Tag: interview prep


How to Know When It’s Time to Get Career Help

My freshman year of college I found myself struggling in my college algebra class. In fact, my entire class was struggling.

That’s because our professor always let us out of class 20 minutes early and never assigned us any homework. At first we all thought this was great! What college freshman wouldn’t?

But when it came time for final exams, it wasn’t so great. None of us were prepared for the common final.

I was falling behind in my understanding of the material due to the professor’s teaching methods. But it was also my fault because I didn’t demand he spend more time going over sample problems.

And I didn’t seek tutoring, at least not right away.

I was embarrassed to get tutoring and put it off until it was almost too late.

Once I got help, I realized there was no way I could expect a tutor to teach me 12-15 weeks worth of college algebra in just three sessions to prepare me for the final.

I also couldn’t expect to crash study and do well on the exam.

By some miracle, the common final wasn’t as challenging as expected, and I squeaked by with a passing grade. But my GPA that semester was the lowest of my entire college career.

When I later became a college career adviser and professor, I noticed two different groups of students who took advantage of tutoring services.

  • The students who waited until right before an exam to seek tutoring.
  • The ones who attended tutoring sessions all semester in preparation for the big day of finals.

One group consisted of A students. The other consisted of D and F students. (You rarely saw any B or C students getting tutored.) Can you guess which group was the A students?

You Can’t Afford Not to Seek Career Help

I was reminded of this scenario in a recent conversation with a new client. She commented on how much she’s learning from our career coaching sessions. And how it’s something she should’ve done a long time ago.

Now she sees the mistakes she’s been making in networking and interviewing. She concludes this is what’s cost her some important potential connections and even some job offers.

She also commented on how much time it takes to learn and apply what we’ve been covering.

In other words, it’s not something you can wait to do until right before a job interview. Or right before you have to send off a resume.

Yet, I have so many people who wait to contact me after they see a job posted or have an interview scheduled.

In the case where they see a job posted, usually by the time they do all the things necessary to get their resume up to par, the posting has already closed.

You can’t write a resume in an hour, a day, or even a week. It requires numerous revisions which take time.

Once you have an interview scheduled, you shouldn’t spend your time learning how to prepare for an interview. You should already know how so you can spend your time applying what you’ve learned.

It’s too overwhelming to try to learn so much information in a short amount of time, while trying to also do your research on the company, prepare for your questions, and shop for something to wear.

Don’t Risk Making Bad Career Decisions

All of this is especially true for those of you who are feeling a desperate need to leave a bad job situation.

So many people come to me after they’ve reached their breaking point in their job or their business. They’re so ready for a much-needed change.

But it’s at this point they run the risk of making bad career decisions, even with the help of a career coach. It’s because they’re making these decisions while emotional and before putting a strategic plan in place.

I know people who were on the fence as to whether they should invest in career coaching or not. Then they were forced to make a decision because they got a call for a job interview the next day and now needed to know how to improve their interview skills. While I could give them some tips, I couldn’t cram all the info I had to share in one session.

They’re no different than me when I finally sought tutoring. But unlike my final exam, the grade for an interview is always pass/fail, and only one candidate passes.

You Can’t Just Wing It!

Interviewing is a skill you should already have in your back pocket. You should be so schooled in it you’ll be ready for a job interview at a moment’s notice.

And don’t think you can just go in and wing it. This approach may have worked for you in your high school jobs or entry-level jobs you’ve gotten in the past. But the further along you are in your career, the more is going to be expected of you in an interview.

It’s never too early to learn how to interview well. The skill comes in handy not just for sporadic interviews but also for impromptu performance reviews, promotion opportunities, salary negotiations, etc.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Perfecting Your Job Search Skills

While it may not always be the right time to leave a desperate situation, it’s always the right time to prepare for your exit. Knowing how to update your resume and interview well are the first steps in doing so. Being armed with this knowledge will help you get out of a bad job sooner than later.

When you do have to pull the trigger, make sure you always aim before firing.

Some signs it’s time to get career help before it’s too late include:

  • You’re already entertaining the idea of leaving your current job for something else.
  • You’re experiencing the beginning of physical illness due to a stressful or toxic work environment.
  • It just became clear there’s no longer room for you to grow or advance.
  • You can’t picture yourself in the same job or same company in the next 1-3 years.
  • Rumors about a downsize are circulating at your company.

You don’t wait until you’re in a car accident to buy auto insurance. And you don’t wait until you’re dead to see a doctor. So why would you wait until your career is collapsing to consult a career coach?

You can start today!

If you know your resume or interview skills are way too rusty and you need to be ready if you got a call requesting your resume or an interview tomorrow, you can start improving your skills today with paNASH’s on-demand courses.

These courses include Resumes That Get You The Interview and Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety. They’re available 24/7 for you to work at your own pace.

You can also get one-on-one career help now instead of waiting until the last minute. Complete the paNASH intake form to get started.

There’s no need to feel embarrassed about any past career mistakes or interview failures. Instead, you can focus on learning how to not just improve your job search skills, but also land better job offers and negotiate a better salary.

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The One Surprising Tip That Guarantees a Good Interview

If you’re going through a job search, you know how competitive the interview process can be. And you’d probably like to know some ways to increase your chances of beating out the competition for an offer.

Below is a proven interview hack that’s been tremendously successful in my own career.


My Favorite Interview Hack

My favorite interview hack is winning the interview with the questions YOU ask!

I vividly remember my interview for my very first job out of grad school.

I went in with a list of questions based on my research of the job and the organization. My list was pretty long, so I assumed I wouldn’t have time to get all of my questions answered.

However, they didn’t have a lot of questions for me. Therefore, I had the time to ask all my questions on my list. And I got to ask additional ones that came up in conversation.

I left the interview thinking I probably wouldn’t get an offer since they didn’t ask me very many questions.

But a week later I got the offer! When I accepted it, I asked my interviewers what made them choose me from the other candidates.

Their response:

“It was the questions you asked. Your questions showed us not only how knowledgeable you are, but also how much you care about the people you’ll serve in this role.”


The Questions You Should Ask

So, what kind of questions should you ask in your job interviews?

There are six categories of questions you should ask (because interviewing is a two-way street!):

1. Questions you need to have answered to determine fit/questions related to the organization’s culture.

For example:

“How do you foster an employee’s connection to the organization?”

“How do you motivate your employees?”

Or even “Do employees typically eat lunch together or at their desks?” (this one will tell you a lot about the company culture!).

You need to ask any question (within reason) that will help you decide if the company’s culture is something you can devote 40+ hours of your life per week to.


2. Questions that come up in the research you do on the company.

Of course you probably already know how important it is to research a company before your interview. Doing so will result in questions that will be specific to the company. These questions will also make it obvious you did your research, and therefore will show you have a genuine interest in the company.

And don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, especially if they exhibit your work ethic.

For instance, in my interview, I wanted to know how one of the practices I would be required to carry out in the job wasn’t in direct violation of a federal law common to that industry (which it initially seemed to be). This gave them the chance to explain their legal and legitimate loophole that kept them in compliance with the law.

I think this was the question that impressed them the most.


3. Questions to determine future opportunities for advancement.

For example, “What opportunities are available for advancement?”

This helps you know if you might have a future at the company and shows you’re interested enough to want to stay long-term.


4. Questions to determine their hiring timeline.

Okay, these questions are really just for you and your own sanity.

When candidates go on interviews and then don’t hear anything back either way, they freak out.

Yes, it’s stressful, and also rude of the company to keep you hanging.

So, before you leave the interview, you should ask:

  • What is your deadline for making an offer?
  • How firm is that deadline?
  • Are you going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy, or just the candidate receiving the offer?

This way you won’t spend your time and energy fretting over what they decided.


Here’s where it gets good!

These last two types of questions you should ask are the real hacks!

5. Questions to show your initiative and to help them visualize you in the job.

For instance:

“What results would you like to see from me in the first 90 days of the job?”

“What will be the first projects I’ll work on once hired?”

Or “When we sit down to discuss my performance a year from now, what will success look like?”

Wording questions this way helps them picture YOU as the person in the job!


6. Questions to get them to verbalize what they like about you.

In #5, it was all about helping them visualize. Now you need to get them to verbalize!

You want them to convince YOU why they should hire you, which will in turn convince them to hire you. (Yeah, that undergraduate degree I got in psychology is really paying off here!)

For example, “What part of my resume stands out to you the most?” or “What made you choose to interview me out of all the other applicants?”

Some career coaches will recommend you ask questions such as, “Are there any concerns you have about my qualifications?”

While this question is good in possibly providing you an immediate opportunity to address any of their concerns, it can also backfire on you. 

Remember, you’re supposed to highlight your strengths in an interview. Not draw attention to your weaknesses. This question is dangerous in that it immediately draws the interviewer’s attention to your weaknesses.

Instead, you want to ask questions that force the interviewer to not only focus on your strengths, but to also get them to repeat your strengths back to you. Doing so further convinces them of your capabilities.


Always Have Questions!

You should always have questions of your own prepared for an interview because interviewing is a two-way street.

When you’re asked, “What questions do you have for us?” never say, “None.” If so, you’re for sure to lose the job to someone who shows more interest with their questions.

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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 say ‘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.

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7 Things You Need to Know About Recruiters

Attention job seekers: it’s important to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!

This is true for anyone (i.e. an artist, a freelancer, etc.). And it’s also true for those hoping to land the job of their dreams.

But one of the biggest mistakes I see job seekers make is not putting themselves in the recruiter’s shoes.

Below I want to teach you what you need to know about recruiters. I want to help you get in their minds so you can succeed in your next interview.

Disclaimer:  the following does not apply to all recruiters.

Let’s jump right in!

Recruiters are not looking for reasons to keep your resume. They’re looking for reasons to throw out your resume.

I always share this whenever I do a resume workshop. I also speak to this in my video guide Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed. Recruiters will make decisions about your resume based on some of the most nit-picky things.

For example, they might throw your resume out if your bullets from one section of your resume aren’t lined up with the bullets in another section of your resume. This may be especially true if you’re applying for a job that requires you to be detail-oriented. The inconsistency reveals you’re actually NOT detail-oriented.

Other inconsistencies such as not having all your headings in the same font size and format give them a reason to throw out your resume. And of course, so do misspellings and grammatical errors.

Why do recruiters do this? With the volume of resumes received for each job, recruiters have to narrow down their options to something more manageable given all their additional job responsibilities.

How to respond:

Do everything you can to ensure your resume is the best it can be. This means leaving off the things you shouldn’t include and emphasizing the things you should.

To learn more, check out my video guide Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed.

Sometimes recruiters will make decisions regarding your resume just based on your contact info.

As a result of the above, it’s quicker for a recruiter to just look at your contact info at the top of your resume and make a quick decision.

If your address shows you’re out-of-state, they’ll assume you’ll need relocation expenses covered. And the company may want to try to avoid that added expense if at all possible. So your resume gets tossed.

If you’re address indicates you’re local, this too can sometimes be a liability. For instance, if the recruiter recognizes your street name as part of a more well to-do area of town, the assumption could be the company won’t be able to afford your salary requirements.

How to respond:

It’s no longer required or necessary to have your address on your resume as long as you have your phone number and an email address (one with a professional-sounding handle!).

If you still want to put your mailing address on your resume, I suggest moving your contact info to the bottom of your resume.

Recruiters are no longer as concerned with what looks like “job hopping” on your resume as they once were.

Or at least they shouldn’t be.

But old habits are hard to break, so I’m sure there are some recruiters who still frown upon job hopping.

However, recruiters are now told they need to be more flexible when considering job hopping.

Why? There are a couple of valid reasons.

One, after the economy tanked in 2008, many people who lost their jobs took whatever jobs they could get at the time to survive. As soon as they were able to find better work, they left what they considered to be temporary work. This created some short-term job situations that were not always within the candidate’s control.

Two, most millennials who are now a vibrant part of the workforce don’t typically stay with a job they view as “dead-end” for very long (whether for good or bad).

One recruiter recently told me the average millennial will leave their job within 8-12 months if they’re not happy. (Brett Cenkus might be onto the reason why in his article “Millennials Will Work Hard, Just Not for Your Crappy Job“.)

How to respond:

Relax if you’re concerned about being seen as a job-hopper. It’s not going to be as big of a deal as you think.

And remember, you don’t have to include every job you’ve ever had on your resume. You can just include the ones that are relevant to the position under a heading called “Relevant Experience”

Recruiters can be just as nervous in the interview as you are.

I discussed this in my previous post when I gave a critique of the real interviews featured on CNBC’s new show, The Job Interview.

Recruiters are nervous because they know you’re also nervous. They’re nervous for you because they want you to do a good job. They’re rooting for you.

And they’re nervous they’ll make a costly mistake and hire the wrong person. They’re job performance could be dependent upon their hiring decision.

How to respond:

Acknowledge that recruiters can also be nervous. Doing so will help calm your own nerves too.

Approach the interview in a way that assures them you can do the job and solve the problem they need the candidate to solve in the job. You can do this by providing specific examples of how you’ve solved similar problems in the past.

I teach you the method for doing this in my video guides Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety and The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers: Stand Out Above Your Competition.

Recruiters don’t see your over-qualifications as an asset. Instead, they see them as a liability.

Don’t assume that if the job only requires a bachelor’s degree your MBA will give you the competitive edge.

And if they’re seeking someone with 10 years of experience and you have 15, that’s not going to give you a competitive edge either.

Instead, both of the above will often be viewed by the recruiter as liabilities. They’ll assume they won’t be able to afford you and will move on to the next applicant.

How to respond:

If the job you really want doesn’t either require or prefer an advanced degree, leave it off your resume. Just like you don’t have to include every job you’ve ever had on your resume, you also don’t have to include every degree or certification.

If you have a few more years of experience than what’s required, just say you have, for example, 10+ years for a 10 year experience requirement.

Neither of these responses is considered lying. The goal is to get your resume through the resume filtering software and to secure the job interview. Once you do that, then you can further explain why you’re interested in the job and why you’re willing to work at a lower level to achieve your career goals.

Recruiters will assume you’re not interested in the job or the company if you don’t ask them any questions during the interview.

I’ve said this time and time again, but it’s always worth repeating.

You MUST have questions of your own prepared in an interview. This is necessary for two main reasons:

  1. You have to show you’re genuinely interested in the job. Not asking questions shows you couldn’t care less about it. The offer will always go to the person who’s enthusiastic about the company and the position.
  2. You have to get the answers you need to determine if the job is a good fit for you. Remember interviewing is a two way street!

How to respond:

You can actually WIN the interview by asking the right kind of questions instead of the same old ones other candidates ask. Click here to know what questions you should ask to secure the job offer.

Recruiters do use LinkedIn to find candidates.

People often ask me, do people really find jobs on LinkedIn? The answer is yes. And recruiters often find YOU on LinkedIn because they’re using it daily to search for qualified candidates.

Therefore, the real question is, do you show up in the recruiters’ searches for the type of job you want?

If you’re like most people and all you’ve ever done on LinkedIn is create a profile with limited info and did nothing else with it, your answer is probably no.

How to respond:

You need to fill out your profile in full and make it keyword-rich. Use every field as a potential place to include the keywords you think the recruiter will be searching. (Here’s a hint:  you’ll find those keywords in the job ads of your preferred job.)

But there are other things you can do with LinkedIn to increase your chances of being seen by the right recruiters and finding the job you want. Too many things to cover in this post.

I typically spend a good hour to an hour and a half one-on-one with my clients showing them all they can do with the LinkedIn platform. They’re usually amazed at what all they can do with it.

If interested in learning more about how to use LinkedIn, fill out my intake form at http://bit.ly/paNASHintake.

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