The Job Interview: Interviewers’ Tricks/What They Want To Hear

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Unemployment20One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. –Arthur Ashe

Sitting here, waiting to hear the results from my latest in 5 months worth of job interviews, the thought struck me that Corporate Interviewers, just like any other professional, must have some “tricks of the trade”, which they rely upon in order to find the right job candidate for any position for which they are interviewing applicants.

The professional life of an Interviewer eventually finds them in front of every single type of individual, whether they be introvert, extrovert, detail-oriented, or free spirit.

While Interviewers all have their own particular interviewing style, there are certain common methods that they use in order to get the job candidate to “open up”.

Here is a list of 10 “tricks of the trade” which Interviewers use to get a job candidate to let their guard down during a Job Interview, initially posted on money.usnews.com in March of 2012. (The list of methods is the author’s. The analysis and any smart alack remarks which may pop up are mine.)

1. Silence.

There are some interviewers who will remain silent after you finish answering their question, hoping that you will continue to talk and reveal something about yourself that you did not intend to.

Answer their question succinctly. If their silence continues, ask them if there was something else about the topic of the question that they wanted to know.

2. Extreme friendliness.

By putting you at ease, Interviewers hope to break down your defenses and gain insight into the “real you”.

The Interviewer, while friendly, isn’t your BFF. Stay professional.

3. Asking “What do you know about us so far?”

When Interviewers ask you this, they want to know if you desire the job enough to learn about the company, i.e , “do your homework”.

In this case, what you don’t know CAN hurt you.

4. Asking why you’re thinking about leaving your current job (or why you left your last job).

This is another “Gotcha” Question.

The Interviewer is attempting to get you to reveal if you left on bad terms or if you’re willing to badmouth your former employer.

Remain positive. Keep your private thoughts about your former employer private.

5. Asking how soon you can start.

Interviewers want to know if you posses the strength of character to give your current employer at least two-weeks notice. If you are employed, and you tell the interviewer that you can start immediately, they will assume you’ll do that to them someday, too.

6. Asking you to follow up about something.

The Interviewer is testing you to see how well you remember and follow up on commitments, even small or informal ones.

7. Leaving you with the receptionist.

If you are a “People Person”, like I am, you might slip up and say things to the receptionist that you would never say to an Interviewer.

Just remember that the receptionist is the gatekeeper. Just as is the case with salespeople trying to get in front of a decision-maker, she will follow up with her boss after you leave.

If they chat with you, talk about the weather or compliment the “cute” picture of their grandchild.

8. If you were laid off, asking if others were laid off with you.

The question “How many in your department were laid off as well?” Is an attempt by the Interviewer to find out if a past employer laid you off in order to avoid having to fire you for performance issues.

9. Asking you to describe your dream job.

If you answer with any other job than the one you are applying for…you’ve shot yourself in the foot.

If you are interviewing for a job as a zoo keeper, don’t say that you want to be a Big Game Hunter.

10. Asking what questions you have.

A good Interviewer can tell a lot about you by what questions you ask. Interviewers want to hear insightful questions about the position itself, the company culture, and the organizational structure.

There are also some general statements about yourself that every Job Interviewer wants to hear.

In November of 2012, Forbes.com posted an article titled,  “5 Things Every Employer Wants To Hear”.

Here is a list of those statements.

1. You will never have to tell me what to do twice.

This shows that you don’t let any moss grow under your feet, i.e., that you are pro-active and engaged.

2. I will complete the job/assignment you give me with excellence.

This tells the Interviewer that you take your assignments seriously and excise due diligence in the performance of your job duties.

3. I am open to learning, adapting, adjusting and to receiving feedback on how I can improve.

This shows that you are not a know-it-all and that you will recognize your manager’s authority.

4. I am easy to correct and instruct.

With this statement, you are telling the Interviewer that you have a good, professional attitude, with a strong dose of humility thrown in for good measure.

5. I am a loyal employee.

This statement lets them know that, if they hire you, you will be a steadfast, productive employee for as long as they will have you.

Remember, every Job Interview is different, as is the style of every Interviewer.

So, get out there, land an interview, and give it your best shot. As Legendary Professional Hockey Player, Wayne Gretzky, once quipped,

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

My sincere hope is that the insights and suggestions provided in today’s blog will help you land your “dream job”.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

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The Job Search: Dealing With Depression

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Unemployment19One of the hardest things that you will ever deal with in your life is losing a job, especially if you wind up being unemployed for an extended period of time.

Let’s face it. If you are an average working American, you spend more time at your job than you do at home with your family.

Losing a job leaves a void in both your self-identity and your self-esteem. It also seriously messes with your mind, as it tears asunder your daily routine and can completely destroy your financial security.

The state of being unemployed and unwanted by potential employers can seriously affect your feelings of self-esteem, comfort, financial security, and personal control of your life.

Losing a job is a major trauma in anyone’s life. It can affect you like losing someone close to you, like a family member or a friend, and it can put you on your heels, like a divorce or a car accident.

You can feel defeated and demoralized. No longer having some place to go everyday can leave you with a sense of loss, rendering you disoriented, worthless, rejected, and scared.

The fact that today’s employers, a lot of times, don’t even have the grace to tell you that you weren’t chosen, and leave you hanging, waiting to find out if you got the job or not, leads you to beat yourself up over your continued unemployment..

Trust me. I know.

When some hourly Human Resources Clerk does not return your phone calls, it makes you feel about the size of Stuart Little.

And, the worst thing is…you start believing all the negativity about yourself, no matter what great things you have accomplished in your Professional Life.

These  negative, self-defeating thoughts start affecting you, governing your behavior. You start eating all day, or not eating at all. or sleeping all day or not sleeping at all.

Once the darkness of depression enters your life, searching for jobs every day, in order to claw yourself out from the abyss of unemployment, becomes an almost insurmountable task.

Thankfully, there are measures you can take, in order to keep the darkness of depression for taking up residence in your mind and heart.

In March of 2010, cio.com posted the following 10 suggestions as to how to deal with depression during your job search. (The suggestions are theirs. The analysis and any smart alack remarks which may pop up are mine.)

1. Maintain a Routine.

Act as if you are still going to work everyday. Get up in the morning, shower and dress. Use that same work ethic which has served you so well in the past, to provide disciple to your present job search.

Just don’t say, “Good morning, Boss” to your spouse. Trust me on this one. I have just about regained the sight in my right eye.

2. Exercise.

Exercise increases the blood flow. It helps to fight off depression, and generally makes you feel better, physically and mentally…even if it is just going out for a walk, or a “drag”, if you are a dog owner.

Also, even computer programmers have to take a break from staring at the monitor all day. It can make your eyes cross.

3. Keep a Job Search Journal.

In other words, keep a record of what you are doing in your quest to find gainful employment.

When you are feeling down, you can look back on it to find affirmation that you are working hard to get a job. Additionally you can show your family what you are doing.

A journal, or record, will also keep you from contacting the same person twice. I wish some employers, like “The Duck”, would keep one. …I’m just sayin’…

4. Reach Out to People.

Contact your family, friends, and your Facebook and LinkedIn Contacts.

Back before computers, that’s how people found work. You might even actually have a phone or face-to-face conversation with those personal friends and family. **Gasp!**

5. Attend a Support Group.

Networking and Support Groups for unemployed executives cab alleviate your loneliness and improve your self-esteem. somebody may know somebody with a job opening in your area of expertise.

After all, no man is an island. No man stands alone. Hey, that would make a nifty title for a song. Oh. …never mind.

6. Participate in Productive Distractions.

Volunteer at a Non-Profit Organization or a charity sponsored by your place of worship.

Helping others will make you feel better about yourself and take your mind off of your own problems.

Or you could even start your own blog. WordPress and Blogster are both great platforms for blogging. And, they’re FREE!

7. Seek Inspiration.

Watch movies, television programs and webcasts, and listen to CD.s and podcasts which will inspire you.

If you are a spiritual person, embrace your faith. Use your faith to anchor your life through the storm that you are presently going through.

8. Persevere.

Battle the darkness of depression. When you start to recognize the symptoms, follow one or more of these suggestions. Fight it.

If you are a “Seasoned Professional”, like myself, you will remember the end of every Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, when, exhausted, his tuxedo shirt unbuttoned and bow tie askew, he would sit on a stool and sing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, by Rodgers and Hammerstein…

Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.

It’s like that.

9. Get Professional Help.

Don’t let the darkness of depression overwhelm you and destroy your relationships and your very life. Nonprofit mental health centers and county mental health agencies may provide counseling services for free or at a reduced rate. You might also look into organizations like Easter Sales, Catholic Charities and the United Way, in order to find local groups that offer free-of-charge counseling services.

10. Maintain Work-Life Balance.

If you are one of those whose job was their entire life, encompassing your self-worth and identity, the loss of a job will, quite literally, be psychologically devastating.

When you finally land a job and return to work, make every effort to balance out work and home. Get more involved with your family and community.  Work on “defining yourself” outside of your job.

After all, in today’s business world, jobs come and go…but, you’re stuck with yourself forever.

So, learn to love yourself. He/She’s got a lot going for them.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: “We’re Going To Need Your Facebook Password…”

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Unemployment18If you are reading this article on LinkedIn.com, chances are pretty favorable that you also have an account on Facebook.com, which you use for networking with family and friends, or keeping up with topics which interest you.

Within the last couple of years, Corporate Recruiters and Interviewers have integrated some surprising and controversial new job seeker screening practices into their quest to find viable Job Candidates for their clients/corporations. These practices have come to be known as “shoulder surfing” and “force friending”. This new arrow in the Recruiter/Interviewer’s quiver ultimately involves asking the Job Candidate for their Facebook password.

“Shoulder surfing” is a practice which involves the Interviewer asking a candidate in an interview to log in to his or her Facebook account, in order for the Human Resources Department to screen “friends-only” postings for lurid party photos, questionable activities, drug use or racial/religious/gender slurs that might be revealed in a job seeker’s private online life.

“Force friending” frequently occurs among college athletic departments where administrators require players to friend them in order to keep tabs on potential non-compliant activities by their NCAA athletes.

Additionally, some types of employers, particularly law enforcement agencies, have been requesting the Facebook password of a job seeker, right on the job application.

By now, you are probably thinking,

Wait a minute. Isn’t that an Invasion of Privacy?

Unfortunately, as wrong as one might find these practices from a privacy and free speech perspective, there is no specific law preventing them, at least for now.

According to legal experts, employers are walking a fine line in demanding access to employee or applicants’ personal social media accounts. In fact  ACLU-backed legislation is in the works in several states.

Jennifer Corso, who is an employment law attorney that represents businesses, advises against the practice.

In my opinion, while these practices may be legal, it opens the employer up to several types of employment discrimination claims and should not be practiced. It is very possible that the Facebook page would reveal information about the applicant that would otherwise be the subject of illegal interview questions.” She cites the revealing of age and race, a medical condition, religious affiliation, even comments about planning to start a family are often evident on private posts; “if that applicant isn’t selected, the employer may be put in a position to show that it didn’t rely on that private information in making their decision.

Facebook itself has warned in the past that the practice “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends” and “potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

So, what do you do if the Interviewer puts on the spot and asks you for your Facebook Password? After all, you want the job, but, you do not want the prospective employer dissecting your personal life, like an Eighth Grade Biology Student dissecting a frog.

From theladders.com, here are some responses to give politely give to the Interviewer, which, hopefully, will allow you to protect your privacy on Facebook. (As usual, the questions are the authors. The analysis, including any smart alack remarks that may pop up, are mine.)

1. I take my agreements very seriously. And it is against Facebook’s user policy to share my password with anyone else. I’m going to have to respectfully decline your request.

Because if you tell the Interviewer, “it’s none of your business”, you will be shown the door…post haste.

2. I’m sure your firm has a social media policy. Well, it is my own social media policy to use Facebook for personal reasons. I mean no offense, but I’m going to have to decline.

Or, perhaps you could ask the Interviewer for their Facebook password…and, watch them respond with the “deer in the headlights” “eyes glazed over” look.

3. Privacy is a very serious matter for me. Should I be employed with your organization, I would honor private company information just as seriously as I honor my own. Even if this means losing a great opportunity for me, I must refuse your request. And know that if I were presented with a similar situation with your private information, I would respond in the same way.

This response shows the potential Employer that you possess strength of character…a rare trait nowadays….a trait that any employer worth their salt should be looking for in a job candidate.

4. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize your organization’s standing with OFCCP’s (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) regulations about asking about kids or other protected private matters in the course of an employment decision. Therefore, if you don’t mind, I’d prefer to keep my Facebook profile private. However, should you and I become friendly after my employment, I would have no problem having you in my network.

Interviewers should be, and probably are, familiar with the OFCCP. This response s a polite inference that you know the legalities of Job Interviewing, as well as they do.

In conclusion, most of us who are Facebook aficionados are just regular folks, whose account consists of pictures of family, friends, pets, and silly pictures with funny quips on them. However, if you are passionate about your faith, or are outspoken about your political leanings, that is your business, and should not affect whether you are hired for a job, if you are qualified for it.

In my opinion (and, you can take it for what it is worth), that is why having a LinkedIn.com account is so important.

LinkedIn.com presents a great overall view of your professional qualifications to a potential employer, in a clear and concise manner.

Leave Facebook for Personal Interests.

Hey. Who came up with “Caturday”, anyway?

Never give up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: How to Handle the Interview as a “Seasoned Professional”

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unemployment7The Jobs Report for the month of August was published last Friday, and America’s Employment Rolls aren’t exactly burgeoning, to say the least.

According to CNSnews.com,

A record 92,269,000 Americans 16 and older did not participate in the labor force in August, as the labor force participation rate matched a 36-year low of 62.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The labor force participation rate has been as low as 62.8 percent in six of the last twelve months, but prior to last October had not fallen that low since 1978.

BLS employment statistics are based on the civilian noninstitutional population, which consists of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home.

As one of the over 92 million Americans mentioned in the BLS report, well into my fifth month of “fun-cation” as First Lady Michelle Obama once described unemployment, I am reminded of the University Graduation Speech given by Thonton Melon (the late, great Rodney Dangerfield) in the movie “Back to School”,

Thank you, Dean Martin, President Sinclair…and members of the graduating class. I have only one thing to say to you today…it’s a jungle out there.You gotta look out for number one. But don’t step in number two. And so, to all you graduates…as you go out into the world my advice to you is…don’t go! It’s rough out there.Move back with your parents. Let them worry about it.

Unfortunately, as a 55 year old “Seasoned Professional”, my parents are no longer here for me to move back in with. Besides that, my wife wouldn’t let me.

With the national unemployment rate as high as it is, it is becoming harder and harder for “Seasoned Professionals”, such as myself, to find gainful employment  While extensive work experience can certainly work to the advantage of a job seeker,  it definitely seems that, in this technology-driven job market, fresh and trainable young candidates are considered to be more valuable by corporations.

If you are a job seeker with over 15 years of job experience, you must  prove to an interviewer that you have relevant experience, as well as the adaptability and passion that they value in younger candidates.  Recruitips.com has posted a few interview tips for older job seekers.(The tips are theirs. The analysis and any smart alack remarks that may pop up are mine.)

1.    Show that you are current.

Interviewers are looking for a candidate with particular relevant work experience.  Make sure that you are familiar with current trends in your profession, so that you can “wow” the Interviewer as to how knowledgeable you are.

Yes, the knowledge you’ve gained through your extensive work experience is important, but, if you drone on about it to the Interviewer, they will likely get that same “eyes glazed-over” expression that your kid used to, when you told him/her that you had to walk to and from school 5 miles each way, uphill both ways, in blinding snow.

2.    Demonstrate adaptability.

Unfortunately, there are recruiters out there who perceive us “Seasoned Professionals” as “set in our ways”…untrainable and unadaptable. Be prepared to give your Interviewer a few examples of times when you were required to adapt to a new professional environment, and you found success afterward.

3.    Show off your network.

You’ve no doubt heard it said that “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” Having an impressive network of business acquaintances can be a powerful arrow to have in your quiver to pull out during your interview.

Just don’t pull a Jon Lovitz, “Yeah…my wife…Morgan Fairchild. That’s the ticket!”

4.    Prove that you have an understanding of technology.

A knowledge of Social Media and Web-Based business tools can put you in the “catbird seat”. It will show the Interviewer that, just because you are a “Seasoned Professional, does not mean that you are “computer-illiterate”,

5.    Be honest about your health.

According to the law, your health problems are none of the Interviewer’s concern. However, do not let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird hindquarters.Simply put, don’t say that you can do something, if you know that your health will not allow you to do it.  You won’t be helping yourself or your potential employer.

Personally, I used to have a 56 inch chest and 18 inch biceps…but, that’s all behind me, now.

Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His response to the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight and gave him a reputation as a man of decisive action.

He was known as “Silent Cal”, because he was a man who chose his words carefully. However, when he spoke, his words resounded with clarity and conciseness. When he was asked what the secret of success was, he responded:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

I hope the tips I have shared will help you gain meaningful employment,

Never quit. Never surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: America’s Workforce, Jerry Lewis, and Me

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jerry-lewisI was thinking last evening about how, as 81-year-old Joan Rivers lays in a coma in a hospital, the generation of entertainment that we Baby Boomers watched and listened to at the movies and on television, from youth to adulthood, is slipping away.

These thoughts were spurred on, as I realized that, here we are, September 1st, Labor Day, 2014…and there is a huge gap in today’s television programming.

For 45 years, American families would, while spending time together, watch the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. The telethon would begin on Sunday Evening and continue for 21 1/2 hours, ending on Monday evening at 5:00 p.m. Central. Co-hosted in later years by Ed McMahon and Norm Crosby, stars of stage, screen, and television would appear, alongside corporate executives, all there to raise money for “Jerry’s Kids”.

In 2012, the MDA Program was renamed the “MDA Show of Strength”. It was scaled down to a 3 hour program, featuring mostly pre-taped segments.

The last two years’ programs, while being referred to as a “telethon”, were only 2 hour programs, aired on the Sunday night before Labor Day, featuring hip young “stars” like Ryan Seacrest introducing pre-taped segments.

After MDA gave Lewis the Fickle Finger of Fate, they continued to insist

We honor Jerry Lewis, we admire the work he’s done for us, and we respect his decision to retire.

That particular quote came from Valerie Cwik, the MDA’s interim president, at the time. She replaced Gerald Weinberg, who was reportedly behind Lewis’s ouster and who stepped down as president, after 54 years with the organization.

She made the lame argument that the changes in the telethon were part of a necessary evolution in fundraising strategy, to put less emphasis on the once-a-year event.

It has to change because the American audience has changed. A 21.5-hour show doesn’t fit in a 140-character world.

Okay. I know that Lewis had a reputation as an ego-maniacal pain-in-the-rear to work with, but, these were people’s lives that the MDA was messing with. It could have, and should have, been handled differently.

It showed no respect whatsoever. But, I digress…

What happened to Jerry Lewis, seems to be happening to American Society in general.

The fact is, older worker unemployment has increased dramatically since the recession. The unemployment rate for workers age 55 and older increased from 3.1 percent in December 2007 to a high of 7.6 percent in February 2010, before dropping to 6 percent in December 2011.

While older employees are less likely to be laid off than their younger counterparts, it generally takes older job seekers longer to find new employment. The median duration of unemployment for older workers was 35 weeks in 2011, compared with 26 weeks for younger employees. And 55 percent of unemployed older workers spent more than 27 weeks actively seeking a new job in 2011, up from less than a quarter in 2007.

According to a Government Accountability Office Report, issued in 2012, and featured on money.usnews.com, the following list examines the barriers to employment for people who were laid off at age 55 (like myself) or later. Here’s and are the reasons why unemployed older workers, like myself, are having difficulty finding new jobs. (The reason’s are theirs. Any smart alack comments that may pop-up are mine.)

High salary expectations.

According to some employers interviewed by the GAO, older workers should “learn how to present their skills and experiences to potential employers in a way that does not draw attention to their age, extensive years of experience, and past high-level positions.” I personally have no problem with that. I know that am a very capable professional, Mr. Employer. I just want to work.

Younger bosses.

Some Hiring Managers probably believe that older employees would be unhappy working for a younger or less experienced supervisor. When you interview, try pointing out why you would be a good fit at the company, that you are willing to work for less pay than you received in the past, and that you are comfortable reporting to a younger manager and working collaboratively with people of all ages. Competency has no age limit. Neither does incompetency. However, that’s a whole different blog.

Out of date skills.

You have to be able to submit applications and resumes online, in order to apply for a job. “Seasoned Professionals” who lack computer and other technology skills have a great disadvantage in finding work.

You have to keep pace with technology in order to get yourself a job nowadays. There are plenty of courses available through which you can learn the new technology. In fact, I worked at a Government Internship a couple of years ago, in order to update my technological skills. If you can play video games with your grandchildren, you can learn this stuff. Don’t be afraid of technology.

Expensive health benefits.

GAO found that some employers don’t  want to hire older job seekers because of possible future health issues. The fallacy there is the fact that everyone gets sick, not just “Seasoned Professionals”. You may want to assure the interviewer, if this is brought up, that you have no plans to keel over anytime soon.

Retirement expectations.

Some Employers don’t want to hire and then train older workers, because they believe that older employees will retire soon, and will not give them a good Return on Investment (ROI). When interviewing, tell your potential Employers that you do not see yourself retiring in the near future…you would not be out seeking employment, if you were.

Visible frustration.

Some Employers say that long-term unemployment makes some older workers discouraged and depressed. Well, duuuh.

The trick is not to allow your job-search frustration to show during interviews or take it out on the hiring manager. It’s not their fault. Put on your best professional demeanor and show them why they should hire you.

As an “Seasoned Professional”, I believe that I have a lot to offer a potential employer. Years of experience have given me insight into the business world that younger employees do not have. I also posses a work ethic and a will to succeed, which ha have not diminished as I have gotten older.

Like my fellow “Seasoned Professionals”, all I ask is for the opportunity to prove my worth.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen