No Job Offer? It Might Be You-Part 4

Long-term goals

I admit, as someone who changed majors three times in college (undecided, chemical engineering—I am as surprised as you are—and marketing), this is a tough one. Very few people know exactly what they’d like to do career-wise, but you should at least be able to tell the recruiter what responsibilities you’ve enjoyed on past jobs. For instance:

“I’m a very competitive person and I love meeting sales goals. I also like to teach others what I’ve learned and help them advance in their careers. I’m the type of person who needs to be busy throughout the day and I love solving problems. It’s great to turn unhappy customers around.”

When asked about the responsibilities you would like to have when you come to work every day, “Anything you need me to do” is not a good answer.

Why not? Once again, it doesn’t give the recruiter any detail to help determine if the job she has to offer would be a good fit.  It also sends the message that you would take any job that came your way and you’re just marking time until something better comes along. If that’s the case, you’ll cost that company a lot in training, benefits and time.

Tick Tock

Long-winded candidates can talk themselves right out of the job. If you’ve hit all the points of the S.TAR method (see It Might Be You-Part 2) go ahead and wrap up your answer. The key is to be engaging without rambling or sharing questionable information. Don’t get me wrong, as a writer, I love a great story. Just make sure you share it only if it naturally fits into the conversation and only if it’s appropriate. If in doubt, leave it out.

Q & A

Make a list of questions to ask the recruiter. You don’t know everything about the job even if you think you do. Ask about dress code, benefits, timeframe to advance, opportunities to advance, mandatory relocation or anything else that might be of interest. Having no questions makes us feel you aren’t really interested.

Ask for the job

This does not mean, “Please give me this job!”.  Reiterate the reasons you feel you’re the best fit or ask about the next steps. If you’re brave enough, ask the recruiter if there is anything that would prevent her from recommending you for the next interview. But also be prepared to hear the answer.

Final Thoughts


Do not: bash previous employers, chew gum—or mints, use foul language (including cursing or distasteful words/phrases like crap, screwing over, etc.) or answer your cell phone—which should be on silent or vibrate, by the way—during the interview. Trust me, it has happened.

Lasting Impressions

It’s always a good idea to send a polite thank you by email or snail mail if you receive a rejection letter. Who knows, another job could open up that would be a perfect fit and you want the recruiter to remember you. Just last week I called a candidate who had made a great impression on me when she applied for another position that we ended up filling internally. I thought she would make a great fit for a new opportunity. Turns out I was right and she starts this week.

Now that you have your game plan, let’s go for that career!


No Job Offer? It Might Be You – Part 3

During the Interview

The Arrival

At the risk of stating the obvious, this meeting is for you and the interviewer, so please don’t take your friend, spouse or your parent(s) along. Yes, I speak from experience. Nothing kills an interview faster than a candidate showing up with an entourage. If you get a ride for whatever reason, simply have the person wait in the car or somewhere nearby so they can show up quickly when you call after the interview.

From the time you walk through the door treat everyone with respect. Even the receptionist. She might not seem important to you, but she could be the hiring manager’s right hand woman. If you choose to snub her that information could get back to the people you deem to be important.

When the recruiter comes out to greet you give him a firm handshake and look him in the eye. Chat about some neutral topics to break the ice: the weather, last night’s game, the traffic on the way to the interview. Do not mention any personal information that can be considered discriminatory (i.e. age, politics, religion). These topics can make people uncomfortable in any setting, let alone an interview. The exception, of course, is if you have worked in the political arena or a religious organization and are drawing your answers from that experience.

The Questions

One of the questions will most likely sound something like this:

            “What made you apply for Marketing Frenzy?”

The recruiter isn’t asking why you applied for the position—don’t get confused (although that question will most likely come up as well). He wants to know what you’ve learned about the company. It’s important to convey that you didn’t just apply to a random companies, but that you actually took time to be selective and his organization is on your short list.

Take the time to visit the company’s website before the interview and think about what will motivate you to work there every day. Job stability? Revenues? Growth? Opportunity for advancement? If you can’t answer that question, you could be setting yourself up for a bad match.

You should also be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Take note, most recruiters are familiar with the following cliché weaknesses:

“I work too hard.”

“I’m a perfectionist.”

“I’m the only one who ever steps up to the plate in a team setting.”

Hmm.. At best, these answers lack originality. Remember, it’s important that you stand out in that sea of interviewees. My advice? Just tell the truth. Pick something that your previous employer actually told you to work on. BUT, make sure it’s an area where you have already taken strides to improve.

For instance:

“When I was first hired at X Company I was required to give an update for my department in our monthly meetings. At first I was very nervous and just didn’t have the confidence to do it well. So I started preparing my report a couple more days in advance then I would rehearse with a co-worker. She would give me tips and I would tweak the report. After that the meetings went much better because I was able to answer questions and show I really knew the material. As a result my manager recommended me to present at our next company retreat.”

Ahhh! Much better. And genuine. A quality every employer wants in an employee. Not only did you demonstrate that you’re willing and able to improve, you showed that your manager also recognized that in you and rewarded it.

More to come. Stop back next week for my final post on this topic. In the meantime, have great interviews this week!

No Job Offer? It Might Be You – Part 2

The recruiter asked you to come in for an interview. Congrats! This is one of the few times in life you have a license to brag (don’t confuse confidence with cockiness). But wait, your work isn’t done just yet. In fact it’s just beginning. That is, if you’d like to actually make a good impression and land the job. Keep reading to find out the game plan.

Before the Interview

Review the job posting and company website to anticipate questions. Check out the example below.

Event Planner—Marketing Representative

Marketing Frenzy provides marketing, advertising and consulting services to national companies and corporations. We identify and develop new streams of revenue for clients through on-site promotions, innovative marketing strategies and advertising campaigns. We create and execute these campaigns to each client’s researched target market.

For the position above we can guess there will be questions about marketing, advertising and creativity. This part is like an open book test, but if you look a little closer you can come up with some other questions that aren’t as obvious: communication, organization, team-work, time-management.

More than likely the perfect candidate will be outgoing, able to speak freely with people, able to work in busy environments, possibly able to work with others in developing campaigns, but also able to work independently at the on-site promotions. Clients will want their campaigns in a timely fashion, hence the time management. Get it?

The S.T.A.R Method

Now that you ‘know’ the categories for the questions think of 3-5 specific examples for each category from your work experience (this is the best area to draw from because it’s hands-on), volunteer/organizational or classroom experience to share. Your answer is specific enough when it meets these 4 criteria:

  • Situation—give a specific incident or event
  • Task—what goal were you working toward?
  • Action—what action did you take?
  • Result—what was the final outcome?

General answers aren’t going to fly. Anyone can theorize about what they would do when they had to deal with an irate customer:

“That would happen all the time. Whenever someone was upset I just listened to the problem and found a solution.”

Great. But that answer lacks detail–and who wouldn’t do that? Dig deeper. Set yourself apart from the other interviewees. What about that time when you were a server and a customer yelled at you? Now we’re getting somewhere.

“I stooped down to talk to the person calmly. He thought I was ignoring him but he didn’t realize he wasn’t actually seated in my section. I apologized, took their order anyway because they’d already had a bad experience and put a rush on it. When I brought the food out the guy actually apologized and ended up leaving me a huge tip.”

Bravo! See the difference? This example addresses all of the areas of the S.T.A.R. method, plus, I now know you have excellent customer service skills, you remain calm under stress and you’re a team player.

Question Dodging

This is when you go off on a rabbit trail with a great story that is totally unrelated to the question asked because you really don’t have the experience you listed on your resume. You might be able to pull this off with a rookie, but it won’t be easy to distract veteran recruiters with fun anecdotes. We want answers.  Specific answers. Winging it will result in a rejection letter.

Stop back next week when we’ll get into the actual interview.