Category Archives: Job Interview

14 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

Scored a job interview? Congratulations! Want to stay in the running and make it past the first interview? Then avoid asking these alarmingly common deal-breaker questions. We all know how important it is not only to intelligently answer the hiring manager’s questions, but also to ask our own questions (so we seem engaged and interested). Some questions, though, should never be asked in a job interview:

How much does the job pay?
This is by far the top pet-peeve question for hirers. They want to think that you’re so in love with the job that money isn’t such a big issue for you. “Raising the subject of money during the interview stage may give the impression, rightly or wrongly, that all you care about is money, as opposed to working as part of a team and giving your heart, soul, and first-born child to the corporation,” says Todd Moster, a Los Angeles legal recruiter.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

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Mind Your Job Search Netiquette with These Tips

Originally published on San Francisco Employment Jobs Careers:

Even in a world of gee-whiz technology, some old-fashioned ideals — like manners — aren’t outmoded. Business etiquette in general, and netiquette in particular, are crucially important to your career. Why? Because in an intensely competitive job market and with all other factors being equal, the candidate with better conduct is more likely to get the offer.
“Recruiters and companies presume competence based upon observable behaviors,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, Massachusetts. If you don’t exhibit them, employers may take you out of the running, she says.

Here are some can’t-miss tips for exercising good etiquette during your job search.

Mail/Email Etiquette

Be professional when writing to a potential employer — even if the person is your age. “The biggest faux pas is the assumed colloquial, familiar nature of communication,” says Carolina Ceniza-Levine, a partner with SixFigureStart, a career coaching firm in New York City.

Spelling any name incorrectly or calling a Ms. a Mr. can be the kiss of death. “Double- and triple-check it if you have to,” says Mandy Boyle, who manages the social media presence for Solid Cactus, an e-commerce solutions provider in Shavertown, Pennsylvania. “Don’t let your email, CV or referral slip through the cracks because you didn’t take the time.”

Since manners are about helping people feel comfortable, skip the pithy close or potentially controversial quote in your email signature. Ditto the zany email address. “HotMama69@whatever.com is not going to impress,” say Kate Tykocki, chief communications officer of Capital Area Michigan Works!, a One-Stop career center in Lansing, Michigan. “It’s going to create a perception that you haven’t thought your job search through or that you just don’t care.”

Telephone Etiquette

It’s equally important to be mannerly on the phone. Mind your vmail greeting. “I’m out partying. Leave a message and I might call you back when I’m not wasted” may work for your buddies, but it’s not going to work for a potential employer. Record a message that gives your name, number and instructions on leaving a message, or other modes of contact.

When you’re the one calling, be brief and professional. Robin Reshwan, founder of Collegial Staffing, a career-preparation consulting company based in Alamo, California, suggests this process:

  1. Write down key points.
  2. Make sure the most important information is at the top.
  3. Practice to get a smooth flow.
  4. Time it. A message more than 10 to 15 seconds is too long.
  5. Make the call.

“Follow instructions on the recording,” notes Dave Clarke, communications strategist with Churnless, a New York City-based digital strategy and production company. “If the person asks for name, number and a brief message, do that and no more.” That’s an easy way to show you listen and follow directions.

Social Media Netiquette

“Your digital persona can say a lot about how you conduct yourself in real life,” Tykocki says. If you come off as negative based on a perusal of your Facebook page, tweets or LinkedIn activity, you may inadvertently turn off an employer who doesn’t want “that sort of personality in their workforce,” she says.

Think about your Facebook, Twitter and other social media use this way: “If you were asked to open any of these sites during an interview, would you still get the job after the HR director looked at them?” asks Frances Cole Jones, author of The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World. If the answer is no, clean up your act.

To avoid other netiquette errors, remember to keep the social graces in mind when using social media.

Using the maximum privacy setting is good, but not foolproof. So scrape offensive language and images from your pages and tweets to avoid turning off employers. And mind your posts going forward to avoid breeches of good taste. “Give before asking,” says Arden Clise, a Seattle-based business etiquette consultant.

“Give recommendations [on LinkedIn], comment on people’s posts, retweet people’s tweets, make introductions, send relevant articles to your contacts, etc.” Similarly, show interest in the person. “I’ve had contacts who I haven’t heard from in years request a recommendation or introduction and not ask about me or show any interest in what I’m doing,” she says. They usually don’t get what they’re asking for, she adds.

Additionally, respect people’s time by keeping your posts and tweets high value and low volume. “Notifications are instantaneous and most people check Twitter, Facebook, etc. at least a few times a day,” Clarke says. “When I see that a potential job seeker has @ replied to me 10 times in a day about nothing important [or] valuable, I’m turned off.”

While these business etiquette guidelines seem like common sense, a dizzying number of job seekers don’t follow them. To make it easier for you, Clarke boils it down to its essence: “Don’t be an idiot. If you wouldn’t want your mom to read something you posted, don’t do it.”

14 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

Originally published on TheJobVault.com:

Scored a job interview? Congratulations! Want to stay in the running and make it past the first interview? Then avoid asking these alarmingly common deal-breaker questions. We all know how important it is not only to intelligently answer the hiring manager’s questions, but also to ask our own questions (so we seem engaged and interested). Some questions, though, should never be asked in a job interview:

How much does the job pay?
This is by far the top pet-peeve question for hirers. They want to think that you’re so in love with the job that money isn’t such a big issue for you. “Raising the subject of money during the interview stage may give the impression, rightly or wrongly, that all you care about is money, as opposed to working as part of a team and giving your heart, soul, and first-born child to the corporation,” says Todd Moster, a Los Angeles legal recruiter.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

What is your policy on drug use? Believe it or not, this isn’t an uncommon question, says sales and leadership coach Dave Sheffield. “The funniest part of this question is that the interviewee sees nothing wrong with it,” he says.

How did I do? Sure, you want to find out if you’re a contender after an interview. “But asking that question puts an interviewer on the spot, and they’re rarely in a position to answer,” says Frances Cole Jones, the author of “The Wow Factor.” Plus, it makes you sound unprofessional. She suggests an effective alternative like, “So what are my next steps?”

No questions: “By far the worst question is the one you never ask: Not asking any questions during an interview shows a lack of interest or comprehension, or can make you look desperate, someone who will take any job under any circumstances,” says motivational speaker Barry Mather, the author of “Filling the Glass.” “Nobody wants someone nobody wants.”

Also on Monster+HotJobs:

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

As you may know, the first rule of writing good fiction is, “Show me don’t tell me.” The idea being that you can’t say a character is resilient, thoughtful, or brave you need to show the reader that he or she is these things.

Somehow this idea has not translated into our other writing, particularly in the context of applying for jobs. For example, how many of us have seen cover letters in which a candidate describes him or herself, “a real go getter,” only to have that resume collecting dust on our desk three weeks later—three weeks during which that “go-getter” of a candidate didn’t pick up the phone?

How else might a go-getter distinguish him/her self from the pack? Well, recently I walked out of Grand Central Station to find two young people dressed in business suits standing on the sidewalk handing out copies of their resumes. What were their stated objectives? Entry-level jobs in finance and marketing. Their qualifications? The usual for people just starting out—captain of the swim team, internship at local retail store, a summer at the local copy shop. In addition to hard copies of their resume, however, they had also blown each up to a poster-board size and created video resumes and posted them on YouTube—the URL for these was at the top of their CV’s.  Seeing these actions told me more than any video: they were creative, gutsy, and self-confident. You can bet that if I had been at a financial or marketing firm with—or without—an opening, they would have been hired on the spot. They brought being a ‘go-getter’ to life.

Another gap in candidates’ descriptions of themselves is often revealed via a technique I recently heard HR professionals are using to weed out those who are truly committed to working for a particular firm from those who are not: what they do is stop the interview halfway through and says “I just don’t think you’re the right fit for us”—regardless of the candidate’s experience. One of the HR professionals with whom I spoke says it’s amazing how many people actually say, “I actually didn’t think so either, but I just thought I’d come in…”

Um…how not to wow.

How do I recommend you handle this situation, should you encounter it? First, make sure you don’t look down, lean back….reveal your discomfort through your body in any way.Smile. Inhale. Speak on an exhalation. Say, “I understand how you may think that, given my lack of experience with X/my checkered past/how long I’ve been freelancing, but I think you’ve underestimated how committed I am to working for your firm. If I may, I’ll take you through my thinking one more time.” A response that, both physically, and verbally, should reassure the most hardboiled of HR professionals.

Another misstep I heard about was the story of a candidate who touted his laser focus/unparalleled dedication throughout his lunch interview, only to take out his PDA and begin returning calls as his host paid the check. My guess is that he was either uncomfortable with sitting in silence, or wished to convey his busyness/importance. What I can tell you is that his choice backfired— instead causing the HR director to move him from the top slot to the bottom of the list.

Albert Schweitzer, the famed theologian/philosopher/physician said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”  Nowhere is this truer than in a job interview scenario—where what isn’t said is often far more important than what is.

Frances Cole Jones

Watch the YouTube Video

How to Wow With Your Voicemail Video

Stay Composed in the Face of Interview Zingers

Originally published on “The Work Buzz” blog by CareerBuilder.com:

Have you ever been asked a question in an interview that seems to come out of left field? One that makes you skip a beat and make you want to ask, “Come again?” and “Are you serious?” Unfortunately, not all interviewers ask the most kosher questions and it’s easy to become discombobulated.

Today’s guest blogger addresses this very issue.  Frances Cole Jones, author of “The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World” tells how to keep your cool even in the face of the most unnerving interview questions.

Don’t Get Flustered, Get Factual
By Frances Cole Jones

There appears to be an epidemic of inappropriateness pervading the job interview world these days. Several people I know have gotten questions that left them, literally, speechless — and one wasn’t so much disconcerted by a question as by the manner in which it was asked.

Following, a few suggestions I made for how each of them might have responded. If any of you have additional ideas, I’d love to hear them. (Alternatively, if you’ve been asked anything, or experienced anything, that left you confounded, I’d love to hear those stories, too.)

Q: “Do you know the average age of the people who work in this company?”

This was a question an older client of mine got when she applied for a position in a very youthful organization. While I can only speculate about what the interviewer’s intention might have been, I can tell you the result was my client left feeling shamed for even applying.

How did I recommend she handle this kind of leading question?

Leading questions demand fact-based responses. You don’t want to get into what you think your questioner is after, or do the dirty work of negating something that hasn’t been overtly stated.

Consequently, my Monday-morning quarterbacking coaching to her was to have responded, “I do.”

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100 Blog Posts to Help You Ace Any Interview

Once you’re done with your online college degree, it’s time to move on and get a job. And once you’ve landed an interview, you’re probably wondering what you should do to get ready and be prepared. With the help of these blog posts, you’ll be confident and ready to go.

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The Formula for Selling Anybody, Anything, Any Time

Originally published on AOL Jobs on Jun 30th 2010.

The Formula for Selling Anybody, Anything, Any Time

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we’re selling our ideas, sometimes we’re selling our products and, these days, many of us are selling ourselves as the best candidate for the job. With this in mind, here’s the proven formula for selling your best self to anybody, anywhere, any time.

First: Yale University did a study of the 12 most persuasive words in the English language. They discovered that the most persuasive word in the English language is “you.” Consequently, I recommend throwing it around a lot: “As I’m sure you know,” “As I’m sure you’ve heard,” “I wanted to talk to you today,” etc.

Second: California-based social psychologist Ellen Langer says one word in the English language increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94 percent. No, that is not a typo. I will repeat: 60 to 94 percent. This word is “because.”

Lastly: The Duncan Hines Cake Mix Marketing Theory. When Duncan Hines began making cake mix, the decision to have cooks at home add the egg was made in the marketing department. Why is this effective? Because they realized that when we add the egg, we feel proud because we contributed; we can say, “I baked!”

Following, then, are three ways you can apply this formula for success:

1. A job interview scenario

When you are talking to a company about coming to work for them, you need to articulate the unique contribution you can make, so it becomes your shared success.

Too often, however, we spend our interviewing time talking about why we are right for the job. What we need to be talking about is why the job is right for us.

What might this sound like?

“I wanted to talk to you today because your job description/your company’s mission statement/your bestselling product is X, and my skill set/my personal passion/my sales experience is in Y. Applying the full force of my expertise to this job will enable us both to reach our goals.”

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