Posts tagged: job interviewing

Job Interview Magic: I and We

I recently had an opportunity to do help graduate students work through mock job interviews. I had 4 international students, all with impeccable credentials. The first young man was charming and humble. A musician by avocation, he’s looking to help the world be a better place. He was a sharp contrast to one of my other interviewees.

When I asked this next young man what he wanted to accomplish from his ‘mock’ interview, he said that he needed direct feedback about how he could improve. I started by asking him about his strengths. He mentioned that he felt that working with people and getting things done were his strengths.

When he described how he led teams, he mentioned that when an employee did something wrong, he would tell them, “You made a mistake,” and then he would tell them how to fix it.

While I didn’t like how he described his supervisory style, I couldn’t argue with directness in employee coaching.

In giving him feedback, I pointed out that the way he spoke about subordinates was different than the way I would do it. That didn’t make it wrong but I wondered if he was being too direct, and perhaps it was cultural.

When I read this post, “The 2 Most Important Words in a Job Interview,” I realized that perhaps what I sensed was too much “I”  in the discussion of his success and not enough “we.”

The entire experience was, for me, uplifting, as is all my work with young people. I get the feeling that the world is going to be in good hands.

Why Grit, Not IQ, Predicts Success

I wish someone had told me this when I was in middle/high school.

I am thinking of two mid-30’s business leaders.

One went to Yale and had a lot of advantages in life. He’s good looking in an Abercrombie kind of way, soccer star… you know the type. The other is also good looking (by that same standard) and athletic. He has a degree from a state school. His parents are teachers.

If IQ or ‘what college you attended’ or grade point average were the measures of success – the Yalie should win. But  something else is really at the heart of  business ‘success’ and it relates to:

— whether you see obstacles as opportunities or things that slow you down.

One way to to learn about obstacles as opportunities — is to grow up WITHOUT advantages. This builds grit and grit builds success. I wrote a post a few year back about people who failed time and again. Michael Jordan and Ulysses S. Grant. I had a college professor tell me I’d never graduate from college. Haha. I showed him.

Bottom line is — if you think that people who went to Ivy League schools are automatically successful, I ask you to think again.

As a country, we are suffering from ‘elitism fever’ (we think we’re better than others) – but deep in our hearts we know – the American spirit is grounded in pure grit. So next time you go to hire someone, why not ask… what obstacles have you overcome to be here? That might tell you everything you need to know.

Image credit: Elia Locardi

Career Advice: Give

This blog is a rant.

I’m probably getting old and cranky (ok, not probably) but I am tired of people who want ‘help’ — get it through the generosity of selfless people and then boom – they take and take and largely never give back. All the ‘takers’ just stopped reading! I didn’t really expect to change any ‘takers’ but I am hoping to get to the ‘matchers.’ (read on!)

In his research-based book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success Adam Grant (Wharton School)has identified three types of people — givers, takers, and matchers. Matchers return favors tit-for-tat (they care above all about fairness), Takers try to tilt most things in their own favor (focus on themselves), Givers are generous (focus on others).

Most people are givers in their personal relationships. Interestingly, at work, people change. Grant notes,  “An extraordinary number of people who are in a giver mindset at home are a matcher or taker at work.” Only 8% describe themselves as givers at work because most people think “givers are chumps who will fall behind in the game of work”.

Grant’s research shows that givers are among the most successful people in business and may also be the happiest. “There is powerful evidence,” “that givers experience more meaning in their work than takers or matchers.”

Back to my rant. I have probably met one on one with 500 people in the past 5 years. Many people thank me and that’s all I ask. But there’s a whole segment of people (both men and women) who act like they’ve never met me when I see them later. They are so focused on themselves… they don’t even remember meeting me! Often these are the same people who.. didn’t offer to buy the coffee (when they asked to meet me), never asked me one question about myself, never bothered to write an email saying thanks or following up in any way. In the tug of war of life — are you helping to pull for the greater good or shoving people out of your way?

Ok. I’m done.

Photo credit: Navy & Marines in tug of war   NYCMarines  (I wouldn’t bet against any of these fine human beings)

How to Ruin that Face to Face Meeting You Worked So Hard to Get!

This week I had a couple of meetings like I do almost every week. (Do you meet between 2-5 new people a week?)

First — the good meeting!

One was with a guy I met who has been unemployed for about a year for the first time in his career. I met him briefly after a talk I had given. He confirmed our meeting the day before. Yeah for him. Then he offered to buy me a coffee, I always appreciate the offer. Another yeah for him. (cost him $1.72) He told a story about delivering meals to shut ins as one of the ways he spent his time while unemployed. Triple wow. He even asked how he could help me. Unbelievable.

And now the not so good meeting:

Meeting with someone I had met before and had helped him with something. By 5pm the day before, he had not confirmed our meeting so I did. Ick, not happy. I usually send my cell phone number so in case something comes up last minute.. the person doesn’t leave me sitting there. Hmm, maybe you could send me yours so in case something comes up for me? Nope. Didn’t improve.

In the article, “5 ways to lose your dream job during the interview process” — the same simple etiquette applies. Confirm your meeting, be polite, don’t talk too much, think of ways you can help the other person, don’t be cocky, send a thank you note, etc.

Seems pretty simple to me. But if it’s so simple, why don’t most people do it? I have no idea. Sigh…

Oh, and did you send a Linked In invitation after your meeting?

Photo credit: photo bucket

6 seconds = How Long Your Resume Gets Looked At…

Have you ever been on the hiring side of a resume? It’s not fun.

You often feel like this guy. Overwhelmed by ‘paper’ and buzzwords that don’t tell you anything.

Before you spend more time and get more opinions about your resume, check out this article, “How Recruiters See Your Resume…” Take a look at the heat map associated with this article.

It tells us that the more structured your resume, the easier it is for those 6 seconds to be productive and get you into the consideration pile vs. the no way pile.

The goal of the resume is to… wait for it… get you an interview! Be sure to think of it that way. It’s not to document your entire work history.

By the way, how’s your Linked In profile? Do you have 300 connections? Do you belong to several groups? Have you uploaded your PowerPoint presentations? Do you answer questions? Make sure you include a live link to your Linked In profile from your resume.

Now go forth and streamline that resume!

Image credit: Career Insider

Stop Using Facebook

I’m a capitalist and an entrepreneur and respect people who start businesses.

What I don’t like are businesses that take advantage of customers. In the world of Free (think Facebook (FB), Google, Twitter, etc.) are services really free?

I have been teaching social media for about 3 years and have heard 100’s of FB stories. Some heart warming (“I keep in touch with my grandchildren”), others disturbing:  lost job opportunities, stalking, loss of privacy and being fired. If only people had thought a little about what they were sharing, many of these terrible circumstances could have been prevented.

In reading the post, “The Facebook Hiatus”, the author deactivated his account because he spent more time reading “status updates than books.” Beyond the issue of time, are you aware of how, how often and with whom FB shares your data?

“Unlike other big corporations, (FB) doesn’t have an inventory of gadgets or cars; its product is personal data — yours and mine, ” says Lori Andrews in, Facebook is Using You.

As FB goes public, we’ll see even more exploitation due to sagging ad revenue. Ads will now be inserted into your news feed and on log out pages.

I know you love FB. All your friends are there. I don’t really expect you to stop using Facebook, I just want you to think before you post.

Photo credit:

Shopping for a New Boss

About 15 years into my career I figured out that WHO I worked for was as important as what I was doing for work. So when it came to looking for a new job, my search became about looking for a great person to work for.

This may sound crazy; particularly in this tight job market. It takes a lot of confidence (and some money in the bank) to alter our perception of how to find a new job by figuring out who we want to learn from.

My approach was pretty simple. I looked for great places to work; places that were growing and had a focus on customers and building trust. During the interview process, I would pay close attention to the person I would work for. I asked a lot of questions and thought about:

– Would I learn from this person? Do they have skills I want?

– Are they happy and growing in their work?

In an interesting blog post called, “Get Hired, No Resume, No Interview, No Joke,” the author suggests that you “go to good managers you’d like to work for.” Talk to them, understand their issues and see how you might fit into their organization. I’m not suggesting that you abandon networking or applying for work. But author Corcodilos’ suggestion that we pick  “three companies or managers you really, really want to work for because they are shining lights in their industry.”

Like any good sales effort, you may pick 3 and find out that 2 won’t work. So pick two more. If you are not sure how to identify these excellent managers? Ask other people! They will tell you. But you won’t find out unless you ask.

It always worked out for me. I learned a great deal and respected the people I worked for.  It may not be easy but I can assure you it is very worthwhile. Happy shopping!

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I’m Telling Mom…No One Likes a TattleTale

No one likes a tattletale. Well, unless the information is valuable. So when you are looking for a new job (exciting and terrifying), information about a prospective employer can be priceless.

The way it used to beDo you remember the old boys network’? I do. Because I’m a girl (and an old one at that) – the boys network wasn’t really open to me. Yes, I had excellent experience and yes, I had a Master’s Degree but… I was still a girl.

But I never let anything stop me. I just kept trying, learning, sharing, being myself. And I’m happy to report that due to circumstances beyond their control, the network (while still alive and well) isn’t what it used to be.

I also had a little help from my friends, kind and generous mentors and the great equalizer, the internet and it’s child – social media came along.

The way it is now – When you want information about a company, you can turn to sites like This site allows real people to give information about their employer. The good news is that it’s anonymous. That’s also the bad news. The site has input by company, job type, salary and even interview questions.

Like any other ‘crowd-sourced’ site, you need to be careful. One disgruntled person can make the numbers look bad so it’s important thing is to read all the comments. Check out all the data. Particularly around salary. (there are so many helpful sites!) I know it’s an ’employer’s’ market right now, but that won’t last and this probably isn’t the last job you’ll negotiate a salary for. (booyah!)

Image credit – This child’s mother and father… and

No Thanks, I Don’t Want to Work For You…

A 30-something is in the middle of a job interview. The hiring manager is excited about the young man sitting in front of him.

From the hiring manager’s point of view, the interview is going very well. He has laid out the requirements, is satisfied that the candidate has good qualifications and equally as important, he seems to be a good fit for the group

The young man pauses and stops to think and then says,

“Thank you very much for your time today. I am very grateful but from my perspective this interview is over.”

The hiring manager is completely taken aback. “What do you mean?

The candidate continues, “I like your company, but you just finished telling me how many long hours you work. I have no objection to long hours when they are needed to complete a project. You also just finished telling me about how you miss spending enough time with your family.  I am looking for a company whose leadership is committed to work/family balance. So while I appreciate your time, I think we are not a good fit.”

Dumbfounded, the hiring manager said goodbye. Initially, he was furious. How dare that kid tell me anything about running a business. After discussing the event with a few others, he started to think seriously about the candidate’s point of view.

There are a lot of reasons why the best and brightest may not want to work for you. Check out this article by (one of my favorites) David Meerman Scott called, “How to Build a Crappy Workforce.”  Perhaps you’re not scrambling for talent yet but you will be and if you think changing your culture now is difficult — imagine what it will be like when the economy is back full steam.





Image credit: Fast Company

What the CEO Would Ask You In An Interview…

CEO’s aren’t always the smartest people in the room but they have earned the right to be heard. I recently read an interview with Barry Salzberg, the CEO of Deloitte and liked his comments about hiring.  People who are looking for work or want to successfully interview for their next position may benefit from his advice.

Mr. Salzberg asks potential employees:

– What values that are most important to you?

– How have you demonstrated your commitment to those values in the last 2 years?

– Tell me about something recently that didn’t go well and what did you do about it.

His advice:

1)  “Pay it forward and take care of people.” When was the last time you mentored someone? If the CEO asks you that question, would you have a great answer? One that would make him/her proud to know you?

2) ” Brand yourself.” Do you know what your digital footprint looks like? What does it say about you? Do you actively manage it or do you passively hope that your digital information is ‘good enough’?

3) “Get out of your comfort zone.” I consider this the most important. We get so busy with our daily lives that we forget to take calculated risks or all the risk-taking behavior has been “corporatized” out of us. “It’ s ok to be uncomfortable. Don’t resist change …or a different way of looking at things.”

I would go one step further. Look for opportunities to change and then go for it. Early in my career I heard, “the best way to cope with change is to create it.” I have worked hard to figure out how to keep reinventing myself. It’s not easy but I am happy that I kept at it. Not sure how or what to change? Ask someone you respect and then listen with an open mind. You’ll be glad you did.













Photo credit:  ilgiraresole