is best to be honest about who you are and what you want from a job. Honesty will also create a better match between you and your new employer. What’s the sense of faking it through a series of job interviews, just to take a job you don’t like or that doesn’t suit you? You’ll just end up repeating the entire process as you look for yet another job!

In a business environment, it is best to be yourself. But remember, sometimes there is a fine line between “being yourself” and being “business appropriate.”

If your idea of being yourself is to show up to the corporate office like you just rolled out of bed, or if the “true you” has poor posture, MTV grammar (Yo!) and otherwise bad manners, then yes, perhaps you should fake it a bit!

Research shows that people make a judgment about you during the first 30 seconds of meeting you. During this time, you are assessed on your appearance, grooming, accessories, mannerisms and body language.

Michelle T. Sterling of Global Image Group notes, “Once the first impression is made, it is virtually irreversible. When you make a poor first impression, you lose your audience’s attention, no matter how hard you scramble to recover it.”

John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., agrees that the first few minutes can make or break a job interview. For example, if the job candidate is late, it immediately creates an impression that you’re unprepared and perhaps a little careless.

“If the job seeker today does not come across as ready to work in every respect, the interviewer usually has nine more candidates to see before making a final decision,” he notes.

The trick is to learn to put your best foot forward. And be yourself… only better.

DO…

  • Dress up for your interview in professional business attire.
  • Exhibit good manners.
  • Pay attention to body language — maintain eye contact, smile.
  • Conceal tattoos and piercings that are obscene or distracting.
  • Leave the cell phone turned “off”.

DON’T…

  • Wear your favorite band T-shirt or flip flops.
  • Act arrogant or pompous.
  • Lie on your résumé — never bluff about degrees or work history.
  • Fake knowledge about an industry or topic.
  • Agree to job requirements you have no intent of fulfilling.

As I have always told employees, whom I have managed in the past,

You only have once chance to make a good first impression.

Part of that “good first impression”, is how you carry yourself…your personality.

While you do not want to appear too affable, you also do not want to appear to be as stiff as a mannequin in Macy’s Department Store.

Additionally, while you do not want to come off looking like Mick Jagger sashaying through a Hollywood Party, you don’t want to look like the late, great Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken”, either.

The best way to answer interview questions about yourself is to be honest. As Popeye used to say.

I yam what I yam.

Trying to present yourself as someone you’re not, i.e., “the stranger”, may get you a job offer, but it may not be to your advantage in the long run.

You need to consider whether the job would work out in the long term if the position that you’re being offered does not match your personality and work style. Additionally, if this job is not what you actually have envisioned, regarding your next position and your next employer, then you are going to be miserable, and your  performance will suffer…along with your pocket book.

The late Martial Arts Master and Action Movie Star, Bruce Lee, once said,

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.

Sounds like good advice to follow, huh?

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Dealing With the Dreaded “Rejection E-mail”

Standard

unemployment13Last week I wrote an article concerning how to get ready for a job interview. it was actually an exercise in self-reflection, as I had an interview with an international corporation scheduled for later that morning.

Well, the Good News was that I aced that interview. The Operations Manager was thoroughly impressed by my job history, my professionalism, and the fact that I had done my homework about the history of the corporation.

He told me that I had made it to the second Interview, which would be that Thursday or Friday, and that it would be a “Meet and Greet” with Company Executives. He told me that i would receive an e-mail later in the week with a specific time. He even gave me his business card and told me to call him, if I had any questions.

Needless to say, I immediately called my wife, who was as excited as I was. We spent the week on pins and needles, waiting for the promised e-mail.

As promised, I received an e-mail last Thursday at 6:10 a.m..  However, it was not an invitation to the second interview. It was a letter of rejection for their Corporate Recruiters.

Nice, huh?

Of course, this was not the first I have been thrown off the horse in the Job Search Rodeo, but it was still disappointing to have been rejected, when I nailed the initial interview.

So, how should average job seekers, like you and me, deal with rejection?

Vanderbloemen Research Group has some helpful suggestions on dealing with rejection during your job search:

1. Keep Perspective – It’s human nature to feel like giving up. Do your best to keep things in perspective. God has created you with your unique gifts and skill set. Trust that He will open and close the right doors for you during your job search. As difficult as it is, try not to take the rejection process personally.

2. Stay Positive – Negativity is unattractive. When you’ve been rejected, it’s easy to go into the next job interview already feeling defeated. Stay positive and go into each interview with fresh energy and a positive perspective that this is an opportunity to make a new connection and see where God is leading.

3. Be Thankful – No matter what we are facing, there is always something to be thankful for. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” On days when you feel hopeless, write this Bible verse down and put it where you will see it often. If you had a phone or face-to-face interview, thank the interviewer for their time. As you intentionally practice thankfulness, you’ll find it’s much easier to stay positive.

4. Request Feedback – After you have thanked the hiring manager for their time and consideration, respectfully ask for constructive feedback. Even if you thought you were perfect for the job, you don’t know all the details that went into the hiring decision. Respect the hiring manager’s decision, and look at this closed door as a growth opportunity to learn more about yourself.

5. Thoughtfully Reflect – When facing rejection, I recommend journaling to help you reflect on how you’re feeling. I suggest making a list of all your feelings and try to write about why you think you are feeling this way. Then, write down some encouraging Bible verses that speak to your feelings. You may also find it helpful to make a list of action steps to stay motivated as you keep searching. Ask God to show you what He’s teaching you throughout the job search.

6. Stay In Touch – If appropriate, keep in touch with the hiring manager. As you update your resume or attain new preaching samples, send them along with a brief note to the hiring manager. Follow the church or company on social media or join their newsletter to stay updated on the newest job opportunities. You never know when and where new opportunities will present themselves.

7. Build Support System – Be sure you have a strong support system around you consisting of your family, friends, and spiritual community. It’s easy to withdrawal when we feel rejected, defeated, or embarrassed. However, one of the best things you can do throughout your search is keep your support system updated on the type of opportunities that resonate with you and how they can pray for you.

8. Persevere – Don’t give up. As hard as it feels sometimes, giving up is the worst thing you can do. God will never give up on you, so don’t give up on Him.

Persevere, indeed. So, here I am on a Monday morning back in the saddle again (Hey, that would be a nifty title for a cowboy song. Oh…never mind.), as I continue on my seemingly Quixotic Quest to find meaningful employment.

Oh, well. As recent birthday boy Ringo Starr sang, back in the 70s,

You know it don’t come easy.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

– Allen

 

You’ve Landed a Job Interview! Now What?

Standard

unemployment12When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges. – Jack Handy

Later this morning, I am going to a job interview.

Even though I have been a working American for 33 years, I still have that feeling of nervousness in the pit of my stomach, as when you top a hill going 5 miles over the speed limit, only to see a policeman sitting is his car by the side of the road, as you pass on by.

So, how am I going to handle the interview today?

With great aplomb and savoir-faire, I hope. (After all, the bills don’t pay themselves.)

All kidding aside, here are some tips which I have gathered together in preparation for my job interview.

I believe that one of the most important things is to remember what you put on your cover letter. That way there is no disconnect between what is written about you on paper and what comes out of your mouth during the interview. You have to be your “Brand”. You have to be what you advertised yourself as being.

When you get there, be “on”. The receptionist is the company’s “gatekeeper”. Just as you have to get past her to sell a product to her boss, so do you have to “self yourself” to her, because often “the receptionist test” is a part of the interview, as your interviewer will ask her about the impression you gave while you were waiting to be interviewed.

While they do not have the final say, their opinion about you will definitely be noted.

Your best bet is to be “on”. In other words, be friendly and personable to each person you meet from the moment you open the building’s door, that day and always. Make believe that you are Elvis or Ann Margaret in their prime, and exude that winning self-confidence that will win the “office gatekeeper” over to your side.

Every one knows that interviewers like to ask the tough questions, those that are designed to stretch us,  to make us think, and then provide them with the information they need to make a final decision.

For every decision of your professional career that you discuss with your interviewer, don’t just highlight what you did, use the opportunity to showcase why you did it, and the skills you used to win the potential client over..

The sad fact is, most interviewers remember more of what they have said during an interview than what the applicant has said.

In order to make a lasting impression, setting yourself apart from others, you should dazzle
the interviewer with your own knowledge of the company and its industry. If order to do that, you will need to ask concise, focused questions that allow you to demonstrate that you’ve done
significant research about the industry, the company itself-including its products, its
market and its competitors. Finally and most importantly, you need to demonstrate that, as a result of
your past experience, you can help move the company forward.

In a paper titled, How to Market Yourself effectively, found at foothill.edu, the author suggests that

The goal of the interview is to be able to answer YES to the following questions:

1. Does the interviewer know I am interested in his/her position and company?
2. Am I capable of handling this position? Explain in terms of your experience, skills, education, talents, attitudes, and core values.
3. Will I stay for a reasonable length of time, and will my values and commitment align with the company’s expectations?

Don’t leave the interview until you:

1.Make it clear to the interviewer that you are interested, capable, and committed.
2. Ask the interviewer if s/he has any further questions about your background.
3. Express an interest in the position! This is very important. The last impression you make is the one the interviewer remembers best. If you want the position, say so! This could be the one fact that sets you  apart from other candidates with qualifications equal to yours.
4. Thank the interviewer for his/her time.

I realize that most of these suggestions are common sense. However, looking at them in print before you go in to your interview, may provide that little extra bit of reassurance you need to land the job which you are interviewing for.

Good Luck!

Allen