For over twenty years AP companies been helping people prepare for interviews and we have compiled a list items that we recommend you keep in mind. We find it's helpful to review this before any interview, even if you have several years of experience interviewing in the past. It is always a good refresher and can make you feel more prepared and confident.
Read USA Today (or your local paper)
By reading a current newspaper the day before and the day of, you'll be informed of most things going on in the world: business, sports, weather, and current events. You'll be ready to knowingly small talk on most issues.
Most executives and hiring managers are busy and run tight schedule. Show up on time, 15 minutes early is too early.
Save the jewelry, piercings, cuff links, monograms, and ankle bracelets for another day. There is too much to lose and nothing to gain. We all know what the appropiate dress is.
According to Dr. Joel Goldberg, people evaluate each other 5 different ways in the first two minutes of a meeting. The worst is the power handshake. Nothing turns me off more than the grab and bend.
Be what they are looking for
There is nothing better than knowing what they want before you show up. Your resume should be tailored towards the interviewer's requirements. As Covey said, "A common mistake is too much talking. Be a good listener, digest the information, then tailor your response as your background relates to the dialogue. It's basic selling that works."
What means most to interviewers?
Tell them what you are good at, not what you are responsible for. The best example of that is our first secretary in Rochester. She neglected to put on her resume she received awards in high school and college for perfect attendance. A remarkable achievement like that in your past that matches what they want usually prompts the interviewer to ask you "How did you do that?" All of the sudden, you have center stage.
If you get a chance, tell them what they were and how they impacted your life. They'll get to know the real you. You are you, aren't you?
Most job seekers are not happy in their current positions. Were you ever happy at work? If you were and the position you are interviewing for fits that, make sure you convey certain things in the past you might want to replicate.
When asked, tell the truth and the whole truth. Whatever your W2 is what the answer is. Any stutter or hesitancy is a turn off. How can you be making around $85,000? What you should say is "My base pay is $83,500." Save the fluff [401k, dream bonus etc.] stuff for negotiating the entire package. In addition, if you're making $85,000, don't tell them $90,000. Eighty-five is as good as ninety, and if they ever find out it was eighty-five; your credibility just went out the door.
You might be sending a bad message and don't even know it. Arms crossed are interpreted as resisting the topic; face touching displays disbelief; slouching is sloppy. Read up on it and be alert.
Know what you are getting into
If you're out to lunch with your potential boss, watch how they treat the server and how they tip. It's how you'll be treated in 6 months and how your raise will be in the future. You are better off knowing now than later.
The follow up thank you note
And, finally, after the interview don't forget to send a thank you note - handwritten, with a real stamp, and sent the same day. An email won't be nearly as appreciated or noticed. You'll be remembered [and hired].
We have come up with a few potential interview questions to help you get started whether you are facilitating the interview or going through the interview process. You should be prepared with potential answers to each of these and be able to expand with more detail as needed.
What type of work are you looking for?
Are you open to temp, temp-hire and/or direct hire work?
What type of role do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
Why did you choose your college major?
Tell me about your day to day job functions in your most recent position.
What tasks did you enjoy and which ones did you not enjoy?
What made you leave each position listed on your resume?
Which position was your favorite and why?
Do you prefer working in a front or back office setting? Why?
What are some of your strengths?
What are your areas of weakness or that you could use some coaching in?
What do you know about this company?
Why would you like to work here?
Tell me about a situation when you had conflict with a co-worker and customer. How did you resolve this conflict?
Tell me about a situation when you did not have enough direction from your supervisor. What did you do about this?
What questions do you have for me?
If you have questions regarding how to answer or ask any of the above questions, feel free to call and speak with one of our recruiters at 585-381-7350.
Thank you and good luck!
If your resume lacks this distinction, take a few days to recall the achievements in your career [almost a report card on yourself]. You'll find things about yourself that you might not have included in your most current resume. Be patient in this process, it's your career you're thinking about. Remember, it's not what you're responsible for that gets you a job [your peers have the identical responsibilities], it's what you do well within your responsibilities that separates the winners from the losers.
We have also come up with some additional dos and dont's to help you.
- Standard size white or gray paper only.
- Specialization is key. The better jobs require increased specialized skills. Tailor your resume for the job [more than one resume is OK].
- Draft, edit, spellcheck, proofread, and have a friend proofread.
- List charitable, trade, and civic associations, but be brief. Being too lengthy creates a perception of too much play and not enough work.
- Always have an updated copy of your resume delivered to your references. They might not remember as much about you as you think.
- Always use a courier or overnight delivery service when applying for high level jobs. You can be assured it's opened and read immediately. Particularly with today's access to e-mail. Hiring managers have a hard time dealing with information overload through e-mail.
- Keep cover letters brief and to the point. Knowing your audience and delivering makes a big difference.
- Always keep a report card on yourself and save all reviews from previous employers. It is the starting point for proper preparation.
- Achievements should be highlighted with measurable criteria.
- Know your audience and play to them. Have a basic understanding of the reader's interests, hobbies, educational background, and specialized needs to create a synergy.
- Always leave plenty of white space and adequate margins. Your resume should breathe as it is read.
- Don't use gimmicks, colored paper, pictures, or wordy cover letters.
- Avoid comments about lack of flexibility, stating preferences, or certain desires.
- Never reveal salary on the resume.
- Never lie. Someone will eventually find out and you'll lose credibility [never to be regained].
- Never abbreviate terms or jargons, certain readers can confuse them too easily.
- Never include company phone number unless it's a confidential voice mail.
- Do not include references. It's taken for granted you have them and employers will inquire when ready.
- Avoid clutter: Social Security numbers, addresses of employers and educational institutions, and classes attended occupy unnecessary space.
- Avoid any negative remarks about past employers [no matter how bad it was] and reasons for terminations.
- Avoid over used sayings such as 'per se', 'proactive' and 'streamlined'. They're boring.
Principles of Career Distinction
To succeed and find fulfillment in the new world of work, you must change the way you think about your career. It's time to treat career management as an ongoing activity. Creating your personal brand is a great way to get you to change the way you think about your career. Your ultimate goal should be to distinguish yourself for career success.The Four Principles of Career Distinction
By William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson
To succeed and find fulfillment in the new world of work, you must change the way you think about your career. It's time to treat career management as an ongoing activity. Creating your personal brand is a great way to get you to change the way you think about your career. Your ultimate goal should be to distinguish yourself for career success. But before you start working on building your brand, you'll need to adopt a new mindset -- the Career Distinction mindset. This new way of thinking about your career is comprised of four simple principles. Adopt these principles, and get ready to grab hold of your future!
Principle #1: Stand Out. Stand for Something.
Just doing your job, and even doing it well, is no longer enough. "Loyalty" and "longevity" were the watchwords of the past. In today's workplace, creativity has trumped loyalty; individuality has replaced conformity; pro-activity has superseded hierarchy. You can't wait for job assignments -- you must create them. With intense competition and pressure from shareholders to deliver ever-higher returns, companies have begun scrutinizing each and every employee to assess his or her value to the organization. If members of the executive team don't know you're there (regardless of the amount of hard work you contribute), then, unfortunately, they figure they won't miss you when you're gone.
In corporate positions, sales, independent business, and even politics and the media, people have now realized that you need to "make a name for yourself" if you hope to stay in your profession. Those who can simply do the job don't receive nearly as many opportunities as those who carve out a unique niche for themselves. And the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the more important this kind of personal branding becomes. It's all about adding value beyond what those in your same or similar positions deliver. It's about standing out, and standing for something special. So get out of your comfy office and make sure all the people around you understand the value you deliver to your organization.
Principle #2: Be Your Own Boss.
To take the helm of your career and steer it toward your future, you must be your own boss -- controlling your destiny, finding and seizing opportunities, and marching up the ramp of advancement in your profession. As your own career boss, you decide which positions you will take, how much effort you'll invest in each job, and how you'll handle the challenges you'll inevitably encounter. You control how you present yourself and your intellectual and emotional assets, and even whom you position as your allies and your opponents.
At first thought, you might disagree. Perhaps you think your manager -- or the CEO or board of directors -- controls your future. Maybe you assume that your company's success -- in the form of rising stock price, customer satisfaction, and profitability -- will carry you indefinitely. Never count on outside forces to ensure your success. You can't control these forces, so you'll constantly be vulnerable to them. But you do control your own personal brand. Consider this: your skills and unique personal attributes don't disappear if your company's stock price plummets. Your future doesn't unravel if an executive who powerfully supported your advancement leaves the company. Your personal assets are yours, and no one can take them away from you. You must take responsibility for these assets and use them to your advantage. In short, seek strength in yourself, not your circumstances.
Principle #3: Forget Climbing the Ladder. It's a Ramp.
Many people still think of their career as a ladder with their ultimate goal being that top rung. Even from the bottom, you can see the top rung off in the distance. You climb the ladder, progressing in your career one milestone at a time. At each rung, you work diligently on what you're doing at that moment. In fact, you might occasionally find yourself stuck in that moment. You forget about that next step because you're sure you'll get there when the right time comes without encountering any obstacles. And with that mindset, you've fallen into complacency.
Then something happens. Perhaps you become bored and seek a greater challenge or perhaps the project you're working on falls through for whatever reason. Only when that "something" happens do you think about that next rung in your career. You put together your resume, reconnect with lost professional contacts, and so forth. You expend enormous effort connecting with recruiters, writing cover letters, refining your career marketing materials, searching through job boards -- all the failsafe methods that people used back when the world of work was predictable.
But in today's knowledge economy, this sporadic, effortful approach to career management is no longer the best approach. Instead, you have to get rid of the rungs of the ladder (sorry, TheLadders.com! We do love your name!) and view your career climb as a continuous ramp. When you're ascending a ramp, you don't stop and relax -- you're constantly advancing, in perpetual motion toward your professional goals. In this scenario, you don't wait for a trigger to move you to the next step in your career. You manage that movement yourself, every day of your life and with everything you do -- every project you manage, every meeting you attend, every phone call you place.
Once you adopt this mindset and make these corresponding behaviors part of your regular routine, you never have to make a focused effort to work on your career again. Instead, you're always thinking about it and tweaking it as a matter of course. It's like brushing your teeth in the morning: career management becomes something you just do.
Principle #4: Build Your Personal Brand.
If these elements of the Career Distinction mindset sound familiar, that's not surprising. Corporate marketers have used them for years. It's called branding. The Career Distinction mindset puts you in position to brand yourself, much like a company or product.
Remember, while corporate branding typically requires scores of ad execs and million-dollar marketing budgets, personal branding requires only you. You are your own 24/7 billboard and interactive ad campaign. Every day, in everything you do, you tell the world about yourself, your values, your goals, and your skills. In fact, you already have a brand -- even if you don't know what it is, and even if it isn't working for you the way you'd like it to. Clarify and create your personal brand in order to achieve career distinction. Then, communicate that brand unerringly to those around you. You're well on your way toward career advancement!
Thank you and good luck!
Author: Joe Kreuz
So you think it's time to leave your current job? What got you to this point? Not feeling the love? Were you bypassed for a promotion? Or is it that you recognize that it's just not the right fit?
The Difference is You
Author: Joe Kreuz
Every year I meet a wide assortment of college grads with business degrees ranging from human resources to IT to economics and everything in between. The big question they all ask themselves is: How do I separate myself from the rest of the current jobseekers be it in my resume or the interview?
Joseph R. Kreuz
So, you think it's time to leave your current job. What got you to this point? Not feeling the love? Where you bypassed for a promotion? Or is that you recognize that it's just not the right fit?
Of course, if it truly isn't the right fit - move on. You'll never find real success in an environment that is not suited to you. But, if your desire to move on comes from being bypassed on the path to glory, consider this:
One of two scenarios generally exists in today's work environment: promoting from within or hiring from the outside. In most cases, the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the more likely it is that a company will look to the outside. When it's time for filling a top position, does your company have a legacy of promoting from within or hiring from the outside?
Regardless of which scenario exists, when you've been bypassed you have to ask yourself 'Is it really time to move on, or is it just time to improve my performance?' Too often I've seen candidates throw the baby out with the bath water and never rebound. Taking the wrong job because of an emotional career choice can be professional suicide. Countless times, I've seen people walk away from the right position and never regain their career status. In certain situations, a bad decision and a bad exit strategy pave the wrong road.
I remember a friend telling a story about his kid looking for advice. His son said, 'Dad, I got a new boss, and it's apparent he doesn't like me. What should I do?' Dad told hisson, 'QUIT.'
I don't know what the son did, but the answer isn't to just quit. The grass really isn't always greener [then again, sometimes it is]. More importantly, under any circumstance, don't leave until you are assured of a new position or a foolproof contingency plan, and then make it clear that you are not quitting - just moving on. Quitters are viewed as bad decision makers. Once you quit [especially without a new job], any new prospective employer will always have that in the back of their mind, not to mention the loss of a credible reference from your previous employer.
A fork in the road.
Over the years, I've watched people walk into their boss and say,'I've got another offer but I really want to stay.' Some companies will immediately show you the door while others will negotiate to keep you. If you are ready to leave a company - then leave. If you want to stay and you feel it is time to negotiate a better program - then negotiate in good faith. No company likes to be held hostage or threatened.
Your reputation is your professional currency, earn it and build on it.
What's really helpful is to seek a credible, confidential,and neutral source when doing your self-assessment [of course, AP Professionals can be of real service in that regard]. Once you've established where you are in your career and where you'd like to be down the road, approach your boss in a casual atmosphere [not a formal sit down where they have time to prepare a 'correct' response] and sincerely inquire about where you really stand. You should get a straight up answer about the future. If you get a lot of double talk - that alone is a good indication of where you stand. You'll have a better understanding of where the fast track is and if you are on it.
In the event you decide to leave after this approach, then they know that you really wanted to stay. It's all been done in good faith. It leaves a better taste and is the best strategy to leave the door open in the event you ever decide to return. It works, not to mention a stronger reference in the future.
When it is all said and done, your reputation is intact.
Joseph R. Kreuz
Every year I meet an assortment of college grads with freshly minted business degrees ranging from HR to IT and everything in between. The big challenge they all face is how to make their resume stand out and how to ace the interview.
Unless you've already chosen a career path of what is termed a learned profession [doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant etc.] your resume can end up looking like everyone else's. Having helped thousands of college grads over the past 20 years, and having been one myself, I've developed a tailored approach to what makes a difference in a resume and an interview. Here is some sound advice:
In 2009, there will be over one million college graduates on the street looking for work and most of their resumes will look the same. They are typically on one page with a cookie cutter look and feel. This approach will generate some interviews, but it would be better if your resume reflected who you really are.
Your resume should prepare the interviewer and you for the actual interview. Start with a blank sheet of paper and write down your thoughts on who you are, how you got to be you, who you want to be, and how you plan on getting there. Take a look at your childhood, reflect on how you were raised. How did your parent's influence you? How did you do in high school and college? Why did you choose the schools you attended? What choices did you make that influenced where and who you are now? When you do get to the interview stage this will already have set you apart.
Next, during the interview, there are three things to blend into the dialog:
- When you were the happiest. There is no need to mention when you were sad [no one wants to work with sad people].
- What your most notable achievement is. This should already be on your resume, and the interview is the time to bring the experience to life.
- What the biggest [positive] decision you ever made is and how that decision impacted your life. This is an opportunity to emphasize how you've met challenges and succeeded, not how you've overcome problems [no one wants to hear about your problems].
Years ago we asked our first employee in Rochester to tell us something in her life she was most proud of. We told her it didn't matter if it was in third grade or yesterday - maybe she won the science fair - maybe she won the 100 yard dash. She couldn't find an answer and broke into a cold sweat. Then she remembered she won an award in high school for perfect attendance; and then she said, ŇOh, and I also received an award from my college employer because I never missed a day of work in 4 years.Ó Needless to say, none of this was on her resume. Can you imagine an employee who was never home sick from school and proudly never misses work? We could, and she was hired on the spot. She turned out to be just what we thought she would be: dependable, reliable, dedicated, and one fabulous employee.
Recently, one of my friends asked me to advise his daughter. She had just spent the previous year networking and interviewing, but did not receive any substantive job offers. He mentioned that of his three children she has always been the most dependable. When I asked her to tell me something about herself, she said she was just frustrated with the whole process. Then I asked her if she was dependable. She asked me how I knew that. I asked again, "Are you?" No answer. So I told her that her Dad told me. She said, "Yes, I am." The point is that during the interview you need to be able to take center stage and talk about something that's tough to put into writing - the intangibles. Of course, that is why I started by encouraging you to put as many of the intangibles in the actual resume to begin with. As for my friend's daughter, yes, she got a good job the next week and has been there two years. The client tells me she is very dependable.
And, finally, after the interview don't forget to send a thank you note - handwritten, with a real stamp, and sent the same day. An e mail won't be nearly as appreciated or noticed. You'll be remembered [and hired].