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Why the First Impression Isn’t Always the Right Impression

When you’re a hiring manager or part of your supervisory duties is to interview candidates for your team, then there’s a good chance that you pay attention to the first impression someone gives you. If someone comes into the interview looking tired, disheveled, or they send you a negative vibe, you probably won’t put much weight on their answers. Yet far too many hiring managers are finding that candidates are able to “fake” a good first impression, causing what ends up to be a big hiring mistake.

Just about everyone who is responsible for hiring has made a bad hire or two over the years. It can rob you of your confidence, cause long-term problems for your team, and then there’s the financial costs of training someone you end up not wanting to keep. Here’s how you can avoid the trap of only seeing one side of a candidate during an interview.

#1. Don’t focus on their traits. Focus on the candidate’s behaviors instead. Anyone with a few bucks can polish an application to make it look like a million bucks. Look at their behavioral cues to see if they match. If they say they’re energetic, is the interview room filled with positive energy? Or do you feel like you need an IV filled with scotch once you’re through?

#2. Focus on what they perceive to be failure. Questions about a candidate’s weakness or how they responded to failure are common during the interview process. The goal here is to see if the candidate was able to learn from their mistakes. If all you’re hearing is a bunch of excuses as a response, then maybe it’s time for your dog to “accidentally” chew up their application.

#3. Handling conflict is more important than being a “team player.” Every job requires some level of interpersonal interactions. Instead of talking about the need to work with others, listen for labels that they may assign to people with challenging personalities. Relationships are more complex than someone “being difficult” or “micromanaging me,” so look for complex answers about how conflict is handled for better results.

#4. Listen to the body language. It is easy to confuse confidence with arrogance. It’s also equally easy to confuse defensiveness or indifference with confidence. Sometimes the most competent people sit back, cross their arms, and listen more to what you have to say. That’s because they’re reading you to see if you’d be a good candidate as an employer. If someone is invading the space of others, not making eye contact, or disguising a smile with a sneer, then what you’ve got on your hands is an attitude of contempt. You don’t want that in the workplace.

#5. Look for something substantive. Many people are skilled enough to adapt their personality, body language, and overall attitude to what they think you’re going to want in an employee. Many managers see this and stop looking for substantive answers because they’ve been seduced by how articulate and eloquent the candidate before them happens to be. If someone can edit themselves in an interview, then they can become a very manipulative employee in your office.

The goal of an interview is to make sure you get the assessment of a potential candidate as correct as possible. We all have gut feelings that we follow and other subconscious influences that affect our choices. With these tips in mind, however, you can help to make sure that the first impression you receive is an authentic one instead of one that was created for your benefit.

6 Ways You Can Spot a Bad Boss During an Interview

2 out of 3 former employees of the average company say that the reason why they left their job was because they had a bad boss. Whether that perception is justified or not, it is just as important to avoid having a bad boss as it is to find a job you are passionate about to reduce the amount of stress your employment places on your life. During an interview, you’re often trying to convince a boss that you’re the best prospect for an open position, right?

But what if you took that interview opportunity to determine if that boss was the right type of supervisor for you? Bad bosses will give you red flags during an interview that can be spotted. If you can see them, then you can avoid a potentially devastating employment situation. Here are the ways you can spot a bad boss during your next interview.

#1. Listen to your gut. Most people know that a boss is going to be a bad one just by their natural instincts. The only problem is that most of us are willing to ignore this instinct because we need to earn a paycheck to support ourselves and our family. There’s a good chance that if you take a job with a bad boss, you’ll be out of work in 6 months or less anyway, so listen to your instincts. Don’t take a job your gut is telling you to avoid.

#2. Be aware of personality conflicts. Certain personalities naturally conflict with each other because of the way information is given and received. People who are more dominant will struggle to work with people who are more controlling. People who are more supportive can struggle to work with people who need tremendous amounts of information to make a decision. Know yourself and then look for cues from the boss about their personality. If you sense conflict, then get out of there because you’ll have a communication gap as long as you report to that boss.

#3. Have the interviewer describe the actual job requirements. If you ask a boss about their leadership style or direct questions about their personality, you probably won’t receive a 100% authentic answer. Interviewers are selling a job opening that they may be desperate to fill. They’ll tell you virtually anything you want to hear if they think you’re a top candidate. Ask instead about what a worker does every day in this position. Think about how you’ll learn the job. By making your questions about the job instead of the boss, you’ll both be able to get a clear picture of what you’d look like in that job.

#4. Know the company. Many candidates fail on one important step of the interviewing process: they don’t research the company. Just about everything you need to know about an open position can be found on a company’s website, through reviews on a site like LinkedIn, or even a couple of targeted Google searches. You should know before going into an interview whether or not you’ll be a good fit on that team or within that organization.

#5. Show up early and ask questions. You should always show up 15-30 minutes for an interview. This will give you the chance to meet a few folks who might be working for the boss in question already. You can ask questions about what they like and don’t like about their job so you get a clearer picture of what to expect going into your interview.

#6. Language says a lot. How a boss treats you during an interview is likely how you’ll be treated when working for them. If the boss is defensive, aggressive, or tries to dominate you during an interview, even if it’s just in body language, then you’re more likely to be treated as an expendable resource. Look for a boss that is relaxed, somewhat conversational, and willing to engage in a dialogue to avoid many common red flags that are overlooked.

By paying attention to the red flags that bad bosses send out during the interview process, you can avoid many future headaches. Keep these tips in mind during your next interview and hopefully you’ll be able to find the dream job you’ve always wanted.

5 Ways to Avoid a Bad Boss In a Job Interview

Many people enter a job interview trying to impress the hiring manager on the other side of the table. The interview is really a two-way street that allows an applicant to see if a company really is a place that they’ll want to work! It’s also the chance to spot a bad boss before you accept a job offer. When you use these 5 methods to avoid a bad boss that you can spot in any interview, then you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary misery.

#1. There’s Bad Energy In the Office

My favorite job interview question was this: “How would you respond to an employee who was upset about their health care benefits being raised?” There were four other people in the room and after the question was asked, they all sat back in their chairs and crossed their arms. Two things became apparent: health care benefits at this company were being slashed AND no one was happy about it. If there’s bad energy in an office, there’s bound to be a bad office. Say a quick “Thank you!” and don’t look back.

#2. Your Interviewer Doesn’t Care… or Cares Too Much

On my very first job interview, the hiring manager asked if I wanted a soda. I declined. Then he asked me if I liked the sandwiches from the local deli in town. I did, so he offered to share part of his sandwich. I declined that too. Then he asked if I wanted to go out for drinks later. I got up and left. When an interviewer is disinterested, then he doesn’t care about the company and that’s a bad boss. If your interviewer is trying to be your buddy, then they’re desperate and that’s a sign of a bad boss as well.

#3. Where Do You See Yourself in 12 Months?

It’s a popular question that an interviewer will ask an applicant, but it’s more fun to turn that question around when you get the chance. “How would you define success in this position in 12 months?” I asked during an interview once. Her response was surprising. She’d drawn up a complete outline of her expectations for the new employee and what they would achieve. A bad boss has assumptions and preconceived notions about you that you’ll never really end up meeting. Stay far, far away.

#4. Does Your Interviewer Ramble?

The worst question I’ve ever been asked in an interview was this: “If you were a road sign, then which sign would you be and why?” Questions like this have no bearing on an interview unless the hiring manager holds a doctorate in psychology. For the average interview, it means that you’ve got a bad boss on your hands because they don’t know how to build an effective team. There’s a good chance you could become the boss in this situation, but there’s an equally good chance you’ll be treated for migraines in 3 months too.

#5. High Turnover Is Bad News

Some jobs have high turnover rates, like child protection workers. Other jobs have high turnover rates because of bad bosses. The interview is your chance to find out why the position opened up and what the company expects of the new employee. Try to chat up the team to see what is going on as well. If everyone is negative, defensive, and avoids you at all cost, then avoid that job at all costs.

These 5 signs can sometimes be hard to spot and you can still end up working for a bad boss, but these tips can reduce those chances dramatically. Use the interview as your own tool and you’ll be able to find your dream job sooner rather than later.

4 Tips to Ace the Interview

Searching for a job is a challenging experience for those who are new to the job market, or those who are returning after a long time. Since all employers and interviewers are different, there really is no uniform set of rules to follow while looking for a job.

However, it is important to follow general etiquette and to avoid making certain mistakes during your job search. How you present yourself during an interview and the little actions you take make a big impact on how the interviewer sees you and on whether or not you will actually get the job. If you have been on several interviews and have been unsuccessful, then there are things that you should be changing about how you are conducting your interviews. Here are a few tips to follow on your job search:

1. Research the company and job you are applying for

Before you go on the interview, you need to spend at least an hour researching the company. You should also be familiar with the job for which you’re being interviewed. Read the advertisement or job description and be prepared to discuss any aspect of it.

Write down any questions you have about the company or job. During the interview, you can ask the interviewer. Nothing impresses an interviewer more than showing how prepared you are.  

2. Study your resume and know everything on it

You should be prepared to answer any questions that the interviewer have about your resume. Your resume is the only thing that they have to go by in order to determine if you are the right person for the job. I have seen many interviewees stumbled because they could not elaborate about the things they wrote on their resume. Don’t let this happen to you.

3. Practice your answers to the most common interview questions

Find someone to role-play an interview with you. You don’t wan to come off like you have memorized a bunch of answers. The objective is to have a clear idea of what you are going to say so that you will sound intelligent and natural. Be prepared to discuss your past experiences, positions, roles and responsibilities in detail. It is important to get used to talking about your skills and experience.

4. Pay attention to the details

Regardless of what type of job your are interviewing for, you should dress appropriately. It is better to overdress than be under dress. It shows the hiring manager that you are taking this interview seriously. If you come in dressing sloppy and too casual, I wonder how you would look like once you get a job.  

Be sure you have correct directions to the company. It is not a bad idea to do a test drive before the interview day so that you will not get lost. You don’t need any additional stress during your interview.

Do bring copies of your resume to the interview. I have heard horror stories of candidates who forgot to bring their resumes. This might seem like a small oversight but everything counts during an interview.

Top 5 Questions to Ask During the Interview

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when they are in a job interview is that they think they only have to answer questions.  While answering correctly and succinctly any questions that your prospective employer asks; it is also imperative that the interviewee (that would be you) ask some questions also.  The fact is, an interview is a back and forth affair not just a one way street. 

Asking intelligent questions will not only make you look intelligent but also show the interviewer that you have done your homework and that you actually care about the job. 

In short, asking questions during your interview is imperative. With that in mind here are 5 questions that you should definitely ask any time you’re in the interview hot seat.

Question 1 – What do you look for in an excellent employee?

This will get you the info you need to know whether or not you’ve got the skills to keep your new boss smiling.  If you don’t have these skills or traits you will then know what you need to work on if you get the job. Important info to be sure.

Question 2 – What can I do to be a strong candidate for the position?

This question shows that you’re ready, willing and able to do what it takes to get the job and make it your own.  It will also impress your prospective new boss who hopefully will mention a few that describe you.

Question 3 – Do you see me as a candidate for the position?

Asking this question will give you (in most cases) an idea of what the interviewer thinks of you and your skills.  It will also give you the info for your next interview should you not get this job.

Question 4 – What are the company’s plans for the future.

Asking this question will show that you care (you should) and that you have done some research on the job you’re applying for. It can also show you if the company you’re interviewing for has what you want from an employer.

Question 5 – Where do we go from here?

The most important question of the 5.  This will tell you when to call, email or otherwise get in touch with the company next (hopefully to find out if you got the job).  If you’re lucky the answer may be that you GOT the job and the next step is to get started on the hiring paperwork.

There you have them.  5 questions that you should ask every time you’re in the interview chair and want to make a great impression.  Study them, practice them (and practice some responses too) and the next time you’re up for a new job you’ll be in a great position to get that new position. Good luck!

3 Reasons You Might Not Get a Call Back After a Job Interview

While everyone likes to think their job interview went off perfectly, the truth might be quite different. If you are waiting around for a phone call that is seemingly never coming, try to figure out what could have happened. Sometimes, the reason for you not getting the job is something you can work on, though that is not always the case. Look back on everything and figure out what could have brought you down in the interview. If it is something you can work on, try to better that area. Once you have improved upon yourself and begin becoming more attractive to employers, you will find that more are interested in you.

Reason 1 – Sometimes, the job simply is not for you. Possibly this is because you lack something major, like the necessary experience or education, but, no matter what, you were just not the person they were looking for. Even if this is the job you want, where you currently are might not have matched the level they are seeking. For these types of situations, it is best to seek out the experience and/or education required to completely succeed for the next interview. While that may seem difficult to some, it can be the difference that gets you your call back.

Reason 2 – Sometimes, the reason you are not getting the job is in the resume. Whether it is because you did not match their expectations of you or it was poorly constructed, this might be the thing holding you back. While that may be true, you cannot just go and trash it as it is a necessary part of the job search. Find out what is lacking and where improvements can be made, working on it as you go along. You can even reach out to a professional for assistance and knowledge you might not have.

Reason 3 – You are not the only one going after this job. There might be dozens of people after the same position, making it more difficult for you to stand out to the employer. Even if you are qualified and have a spectacular resume, the competition might not be in your favor. The large number of people trying for this same job might mean that there is someone better than you or even that the employer made a decision long before you came into the picture. This is in no way a reflection of you, just something you have to deal with when searching for jobs. If you want to raise your chances, though, make sure you and your resume are at the level they should be and try to get into the job as early as possible so that you can make an impression before there are too many people.

If you want to make an impression on an employer and not only get a call back, but a job, you need to better yourself as a whole. There are many reasons why employers look through you and to the next candidate, and those are things you must find out. Once you know what is holding you back, you can begin making the necessary changes and raising your chances of employment. While nothing is guaranteed, your chances of success do go up when you are more appealing to the employer.

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