Category: Interview Prep


Do You Want to Be More Confident in Your Career?

Whenever I meet with a potential career coaching client, one of the first questions I ask is, 

“What do you wish you had more of: time, money, or confidence?”

The majority of people respond with confidence as their top choice.

Confidence seems to elude so many people. 

Why is this?


Why does confidence elude us?

K. Ann Renninger, a professor at Swarthmore College has reported that, before the age of 8, children will try anything. 

It’s between the ages of 8 and 12 they start to compare themselves with their peers and then continue to do so throughout much of their adult life.

 If they’re not as good as their peers at something, they become insecure.

And insecurity is the opposite of confidence.


I find Renninger’s report fascinating. You’d think the older we get the more confident we’d become. 

I mean, the older we are, the more we know, and the more we’ve learned from our experiences.

But it’s so easy to fall into the comparison game. Especially in today’s culture when everyone posts their “best” on social media for all of us to see. 

Rarely do you see an Instagram post of someone looking or feeling their worst.

Therefore we often end up comparing our worst to others’ best, which is like comparing apples to oranges.


Career comparisons

I’ve found in my career coaching that comparison is also likely to increase when a person is going through a career transition. This includes:

  • When applying and interviewing for a new job against other candidates.
  • When competing for a promotion against another co-worker.
  • When starting a business that’s in competition with another business.

This is likely why so many of the people I talk to are craving more confidence.

This is especially so when they’ve tried to approach their career transition on their own and aren’t seeing anything come to fruition.

Either their resume is not getting them the interview, or their interview is not getting them the job offer. 

Their lack of negotiation skills is keeping them from landing the big promotion.

Or, their inability to articulate their personal brand is preventing them from getting their business off the ground.

Instead of looking for help to improve in these areas which can build their confidence, they start looking around wondering what their competition has that they don’t have. 

This is a waste of time and it breeds further insecurity.

More insecurity means less confidence. 

Less confidence means less career opportunities because no one wants to hire, promote, or invest in someone who isn’t confident.

And so the cycle begins.


Jamie’s Story

Jamie came to me feeling very defeated. On a scale of 1–10, her confidence level was at a 4, an all-time low for her.

That’s because she hadn’t been able to find a job in two and a half years. 

I’m surprised her confidence wasn’t even lower. 

Jamie was a in her late 20s/early 30s, a veteran who had proudly served her country, possessed an MBA, and had started her own animal rescue non-profit. Obviously she had mad skills!

But for some reason she wasn’t able to land a job offer, or sometimes even an interview, despite the fact she was applying to companies that claim they prefer to hire veterans.

Jamie’s comment to me was,

“Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I haven’t been able to figure out what that is. Maybe you can show me.”

She knew there was something she was missing. She just didn’t know what that was. After two and a half years she recognized her need for someone to point out her blind spots and show her the way.


Jamie’s career “makeover”

When I began working with Jamie, it quickly became apparent that she just needed to make some small tweaks on her resume and learn some new interview skills she’d never previously learned.

There were some things she’d included on her resume that she thought were assets but instead were being viewed as liabilities by recruiters and hiring managers. I had her remove those from her resume immediately.

Just a couple days later Jamie got a call for an interview. Her first in several years. 

I spent a few sessions preparing her for the interview, teaching her the interview skills she lacked and doing mock interviews with her while providing feedback on how to improve.

Jamie:

“I had no idea until now what I’ve been doing wrong all this time!”

Me:

“Given what you’ve learned in these sessions, where on the scale of 1–10 is your confidence level now?”

Jamie:

“At least an 8!”


A week later, Jamie got the job offer. 

In fact, the gentleman who offered her the job commented,

“By the way, you gave a really good interview. I have a family member who has a job interview coming up. Do you think you could help her prepare for it?”


It doesn’t stop there.

After Jamie accepted the job offer, it was time to shift focus. 

I told her with her remaining sessions we could start positioning her for promotion at her new company if that was her goal. 

She said it was, but was told in her interview that new employees aren’t typically promoted until they’ve served a full 12 months. 

I told her that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning now. We worked on the things she needed to do in her first 90 days and within her first six months on the job.

Nine months later, Jamie was already being considered for promotion.


How to be more confident.

Jamie’s confidence started to grow after she admitted she didn’t know what she was doing wrong and sought help. It was this help that increased her confidence.

Undoubtedly, her new-found confidence carried over into her interview, resulting in a job offer and eventually a promotion! 

So if you’re struggling with confidence in your own career, whether it’s due to unemployment, being passed over for promotion, or stagnation in your business, try the following:

1. Pretend like you’re 7 years old again and stop comparing yourself to others. 

You can’t compare your journey to someone else’s because everyone is designed to have their own journey. 

Comparison is unproductive, so stop wasting your time and energy. 

If the only thing that helps you do this is avoiding social media, then do so. 


2. Admit what you don’t know. 

If you’re trying the same cookie-cutter approach to the job search or following the free career advice you Googled that’s as old as the Internet itself and you’re not seeing results, chances are there’s something else you should be doing that you’re totally unaware of. 

Admit it to yourself when things aren’t working.


3. Seek help. 

Especially if you haven’t interviewed or been through a career change in several years. 

Some things have probably changed since you last had to look for a job or last asked for a promotion. Starting a business of your own also has unique challenges in this current market. 

Seek experts who have experience in coaching others in career transition to reveal any blind spots you may have. They can help you make necessary changes and improvements to your approach.


4. Recognize your uniqueness. 

Your experiences and accomplishments make you unique from others who possess the same skills as you. 

It’s these unique experiences and how you articulate them in your job search, performance review, or client meetings that will help you market yourself. 


In conclusion

Doing the above will build your confidence and therefore break the cycle of low self-confidence. 

Don’t let two and half years go by like Jamie did. 

Click here to start now!

confidence

How to Overcome Questionable Gaps on Your Resume


“If someone hasn’t had a job in a while (let’s say a couple years), what, on the resume, would make you consider them for the job?”

This is a common question among job seekers with resume gaps. The following answer was originally published on Quora by investor and consultant, Bernie Klinder. He’s graciously allowed me to publish it here under a new headline and format.


Legitimate Reasons for Resume Gaps

Long gaps on resumes are a red flag for HR. 

It could mean you are covering up a reason for the gap, or that you’re just unemployable and that other employers have consistently passed you up.

But there are many legitimate reasons for a gap: 

  • raising children, 
  • taking care of a sick relative, 
  • or other personal reasons. 

I have a 2-year gap in my mid-30’s because I traveled the country after selling my business.


How to Address the Resume Gaps

You need to address the gaps, as openly and honestly as you can. 

The more obtuse you are, the more the hiring manager will think you’re hiding something.

You also need to show what you’ve done with that time, or at least the last few months to stay relevant in the marketplace. You need to show that your skills are still current.


Years ago, I interviewed a candidate that had been unemployed for over a year. I felt bad for him. 

But when I asked him what new skills he had learned in that period, he didn’t have an answer. 

There is a world of free information and training available at your fingertips, especially in information technology.

I would expect a candidate who hadn’t worked in several years to be able to demonstrate that they’ve taken the initiative to keep their skills up to date and maybe even learn something new. 

This can be accomplished through:

  • Industry certifications
  • LinkedIn Learning courses
  • MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) (like the ones found on Coursera.org).  
  • College classes
  • Local community education classes
  • Anything that shows you’ve not just been sitting on your butt. 

Be able to talk about current or cutting edge industry trends and things in the news.

Always show interest in the hiring company. 

You have to demonstrate that your head is still in the game, and you’re ready to work!


Why Networking Helps

Ultimately, the hiring manager needs to know that you can hit the ground running and be ready to work day 1, and not “Oh, I’ve never used this version of the software before”, or I’ve never seen that technology before.”

I would also leverage your social network for referrals. 

Managers expect candidates from job boards and other online sources to be sketchy. They far prefer referrals from someone they know and trust.


Be Confident, Despite the Gaps

Above all, don’t beg or seem desperate — even if you are. 

The good employers will pass on you and the bad ones will take advantage of you. 

Be confident, have an attitude of “I got this, and I’m chomping at the bit to get back at it,” and you’ll stand out in a good way.


Thank you Bernie for sharing your honest feedback!

Lori


What You Need to Know About Job Interviews of The Modern Era


Years ago when I used to work in college career services, the interview process for college administrator positions was apparently ahead of its time. A recent article entitled “How You’ll Look For A Job in 2018” says that exercise-based job interviews are becoming more common.

Lindsay Grenawalt, head of People for Cockroach Labs, says,

“Rather than guess if a candidate can do the job based on their answers to behavioral questions exercise-based interviews ask for candidates to show [what they can do].”

This includes interviews with case studies, individual exercises, and presentations.


My Toughest Job Interviews

When previously interviewing for college career services positions, I had to do much of the same.

I’ve had interviews where I had to do presentations and teach mock classes. Once I even had to create an idea for a program in 45 minutes and then pitch it to a search committee.

I’ve also had marathon interviews. They started with a dinner interview the evening before. Then they picked back up again the next day at 8am and lasted until 4pm.

These interviews involved meeting with just about everyone on campus, including the President of the college and a panel of students. (By the way, the students asked the toughest questions of anyone.)

I’ve had to do pretty much everything but a literal song and dance!


The Advantage of Exercise-Based Interviews

Now, nearly 20 years later, these types of situations are being incorporated into today’s job interviews in a variety of industries.

While these types of job interviews may sound intimidating, there’s good news. They give candidates an idea of what it will actually be like to work in that role on a daily basis.

Grenawalt says,

“Fear not. Because these interviews require a high degree of engagement, they are more collaborative and a better experience overall than traditional interviews in which candidates have to sweat through a series of stress-inducing questions.”


How to Prepare for Exercise-Based Interviews

So how do you prepare for such interviews?

Research

In some ways, you’d prepare similarly to how you would prepare for any ordinary interview by researching as much as you can about the company and the position.

Your research should especially include all the information companies make available on their hiring and interview process. This can also be found on sites such as Glassdoor.com.

If you can’t find this type of information, you can (and should) ask questions about the interview process as soon as you’ve received an invitation for an interview.


Know the problem BEFORE you go into the interview and have a solution prepared.

You also want to ask what the main priority or goal should be of the next person in that position, BEFORE the interview. Never wait until the interview to ask this question!

Find out what challenge or problem this person will be expected to help solve. Once you have this information, use it to prepare for the interview in ways I’ve outlined in my post Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From the Competition (this ain’t your grandma’s — or even your mom’s — interview advice!).

The approach described in that post will help you in preparing for case studies, presentations, or problem solving scenarios.


Ask the right questions

The other way to prepare for such interviews is to make it a two-way street. You do this by preparing the right kind of questions of your own.

Like I said above, asking what will be the top priority of the new person in the role is NOT a question you want to ask during the interview. (By then it will be too late to ask that.) But there are more appropriate questions you should ask during the interview.

In fact, certain questions you ask can actually help you win the interview! That’s how I landed my very first job offer. I was told I was hired based on the type of questions I asked them!

To find out exactly which questions you should ask in the interview, read my post The One Tip That Guarantees a Good Interview.


Knowledge is the Beginning of Preparation

No matter what type of interview you’re faced with, you can’t go in and just “wing it.”

You have to be prepared.

Knowledge is the beginning of that preparation. Become knowledgeable of the above items, and you’ll shine!

Click here for more interview prep tips.

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Faced With a Last Minute Job Interview? Help is On the Way!

You submitted your resume for the job your friend told you about, thinking you’ll probably have a week or two before you get a call for an interview. If you even get a call.

And if you do, you’re thinking they’ll probably schedule you for your interview the following week, giving you plenty of time to prepare.

While that’s often the typical timeline of a hiring and interview process, hiring processes these days are anything but predictable.

Sometimes you apply for a job and don’t hear anything back for weeks or even months. Other times, you may get the following call:

“Hi. We just received your resume for the director’s position and we want to know if you can come in tomorrow for an interview.”

Would you be ready for a last minute job interview?

If you got this call, would you be ready?

How would you react? Excited?

Probably, since it’s always nice when someone shows interest in your skills and abilities.

But then what happens? It’s likely your feelings of excitement will turn into panic.

You start thinking:

  • What am I going to wear?
  • Do I have time to research the company?
  • What questions should I prepare for?!
  • What questions should I have ready to ask them?!

Help is on the way!

While you probably can’t get an appointment on such short notice with a career coach to help you prepare for the big day, there is help.

paNASH has several last minute tips for you when situations like this arise (and believe me, they do, more often than you think). These tips are provided through a few different resources.

Good

Free advice is always good, and this blog provides a lot of that.

Just click on “Interview Prep” under the Categories section on the right hand side of your screen. Here you’ll find all my previous posts about interviewing containing free advice and tips.

Better

Another item available to help you in a pinch is the on-demand video series Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety. In less than 55 minutes you’ll receive a crash course on interview prep. And since it’s available on-demand, you can access it at anytime, day or night.

It’s only $87 which includes 3 videos and a downloadable handout covering the following topics:

  • Strategies to give you the confidence to overcome the fear and stress of interviewing.
  • What you’ve been doing wrong and how to correct it.
  • The best and most productive way to prepare for your next interview.
  • How to answer “Tell me about a time when…” questions and other commonly asked questions.
  • Questions YOU should ask in the interview.
  • And more!

As a result, you’ll have:

  • Improved interview performance.
  • Less stress and anxiety.
  • Better and more job offers to choose from.
  • More confidence to negotiate a higher salary and better benefits.

Here’s what others have said about the program on Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety:

  • “One of the job interview tactics Lori recommended really improved both my confidence and the company’s interest in me. It was such a great suggestion that came with great results!” Alphonso W.
  • “My confidence level in my interview skills jumped from a 4 to an 8!” Jamie H.
  • “I now have the tools to spot the red flags so as not get into the same work situation I was in previously. It’s so empowering to be able to recognize a job that’s not right for me and to have the confidence to say ‘no’ to it and ‘yes’ to something better.” J.S.
  • “I got the job! Thanks to Lori’s interview tips I’m now doing social media (my passion) for a toy company!” Robin G.

Best

Of course, the best option is to plan ahead and start preparing or even working one-on-one with a career coach such as myself on a regular basis so you’ll be ready no matter what comes your way in the unpredictable world of a job search.

But when that’s not possible, you have the above options available to you right here on the paNASH web site.

If you are interested in more in depth one-on-one preparation, click here to complete the paNASH intake form and I’ll respond right away.

Related Posts

last minute job interview

Can Finding a Job Be Like Finding Love?

Can finding a job be like finding love?

With today’s job market, it can be tough to find a good job. Almost as tough as it is to find a good companion.

But the way you approach finding a job is not so different than the approach you might take when finding a mate.

While it’s true that opposites attract, most people seek out a mate with common interests and values.

You’ve also probably heard you have to know and love yourself before you can know and love another person. The same is true when determining what career field you should enter into.

What Are Your “Must-Haves”?

First, you need to know enough about yourself to know what you like and what you don’t like. Do you prefer an outdoorsy, adventurous job to a nice, quiet desk job?

You also need to determine what you value most in an employer. Are you looking for an employer that’s honest and caring? Do you want one that’s going to spend a lot of money on you in salary and benefits?

If you recoil at the idea of a long distance relationship, location and commute may be important factors in determining what kind of job is right for you.

So the first step to a job search is self-reflection and self-assessment. Career assessments are similar to tests used in online matchmaking. They measure your interests and values to determine what career fields may be a good match for you.

However, these assessments should not be taken too seriously. The results of your career assessments don’t mean you can’t succeed in other career fields. Just like the results of your matchmaking test don’t mean you can only date those people who fall into your “perfect match” category.

Many times, potential mates come along when you least expect them, and so do other career opportunities.

Put Yourself Out There

Once you know what kind of job is right for you, now you have to go out and find it!

There are several ways to find a job, and it’s important to exhaust all possibilities.

First, there are online job boards which are similar in function to online dating sites and dating apps. However, keep in mind you can’t just post your resume to a 100 job ads and sit back and expect employers to call. Just like the ladies can’t expect to give out their phone number to every man they meet and sit at home waiting for them to call.

Instead, the most effective and successful way to find a job is through networking.

Networking is important because, just like the fact that not every person has a personal ad posted online, not every job is advertised online.

In fact, over half of all jobs go unadvertised.

Networking can be very intimidating (check out my post 7 Easy Networking Tips for Introverts). It can even make some people nervous because it’s very similar to being “fixed” up on a date.

Or it can be like trying to get up the nerve to approach an attractive member of the opposite sex at a party. Although in the case of networking, you usually don’t have any liquid courage to make it easier.

Networking also yields better results than attending a massive job fair, the singles bar of the working world.

But leave no job lead un-turned.

Even if the lead doesn’t turn out to be your dream job, the contacts you make from it could lead you to a more compatible job.

This is kind of like going on a blind date and instead end up falling for your date’s roommate instead.

Time to Flirt!

Once you’ve searched and found job openings that are right for you, it’s now time for the seduction scene.

You must spend some time fixing up your resume to make it more attractive to potential employers.

A resume is the occupational equivalent to flirting in the dating world.

The purpose of a resume is not to get a job, but to land a first-round interview. Just like the purpose of flirting is not to get a marriage commitment, but to land a first date.

Your resume should target the position for which you are applying.

For instance, instead of listing every job you’ve had since babysitter or lifeguard, list only the most relevant jobs. Or those where you developed strong transferable skills necessary to be successful in the available position.

If the “flirting” works, the seduction game continues with the first interview (i.e. the first date).

Do Your Research

If you’re being fixed up with someone, usually before the date you try to get the low-down from your friend the matchmaker on what the other person is really like.

It’s necessary to know a little background information about the potential match before meeting them. This helps you determine if the person has any of the qualities you’re looking for in a mate.

You want to do the same before meeting a recruiter or potential employer for the first time. In fact, your research should be even more thorough when it comes to preparing for your screening interview.

The research you do on the company before the interview not only will impress the interviewer, but will also help you determine if it’s a close match to your interests and values. (And, unlike in dating, it won’t be seen as stalking.)

Ask Lots of Questions!

Once you get past the whole “What am I going to wear?!” dilemma (which can be stressful since first impressions count, both on a first date and in a job interview), it’s time to see if the chemistry is there!

Both a first date and an interview is the time to determine if your personalities click with each other.

Questions help in determining if there’s a connection.

Keep in mind that the interview is a two-way street.

You must ask thoughtful questions to decide if this is a job you want to pursue further.

Not having questions about the job or the company would indicate a lack of interest in the job.

You wouldn’t go on a date and not ask the other person any questions about themselves, would you?

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

We all know that men and women communicate differently when interacting with each other. They also perform differently from each other in job interviews.

Men are more confident (and sometimes overly confident) when talking about themselves in the interview. Maybe it’s because they get a lot of practice from dating since men often treat a first date like a job interview.

They tend to talk about themselves because, since women ask their dates many questions, men think women want to hear all about them and hope they will impress the women in the process.

Many times, women are asking questions because they want to be asked the same questions by their dates.

Women feel it’s impolite to just initiate a conversation about themselves.

Some women aren’t as confident as men are in an interview because they don’t feel comfortable tooting their own horn.

During the job interview, women should highlight their skills and accomplishments by giving specific examples and relaying that into how they can make a contribution to the company.

Men should do the same while also asking more questions about what would be expected of them in the job.

Say “Thank You”

Hopefully, if the chemistry is there, your screening interview will lead to a second-round interview.

It’s important to follow-up the first interview with a thank you letter. This is the same as the “I had a great time last night” phone call or text after an amazing date.

Make sure you send a thank you letter within 24 to 48 hours. In it be sure to reiterate your skills and your continued interest in the job.

Once you’ve done that, move on with your job search.

Continue interviewing with other companies because it may take weeks to get a call back from the first company. Just like it may take weeks to get a call back from last night’s amazing date.

Ready to Go Steady?

After going through several rounds of increasingly intensive interviews, you finally get a job offer, the equivalent to the question of “Want to be exclusive?”

If you look around, you can tell some people put more thought into which job they’ll take than into which person they’ll spend the rest of their lives and procreate with.

And yes, there are factors of a new job that need consideration over a few days to a couple of weeks before giving an answer.

But keep in mind the high-paying, high-profile job that lacks challenge and opportunities for advancement is the same as the tall, dark and handsome or beautiful, blonde and buxom prospect. Although sexy, it won’t necessarily make you happy in the long run.

You need to ask yourself if you’ll love at least 60% of the day-to-day tasks of the job. If so, you could have a keeper on your hands!

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