Why did you leave your job?

As we all know, this can be a loaded interview question depending upon what the real situation was. "For a better opportunity" is a good answer, but be prepared for the follow-on question, "But why did you leave before you had a new job?"

There are many different situations that cause people to leave.
  • Could not tolerate what was happening (boss, company, coworkers, some form of abuse, etc.)
  • Company closed, moved, or was being prepared for sale.
  • Lay off - you were singled out vs. mass layoff, restructuring, etc.
  • Your job changed and the new situation was untenable.
  • Fired - for cause, not for cause.
  • Spouse took a new job in another city.
  • All kinds of personal situations; care-giving, affordability, recruited and new job and it fell through, etc.

Regardless of the situation, like a good Boy Scout, Be Prepared! There are hundreds of ways to answer depending upon the situation.
  • Make sure you have a plausible answer.
  • Honesty is the best policy because you won't get caught up trying to remember a lie. Stretching the truth may work if you don't twist too hard.
  • Avoid detail. The more you say the deeper the probe is likely to get. If you are a talker, learn to shut up!
  • Prepare your answer and practice it out loud. Video record it on your cell phone if possible. Make your mistakes in private and learn from what you see and hear.

 Like all good interview advice. Don't "wing it".

How to deal with the salary question

We often feel weak as negotiators because we have the sense that the other side has more information than we do or is better at negotiation than we are. When you have done your homework this is rarely the case.

If the other side has a need they believe you can satisfy they will not want to lose you. They would not be talking about salary if they did not believe they might want to make you an offer. For certain they don’t know what your needs are. Use that to your advantage.

The salary question is often asked much too early for a candidate to negotiate a fair conclusion. Sometimes it is asked during screening calls. If that is the case try to fend off answering. Example: "I'm glad you asked. Salary is important to me but fitting your job needs is more important. Let's talk about the specific needs and how I can help you before we discuss salary."
But no matter when it is asked, if you have not done any research into what similar jobs pay, you will be behind the proverbial eight-ball.

Often, when people negotiate during the hiring process, rather than at the end, they are happier than those who passively accept whatever is offered at the end.

A frequent mistake is failing to negotiate terms until after the job is offered. Many people are intimidated to the point of being afraid to ask for the best terms possible. Other people aren’t aware they can negotiate. Be aware, not intimidated.

Give me some reasons to hire you

Who the are you, what do you do? And what are you good at? Have you ever resolved my kind of problems?

Those are first questions common to all hiring processes. When people look at your resume, the first two things they want to know is your personal brand and core competencies. If you capture their attention they will read further. And it all happens in 5 seconds, or less if you turn them off somehow.
If you get past the first quick glance you will be given another 25 seconds to show them how you can help them fix their problems. You can do this by telling them about your accomplishments, the results of your work, quickly, intelligently and concisely. You've got a half minute total.
Making the mistake of writing only about what your responsibilities were, what the scope of your job was, is likely to be the end for you. You've written about yourself but ignored their needs. They will not go back and reconsider you later. You have too many competitors who did a better job of getting them interested.
Those who make it past the first 30 seconds may get a screening call and be vetted. Vetting will include calling anyone in their network that may know someone or something about a you. They will check LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Google+ and other media. They may check to see if the you have a blog or website. Warning! Social media conduct can break candidates.

Hiring processes are disqualification processes. Your resume and social media presence are critical to getting interviews. Stay sharp. Find out what the hiring manager's needs are and feed them.

At the last interview, ask for the job!

Jake was interviewing with Wild Indigenous Nut Company (WINC) for the position of Chief Nut Roaster, a position he had been wanting for a long time. He was up against two other finalists. His interviews were going well and this, the last interview, was his chance to make a final impression. 

Jake wasn’t certain he would get the offer, so in the closing minutes with Jane, the hiring manager, he leaned forward in his chair, looked Jane squarely in the eye and said, “Jane, I like what I have heard about you, the job, and WINC. I am convinced this is the place where I want to continue my career. In short, I want this job. When can I start?”

Dissecting James closing comments, a couple of important points can be made.

Jake was uncertain. He knew there were two other candidates and he wasn’t sure if he was the preferred candidate.

He suspected Jane would have to get approval from her manager, who had also interviewed the final candidates.

So Jake used the Presumptive Close, a technique he learned during interview training. And he personalized it by stating her name first. In the presumptive close one makes a statement and follows it up with a presumptive question without allowing any time for a response between the statement and the question. Jake made sure Jane knew where he stood and immediately asked her when he could start, a presumption that he was her first choice and that she would make an offer.

This is a powerful close candidates can use to solicit a positive response from a hiring manager. The beauty of closing properly is that regardless of the response, positive or negative, a decision is made which allows both parties to move on without wondering what the next steps are. If the response is positive Jake gets the job. If the response is negative, Jake has the opportunity to find out why and overcome the objection. If Jane is non-committal, Jake needs to set Jane’s expectations by stating he will call her back in a week or whatever appropriate timeframe. After the time passes, candidates who do not set expectations are left wondering what to do if they do not hear back. That is not where you want to be!

So at the last interview, ask for the job! And be prepared to negotiate terms, overcome objections, or establish next steps.

How many people actually ask for the job at interviews?

If you interview and decide you want the job it is critically important to make sure the hiring manager knows it. It is equally important to say you do not want the job if you don’t so that no one wastes further time.

A hiring manager often needs to obtain concurrence on a proposed offer and if so, may have to justify the hiring rationale to someone else who must approve it. If there are two fairly equal candidates, one who clearly indicates desire and one who does not, it may be likely the offer will go to the candidate who has asked for the job.

Asking for the job is simply a normal sales process one should follow. I suggest using a “presumptive close” such as “Based on everything we have reviewed and discussed, I want you to understand that I want this job”. When can I start?” Or alternatively, “Given the conversations I’ve had with you and the others I am convinced this is the place where I want to continue my career. In short I want this job. When can I start?” This is an excellent close because “When can I start” presumes a positive response to stating you want the job.

By presuming the outcome the hiring manager knows where you stand. He or she will then know it is worthwhile to seek concurrence if approval is necessary. If the hiring manager responds that there are more candidates to consider, one then needs to establish when he or she should expect to hear back. This avoids later questions about “should I or should I not contact them” and when should I do it.

As the interview progresses there are a number of trial closes one can use that ultimately lead up to the final interview and an offer. As each interview comes to a close one should ask “Based on what we have discussed, is there anything that concerns you about my fit for this position?” This type of question enables you to determine if there are any objections and affords you the opportunity to discuss and overcome them.

At the end of all conversations with all interviewers it is wise to assess each interviewer’s feelings about your fit. “Based on our discussion do you feel positive about my fit for this job? Do you have any concerns?”

Before leaving an interview one should always set expectations for the next steps in the process.  Ask “What are the next steps?” Try to get the last interviewer to state who will do what and when so that if a week or so passes and you haven’t heard, you will feel comfortable following up. When expectations are not set, you don’t know whether following up would be perceived as annoying or not. If the interviewer does not respond with clear expectations, (who, what, when) then it is appropriate for you to state that you will follow up in a week.

After speaking with each interviewer make sure to thank the interviewer and ask for the person’s business cards. This enables you to follow up with the name, title and contact information for each, complete with correct spelling.

Show me a consistently successful leader that was a pessimist.

Pessimism paralyzes. It kills interviews. It infects the workplace. It stymies finding solutions to problems. It moves business backwards. Nobody wants to be near a chronic pessimist. 

Optimism is the elixir that keeps things moving forward. Optimists are resourceful. They have positive attitudes. People like to be near them. They are more likable, more fun to be with. They generate optimism in others. They motivate.

Optimistic job seekers are much more likely to compete successfully and win the new job. Interviewers are sensitive to a candidate’s personality; they will be looking for optimists. Given two equally qualified candidates, the pessimist will be the loser! It follows that given two equal employees, the pessimist will be the first to be laid off when business requires reduction in force.

Job seekers, in particular, need to take note. Unfortunately, pessimists do not always view themselves as being pessimistic. There are signs we all can look for. Do people tend to gravitate away from us or toward us. Do they listen intently or dismissively. Do we usually smile or frown. If the signs of pessimism are there, work on changing. Everyone can consciously work on maintaining an optimistic attitude.

Some things that can get you rejected in a face-to-face interview.

You might be surprised how many people don’t do what should be obvious preparation for face-to-face interviews. You can mess up an interview by doing any of these things:

Be late: there are valid and invalid reasons.  Call ahead and explain. Prepare in advance by getting contact names and telephone numbers. Know exactly how to get there; do a dry run if possible.

Be odorific: Avoid this by practicing good hygiene. Avoid things that create bad breath. Alcohol, smoke and food seasonings like garlic on your breath will make you unattractive.

Dress inappropriately: Only lost luggage can explain away this one.

Be totally unprepared for the questions: There are standard types of questions. Prepare with practiced answers. Practice out loud with video if possible. Listen to what you say, how you say it and watch your body language. Learn from it.

Make politically incorrect comments, swear, be negative, berate your employer, don’t smile, and talk too much (monopolize the conversation) during the interview: These things will end your chances quickly and it should be obvious to avoid making them, but given things I have heard in interviews, I wonder how obvious.

When you are told to “Tell me about yourself”. What are you going to say?

The interviewer just turned control of the interview over to you. This is your chance to take the interview into the direction you want it to go. The interviewer surely will take over soon enough but this is your opportunity to tell about the most important thing you want the interviewer to know about you.

While you can respond many ways, it is not the time to talk about your life history. Don’t ask “What would you like to hear about?” That answer turns control back to the interviewer and points out that you are not prepared, not creative, not “street smart” or maybe all of the above. Be prepared with a topic that starts out with “I’d like to tell you about ……….” or something similar. If you have already spoken with the hiring manager by phone (a recommended search tactic) you can expand on something that was important to him or her.

The interviewer is most likely interested in something that applies to the job, but the question might also be a probe for something non-work related that talks to your outside interests to see how “well-rounded” you are. While this may be the case, be prepared to at least direct the flow of information to those work-related strengths you think the interviewer should be interested in.

What would you say is the difference between Selling and Interviewing?

I would suggest they are totally alike.

Selling is the logical explanation of why a particular decision makes sense.
Selling is overcoming objections, logically responding to roadblocks.
Selling is knowing how to negotiate.
Selling is knowing how to deal with rejection when it happens and how to maintain both self-confidence and self-esteem.
And most important, Selling is knowing how to communicate with people and build relationships.

So what is the difference between Selling and Interviewing?

Is your resume long and verbose? You probably talk too much as well.

More than any other factor there is one thing will cause people to reject your application or fail to hire you, even if you satisfy the basic job requirements:

You can’t express yourself verbally or in written form crisply and succinctly.

This factor is the single biggest reason people don’t get interviews or they get rejected after interviewing.

If you write too much your resume won’t get read.

If you talk too much you will monopolize the conversation and interviewers will find ways to get rid of you.

Verbosity is likely to be interpreted as unable to work efficiently, spending too much time getting to the conclusion.

A simple solution is to record your own conversations with people. Listen to the play-backs and see what you are doing. How long did it take you to arrive at the point of the answer? How could you have gotten there quickly?

When you write, think about the end point you are trying to reach. Start eliminating words. Can you get to the point in one brief sentence?

When you are being interviewed, do you talk too much?

Are you a talker? People who tend to talk endlessly often annoy or lose their audience. One of the fastest ways to end an interview and lose an opportunity is to talk too much. By monopolizing a conversation you are denying the interviewer the chance to get answers to their questions. Without answers the interviewer cannot judge your ability to do the job.

So if you talk too much interviewers are likely to find ways to get rid of you!

Of course the corollary is also true. Have you ever met an interviewer who talked endlessly? Did you get a chance to ask your questions? If the interviewer talks too much you will not learn enough about the job and the interviewer will have no idea whether you are the right person for the job.

There are many ways in your daily life to practice self-control if you are a talker:
-     Consciously listen more than talk when you are having conversations with people. Get used to listening.
-     Get to the point quickly when you answer questions, e.g., stop adding background information for your answer.
-     Stop talking and take a breath frequently. Listen. Find out what reaction you are getting from what you have said. What are they saying?
-     Read body language. Is the other person yawning, trying to interrupt, fidgeting, etc.? If so, stop talking.
-     Show interest in the other person. Ask them questions. Get them to talk. You will be amazed at what interesting things you can learn about them. Enjoy them.
-     Resist the urge to fill voids in conversations. Use silence to get the other person to open up.

People like people who are easy to talk with. The important word is “with”. Don’t shut others out of the conversation.

If you are an endless talker, be aware of it and practice self-control or you could jeopardize your chances for that job you want. Overcoming the problem takes a lot of practice.

When interviewing, be conscious of how you are speaking.

Many interviews start off with a phone conversation, often on a mobile device. We all know cell phone conversations lack the clarity of a land line. And what could be more important than being understood during an interview?

Many things can enhance or degrade the conversation. Some factors to consider are local accents, acronyms, speed – too fast or slow, enunciation, slang, volume, pitch, interruptions, talking too much or too little, um’s, uh’s and like’s.

In face-to-face interviews consider other factors as well: posture, body language, eye contact, environment, and again um’s, uh’s and like’s.

Politicians are usually excellent orators. Watch them and emulate their speaking style.

Practice, learn about your speaking habits and make changes when talking with your friends and family, when it doesn’t matter: If you have audio/video capability on your mobile device have someone record you while role playing an interview.

We all know that how you conduct yourself in interviews is critical to winning the job.

Liz Ryan has written an article that appeared in Forbes magazine over a year ago that points out how to win the job. The article was written about age discrimination. But there are many other forms of discrimination that come into play in interviews too. Besides age, discrimination often involves race, ethnicity, accent, looks, weight, disability and more. If you feel you are being discriminated against by interviewers you should read the article by Liz Ryan which is listed it the end.

Let’s face it, discrimination of all kinds is alive and well. But when interviewing, more important than concern about discrimination is how you rise above it and win the job. And the solution is simpler than you might think!

In an interview a key to winning the job is in how well you draw out the issues and problems the hiring manager needs resolved and how well you provide concrete examples of how you have resolved the issues in the past.  It is important to rise above possible discrimination, if you feel it exists, and refocus your feelings about it into showing how you solve the real specific problems that exist.

In the article Liz concludes “Job-seekers who use their interview air time to ask questions about the processes, the obstacles in a hiring manager’s way and the thorny problems they’ve seen before in similar situations vault themselves to a higher level of conversation than the ones who don’t.”

In other words don’t just sit there answering the interviewer questions like everyone else, focus your valuable interview time on uncovering the hiring managers’ hot problems and showing how one has handled similar issues. Engage the hiring manager in two-way conversation by asking probing questions, digging deeper, showing real interest and responding with examples of how you have handled similar problems in the past. Showing the hiring manager that you can help solve his/her problems will catapult you above other candidates.

Things your job search coach may not know.

Are you one of the many people who have paid for job coaching service that has not improved your job search results? Are you still applying to companies and not getting responses? Are you getting responses but not winning the job?

I learned a long time ago that just because a person claims to be a dog obedience trainer does not necessarily mean that person is qualified to train your dog. That can also be true for job search consultants.

Before you get too involved, ask a job search coach some important questions.

Ask them if they’ve ever been a hiring manager. Ask them what is most important for hiring managers to achieve. If they do not mention results, pass.

Ask them what motivates hiring managers to want to speak to you. If they don’t mention your accomplishments and the results of your work, pass.

Ask them about fundamental search strategies and supportive tactics that are available to you. If they cannot enumerate at least six fundamental tactics you can use and talk about at least one of the critical nuances you need to know about each tactic, pass.

Ask them to provide you with sample resumes they have written. If they can’t show you the three fundamental file types you will need for your search, pass.

Ask them if they will provide you with detailed directions for keeping your resume ATS-ready when you want to edit it in the future. If all they talk about is key words, pass.

If I job search coach has never ‘walked-the walk” of a hiring manager or recr

Optimism is the elixir that keeps things moving forward. Optimists are resourceful. They have positive attitudes. People like to be near them. They are more likable, more fun to be with. They generate optimism in others. They motivate.
Optimistic job seekers are much more likely to compete successfully and win the new job. Interviewers are sensitive to a candidate’s optimism; they will be looking for it. Given two equally qualified candidates, the pessimist will be the loser! Given two equal employees, the pessimist will be the first to get laid off.
Personality may be difficult to change but pessimists are well-advised to work very hard at it.

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