Networking: The Conversation

This is the time of year when many colleges are hosting events that will provide an opportunity to network, including career fairs, panel discussions or actual networking events. For those who are not in school, many cities have network-after-work events, workshops or conferences you might attend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you make the most of these opportunities.

  1. Know your audience. You might ask an employer a different question than a fellow student.Photo by Ambro
  2. Be tactful and professional. Last year at a holiday event I was having a conversation with a couple of people when a business owner, bent on getting a client, interrupted us, ignored me (which is not easy when I’m nearly 6’ tall) and launched into her spiel. Several minutes later she finally looked at me and said something by way greeting. (Can’t remember what, I was making a mental note to mention her in this blog.)
  3. Listen more than you talk and ask follow up questions. When you do speak try to weave in some things that will make you memorable. Perhaps your sister attended the same college as the person you’re speaking with. Maybe he’s a Raven’s fan—tough to find in Bengals’ country—and so are you. You might realize someone’s last name sounds familiar and discover her dad was your softball coach in high school.
  4. Share a little bit about yourself. This is a good place to use some of the components of your elevator pitch (what is unique about you, what you can contribute to an organization, what you know about the company) or to answer some of the questions you’ve memorized (see below). You might also talk about hobbies and non-work-related interests. Think dinner party/get together, not just professional events. I received some great advice about being published from a friend of my sister’s at a get-together, and afterward added that person as a Linkedin connection.
  5. Start with small talk. This might include weather, information about speakers scheduled for that evening, the event itself, sports (unless you are or you encounter a fanatic), news items, latest movies. This will help break the ice before you ask more in-depth questions, but avoid controversial topics if possible.
  6. Move into open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than a yes or no answer. When you walk away you want to have useful information. If you’ll be seeking work soon, make sure you know if their organization is hiring. If you need clients you should know if they have need of your services.

QUESTIONS

When you approach someone, shake their hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself. Below are some questions you might ask or might be asked of you at a college networking event such as a reception with potential employers. 

College Event

  • What made you choose _____ University? When will you graduate?
  • What’s your major? Why did you choose that?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about your major?
  • If someone were to describe your school in one sentence what would he say?
  • How did you end up in this area (city)?
  • What organizations are you involved with on campus?
  • What was the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your organization? (e.g. sorority, fraternity, sports team or club, etc.)
  • What were you involved in while in college?
  • Do you have any hobbies or involvement outside of work?
  • Is your organization open to partnering with student groups for service projects?

The conversation might be a little bit different at a professional networking event, but these questions can also be asked of potential employers who are visiting your university.

Image by AmbroProfessional/Work Event

  • Where did you go to college?
  • How long have you been with your organization?
  • What attracted you to your organization?
  • What advice would you give me if I want to be successful in your line of work?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?
  • What separates your company from the competition?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise?
  • If someone were to describe your business/company in one sentence what would he say?
  • What would make someone the ideal employee for your company or organization?

Other Events

  • What do you do for a living?
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Did you get a chance to go to (insert name of local event) this past weekend?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • Did you catch the game last week?

Here is an example of a conversation that might take place between a student and a potential employer after the initial greeting or introduction:

Student: Thanks for coming tonight. (Reads name tag. Sounding enthused because she did a little homework before the event.) Oh, you’re with the World Helpers Foundation. I just read an article about your record-breaking year.

Employer: Yes. We’re really excited about that, especially with the economic challenges.

Student: I’ve always enjoyed philanthropy and fund-raising. In fact, I’m the President of my sorority and we recently exceeded our goal for cancer awareness by 40%.

Employer: That’s wonderful. How did you do that?

Student: I felt like we’ve underutilized social media in the past. This year we made sure we put the word out about our event early through Facebook and Twitter, then on our webpage we highlighted cancer survivors that were close to our members.

Employer: What a great idea!

Student: Thank you. What’s your role at WHF?

Employer: I’m the Senior Director of Partner Relationships. In a nutshell, I’m responsible for relationships and recruitment.

Student: That sounds interesting. What do you like best about your career?

Employer: Working with people toward a worthy cause. It’s challenging but I get to be creative and I like seeing the results of all my hard work.

Student: I feel the same way when I’m planning events. What kind of advice would you give me that would help me to eventually get into a role like yours?

Employer: Well, you’ve already got a great start! You have to be comfortable talking to people and leading teams and it seems like you’ve done that fairly well with your fraternity.

Student: Thanks! Do you ever have any entry-level opportunities or might you be able to recommend some other organizations?

Employer: As a matter of fact, we usually have some opportunities at WHF.

Student: Well, I would definitely be interested. Would it be okay for me to keep in touch with you?

Employer: Absolutely. (Hands over business card)

Student: (Shakes hand and thanks the employer before moving on.)

Well done! After all your hard work, you don’t want to lose contact with the great people you’ve met so come back next time for tips on how to strengthen your new relationship.

See you next time!

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Why December Is A Great Month For Your Career Search

The following was originally posted last December but bears repeating. Here are the best reasons to keep up your career search–even in December.

I get it. It’s not that you don’t want to look for a new career mid-December, it’s just no one is hiring. Everyone knows that, right?

Free clip-art.net

Free clip-art.net

Wrong!

I had this very conversation with someone last week. Not only did I tell the person she was mistaken (As a recruiter I thought that would carry some weight. I was mistaken.), I asked, “Have you even looked?”.

Crickets.

Turns out she was basing this logic on her experience with employment agencies in the past.

Here’s the deal. Yes, some companies wait until the beginning of a new year when a new budget becomes available before they take on the expense of adding personnel. But not all companies. If that were true there wouldn’t have been any public career fairs in your city in the past couple of months. Or weeks. Plus, do you really think we recruiters get to put our feet up on the desk for the entire month of December? Come on. We want to be busy. Busy hiring people.

So, in an attempt to take the momentum out of the ‘nobody’s hiring’ rumor, here are a few really good reasons to look for a new career right now.

Make a statement

Looking now could tell recruiters something about you. You don’t follow the crowd. You’re ready to dive in—right now. You plan ahead—why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and all that. These are great qualities to bring to the table at any company and gives an idea about your work ethic. Just make sure when you get in front of the interviewer you back those qualities up with good examples.

One in a million fifty

Because so many people believe the “no jobs ‘til January myth”, competition is usually very low. This means your application is automatically closer to the top of the pile. You still have to bring the goods of course, but at least the hiring manager won’t have to wade through hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other folks’ information to get to yours.

Recruiters have more time on their hands

When sorting through tons of applications reviewing can become scanning for the sake of efficiency. But when your resume or application is one in a handful it will naturally receive more of a perusal.

After 14 years of recruiting and observing trends it seems as if everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to find a new job. The number of applications we receive increases dramatically come January 2nd. But you, oh wise one, are smarter than that. Your odds of getting the job are way higher when you’re only being compared to a fraction of those in the New Year frenzy. You just might catch the eye of the recruiter (who would have otherwise passed over your resume quickly in January) and land an interview.

It Could Be Good for Your Health

Health benefits, that is. In most companies, the date on which you are eligible for benefits or perks is tied to your hire date. That means if you can start before the end of the month your benefits could kick in up to a month early.

One Step Ahead

 Ahhh… That is the sound of relief. Relief because, not only did you get the job, you’re already well into your training. And your friends who made that, “First thing on Monday, I’m looking for a job” vow are sweating it out without you. When you hang out after work next month you can relax and offer them words of wisdom. Or comfort. You choose. But, for you, the pressure is off.

Some of you are still not convinced. I know what you’re thinking. You really don’t have the time to begin a career search now. You’re doing your holiday shopping and the holiday party circuit and making New Year’s plans… Recruiters might not be busy but you are.

Trust me. Start now and you’ll thank me next month. Cruise on over to those jobs sites and start putting in your applications. Today. Happy searching!

Networking: The Rules of Thumb

I hope by now you’re noticing and taking advantage of all your networking opportunities. How many new Image by photostockpeople did you meet in the past few weeks? If the answer is none, consider breaking your normal routine, or simply try a smile and eye contact. They can work wonders when it comes to breaking the ice. This is especially true of social events.

Not too long ago I attended an HR Roundtable where networking was the topic and we came up with a list of do’s and don’ts specifically for networking events. As I mentioned before, it’s not all about you. In fact, in some places I mentioned in my last post (the workshop, lunch) I wasn’t even thinking about networking, it just happened. And those encounters gave me a chance to help someone else, which is our first “Do”.

The Do’s

1) Seek to help others. What are your skills, talents and abilities you can lend to others? Who is in your network that might benefit that small business owner you just met?

2) Meet people you can learn from. It has been said, if you are the most intelligent person in your group, your group is too small. When faced with a dilemma or a challenge you might turn to some of your newfound connections for advice or even mentoring.

3) Have a game plan so you don’t spend the whole time talking to people you already know. A graceful way to bow out when someone is taking too much of your time is to place the blame on yourself. “I’d better let you go. I don’t want to take too much of your time.”

4) Ask questions to foster conversation. What you’ve heard is true. People really do enjoy talking about themselves. It’s familiar territory. Don’t think all of your questions have to pertain to business, however. Ask if they are from the area. How did they hear about the event? Bring up a topic that is popular in the city—how the Bengals are doing, are they planning to go to the Festival of Lights, are they staying in town for the holidays or will they be lucky enough to get away for a mini vacation. Be creative!

The Don’ts

1) Don’t just attend when unemployed. One professional at the roundtable noted, when you’re employed you’re merely between networking gigs.

2) Don’t pressure anyone for an introduction. That’s simply unprofessional (not to mention annoying) and the person will be reluctant to unleash you on an acquaintance for fear of how that will affect their own credibility.

3) Don’t monopolize the conversation. This recently happened at a writing conference. At lunch an author asked another attendee a question and the attendee spent the next ten minutes sharing her entire manuscript. Which would have been okay—if the author had asked about her story. Luckily, the author was gracious which kept the situation from feeling completely awkward.

4) Don’t discount anyone. It costs you absolutely nothing to shake a hand and have a conversation, and you could be pleasantly surprised. The unassuming guy in the jeans and polo could be the investor you need to back your start-up while the guy in the expensive suit and smooth talk could be running a Ponzi scheme.

5) When seeking to connect with someone via Linkedin, remind that person how you met. Since the whole point of Linkedin is to establish legitimate connections I only accept people I actually know, as a speaker from Linkedin advised at a conference I attended. Otherwise, I’m just collecting names.

Now that we’ve got an idea of the ‘etiquette’ we’ll consider the conversation. See you back here next time!

The Daily Business of Networking

In my last post I noted networking events can sometimes feel awkward. The good news is, they are not the only venue. In fact, they aren’t even where I do most of my networking.

Image by winnond

Image by winnond

Believe it or not, you have numerous chances to network—at the gym, work, school, happy hour, parties, baseball games, church, organizations, reunions. Are you getting the picture? It happens every day. Since that’s the case it’s in your best interest to learn to maximize every opportunity, but also to know when to relax. Think about the past week. Can you remember a few opportunities where you could have made a connection?

A couple of weeks ago, not only did I meet the recruiters I mentioned in the last post, I also attended a breakfast that Saturday and exchanged information with an attendee who is also interested in writing—so of course I invited her to our group.

Recently I had lunch with a friend I met while serving on an advisory board to do some fact-finding for a novel. She introduced me to a local sports agent she knew that we bumped into as we were leaving. We chatted for a few minutes about sports and his role as an agent—I even mentioned an applicant I’d spoken with who was seeking a professional basketball career. Because I come across several Sports Management majors, as well as athletes, we exchanged information and he told me they were seeking an intern. Should I come across anyone interested in that field I will definitely make the referral. Not to mention, if I ever add a sports agent to a manuscript he’d be a great resource. The friend, by the way, has invited me to sit on the board of her non-profit.

Two years ago at a United Way appreciation dinner I met a colleague’s wife who happens to be a trademark lawyer. At the time I was working to trademark a tag line for future publications. We struck up a conversation and she answered questions I didn’t even realize I had. Later, when a company informed me they wanted to publish my novel I was able to reach out to my new contact to get a recommendation for an entertainment lawyer.

That being said, remember to use some discernment. Be careful not to pry. Learn to “read” the person with whom you are speaking. If their eyes are glazing over, wrap it up! As I mentioned, I am one of those people who never met a stranger, but if the person you strike up a conversation with doesn’t contribute they are shouting (silently, of course), “I’d like to remain a stranger, please.”.

When should you network? When it’s appropriate. If you gain a friend but not a client you’ve still expanded your network. What you can get or gain shouldn’t be the first thing on your mind even at a formal networking event. Think, instead, about what you are bringing to the table.

Image courtesy of stockimages

Image courtesy of stockimages

For example, while I love being a recruiter, when I’m out with friends the last thing I want is for someone to ask me to review their resume. And we recruiters get that question a lot. Just as my husband, an IT professional, gets the, ‘My computer isn’t working, can you take a look at it?’ question far more often than he’d like. I’m sure I have been guilty of violating this advice. In the example above, however, the person offered information when I mentioned my tag line which, after some questions about her career, led me to believe she wouldn’t mind a question or two. The fact that she gave me her business card backed that up. Again, discernment is key. If the person who is a chef says, “Oh I just love to cook any chance I get,” it’s probably okay to talk recipes.

Think about your skills, talents and abilities. What have been some of your biggest and best accomplishments? What have you learned from your mistakes? Who is in your network that could use an assist? This is what you can share. The next time you find yourself speaking with someone new think about how you might pour into their life.

Image by Witthaya Phonsawat

Image by Witthaya Phonsawat

Your roommate’s cousin is starting a business and you can build a website in your sleep. Offer to help or recommend a friend who can. You meet someone at a party who’s thinking about the study abroad program and you just got back from your study abroad trip to London. Tell her where she should visit and how to avoid some travel woes. While your pup, Champ, is racing around the dog park you meet someone new to the area who is in temporary housing. Your friend happens to be a realtor, so make the introduction.

Once you have the connection it opens the door for future opportunities that might not have even come to mind. The cousin could recommend you to others, the party acquaintance might think of you when she hears about a job opportunity during her internship abroad. When the guy from the dog park buys his house and invites you over for the housewarming you could meet your future business partner.

Don’t let another week pass without making a connection. Whether you find yourself at a ball game, your run club or grabbing a bite to eat, you never know who you might cross your path.

Come back next time for some Do’s and Don’ts for networking events.

The Necessity of Networking

LiImage by David Castillo Dominici,ke other recruiters, I am right in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year. I’ve just finished the two-week Career Fair Circuit with a couple more on the horizon in coming weeks. My schedule is chock full of classroom presentations and I am planning a Hiring Event to interview several people in a couple of days. In addition, last week consisted of a recruiting workshop with fellow recruiters. All of these events have something in common—they all provided (or will provide) great opportunities for networking.

So what’s the big deal with networking? Don’t think about status posts on Facebook. That kind of interaction might be part of the problem. We’ve gotten so comfortable talking to people in cyberspace that we’ve lost the ability to do so in person. On the other hand, some people have a limited view and think networking is only for those places labeled “networking event”.

I have no problem talking to people. In fact, nearly everyone in my family can strike up a conversation with perfect strangers (whether the strangers like it or not). But even for me there’s something…well, awkward about formal networking events. It feels like Skippy’s first day of school with his mom gently pushing on his back, saying, “Go on in and talk to the other kids.” It’s as if there is a drum roll and an announcement: “Let the networking begin!”. Often students gather with their peers, and employers, having been shut out of their cliques, wind up talking to…each other! So essentially all we’ve done is eat some great finger food (hopefully) and stay out later than we needed to on a school night.

I stumbled across this statement as I prepared to host such an event—(during our welcome we gave some tips to ensure success):

“Networking is less about meeting new people than having them remember you after the fact.”

Case in point. It was through networking that my local writing group was revived. A year and a half ago we were down to only two people due to some members relocating and others whose work schedules changed. While most people might have thrown in the towel, I knew if I did that the lack of accountability was sure to bring my writing to a screeching halt. I had to find some new members. Two of them came from a local writing conference where I chatted with fellow attendees. I sat next to another one when I visited another writing group. (I swear I didn’t go just to poach members.) And yet one more came when I purposely struck up a conversation with someone at our local Books By The Banks festival. I also invited a fellow university advisory board member and even a few people from work. Hey, I’m a recruiter by profession. Would you expect anything less? Now we have several regular attendees and the group lives on.

If I hadn’t been memorable in my conversation do you think anyone I invited would have actually shown up? Doubtful. How can you accomplish this? Think about the people you’ve met who you thought about long afterward. What stood out about them? For me, those people were personable, knowledgeable, accomplished, intelligent, humorous and yet, humble. Think about your most positive qualities and allow them to shine through to make a lasting impression.

Here are a few more benefits of networking:

  • Build confidence. Think of networking as practice. The more comfortable you become speaking with new people when youImage by cooldesign have nothing to lose, the easier it will be to talk to others in your network–approaching your manager with a new idea or a co-worker to resolve an issue. You could even find yourself speaking to groups in informal or formal settings.
  • New information. This is one way to learn what is going on in your industry. Who are the new competitors? What new products are out there? You could also gain knowledge that could help you on a personal basis. For instance, you could bump into a car enthusiast at a party right when you’re planning to buy a car.
  • Connect with experts to support your efforts. You can’t possibly know everything about your profession. You don’t know every customer. You don’t know every future investor, but connecting with others can help you reach new consumers and, perhaps land your own personal shark (for all you Shark Tank fans) for an entrepreneurial venture. But please don’t think networking is only about you, as we’ll find out later in this series. I exchanged information with the recruiters I met last week so I can potentially support them by sending candidates their way.
  • Teamwork is necessary for success–even if you work in a solitary role. The artist needs someone to sell his paintings, the musician needs someone to listen to his music. And we writers need people to read our books—and blogs. 🙂 Visibility and awareness are key to building your brand.
  • Opportunities to give back. You might find out about local philanthropic opportunities or a cause where you can lend your expertise.

Bottom line, people need each other and networking is not just about finding a job. Now that we all agree you should be participating, come back next time to discuss where.

10 Mistakes During The Interview That Can Cost You The Offer

Congratulations on your interview! Here’s your opportunity to show the company why you’d be the best person for the job, so take it seriously. Many of the mistakes from the phone interview still apply when interviewing in person, but here are a few more to keep in mind.

  1. Postponing The Interview—Of course things come up but I have found it’s very rare that someone Image by Stuart Milesgenuinely wants to reschedule after postponing. If you are interested, keep the appointment. If a true emergency arises state what it is. The term “family emergency”, while perhaps factual, sends the recruiter a red flag. People use this term when they leave messages on voice mails in the middle of the night because they don’t know how to admit they are no longer interested, something better came up or they never planned to come to the interview in the first place. Few emergencies are so private they can’t be mentioned, so be honest. Call during business hours, explain your situation and reschedule with the recruiter immediately.
  2. Three’s A Crowd—Or, in this case, two. There is no reason for anyone to attend your interview with you. If you have car trouble and need to be dropped off your ride should wait down the street, then give him a call after the interview for a pick up.
  3. Late Arrival—If possible do a practice run the day before the interview. It’s difficult to guess how long the drive might be in rush hour traffic if you’ve never timed the route. Who knows, you might have to park in the back of the lot, trek to the building or take an elevator to the 23rd floor, all of which add time to the total commute. If it is unavoidable call the recruiter to tell her you are on the way.
  4. Extremely Early Arrival— Many people live by the 15 minute rule–if you arrive 15 minutes early you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re already late. Great rule of thumb. On the flip side, there is such a thing as too early. The interviewer more than likely has his day mapped out and has other tasks planned right up until your scheduled time. If you arrive 30 or 45 minutes early you could be throwing a monkey wrench into his day. Instead of going inside, sit in your car and kill some time or go down the street to a coffee shop. Just don’t spill anything on your suit! Which brings me to my next point.
  5. Dress/Appearance — Of course most hiring managers will expect to see you in a suit unless you were told otherwise by the person who set up your appointment. Your shoes should be polished, your clothing should fit well – not too big or too small, too low-cut or too high—and you should select a color that is neutral. Think black or navy. Clothing is the first thing to come to mind, but this category includes cleanliness, hair, nails, piercings and visible tattoos as well. If you look as if you rolled out of bed and threw on the first thing your eyes landed on in your closet you are stating, ‘This is the best I am willing to do’. Definitely not a candidate recruiters want to vouch for. I’ve even had a few candidates refuse to take off their coat during the winter months. That is odd behavior that is sure to raise an eyebrow.
  6. Preparation – Come to the interview with a few copies of your resume in a portfolio in case you interview with a panel or team. Or if the company is having printer issues. This can go a long way when you’re up against candidates who arrive empty-handed.
  7. Condescending Attitude – Every company expects you to bring something to the table but you must also be a team player who is teachable. You might be chock full of information, but you don’t know everything, especially if you are entering a new industry. Be willing to add to your arsenal by listening to what others have to contribute. Also remember you should never discount anyone you meet. The receptionist could be the owner’s mother for all you know, or the owner herself. Respect everyone. No one is beneath you, and if you feel the job is, think twice before you apply.
  8. General Answers/Skipping A Question—Recruiters are seeking specific examples so we can determine how you actually handled a situation vs. how you would theoretically handle it. Anyone can claim the customer is always right, but back that claim up with an example. If you get stumped it is better to ask for a moment to think of an answer than to ask to come back to the question. Check out this post for some tips on how to prepare: No Job Offer-Part 2: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-q.
  9. Over The Top—There’s enthusiasm and then there’s inappropriate. Building rapport is a must, and I
    free clip art.net

    free clip art.net

    laugh frequently during interviews, but be careful not to come across as too familiar or unprofessional. Years ago a candidate made derogatory remarks about his ex-wife in a joking fashion and told an inappropriate story that he found funny. I doubted our customers would and had to move on to other applicants. You are not at the bar and you haven’t been hired as a comedian. Know how to read the interviewer. If they aren’t smiling or laughing with you you’re sinking fast.

  10. No Questions —No matter how much research you’ve done you don’t know everything about a company. Think about what is important to you: benefits, tuition reimbursement, advancement, relocation, responsibilities, etc. and ask. Even if you repeat yourself throughout the interview process, each person you encounter will answer you based on his experiences. Anticipate questions (see No Job Offer-Part 3: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-C) and write them down. If I had a dollar for every  interviewee who said, “I had a lot of questions at home. I just can’t remember them now,” I could take a pretty decent vacation.

There it is—mistakes to avoid at all levels of the application process. Hopefully these tips will help you sail through the interviews and land your dream job in no time.

Come back soon for more interviewing and job advice!

10 Phone Interview Mistakes That Can Cost You A Face-To-Face Interview

The recruiter called after reviewing your application, but don’t relax just yet. Whether she sets up a specific appointment or catches you on the fly, you still need to shine if you want to secure a face-to-face interview. To make it a reality, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

  1. Language—This refers not only your word choices (profanity is never acceptable) but also how you speak. The recruiter is
    Image by Ambro

    Image by Ambro

    not your friend, so don’t speak to him like he’s your buddy at the bar. On the other hand, don’t be so uptight that you come across as someone who won’t fit in with the company culture. Use proper English and leave out slang and overused phrases (you know, this and that, like, etc.).

  2. Complaints—Yes, we have all had some unpleasant situations occur at work. We’ve all had to deal with customers or even co-workers who are impossible–uh, I mean challenging. Regardless, it is not a good idea to complain about them, and especially not during an interview. If discussing a difficult situation is unavoidable choose your words wisely as you explain—words like ‘challenging’.
  3. Excuses—Rather than blaming the fact that you didn’t meet a goal or complete a task on someone else, choose a situation that tripped you up in the past and share what steps you took to be successful later on. At the end of the day you are accountable for your performance.
  4. Deception, aka Lying — Once you are caught in a lie, whether it’s in regard to your education, experience or job history, there is not much you can do to convince a recruiter you can be truthful, and you effectively eliminate your chances to get into that organization. I have had candidates lie about their education on their application, confess when I explain we verify the information, then ask in the same breath if they can apply for other opportunities in the company. My answer is always polite, yet firm.
  5. Criminal History – While most companies don’t automatically reject individuals who might have an indiscretion in their past, you should be prepared to discuss it in a professional manner. The recruiter will ask for details about the incident, if it went to court, how you pled, did you serve time, what you did to rehabilitate yourself and if you are currently on probation. He might also ask how old you were when the incident occurred. We’ve all been young and dumb, and age really can affect the company’s decision to move forward.
  6. Distractions – You might be distracted or there could just be way too much background noise in your home. Find a quiet area where you can hear the recruiter and she can hear you. Do not do anything but answer questions and take notes. Once I had a scheduled phone interview with a candidate who felt it was perfectly appropriate to cook (I heard the microwave beep in the background), drink and eat a meal during the hour-long interview. When I asked her about it, after a startled pause, she told me she had to take medication at a specific time to which I suggested she might have chosen a different time for the interview. She became defensive and asked, rather unpleasantly, if I wanted to reschedule. “No,” I said, “why don’t we just finish now.” And finish we did.
  7. Lack of Preparation – Scheduled phone screens can be open-book tests. Take advantage of this and prepare the same way you would for an in-person interview. Use a cheat sheet. If the recruiter catches you off-guard ask if you can set a time—preferably later that day—and explain you’d like to give her your undivided attention. This is a reasonable request and it will allow you time to familiarize yourself with the company and prepare your answers. Know the dates of your employment and reasons for leaving past jobs because job history can be a hindrance to moving forward. Remember, what you say should match what you listed on the application (see #4).
  8. Babbling – You have to know when to rein it in. Answer the questions, be personable, but don’t continue to say the same thing over and over, and don’t get off on tangents. If the recruiter is frustrated she’s also imagining how frustrated customers and colleagues will be.
  9. Improper Questions — The phone interview is not the place to ask about pay. We understand you want to know the compensation is feasible, but most applications have a place for you to list your desired salary. If the recruiter contacts you, more than likely what he has to offer falls in the range you listed. Asking gives us the impression you aren’t truly seeking a career but just the highest bidder and, in spite of what we say, you won’t be a good match for the opportunity.
  10. Long Term Goals — No matter what experience you bring to the table recruiters want a win-win. You should too. That is,
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    your goals are in line with the company’s and vice versa. If you would like to spend your days on archaeological digs, don’t apply for a Dental Hygienist opening. Even if you made it through the interview process, you will make your co-workers, customers and yourself miserable. If you need something “just for now” choose a job that will help you land a spot on the dig. Companies that hire for careers pour a lot of money into training and expect you to stick around.

 

Keep these tips in mind during your phone interviews this week and hopefully you will be invited for a face-to-face interview. Join me next time for the list of things during the interview that can cost you an offer.

Make it a great week!