People like to Hire People like Themselves

Today I was leading a workshop on interviewing in Downtown Los Angeles. We covered a variety of fun and fascinating subjects regarding being effective in an interview. One question that came up, was a question I had never encountered before, but definitely got my wheels turning:

“What do I do if my conversational cadence does not match that of the person that I am interviewing with?”

This question surprised me because I have coached thousands people over the years on many aspects of being effective in an interview, but this was one subject I had not thought to include in my workshops. After giving the question some thought, I realized that being able to match another person's conversational cadence is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. I also realized what a critical component conversational cadence is an interview, and how it can make or break the interview.

Often, we take it for granted that we are able to have flowing conversations with the people closes to us in our lives such as our friends and family. We do not realize how difficult it is to match someone else's pace until you are in an interview where it is blatantly clear that things are not meshing (or in some cases a date!). So why is it so easy to converse with your friends and family and yet, so nerve racking to speak to someone new in an interview (or in any situation for that matter)? The reason for this is that we naturally augment our rhythm and style to fit that of those that we are closest to. Think about your closest friend, chances are, you speak in a similar fashion when you are together. This happens over years of spending time together and adjusting to each others styles.

How can you apply the same principles of how you interact with your friends to being successful in an interview?

The answer is simple: Mimic them. By mimicking the person you are interviewing with, you will put them at ease, and you might surprise yourself by how comfortable you feel. What makes friendship so easy, is that, over the years we unintentionally wind up mimicking each others behaviors. People like people who are like themselves. The same is true of potential employers. Just like married couples who wind up looking alike or pet owners who wind up with pets that look strangely similar to their owners, people like to hire people like themselves.

I am not saying that you have to run out and dress up like the person you are interviewing with. Quite the contrary. I am simply asking you to become more aware of how you interact with other people and get more in tune with different people's respective styles. Styles can range from voice pitch, to what is said, to how it is said. A way to practice mimicking others would be to find someone who is very “high energy,” almost to the point that you find them annoying. Then try to match their energy level and conversational pace just like you would with a friend.

The same goes for someone who is very “laid back” or low energy. Try to bring your energy down and to mirror the person's energy that you are hanging out with. It is not quite as easy as it sounds, but it is better to practice with people you know then take your chances in an interview with a complete stranger.

Once you have become more adept at mimicking those around you, go out and try it in the real world. Try it out on dates, and in normal every day situations. The more effective you become at mimicking other people's behavioral styles, the more successful you will find yourself in interviews. The key is to gauge another person's style and meet them at their level. If the person you are interviewing with loves to use big words such as loquacious, then throw in a big word of your own such as verbose. The more present you become to how people interact the more success you will have in your own interactions, and most importantly, in your interviews!

Going the Extra Mile

Three to five years ago things were different. You did not have to TRY to get a job offer, in fact, you were probably solicited with more job offers then you knew what to do with. That said, things have changed. Although employers are slowly beginning to hire again, it is a slow but steady process. For you, the job seeker, this means, you have to go the extra mile!

What does going the extra mile mean to you? For some, it might mean simply ironing their shirt before the interview, or doing a little more research, but for others they really do go the extra mile. Below are a few ways to go above and beyond to make sure you ACE your next interview.

1) Know WHO you are meeting with. The normal job seeker will simply look up the person they are interviewing with on the company's website. The one who gets the job will go onto the company's website, Google, and Linkedin and will thoroughly find out the preferences of the person they are meeting with. In some cases, they may even bring an appropriate gift based on the potential employer's interests (this is more appropriate for people in sales, marketing and higher level executive type positions).

2) Know WHAT you are interviewing for. Recruiters can be good and bad. Some recruiters will simply give a candidate they are working with the basic information about the job, however, it is YOUR job to go and dig deeper to find out WHAT the position is really about. If you want to go the extra mile in finding out WHAT the job is about, you can use resources such as Linkedin and Twitter to see what people inside the company are saying about the position and/or research people on Linkedin who have had the position before. You can also push your recruiter to see if they know any additional information about the job that will help facilitate your getting the offer.

3) Know WHERE you are going for your interview. The average person will google search the address of the place they are going for interview to get direction. The person who goes the extra mile will DRIVE BY the location of their interview in advance to make sure they will not get lost the day of.

By knowing the WHO, the WHAT and the WHERE you will be one step closer to landing your next job!

Looking to be a success in your field?

One of the most underutilized tools in becoming successful at that which you do, is not using the resources you already have available to you. In doing the research for my upcoming book “Do you have what it takes to be a 6 figure success?” I have begun to interview experts in their respective fields on what it was that has made them so successful.

In a recent interview with a very prosperous advertising sales representative for a national women’s magazine, she mentioned that one of the keys to her success was the research she did prior to landing her position. She knew that she wanted to get into an advertising sales position, and was committed to do whatever it took to land her dream job. In order to prepare for what it was going to take for her to land her dream job, she began to have “informational” interviews with experts in her chosen field.

She approached key people in the industry she wanted to get into, advertising, and proceeded to interview them on what it took for them to get to where they were. In doing so, she gained valuable information on what she herself would have to do if she wanted to flourish in her field. Now, after 25 successful years as an advertising sales representative, she is thriving and wants you to be able to have the same success for yourself. You too, can be a six figure success in the field that most inspires you by simply applying the methods that those before you have already been successful with.

Do not let another day pass you by doing something that does not fulfill you! Go out today, and find an individual in the field you are most interested in. Ask them if they will give you a few minutes of their time for an “informational” interview and you may be surprised by their answer.

Start living your dream TODAY!

Danger or Opportunity?

Does being laid off represent Danger or Opportunity to you? 

I would assert that whether you see a lay off as an opportunity or not is all in your point of view. Many people mistakenly have being laid off as the same thing as being fired. When you are fired that means a company has terminated you based on performance or some other element  related to your work. However, when you are laid off, that simply means that there has been some sort of reduction in force or perhaps a change in the structure of the company.

If you can alter your perspective on having been laid off, then you can begin to see a lay off as an opportunity rather than a danger. Below are 3 ways that you could begin to look at a lay off as an opportunity:

1) Change in career-You can embrace your lay off as a chance to pursue the career you have always wanted, perhaps even open up your own business. Often times, job seekers can spend years or even decades in a career that is unsatisfying. Being laid off can give you the chance to re-invent yourself and what you are committed to. You can finally pursue what you are passionate about if you have not been doing so already.

2) Increase in salary-Yesterday, I was interviewing a high level executive who shared with me his story of how he was laid off in his prior position. At the time of the lay off he initially felt frustrated, as many people do. However, in the long run, he was extremely grateful for the upward mobility and the increase in pay the lay off afforded him.  It would have been unlikely that he would have ever left the comfort of his old job had he not been laid off. He would have probably spent the next 10 years trying to achieve the same level in his career and increase in salary that he accomplished in less than 12 months in a new position!

3) Move up the ladder-After being in a job for many years you can begin to plateau. Sometimes you need a little fire to jump start your ambition and drive. By being laid off, you can reevaluate where you want to be in your current career. By doing this, you can shift your energies and focus to pursuing a promotion that you had long forgotten you desired. A new company means new bosses, a new environment,  a new set of tasks to learn and opportunity for growth.

Opportunities can often come in different shapes and sizes.  Sometimes an opportunity might even be disguised as a lay off. It is up to you to recognize an opportunity for what it is and  to always be open to the possibilities that are available to you.

Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts

DO:


Stand up for a phone interview


Smile during your phone interview


Have your resume nearby for reference


Have a list of your accomplishments handy


Speak on a land-line


Research a company just the way you would for a normal interview


Have a pen and paper and a glass of water handy


Speak slowly and clearly, and give short concise answers!


 


DON’T:


Interrupt the interviewer!


Have any noise in the background (pets and children included)


Have too much clutter distracting you during the phone screen


Read from your resume or read from pre-written answers


Pretend you know something you don’t and/or Google search the answer while on the call


Chew or eat anything while on the call!


Bring up salary or benefits!


Forget to send a “Thank You” letter and/or email because it is a phone screen

Behavioral Interview Questions

There is not much you can do to prepare for a behavioral interview. One tip I can give you that can enhance your chances of success in a behavioral interview is to come up with a list of at least 10 situations, including times where you overcame an obstacle or challenge, and how those situations were resolved. Below you will find a list of some of the more common behavioral interview questions:

Tell me about how you workedeffectively under pressure?

Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion tosuccessfully convince someone to see things your way.

Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situationthat demonstrated your coping skills.

Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able tomeet or achieve it.

Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to apolicy with which you did not agree.

Please discuss an important written document you were required tocomplete.

Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the callof duty in order to get a job done.

Describe a situation when you or a group that you were a part ofwere in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?

Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split seconddecision.

Give me an example of a bad decision that you made and what youlearned from that mistake?

Tell me about a time when something you tried to accomplish andfailed. What did you learn from that failure?

Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and youwere required to prioritize your tasks.

What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me anexample.

Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal withanother person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (orvice versa).

Give me an example of when you showed initiativ
e and took thelead.

Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with avery upset customer or co-worker.

Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-findingskills to solve a problem.

Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to aproblem.

Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems anddeveloped preventive measures.

Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopulardecision. 

Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?

What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you handle it.

Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.

Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?

Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.

Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.

Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.

If it is not broken, don't fix it!

I was recently at a networking event where I was asked to review several resumes. When I review a resume, I try to look for what the person is doing right, and point out their strengths. In addition, I look for ways they can enhance their resume through several critiques and modifications. However, not all people need to modify their resumes. In other words, if you are already getting responses from employers regarding your resume, DO NOT TOUCH IT. The only reason to revise and/or revamp your resume is if you are not getting the results you want, ie. your resume is not getting you interviews. Otherwise, if you are getting interviews in the field you are interested in, you are already ahead of the game and should leave it as is. Once your resume is getting you the interviews you want, you then need to focus on your interviewing skills. Getting in the door through your resume is only half the battle. The battle is not won, however, until you are the one who has the offer. Once you are the one who has the offer, it is YOURS! Do whatever you want with the offer: accept it, decline it, or negotiate it. The point is, you want to be the one who has the offer at the end of the day. For more tips on how to be effective at landing the offer and acing your interview, look for our next article on: “How to be effective at interviewing.”

Your Interview Starts Sooner then you Think

Many job seekers are unaware that their interview starts long before they walk in the door. In fact, the moment someone calls you to set up a time for you to come in, the interview has already begun. When the phone rings, and the Human Resources person introduces themselves, you should literally stand up , remember your preparation, and communicate clearly your interest in the potential employer.

When you arrive at the parking garage of the potential employer, it is critical to treat everyone, even the parking attendant, with the utmost respect. People can often be rude to each other in a parking garage by honking or being on their cell phones, however, you never know if the person you are interviewing with might be the one you are honking at!
The same goes for the elevator ride up. There could very well be a Human Resources Manager in the elevator with you and if you are not polite, or if you are chewing gum, it is bound to reflect negatively on you in the interview. One of the most common errors you can make is to be rude to the receptionist. 
In the 6 years I spent as a recruiter, several of my clients would prescreen a candidate based on how well or poorly they treated the receptionist. Many people lost job offers over the years over something as simple as being on a cell phone while waiting in reception or being rude.
Next time you have an interview, remember, it begins the moment you are invited in for the interview. Good luck!

Use Linkedin and other websites to help you research a company and/or employer prior to an interview

In today’s technology driven market it is easier than ever to be prepared for an interview, and key to thorough preparation is research.  Prior to your interview, research your potential new employer to assist you in formulating 5 answers to the common interview question, “Why would you like to work at this company (in this position)?”  Many job seekers reply with simple answers such as, “Your building is close to my home, so I’d have a better commute,” or “This company seems stable and I really need that right now.”  Those answers, while truthful, are not going to impress your interviewer.  Remember, in most cases right now, it is you and many other applicants all applying for the same position.  Why not go a step further by researching not only the company, but also your interviewer?  

Expand your research after you read the company’s website by looking your interviewer up on a site like www.linkedin.com prior to your interview.  Many organizations are encouraging their executives and human resources professionals to post their profiles on professional sites like Linkedin, and more people are registering every day.  Imagine the advantage you will have over your competitors if you take the time to discover specific information about the person you’ll be meeting with, things like how long they’ve been with the company and any common interests you may have!  Use the information you gather from your research to formulate your 5 answers to the question of why you would want to work at that company, and don’t forget to cite specific examples of what you read on the company’s website (don’t forget to read their press releases which are generally on a separate page of the website). 

Going the extra mile means you will stand out from your competition and will be remembered after your interview!