Tag: interview tips


Who Needs a Day Off From 2020?

I know I sure could use a day off from 2020! For the first time in a long time, I’m experiencing writers block for this blog, and I just need a little time off from trying to come up with my next topic.

This year has been so eventful, but not in a good way. Therefore, I’ve had plenty to write about, especially on the topic of doing a job search in the middle of a pandemic. But I’m burned out right now.

I love to write, and I’m passionate about sharing my expertise for those who are in need of career help. But for next week’s holiday I’m going to spend some time doing some other things I’m passionate about. And hopefully by the time I return from Thanksgiving, I’ll be refreshed with new topics to help you in your career.

If you have any specific topic requests, please email them directly to me or include them in the comment box below. This will help me to know what information you need most.

In the meantime, even though it’s not the end of the year yet, we can all agree we’re ready for 2020 to be over. Therefore, I’m going to go ahead and share my top 10 blog posts of 2020.

Enjoy!

Top 10 paNASH blog posts of the year (because we’re ready for 2020 to be over!)

1. How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

Your next interview could include questions like:

  • What did you do with your time while furloughed or laid off during the pandemic?
  • Did you draw unemployment when you could have found work?

These are all very legal questions, so you need to be prepared for them and know how to answer them! Click here to find out how.

2. What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

Do you have a back-up plan if an event like a pandemic disrupts your career? Click here to learn how to adapt and pivot in your career.

3. How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

The number of Zoom and phone interviews will continue to rise even after the pandemic due to their convenience and cost effectiveness. Click here to learn how to ensure things run smoothly for your next remote interview.

4. LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

There is an etiquette to building your network on LinkedIn. If you fail to follow this etiquette, you’ll likely turn off the people you want to connect with most. Click here for six LinkedIn etiquette rules to help you make a good first impression.

5. How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic

How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic

“Emotions are the worst advisors,” says Serena Williams’s coach Peter Mouratoglou. Letting emotions like fear or panic guide your career decisions can lead to some big career mistakes. Click here to learn how to avoid these mistakes and not panic.

6. How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

Are you one of the 90% of job seekers who don’t send a thank you note after your job interview?

A thank you note should be part of your job search strategy, but there’s a certain way to write professional thank you notes, which look and feel different from personal thank you notes.

Click here to learn how to write them, when to send them, and more.

7. What Are the Best Alternatives to Online Job Boards?

What Are the Best Alternatives to Online Job Boards?

Are you using the same old job boards everyone else uses but never find what you’re really looking for? Click here to learn about five alternatives to the oversaturated job boards so you can find more relevant opportunities.

8. Getting Laid Off? The #1 Thing to Ask for When You Leave

Getting Laid Off? The #1 Thing to Ask for When You Leave

When you’re getting laid off, you no longer have anything to lose with your employer. As a result, there’s something you should try to negotiate as part of your severance package to help you get back on your feet quicker. Click here to find out what it is and how to negotiate for it.

9. How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

Recruiters are turned off by desperate job candidates, and they can recognize desperation just from your LinkedIn profile. Click here for the four things you should stop doing on LinkedIn so you won’t appear desperate.

10. How to Improve Your Career During a Pandemic: 15 Resources

How to Improve Your Career During a Pandemic: 15 Resources

Click here for ten more posts on how to manage your career and job search in the midst of a pandemic.

Stay tuned

My posts will return following the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, as 2020 wraps up and we transition to a new year, there will be less need to write on the topic of job searching during a pandemic.

Again, if you have requests for other career-related topics, please send them my way or include them in the comment box.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. When necessary, be physically distant but socially proximate with your loved ones.

2020

How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

Update: I failed to clarify early on in the original post that a type written thank you note should be sent via snail mail. Thank you to one of my readers for bringing this to my attention!

This is the month we celebrate thanksgiving. Therefore, it’s only fitting to have a blog post about thank you notes for your job interviews.

I remember my senior year of high school was when I first learned the art and etiquette of writing thank you notes. For each person who gave me a graduation gift, I sent a handwritten thank you note.

I also was a debutante at the time. Every debutante was required to write a thank you note to each hostess of every party thrown for us. There were probably about 25 or more parties over the course of a few months, with about five to ten hostesses for each party. When you do the math, you can guess how much my hand was probably hurting from all that writing.

In fact, I think I spent more time those last few weeks of senior year writing thank you notes, than I did preparing for final exams.

But in recent years, I’ve noticed a significant decline in the practice of writing thank you notes. I have several friends I’ve bought wedding and baby shower gifts for, but I’ve never received a thank you note from them. It doesn’t bother me personally. It just makes me sad how some forms of thanksgiving are dying out.

Thank you notes are a job search strategy

Not only do most people not send thank you notes for gifts anymore, they also don’t send them for job interviews. In fact, when I first started doing career coaching 21 years ago, only 10% of job seekers sent thank you notes following their interviews. And guess what? This statistic hasn’t changed much since then, even though most job seekers know they should send a note.

But when it comes to your job search, you shouldn’t view thank you notes as a formality. Instead, view them as a strategy to further market yourself to the employer, even after the interview is over.

Don’t send handwritten thank you notes

The job seekers who do send thank you notes, often send handwritten ones. And some career coaches will even tell their clients to handwrite them. I don’t recommend this at all for a couple of reasons.

One, this is not a personal friend you’re sending a note to. You’re sending it to a professional business contact. The look and feel of your thank you note should reflect this.

Two, and most importantly, a handwritten note doesn’t give you the space you need to further sell yourself.

A typewritten note, on the other hand, gives you the space and opportunity to reiterate the things you want the employer to remember about you. This is especially important if you’re one of the first people they interview, or if you’re the one who falls in the middle.

A typewritten note also gives you the chance to mention anything you didn’t get the opportunity to discuss in the interview like you’d hoped.

How to format your thank you notes

So how should you format your typewritten thank you note?

You want it to be in the same format as your cover letter, which includes all the necessary pieces of information before the greeting. And remember, your thank you note is actually a business letter, just like your cover letter is. Therefore, you should have a colon after your greeting instead of a comma. A colon after the greeting distinguishes a business letter from a personal letter.

Who to send thank you notes to

Not only should you send a thank you letter to the main person you interview with, you should also send one to everyone from the company who participated in your interview. For example, if you interviewed with a search committee, you should send one to each person on the committee, and not just the chair of the committee.

Slightly edit each letter to personalize it so the reader knows you didn’t just send the same form letter to everyone.

When to send thank you notes

Always send your thank you note within 24 to 48 hours of your job interview.

In the meantime, you can also send a thank you email immediately after the interview. Just always make sure to follow up with a thank you letter via snail mail.

Conclusion

It’s important to show your gratitude for the opportunity of an interview. Doing so will make you stand out from those who don’t.

Related posts

Why You Need to Be Ready For Anything in Your Next Interview

Last week I wrote a post about possible questions you may face in your next interview. If you’re looking for work during the pandemic, you need to be ready to answer such questions. The questions I covered included:

  • What did you do with your time while laid off or furloughed during the pandemic?
  • Did you draw unemployment when you could’ve found work?

Some readers felt the second question was what they called, “off-putting.” I agree it’s a very blunt question. But it’s not illegal, nor is it inappropriate.

In fact, it’s a valid question for any company spending five to six figures in salary on a new employee. Especially if you consider how many people opted for unemployment in the early months of the pandemic, instead of taking job offers.

If you’re able to show you’ve spent your time wisely during the quarantine, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. But for those who haven’t, can you blame the company for wanting to ask such a question?

Anything can happen in an interview

Job candidates have to be ready for anything in the interview. This includes:

  • Questions to test how you handle stress or how quickly you can think on your feet
  • Behavioral interview questions
  • Illegal questions the interviewer should know better than to ask but still does
  • Impromptu presentations or projects
  • And more

In fact, in my own past job searches, I’ve ran into some of the above situations.

Early in my career, I had an interview where I was given 45 minutes to come up with a program that could be implemented in the company. Then I had to present my idea to the interviewers. I was not told before the interview this would be part of the screening process.

On another occasion, I was asked an interview question that didn’t seem odd at first, but quickly turned odd. I was asked, “If I were to go to your list of bookmarks in your internet browser, what web sites would I see listed?”

I answered, “You’d see bookmarked sites related to my work, such as good resources for clients, and professional association sites related to my industry.”

Then the interviewer said to me, “Well, if you went to mine you wouldn’t see any, because I don’t spend my time playing on the internet!”

I figured it was best not to react to her statement. Instead, I smiled through the awkwardness, and quietly waited for the next question.

In addition, while observing other interviewers, I’ve heard C-suite executives ask candidates illegal questions, either because they didn’t know the questions were illegal, or they ignored HR’s recommendations on what not to ask.

And I’ve heard interviewers ask what I call “think-fast” questions like, “How would you describe the color purple to someone who was born blind?” I usually throw in a few of these “think-fast” questions when doing mock interviews with my clients to better prepare them.

Be ready for your next interview

Again, I say all this because job seekers have to be ready for anything in their next interview. Questions like the ones from last week’s post are going to become more common. HR experts encourage employers to ask them, and rightly so.

It’s up to you how you want to react to and handle these questions in your next interview. This can include the suggestions I made last week. And it can include asking questions of your own, which you should be doing anyway. Just make sure you yourself aren’t off-putting, even if the interviewer is.

Once you’ve done your research on the company, shown you haven’t wasted your time, gotten your own questions answered in the interview, and received a job offer, then you can decide if the company’s off-putting approach will be a factor for you when making your decision.

Related posts and sources:

How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

If you’re interviewing for a new job due to a COVID-related job loss, you want to of course prepare for commonly-asked interview questions. But you also need to prepare for some new interview questions brought on by the current pandemic.

These pandemic interview questions could include:

  • What did you do with your time while laid off or furloughed during the pandemic?
  • Did you draw unemployment when you could’ve found work?

These are not illegal questions. My friend and colleague Cindy Beresh-Bryant, owner of HR Solutions by Design LLC, verifies these questions not only are legal, but are also very good questions for employers to ask. Therefore, you should be ready for them. Here’s how to answer them.

Answering pandemic interview questions

1. Be honest

First and foremost, always be honest in your answers to these and any other interview questions. Just don’t be too honest. If you didn’t use your time as wisely as you’d intended, you don’t need to go into detail about what you did. No need to say you sat on the couch eating chips and watching Tiger King on Netflix.

But if you’re in an interview, you obviously did something to help you land the interview. And if all you did during your time is conduct a job search, then discuss the efforts you took to help you land the interview. This includes updating your resume and reconnecting with your network through Zoom conversations.

If you have a valid reason for choosing to draw unemployment instead of finding work, be honest and briefly explain. For example, maybe you wanted some time away from work to upgrade your skills by taking online courses. Or you wanted to explore a new career and plan for a career change.

You can even talk about any personal development things you did during quarantine. For example, maybe you worked on a passion project or side hustle, volunteered in your community, exercised more, ate better, or spent quality time with friends and family.

When discussing this, you want to avoid sharing anything too personal that employers legally aren’t allowed to ask you about, or make hiring decisions on. For example, you don’t necessarily want to indicate which organization you were volunteering for, the amount of weight you were trying to lose while exercising, any health issue you were trying to eat better for, or the number of children you have and were spending time with.

2. Show results

In addition to showing how you’ve spent your time during quarantine, you want to show how those activities have made you a better person or better employee.

For instance, have the skills you’ve learned made you better prepared for the job? Have your improved eating and exercise habits given you more energy for work? Have you learned to be more creative and productive from the overall experience?

Results are always of most interest to employers, especially if you can quantify any of your results. Showing your positive results from your quarantine is the same concept I’ve previously discussed about emphasizing the results of your work in your past jobs.

3. Tell your story

These results make you stand out even more when you can tell the story that goes with them. Stories are what make you memorable to the interviewer, because no one else has the same stories as you.

Yes, “we’re all in this together,” and many people are experiencing job loss because of it. But everybody’s stories are different. It’s your unique stories that set you apart from the other candidates and burn a memory into the interviewer’s mind.

To learn how to put your results into a story format, check out my post, “The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions.”

Conclusion

These are unusual times we’re living in, especially in regards to work. The way work is done is changing fast, and will probably never be the same. The same goes for the hiring process. There will be new interview methods, your job interviews will be remote, and you’ll probably get questions you’ve never had to answer before.

Be prepared for questions like those above, and be aware of the illegal questions you shouldn’t have to answer (i.e. “Have you had any recent health issues?”). (Click here for a complete list of interview questions currently considered illegal.)

Follow the tips outlined here and in the resources below, and you’ll improve your chances of acing your next interview.

Related posts

How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

I have a few clients who’ve done video interviews in recent weeks due to COVID-19. While phone and video interviews are nothing new, at least not to first-round interview screenings, they’ve temporarily replaced all in-person job interviews during the quarantine.

Companies are likely to continue holding remote interviews throughout the different “re-entry” phases. And they’re likely to continue using them even after the pandemic is behind us. This is simply because it saves the company a lot of money, especially in travel reimbursement expenses for non-local candidates.

Job interviews are already stressful. Throwing into the mix a technology platform that doesn’t always work perfectly can make it even more nerve wracking.

Here are some tips to help make your next remote interview run more smoothly, so you can focus on landing the offer.

Tips for video interviews

When undergoing video interviews, you’ll want to:

  • Have a strong internet connection. Make sure you’re computer is close to your router. For an even better experience, you may want to use an Ethernet port to hardwire your computer to the router.
  • Close out any programs or apps running in the background. For the best experience, I suggest using Google Chrome as your browser.
  • Have everything set up and ready to go well before the interview time. This includes having already downloaded any necessary software for the given platform.
  • Use a headset or earbuds for clearer audio.
  • Look directly at your webcam instead of your screen. This allows you to maintain good eye contact and reduce distractions from other things popping up on your screen. Practice this with a friend prior to your interview.
  • Use the “share screen” option when showing samples of your work from your online portfolio. Make sure you don’t use this option for too long, and ask for permission first before sharing your screen.
  • Get comfortable with any silence caused by a delay or lag time in the connection. Waiting it out instead of trying to fill the silence will keep you from interrupting or talking over the interviewer.
  • Be mindful of your background. Make sure it’s not distracting and doesn’t reveal anything the interviewer may consider questionable.
  • Keep a notepad next to your computer so you can take some notes. Just don’t take so many notes you forsake too much eye contact.
  • Let family members know not to interrupt you, and put pets in another room.
  • Silence your cell phone.

Tips for phone interviews

Many of the above tips can apply to phone interviews as well. I this situation, you’ll also want to:

  • Use the interviewer’s name more frequently in your conversation. This is especially necessary when you have more than one interviewer on the line.
  • Smile, even though they can’t see you. They’ll still be able to hear your enthusiasm for the job when you’re smiling as you talk.
  • Get comfortable with silence and pauses. They may take notes and need some time between your answer and their next question to finish writing down those notes. When you’re done with your answer, stop talking and resist the urge to fill the silence. Wait patiently for them to respond.
  • Disable your call waiting in your call settings.
  • Reduce all chances of background noise if using your phone on speaker. This means disabling any alarms or Alexa devices that could possibly go off during the call.

Conclusion

By taking the steps above, you’ll be better prepared, less stressed, and more focused. For other interview tips, see related resources listed below.

Related resources

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

Free video: The Most Common Job Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

On-demand video course: Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety (free e-book included)