The more questions you ask, the more you learn about a job candidate, right? Wrong. Here’s a better strategy.
Eventually, almost every interview turns into a question-and-answer session. You ask a question. The candidate answers as you check a mental tick-box (good answer? bad answer?).
You quickly go to the next question and the next question and the next question, because you only have so much time and there’s a lot of ground to cover because you want to evaluate the candidate thoroughly. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn about the candidate.Or not.
Sometimes, instead of asking questions, the best interviewing technique is to listen slowly.
Duncan: He urged me to ask a good question, listen attentively to the answer, and then count silently to five before asking another question. At first that suggestion seemed silly. I argued that five seconds would seem like an eternity to wait after someone responds to a question. Then it occurred to me: Of course it would seem like an eternity, because our natural tendency is to fill a void with sound, usually that of our own voice.
Lehrer: If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you’ll discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he’ll go in a different direction. Either way, he’s expanding his response, and you get a clear view into his head and heart.
Duncan: Giving other people sufficient psychological breathing room seemed to work wonders. When I bridled my natural impatience to get on with it, they seemed more willing to disclose, explore, and even be a bit vulnerable. When I treated the interview more as a conversation with a purpose than as a sterile interrogation, the tone of the exchange softened. It was now just two people talking…
Listening slowly can turn a Q&A session into more of a conversation. Try listening slowly in your next interviews. (Not after every question, of course: Pausing for five seconds after a strictly factual answer will leave you both feeling really awkward.)
Just pick a few questions that give candidates room for self-analysis or introspection, and after the initial answer, pause. They’ll fill the space: with an additional example, a more detailed explanation, a completely different perspective on the question.
Once you give candidates a silent hole to fill, they’ll fill it, often in unexpected and surprising ways. A shy candidate may fill the silence by sharing positive information she wouldn’t have otherwise shared. A candidate who came prepared with “perfect” answers to typical interview questions may fill the silence with not-so-positive information he never intended to disclose.
And all candidates will open up and speak more freely when they realize you’re not just asking questions–you’re listening.
Many people aspire to be promoted to a managerial position as the key part of their career goals. It can be very rewarding. Many people are left pondering, “How do they get on that management track to begin with?” And, “What do I have to do to prepare?”
Both good questions, let’s outline what needs to take place to become a manager.
1. Outline your goals to your management. Get your boss in your corner to help mentor you and to give you opportunities to prove you are management material.
2. Look for opportunities to take on more. A key element to a management position is initiative. You won’t be told what to do, you have to assume responsibility and direction. Most groups have far more work than manpower to perform it all. Look for items that will create real impact to the business. Those will get you visibility which is important to your goals.
3. Find a role model. Observe the people who manage and find someone who you believe is both a great manager and is successful. Ask for them to mentor you and observe how they perform theirmanagement job. What makes them successful? You want to emulate some of that behavior.
4. Take classes and read. There are tons of management classes and books on management. Look for ones that are oriented toward the basics and beginning management as they will outline what you need to do in these early days. Higher level materials, while interesting, will assume you know these things and won’t go into much detail.
5. Ask to fill in. The boss will go on vacation or business travel. They have work to be done while they’re away and you can volunteer to cover for them or minimally to pick up some tasks of theirs. This will give you a taste of the work being performed and again demonstrate your ability to take on higher level responsibilities.
6. Seek leadership roles. A great way to get started in management is to take on the role of project management or leader to a work effort. Many of the needed management skills are used in these situations. You are facilitating a group of people to get something accomplished. To do that you will exercise such things as: planning, directing, communicating, gaining agreement, following up, and so on. Projects are a key way for business to get done and someone has to lead the effort – that can be you.
If you prepare yourself well, your first management position it can be the thing that will catapult you into higher levels and greater impact to your business. You need to make sure that at this stage you have thought through just how different this job is from what you have done before so you can shift gears to be equally awesome as a manager.
The other day, I was talking to a recruiting friend of mine who is especially known for his candor about talent acquisition issues, and we were comparing notes about our resume frustrations.
As a career industry professional, I advise clients to NEVER lie on a resume. Yet many people abandon the truth and move into uncharted areas of creative fiction when it comes to discussing their career background. And believe me, they come up with some incredible whoppers.
But as a resume writer, I am not there to act as a judge/jury to my client’s work history. My work does require asking in-depth questions to clarify what the client is telling me, but it’s not my place (since they hired me) to act as the police officer investigating the truth to their claims.
But you know what?
I can TOTALLY tell when a client is lying to me about their accomplishments in the consultation. They won’t make eye contact, and can’t get as specific as they need to, and will do anything to change the subject. It’s that clear.
If I can spot these stinkers a mile away, you can only imagine what it must be like for human resource folks.
Given the fact that it’s their job to separate fact from fiction, they absolutely specialize in reading through the clouds of smoke to find out where the real BS lies.
They won’t explain to you why they aren’t calling you in for an interview. They simply move on to the next candidate versus telling you what you are doing wrong.
So, you should NEVER (ever) lie on your resume simply because you WILL probably be found out sooner… rather than later. And this could have long-reaching repercussions on your reputation and career brand, as borne out by the recent media flurry over the inaccuracies included in a certain large web company executive.
But the flip side of this sword is that you can’t ever tell the truth in your resume, either.
As much as we have to not lie about ANYTHING in our resume, we also can’t tell the truth about what really happened at a previous job:
That you had the worst boss in the world that created such a toxic environment that you were sick in your stomach every morning going into work.
That you did your job right, but due to an idiot co-worker’s incompetence, they bungled a major project that had you as the project manager.
That you were mislead about what the job involved and didn’t know it wasn’t a fit until you got in there, and hated it so much that you had to leave.
That the company wasn’t exactly forthright about the state of their finances and went belly up.
There are a million stories out there that many workers wish they had the opportunity to explain themselves, but resumes, being the inflexible documents that they are, force all of us to walk down a narrow road that provides no space whatsoever to explain what REALLY happened, or at least have an opportunity to provide your version.
Wouldn’t it be great if the resume could evolve into a 100% ACCURATE document that reflects the truth without creating a need to lie?
What do you think? Should the resume be made into a completely honest document?
An SAP career is one of the challenging but high paying careers in information technology. Many companies are starting to use SAP products and we can say that at least 1 out of every 10 technical recruiter works on an SAP requirement at any given time. The fact that about 9% of the total IT jobs in 2010 were SAP jobs proves that anyone who is into SAP career will have no difficulty in finding a job that fulfills all the dreams that a person can have about a job.
But, guess what? People always write to us saying that they want to pursue a career as an SAP consultant but they don’t know where to start or what to do? Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a clear and well defined road map to become an SAP consultant. As a fresher, you fire up your browser and kick start a job search with the common keyword ‘SAP’ jobs and you land in a job ad page that says ‘SAP BW Architect with at least ten years of experience in SAP BW’. You try again and get another one that says 5+ years of experience working as an SAP Finance System Analyst is mandatory.
We can hear what you are saying, ‘Are you kidding me? Why can’t I find an SAP job as a fresher?’.. While most of the jobs look for experienced SAP consultants, many companies do hire junior level consultants for SAP project. The only two things they expect from you are a degree and strong knowledge in SAP. How do you gain knowledge in SAP and stand out among the thousands of freshers who are seeking a job as an SAP consultant? The answer is, to finish an SAP certification.
Learn as much as you can about SAP and its modules. Getting the right knowledge is the key to unlock the world of SAP opportunities. Once you have finished the certification by passing the exams, clearly mention it in your resume and make sure your resume has the right keywords. Post your resume so that it can be found by recruiters who are searching for freshers with SAP knowledge. While you are on your job search, read blogs and online communities about SAP and stay up to date.
The first job that you get may not offer you all the benefits that you are looking for. But if you can say that the job can give you a solid experience in working with SAP, then your best bet will be to accept it. Consider this as a part of your learning phase and use the opportunity to increase your knowledge. It may take about 24 months to become completely familiar with one module in SAP.
Remember, it is all about getting that first job. Once you get an entry level job in SAP, the experience that you gain will make you eligible to apply for better positions
Job interviewing can be an unnerving experience, but if you know how to handle some of the stickiest situations encountered in interviewing, you can be that much more confident. Here are 10 of the stickiest.
The Bad Interviewer. Not every professional who conducts job interviews with candidates knows how to conduct an interview effectively. In fact some are downright lousy at it. A bad interviewer might be unfocused, disinterested, unprepared. He or she might dominate the interview by doing all the talking or might ask inappropriate and illegal questions.The unfocused, unprepared interviewer probably hasn’t read your resume and maybe can’t even find a copy. This hapless soul doesn’t even know what to ask you. Be sure to offer this disorganized interviewer a copy of your resume while asking, “May I take you through some highlights of my career?”While the bigmouth interviewer is holding forth, make as many mental notes as you can (or jot them down if you’ve brought a small notepad). Don’t show your exasperation; instead be an attentive listener and hang on the interviewer’s every word. Try to get a word in edgewise by leaning forward and opening your mouth slightly, advises Anne Kadet on Smartmoney.com. If that doesn’t work, even a nonstop talker will likely eventually ask if you have any questions. At that point, you can ask questions or describe your fit with the company and the position based on the mental notes you’ve been making.For inappropriate and illegal questions, see No. 6 below and try your hardest to keep the interview focused on your qualifications for the job.
The “Tell Me about Yourself” Question. Of course, this question is not a question at all but a request for a command performance. It’s the most commonly asked interview question, yet it frequently still rattles interviewees. The trick is to make your response a succinct summary of information that is specifically targeted to the job you’re interviewing for. (Sell yourself!) For example:
“My background to date has been centered around preparing myself to become the very best financial consultant I can become. Let me tell you specifically how I’ve prepared myself. I am an undergraduate student in finance and accounting at ___________ University. My past experience has been in retail and higher education. Both aspects have prepared me well for this career.”
The interviewer is not looking for your autobiography and probably is not interested in your personal life unless aspects of it are relevant to the job you’re interviewing for.
The “Weakness” Question. The conventional wisdom about responding to “What are your weaknesses?” used to be that the candidate should spin a weakness into a strength. For example: “I’m a perfectionist and don’t believe anyone can do the job as well as I can, so I sometimes have a hard time delegating.” That type of response has, however, worn out its welcome with interviewers. Other approaches include offering a weakness that is inconsequential to the job (such as being a poor speller and relying on spellcheck) or denying that you have any weaknesses that would stand in the way of your performing the job effectively. The former approach may work but be seen as shallow, while the latter sometimes lacks credibility. After all, everyone has a weakness.An approach that seems to work well is to talk about an area that was once a weakness but that you have worked to improve. Here’s how you could frame the perfectionist example above in terms of professional growth: “I tend to be a perfectionist who has had trouble delegating tasks to others, but I’ve come to see that teamwork and capitalizing on everyone’s strengths is a much more effective way to get the job done than trying to do it all myself.”
The “Why should we hire you?” Question. The unspoken part of this question is: “Why should we hire you [above all the other candidates]?” This is your chance to shine, to really make a sales pitch for yourself. Use your Unique Selling Proposition to describe what sets you apart from other candidates. The employer will make a significant investment in hiring and training you, so tell the interviewer that this investment will be justified. For example, you could say: “I sincerely believe that I’m the best person for the job. Like other candidates, I have the ability to do this job. But beyond that ability, I offer an additional quality that makes me the very best person for the job — my drive for excellence. Not just giving lip service to excellence, but putting every part of myself into achieving it. Throughout my career, I have consistently strived to become the very best I can become. The success I’ve attained in my management positions is the result of possessing the qualities you’re looking for in an employee.”
“Off-the-wall” Questions, also known as “Wild Card” or “No-Right-Answer” Questions. Occasionally you’ll be asked an interview question that’s just downright weird and certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the job — for example, a question like this: “If you were an ice-cream cone, what flavor would you be?” Interviewers often ask these oddball questions to see how quickly you can think on your feet and whether you can avoid becoming flustered. Others, unfortunately, ask them because they enjoy seeing interviewees squirm. Still others are amused by the range of creative — and not-so-creative — responses they receive.Don’t let an off-the-wall question rattle you. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and respond the best way you can. There is rarely a wrong answer to this type of question, but quick-thinking candidates can turn the response into an opportunity to impress the employer. A response given by one of my former students has always stuck in my head as being a standout answer. The question was: “If you were a superhero, what would be your super powers, and why?” His response: “I think I would prefer to be a superhero like Batman, who doesn’t have superpowers per se, but who relies on his intelligence and use of the right tools to get the job done.”Read more.
Illegal Questions: It’s illegal to ask about age, marital status, children, childcare arrangements, and the like, but employers still do — or come up with subtle ways to ask, such as by inquiring about when you graduated from high school/college. It’s best to address the concern behind the question rather than the question itself by saying something like: “There is nothing about my personal status that would get in the way of my doing a great job for your company.” While it may also be tempting to point out the illegality of the question, doing so likely won’t endear you to the interviewer.
Salary Questions: As a screening device, interviewers often ask early in the interview what salary you are looking for. If you ask for more than the employer is willing to pay (or occasionally, on the flip side, undervalue yourself), the interviewer can eliminate you before spending a lot of time with you. That’s why the best tactic for salary questions is to delay responding to them as long as possible — ideally until after the employer makes an offer. Try to deflect salary questions with a response like this: “I applied for this position because I am very interested in the job and your company, and I know I can make an immediate impact once on the job, but I’d like to table salary discussions until we are both sure I’m right for the job.” Read more in our Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tutorial.
Questions about Being Terminated from a Previous Job. It’s always uncomfortable to be asked your reasons for leaving a job from which you were terminated. Don’t lie about it, but don’t dwell on it either. You could explain that you and the company were not a good fit, hence your performance suffered. Or that you and your supervisor had differing viewpoints. Emphasize what you learned from the experience that will prevent you from repeating it and ensure that you will perform well in the future. Read more about handling termination.
Questions about Reasons for Leaving a Current Job. This question is similar to the previous question, even if you haven’t been fired. Responses about fit with the company and differing views from your supervisor can also work here, but remember never to trash a current employer. Always speak positively about past and present employers even if your experience has not been positive with them. Another good response in this situation is to say that you determined you had grown as much as you could in that job and you are ready for new challenges.
Questions about the Future. Interviewees are often asked, “Where do you see yourself in five (or 10) years?” Strike a delicate balance when responding to this kind of question, with just the right mix of honesty, ambition, and your desire to be working at this company long-term.Avoid responses such as starting your own business or running for Congress, which suggest that you don’t plan to stay with the company.
It’s not totally inappropriate to mention the personal (marriage, family), but focus mainly on professional goals. Mention your career and company goals first, and tack on any mention of marriage and family at the end.
Your response could be: “I’m here to let you know that I am the best person for the job. If in the future you feel I would be a candidate for a higher level position, I know I wouldn’t be passed up.”
OR: “I hope to stay at the company and expect that in five years, I’ll make a significant advance in the organization.”
OR: “I would like to become the very best ______________ your company has.”
And then there’s my personal favorite, which a student told me a friend had used. Asked by the interviewer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The response: “Celebrating the five-year anniversary of your asking me this question!” While the response probably made the interviewer laugh, it’s probably not the best answer.
Final Thoughts on Succeeding in Job Interviews
Job-seekers need to think of each interview question as an opportunity to showcase an accomplishment or strength. Every response should build momentum toward convincing the interviewer that you deserve to advance to the next level, whether that level is another round of interviews or a job offer.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Fashion changes and resume styles change too. If you have solid skills and work experience but your resume isn’t getting any bites, you might need a resume makeover. Try out our Resume Builder for help creating a resume that gets results.
And check out the “what’s in, what’s out” info below to help make your resume more cutting edge.
In: A professional summary at the top of your resume. This sells you like nothing else on your resume does.
Out: An objective statement at the top of your resume. Nothing says “outdated” like an objective. “Ditch it immediately,” advises Jack Williams, vice president of national sales and recruiting for Staffing Technologies, in Atlanta. Employers don’t care what a potential hire wants to do. “They care whether they can do what the employer needs them to do,” he says.
In: Resumes that are easy on the eyes. “I don’t have time to read through each resume and search for the important points. They need to jump out at me,” says Mike Earley, vice president of resource management at MyWire, a media aggregation site. Earley says hot resumes are organized with bullet points, not paragraphs, and have enough white space to look clean and visually interesting.
Out: Resumes that are “grey,” with large chunks of unbroken text that require recruiters to slow down. Chances are they won’t take the time.
In: A customized resume. Tailor every resume you send out for the job you’re seeking.
Out: A cookie-cutter resume: same resume for every job. These were from the days before home computers, when changing a resume was a really big deal.
In: A two-to-three-page resume when you really need the space.
Out: A one-page resume when you really need two or three pages. “One-page resumes are a myth,” says Williams. “No talented person with more than five years experience can fairly summarize their experience in one page.”
In: Selling yourself. The best way to do this, Earley says, is through quantifying your accomplishments. “When describing what you did on a job, be sure to include the results. Your accomplishments are key,” says Earley. For instance, if you’re an office manager, don’t just say you “organized a system to track outside vendors.” Conclude with a real result, like “reduced operating costs by one-third.”
Out: Not being your own best marketing and sales department. “Gone are the days of just listing job titles and responsibilities,” says Leslie Sokol, co-author of Think Confident, Be Confident.
In: Including links to websites for all companies on your resume, and, if possible, a brief description of each company. “Few do this, but it is always well received,” says Williams. “Hiring managers have an interest in knowing what a company does and what your previous position there had to do with that.”
Out: Assuming hirers know your old company or don’t need to know.
In: Including your LinkedIn or other social network address in your resume’s header. Make sure it’s a custom (“vanity”) URL if it’s LinkedIn (these are free).
So, you got the interview all lined up and your ready and raring to go…well if you plan on doing well, you better avoid these 50 interview killers (and yes, every single one of these we have seen or have heard about from colleagues
Arrive late or too early (more than 10 minutes is too early)
Fall asleep or yawn
Smell like cigarette smoke or alcohol
Discuss your party life
Talk bad about your past co-workers or boss
Be rude or obscene
Be overly sarcastic
Try to tell jokes
Forget your resume
Look at your watch/play with jewelry
Ask about money too early
Don’t research the company
Ask too many questions
Ask no questions at all
Use “like” too often
Be unable to answer their questions
Lie about your experience
Wear too much or too little makeup
Leave your phone on
Be fidgety while talking or being talked to
Use big words incorrectly
Forget to ask for the job
Act like you have better places to be
Expect benefits immediately
Be a braggart
Be overly shy
Speak too quickly/or to slowly
Joke about sexual harassment rules
Talk about your solitaire skills
Complain about anything
Roll your eyes
Interrupt the interviewer
Arrive under the influence
Talk too much
Ask about holiday’s off
Not know which position you are interviewing for
Forget the name of the company/interviewer
Ask about dating in the workplace
Be fake/overly excited
Use words that really mean nothing like “web 2.0″ and “go-getter”
Don’t ask for their business card
Deliver a weak or too strong handshake
Ask the interviewer their age/relationship status/gender
Bring in food to eat during the interview
Don’t even show up
Have you had a bad interviewer/interviewee? Share your experience!