Most of our time in job search mode is about networking, tailoring our resume, mock interviews, and salary negotiation prep, but we often overlook the need to ask for references and end up scrambling at the last minute.
Ask people to serve as your reference early on. Here are a few tips to help:
Congratulations! You researched the company, networked, applied for the job and made a positive impression with your resume. You’re scheduled for a phone interview. Now what?
Research the interviewer who you are scheduled to speak with. This can be done through the company website as well as LinkedIn.
Prepare a list of your qualifications (knowledge, skills, and abilities) as they relate to the job description.
Practice answering interview questions using the STAR method (situation/task, action, result) through mock interviews with mentors, friends, family.
Phone interviews are commonly used as the initial screening. It saves the company time and money and allows HR to weed out candidates quickly. There are downsides to making your first impression over the phone rather than in person. Follow these tips to ensure your phone interview leaves a positive impression:
1. Dress as you would for the job. If wearing t-shirts and jeans is standard attire at the company, then put on a t-shirt and jeans. If business attire is standard, then put on business attire. My point is, do not do a phone interview in pajamas or loungewear. Dress as you would for the job because it changes your mindset to work mode not lounge mode.
2. Make sure you are in a room with no distractions and no noise. Hang a sign on your front door that states “Quiet please, in a phone meeting” to avoid having someone ring your doorbell or knock yelling your name. If you have pets, such as barking dogs, have them in an area where their barking isn’t heard through the phone. If you have children, make sure they won’t be interrupting your call by walking in the room unexpectedly (remember the video that went viral a few years ago with the child running into the room, Dad on video interview, and Mom rushing in? Same can happen in phone interview).
3. Print the job description and a copy of your resume along with a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer.
4. Have your computer open to the company website so you can access information if needed during the interview. Be familiar with their mission, services they provide, recent press releases, and what they’re doing in their community.
5. Have a notepad and pen available. Jot down names of people interviewing you as they introduce themselves. Take notes during the interview so you can follow up on anything you want to ask at the end. After the interview, use those notes to reiterate key points discussed when you write the thank you note or email.
6. Keep a glass of water nearby to sip on if your mouth gets dry. When nervous, sometimes this happens…our mouth feels like it is full of cotton. Sipping water during an interview is fine; no one can see you.
7. Make sure you’re ready to answer the call 5 minutes before the actual time in the event they call early. Additionally, be prepared for up to an hour call. Phone interviews typically last 15-30 minutes, but I’ve experienced some that last an hour. Schedule the phone interview at a time you are available to take an hour or more. If you schedule during your lunch hour, add on a few extra minutes so you’re not looking at the clock worried about getting back to work if the interview is going well and it’s nearing an hour long conversation.
8. Answer the call using your name “Hello, this is Betsy”. It lets the caller know they’ve reached you. Mute your phone when sipping your water, or typing on your computer keyboard if you are searching something they’ve mentioned.
9. Enunciate words and speak loud enough that others listening through speaker can hear you. If you talk fast, practice slowing it down a bit.
10. Smile when you speak. The tone of our voice shifts when we do this and we sound upbeat and enthusiastic. Remember, you want to make a good first impression and your voice is doing that because they can’t see you. Prop a mirror near where you’re sitting or standing in the room so you can see your face J (this is also handy for video interviews).
11. Standing while speaking is also helpful. When nervous sometimes our voice hides down in our throat and we sound nervous. If we stand, our diaphragm opens and our voice is stronger. We may feel more confident standing, too, which will reflect in our voice.
12. Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Let the interviewer stop speaking before you offer your response. If their question is lengthy and you are concerned you may forget what you want to say, jot down words as you listen to the interviewer speak. Refer to your notes as you respond to the entire question with examples you want to share.
13. At the end of the interview ask questions. Look over notes you’ve written throughout the interview. Get all questions answered. If you missed sharing an example or story, this is your opportunity to back track and indicate you would like to speak a bit more about a previous question. Always, have questions to ask. If all questions were addressed throughout the interview, ask the next steps in the interview/hiring process.
14. Thank the interviewer. Never end an interview without saying thank you. Even if at the conclusion of the interview red flags are waving and your gut says run, always thank them for their time and the opportunity to interview and learn more about the position. If at the conclusion you know you want the job, send a hand-written thank you and an email thank you within 24 hours. I recommend sending both because they could be making an immediate decision and a hard-copy thank you note may take a few days to be delivered while an email is received immediately.
15. Reflect on how well you did. How are you feeling? Make notes so you are prepared for the next interview.
Another call to schedule your in-person interview, of course!
What piece of clothing do people, especially, women, tend to find the most difficult in finding the right fit? For me, it’s always been jeans. I love wearing jeans, but finding the right fit is never an easy task. Choosing the right college can be like trying on jeans…sometimes you have to try on several pairs before you find the right fit.
Here are a few tips of what to look for in finding a college that’s the right fit:
This is a small list of things to look for when visiting colleges on your list. Getting these questions answered may prove helpful in narrowing down your list to determine the colleges where you want to apply.
Recently, someone visiting our home did not want to try my macaroni salad. It really is the best macaroni salad ever, passed down from a dear friend who has been part of our family for over 40 years. When I offered the macaroni salad and was told, “I don’t like it” my immediate response was “how do you know you don’t like it when you haven’t tried it?” Ok, ok, I’ll give this person a break…it was an eight year old and children can be picky eaters. I was a little put off that the parents around the table didn’t explain the value of trying a new food. I understand how children build walls and parents reinforce those walls rather than help break them down so the child can grow. So, I’ll blame not trying my macaroni salad on the parents rather than the child and leave it at that.
Yesterday, I had a client meeting over dinner. My client asked me to pass the salt and pepper as soon as her meal was placed in front of her. Since this was a working dinner, I kindly explained how turned off I would be if I were interviewing her for a job over dinner. She looked shocked and then I explained. It has been said that Henry Ford used to take job candidates out for a meal. If they seasoned their food before they tasted it, he did not hire them. They were forming an opinion about something prior to learning more about it. What a simple, yet brilliant way in weeding out job candidates!
Yes, we may be judged by the way we interact during a meal…turning our nose up at certain foods, talking with food in our mouth, elbows on the table, not saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, etc.
Interviews can occur over a meal and can be very telling of you – your professionalism, social skills (manners), communication skills, and more. If you are invited to an interview over breakfast, lunch, or dinner, keep these things in mind:
I recently talked with two Human Resources professionals in San Diego County to gain their insight on what mistakes job candidates make during interviews. Here are five things my HR friends had to say about common interview mistakes:
With so many free interview tips available, some job candidates are still unprepared for a successful interview. I suggest the following resources in preparing for an interview:
Do you feel like you are all over the place with your job search? You look at a job posting and say to yourself “I can do that”, then you look at another job posting and say the same thing. You can do it all because you have a diverse skill set. Being good at something doesn’t always mean that you enjoy it.
Have you asked yourself what skills you really enjoy using? What happens if you land a job and you are utilizing skills you’re good at, but skills you don’t really enjoy using? You may not stay in that job very long until you are seeking a more satisfying job.
When searching for a job, it’s important to have a solid focus on the job you want. A good first step in gaining more focus is identifying the skills you enjoy using. The following list can help narrow your focus and identify those skills you enjoy using:
Your job will always require you to utilize skills you don’t enjoy using, but if the majority of your time at work is spent using skills you enjoy, your job will be more satisfying.
At the conclusion of my veteran transition workshop, I always share my three P’s for a Successful Job Search
In career transition, saying “thank you” says a lot about your social etiquette skills and how prepared you are with your job search. Offering a sincere “thank you” during your job search should take place after:
Networking Events: It’s not necessary to thank every contact you make at a networking event, but it is worthwhile to follow up with individuals that were helpful. That may be someone who introduced you to a potential employer, or someone who provided insight into your job search. Send an Email or hand-written thank you note to anyone you meet at a networking event who is a worthwhile professional contact.
Informational Interviews: Also referred to as reverse interviews, because you are asking questions to someone working in a job or in an industry where you would like to work. You are gaining information about the job/industry, and you are the person asking questions. A hand-written note is often best following informational interviews. Thank the person for their time because working professionals are busy and their time is valuable. When they give up their time to meet with you for an informational interview, they are doing you a favor. Another nice gesture on your part is to offer to take them to lunch where you have the informational interview (you pick up the tab). This gets them out of the office, and who doesn’t enjoy a free lunch and the opportunity to talk about themselves!
Job Interviews: Send an Email and a hand-written thank you note after a job interview. Personalize your message by reiterating your interest in the job and mentioning something you discussed during the interview. The reason I suggest sending an Email and hand-written note is a) the Email will arrive fast, and if they employer is making a quick hiring decision the Email will be received faster than the snail mail hand-written note – your thank you message could impact your candidacy for the position, b) while an Email can be deleted, a hand-written note cannot - it is often placed in the job candidate’s file. I discourage having a note already written that is left with the receptionist after the interview. This lacks sincerity.
Reference Requests: First, always ask permission of the person or persons you list as references. Second, provide them a copy of your resume to remind them of your accomplishments. This gives them talking points about what you’ve done professionally that they can speak about. I suggest listing professional references because they speak of your work experience and ethics; however, some companies may request personal references so you may list those as well. Additionally, you may ask someone to write a reference letter or letter of recommendation on your behalf. Send a hand-written thank you note to people that serve as any type of reference for you. Again, Emails are acceptable, but they can be deleted.
Remember, there’s never an inappropriate time to say “thank you”!
One of the best things you can do for yourself professionally is stay abreast of the latest techniques in your field and hone your skills. The playing field in every industry is competitive. In order to stay in high demand and be respected by your peers, being ‘in the know’ can set you apart from those who become complacent and continue doing the same old thing the same old way.
This year I had the opportunity to attend a Franklin-Covey workshop on Presentation Skills. In my profession I give presentations a few times a month and I am always reading the latest techniques of how to keep my audience engaged. While I consider myself a good presenter, I walked away from the Franklin-Covey workshop with more tools in my professional toolbox. And, the workshop presenter was phenomenal, but I already knew that because she is a friend and mentor who I respect…she’s also fun to be around and the time flew in her workshop because she is dynamic and engaging.
Whether you are seeking a new job or in a current job, honing your skills and being in the know in your industry will set you apart. When was the last time you learned a new skill that is used in your industry? I suggest the following:
Do you give presentations as part of your job? If you are a new presenter or a seasoned presenter, I suggest adding this book to your professional toolbox: ‘Boring to Bravo – Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve, and Inspire Your Audience To Action’ by: Kristin Arnold
I recently attended several events and was surprised with the social skills some people struggle with in large groups. Moreover, their being uncomfortable interacting with others. I realize this is something we learn to do based on our personal and professional experiences. Some people are social butterflies and others are not.
Our ability to interact with others both personally and professionally is something we cannot avoid. If you struggle with social interaction, here are a three simple tips that may ease your discomfort:
Practice these three simple tips so that interacting at your next social event is less stressful and more enjoyable.