“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

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“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

“During job interviews, when they ask: ‘What is your worst quality?’ I always say: ‘Flatulence’. That way I get my own office.” – Dan Thompson

Hopefully your well-crafted cover letters and resumes are reeling in job interviews.  Unfortunately, job interviews can be just as gut-wrenching as writing well-crafted cover letters and resumes.

Over the next several posts we’ll tackle various elements of job interviewing.  We’ll cover everything from what to wear, to how to handle the tricky questions, to some crazy interviews I have been involved in.  Hang on to your attaché case!  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!!

If you still have any cover letter and/or resume questions, please continue to send them in.  We can always delve any topic you have questions about.

Positive Thought of the Day:

“I had a job interview at an insurance company once and the lady said ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and I said ‘Celebrating the fifth year anniversary of you asking me this question’” – Mitch Hedberg

"Pursue excellence and success will follow." – Rancho, 3 Idiots

Since it’s Columbus Day Vanna has the day off. It’s actually a blessing in disguise because I can post without her incessant lists. Stay with me on this one . . .

I’m a big movie junkie, and I came across a movie the other day that hit home. Sometimes when I’m adding movies into my Netflix queue I get into a really artsy mood and add a bunch of independent or foreign films. Side note: Stop being ridiculous, Netflix. Make a decision and stick with it.

Anyway, I had added a Bollywood movie titled 3 Idiots, which was directed by Rajkumar Hirani. I honestly can’t tell you why I added it my list. Since I couldn’t think of why I wanted to watch this film I almost sent it back without seeing it. Economic sense got the better of me. I figured since I had paid for it I might as well watch it.

The basic premise of the movie is about two friends who go on a journey with their collegiate adversary to find their long-lost friend. The two friends haven’t seen their missing compatriot for ten years and miss him dearly. The adversary is looking to find the missing person to fulfill on a ten year bet that he is the most successful out of their graduating class. During the journey there are flashbacks to how the 3 Idiots became fast friends as college freshmen and shows the pressure of succeeding to escape poverty that was so prevalent in India. Don’t fret. It’s not nearly as depressing as Slumdog Millionaire. It hits on the importance of learning instead of being right, and if you follow what feel in your heart you’ll never be a failure.

One note: If you’ve never seen a Bollywood movie, there will be musical numbers throughout the film. If you can sit through movies about sparkly vampires, you can sit through people singing.

What sucker punched me right in the heart was a moving scene at the end when one of the three friends goes to a highly anticipated interview after months of emotional and physical tumult. His simple, yet kind, reaction to being asked how he would fit into the culture of the corporate world stunned me. I don’t know if I can fully explain the emotions and feelings this movie stirred up in me. I do know that I can’t make you feel the same way I felt after seeing 3 Idiots. My hope is you can have the courage to face your future, even if it’s for two hours at a time.

I give it 4 out of 4 staplers.

Positive Thought of the Day:
“The movies we love and admire are to some extent a function of who we are when we see them.” – Mary Schmich

“The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you’re on the job.” – Slappy White

Whether or not you are employed while job searching the biggest step is getting started. I know. Just call me Captain Obvious.  One of the reasons why we put off finding a new job or tell ourselves the job we’re in isn’t so bad is because job hunting scares the bejeebers out of us. Yes, it is daunting. But, just like eating an elephant, all you need to do is take it one bite at a time.

Vanna, if you please, bring out the list . . .

1. Find your heart’s desire. Grab a notebook or Post-It and write down what types of jobs you would like to do or companies you would like to work for, even if they’re seemingly out of your reach. Saying you want to be a movie star or a world famous belly dancer may sound silly, but it may also be that tiny little voice you’ve been shushing urging to take a look at your inner entertainer. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader. If you don’t believe in your dreams, who else will?

2. Find a pattern. Take your list and group any job or company into as many relatable groups as possible. If you have a list of, say, ten items and the top three are the humane society, Red Cross, or youth director, maybe a shift towards the non-profit sector is in order. Or, if you are leaning towards such positions as development director, recruiting, or even accounting, take a look breaking into education. Ivy covered walls look pretty, but they don’t bring in money from donors, give tours to potential freshmen, or allot financial aid to thousands of students. Getting a handle on what career paths you want to travel down now will help your actual career search later.

3. Find jobs to apply to. That’s all for tonight, folks! You’ve been a wonderful audience . . . Okay. Seriously. Now it’s time to do the leg work. Times, they are a-changin’. Gone are the days when you would get spiffed up to pound the pavement in hopes to land an on-the-spot interview. As someone who has worked in human resources (HR), do not assume that just because you dropped off your resume you will get an instantaneous interview. Just because it looks like we’re just sitting at a computer playing Angry Birds doesn’t mean we are. Presumptuous interrupting of the workflow of HR is not the best way to get your foot in the door. It’s actually a great way to annoy the gatekeepers of the hiring process.

Next we will cover how actually take that focused energy and actually search for jobs . . . Onwards and upwards!

Positive Thought for the Day:

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” – Henry Ford