“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” – Edmund Burk

I wanted to share a glimpse into my personal job hunting process in the hopes of showing how playing it cool as an applicant can actually  help.

At the end of June I had an informal interview for a position at a local bank. Everything went seemingly well; the hiring manager and I seemed to hit it off, so I felt pretty positive about how it went. The position hadn’t been finalized so there was no telling when I would hear word about the next step.

Flash forward to a month later when I still hadn’t heard boo about the status of the position. Rather than panicking I sent a friendly, yet professional, e-mail to the person I interviewed with expressing my continued interest in the position. She responded by letting me know the final details were being ironed out, but she was glad I was still interested.

Still with me? Two days ago I had seen the position posted online. Originally I had been prompted to send my information through a personal contact so it wasn’t common knowledge the position was open. There was a little part of me that thought I was no longer in the running. I was also tempted to reapply to get my name in the circulation through a slightly different path. My gut prevailed and told me to wait. If they wanted me to know what the next step was, they would tell me.

So what was waiting for me in my e-mail inbox today? An e-mail from the hiring manager I had been working with! She said had encouraged me to fill out the application in the hopes of still being interested in the position.

Now I am not naive enough to think I am a lock for this position. It was just encouraging to know that a little patience can yield positive results in the interviewing process!

Positive Thought of the Day :
“Waiting and hoping is a hard thing to do when you’ve already been waiting and hoping for almost as long as you can bear it.” – Jenny Ninno

“You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

I’m a talker.  Always have been.  I clearly remember an interview I was conducting and seeing the interviewee’s eyes glaze over as I was rambling on about the cultural differences between the Midwest and West Coast.  Luckily, and hopefully, I have improved on my interviewing techniques since then.  Unfortunately, there are still a number of interviewers who do not understand that interviews are not forums for filibustering.  What to do if stuck with a long-winded hiring manager?

Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Be polite.  Eye rolling and interrupting isn’t going to speed up the interview or endear you to a potential boss.  Also, you’re not responsible for imbuing other adults with manners.

2.  Be succinct.  Keep your answers as streamlined as possible.  Engaging in a dialogue that flows is an important part of showing your personality during an interview, but try to avoid stacking stories, i.e. don’t tack on a personal anecdote that ties into the one your interviewer just told.

3.  Be in the moment.  Don’t let your mind wander.  Being an active listener is important in gaining insight to the type of supervisor or co-worker your interviewer might be, as well as the overall working environment of the company.  Also, you may be able to pick up on clues beyond what the job description states regarding the type of working styles and personalities he or she is looking for in a candidate.

4.  Be firm.  If you are working within a time constraint, e.g. you need to return back to your current job, politely let your interviewer know you need to wrap up the interview.  Something along the lines of, “I don’t mean to cut you short, and I certainly hope I have answered all of your questions.  However, I need to continue on to my next commitment.  If there is any further information I can provide regarding my background, I would love to set up another time to do so.” would work.

Interviewers need to remember they are hiring managers; not Oprah Winfrey.  Hopefully these four brief points will help you the next time you’re in it for the long haul!

Positive Thought of the Day:

“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” – Fran Lebowitz

“The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones.” – Gabirol

Challenging rude behavior in an interview can be a tricky situation.  Everyone has the right to stand up for their right to be treated fairly and politely.  We’ll go over some ways to handle rude interviewer behavior.

Vanna, if you please . . .

1.  Politely wait for the interruption to finish.  Ultimately, eye-rolling and hot air puffing isn’t going to accomplish anything. 

2.  Sincerely accept the apology that the hiring manager SHOULD be offering and move on.  It’s very easy to make a joke of the situation, but make sure you are finding the humor of the situation instead of being passive-aggressive.   

3.  Keep your wits about you.  I know it’s hard to regroup, especially when you’re on a great riff about why they should hire you, but put a mental bookmark in your answer so you can pick up where you left off.  Also, do not let any anger seep through into your answers.  Is it okay to be treated this way?  No.  However, as stated in point one, getting upset isn’t going to solve the situation.    

4.  Say something.  If repeated interruptions keep happening or a hiring manager is flat-out ignoring you to finish another task, politely speak up.  Keep it professional, though.  A simple, “If there is a more convenient time to meet, we can reschedule for a later date.” will work.  Usually, this type of statement will, essentially, embarrass the interviewer into straightening up and flying right.  If they don’t, take it as a good sign they are a bad company to work for. 

5.  End the interview.  Caution:  This is only in cases of extreme interviewer behavior!  If you have been left for a significant amount of time (I would say 20-30 minutes or more) or the conversations involving the interruptions is significantly inappropriate (Think swearing or hostile talk) then it’s time to put an end to the foolishness.  Don’t just get up and leave.  Don’t give them the satisfaction of saying, “He/she just left?  How rude!”  Let them know, “This appears to be a very busy day for you.  I appreciate your time, but this position no longer seems to be a fit for me.”  If the hiring manager isn’t available to talk to then let the receptionist know. 

It’s a hiring manager’s job market out there, which can lead to the belief it’s alright to treat people this way because there will be some foolish sap who will allow it.  You don’t want to burn any bridges and, sometimes, an interview does have a full plate.  However, your time is valuable, as well, so there is no point in continuing to waste it at the hands of an inept hiring manager.

Positive Thought of the Day:

“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” – Maurice Baring

“People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting.” – French Proverb

Interviews are essentially meetings between a hiring manager and an applicant.  If you were leading a meeting within your company, you wouldn’t consistently interrupt the itinerary to take personal calls or answer e-mails, would you? 

Just because you are in a position to hire someone does not mean you are in the position to make people wait while you are continually interrupted.  An applicant’s time is still important and engaging in this type of behavior is not only rude, it reflects poorly on your organizational style and the company culture. 

Today we will go over how to prevent interruptions if you are conducting interviews.  Next time we will cover how to handle this type of situation if you are an applicant. 

So, Vanna, if you please . . .

 1. Nip interruptions in the bud.  Turn your cell phone on silent, your office phone down to a lower volume or to Do Not Disturb, and, if space allows, conduct the interview away from your computer so you won’t be tempted to peek at your computer. 

 2.  If you are in a position where you receive a high volume of communication from your team, i.e. a lot of phone calls or continuous drop-ins from co-workers, then send out communication letting people know you will be indisposed from such-and-such time and you will be able to respond to their concerns before or after your interview(s).

3.  Sometimes some people can’t take a hint.  Quite often people assume their problem so important that it’s okay for them to pop their head in your door for your $0.02.  Politely, but firmly let them know you will contact them as soon as the interview is over.  No need to embarrass the person, but don’t let them launch into a filibuster about their issue.  A quick, “I’m in the middle of an interview right now, but I will touch base with you by ______.”  You don’t want to freak out the interviewee into thinking it’s going to be a marathon interview or that it will take 2.8 seconds to realize you’re not going to hire him/her.  However, giving a timeframe will, hopefully, avoid incessant follow-up. 

4.  If you are in the middle of a time-sensitive project or a position immediate attention really is warranted, reach out to a co-worker who would be able to make a decision on your behalf.  Make sure you pick someone whose judgment you trust and is in the position to make any necessary decisions. 

5.  Know your schedule.  If there is a long-standing meeting every Monday morning or payroll runs the last week of every month, avoid scheduling interviews during or around that time.

6.  Sometimes interruptions are unavoidable.  Kids are sick at home.  You’re short-staffed, which is why you’re hiring.  If you honestly and truly cannot avoid interruptions during an interview, give the applicant a heads up at the beginning of the interview.  You don’t need to give a blow-by-blow account of your kid’s tonsillitis or don’t use this as an opportunity to complain about how busy you are.  A simple, “I certainly don’t want to interrupt your flow of thought during the interview, but if my phone rings, I may have to take the call. I will keep it brief so we can get back on track.” 

As an interviewer, you are an ambassador of where you work.  Make sure you are putting your best foot forward.  People want to work for your company.  Don’t dissuade that desire by exhibiting rude behavior. 

Positive Thought of the Day:

“Good manners are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them.” – Bill Kelly

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.”- Sally Koch

So, I had intended on continuing the long thread of ill-behaving managers and what happens?  I have a hiring manager show me such a thoughtful generosity that I had to give credit where credit is due.  

Yesterday I had an interview for a newly created position within a local company.  The interview seemed to flow well, and I learned quite a bit about the position, the department, and company as a whole.  While I always mentally backtrack to rehash what I could have said better once the profuse sweating stopped and the nerves are gone, I felt the interview went relatively well. 

I had received a voicemail from the aforementioned company today and thought, “Could this be an offer?  Why else would they be calling?”  Turns out I didn’t get the position.  However, the hiring manager wanted to know if I would be open to having my résumé to another company who was hiring for a similar opening.  I gladly said, “Yes, thank you!”

If I may be so indulgent, I would just like to say thank you to this particular hiring manager.  You have softened this cynic’s heart for one day!  When facing multiple rejections throughout a job search it is easy to feel like you are being dismissed with nary so much a second thought.  It is reassuring to know that being told no doesn’t always mean you aren’t hirable.  Plus, in the dog-eat-dog working world we live in, it is nice to know there are still people out there who are willing to help you further your career. 

Positive Thought of the Day:

“Success is not built on what we accomplish for ourselves.  Its foundation lies on what we do for others.” – Danny Thomas

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

What’s worse than having to go through the heartache of interviewing?  Going through the heartache of not hearing back after an interview. 

Not letting a person know they are not a fit is one of the worst things an interviewer can do.  It is inconsiderate of applicant’s time, possible travel expenses, and feelings.  People put a lot of thought and heart into getting ready for an interview.  It is also very unprofessional.  The world is smaller than we think, and a bad reputation can make its way through the ranks, which can deplete a hiring manager’s applicant pool. 

I know human resources is a busy beehive of activity.  However, with today’s technology and word processing options, sending out emails or setting up a mail merge for rejection letters is fairly quick and efficient.  There really is no reason at all not to let someone know they will not be moving on in the application process. 

What to do if you are ever in a position of waiting on pins and needles to hear back from a company?  I thought you would never ask.

Vanna, if you please . . .

1.  Ask up front what their timeline is.  When it comes time during the interview for you to get to know the company and what they expect, simply ask, “What is your timeframe for making a hiring decision?”  It’s simple and to the point.  They may not have a definite date, e.g. “We should know by next Wednesday.”  But, they should at least be able to give an approximation, such as, “We have more interviews later this week, so we hope to move to the second round of interviews by the first part of next week.”

2.  Give them time to follow-up.  Is it possible they may have come to a decision earlier than expected?  Sure.  It is it your responsibility to call every day to see if they have?  No.  My general rule of thumb is to give them until they say they were going to follow-up and wait another week.  I know that sounds like torture.  Sometimes unforeseen things come up.  Sometimes there are lengthy hiring processes that preclude them from calling a hiring decision back right away.  Before you go in guns a-blazing, make sure you give them the benefit of the doubt. 

3.  Follow up.  There are different schools of thought on this.  More “hiring pundits” are shifting towards encouraging applicants to e-mail a follow-up.  Part of me agrees with this because it avoids putting the hiring manager or human resources, who may have no control on the process at that point, in an awkward position.  It also gives you a paper trail with a time and date stamp so you can keep track of correspondence.  The one downfall is this can be an easy way for a hiring manager to ignore your e-mail.   

If you’re going to call, don’t call repeatedly until you get a live person to talk to.  It is very rare to find a company who doesn’t have caller i.d..  If whomever you are calling doesn’t answer, leave a brief and professional voicemail, and leave it at that.  One thing that I always like to do is write out what I say because I tend to have cotton-mouth when I am calling for a status update.  Again, be brief and professional.  “Hi, _______.  My name is ______ and I interviewed for the ________ position last week.  I just wanted to touch base with you to see if any decision has been made regarding the position.”  Short.  Simple.  Succinct.

4.  Stay busy.  Just because you interviewed, and it seemingly went well, that doesn’t mean you should stop your search.  A new job isn’t yours until a signed job offer is in your hand.  Don’t let another great opportunity slip through your fingers because you assume you have a job in the bag. 

5.  Never let your emotions get the best of you.  Don’t burn bridges by firing off a nasty email about how you no longer want to work at such a callous company or yell at a hiring manager about how he or she shouldn’t leave such a great candidate waiting.  I know it is frustrating, but you never know what your career may bring.  You may want to apply with them again.  Also, networking connections can be built in every situation.  It may not have worked for this position, but you might have been considered for a possibility down the line.  Keep the relationship positive even though you’re feeling pretty negative.

6.  Be prepared for the worst case scenario.  You may get ahold of someone directly, and they may tell you no.  As harsh as it may sound, be careful what you wish for. 

Hiring is not a perfect process.  Hiring managers are not perfect people.  Just remember that you deserve a company who is going to be considerate of your time and effort.  Waiting is hard.  Rejection is harder.  You’ll get through it, though!

Positive Thought of the Day:

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Donald Laird

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” -James D. Miles

Happy Thursday, Friends!! You know what that means: Friday is less than 24 hours away.

One element of interviewing that is not covered nearly enough is bad interviewer behavior. Yes, I could fill the Internet up with stories of interviewees and their egregious acts. While interviewing you need to be the best version of you.

This notion does not let interviewers off the hook, though. Just because you are, essentially, in a position of power that doesn’t mean you can treat people poorly. In the upcoming posts we’ll go over poor interviewer conduct and how to handle it.

Until then, here’s to the Almost-Weekend! *raises red Swingline stapler in the air*

Positive Thought of the Day:

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” -Aristotle

“Every success is built on the ability to do better than good enough.” – Author Unknown

Interviews are demanding enough to begin with, which makes trying to remember a list of things NOT to do extra stressful. I’ve tried to make this list as foolproof and simple to remember as possible.

 So, Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Don’t pull out any gimmicks or stunts. I recently read where one interviewee intentionally showed up late, with advance notice to the company, to see how they would react to his/her “sincere apology.” The whole point was to see if the apology was acknowledged in the interview and how understanding the hiring manager was. Not okay. Which leads into . . .

2. Don’t be late. I know this is as broken record statement. By the by, how much longer is it going to be before young people aren’t going to understand what “sounding like a broken record” means? Anyway, don’t disrespect the interviewers time by being late OR too early. Remember: 5-7 minutes early.

3. Don’t be rude to the receptionist. This type of behavior always gets back to the hiring manager. Even if you end up getting hired, people have loooooong memories when it comes to being treated poorly.

4. Don’t play/talk/text on your cell phone if you end up waiting. It shows a lack of focus and patience. It may also cause an awkward situation if the hiring manager has to wait while you wrap up your phone call. Take this time to review your interview notes and clear your mind.

5. Don’t answer your phone during the interview. In fact, your phone should be off or, at the very least, on silent.

6. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to collect your thoughts before answering any tricky questions. We often feel, especially when we’re nervous, that silence is as bad thing in an interview. A few seconds of silence is better than an ill-suited, rambling answer.

7. Don’t make any off-color jokes or comments. Everyone has a Jiminy Cricket inside. If you feel like you have to preface your statement with, “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but . . .”, then don’t.

Same goes for any examples that aren’t related to your work history. It’s great if you made 54 pies for your church bake sale, but unless you’re interviewing at a bakery, there are probably better examples of your multitasking abilities.

8. Don’t bring up salary expectations during initial interviews. There are different schools of thought of how you should respond if the hiring manager broaches the subject, but let him or her be the one to initiate that conversation.

My advice if you are asked about salary expectations, give the interviewer a salary range you would be comfortable with. Make sure you do your market research before giving a range. Also, keep in mind the level of position you are interviewing for. A human resources administrative assistant is probably going to be making less than a human resources generalist or manager.

9. Don’t bring up any other benefits, either. Don’t ask how soon insurance kicks in or how quickly you can utilize the employee discount. This is an instant red flag you’re only in it for reaping the benefits as quickly as possible and not interested in landing a great job. A sense of entitlement in an applicant is not appealing.

10. Don’t forget to ask questions. Remember interviews are a two-way street. You’re trying to figure out if a position and company are right for you. Just make sure your questions are thoughtful and will help you gain some insight. Never ask such things as, “So, what does this company do?”

If this all seems a little overwhelming, I have an insider’s tip for ya: Human resources and hiring managers are a lot more forgiving than you think when it comes to nervousness. We appreciate sincerity and understand how awful interviews can be. When we’re all-too-eager to shuffle an interviewee out the door, it’s usually because of a lack of effort, enthusiasm, or there is a high level of cockiness. It’s okay to be a little bit nervous. A lack of nervousness usually indicates a lack of caring.

You can do this!

Positive Thought of the Day:

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell

“When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges.” – Jack Handy

Happy Valetine’s Day, Friends! Here’s to jobs we love . . . whether it’s a job we’re in or hope to have in the near future!

What’s one thing that will ALWAYS make my heart go a-flutter?? A job interview. It’s not roses, jewelry, or romantic dinners that make my knees go weak. It’s prepping for, sitting through, and rehashing every detail of a job interview. Here is a quick list of do’s to hopefully guide you through the heartache. We’ll cover the don’ts in the not-too-distant future.

Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Do be on time. Being on time encompasses many things. Obviously, it means don’t be late. If something unforeseen happens and tardiness is unavoidable, make sure to have the company’s phone number handy so you can give call of warning. When you arrive, express a sincere apology for the delay.

Being on time also includes not being TOO EARLY! I have had people show up as early as 45 minutes because they misgauged how quickly they could get to the office. If you arrive too early, take a walk, sit in your car, find a coffee shop or someplace to go until it’s time for your interview. Showing up excessively early shows a lack of respect for the interviewer’s time and could cause a very awkward scheduling situation. Interviewers should always be respectful of the job seeker’s time, as well, but they are not obligated to rearrange their day because of your eagerness/timing.

Plan to be at your interview 5-7 minutes early.

2. Do double-check your information. I had this happen to me recently, and, luckily, I avoided a potentially embarrassing situation. I had a quick phone interview with the manager of a position I had applied to and was moved on to the next round. Right before I went in to meet the manager face-to-face my gut told me to recheck my voicemail to make sure I had her name right. At first I thought, “Naw! You’re just being paranoid!” But, self-doubt won and, sure as shootin’, I was wrong.

Make sure you have the manager’s name and the title of the position in your brain. When you’re applying for multiple positions, it’s easy to blur together the names of various jobs you’ve applied to. Also, having the correct names of who you interviewed with is of the utmost importance when sending out thank yous.

3. Do your research. In this day-and-age of technology, information is literally at your fingertips. Comb through the company’s website to see how its mission and values align with what you could bring to the position.

Then go outside the company to find out about its reputation. You might even school a company on how they’re doing! I recently had a hiring manager state she wasn’t aware that her company had received an A+ rating through the Better Business Bureau.

Also remember that interviews are a two-way street. If you’re interviewing for a company that has a less than stellar reputation for customer service, company culture, etc., this is your opportunity to have them address that. Just make sure you’re tactful in approaching the subject. “In doing research of Company X, I found concerns regarding (insert issue). How is the company moving towards addressing such concerns?” How they handle that question is a great indicator of their overall culture and ability to problem solve.

Show your interest and initiative by doing your homework before stepping into an interview.

4. Do make eye contact. I spent an entire semester in college focusing on nonverbal communication. It was one of the most fascinating classes I have ever taken. When we get nervous we tend to look anywhere but into people’s eyes. This sends the subliminal messages that you lack confidence or participate in shifty behavior.

Good eye contact should last between three to five seconds. If you just can’t bring yourself to look into someone’s eyes then look at their eyebrows. They won’t know the difference. Don’t stare too long, though. You want to portray confidence; not steal their soul.

5. Do remember to smile. A hiring manager can get a decent picture of your skills by reading your resume. An interview is meant to see how you, the overall package, would fit into the company’s culture. Even if a business isn’t having weekly Twister games on Friday, no one wants to hire a grump.

6. Do bring extra copies of your resumes. Nine times out of ten they will have a copy, but there is always that tenth time. Offering an extra copy also shows you are thoughtful and prepared.

7. Do have an arsenal of answers ready. I’d be very surprised if a hiring manager didn’t ask such things as:

*Tell me about yourself.

*What are your strengths/weaknesses.

*Can you give an example of an accomplishment/challenging situation?

Have a basic understanding of how you want to answer the most frequently asked interview questions. While you want to tailor your answers to each position you’re interviewing for, the backbone of each answer will remain the same. Know what you want to say. It’ll keep you from rambling.

8. Do a practice run. Either enlist a friend to do a mock interview or give answers to common interview questions in the mirror. I have to admit that it took me a long time to get on the bandwagon for the latter. I fooled myself into thinking that looking at myself while running through my information while looking in a mirror would make me more nervous. I was right. It did make me nervous, but it also forced me to work through those nerves. I was able to work through my nervousness and polish my answers to potential questions.

Will practicing in front of a mirror completely eliminate the interview jangles?? No. Hopefully it will lessen them enough for you to really shine through.

9. Do send thank you notes after the interview. If you interviewed with multiple people, send a thank you to each individual. Send them 24 to 48 hours after the interview. Now is not the time for funny cards. A simple blank thank you card will do.

10. Do have a short-term memory. Whether you nailed it or crashed and burned, the time to move on to the next possibility starts as soon as you walk out the door. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is so terrible you can’t move on from it. Keep the wheels moving!

Valentine’s Day isn’t about relationships. It’s about love! Tell someone in your life you love them. Gratitude and happiness are two great weapons to keep in your back pocket while searching for that great match!

Positive Thought of the Day:

“So many people out there have no idea what they want to do for a living, but they think that by going on job interviews they’ll magically figure it out. If you’re not sure, that message comes out loud and clear in the interview.” – Todd Bermont

“Life is not full of awkward situations. It’s full of opportunities. Opportunities to help others.” – Anonymous

You know I can’t stay away from lists for too long, so the do’s and don’t’s of interviewing will be coming shortly.  I did want to give one specific example of what not to do when going to an interview. 

While working as a recruiter in Seattle, Washington, I was in the office one day and had no more interviews scheduled.  Two women walked through the front door.  My office was in a spot where I could eagle-eye the comings and goings of the office.  A lady, who had to be in her forties, was carrying flowers and accompanied by a young woman, who had to have been in her early twenties.  They both stopped at my door and asked if I could spare a moment of my time.  Non-rude options were very limited, so I said yes.

The flower bearer, we’ll call her “Patty”, proceeds to give me the flowers in the hopes to brighten my day.  Patty went on to explain how “Angela” was here to help her get her career back on track after some personal setbacks.  I expected the subject of personal setbacks to be dropped then and there.  I was wrong.  Patty proceeds to tell me how two days prior her apartment was broken into and all of her underwear were cut to pieces.  To ensure I believed her, she pulled out the remnants of a pair of cut up undergarments.  Stunned, I tried to reassure her I was very sorry about the recent events and walked through a very brief interview.  The interview was wrapped up, and I never heard from Patty ever again. 

Obviously, Patty had been through some trauma, and I am not trying to exploit her experience.  I applaud her for trying to gain some normalcy and for reaching out to a career counseling agency to assist her in doing so.  However, if I could go back in time and give Patty some advice, I would let her know the following (I guess I can’t escape my propensity for list making!):

1. Don’t show up without an appointment.  Ever. 

2. Don’t bring gifts to an interview.  It won’t give you a leg up or earn you brownie points.

3.  Don’t rush too soon into finding a job after a traumatic experience.  You won’t be in the right frame of mind and won’t be able to put your best foot forward.  If money is a concern, utilize community/emergency service agencies to find any sort-of assistance until you get back on your feet. 

4.  If you have to divulge personal incidents, keep the information to the minimum.  Showing the cut up underwear was just too much!  Also, if at all possible, let the interviewer know of any positives you may have learned from the situation. 

It’s been six years since my interview with Patty, and I still wonder what she’s doing.  I hope she is doing well and has a successful career.

Positive Thought of the Day:

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” – George S. Patton