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Some Things Your Job Interviewer Isn’t Telling You

Face it or not we all know that certain discretion are illegal when hiring someone; religion, sex, age, etc. However we also know that there’s a real world and there’s a “perfect world” and in the real world those who interview you can often turn you down for a job based on things that aren’t legal to turn you down for.

Interviewers aren’t always on the up and up and have tricks they use to find out more information on you that could make or break the hiring deal. Here are just a few tricks of the trade.

When you step into an office you may see pictures all around; especially of what appears to be spouses and children. What you may not know is that those pictures of kids may not even be your interviewer’s children and in fact, may be a ploy to get him/her a little more personal information about your own personal life. For instance if you see a photo of children you may say something like “Oh, are those your kids? They’re so sweet” and this will open up a personal conversation for you to start talking about your kids. This instantly gives them the ability to find out if you have young kids, older kids, no kids, etc. How can this play badly for you? Simple, many interviewers do not want a parent, especially a mother, with young children. Why? Because you will undoubtedly be called in to school or daycare for sickness; therefore missing work. You’re going to be asking for an extra few hours here or there or a day off for when your kids have things like field trips or the Halloween parade, an early soccer games, etc.; to them that is a definite negative attribute on your list. Is that legal? No. Does it happen? You better believe it happens. So don’t fall into that trap and start talking family. They know they cannot ask if you have children right out and how old they are. It is discrimination.

Wearing that ring on your finger can be a negative attribute to an interviewer also. Women who enter the room with an engagement ring and not a wedding band instantly tell the interviewer that they will be, at some point in time, working on a wedding. An upcoming wedding means many things to an interviewer; you’re going to be preoccupied with this exciting moment in your life while preparing for it, you’re going to undoubtedly require time off for the wedding and honeymoon and you’re going to most probably be making personal calls throughout the day for things like catering questions, returning calls to the preacher, or checking on the cake. If your interviewer mentions your beautiful ring your best bet is to play it off as something very miniscule and say something like “Why thank you. We’re not rushing anything and don’t even have a date planned” or even “Thank you it’s been in my family for ages and I’ve worn it for years.” Better yet, don’t wear your engagement ring and the question won’t come up. They don’t need to know about your personal life and the less they know the better you are. Basically don’t give any information away about a wedding, engagement, or any type of action that will involve you needing time off.

Wedding bands on a young person who is applying for a job can also be a red flag to an interviewer. Generally speaking, if the person that’s being interviewed is just out of college and already married it means that family is probably a big thing to them. Chances are pretty good that they will be ready to start a family soon and that means maternity leave. Knowing that soon after hiring you there is a good chance you’re going to be entering your boss’ office to let him/her know that you’re going to need time off for maternity leave. Is this legal for them to do? Of course not, but they do it. Answer, take off the ring and enter the interview without them. Again, it’s none of their business what your personal status is and there are no laws stating you must tell them.

Age discrimination is illegal and surprisingly the majority of people hired in 2011 were over the age of 55. So the good news is that while being biased about older age when interviewing a potential employee has diminished, it also still happens. The funny part is that ageism actually happens on both ends of the spectrum. Older people are often viewed as not being as up on technology, not being as easy to retrain and stuck in their old ways; while younger people are also often viewed as having to take a lot of time, money and effort to train well only for them to obviously leave to move up in the world. How can you avoid this on both ends?

If you are an older person use phrases like “I’ve been gaining a lot of proficiency in the newest version of Microsoft Office (if this is something you use in your field) or I’ve spent my free time learning some new skills and show that you are not only willing to keep up with the times but you are proactive and already keeping up with the newest technologies of your field.

If you are a younger person try to use your sense of interest and willingness to not only learn but bring to the table information that you’ve recently learned. Make it a point to let them know you’re looking for someplace to fit in well and hopefully make a lifetime career out of it. This gives them the sense that you’re looking to stay in one place. Make them feel as though you’re looking for your sweet spot to grow with and grow the company with you.

What it comes down to is knowing that while discrimination is illegal it still happens and we all know it. Be one step ahead of the rest of the crowd and know some of these inside tricks that interviewers use. Go into the interview with confidence, don’t give up too much personal information, and beware of things you wear in to the interview (including your everyday jewelry like wedding bands and engagement rings).

Top 3 Things Every Employer Wants to Know

If you’re in the market for a new job here’s something to keep in mind for when you go on job interviews; employers are only looking for 3 specific qualities that you have, nothing more.

That’s right, only 3. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?  Here you were thinking that they want to know every single thing about you that’s ever happened in your life and the fact is they only have 3 things on that list of interview questions. They are as follows.

  • Are you capable of doing the job they are offering?
  • Will this be a job that you love?
  • Will the rest of the staff be able to tolerate working with you?

No matter what they ask, no matter what you think they’re trying to find out, every single interview question really boils down to those 3 qualities.  Either you have them or you don’t, and that will actually change with every interview that you go to. Let’s break them down then to see what you need to do to meet these 3 criteria, shall we?

1) Are you capable of doing the job they are offering? This is straight forward but also tricky. Technically you may have all the qualifications but they also want to know if you will you be the guy (or gal) that can make the right decisions and show leadership too. Hard to tell from just a piece of paper so you best have some way of demonstrating your knowledge and leadership skills.

2) Will this be a job that you love?  Today it’s not enough to just show up, punch a time-clock and do the ‘required’ work (while sneaking in coffee breaks, water cooler chat and D&D sessions of course).  Employers are looking for people who ‘love’ the job and show enthusiasm for it, and they are looking for this in the interview too.  Even if you’re not particular jazzed about widgets you’d best do a little cheerleading during your interview if you want to impress the boss.

3) Will the rest of the staff be able to tolerate working with you?  This is the trickiest.  If you stick out like a sore thumb because you’re a laid back guy and the rest of the team are all Type A go-getters you may have a hard time ‘fitting in’ and the boss won’t like that.  Best to do a little research ahead of time to be sure what the inside dope is on your soon to be new colleagues.

And there they are.  Boil all those questions down and these three are left.  Answer them correctly and you will find yourself newly employed. Fail to do so and you’ll be on your way to the next interview, wondering which of the 3 got you thrown to the dogs.

4 Ways to Stay Calm During an Interview

Let’s take a look at a fairly common scenario: You get that long-awaited call or email, informing you that you have been short listed for an interview. This is your big chance to make an impression. The receptionist takes you through to meet the head honcho; a sharply dressed middle-aged man seated behind a mahogany desk.

Firm Handshake- check.

Taking a seat opposite your potential employer you smile confidently and then BAM:

“So what are you good at?” he asks.

You know what you want to say to this. You prepared your answers in advance. The answers. They won’t come out. You panic. Mind racing, you try to say something intelligent.

What follows is an interview that wasn’t so great, and plays back in your head over and over for the rest of the day.  It’s the stuff every job seeker’s nightmares are made of and it has a common name: stage fright.

Suffered by seasoned actors and amateurs alike, stage fright is simply the irrational fear of failing the impending performance. The important thing to remember is that it is a temporary physiological response to a perceived threat- such as the head honcho and his rather direct questioning- and it can be overcome by following these 4 tips:

  1. Understand your body.  When we perceive a threat, our body floods with adrenaline, activating the ‘sympathetic nervous system’. This bodily response is known as the “fight or flight” syndrome- a naturally occurring self-preservation mechanism. Racing heart, sweaty palms and shaking of the legs- all readying us to flee the scene of potential danger. Our logical brain is switched off hence our loss for words. When we learn to recognize our body’s signals for what they are, we can train ourselves to flick the switch to our logical brain back on.
  2. Breathing. And how do we flick this switch? It’s very easy: we need to consciously activate the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’. This can be done with slow, deliberate breathing. It reverses the flood of adrenalin, restoring peace and order in the body quite quickly. It is wise to commence this breathing pattern on the way to the interview room and even while the interview is taking place. Oxygen is a good thing for the brain and calm breathing leads to calm thinking.
  3. Establish eye contact early. As soon as you are greeted by the interviewer, make calm and direct eye contact. Maintaining this from an early point in the interview will help you find your confidence, getting you off to a great start.
  4. Learn to talk about YOU. The interviewer’s aim is to learn as much as possible about you. Many people struggle to answer questions about themselves, becoming nervous that they will give the ‘wrong’ answer. Practice self-reflection with a trusted friend beforehand. This will not only get you in the swing of speaking about yourself but also help you pinpoint what you perceive to be your strengths and weaknesses. Being able to speak confidently about yourself is an art and once you have perfected this you will find it much easier to stay calm and positive during the interviewing process.

How to Interview Like Steve Jobs – 5 Steps to a Perfect Interview

Though known more for his technical brilliance and his hugely popular company, Apple, Steve Jobs was a truly gifted communicator.  Steve Jobs was able to not only listen, but he heard the salient point of any message that someone was trying to convey – this rare skill can be broken down into 5 steps that can help you give the perfect interview and land that dream job.  Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Research.  Research the job, the company, and even if you are already familiar with it, research the industry.  What this will do is show how seriously you take the possibility of working for that company and will show that you respect the interviewers time and that you appreciate the opportunity they are giving you.

Step 2: Practice.  Practice the interview, from introduction to conclusion, have 3-5 questions in mind to ask you interviewer.  Make the questions semi-specific, but refrain from asking anything that would get into technical info or anything proprietary.  Keep the questions fact based and centered on the position you are interviewing for, as opposed to questions about the company in general.  You can and should ask about projected growth, but keep the question general and be prepared for a brief answer.

Step 3:  Show enthusiasm at the interview.  Be genuinely interested and excited at the interview, but at no point should you need to portray over-the-top excitement.  Be interested in what the interviewer(s) have to say, when you can, ask brief follow up questions, and let the interviewer lead the interview.

Step 4: Clearly explain why they should hire you.  Here is a moment when being direct can really benefit you.  Outline skills and accomplishments you have that make you a good fit for the job, mention any industry specific experience you have – from software you are familiar with to protocol that you know how to follow and anything relevant in between.  Keep it brief, you should be able to sum up why you are the best fit in less than 90 seconds.

Step 5: Call to action.  Follow up your brief sales pitch with an action statement like “Contact Me”, “Call Me”, or “Looking forward to hearing from you.”  Let the interviewer know that you are eager to hear back from them and that you are ready and available for the position.  Keep the call to action brief and follow up with the interview within 48 hours, preferably via email.  Thank them for their time and offer to answer any follow up questions they might have.  Always include your contact information at the bottom of the email.

5 Most Common Interview Questions

So you have the skills and knowledge that you need to do a great job in your selected field. You studied hard, got great grades, and you know your stuff. In fact, you think you’re a great candidate for any job. Well, not to burst you bubble but guess what; none of that matters.

What matters the most is; can you get through a job interview in one piece and make a good enough impression on your possible new boss that they decide to hire you out of all the other candidates that applied. The fact is, all the book smarts and great grades in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t make a good impression at the job interview.

To that end here are the 5 most commonly asked questions that you will be asked at most job interviews.  Consider it a ‘cheat sheet’ for your interview and study them well.

1- What is your dream job?  I find this question the most ridiculous. The fact is, MY dream job would be ‘lottery winner who has to count money’.  Of course you can’t tell the truth, so be prepared to explain why their company is your dream job and be prepared to back it up with some research that you’ve done about the company.

2- What makes you the best fit for this job?  You need to nail this so be prepared with some real-world skills and experience (if possible) that actually are useful for the position. If the job is sorting mail in the mail room let them know that you’re super organized and like a challenge. Your skills need to match the job.

3- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Another silly question, but interviewers love this one.  Are there really people that look 5 years ahead and know what they want to be doing?!  I’d love to meet them.  Anyway, make sure you have an answer that doesn’t seem too pat, and if you indeed have researched the company use that to make it sound like you have thought long-term about them.

4- Why did you choose this career?  This is a good one, so be ready for it with more than the usual BS.  If you say ‘because I love to help people’ when you interview for the morgue technician job you might not sound qualified.  Or sane.

5- Why should I hire you?  My very favorite.  The dead honest answer, of course, is the worst. Never say ‘because I desperately need a job so that I can move out of my folk’s basement and have some money to go on dates and maybe get laid’. Bosses hate that for some reason.  Instead, have a list of qualities ready that define a little bit about who you are and what you bring to the table. Again, research beforehand about the company here would serve you well.

Finally, if you know you don’t interview well, practice. That’s right; find a partner and get serious. Practice being interviewed with a partner until you know what you’re going to say and can say it with ease. This is big, and a new job will change your life, so put some time in and get it done.

5 Signs the Interview Is Not Going Well

I have gone on countless interviews. I usually will know during the interview whether I am hitting it off with the hiring manager or not. Last month I discussed some signs that tell you an interview is going well. Today I want to take the opposite side of the coin and give you 5 signs that can tell you that the hiring manager is not interested in you. Bad interviews can be harder to spot than good interviews. That is because some interviewers try to hide the fact that the candidate is not making a good impression on them. Below are some of the signs you need to watch out for to alert you that things are not going well. Just because you spot one of these signs doesn’t mean that you are not going to get the job offer. You need to see more than a few of these signs together to get a better picture whether you are striking out.

1. The interviewer does not look interested in you or what you have to say.

If the interviewer seems bored or just appears to be going through the motions, this can be a bad sign. It is also not a good sign when the interviewer barely makes eye contact or does not offer a smile. It is true that some interviewers have no people or communications skills. They are poor listeners and constantly interrupt you before you can finish your sentence. There are also interviewers who appear distracted by their smartphones or seem preoccupied with other things. So be careful that you are not misinterpreting the interviewer when you see him/her bored. The interviewer might just be having a bad day.

2. Your questions are answered abruptly.

This can be a trait of the interviewer or it can be that you are bombing the interview. I would not jump into conclusions right away because this might just be the interviewer’s communication style.

3. Bring up subtle objections.

The interviewer starts to mention why he/she thinks you might not be qualify for the position. They might even question you about your ability to take on the responsibilities that the job entails.

4.  Interview ends earlier than scheduled.

This could mean the interviewer is busy but more likely he or she has concluded you are not a match and is eager to move on.

5. The interviewer is being vague with the next steps.

Good interviewers make sure that strong candidates know exactly what will happen next and when they can expect to hear something. If you are not getting a definitive answer on the next steps, this can be because they have decided to ax you from the list of potential candidates for the next stage of the interview process.

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