Category: Face-to-Face Inteviewing

Interviewing Faux Pas To Avoid.

An Innocent Comment Kills The Deal

A few years ago, a client in Arizona was searching to fill a VP US Sales position. The search was narrowed to two finalists. One lived in New York and the other in Southern California. The final round of interviews included the CEO and two board members. The candidate from NY made a comment she felt was in jest or just off the cuff, however, it was fatal. She rather flippantly said, “It is really hot here. People must be crazy to live here.” The CEO was offended by this comment and felt that someone at this level should be careful with such comments. He was very concerned this kind of comment could turn off a customer.

Moral of this story, be on guard at all times. Even an off the cuff comment can kill a deal.

Words say a lot but the body speaks louder

While doing a search for a VP of Sales, one of the requirements was up to 50% travel. Although the candidate knew this going in, when the subject came up in the interviews he apparently squirmed in his chair and lost eye contact. The client wasn’t convinced that he was really comfortable with this amount of travel. We discussed this with him in detail and in fact he was comfortable with it and had been doing that much travel for some time. He couldn’t explain the reason for their concern. We were able to overcome this with the client, but only after many conversations with the candidate and client; he did in fact get the offer. However, if he had represented himself and not had us to clarify the situation he would never have gotten the offer. Worse yet, he would never have had the chance to address this point.

Just remember, your body may speak louder than your words do, which is another good reason to hire a coach as they can help you with your interviewing style. Before you do this CLICK HERE to listen to our radio show interview on Career Coaches.

Little things that candidates rarely find out about can dramatically impact the interview. We recommend in our job search workbook some things you can do to make sure these examples don’t happen to you. For example, have you video recorded yourself in a mock interview? This is one of the most revealing things you can do to improve the interview. We make this job search workbook available to you for only the cost of $5 shipping. CLICK HERE to at least review the book to see if it will help you.

It Is OK to SWEAR In An Interview!

There seems to be two types of candidates in this world. Those that ramble on and on hoping if they talk long enough the person will forget the question they asked or the candidate that gives one or two word answers to every question. It is like pulling teeth to get a complete answer.

There is a happy medium between these two.

We suggest never talking more than two minutes without re-engaging the hiring manager. To re-engage, simply ask a follow-up question. For pain questions we use the acronym S.W.E.A.R. to format an answer, tell a story and stay within the two-minute rule.

  • Statement – Repeat the question in your own words to clarify you heard the question. This should take five to ten seconds.
  • What relates in your background – Select an experience or accomplishment in your background that relates. Give enough background information so the interviewer can put the example in the proper context. This should take twenty to thirty seconds.
  • Examples – Next describe a specific example ensuring that it directly relates to the question. Use a recent accomplishment. The example must address their pain and show a benefit to them. This should be one of the five accomplishments you developed during your preparation. Keep this from forty-five seconds to a minute.
  • Action – What specific action did you take? Use action words such as: led, developed, implemented, changed, or improved.
  • Results/Re-engage – This is the most important component in the answer and one that is generally left out. Quantify the results you achieved. How did the company benefit from this, what changed for the better as a result, what savings occurred? How did you calculate the savings? How did management make better decisions as a result? Sales people refer to this as the WOW factor. The hiring manager should think to themselves, “WOW, that is what I’m looking for.” This should take about fifteen to twenty seconds.

Finally ask a follow-up question that gives you feedback and re-engages the hiring manager.

Pay close attention to the hiring manager’s body language. If you notice any change in body language, you need to determine if it is positive or negative. If you determine it is negative stop and re-engage. Don’t keep on talking. They are not listening anyway.

In our job search workbook, “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” we go into great detail on the interviewing process. There is so much to the interview that most candidates can’t possibly absorb it all in just one posting. Right now you can get the complete job search workbook for just the cost of shipping $5. You should at least CLICK HERE to take a further look to see if it can help you.

Also, we offer a comprehensive home study course for those that want to learn at their pace. We will send this complete course to you for $14.95 plus shipping. Again, at least take literally one minute to review the content of the kit to see if it will help you get out of search. CLICK HERE to review the contents.

Every day you spend looking is costing you a few hundred dollars in lost wages. If either of these tools or resources can reduce that by even one day you win. Please take a moment and see if this will help you.

Honesty + guts works in an interview.

Speak up and be honest

Two different situations explain why, no matter how desperate one is for a job, interviewing the same way you would if you had the best job in the world, is the difference between getting an offer and not getting one.

As the economy is slowing we were conducting a retained search for a CFO for a small company in Southern California. The company was starting to consider budget cuts. The final two candidates, in the final interview with the president/owner were both asked; “As my CFO, you will lead the cost reduction program, where will you begin?”

Candidate one answered the usual stuff, look at reducing inventory, cutting overtime, review benefits, and require an across the board reduction in the budget, etc.  A solid safe answer the president told me.

Candidate two had a more direct and to the point answer for the owner. He looked the president straight in the eye and said, “I would start with your salary and then the rest of the executive team.”

The president later told me, “any CFO that has the guts (he used different anatomical parts) to tell me that directly to my face is the kind of CFO I want.”

Second situation:

On another retained search for a Director of Human Resources, the candidate was interviewing with a large very well-known multinational company. The final interview was a panel interview. In all of the previous interviews she was kept waiting as much as 30 minutes. Prior to the panel interview it was close to 45 minutes.

She was asked in the panel interview “What would be one of the first changes you would make as the Director.” Her answer was; “The way you hire people. The process of letting candidates wait in the lobby for so long is inappropriate and turns good candidates off. In fact, I was ready to walk out just before someone came to meet me.” The panel apologized. They know she was right and had the integrity to tell it to their face.

The new Director of Human Resources later told me she was informed by those on the panel that not one other candidate brought this point up. We both found that to be amazing.

Displaying confidence is a key attribute in the interview. Too often candidates take the easy or safe answer path and miss a great opportunity.

Just be honest. If you are right, and hiring manager doesn’t want to hear it, the bigger question for you is, “Do you want to work for this person?” If they can’t accept the truth now, what will it be like once you come on board?

If you do accept the position I can almost guarantee you, you will end up in the “Circle of Transition.” As our job search workbook and blog article indicates this is not the place anybody wants to be.

If you aren’t familiar with the Circle of Transition, I strongly encourage you to download a free copy of the “Circle of Transition” by CLICKING HERE.

I believe this is one of the most important issues for candidates to know, understand and implement in a job search.

Where’s Wes A. – NOT Waldo

Years ago I worked with a candidate named Wes. He was a living, breathing example of what all candidates should be like. Back then I was a contingent recruiter, meaning I only got paid my fee when a company hired the candidate, Wes was the candidate all contingent recruiters look for. As we say in the industry, “When he goes out for an interview just give him the invoice to hand to the company.” or in other words, Wes was a walking placement.

But Why. What made Wes so different from the thousands of other candidates we met and have met, that even 15 years later our firm still remembers him and often refers to him.

Wes not only knew what it took to get a job, he lived it. Wes took preparation, practice and presentation seriously. It wasn’t enough that he knew all this, he incorporated into every aspect of his job search.

When a company met Wes, he was polished, practiced the introduction, had questions to ask that other candidates hadn’t even thought about, practiced answers to the most commonly asked questions, mirrored the interviewer, prepared how to use his voice and body language to show passion, knew exactly when to pause in his answer to make his point, engaged the hiring manager with meaningful issues during the interview, practiced how to read body language so he knew when to stop talking and re-engage, finally Wes knew when it was time to ask a question or wait until the next interview. Nothing was left to chance.

But most importantly, like all well honed professionals, it all came across naturally and appeared effortless. Not staged or rehearsed. Yet, of course it was.

Wes did not just look for a job. He stepped back and asked himself, “What do I want when I hire a candidate?”. He told me that question profoundly changed how he conducted his search. His answer came back, “I wouldn’t hire myself.” Strong comment to make about one’s self. Not many candidates are that objective or honest with themselves. This should be a question every candidate asks themselves. Few will be objective enough to accept the answer. But to those few it will change your search process for good and make you, “A walking placement.”

Wes decided to do what he had to do to hire himself and he had very high standards for the people he hired. He started reading books, hired coaches, video taped himself, lost weight, shaved his beard, wrote out answers to questions and then rehearsed exactly how to present the answer, rehearsed hand motions, body language, practiced pausing, joined Toastmasters, ensured his resume targeted the position, his resume was about the job – not him, he practiced mirroring, he spent as much time practicing as he would for a board presentation. Nothing was left to chance. WOW that is a lot of work.

Recruiters will always be looking for Wes A. You can be one with just some serious preparation, practice and presentation time.

We offer a number of free resources to help you become Wes. For access to our FREE resources CLICK HERE

Preempt Any Negatives – Don’t Wait

A preemptive strike is a good strategy.

I came home from work one day and I had just walked in the house as my son came up to me and said, “We need to talk.” He was too young for the birds and the bees and probably knows them anyway, so I knew something was up. He explained that while practicing his pitching for baseball, he threw a wide pitch and broke the window above the garage. I replied, “No big deal, all boys break a window once in a while.” He then said, “Well, that is not all. After that I moved to the other side of the garage and threw another wide pitch and broke the other window, too.” He was scared I would really be mad. However, I thought, “How can I be mad? You stole all my thunder by coming to me. I didn’t have time to get mad.” He did a preemptive strike.

How does this relate to a search? I was conducting a search for a Sr. VP Human Resources. One candidate’s resume indicated a lot of turnover. As I went through her background it became clear that there were great reasons for the turnover and in most cases the company turned over on her, not the other way around. The problem was that she wasn’t addressing these in the interview right up front. Basically, she wasn’t defusing a negative situation.
We helped change that by putting together a script that dealt with the turnover right up front. In the interview, she preempted the interviewer by saying, “I realize from my resume it appears that I have a lot of turnover, and I can understand why one would think that. Let me explain the circumstances surrounding the turnover as I’m sure it will help clarify this issue.” This defused the situation and opened the opportunity to explain that a lot of the job changes were not her leaving the company, but rather the company leaving her, by either relocating or closing facilities. By addressing it right up front, the candidate demonstrated she had nothing to hide and allowed for a discussion around the issue.

When the candidate did get a job, she wrote to us saying she felt this technique played a major role in helping her get past the first interview. Too often a candidate leaves the interview thinking everything is great because the interviewer never mentioned anything about the negative. They don’t understand, that is, because they have no concern about it. You are out, so it didn’t need to be addressed.

Don’t avoid negatives. Do a preemptive strike by bringing them up first.

Just in case you are wondering, he has broken the same windows again. I started buying replacement windows in bulk.

There are a lot more tips, resources and assistance at our website

Know When The Interview Starts

Many years ago we completed a search(to view current open searches CLICK HERE) for a CFO of a major healthcare company in Orange County, CA. The CFO later retained us to conduct a VP Finance search for him. In the middle of the search he called and said, “So, I was in my office and just happened to look out my window. To my amazement I see this guy with a surfboard hanging out the back of his car and a big dog in the back seat. If that wasn’t weird enough, he got out of the car and started changing from a bathing suit to a business suit right in the parking lot. I started laughing and thought nothing more of it, until a few minutes later my assistant tells me she is going down to bring up my next interview. Guess who walks in my door.”
The CFO felt this person showed such poor judgment that he wouldn’t hire him regardless of his qualifications.

The interview begins as soon as you enter the parking lot.

We have a complete library of audio lessons for you to download and listen to on a variety of job hunting topics. To browse the files that will help you the most CLICK HERE

Please leave  your comments or something that has happened to you. Also, click a link below to share this with others.

Are You The Tiger Woods of Job Hunting?

After more than 25 years as a recruiter, I calculated that I have had more than 10,000 interviews in my career. That is a combination of phone and in-person. Of those, at best 5% were exceptional and I knew as we say in the recruiting industry, “This person is a walking placement.” But WHY?

We offer all candidates a free copy of the “Winning The Phone Interview” chapter in our book. More than 2,000 people have downloaded this. The vast majority have commented that it was very helpful. Often, however, we get this comment, “Good stuff for the person just starting their search, but I’ve been searching for a while and already know it. Thanks.”

So why are you on the market for so long if you know all this stuff?

I took a step back and I think I know why. It is because – it is a big leap from knowing something and doing it, and it is a quantum leap from doing it at a highly skilled level. We were aware that most people knew this when we wrote the book. We also know that after 10,000 interviews 5% actually do it and maybe 2% do it with a high degree of skill.

In this highly competitive market the bar has been raised so high that only candidates that perform with a very high degree of skill will win the interview and ultimately the job.

Change your paradigm for a minute. Most of us have some hobbies or sports activity we really enjoy. For example mine is golf. I have taken lessons, read the books, subscribe to the magazines with all the tips, attended weekend golf camps, and I even enjoy practicing or hitting balls. So as many candidates would say, “This is good for the new golfer, but not me, I’ve been playing golf for years, I already know this stuff. Thanks.”

Anyone who plays golf (or any activity) knows it is a big leap from knowing it and doing it. And in my example, it is a quantum leap to Tiger Woods or for that matter to the PGA Tour.

You can’t just “know it” in today’s job market. You have to do it with a high degree of skill.

Final thought. Even Tiger Woods to this day has a swing coach. I’m willing to bet most candidates have never even had job hunting lessons.

We offer a lot of free resources to help you perform at a high level. CLICK HERE to go to our FREE RESOURCES page.