Prepping for an Interview

So now that you have or have not gotten hired and have answered some tough questions, we need to look back on the pre-interview.  I shared with you some of my experiences at interviews but I would love to hear yours.  What went wrong?

Let’s dissect the flow of the actual experience and what you did leading up to it.

Here is what you should have done before showing up:
1. Map the route and actually drive it to make sure you know where you are going.  It might seem ridiculous, especially if the interview is in the next town over, but you’d be surprised how many times I got lost and began freaking out that I might not make it on time.  The last thing you want to do is to show up late or to show up frazzled and sweaty.

2. Read the company profile. Find out their mission and vision statements and what their top products are.  Basically, read everything you can about the company.  I would suggest googling it and seeing what comes up.  For all you know there may be a case study out there that they are proud of but don’t showcase on their site but rather on the PR agency’s site.

3. Prepare a portfolio. Whether this portfolio is 10 pages long or is just one page, you should come with something to show.  It may just be a sample of a white paper you wrote, at least it will give a real life sample of your work instead of just a bullet on your resume that states “wrote white papers about the industry.”  What’s more exciting?

4. Lay out your clothes. You have to shower, eat and get ready. You don’t want to also worry about whether the shirt you had in mind fits or not and then have to go through your entire closet and waste 20 minutes that could have been spent prepping for the interview.  This is kind of like mapping your route to the interview.

5. Interview questions…you saw my take on the ones you need to prepare for, but here are the two that are considered “the big ones”, according to boston.com, that you as the interviewee need to prepare for before you dive into the rest:
5a.Tell me about yourself
5b.Why should we hire you?

Good luck! What did you do today?

P.S. Read the full boston.com article titled, The two big questions at a job interview.

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The Top Interview Questions

After going through several websites, here are my top picks of the top, and hardest, interview questions. Get prepared to answer these ladies and gents!

1. What were your starting and ending compensation levels? I HATE talking about salaries because they vary greatly.  I would try to dodge this one with general numbers and statements. I have previously preceded my answer with the following true statement, “I was previously hired into a higher salary because my manager knew that the economy would tank and I wouldn’t be getting a bonus.  Hence why I was hired at $x.”

2. What did you like or dislike about your previous job? This question isn’t as tough as it may seem. You should always start with a positive, talk a little about the negative but leave on a positive.  That way the negative is sandwiched in between two great things about the last job and you’re saying more good than bad things about your previous employers, which is always a plus.

3. What was the biggest accomplishment/failure in your previous position? Again, I would absolutely use the sandwich approach.

4. Why are you leaving your job? This is the time when you can talk about your desire to grow and learn more.  You can say that as much as you enjoy your current position it is clear that you won’t have an opportunity to expand your skills which is an important thing to do.  No one wants to be a one trick pony, your current employer shouldn’t want that for you either.

5. What are your short and long term goals? You should want to aspire to meet your mangers expectations and say that you are very flexible with changing with the position, in the long term.  In the short term, and here is where the 30-60-90 plan I have previously talked about comes in. You need to learn about the position, company and how things work.  You can’t be successful at what you do if you don’t know how the business is run.

6. What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome? This is a great opportunity to highlight the skills you have acquired recently.  Perhaps your biggest obstacle was getting laid off. That’s ok, since that happened you finally had the time to learn this, get certified in that and volunteer for the following companies or events.  If you are still working, talk about an obstacle that does not evoke major emotion in you. You don’t want the interviewer to sense that you can’t deal with confrontation or bad situations.  This is your moment to shine and really talk about what you can bring to the table!

7. What is your greatest weakness? Again, this is a great time to use the sandwich approach from above.

8. What qualities should a successful manager have? You don’t want to talk about the qualities they shouldn’t have, like micro management, because for all you know that may be exactly how they operate.  Talk about your ideal environment, i.e. being trusted to do your job, make decisions and drive a process from start to completion.

9. What kinds of people have difficulty working with you? Don’t begin to alienate people before you even get the job.  Ask if you can talk instead about the types of people that you enjoy working with and who enjoy working with you.  At the end you can mention that perhaps someone who might not enjoy your persistent personality is someone who may have a tough time getting used to you but you’ve overcome that kind of situation  previously and don’t see it being a problem going forward.

10. Why do you want this job? Let things flow!  Talk about what you know about the company and its accomplishments.  Talk about your career progression and how you can accomplish your goals here!

What did you do today?

Find more questions and answers here:
Job Interview Questions and Answers
Top Interview Questions
Ten Tough Interview Questions and Ten Great Answers
10 Killer Job Interview Questions and Answers

Why You Did Get the Job

Quite honestly, congratulations!  You lucked out and beat out hundreds of other people! I’m not joking. My friend had to hire someone for her own position because she was leaving and she had to weed through hundreds of resumes.

From personal experience, and this is my take on the situation, I think what helped me get my job were the following reasons:

1. Experience- Yes, I had been laid off for 16 months to the day when I began my new job.  However, I kept extremely busy.  I took online courses, I got certified in Inbound Marketing, I was writing this blog and I came prepared.  I didn’t allow the time to pass and not get anything out of it.  I made sure to be up on the new marketing buzz words so I could speak knowledgeably to my future managers.

2. Preparedness- I showed up with a collage, I would say, of my social media presence.  I made sure to convey not only interest in the position but also prove that no one else would be better.  I had succeeded in my previous positions and I knew that no matter the task I would do anything to get things done right.

3. Follow Up- When I came in for my second interview I came with ammunition. I showed my 30-60-90 plan of what I thought I needed to accomplish in the position. This showed not only my ability to plan and execute without being asked to do so but also that I had fully read the job description and more importantly had actually listened during the first interview.

Now go out there and show the experience that is relevant to a specific job you are applying for, yes that means you should tweak your resume and cover letter for every job.  Show that you are prepared to do the job and do it right, whether that’s through sharing statistics or examples of your work is up to you.

Good luck and what did you do today?

P.S. Alesia Benedict from GetInterviews.com shares her 6 tips to getting the job:

1. Target Large and Small Companies
2. Consider a Temporary Position
3. Pursue an Internship
4. Follow Up Judiciously
5. Adjust Your Expectations
6. Balance Traditional and Emerging Job Search Strategies

Why You Didn’t Get the Job

I’ve been asked a lot, as of late, to evaluate people’s job descriptions, resumes, cover letters etc.  This lead me to think that I need to bring this blog back to what it was, a place that gave everyone tips and tricks on how to land a job.  And, I’ve decided to start backwards.  So over the next three weeks we will work our way through the interview process, writing resumes and cover letters and how you should begin your job search.

A lot of times you wonder, “Why didn’t I get the job?  I’m qualified, I showed interest, I came prepared…what gives?”  Well, what gives is a number of things.  Either your personality didn’t mesh well with the hiring manager, your skills, in their minds, didn’t quite fit in to a perfect mold, OR more often than not, someone internally got placed into the position.

There really isn’t anything that can be done about the above points.  Companies are pretty much expected to put a job out on to the public search engines so they can say, “See? We tried, but our own people are the best,” even if you are better.  You’ve really done everything you can at this point and it’s time to put this experience behind you and put your effort into the next job you are asked to interview for.

However, you may not realize it but perhaps you didn’t come fully prepared and hence why you weren’t called back.  For example, I had an interview at a bike company and was asked to name as many bike parts as I could, right there on the spot.  Leading up to this point, I already felt that the interview wasn’t exactly going as well as I had hoped.  I felt prepared when I walked in and I knew I could attack the job and do it well but I really did not feel comfortable with the people I had met so far.  After naming parts like, seat and pedal, I knew that I had just spent an hour of my time making mental notes of what not to do next time.  Among other things, next time I wasn’t going to NOT learn more about the product.

Another time I had come in to interview and the hiring manager wasn’t notified that she had to interview me instead of the HR person.  What ended up happening was we only had 20 minutes to chat and all I had time for was to talk about my experience and not really ask any questions about the position or the perfect person they would like to hire.

Perhaps, the employer can sense that you’re not that interested in the position and that you’re just here because you want a job, any job.  No one can fault you for it, but an employer can question whether you’d be motivated to do the job and not complain or just flat out leave when you find something better.  You may also not know it at the time, but perhaps you dodged a bullet.  Perhaps this job really wasn’t for you and the next one you interview for will be.

In summary, don’t let a rejection stop you, you have to take the experience and see what else you can do next time to show that YOU are it for the job.

What did you do today?

P.S. Check out this great article from Doostang which was my inspiration for this blog post, Why a Great Interview Might Not Turn Into a Job.

How SEO Does Google’s Job

Now that I’ve shared with you my big revelation of using Google Doodle to grow your blogs or websites exposure my other big “wow” moment came when Jonathan Allen from searchenginewatch.com talked about how SEO is actually doing Google’s Job.

Once again, this is a thought I had never had.  But in reality, this is 100% true.  Google, Bing, Yahoo, MSN or any other search engine could not function as it does without optimized websites.  Companies and individuals are filling their websites with key words in the hopes that they will come up first or on the first page of a search.  Google just has to figure out a way to search for these key words…which is relatively easy once you have a dotted line to the final destination.

So that’s my two cents and two current interest in the world of search.

Next week I’ll return to sharing job search tips.

What did you do today?

P.S. Follow me on Twitter @Linder83 for daily tips about career, networking and fashion!

Google Doodle

Last week I had the pleasure of attending my very first SEMNE event where the Hottest Topics in Search Marketing were addressed.  Jonathan Allen, the guest speaker, from searchenginewatch.com discussed a lot of very interesting topics.  However, there were two that really peaked my interest, one of them revolved around Google Doodle, the other…well, you’ll just have to wait until Friday.

Let’s get to it.  For those who haven’t thought about the words, Google and Doodle don’t worry, I hadn’t either.  I just thought that every once in a while Google had some fun with their logo.  What I hadn’t thought about was how I could use this to my advantage.

Jonathan mentioned that on J.F.K.’s birthday they wrote a post about J.F.K. and made sure to launch it at 9am Eastern time, which would mean that it would be 1pm in London and 6am in the Western part of the U.S.  What did this do?  It pulled the keyword, J.F.K. and populated it so the post was picked up during all of the key times in all of the relevant time zones.  Although the exposure might not last, this will definitely expose your blog or site to a lot of new readers.

Although I can’t seem to find out what the next Google Doodle might be I could look on what days the doodle showed up last year and see if any topics I might write about would relate to the Google Doodle of the moment.  For example, I know I won’t be writing about the President’s,  but I would bet that there will be a doodle for President’s Day.

This search idea has completely opened up my world.  What search tactics are you using?

More importantly…what did you do today?

Fashion Week!

I can’t not write about this.  All of the magazines I’m following are giving a constant play by play of the newest and hottest “it” fashions for spring and fall.  Now I know that as winter slowly begins to wind down the last thing we want to think about is next fall and the beginning of yet another winter.  However, in terms of fashion wear, I don’t see why you can’t wear the fall trends ahead of everyone else in the spring.

So here goes, my favorite outfits from this year’s New York Fashion Week.

I’m loooving all the color and the relaxed hippie look.  What are your favorite looks for the spring and fall?

What did you do today?

Here are some extra sites to check out:
Mama’s a Rolling Stone
Paper Doll Romance
Glamour

How the Kindle and Harry Potter Made Reading Cool Again

I mentioned reading about the Borders Books story in Newsweek earlier this week.  The whole point of it was that Borders was ahead of its competition, until it began leveraging other people’s knowledge for its benefit.  The article talked about, among other things, the Kindle and Nook and why one succeeded where the other did not.

This point made me think about how in the last 10 years or so, reading and writing has become cool again.  The Harry Potter series were followed by Twilight and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo phenomenon.  People are not only reading more, they are finding ways to make reading convenient.  I think part of the problem with reading was that you always had to carry around your clunky book which may not always have had a place in your briefcase or suitcase.  Now with the Kindle you can carry your 1000 page book anywhere.  You hear the older crowd talking about getting a Kindle or Nook as a gift and the younger crowd longing for someone to gift one to them.  With our population on information overload we seem to be dealing with all of this pretty well.  We are not only dealing with it, we are making the old pastime of reading fun again.  With the ability of downloading your favorite book or magazine to one portable device is amazing to me.

Quite honestly, I see blogging heading this way too.  I really think that with these digital platforms people will find not only reading but also writing a lot easier.  We are already headed that way.  Take Facebook and Twitter.  Yes, they may be abused due to the fact that people are constantly sharing and over sharing personal information but I think that people will also begin to see that instead of just writing a quick 140 character message can lead to writing more in general.

So there you have it folks.  I enjoyed branching out a bit this week and taking a look at the future and seeing what it may hold for us.  I hope my blog posts made you think.  You don’t need to agree with my opinions but just the fact that you read them and perhaps got to thinking about your own opinion is a win for me.

Have a great weekend and…what did you do today?

The Future of Information Gathering

After reading about corporate blogging and the Border’s Books story I was left wondering, are we getting smarter?  Now, don’t stop reading just because you think I’ve completely lost my mind…because I don’t think I have.  One might argue that with all the social media and mobile devices out there we’re only getting dumber and not only that but are forgetting how to read and write correctly.

Here is my take on it.  There are millions of blogs out there.  There are even sites such as stumbleupon, tumblr, and mashable which pull the latest and greatest blog entries together so it’s easier for readers to get their latest blog fix.  Why?  Why do people care what others have to say?  I think it’s because of our thirst for knowledge and opinion.  Notice I didn’t say power.  Whether we agree or disagree with an opinion, we usually want to hear it.  The above mentioned sites wouldn’t exist if people out there weren’t

a)      Writing and

b)      Reading.

This ability to find any kind of information we may be looking for, in my opinion is making us smarter.  There are people out there who genuinely care about the topics they are writing about and those are the people who succeed.  Those are the people who are using this whole social media “thing” to their advantage and getting their voices heard.  I don’t know what the next big “it” thing may be but I can guarantee that it will make news gathering easier and quicker.

What did you do today?

Corporate Blogging

This week I want to write about…blogging.  I read an interesting article on my flight to San Francisco last week titled, 7 Tips to Write a Great Corporate Blog by Debbie Weil.  Debbie shares her 7 tips to a successful blog which I can’t fully agree with.  Now, take my commentary as simply my own opinion but I feel as though some of her tips are best used for personal and not corporate blogging purposes.

Take for example the “Mom exercise.”  Debbie suggests that you pretend you are writing an e-mail to your mom.  After you are done, you should go back and edit that entry to make it slightly more professional and you are good to go.  I’m not sure I fully agree.  Yes, she does follow up on this point and say that the main point to take away is that you should write informally to your audience, which is not to be mistaken with writing to them sloppily.  However, I feel that although you want to be seen as a friendly advice giver you also want to be taken seriously.  Writing too candidly and freely may not only land you in hot water but also ruin your reputation as a reliable and sound resource.

My second gripe is about not needing to write long posts every time.  I do have to say I agree on a personal level, my frequent readers know that I’ve certainly had my fair share of short postings; however I cannot agree that simply writing two sentences with a link to another publication that did have a voice on a topic is sufficient, especially in a corporate setting.  Although I would be happy to read the linked article, I would be left wondering, “So what?”  For a personal blog it’s one thing to simply point your loyal readers to a site you found might be interesting to them.  However, I feel that on a corporate level you are expected to give a little bit more, if not a lot more.

Having said this, I do have to agree on Debbie’s following tips:

  1. “Start with a topic you are passionate about.” Yes, your blog will more than likely revolve around a certain industry.  However, if the first few postings don’t come across as something you are passionate about, it will be more than obvious to your readers.  Not only that, writing the blog will become a task to you and you won’t enjoy writing it.  I have to say that making sure I blog three times a week is sometimes hard to plan out.  However, when I sit down and think about the topics I want to write about, the words just seem to flow out of me.  Take this post, I was on a flight reading about corporate blogging and out of that article I came up with three separate blog entries.  My point is, this has kind of become second nature to me, and that has to be the case if you want a blog to succeed. Especially when success will not happen overnight, you have to work at it.
  2. “Let your authentic ‘voice’ emerge.” Your blog can’t sound like a robot.  You know what I mean.  There are those blogs you read that offer up great information but it just sounds like you are reading another 3 page article from a black and white newspaper.  The information might be great, but it’s stale.  Let your voice come through in your writing.  The blog can still be professional but allow people to feel that there is actually a person behind it and not a robot.  Be passionate about your writing!
  3. “Title your posts with care.  Include as many specifics and keywords as possible.”  This goes back to the importance of SEO and how well your webpage or blog is optimized.  If you want people to find you, you have to work at it.  Pushing your blog won’t work so you have to go around and pull your readers in.  Just recently I wrote about how I felt that the Trader Joe’s philosophy should be applied to everyday life, i.e. quality over quantity.  That day I happen to put the Trader Joe’s name in my blog title and wouldn’t you know it, more people than I had seen in weeks stopped by.  I can only attribute it to one reason, those two keywords “Trader” and “Joe’s.”

There is a lot more advice that Debbie shared and that I enjoyed reading about, so I encourage you to read her whole article and see what you can take away for your personal or corporate blog.

What did you do today?