Tag Archives: Interview preparation

THE CHALLENGE

BY: Adam Gavriel

Nearly a month into the New Year many have already abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions.With the New York Giants continuing to roll into the Super Bowl mine is still alive and well, watching one of my favorite sports teams win a championship.

If your New Year’s Resolution was like the one discussed here just before the end of 2011, with a  focus on getting a job, we hope you’re closing in on your goal. For some, this same New Year’s resolution may be frustrating you as your goals have not been met. For some, you may not have even gotten your foot in the door.

So we’re offering you “The Challenge” this year to rise up and find that employment by any means necessary…and we want to help.

There are employers out there looking to fill vacancies. We speak with them all the time and hope for more new clients to work with.

Conversely, if you’re a prospective employee, look at all the angles. Don’t just look at big corporations, but look at small businesses and even Not-For-Profit organizations too. A job is a job. It’s better than the alternative. Remember that small businesses account for some of the nation’s most abundant employment opportunities and should not be ignored by anyone looking for work.

We understand this sounds insensitive to some of you and maybe a bit naïve to others, but we believe finding these opportunities may be hard, (remember that anything worth having isn’t something found on any street corner). When you do find an opportunity it can be frustrating if you feel that you haven’t been considered for the best of your abilities.

No employer wants to see that after you got laid off, or quit your previous job that you didn’t do anything. Constant work will always out-weigh the other option. Though, try not to jump from career to career as employers might be hesitant to give you a full chance if they see that your job loyalty has faltered in the past.

Spend your time building a new skill to add to your employment. Want to continue building up your work experience? Look for possible volunteering venues. Anything is better than an empty slot in your resume where employers would feel the need to ask you, “Well sir/ma’am, tell me, ‘What did you do from 2008-2009?’” When you don’t have an answer, it’ll create an awkward situation for you as well and an easier decision for the interviewer.

At Crossroads Consulting we challenge you to take a look at our job openings and utilize our incredibly affordable resume and interview service. For the small amount you’re investing in yourself, getting that job that you so desperately want would make it worth it.

We want to be with you every step of the way in your route back to the employment spectrum.

Keep working your connections; keep your eyes and ears open for opportunity. It’s just around the corner.

YOU WANT TO DO WHAT?

Resume Objective

BY: Adam Gavriel

Searching for a job right now? Take a look at your resume quick. If next to the objective you have something like “Looking to obtain a job in the marketing field” you have already found one of your problems. There’s a reason your objective is to be placed at the top of the resume and that’s because it is the gateway to the rest of your experiences and skills. It is used to prepare the reader, and hopefully future employer, about what your resume entails and what kind of skills you have built up over the years. However above all, you can use your resume to show the employer that you’re interested in helping them, but not just yourself.

Take a look back at the objective at the top of the blog here: “Looking to obtain a job in the marketing field.” One way to easily beef up this objective would be to simply add “Looking to obtain a job in the marketing field where I can apply my social media skills.” Right away you’re showing the employer what you’re all about, or what your biggest strength in the marketing field is. Then when the reader continues to read further down your resume they don’t need to be surprised that you have experience with social media.

Let’s take it even further.

When an employer is thinking about hiring a new employee they’re not thinking about how they can help that employee but how that employee can help their firm. Knowing this it’s never a bad thing to show the employer that you’re interested in applying your skills not to further your career but to aid the firm in their ultimate goal. “Looking to obtain a job in the marketing field where I can apply my social media skills in order to build and maintain rapport with clientele.” This objective notes that the main goal of this firm is to increase consumer opinion via social media. Going back to a few weeks ago where we blogged about researching the company before you interview, it would also be of great importance to research a company before you write your resume. If you can learn what the main goal of that firm is, and can somehow work it into your resume’s objective the hiring firm will know you’re serious when you send in your resume.

If this same firm’s main goal with social media was to increase consumer activity or consumer spending, that would work in the objective too: “Looking to obtain a job in the marketing field where I can utilize my social media skills in order to build sales and consumer loyalty.”

Right off the bat an objective that appeals directly to the firm will be of greater importance to the hiring manager rather than an objective that is bland, or only in place to build up the interviewee.

This is just one part of what Crossroads Consulting can offer you with our resume service. We will tackle your resume from top to bottom increasing its efficiency and making sure that when an employer reads your resume it best outlines your skills and presents you perfectly.

Remember that we’re always updating our job openings and also make sure to like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter!

INTERVIEW PREPARATION

BY: Adam Gavriel

In this blog today, we’ll give you just a preview of what Crossroads Consulting can do you for as part of an interview preparation guideline.

To steal a saying from the local weather and traffic channel: “know before you go” is a key phrase to remember when you have an interview scheduled. You’ve finally been set up with the employer of the job you have been eyeing on Crossroads Consulting’s job openings listand you are ready to go. Your resume and cover letters are set, your suit is ironed, you look good and feel good. But a sinking feeling comes over you, what exactly are you going to be asked in this interview? Who is going to be interviewing you? Do you know anything about the company you’re interviewing for? Again, “know before you go.”

My brother always tells me that one of the most underrated computer skills out there is the ability to use Google. Let’s say for arguments sake that you were in fact interviewing for a position at Google. What can you learn from a simple Google query about your potential interview? In short, it’s everything.

All readily available to you on the internet are the names of the founders of Google, the head of HR, and even the Google ethics code. All major things you can learn about the organization that can be used in an interview. So when the interviewer sits you down and asks why you chose to apply to Google you can reply with facts like…

· CNN money rated Google the #4 best company to work for in 2011

· I agree with many of the ethics codes and conducts outlined in the ethics policy

· I’ve been following Google’s growth for many years and am intrigued at their entrance to social media with Google buzz, Google wave, and the new Google +1 button.

These three random facts, all from the internet out of 100s available to you will help you set yourself aside from the competition on game day. When the interviewer looks back on the candidates he or she met that day they’ll remember the name (insert your name here) and how they knew so much about the company. The fact that you took the time to research the company can go a long way in showing you’re interest in working there in the future.

If you liked what you read here, please make sure to come on over to our website and see all the services we offer including interview preparation.

Also make sure to follow us on twitter, like us on facebook, and connect on LinkedIn.

But especially don’t forget to “Know before you go.”

INTERVIEWING TIPS

Here at Crossroads Consulting, we’re always here to offer as much help to you in getting ready for an interview as possible. Whether it’s Resume Preparation, or  custom individualized Interview Preparation, we offer it all.

But we also offer a lot of non-paid help to those coming to us.

Here, Amy Schlubach offers some tips on preparing for your next big job interview.

Continue reading

THANKS-GIVING TO ONE’S SELF

At Crossroadsconsulting.com we care about people. I’d say we “Feel your pain,” but we’re not looking to sound like Bill Clinton, but it’s an accurate phrase.

If you don’t think this economy hasn’t hurt us too you’re entirely wrong. The last 18 months have whacked us like we were “Sport” Higgins and the economy was Travis Bickle.  Try making a living in the employment industry at a time when companies aren’t hiring. My checkbook looks like Joan Rivers without any makeup…it’s not a pretty sight.

But with all of that I still have much to give thanks for this “Thanksgiving.” For one reason, you’re reading these wacky words that I’m floating through this, “Series of tubes,” as United States Senator Ted Stevens called them. I’m also thankful that in spite of all my personal dilemmas, my kids are still happy and healthy. My wife…well that’s another story.

What you need to do for yourself now is give yourself a pat-on-the-back and start giving yourself credit for the things that you do have. Someone once told me that when you go to bed, give yourself a checklist.

Did you eat today?

Are you still breathing?

Do you still have a roof over your head?

If you can answer, “Yes” to all three then guess what? You won.

Nobody has a guarantee about tomorrow but it can still happen for you. What you need to do is give yourself the ability to win.

Crossroadsconsulting.com can help. Not only do we have jobs open that we are trying to fill, but we also offer for a VERY nominal charge, Interview Preparation for that big upcoming job opportunity. We also offer a very inexpensive resume service that can get your CV right and ready to get you in the door in the first place.

So as you approach Thanksgiving, and are fighting to make your life what you want it to be, instead of hitting the road and battling the world for presents in shopping hell, give yourself or someone you love something that will have more meaning…Help them get a good job with either our interview or our resume services.

Most of all, give yourself a break and let’s attack this problem together. We can possibly help both of us and then we’ll both truly have some Thanks-Giving that we both can be happy about.

INTERVIEWED AGAIN

Don’t work for free in a job interview

by: Aaron Crowe
 

One thing I’ve run into again and again in job interviews is being asked for my feedback on the employer‘s Web site and how to make it better.

I usually offer a few ideas and offer some ways to improve it, but don’t go into an exhaustive overview. After all, I’m not working for the company and don’t want to give them all of my ideas without getting paid or researching it more with other workers.

So I was a little taken aback last month when after a job interview, an employer e-mailed me and invited me to a second interview and asked me to review its Web site for content. I’m a journalist, so doing that is no problem, but the same situation could apply to any job seeker being asked for feedback.

It’s great to offer original ideas in job interviews, but throwing out everything you have at a job interview is giving away too much. I called and interviewed, via e-mail, a few career experts, and while some of the advice they offered is conflicting, it’s probably best to offer at least some strong feedback before courteously declining to offer more until you’re hired.

Don’t give free advice.

“I would tell people if you want to hire me, hire me, and I’ll fix it,” said Mitch Beck, president of Crossroads Consulting, an employment agency and executive search firm in Monroe, Connecticut.

“I am firmly against people giving away something for nothing,” said Beck, who likens such requests from hiring managers as robbery.

A consulting fee should be arranged if the work adds up to a few hours or more, he said. Otherwise it’s just free temp work being provided. Beck said he has a friend who did $2,000 worth of work for a company he was interviewing at, but withdrew his application when Beck told him to not do any more work for free until the company made him a job offer. If the company wanted to talk to him more without a job offer, he’d bill them for the work he had done.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing for money,” Beck said.

Companies can get away with this tactic because the economy is so bad and what used to take two weeks to fill a job can now stretch to a few months as they interview 10 people instead of three, Beck said. Companies can afford to be picky.

Give a little.

“You should not give away all your cookies,” but give the interviewer two ideas but not the entire thinking behind them, said Kevin Donlin, co-author with David Perry of Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.

Businesses will spend a tremendous amount of time getting people in for interviews, so gathering ideas for a problem they have makes sense for a short-term solution, but it won’t lead to the unique thinking each job candidate has, Perry told me in a telephone interview.

“You’re not necessarily going there to solve the problem,” Perry said. “You’re going there to show them you can think.”

What you don’t want to do in a job interview is close the door by accusing an employer of ripping you off and that you’ll give more ideas when you’re hired, Perry and Donlin agreed. It’s a bad foot on which to start a business relationship, they said.

Solve another problem.

Instead of answering their question directly and giving specific responses to their company’s problem, get them to explain what they’re looking for and tell them some stories about situations in which you’ve solved similar problems, recommends Stephen Balzac, president of 7 Steps Ahead, a management consulting firm.

Focus on the results you obtained, not how you arrived at that solution, so the employer can see you as “the” person to solve their problems.

“Don’t be afraid to give examples on-the-spot about how you would go about doing something because it shows the interviewer you’re results-oriented,” career expert Heather R. Huhman, who founded Come Recommended, said in an e-mail.

“However, don’t give away the farm. Add something along the lines of ‘If I’m selected for this position, I can produce those results and more’ to the end of your suggestions,” Huhman wrote.

Stress other factors.

You can give them an answer, but explain that anyone can pick up a book or read a case study and arrive at the same solution you’re suggesting. But the solution is a long way from applying it correctly on the ground, said J.R. Rodrigues, co-founder of a company that makes the Job Hunt Express software.

“My advice is to freely and wholeheartedly share your thoughts and opinions and experiences with the inquiring party,” Rodrigues wrote in an e-mail. “Just be sure to continually remind the person that it is the nitty gritty details, the perseverance, the discipline, the ability to adapt quickly to changes, etc., that makes implementing such a solution most effective.”

If it’s a problem you could solve in a few hours, then what would you do on the job after the first few hours? Show your insight and good decision-making skills — those are what employers want to hire and not just someone with a quick solution in an interview, recommended Steven D. Davies, president of PerfectJob Software.

Turn the tables.

Perhaps the most interesting advice is from Donlin, the guerilla marketing expert. When asked for solutions to a company’s problems, he suggests asking them what keeps them up at night about their competition.

Find out five things that worry them about their competition. After the interview, go to your car and call the company’s competitors and tell them that you’ve just learned what is keeping the company you just interviewed at up at night. Or at least entice them with that information. It should get you at least a few more job interviews.

It’s fair to use that information to further your own needs, Donlin said. If an employer wants to pick your brain in a job interview, you might as well pick theirs.

All is fair in love and war, and in the job search.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be found at www.AaronCrowe.net

CROSSROADS CONSULTING INTERVIEWED

We were contacted recently by Amanda Koehler, Associate Editor for ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals and asked, along with some other experts in the field our thoughts on interviewing. Here is the article:

Interview Don’ts

Stay away from these snafus.

By Amanda Koehler

Sure, you’ve been told what to do during an interview. Maintain good posture. Have a strong handshake. Be timely when arriving to your interview. Wear appropriate clothing. But have you ever been specifically told what not to do during the interview process?

Sometimes it’s important to be aware of the interview “no-nos.” “If you know what not to do, you will decrease the probability of making choices during an interview that will likely prevent you from getting hired,” explained Brent Peterson, PMP, MS, MBA, creator and president, Interview Angel. “You do not have to conduct a perfect interview to get a job offer, but you do need to avoid some fatal mistakes.”

So what should you not do during an interview? Read on to avoid some specific interview faux pas and help yourself get that dream job.

Don’t Arrive Too Early

Punctuality is an important trait to have, especially when it comes arriving on time for your job interview. However, can you ever arrive at an interview too early? Our experts say “yes.”

“Think about it. If the interview is scheduled for 10 a.m. and you arrive at 9:15 a.m., the receptionist will call and announce your arrival, or the interviewer will see you are very early and feel pressured to begin the interview early,” noted Julie Bauke, owner, Congruity Consulting LLC, and author of Stop Peeing on Your Shoes: Avoiding the Seven Mistakes That Screw Up Your Job Search. “When I was in a hiring position, it would mildly annoy me the person apparently couldn’t tell time. It could also say, ‘I’m desperate or I don’t have anything else to do.’”

Being “on time” for an interview means being 10-15 minutes early maximum. Bauke advised if you do arrive to the facility early, sit in your car and review your résumé. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, do a dry run a few days before your interview to find the location.

Don’t Dish on Your Current Employer

It’s pretty much inevitable: the interviewer will ask you about your current job and why you want to leave it. This is not the time to talk about your hateful boss, your lazy coworkers or your awful hours.

“You should not say anything negative or personal about your current employer. Keep all comments professional and positive, regardless of how you may feel,” Peterson advised.

Bauke noted it’s OK to say your current job isn’t a good fit for you, but don’t go into too much negative detail. “It may be 100 percent true your current job is a place full of crazies, but your interviewer has no context of that. He may be thinking, ‘Maybe she is the crazy one,” she said. “Don’t put him in the position to decide who to believe.”

Don’t Wing It

Not preparing for an interview is a huge “don’t.” Always remember to review your résumé and think of answers to possible interview questions (such as, “Tell me about yourself? Why did you leave your last job? What are your strengths and weaknesses?”). It’s a great idea to have a family member, friend or even a career coach give you a mock interview to prepare.

“Don’t walk in cold. That’s a guarantee you won’t get the job,” stressed Mitch Beck, president, Crossroads Consulting LLC.

Beck also noted knowing information about the place where you’re interviewing is crucial. “Companies like to know you did the research. Google the company, read articles, look up financials and their stock ticker, if that’s available. Even Google the gal who’s going to interview you,” he said. “People think they have to think on the fly [during an interview]. If you’ve already done your research, there’s nothing to think about than to answer the questions as best as you possibly can.”

“Even in a strong economy, there is competition for job opportunities. Today, competition for jobs is intense,” Peterson told ADVANE. “If you wing it and an equally qualified candidate thoroughly prepares for the interview, who do you think will get hired?”

Another good reason not to wing it is the interviewer might assume you’ll “wing it” while doing your job as well, Bauke added.

Don’t Be a Blabbermouth

It’s easy to understand why people might talk too much during an interview. For some people, excessive talking is a sign of nervousness. That being said, try not to do it.

“The interviewer has a lot he wants to learn about you–let him ask the questions he wants to ask,” Bauke said. “Answer the questions and shut up. The interviewer may be thinking you will also talk non-stop on the job.”

If nerves are your problem, remember the interviewer is probably just as nervous as you are, but she just isn’t showing it, Beck said.

Don’t Forget to Ask Your Own Questions

This interview is a two-way street. Just as it’s important for the interviewer to ask you questions to determine if you are a good fit for the facility, it’s also key you ask the interviewer questions about the job to see if the facility is a good fit for you.

Beck suggested bringing a notebook with questions you have for the interviewer. This is helpful in case you get nervous and forget the questions you wanted to ask. “If you don’t ask questions, it shows you have zero interest. If you have any interest at all in the job, it’s now your turn to interview them,” he said.

“Organizations want to hire people who want to be there, someone who is truly interested and has invested time in learning about them,” Bauke explained. “They don’t want someone who just wants a job. If he has answered everything you could possibly want to know about the company and job, ask the interviewer about himself–how long he has been there, what he likes about it, etc. Remember, people love to talk about themselves!”

Peterson mentioned having good questions for the interviewer can make you stand out in the candidate pool. An example of a smart question to ask is, “What is the most important contribution you would expect from me during the first 90 days?”

 

Phone Interview Don’ts

Phone interviews are becoming more popular, sometimes as an early screening process or if you are currently living far away from your potential new job. But just because you aren’t sitting in a conference room face-to-face with your interviewer, that doesn’t mean you should take a phone interview less seriously.

Don’t sit around in your pajamas with your hair a mess during a phone interview. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit, but take a shower and dress up a little. It’ll make you feel more professional during the phone interview.

Bauke also said to make sure you are not multitasking during your interview. Don’t answer e-mails, make lunch, watch TV or drive while you are speaking to your interviewer. Peterson added to make sure you are in a place without a lot of background noise.

Other Don’ts

Salary is always a touchy subject during the interview process. Bauke suggested not bringing the subject of your paycheck up during your first interview. “Let them get to know you first. The more they decide they have to have you, the more flexible they will be when it comes to salary,” she added.”

She said if salary doesn’t come up by the end of the second interview, it’s OK to ask, “Can you give me an idea of the salary range for this position and the company benefits?” Even though you should know what your personal expected range is when it comes to salary for that position, don’t reveal your bare minimum number to the interview.

Even though it might seem like common sense, Beck said don’t ever go to an interview in unacceptable attire. “I don’t care if you’re going to an interview for a dog groomer or a car mechanic position, you wear a suit and a tie,” he noted. “Even if the place is a casual environment, it’s about showing respect.”

No matter how much you may need this job, don’t let it come through during the interview. “You could be down to your last dollar, but never, ever, ever act desperate. They don’t need to know that. You don’t want to give the impression this is your last chance in life. If they are interested in you, they then know they don’t have to pay you as much; they’ll know you’ll take anything,” Beck explained.

Peterson said his most important “don’t” deals with the “who you know” concept. “Don’t ever assume your résumé and connections will automatically get you hired,” he stressed. “Those two factors may get you the interview, but it’s the interview that gets you the job.”

Bauke said not to forget to ask about the hiring process works and when you should be expecting a response so you can follow up appropriately. “Your follow-up strategy–and your expectations–will vary greatly depending on whether they will be making a decision tomorrow or 3 weeks from tomorrow,” she said.

Amanda Koehler (akoehler@advanceweb.com) is associate editor of ADVANCE.

Additional Don’ts

Don’t leave your cell phone on during the interview. “I don’t care if your wife is 8 months pregnant, shut off your cell phone. Nothing is so critical it can’t wait an hour. This shows respect during the interview, and it’s important.” –Beck

Don’t get thrown with the “what are your weaknesses?” question. “No matter what you say, it’s going to bite you in the butt. What I’ve learned over the years from my experience is people want to know whether you can follow directions or not. So for example, you could say, ‘I don’t see any glaring weaknesses, but I can tell you this, I know I’m not perfect. I know you’re going to find different things you’d want me to work on, and I will be willing to work on them. I’m open to constructive criticism.’” — Beck

Don’t assume the interviewer has your résumé. “Have extras available. If they tell you you’re going to be meeting with three people, make sure you have six copies. This shows you are prepared, and you never know, you may need all of them.” — Beck

Don’t lie. “Tell the truth. The truth is the easiest story to remember.” — Beck

Don’t give a limp handshake. “Don’t ever give somebody the dead fish grip. It’s gross. What kind of a handshake is that? Fist bumps don’t work either!” — Beck

Don’t wipe your hand on your pants post-handshake. “What you do with your hand after you shake someone else’s says a lot. If you wipe your hand on your pants, it’s like saying, ‘I want your disease off of me.’ Even if his hand is sweaty, don’t do that. If your hand is sweaty, make sure to wipe your hand off before you have to see him.” — Beck

Don’t be afraid to ask what you did wrong during the interview. “There’s nothing wrong at all in asking someone for a critique. It’s showing you care. People are terrified to find out they did something bad, but wouldn’t you want to know if you screwed up so you can make it right the next time?” — Beck

Don’t give the wrong answers. “Sometimes your answers simply are not good enough. This usually happens when your skills/experience/strengths are not directly connected to the position. Many people will have a set speech in all interviews; however, if your skills are not catered to that specific position and interview, then this will come off as unprepared.” — David Couper, career life coach

Don’t forget to react. “An interview is more than just question and answer time. You need to connect to your interviewer and prove there is a spark, a personality behind the words. Make eye contact, smile, use your hands, concentrate on your mannerisms and show enthusiasm. After all, no one wants to hire a robot, even if he has all the right answers. You need to make your presence known.” — Couper

Don’t come sick. “Be sure you are healthy or take over-the-counter meds to be sure you are not sniffling, coughing or sneezing.” — Jim Villwock, founder and chief job doctor, Job Doctors International LLC

Don’t cross your arms. “Even if you have a faulty internal temperature control device like me, do not fold your arms around yourself to keep warm. Crossing your arms makes you appear insecure, uncomfortable, defensive or close minded, none of which will be received positively during an interview.” — Abby Kohut, president and staffing consultant, Staffing Symphony LLC

–Don’t forget the interviewer’s name. “Using it during your interview will help you remember it and create a connection.” — Heather R. Huhman, founder and president, Come Recommended

Don’t argue with the interviewer for any reason. “This will not get you anywhere.” — Huhman

Don’t forget to thank them. “Always–I repeat, always–send a thank you note at every stage of the hiring process, to every individual with whom you speak or meet. As usual, send an e-mail thank you within 24 hours and for that added touch, also send a shorter, handwritten thank you note via snail mail.”– Huhman

–Don’t take yourself too seriously. “Laugh with the hiring manager. It could help you land the job!” –Huhman

Don’t come to the interview with moral support. “Bringing your parents or a friend will not impress your potential employer.” — Huhman