​When Starting a New Job

On August 19, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Clif

​When starting a new job, the first 90 days are critical for success. Missteps made during the crucial first three months in a new role can jeopardize or even derail your success. By walking you through the transition scenario, Aaron Lubin identifies the most common pitfalls new employees encounter and provides the tools and strategies you need to avoid them.

 

There are many “do’s and don’ts” that apply in almost any job interview.  Some of these are:

A. Attitude. It’s your responsibility to convince the interviewer that you are the person for the position by relating your accomplishments and achievements in a strong, positive manner.

B. Do not tell jokes.  Do not tell risque’, ethnic or tasteless jokes.  Joke telling cannot help you.

C. Remember the role of personnel departments.  Although personnel is not offering the position, they have the responsibility of screening candidates.  Do your best to make friends in this department.  Fill out the appropriate forms and place them with your resume (place resume on top and hand to interviewer).

D. Turn negatives into positives.  If your job history shows you have moved from one job to another, you should indicate that past experiences has shown you the value of a stable position, which is what you are seeking.  You can neutralize the effect of negatives by bringing them up yourself, with a logical and positive answer.

E. Avoid discussion of personal problems.  Keep the interview focused by discussing job-related topics.  Do not waste time with excessive small talk.

F. Always give thorough answers.  Look for opportunities to compliment the interviewer and the company.  There is no better way to express your sincere interest in a position and in a company.

G. Once you have completed the interview, leave.  Don’t let an interview turn into a social hour.  Be courteous about the departure, but do not overstay your interview period.  It will be easy for you to detect when the interview is no longer producing useful information.  When this happens, take the initiative and begin your exit.

H. Interview with confidence.  Do not back away from any item on your resume or make excuses for performance.  Approach the situation with the attitude that you have a right to work, that you have had meaningful employment and that you will accept nothing less than a wholesome growth experience.  Confidence always contributes to interview success.

I. Follow-up with a thank you note.  Enhance your impact by sending a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer for his time.  Use the letter to summarize any key points of the interview that highlight the suitability of your skills and experience.  Express your enthusiasm about the position, the company and the reasons for your interest.  Limit the letter to a page and be sure it’s error-free.

Remember…Know your goals.
Prepare for the interview.
Practice interviewing skills.
Communicate strengths.
Be persistent.

 

The Art of Interviewing – TIPS!

On July 1, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Derek


Secrets of Successful Interviewing 

Introduction

The objective of the job interview is simple and singular – GET THE JOB OFFER!  Job Interviews give you the opportunity to make the decision to accept or reject an offer.

This may sound fundamental–and you’re right, it is.  You would be absolutely amazed at how many candidates either don’t know it or forget it during an interview, sometimes with disastrous results. 

As you prepare for and participate in an interview, you should never forget the simple, singular objective. GET THE JOB OFFER!  it is the most important thing you can do.

You are not interviewing to decide if you would like to work for a company.  Do not let your opinion of the company distract you from your objective.  If you don’t get the job offer, it will make little difference whether or not you like the position offered or the company offering it.

You are not interviewing to broaden your knowledge of available opportunities.  There are far more effective and efficient ways to do this.  A “ho-hum” attitude has no place in a job interview.  Leaving an employer with the impression that you are just shopping around is a fatal mistake.

The “Winning Interview”

The process of interviewing, with the objective of getting an offer, is called the “Winning Interview.”  A specific technique is involved.  This technique is built on the premise that there will be more than one candidate for every job opening.  There may be ten or more.  There may be candidates that are better qualified than you are, but believe it or not, qualifications – so long as they are adequate – will make very little difference who receives the job offer.  This doesn’t mean that qualifications aren’t vitally important; they are.  However, a company looking for a mathematician doesn’t necessarily need or even want an Einstein.

The Basic Technique

Basically, the winning interview consists of finding out what requirements are necessary for the open position and then convincing the interviewer that you are the person for that job.  The key word is convincing.  To be really convincing, you must seize the initiative at some point during the interview and subtly make the interview continue according to your strategy.

In detailing the techniques of the winning interview, we will be discussing:

  • What the employer is really looking for in the interview
  • What you should do to prepare for the interview
  • The anatomy of an interview to show you what can be done before, during and after the interview to improve your chances of receiving the job offer
  • Some of the common mistakes made during interviewing
  • Typical questions, especially related to salary
  • General tips – a practical list of “do’s and don’ts” when interviewing 

What are Employers Really Looking for in the Job Interview?  
The winning interview technique requires a thorough understanding of the conscious as well as subconscious things employers are looking for when they interview candidates.  How well do you do in the interview will depend on how well you meet the tangible as well as intangible criteria when compared to other candidates.
 
A. The employer looks for qualifications first.  The employer looks for a person who is technically qualified to the job.  He looks as thoroughly as he must in this direction.  if he is looking for a skilled programmer for his computer shop, for example, you should focus on your abilities as a skilled programmer.  It won’t do any good to dwell on what a marvelous supervisor you are if the employer is looking for a skilled programmer.  You must focus on the employer’s wants and needs.

Qualifications are what the employer is consciously looking for.  Remember, there will be more than one candidate who meets the first test.  Therefore, the things the employer is subconsciously looking for become as important as qualifications; perhaps even more important.  Remember, appearing over-qualified is as deadly as appearing under-qualified. 

B. The employer looks for an optimistic and positive attitude.  The employer looks for optimistic statements and positive reactions to his questions.  Pessimism and negativism never win a job offer for anyone.  The idea in interviewing is to elaborate on those things that you can discuss optimistically.  It is not necessary to fake it.  Nothing is more obvious than phony or superficial enthusiasm.  However, if you are optimistic and positive about any facet of the position, don’t fail to show it.

C. The employer looks for an interest in the company and the position.  If you like the employer’s products: the people he has already  hired; the location of the office; or anything else related to the available position; do not be afraid to enthusiastically say so.  The employer looks for someone who has a high opinion of the company and the position.

D. The employer looks for indications of longevity of service.  No employer wants to hire someone who will leave the company after a few months.  For this reason, the employer looks, either consciously or subconsciously, for someone who indicates he will stay with the company for a reasonable time.  The problem with making the proper impression in this very important area is that employers seldom ask direct questions about longevity.  Instead, the ask:

“Why are you looking for another position?”  or
“What are you looking for in a new position?”
It is important to realize that these questions, or variations on them, are seeking a response that indicates what the prospective employee’s longevity might be.  When answering these questions, you must indicate an intention to remain on the job.

If the candidate is not aware of the true nature of the subconscious longevity questions, it may be difficult to answer them in a positive way.  These are the very questions that can trip you. 

 

 
Preparing for the Interview  

There are several things that you should do to prepare yourself for the interview that can make the difference between receiving and not receiving the job offer.  

AFind out as much as you can about the company where you will be interviewing.  This will not only make you feel more comfortable during the interview it will also prepare you to show genuine interest in the company.  The Internet is a good source of information.  Financial publications like the Dunn and Bradstreet are excellent reference materials that can acquaint you with the company’s products, services, markets, sales volumes, locations and subsidiaries.  Ask that company representative if they have an exclusive website to explore.  The company’s Annual Report is also a good source of information.  The idea is to be able to intelligently converse about the company and what it does.  Your employer will be favorably impressed to find that you have researched the company.

B. Be prepared to play by the company’s rules.  Many companies have set procedures for interviewing.  Follow whatever procedures are suggested or required without question or comment–no matter how ridiculous the rules may appear to you.  You can make friends by complying fully.

C. Plan how you will dress for the interview.  This may seem trivial to you, but you wouldn’t want to miss a job offer simply because someone didn’t like the way you were dressed.  

  • Men should wear a conservative suite, white shirt, contrasting tie, shined shoes, matching belt and over-the-calf socks.
  • Women should wear a skirted suit or dress with matching jacket, neutral colored sheer hose, simple pumps and minimum of make-up.  Carry a purse or briefcase, not both.

D. Allow sufficient time for the interview.  More than likely, you will be interviewing with more than one person during the interview cycle.  You will not be at your best if you are worried about another appointment.  It is a mistake to rush your interviewers because you have made a previous and conflicting appointment.

E. Arrive at the interview early.  It is a good idea to arrive for the interview fifteen minutes before your actual appointment.  A last minute or late arrival may say something negative to your potential employer.  There is no excuse for tardiness at an interview.

F. Keep yourself in a positive frame of mind.  Keep in mind that you must be prepared to discuss job-related topics, not inconveniences or personal problems.  If your interview begins on a negative note, it may be difficult to turn the atmosphere into a positive situation later.

G. Plan to go to the interview alone.  If your spouse or a friend takes you to the interview, have them wait for you elsewhere.  The presence of a third party can be a negative distraction for both you and the employer.

H. Prepare a list of questions.  Prepare a list of job-related questions that require an explanation such as:

    • Interest questions that pertain to job opportunity, the company, its people, its products/services.
    • Job satisfaction questions that pertain to the importance, responsibility, authority, recognition and career potential of the job.
    • Past performance questions that concentrate on people who previously held the position, their performance and where they are today.
    • Sales questions that help you determine the kind of person the employer wants to hire in terms of education, experience, future performance and personality.
  • Avoid questions that relate to salary, benefits, vacations and retirement.
    Anatomy of the Job InterviewInterviews take on various forms and are conducted in various sequences.  There is not a standard pattern.  you may begin the process in the personnel department and then be escorted to the interviewing supervisors later.  Some companies conduct interviews in conference rooms; some require testing.  you will probably be interviewed by more than one person.  the interview may include lunch with a group of interviewers.  Although there is no standard procedure, there are recognizable steps or stages within any interview sequence.  It will be up to you to recognize which stage the interview is in and how to act and react properly to get the job offer.A. The arrival.  Usually, the first person you will meet is a receptionist who directs you to the proper place at the proper time.  The receptionist may or may not be expecting you; explain who you are and who you would like to see.

    B. The initial contact.  Whatever from the initial contact with the company personnel may be, your greeting should include a firm handshake and an enthusiastic hello, followed by an introduction of yourself.  Your initial contact may be with an employee from the personnel department who will instruct you in how to proceed with your contacts and provide a preview of what to expect.  your initial contact may be with a supervisor within the department offering the  job.

    C. The ice breaker.  In every interview, there is a short interval before getting down to business which is usually filled with small talk.  You should respond with enthusiastic and pleasant answers to remarks and questions no matter how trivial they seem.   This is also your opportunity to get on a first name basis with the interviewer.  After the ice breaker, do not hesitate to drop the “Mister Smith” and simply call the interviewer by the first name.

    D. The chronological interview.  Unless you do something about it, the interview can and probably will be a chronological interview controlled entirely by the interviewer.  The chronological interview is a backward history of positions held through the years.

    You should consider this interview as part of the introductory phase and you should close the chronological interview after five to seven minutes of introductory time.  This can be done by seizing the initiative and beginning the topical interview.  This is the important phase of interviewing and must be done subtly without appearing manipulative or domineering.

    Switching to the topical interview is not difficult.  The interviewer will welcome this change.  The interviewee should look for the first opportunity to ask the simple question:

    “Bill, what will my first assignment be?”

    The topical interview and your opportunity to sell yourself begin when the interviewer gives you a description of your initial responsibility as a new employee.

    E. The topical interview.  The topical interview is totally different from the chronological interview.  Instead of being guided by a backward review of your previous jobs, the topical interview concentrates on responsibilities of the job you are interviewing for.  Your strategy is to find out what will be expected of you and to convince the interviewer that you can perform exactly as expected.

    The initial question in the topical interview is the question that began, “Bill, what will my first assignment be?”  This should be followed by a list of activities or duties that you will be expected to perform.  You will then need to relate each activity to your experience, knowledge and exposure.  Make the relationship between the position requirements and your abilities closely match.  If you have specific experience, be sure and use it.  if you are lacking in experience, relate your knowledge of the subject.  Voice a keen interest in learning about subjects that you are lacking both experience and knowledge.  Relate a previous learning experience showing that you can will learn quickly and thoroughly.  Once the first assignment is covered, ask another question, such as:  “What else will I be expected to do in this position?”

    Follow each statement of responsibility and duty with a related experience or knowledge whenever possible.  Continue the “what else” questions until all aspects of the job are covered.  The topical interview is your principle technique in learning what the job entails and proving that you can do it.  During this interview process, you should:

     1. Miss no opportunity to compliment the interviewer’s approach to problems.  There is no better way to make a friend and gain a supporter than to let the interviewer know that you admire this accomplishments and respect his ability.

     2. Miss no opportunity to imply that you expect to be with the company for a reasonable time.  The interviewer will be continuously looking for such indications.  Be careful not to suggest that you consider the position temporary.  

     3. Speak and act as if you already had the position.  This means using “wills” and “cans” rather than “woulds” and “coulds.”  (Example:  “What will be expected of me?” rather than “What would be expected of me?”)

     4. Be careful not to speak negatively about anything.  Keep the conversation positive.

     5. Respond to questions honestly and positively.  Go beyond “yes” and “no” answers elaborating on points that seem to be important to the interviewer–especially points that get you excited and create a positive and enthusiastic response from you.

    It should be easy to detect when you have convinced the interviewer of your capabilities.  When you recognize this, it is time to actively close the interview.  Closing can be achieved by asking the interviewer, “Do you think I am qualified for the position?”  This question, asked at the proper time, signals the start of the interview close.

    F. The interview close.  The closing phase is the most important aspect of the interview for making a lasting impression.  It leaves the interviewer with a positive impression that can set you above other competitors for the same position.  There are four parts to the interview close:

    1. To begin the close, ask if the interviewer if he/she believes you are qualified for the position.

    2. No matter what the answer is to that question (probably a non-committal answer); you follow with a statement that you can handle the position.

    3. Make a statement that the position is exactly what you’re looking for and that you would like to have an offer.  **Always ask for the offer!**

    4. Finally, as you are preparing to leave, tell the employer you would enjoy working with him personally.

    By following this closing technique, you will have convinced the interviewer that you can do the job.  You’ll let him know that you are interested and you want the offer.  You will also let him know that you will be a part of his team and that you’re the right person for the job.  A typical sequence for an interview close might be as follows:
     Candidate: “Tell me Bill, do you think I qualify for the position?” (This starts the    interview close.) Interviewer: “Yes, Fred, I think you do.  However, we have several more interviews to    complete before we will make an offer.” Candidate: “Fine, Bill from what you’ve told me, I know I can do the job and I would    like to have an offer.”At this point, you should expect to be dismissed or taken to another interviewer.  All interviewers, no matter who the interviewer is, should be handled in the same fashion–with a topical interview and a strong, positive close.You must convince all parties in the interview cycle that you are the right person for the job.

    Assume each interviewer knows nothing about you; start your interview procedure from scratch.

    G.  The exit.  Your exit from the interviewer’s office will conclude the interview.  Your exit should be viewed as an additional opportunity to display a positive attitude. 

    At the interviewer’s door, or the elevators, repeat the opinion that you can do the job and that the position is exactly what you are seeking.  The opportunity for the personal touch–repeating that you would enjoy working with the interviewer–is present at this time.  This reinforcement, at the exit phase, can make the difference between receiving or not receiving the job offer.

    H. After the interview.  After the exit, write down what you feel are the strong points and weak points of the interview.  This way you can review your performance before your next interview and work on a stronger presentation of yourself as being the right person for the job.

    On the day following the interview, write the employer saying that you’ve thought over what was discussed in the interview and that your interest has increased.

    The interview cycle is now complete.

    Common Interviewing Mistakes 

    Four mistakes stand out as the ones most commonly made by candidates interviewing for a position.  In order of importance, they are:

     

    A. Losing sight of the interview objective.  The objective is to get the job offer.  This can’t be over emphasized.  If you lose sight of this objective, be prepared for the unpleasant consequences because the offer will likely go to someone else.  Don’t let your preliminary judgment of the company affect your interviewing technique and strategy.

     

    B. Being too modest.  Candidates, especially for key technical positions, tend to understate their capabilities.  This doesn’t mean you should overstate your qualifications; it merely means that you should make the most of what you have.  Do not forget that knowledge of how to solve a particular problem can be a strong qualification, even though that knowledge may not have been applied directly in your job experience.  Don’t let the fear of misrepresenting yourself prevent you from relating the full scope of your experience and knowledge.  A little modesty is a good thing, but don’t overdo it.

     

    C. Asking too many “Me” questions.  Remember, your objective is to GET THE JOB OFFER.  Chances are that most of your questions in this area will be answered either by the personnel department or the interviewers.  Don’t pursue questions about what the company can do for your during the interview.  Emphasize your ability to contribute to the company’s goals.  There will be a time to ask “me” questions after you get the offer – not during the interview.  If you leave the impression that salary and related perks are your number one goal, be prepared to accept the inevitable consequence of having the offer go elsewhere.

     

    D. Failure to “sell” your abilities throughout the interview sequence.  There is no such thing as a token interview.  It may be true that some people you interview have no power to hire you, but they certainly have the power to keep you from getting the offer.  You should treat every interviewer as the person responsible for you getting the job.  Do not treat anyone you meet as unimportant.  Do no even allow yourself to think an interviewer to be less important than others.  Never depend on someone else to sell your abilities to others.  Make the strong and positive pitch yourself.

    Typical “Tough Questions”  
    In your preparation for the interview, you should prepare answers to a number of difficult questions that are almost sure to be asked.  Your responsibility is to know what the interviewer is really asking and to respond in an honest, sincere and convincing manner.  Some typical tough questions are:
    A. “Why don’t you begin by telling me about yourself?”  You should be aware that this is not an invitation for a long, biographical discourse.  It’s the interviewer’s way of starting the interview and getting organized for the interview process.  The question will have been forgotten before you are through with the answer.  You should confine your answer to three or four well-chosen sentences outlining career highlights.  It might be an ideal time to begin the topical interview by asking what the employer needs, or what will be expected of the person who gets the position.

    B. “Do you have any questions?”  The temptation here is to ask “me” questions, that would be a mistake.  You should ask only questions that are job-related prior to the actual offer.

    C. “Are you willing to travel?”  The proper response should indicate flexibility.  There is certainly room for personal preference to be expressed on this point.  If you do like to travel, you should say so, but indicate that extensive travel is not a primary consideration.  If you do not like to travel, you should say so with as much flexibility as possible, perhaps indicating that occasional travel would not preclude your acceptance of the job.  if you really are inflexible, do not let the interviewer form the opinion that you are flexible.

    D. “Do you object to overtime work”  This question is usually not what is seems.  The interviewer is not likely to be asking if you will work late every day.  He simply wants to know if you are going to drop everything in the middle of a project because the clock says it’s quitting time.  The proper response indicates flexibility.  A good answer might be:  “I have always been flexible when it comes to work beyond office hours, Bill.  The fact is that I am project-oriented, not clock-oriented.  I will do whatever is necessary to get the job done.”

    E. “Will you relocate?”  If you are not willing to relocate, say so.  If there is any flexibility in your stance, you should indicate it.  This question does not usually mean that you would be willing to relocate later before the interview starts.  Do not let the possibility of relocation dampen your enthusiasm for getting the offer.  A good answer is this question might be:  “I haven’t really considered moving out of town, but the right opportunity would cause me to seriously consider the possibility.”

    F. “Why do you want to work for your company?”  This is a wide open question–perhaps you like what the company does; perhaps you like its location, people, products.  This could be an opportunity to pay the company a few compliments and make a friend at the same time.  This could also be a question that is really asking whether you intend to stay with the company for a reasonable time

    G. “Why are you considering leaving your current position?”  This is the classical query that seeks an indication as to your willingness to stick with a position.  If your job history shows that you’ve moved around quite a bit, you should turn a negative into a positive statement that longevity in a job is one of your goals.  You should also compliment your employer and indicate that you are looking for a place to make real contributions.  A good answer might be:  “Bill, if I’ve learned anything during my past employment and during my interview so far, it is the importance of finding a long term permanent position.  I really enjoy my work with XYZ Company, but I am looking for a position that will allow me to make contributions over the longer term.”

    H. Salary questions.  Some of the most important questions asked are related to salary.  Salary is extremely important, but it’s not the sole consideration.  Other facets, including opportunity, benefits and potential for growth may outweigh starting salary as a consideration .

    When responding to a salary-related question, you should avoid committing to a specific salary level.  A figure too high or too low may end in unsatisfactory results for you.

    The idea is to let the employer make the commitment without committing yourself.  The most general question about salary is, “What are you looking for in the way of salary?”  This is usually a positive indication that the employer is considering making you an offer, however, you want to avoid being pinned down on salary at that point.  You might answer, “While salary is an important issue, I am more interested in a company that wants to utilize my skills and that I can really grow with over the long run.”

    If the employer is insistent and wants to pin you down, the best technique is to say, “My current salary is $ _________.  Naturally, I would like to see a reasonable increase.”  Always remember that the primary objective is to GET THE OFFER!  



 

 

© 2001 Vince Bank, Top Echelon Staff Writer

You’ve just landed a new job, and the offer on the table looks tasty. But your current boss has other plans, and dangles in front of you a compelling incentive to stay where you are – perhaps a promotion, but usually cash. What do you do?

In recent years, conventional wisdom held that accepting such a counteroffer was equivalent to driving nails into one’s career coffin; over 80 percent of candidates who accepted counteroffers were gone just a year later.

Employers have loosened up a bit during recent years, due largely to a shortage of good employees. Employers, desperate to hang onto top talent in this tight labor market, have been using counteroffers with increasing frequency. But despite a rise in employers using the tactic, employment experts around the country agree accepting counteroffers is usually a bad career move.

For starters, your boss may take your resignation personally. Or your boss might throw a guilt trip your way, questioning your loyalty and wondering aloud, “how you could do this to him.” Keep in mind what your boss is really thinking: “If I lose this person I’ll have to pick up his slack until a new person is found and trained – which could take weeks or months!” So bumping your salary is an easy way to buy your boss time to plot your replacement.

Employers attempting to keep a good person from leaving have been known to say, “We’ve got great plans for you, we just didn’t share them with you yet.” More obvious still is this angle’ “We were just about to promote you and give you a hefty salary boost; what a coincidence.”

And if your boss approaches you out of the blue and offers you a raise or promotion while you’re in the midst of a job search, do a quick mental check: Did you make job hunting calls or write emails while at work? Did you tell co-workers your plans to leave? Your boss might have heard about your plans to split through the grapevine.

If faced with a counteroffer, remember salary is rarely the reason employees look for new jobs. Before accepting a fatter paycheck and staying on board with your current company, take a hard look at what’s really bugging you. The largest raise won’t fix issues such as environment, lack of advancement and lack of exposure to new skill sets.

There’s another reason that often holds employees back, causing them to cling to counteroffers at the last moment: The comfort factor. Accepting a counteroffer is often the easy choice to make, since changing jobs means stress, a new routine, new challenges, etc. Don’t be lulled into complacency by this way of thinking. Your career isn’t a security blanket, it’s a dynamic, constantly evolving play, and you are the lead actor.

Ideally, counteroffers wouldn’t be made, as good managers recognize the need for talented employees to grow professionally – a process involving change. But being prepared for the worst will help ensure a smooth transition and departure when you make your next move.

So what do you do when presented with a counteroffer? Start by instantly taking command of the situation. Inform your boss in a cordial yet firm voice that your mind’s made up, and you’ll do all you can to make the transition process easier. Work out your notice fully, and be professional about your departure. You might still feel awkward during your last few weeks; that’s just human nature. But by exiting in a graceful manner, you’ve hopefully left behind some solid references as well as some friends.