Category: Face-to-Face Inteviewing

Is Interviewing An Art Or Science?

Interviewing is an art more than a science so it does take preparation and practice to ace the interview. Here are some things to help you ace your next interview.

1) Confidence I find this lacking, especially with candidates that have been in a job search for a long time. As candidates become more and more desperate they tend to exude less and less confidence. This comes across in a number of ways that I believe most candidates don’t even realize. For example, body language,  how you sit in the chair, eye contact, tone of voice, confidence when answering questions, staying so general when answering a question for fear that getting too specific or detailed may rule you out, or giving long rambling answers so as to encompass everything in the hope that you have covered what they are looking for.

Nobody wants to hire a person that isn’t confident. This is especially true at the manager level and up. Most candidates are more confident on the job than in an interview so it is very important that the interviewer sees the same confidence you will bring to the job.

2) Preparation This is the solution to having confidence.  Taking the time to properly prepare is the biggest thing that candidates fail to do (or do properly) and I have  seen this happen over and over again. Poor preparation is just as bad as no preparation.

When I coach candidates here are some of the ways we prepare:

1.    I have the candidate write out answers to frequently asked questions. Candidates know that the questions about their ideal job, why they want to work here, compensation, why they left their last company, their strengths/weaknesses, management style and so on are going to be asked. Take some time to have prepared and practiced answers to these questions.

2.    Video record yourself in a mock interview. This is one of the most powerful things you can do to prepare. This helps you see what the interviewer sees. You will see how you answer the questions, your body language,  if you look at them when answering, how often you say, “UH” or “like,” if  you actually answer the question the person asked you and if  you come across confidently. These small things make a big difference in an interview.

3.    Years ago when I first started recruiting, a Vice President of Human Resources at Rockwell told me the four “A’s” are critical to any successful interview, so you should consider these while preparing to interview.

•    Appearance – This is not just how you dress for the interview, it is much more than that. It includes your body language during the interview, your handshake, the appearance of your resume and cover letter, the appearance of any materials used during the interview, presentation skills, and I hate to say it, but it does include physical appearance.
•    Assertive – This is mostly about how you project yourself during the interview. Please take note, the word was not “aggressive.” There is a big difference between aggressive and assertive. Most interviewers respect an assertive person and dislike aggressive people. Do you come across as confident, do you answer the question with a strong voice, do you engage the interviewer during the interview, do you ask probing questions or just sit there and answer questions, do you mirror the interviewer, and does your body language and voice have a strong presence?
•    Affable – Are you friendly, outgoing, easy to communicate with, engaging and even have a sense of humor? Does the interviewer feel comfortable talking with you, are they relaxed and feel at ease,  on the way from the lobby to the interviewing room are you able to engage the interviewer, are you comfortable with casual conversation and are you building rapport with the person the second they lay eyes on you?

•    Articulate – How well do you communicate? Do you listen to the question? Are your answers sharp and succinct? Do you have proper language skills, syntax, avoid using the word “like”, proper sentence structure and use of verbs? Do you ramble in the interview to make sure you hit every point in your background or are you able to quickly get to the point? This is one of the easiest “A’s” to master. It takes practice and rehearsing.  Many will probably need a coach to help with this one.

On the surface, as you read these, they seem so obvious. Most are thinking, “I already know this stuff.” This may be true, however, knowing something and mastering it are substantially different. Good preparation and practice will help you master interviewing.

To help you focus on your job search be sure to download our free radio show recordings. They are in our candidate audio library. CLICK HERE to enter the library.

To validate whether or not your job search is effective, we have put together a job search self-assessment scorecard. You can’t fix what you don’t know isn’t working. This free download will help you identify weaknesses in your job search. CLICK HERE to download your free copy.

Tired of sending resumes and hearing nothing back? Try this cover letter. It has proven over many years to increase responses from recruiters and companies. Download a sample by CLICKING HERE

If you like this post please share it with  your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Some Common Interviewing Mistakes

Q. What are some common interviewing problems you encounter when interviewing candidates?

A. This answer could be a book. Candidates do some really, let’s just say, unique things in interviews. Some of my favorites, they swear like the proverbial drunken sailor, put their feet up on a table, accept cell phone calls in the interview, reply to text messages, ask the interviewer to wait while they finish a call, dress inappropriately, chew gum and blow bubbles, just to name a few off the top of my head.

One of my personal favorites is how a candidate answered the question about why they were late to the interview, “They overslept because they were hung over.” At least they were an honest person.

I find the two biggest mistakes candidates make are not answering the question and failure to ask for clarification when they don’t understand the question. Here are some common problems that happen when one of these occur:

The kitchen sink answer: Candidates answer the question so it includes everything they’ve ever done. They ramble on for what seems like forever hoping that if they talk long enough the person will forget the question they asked.

The politician answer: They don’t answer the interviewer’s question. Instead they answer the question they wanted the interviewer to ask or give a preplanned answer to every question.

The dentist answer: Their answers are so short it is like pulling teeth to get a complete and thorough answer.

Multiple choice answer: The candidate wants to make sure they don’t leave anything out so they rattle off a list of accomplishments and skills, leaving it up to the interviewer to pick from this list the ones they feel best fits the question.

If you don’t understand the question don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

Q. Should I reply to job ads that don’t identify the employer? Do recruiters post ads for non-existent jobs to solicit resumes?

A. If you are unemployed you should respond to all job ads for which you are qualified. It shouldn’t matter if the employer is identified. If you are working, caution is required. Many employers don’t want to be identified when posting ads for a variety of reasons. The company may not want people just showing up in lobby to apply. Others may not want their competitors to know they are looking to hire someone or the position may be confidential and the company doesn’t want their employees to know. I wouldn’t let this discourage you from responding if you are unemployed.

It is very likely that recruiters do place ads for non-existent jobs. On the surface this sounds like a bad thing, but it actually is a good thing for people actively looking for a position. When a company contacts a recruiter with an opening, the recruiter may have only a few minutes or hours to submit your resume before the company selects the ones they want to interview. If your resume is already in the recruiter’s system they can do this. It may take days to write the ad, post the ad, you read and reply to the ad, and then the recruiter screens your resume. By this time, the company may already have a short list of candidates and you missed out. Recruiters that recruit in a specific functional area know they need to have an inventory of talent at the ready. Being able to present your resume within minutes of a client’s request is a good thing for candidates.

Is your LinkedIn profile complete and compelling? Test it by downloading our free LinkedIn Self Assessment. CLICK HERE to download. Make sure your profile is the best it can be.

To validate whether or not your job search is effective, we have put together a job search self-assessment scorecard. You can’t fix what you don’t know isn’t working. This free download will help you to identify weaknesses in your job search. CLICK HERE to download your free copy.

Tired of sending resumes and hearing nothing back? Try this cover letter. It has proven over many years to increase responses from recruiters and companies. Download a sample by CLICKING HERE

If you liked this article, please send it to others so they will benefit too. Post it to your Facebook page, Tweet it, or submit it to your LinkedIn groups.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Getting Interviews But No Offers? Here’s Why

Q.  I’m getting job interviews but not receiving offers. Is there anything I can do to change that?

A. I assume from your question that the interviews are with companies, as opposed to recruiters, and that they are in-person rather than phone interviews. In addition, the company has seen your résumé prior to interviewing you. This means that your résumé is working. Companies, maybe even recruiters, like your background, experience and skills enough to want to meet you so I wouldn’t change a résumé that is working. The problem then is most likely your interviewing skills.

My guess is that you have not done enough preparation in this area. When I coach executives with this issue, the first place we start is by filming the person while I interview them. I suggest you try this. People are amazed at how different they look on video from how they perceive themselves. For example, some studies indicate as much as 70% of communication is nonverbal, i.e. body language. When you review the video, what is your body language saying? How are you sitting in the chair? I know candidates always think they are looking the interviewer in the eyes when answering, however, often the video reveals something different. You will hear exactly how you communicate in your own words. How often do you use the word “like” or “uh” to connect sentences? Do you actually answer the question asked or the one you want to answer? Seeing yourself in an interview may solve your issues.

Q. Should I use a cover letter with my résumé and is there a preferred format?

A. I recommend having a cover letter. As a recruiter, I’m interested in your résumé way more than a cover letter. I have spoken with many executives and HR professionals that expect a cover letter. The important thing to remember about a cover letter is that it is not an extension of your résumé, an addendum to your résumé or held to the same standards as a résumé. Candidates often think because they included something in the cover letter, they don’t have to include it in the resume. Wrong. A cover letter is just that, a letter. It highlights points of interest relevant to the position you are applying for. If something is mentioned in the cover letter, it is imperative that it is also presented in the résumé.

I prefer a one-page, two-column cover letter. One column is titled, “What you seek” and the second column is, “My experience.” This format makes it easy for the reader to quickly align your experience with their needs so they will want to read your résumé. After all, there is only one purpose for a cover letter, which is getting the reader excited enough to read your résumé.

Join our Linkedin Job Search Networking Group. 6,000 other people are benefiting from the discussions and articles. CLICK HERE to join, it is free.

Turbo-charge your job search in 2011 by evaluating its strengths and weaknesses with our FREE Job Search Plan Self-Assessment Scorecard. This will help you and your accountability partner get your search started out right. CLICK HERE to download your scorecard.

Need a great cover letter? We have a free sample cover letter on our Web site that is proven to get you noticed. CLICK HERE to download yours.

If this was helpful to you, then please help others by forwarding it on to your network, posting it on your Facebook page, Tweeting with the link, posting it to your Linkedin groups or status update.  Let’s all do everything we can to help those looking for employment.

I welcome your comments.

Brad Remillard

7 Reasons Recruiters Screen You Out

I know from all of the comments I receive, the tweets on Twitter, and the comments on blogs and articles about recruiters, that one of the biggest frustrations with candidates is about recruiters. On a daily basis I read, how mean recruiters are, how people claim to be qualified for a job don’t get past the recruiter, how people with years of experience  get weeded out by recruiters, and of course, the black hole resumes go in when candidates send them to recruiters.

First, let me clarify that I’m not trying to justify bad behavior by some and maybe even many recruiters. Every profession has them, some more than others. There are even bad doctors, engineers, pastors and so on. The purpose of this article is to clarify for candidates what recruiters do and why, to help reduce the frustration. I hope by understanding, although maybe not accepting, it will make it easier on candidates.

Recruiters don’t really care if you are qualified, have years of experience, or have all the right skills, knowledge, and certifications. Obviously these are required. You must recognize that many candidates have these for every job. Recruiters don’t get paid  for finding candidates with these traits. I can tell you as a recruiter for 30 years, and one that still makes a living as a recruiter, how much I wish this was the case. If  it were the case, I would be writing this article sitting on my yacht, instead of my patio.  We get paid only for finding hireable candidates.

I learned this in my first year as a recruiter. I would ask the client if they liked the candidate and many times they would say they did. I would ask if they thought the candidate was qualified and they would reply, “Yes.” I would even ask if they thought the candidate could do the job and they would reply, “YES.”  These were all good questions that lead me to believe the candidate was going to get hired, only to find out someone else got the job other than my candidate. Why? How could this be? I was just as mad, frustrated, and upset as the candidate.

The answer was simple. One day I was venting my frustration to a much more experienced recruiter who informed me that I wasn’t asking the right question. He said those are all nice things to know, but those aren’t what I care about. The question I should have asked was, “Is the candidate hireable?” Now that question has a completely different meaning. It is what I and the candidate really wanted to know.

So what is hireable? Well, as one justice on the Supreme Court once said, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”  So much of what is “hireable” is subjective by both the recruiter and the hiring team and is hard to define. The following is my best shot at trying to define it. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. Again, it is designed to simply help candidates better understand, with the idea that understanding helps reduce frustration.

  1. The candidate has all of the requirements to do the job. This is a given.
  2. The candidate is neither under qualified or over qualified. My experience is that candidates accept the under qualified, but rarely accept the concept of over qualified. Either one makes a candidate not hireable.
  3. Presentation. I have written extensively about this. Recruiters care a great deal about how you present yourself. I don’t just mean physical presentation. I mean the complete package of presentation skills. Your presentation skills start the minute you answer the phone for the first time.
  4. Communication skills must be appropriate for the position. This just happened to me recently. I was doing a search for a communications person in a PR firm. One candidate had all of the right qualifications on paper, a good background, good schools, but constantly used the word “like” in just about every sentence. One would expect a person in PR communications to know better. Sorry, but not hireable from my point of view. My client would question my judgment if I recommended them for a communications position and they couldn’t communicate properly.
  5. Style is important. Granted this is very subjective, but this is why companies are willing to pay recruiters thousands of dollars. They trust our judgment on this issue. If the style of the candidate doesn’t match that of the hiring manager then the candidate may not be hireable. It doesn’t mean that  the person isn’t a good person, it just means that they aren’t the right person.
  6. Fit is another highly subjective characteristic that determines hireability. If your personality isn’t going to meld with that of the hiring manager or the company’s culture, then you aren’t hireable for this position. Not everyone is the right fit. I interview candidates all the time that tell me they left the company because it just wasn’t a good fit. I know recruiters do their best to make sure this is aligned. Nobody benefits if the candidate doesn’t work out because they can’t adjust to the company.
  7. Listening and answering the questions. This is part of communication, but needs special attention. Every recruiter is assessing how you listen and answer their questions. Recruiters know this is an indication of how you will perform in front of the client. This is the point at which most candidates eliminate themselves. They don’t answer the question asked, their answers are so vague it is impossible to know what THEY did, or they ramble on in hopes of covering everything. As a result, I would not only be embarrassed to present you to my client, but worse, my client would be upset with me for doing so.

From my position as an executive recruiter, these are just the top seven things a candidate must excel at to be hireable.

Is your resume not getting noticed by recruiters? Try using this sample cover letter. Candidates tell us this cover letter has tripled their response rate from recruiters. CLICK HERE to download this sample cover letter.

For a lot more on this topic, and other job search related topics, join our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group. It is a great resource for career experts and discussion. It is free. CLICK HERE to join.

Is your job search going as well as  you thought it would? Is it moving slower  than you expected? If it is, then download our FREE 8-Point Job Search Assessment Scorecard. It will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your job search. CLICK HERE to download.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments.


Your Skills and Experience Don’t Matter In An Interview

I know most candidates don’t believe this, but there is a lot of truth to this.  There actually is something much more important in an interview than your skills and experience. The sad part is that most candidates rarely focus on this aspect of the interview.

Do you know the three most important words in any job search?

I have asked this question to probably thousands of candidates. Less than 1% can get even one right.

If you thought: qualifications, experience, skills, or industry knowledge, you are completely wrong. Those may be important, but they are not the most important.

The three words that will more often than not get you the job over someone else are, presentation, presentation, presentation. Yes, getting an offer is mostly about making a good, make that a great, presentation. A good presentation was adequate when unemployment was at 4%, but not now with unemployment at almost 10%. Now it needs to be great.

In our book on how to conduct an effective  job search, “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” we have a whole section dedicated to this topic alone. That is how important a great  presentation is. Many qualified people don’t get the job. Usually the one that does get the offer is the one that made the best presentation.

Since the recruiter or the hiring manager has already reviewed your resume before asking you in for an interview, and in many cases they have also conducted a phone screening interview, they already know you are qualified. Therefore, when a candidate is invited in for an interview, the recruiter or hiring manager has already determined that the candidate has the qualifications for the position or they wouldn’t invite them in for an interview. This means that just about all of the candidates are equal when the face-to-face interview begins. It is the presentation at this point that carries them the rest of the way.

Think about it on a scale of one to ten. Let’s presume that in order to get invited back for the next round, a candidate has to get to a score of at least 8. Since all of the candidates are starting at zero while standing in the lobby waiting for that first face-to-face interview, the candidate that makes the best first impression can jump up 4 points on the scale and the interview hasn’t even started. Now during the interview they only need 4 more points to get asked back. Contrast that with those that don’t make a strong presentation and they have to do double the work of  the first candidate in order to get asked back. If one makes a negative first impression and drops to -2,  then the mountain they have to climb is just too great and they will never be asked back.

There are a lot of moving parts to making a great presentation. Most are obvious, but some will take time to master and others will require getting expert help. The importance can’t be overstated.  Here is a test to determine whether or not you are making a great presentation, if you are getting interviews and not getting the job, my experience of 30 years tells me  that your presentation is lacking. Since you are getting interviews your qualifications and resume are working. That means that something is going wrong in the interviewing process. 90% of the time it is your presentation.

Here are some suggestions to help out:

  1. Be open to the fact that this might be your issue. Don’t just assume that it isn’t. If things aren’t working, then change something. If  you are closed minded on this then you will continue to struggle and be frustrated.
  2. Get some very candid help. Identify someone that you trust to be open and honest with you, maybe a recruiter, and ask them about  your presentation. I met a great candidate lately with outstanding experience. He has been getting numerous interviews, but kept coming in second. I can assure you it is his presentation. In our interview he never asked for any feedback. He never asked how the interview went or  if there was anything he can improve.  If asked I’m glad to assist.
  3. Invest in an image coach. This is a small investment compared to not getting a job. Take the candidate I referred to above, an investment of probably less than $500 would have meant tens of thousands of dollars to this person by landing a job. An image coach will really polish your presentation. They work on just about every aspect of a great presentation. This sounds so silly, but it even includes how you walk, sit in a chair, shake hands, make eye contact, how to use body language, facial expressions, hand movements, and so much more. All of this sounds so trivial, but collectively it plays a major role.
  4. Script out your answers. Script is just a fancy word for write out your answers to the basic questions you know you are going to be asked. This is one of the most important things that I require when I’m doing job search coaching with an executive. Writing these out helps you to prepare so you aren’t winging it in the interview. It also allows you to practice, so now you demonstrate confidence. Finally, it prepares you so that you are succinct and focused when answering questions.
  5. Practice in front of a mirror or video yourself. If you have never done this, it is an eye opener. You will see how you sit in the chair, hand motions, how your voice projects, mannerisms you don’t even know you are making, many of which may be down right annoying. This is a powerful exercise that very few candidates ever do.

Presentation, presentation, presentation are the most important words in any job search.

Take full advantage of the many free resources we offer on our website. For example, we have an extensive audio library for you to download free files, our chapter on winning the phone interview has been downloaded by over 3,000 people, and our sample cover letter that makes you stand out has been downloaded by over 2,500 people. These are just a few of the numerous free resources we offer to help you reduce your time in search.

Also don’t forget to join our Job Search Networking group on LinkedIn. This is a very active group with lots of excellent discussions and resources. CLICK HERE to join.

Please take full advantage of all the free resources we have to offer. It is our hope to help you reduce your time searching for a new job.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard



In This Market You Need An Edge. This Might Be That Edge.

Some candidates will enter the job market with the desire to learn everything they can about the best way to conduct a job search. Many will use outplacement firms, attend a webinar or two, read articles on interviewing or resumes, and begin networking.  All good stuff.

However, I believe they leave out one of the most valuable learning tools for a job search. All of the above is important, but what about the other side of the hiring process which is understanding a job search from the recruiter’s or company’s perspective?

Why not read about the hiring processes companies use? Seems to me this would  add a lot of value to one’s search. I ask candidates to start reading and researching articles and books written for hiring managers. There is an enormous amount of information on the Internet that will help you understand exactly what the company is thinking and how they want to  hire.

Many, if not most companies today use some form of behavioral interviewing. There is a wealth of articles, videos, and blogs dedicated to this topic. Just Google “behavioral interviewing”  and over 309,000 results come up. You can discover nearly the exact questions you will be asked in an interview. It is as close to an open book test as you can get, yet few candidates take the time to do this. It is like trading stocks with insider information.

Our book for hiring managers, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired,” goes into great detail how companies should implement an effective  hiring process. It details what questions to ask, how to probe deeply, what other sources to use to  help with candidate selection, how to write a job description that aligns with the real job, and much more. So far over 10,000 CEOs and key executives have this book on their book shelf.  Just reading this book alone will help prepare you for the best way to prepare for an interview, how to align your resume with what the company needs, how to prepare your references, and much more. All you need to know is what the company is going to do and then plan accordingly.

The best defense is a good offense. Understanding exactly how companies do their hiring is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for a job search.

Reading everything you can about how to conduct a search is important. Focusing on how companies hire and learning their methodology is also important. Take the time to prepare yourself for their hiring methodology. You will see a big difference in your results.

You can obtain a copy of our book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired” from our website if you’d like. There are many good books, blogs, articles, videos, and resources in the market for you to take advantage of. In this market you need an edge  over your competition. Every little bit helps. I encourage you to consider coming from the recruiter’s or company’s perspective.

For more on conducting an effective job search, take a look at our audio library. All of the recordings are free to either download or stream. CLICK HERE to review the titles.

I welcome your comments and thoughts.

Brad Remillard


Getting Professional Job Search Help – Finding A Professional Without Getting Ripped Off

I think many candidates are so afraid of getting ripped off that they don’t engage a professional to help them with their job search. I know there are many rip-off artists out there just waiting to take your money. I have written about this and even posted a video on YouTube in an attempt to expose these vultures.

But in this case, a few bad apples don’t ruin the whole barrel. There are many outstanding resources for candidates to engage. I firmly believe these pros can dramatically shorten your time searching. The ROI for hiring one can be as good as mob rates. For a few dollars you can be making a full salary a lot sooner. It seems like a small price to pay given the cost of unemployment.

So what are some of the things you should look for to make sure you don’t get ripped off? Here is my list, and I’m sure there are more, but if they qualify here they are probably a good choice ( I welcome your additions to this list).

  1. First and foremost, Do they tell you or imply in any way that by working with them they will get you a job? If this is even implied RUN. Nobody can get you a job but you. This is a common tactic that is used because they know if they don’t tell you this, or simply imply it as most do, you won’t give them your money. This is where most people get ripped off. An example of implying includes, “X % of the people that work with us find a job in X months.”
  2. Did they call you on a cold call? Most of the unethical, so-called professionals contact you first. They find  your resume online and then try to sell you. The top professionals live off of referrals and never (repeat never) call you. I have never made a cold call to a candidate for a coaching assignment. All of my assignments come from referrals. So if someone calls you, don’t listen to them.  HANG UP.
  3. What are their credentials? Although this doesn’t guarantee anything, at least you know they have some training. Check out the organization that provided the credentials. Make sure it is a real organization with a real program.
  4. Have them state in writing exactly what the outcomes will be once your time together is over. I’ll bet it doesn’t include finding a job in the agreement. You should know exactly what to expect. I always ask the people I work with this question, “What will you need at the end of our time together to consider it a raving success?”  Then I listen carefully to their answer. If I can’t deliver what they expect, I don’t take on the client. For example, if they reply, “A job.” then it’s over. See number 1. Does the person  you are thinking about working with ask you this?
  5. Prior to even contacting a professional, you should crystallize in writing exactly what you expect from the person. You should have your list of expectations. Then compare that to what they claim to provide.
  6. Prior experience and performance. What real world experience and track record of performance do they bring to the table? For example, just because a person is a Certified Resume Writer, doesn’t mean they are the right CRW for you. It only means that they are certified. PERIOD. That is all it means. Don’t read anything more into it. What you want to know is, how many times have they sat across the desk from a hiring manager in your field and had the hiring manager drill them on a resume?  This is how one learns what is important on a resume. How many times has a hiring authority told them what they want to see (and not see) on a resume in your field? If they have this level of experience there is little guessing in what a good resume is for your field. If they have never had this experience then how can they help you? This isn’t just for a CRW, it goes for all career coaches, and especially for what I call “job search” coaches. How can someone help you in your job search if they haven’t been on the other side of the table in the hiring process?

The best way to ensure that you get the right help is to hire the right person. A top professional may cost  you a few dollars, but getting back to work one month sooner can save you thousands.

I encourage you not to be so focused on the pennies that you lose the dollars.

Start out by first evaluating your job search effectiveness. Download our free Job Search Self-Assessment Scorecard. Find the strengths and weaknesses of your job search. Then look for someone to improve  your weaknesses. CLICK HERE to download.

One source is your LinkedIn profile. You must have a great profile. Download our free LinkedIn Profile Assessment. This will help you build a great profile that makes you the expert in  your field. CLICK HERE to download.

Finally, join our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group. It is free and provides its members with a wealth of articles and great discussions. CLICK HERE to join.

I welcome your thoughts and comments

Brad Remillard

Getting Professional Help Can Shorten Your Job Search – Example 2- Interview Mistakes

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Getting Professional Help

The first article addressed how to handle the problem of turnover. This example deals with two simple issues that could have resulted in the person not getting the job because of simple mistakes that were easy to fix. The person just didn’t know how. Any professional career coach, outplacement firm, job search coach, or executive recruiter should know exactly how to help you: 1) not make the mistake in the first place and 2) how to overcome it once it has happened.

The candidate called me and said, “I think I may have just blown an interview with the way I answered one question. Is there anything I can do?” “What was the question?” I asked. He replied, “The CEO asked me what I wanted to do with my career, and I told him that I love marketing, and wanted to be a VP of Marketing in a medical device company.” Since he was interviewing for a VP of Marketing position in a medical device company that would seem to align well with the what the CEO was looking for. Also, given the candidate’s background and experience it was a reasonable answer.

Then the CEO came back with, “Well, that could be a problem here, as we like to hire people that want to move  up in the organization and that strive to be better and not just do a job.”  OOPS, there is a big communication gap here. The CEO meant one thing and the candidate interpreted it another way. This is often the kiss of death.

So what would have been different had this candidate been working with a professional?

  1. The mistake should never have happened. The candidate wasn’t prepared. From a professional’s point of view this question should never have been answered. It is clearly vague and too open to interpretation. What does career mean, what time frame is the CEO addressing, what is the motivation for asking this question, how soon does the CEO expect a person to move up, etc? These all  need to be clarified prior to either answering the question or integrated into the answer.
  2. The candidate would have been prepared not to fall into this trap. It wasn’t a trick question, and certainly not a deliberate attempt to trap the candidate. It was just one of those questions often asked that are so vague that the candidate doesn’t really know how to answer or there are just too many ways to answer it.
  3. Once this happened, a professional would know exactly how to minimize the damage. Since the candidate felt this was the turning point in the interview, and this was a critical mistake that would cost him the job, it can’t go unresolved.

Again, like the first example in this series, it was an easy fix. There was no guarantee the fix would work, but it certainly couldn’t make matters worse . At this point, the candidate was convinced he wasn’t getting the job. There was no place to go but up.

Since the candidate now knew what the CEO was looking for in this question, we simply expanded on the candidate’s answer in his thank you letter. The candidate explained that he thought the CEO was looking for a short term answer to what he wanted in his career, so he answered it with the next three to five years in mind. However, longer term he would expect to move  up in an organization within five to eight years. Obviously, a little more detail was added, but you get the picture.

It worked, and he did get the job. We know it worked because the CEO told him that the thank you letter changed his mind.

I believe, and the candidate believes, that the professional help was directly responsible for getting this job. He believes it saved him additional months of searching for a position. As he told me, “Even if I found a job one month later, it would have cost X in lost salary.”

Getting professional help can save you thousands of dollars. Take your monthly salary and multiply it by how many months you have been looking for a job. That is the cost of unemployment. Finding a job one month earlier because you got professional help is cheap compared to the alternative.

The final article in this series will help you identify the right professional. There are many frauds and unqualified people posing as professionals that take your money and don’t deliver results. These must be exposed and avoided. There are also many outstanding people that are true professionals, highly skilled, and with great experience, that are worth far more than they receive from helping candidates find a job.

We offer many free tools to help you. CLICK HERE to download a free sample cover letter that  recruiters like. CLICK HERE to download a sample thank you letter that will make sure you are remembered. CLICK HERE to download a free LinkedIn profile assessment that will help you build a great LinkedIn profile.

Finally, consider joining our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group. It has a wealth of great articles and discussions to help you in your search. CLICK HERE to join the other 5,300 members of this group.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. If you liked this article, please tweet or re-tweet it so others can benefit.

Brad Remillard

Answering Those Box Checking Interviewing Questions – Audio Recording

Don’t Be A Box-checking Victim

STOP allowing yourself to be box-checked in the interview by recruiters, HR, and hiring managers. You CANNOT SUCCEED in the interview if you are being box-checked against a traditional job description listing precise years of experience, exact industry experience, product knowledge, specific channels, and detailed skills. No one could pass these interviews with flying colors. Successful interviewing requires you to move the interview from a typical interrogation into a conversation about the needs and obstacles in the job. Brad and Barry provide specific examples, tactics, and recommendations in this radio program on how to move every interview from a box-checking interrogation into a conversation about the work that needs to be done.

To listen or download this recording from our audio library CLICK HERE.

You can also join our LinkedIN Job Search Networking Group. CLICK HERE to join


3 Simple Absolute Musts In A Job Interview

Interviewing is an art more than a science. Like most art, there are the Van Gogh’s and then there are those that work hard but never reach a professional level. They may still be good, just not good enough.

I think that is the way most candidates approach the interviewing process. They think they are good, when in fact, most are not good enough. This is especially evident when a candidates tells me, “I’m getting interviews but just not getting the job.”  To me, that rings out loud and clear, you need to take a look at your interviewing skills.

Here are three things I find missing with candidates in an interview.

1) Confidence I find this lacking, especially with candidates that have been in a job search for a long time. As they become more and more desperate they tend to exude less and less confidence. This comes across in a number of ways that I believe most candidates don’t even realize. For example, body language,  how you sit in the chair, eye contact, tone of voice, confidence in answering questions, staying so general in the answer for fear that getting too specific or detailed may rule you out, or giving long rambling answers so as to encompass everything in the hope that you have covered what they are looking for.

Nobody wants to hire a person that isn’t confident. This is especially true at the manager level and up. Few want someone that comes across so weak they will not voice an opinion.

With candidates I coach, I always recommend  interviewing the same way you would if you had a great job and didn’t need the one you are interviewing for. I believe this helps in bringing out the real you. Most candidates act differently on the job than in an interview, so it is very important that the interviewer sees you as you would be on the job.

2) Questions In many ways this is a symptom of confidence. Why is it when an interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” candidates often say, “No not right now.” I don’t understand that.  This clearly demonstrates weakness, lack of interest, or lack of understanding of the position, any of which gets one knocked out of the running.

This is your opportunity to shine, to demonstrate your depth of understanding, to probe, to engage, get clarification, and basically stand out. I think one of two things stops candidates from asking questions; 1) fear that they may appear to be too confrontational or challenging or 2) lack of preparation. Either one is generally not going to help the candidate win the interview.

All candidates should be well prepared with questions. There are so many areas that  you can ask good questions about that will help separate you from all of those that don’t. This is so important that in our candidate job search workbook  “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” we have over 135 questions to ask in over seven different categories. That demonstrates the importance of asking questions in the interview.

3) Preparation This is probably the solution to the first two.  Taking the time to properly prepare is the biggest problem I have discovered over and over again that candidates fail to do or do properly. Poor preparation is just as bad as no preparation. Here are some stats I have been keeping as I have asked candidates about their preparation.

A) Less than 5% of candidates have actually written out answers to the most basic questions that they know will be asked in an interview.

B) Less than 1% have actually video recorded themselves interviewing.

C) Less than 1% have conducted mock interviews.

D) Less than 10% prepared questions they wanted to ask during an interview.

E) Less than 20% have asked others for feedback after an interview that they didn’t get.

F) Less than 10% have identified any weaknesses in their interviewing style.

G) Less than 2% know all of the three things that can be measured during a phone interview.

H) Less than 10% can give very detailed answers about the bullet points on their resume.

I) Less than 1% have even considered body language in preparing for an interview.

J) Less than 5% prepare for an interview the right way.

K) Less than 50% know they have a weak handshake or poor eye contact.

Not everyone makes all of these, but to my surprise most make many of them. This is why candidates are often not good enough at interviewing.

You can get our Candidate Job Search Workbook for FREE (just pay $5 shipping). You can review the questions, read the multiple chapters on interviewing, and even learn the ten must ask questions in an interview. CLICK HERE to learn how to get your workbook sent to you for just the cost of shipping.

Download our sample cover letter. This will help make sure your resume aligns with the position, and recruiters appreciate this style. It is free.  CLICK HERE to get yours.

Finally our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group is free to join and all are welcome. This group has over 3,800 members and a wealth of articles, job postings and discussions to help you. CLICK HERE to join the group.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard