How does your first impression shape your interview?

In an interview, an employer comes up with an assessment about you within the first 10 seconds of when they meet you. This assessment then shapes HOW that employer interviews you. If the employer assesses you to be someone who is professional and trustworthy, then they are going to ask you questions and listen to you through the lens of someone who is trustworthy and professional.
If the employer assesses you to be someone who is unreliable and lacking composure, then the employer’s questions they ask you and how they listen to you will be colored by that judgement. So how do you make the first 10 seconds you have with an employer count?
  1. Smile + a positive attitude (leave your problems/concerns at home!). An authentic smile is the universal signal that puts people at ease and makes them comfortable with you. In addition, a positive attitude makes others want to be around you and get to know you better.
  2. A firm, but friendly handshake. Stay away from the dead-fish handshake or even worse, the bone-cruncher hand-shake. Instead, go with a firm, but warm handshake while looking the person in the eyes
  3. Use open body language. Do not cross your arms or  your legs, as this puts a barrier between you and the person you are meeting with. Also be careful of fidgeting
  4. Make sure you are dressed to impress. A few rules to follow: simple jewelry, if any or a nice watch if you are a man (NO visible body piercings [except possibly earrings] or tattoos); a conservative, pressed suit in black, grey or navy (pant or skirt suit is acceptable for women so long as you do NOT show cleavage and you DO wear a bra); very little if any cologne/perfume (too heavy of a scent can turn an employer off); a tie if you are a man; an understated purse/bag or briefcase (be careful you do not have too much in your hands as this can make you appear cluttered and disorganized)
  5. A clean, sharp hair cut or style with natural looking make-up if you are a woman. It is important that your hair is gelled, blow-dryed, or pulled back. Frizzy, unstyled or unwashed hair can leave a bad first impression by making you appear unkempt
If you follow the above 5 rules, you will be on your way to making a positive first impression.

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Tell me about yourself formula

Employer asks you in an interview “Tell me about yourself….” The average person would just start rambling on about any personal or business things that come to mind. 

The most effective formula I have found for answering this question is as follows: 
 “I started in the field X years ago and got into the field because of Y and Z. What I really like about the field I am in is A and B. What most of my prior employers would tell you makes me stand out from others in my field is C & D.”

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The TOP 15 things NOT to wear on an interview

There are many job seekers who still do not know what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to wear in an interview. Often times, something as simple as what you wear can get you passed on for a position.

Here is my list of the TOP 15 things NOT to wear in an interview:
1) Denim! It is never, ever appropriate to wear denim to an interview
2) A short skirt
3) A t-shirt
4) A dress or blouse that shows any sort of cleavage
5) Dangly jewelry (this can distract the person you are interviewing with)
6) Carrying a back-pack or big bulky bag
7) Headphones or sunglasses or a cell phone earpiece
8) Facial or body piercings or visible tattoos, including earrings on men (small earrings are OK for women) or heavy make-up
9) Brightly colored or overly patterned clothing (this includes “Hawaiian Shirts”)
10) Long acrylic nails
11) Overly baggy or ill-fitting clothes (it makes you look frumpy)
12) Stained clothes or wrinkled clothes
13) Scuffed shoes or too high of heels if you are a woman or flip flops
14) YOU MUST WEAR SOCKS if you are a man and they MUST match
15) A heavy fragrance or perfume-this can lose you the position

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How do I handle it if I was terminated from my last job?

Getting fired is never easy. Many people will be terminated for one reason or another at some point in their career, however, I have noticed in speaking with a lot of the unemployed that they are confused about what constitutes a “lay off” versus a “termination.”  Many job seekers are going into an interview saying they were terminated, when that is not actually the case. 

In recent years, many people have been laid off due the the economy. Typically a lay off is something that happens when a company has to make cut backs for whatever reason. 
The term termination is most often used to describe when someone has been terminated for cause. Being terminated for cause means that you did something that caused the company to have to terminate you.
Examples of reasons someone would be terminated for cause are as follows:
-Sharing trade secrets or confidential information
-Violating a company policy
-Stealing
-Constantly being late or missing too much work
-Making too many mistakes
etc…
A lay off often happens because:
-A company is cutting staff
-A company is relocating
-A company is restructuring
It is important to be clear whether you were laid off or terminated. Even if you were terminated, I would not recommend using the word “termination” to describe your reason for leaving, such as saying “I was terminated.” The word termination has a very negative connotation in our culture.
An employer will never say you were terminated either. They can only confirm your dates of hire, salary and in some cases, whether or not you are eligible for rehire.
If you were terminated and have to explain why you left your last position, you might want to try saying that “You came to a mutual decision that it was not the right fit,” or something similar that conveys that you and the company came to a decision for you to part ways.
Being asked directly if you were terminated, is very different then being asked why you left your last position. If you are asked directly on an application or by an employer whether or not you ever have been terminated, you have to be 100% honest at all times and state yes, if you have been terminated.
Whether you were “laid off” or “terminated,” you always want to be sure to use the GOOD-BAD-GOOD method in explaining why you left your last position.
Always start with the GOOD, why you originally accepted the position and why you stayed there as long as you did, then lightly touch on the BAD, why the lay off or termination happened, and finally follow up with the GOOD, what you intend to create out of leaving your most recent position, ie. what is next for you.
Stay away from saying things like “it was not my choice,” “it was unfair” etc… Instead, look at how you can find the positive in all of this and convey your positive attitude in the interview regardless of your circumstances.

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What are the 5 quickest ways to ruin an interview?

There are many things that can cause an interview to go awry, however, there a few critical things that can end an interview rather abruptly.

The number one thing you can do to ruin a great interview is:

1) BEING LATE!
2) Not being prepared
3) Not being dressed professionally
4) Not making good eye-contact
5) Interrupting the interviewer

Avoiding these 5 things will get you on your way to acing your next interview.

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What is missing?

What is missing? Why is it some people seem to have all the luck when finding jobs? What are the key contributing factors that differentiates those who get hired from those who don’t?

The number one reason people do not get hired when they go in for an interview is a lack of proper preparation. A few years ago you could get away without being properly prepared because there were an abundance of open jobs. Now that the market has shifted and there are more people looking then jobs available, you really have to bring your A-game if you expect to get an offer. Spend at least 30 minutes to an hour researching the firm and the position before you go in for your interview.

The second reason people do not get hired is because they misrepresent their skills on their resume. Lately, this has been happening a lot of more often. People are getting desperate and starting to blatantly lie about their skills on their resume.  Employers are quick to realize when a candidate has fluffed up their skills and doing so will definitely hurt you. PLEASE-be honest on your resume. It does no good to lie.

The third reason people do not get the job offer is a lack of professionalism in the interview. This can mean the way you dress, the way you act and/or your overall appearance and demeanor. I just had someone go in for an interview recently where she looked at her reflection in the window during the duration of the interview. I have also had people who just have a bad attitude who get passed on and also have seen many people lose job offers over something as simple as not wearing a suit.

Keep these three things in mind the next time you get ready to go in for an interview. Always prepare, be 100% honest about your skills and bring you best attitude and wear your best suit the next time you have an interview.

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Countdown…Top 101 reasons candidates didn’t get the job

The other day my husband and I were driving to dinner. I was feeling a bit frustrated because one of the job seekers I was working with didn’t get the job she was applying for and the reason was something silly. This happens more often then I like to remember and so my husband suggested, “Honey, why don’t you start a list of some of the silliest and simplest reasons people have not gotten hired and share it with your candidates before they go into their interviews.” At first I thought that some of these reasons might be too simple to mention, but it is the little things that make the biggest difference in an interview. Over the next few months I will begin compiling a list of the top 101 reasons people didn’t get the job. Here are the first 10:

1) A job seeker went in for an interview and was wearing too short of a skirt, needless to say the client passed.
2) A legal secretary misspelled the word “litigation” on a legal spelling test.
3) A male showed up to an interview and WAS NOT WEARING SOCKS on the interview-the client was so disgusted they immediately passed.
4) In the final stages of an interview, a candidate got the company name wrong
5) A job seeker went in for an interview and looked everywhere except at the interviewer (good eye contact is always critical!)
6) After looking for a job for over 2 years, a job seeker finally got an interview and showed up 15 minutes late
7) A candidate passed every test, however, on one test, she second-guessed herself and changed a few of her answers at the last minute which led to her failing one of the necessary tests and being passed on.
8) During a phone screen a job seeker was asked to describe her typical day and was unable to clearly communicate what she did on a day to day basis.
9) During a 3rd and final interview a candidate decided to wear perfume and the perfume was so overpowering that no one in the office thought they could work with her.
10) A candidate went through 5 interviews with everyone in the company and after the final interview received an offer, however she sent a thank you letter that looked something like this:

Hi ___!

I am really super excited to work for you! This is exactly what I have always wanted to do) Cannot wait to work with you!!!!

Job Seeker

Needless to say, the company rescinded the offer.

As you can see, there are many silly little things that can easily lose you the job. Stay tuned for more of my top 101 reasons why people didn’t get the job offer…

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Top 10 Interview Do’s & Don’ts

DO…

Show up 15 minutes early
Bring 3 copies of your resume and of your references
Thoroughly and completely fill out your application
Dress professionally
Listen intentionally for what the employer is saying, as well as what they are not
Bring your best attitude (no complaining about past employers)
Prepare yourself for the interview
Have a firm handshake and good eye contact throughout the interview
Take occasional notes during the interview
Send “thank you” letters

DON’T…

Bring too much with you to the interview (you do not want to be distracted by having too many bags, props etc…)
Take excessive notes, which can distract the interviewer
Interrupt the interviewer!
Justify or defend why you left your last position-keep it upbeat and positive
Memorize and repeat information from your resume, keep it original and interesting
Bring up salary or benefits
Pretend you know something you don’t
Chew or eat anything during your interview! (unless of course it is a lunch interview)
Wear perfume, scented lotion, or any distracting colors or jewelry
SHOW UP LATE

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My biggest pet peeve as a recruiter…

When you are beginning to consider going out on interviews and you are currently working, it is critical that you set aside time for these interviews. One of the most frustrating things for a recruiter is to push a candidate in for an interview, and have the candidate come back and say they cannot make it. When you are looking for a job you need to make yourself available during regular business hours Monday through Friday between 8am-6pm. On very rare occasions, an employer might be flexible and see you early in the morning or after work, however, most companies need you to interview during work hours.

If you ask a recruiter to submit you for a position and they are able to get you an interview, it is very important to make the time to go. Most companies will give you options of several different days and times that you can go. If you do not wind up going on the interview that a recruiter or company has set up for you then it can reflect poorly on you as a job seeker and that company may not be willing to consider your background again.

If you cannot set aside some time for interviews, then you are probably not ready to start your job hunt.

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