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Apr 20

10 types of interviewers and how to deal with them

Posted in Tips & Tricks at 9:45 am

Interviewing for a job comes with several question marks. What do I wear? How should I answer this question? How long will this take?
A good job seeker prepares. Take your suit to the cleaners. Think about your answers. Arrive for the interview in plenty of time.
But the one factor that can throw everything off is the type of interviewer you get. When you sit down at that table, the interviewer’s line of questioning and attitude will change what you say and how.
To give you a little extra help, here is a list of 10 types of interviewers you might encounter and how to deal with them.

Your best friend
What to expect: Too much of everything.
You walk in the door and the handshake is a little too enthusiastic. The smile is too wide. The conversation is too personal. It’s all just too much.
This interviewer treats you like a best friend, which is nice, but this style is unnerving because you want to be relaxed without forgetting that you are still on an interview.
What to do: Take this approach as a cue that you can be a little less rigid in the interview because the best friend doesn’t want an uptight employee.
Just remind yourself that the interviewer can be more casual than you because he isn’t the one interviewing for the job.
Show the interviewer that you’re relaxed, but stay professional and don’t act like you’re actually good friends — stories about wild parties and your personal life don’t belong in the conversation.

The interrogator
What to expect: Question after question after question.
The interrogator doesn’t come to the interview ready for conversation. He has a list of questions to fire off and you had better be ready to answer them.
Don’t expect to receive a lot of helpful feedback to gauge how you’re doing. Just expect more questions.
What to do: Watch episodes of “Law & Order” to prepare.
You’re going to feel defensive the entire time and might walk away from the interview feeling as if you did something wrong. Once you realize that your interviewer is going to lambaste you with questions, just focus on answering them and don’t obsess over reading his reaction.
You can try to initiate conversation with a few of your answers, but don’t be surprised if those efforts fail. This interviewer wants to hear your answers and see how you handle yourself, so staying calm is the best approach you can take.

The one who has better things to do
What to expect: An interviewer checking her e-mail, looking at you but not paying any attention to what you say.
Some people are forced to participate in the interview process even if they have no interest in doing it, so don’t take it personally.
What to do: Answer the questions and be friendly.
Try to hold conversations with this distracted interviewer and hope you can win her over — hey, it can’t hurt to have someone who likes you. But this interviewer either made up her mind before she walked into the room or doesn’t intend to give much feedback about you, so do your best but don’t take her disinterest personally.

The inappropriate one
What to expect: Cold sweats because you don’t know what to do or say.
Every once in awhile you will encounter an interviewer who doesn’t understand limits. You might hear an inappropriate joke, a personal story that should be reserved for a therapist or a question that delves too deeply into your life.
This interviewer probably isn’t trying to be inappropriate; he just has no concept of boundaries.
What to do: Stay in your comfort zone.
Just because this interviewer is ready to cry on your shoulder, don’t feel pressured into doing the same. Answer what you want to answer and try to steer the conversation back to pertinent topics, such as the job requirements or your qualifications.
The interviewer probably won’t realize how off track he is and will follow your lead. Of course, if you think the questions cross a line, then you want to get out of there ASAP.

The rule follower
What to expect: Every interviewing tip you’ve ever been told.
Just like some students never imagine skipping a day of school or not doing homework, some interviewers can’t imagine going outside of traditional business interviewing protocol.
Boring questions and a stoic demeanor are this interviewer’s best friend.
What to do: Be the best interviewee you can be.
Do you know what your biggest weakness is? Do you know how to give the perfect handshake? Do you plan on wearing a conservative shirt under your jacket? You had better, because these by-the-book practices will earn you high marks.

The joker
What to expect: A comedy routine.
Some interviewers have such a good sense of humor that they can’t shut it off even when they need to. You’ll answer a question and you’ll receive a sarcastic comment or a funny aside. This approach isn’t inherently bad, but it can confuse you because you’re not sure if the interview has even begun.
What to do: After a few minutes, you’ll realize that your interviewer is a joker.
If this personality bugs you, you probably won’t like working for the company. If it doesn’t bother you too much, then try to play along.
Joke back and show that you have a personality. For some interviewers, your résumé proved your qualification; the interview is their chance to see if you fit in with the gang.

The weirdo
What to expect: Strange behavior.
We all know odd people, but we often forget that these odd people hold day jobs. And some of them are bosses or hiring managers who conduct interviews. Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re interviewed by a peculiar person who has macaroni art hanging in her office or who asks, “Who is your favorite member of the A-Team?”
What to do: Just go with it.
Unless the weird factor transitions into creepy or offensive, you should just answer the questions and ignore oddities.
If the questions and rapport are professional, but the interviewer is working on her origami, stay focused on the interview. She probably has no idea she’s doing anything strange and is paying attention to you.

The no-nonsense one
What to expect: Tough love.
This interviewer doesn’t believe in sparing your feelings. He’s honest and will waste neither his nor your time.
What to do: Brace yourself.
This interviewer will say that he’s not sure you’re qualified or that he fears you won’t fit in with everyone. Prove him wrong with evidence that you are perfect for the job. He won’t respect someone who cowers, so be just as firm with him.

The blank slate
What to expect: No feedback.
The blank slate is an interviewer whose face remains unchanged for the duration of the meeting. You won’t see any hint that the interview is going well or badly.
What to do: Don’t try to break the interviewer’s façade.
If you spend the interview looking for clues that you said the right or wrong thing, you’ll be miserable.
Answer the questions, be yourself and stay composed. Your instinct will be to think that you’re bombing, but you never know with the blank slate, so don’t let yourself analyze the situation too much.

The mafia
What to expect: An intimidating group.
Every group interview is an ordeal. The interviewers might be lovely, horrible or a mix, but you still have several sets of eyes staring at you.
What to do: Try to relax.
That seems like impossible advice, but it’s the best approach. When you have multiple interviewers, you will see several types of interviewers, so you can’t try to please everyone.
Try to be yourself and find the interviewers that seem the most responsive to you. When you see someone nodding in agreement or maintaining eye contact, you’ll feel more at ease and the nerves will begin to disappear.

Apr 12

How to Land a Job in Today’s Market

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 1:16 pm

Parade Magazine Shares Techniques to Take Advantage of Social Media, Part-Time Work, Your Skills, “Safe” Positions

The economy added more than 160,000 jobs last month. That’s good news, considering there’s been no increase in the unemployment rate in months.

However, “Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith observed, that’s little comfort for the millions of Americans still searching for work.

How can people find jobs these days? And what’s the current state of employment in America?

Lamar Graham, executive editor of Parade magazine, said it’s still tough sledding out there. He said, “Approximately 15 million people were out of work late last year, with national unemployment peaking at 10.1 percent in October, and it’s been stuck at 9.7 percent for the last three months. Add part-timers who can’t find full-time employment, plus people who have stopped looking for work, and the picture is even bleaker.”

Graham continued, “Last year, states paid a record $79 billion in unemployment benefits to as many as 30 million claimants. But if there’s any good news to come out of it, it’s that the economists we talked to believe the worst is over. Manufacturing jobs are coming back, and we’re seeing a rise in overtime. But still, a complete recovery could take years.”

Katie DeVito, a job seeker in New Jersey, also appeared on “The Early Show.” She’s riding the wave of social media to find a new job.

DeVito has been out of work for a month. She said she spent about a year looking for a job and finally found employment as a communications coordinator for 90 days. However, when that company downsized recently, she lost her job again. She’s been looking for work since.

DeVito said she’s been utilizing social Web sites — especially Twitter — to not only search for a job, but to help others in the same position.

She said, “I’ve been arranging meetings for people who are unemployed to talk about what they’re looking for. It’s amazing how we’ve been able to help each other out. For example, one person may know of someone hiring in the medical field. That job isn’t for me, but there might be someone in the group who’d be a good fit for the job. So I’m out there looking, but there are others out there looking as well, and we’ve been able to help each other out. Using social media, I’ve landed interviews and made some good contacts that could one day lead to a job.”

Graham said there are still millions of people like DeVito out there looking for work. He suggested job seekers begin using these techniques:

UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook and Twitter are great ways to make contacts, and let people know you’re looking for work. You can reach so many people by sending out one simple message. Also, it’s a good support system for when you get frustrated. Knowing you’re not the only one out there looking for a job can certainly help when frustration starts to set in.

WORK PART-TIME
More than 26 million people work part-time, and two-thirds do so by choice. We talked to one guy who’s 73 years old, yet puts in a few hours a week as a school crossing guard. The $5,900 a year he makes is a handy supplement to his Social Security income. For others, only short hours are available. People worry that a part time job will take away from their ability to look for a full-time job, but it shouldn’t. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash to stay afloat.

DEVELOP NEW SKILLS
To improve their job prospects, millions of people are heading back to school for more training. Popular programs include health care, computer technology, and criminal justice. So definitely don’t be afraid to be willing to learn a new skill. You might end up benefitting from it. One woman we profiled was a paper product saleswoman, but realized there was no growth in her industry. So she found a company willing to train her in online ad sales and is now making double what she did at her old job.

LOOK FOR “SAFE” JOBS
While there really is no “safe” job in today’s economy, some are safer than others. The health care industry, for example. People will always be sick, so there will always be work available. The federal government is another example: it boosted its payroll by some 66,000 workers. Although state and
local governments haven’t been immune to the recession, their job cuts have been restrained. Further, you should be willing to relocate if you find the right opportunity. If you’re a computer programmer living in the Midwest, you might consider heading out to Silicon Valley or Seattle and searching for work there.

Apr 05

How to get through second and third-round interviews

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 3:11 pm

So, you’ve made it through your first round of interviews — congratulations — and now you’re on to the second and third round … the good stuff.

Business dining

Many of these interviews will take the form of business lunches and dinners. These are less about assessing your business acumen — this has been solid enough to get you past the first round — than about seeing how you are able to interact with others in collegial and social situations. In short, this is where the smallest of small details is what separates those who receive an offer from those who don’t.

Here are a few restaurant recommendations:

� Don’t turn up smelling so strongly of scent that they smell you, not the food.

� Do not wear your sunglasses, either on your face or on your head.

� While I have no objection to the flaunting of chest hair or cleavage on your own time, it needs to stay under wraps in a business setting.

� Follow your host’s lead with regard to beginning with small talk versus diving into a business conversation.

� Don’t drink, even if they do.

� Order food that’s easy to manage. No one wants to see you playing cat’s cradle with the cheese on your onion soup.

� Don’t discuss your dietary habits. Your feelings about protein, white flour or the conditions under which chickens are raised should remain yours alone.

� Aside from the fact that my mother always impressed on me that salting your food before tasting it was an insult to the chef, I’ve heard that those in the business world view it as indicative of poor impulse control — you may make judgments without having all the facts.

� Do not check your PDA in between standing up from your table in the restaurant and exiting the restaurant. Give your goodbyes the same attention you did your hellos.

Case studies

Another way second- and third-round interviews are often conducted is with case studies — both group and individual — designed to prove that you are, indeed, the creative and logical thinker your résumé claims you are, or that you’re the “people person” your recommenders claim you can be.

A key thing to remember with all three types is that there is no “right” answer to the case. They are behavioral tests that check mental agility.

Group case interviews: These are more about not failing than about wowing people. They have one goal: to find out which people work and play well with others. Are you collegial and can you make an impact in a tactful way in a group setting?

So while you definitely want to demonstrate that you can contribute, you don’t want to dominate the group’s discussion or attempt to take charge in an aggressive way.

One of my clients was in a group of eight people tasked with deciding whether an American chain restaurant should expand into Asia. They were given half an hour and a white board and told to come up with a yes or no answer and a bulleted list explaining why. Of the eight, three failed: two because they didn’t speak and one because he couldn’t stop telling everyone why his idea was right.

If you are in this situation, I recommend the following techniques:

� Be the quiet organizer. Suggest that everyone take the first four minutes to read the case and offer to keep time.

� Suggest something constructive or share any insights that you have.

� If you have no insights, ask people questions to clarify their ideas.

� Be respectful of anything anyone else contributes, no matter what you may think of it.

� Follow the directions. (I know it seems insane that I have to write that, but experience has shown me I do. For example, if they say, “Only use what you’ve got,” don’t offer to look something up on your BlackBerry.)

Bottom line: Be a team player who contributes respectfully to the goal and you’ll be fine.

Individual case interviews: In these you can wow. But, again, it’s not going to be because you got the right answer. The questions may be presented in written form or orally. Some are “big thinking” questions. For example, one of my clients was asked what he would do about the environment if he were president of a country. His first clarifying question: “On Earth as a whole, or are we considering space exploration?” At that point, he knew he had them.

Some take the form of brain teasers (another of my clients was asked why manhole covers were round. FYI: so cables don’t get caught on any corners) or practical tasks.

When confronted with these, keep the following in mind:

� Use all the time they give you.

� Make notes and use paper, particularly if it’s orally delivered.

� If they say you can ask clarifying questions, do, but don’t fish too much. Show that you can be content working with the facts you have.

� As you lay out your answer, state your assumptions.

� Stay cool, even if you make a mistake in the arithmetic. All is not lost; they are looking at logic flow.

� Not all the information may be relevant, but don’t say, “That’s irrelevant.” You may be wrong. If you think it is, just don’t draw on it in your answer.

Again, the point is never that they are asking you the question because no one in their office can find out the answer; they want to see if you can think logically and clearly under pressure, making reasonable assumptions. Approach the question like a doctor trying to figure out symptoms and you’ll be fine.