Tips on how to succeed in a video job interview

video job interviewThe coronavirus has changed our lives in many ways, including how we interview for jobs. Although unemployment numbers have soared, some companies are still hiring. They are, for the most part however, using a technique not usually employed in the past – the video job interview.

Tech companies, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, were onboard early with the practice, and many others have followed. It’s impossible to know what will happen in the future, but video interviewing may go on for months to come.

How to prepare for a virtual interview

A virtual interview requires the same preparation as a regular interview. You need to:

  • research the company and the hiring manager.
  • put together a list of questions that you will ask.
  • study a list of potential questions that you may be asked and practice them.
  • get a good night’s sleep beforehand, etc.

There are, however, different requirements for these interviews that you should be aware of. Here are some of the things you need to do in preparation and during the interview:

What you need to do differently

Learn how to use the video conferencing software. If you’ve unfamiliar with the video conferencing software the hiring manager will use, look for some online tutorials on how to use it and go through them a few days before the interview

Make sure your technology works. First of all you’ll need a computer with a working camera and microphone. Make sure you have the bandwidth that can accommodate video streaming. Although a computer is preferable, if you don’t have one, you can use your smart phone or tablet. But be sure that whatever you use is propped up and doesn’t need to be held.

Choose a place with no distractions. Choose a quiet place for the interview. This could be a home office, if you have one, or the kitchen table or another quiet place at home. Make sure no one else will be around, and if you have a dog that barks, it might be best to put it outside or ask a friend to take care of it for an hour or two. It’s best to have a blank wall behind you so there are no distractions, and the hiring manager will concentrate on you instead of what else is in the room.

Make sure there’s plenty of light. This could be natural or artificial light, but it’s important that the hiring manager can see you clearly.

Dress professionally. Yes, you’re at home, but you still need to make a good impression. Wear the same sort of outfit that you would if you were going to an in-person interview. Avoid bright colors and elaborate jewelry, however, because these may be distracting online. 

Get there early. This is just as important as when participating in a face-to-face interview, maybe even more so, since it may take a while to sign in.

Look into the camera. This may take some practice, maybe with a friend beforehand, but make sure you’re looking into the camera on your computer rather than the face of the hiring manager on the screen. Looking directly into the camera means you will be making eye-contact with the person interviewing you. And if you’re using your smart phone or a tablet, make sure you’re centered on the screen.

Speak carefully. When video conferencing, there can be lag time between what you say and when the person on the other end hears it, so speak slowly (but not too slowly to sound unnatural), and enunciate clearly. Also wait several seconds after the interviewer speaks to make sure you don’t interrupt them.

Don’t forget the importance of body language. Sit up straight with feet planted firmly on the floor. Make proper eye contact by looking into the camera on your computer. Don’t forget to smile.

Show enthusiasm. You won’t be able to start off the interview with a handshake, but you can show your enthusiasm when you first connect. Begin the interview by saying that you are happy to meet the hiring manager, and thank them for taking the time to talk to you.

Try a power pose. Right before the interview, you may want to try a power pose, but not in front of the computer or with the microphone on. Researchers have found that assuming a power pose for two minutes before an interview gives people the confidence they need to make a favorable impression.

Send a thank you note. Don’t forget to send a thank you note after you finish the interview. Since this can be an email or hand-written note, make sure you have the hiring manager’s email address or physical address, depending on which type you choose to send.

 

How formerly incarcerated job seekers can create a turnaround packet that will impress potential employers

 

turnaround packetOne of the most important things those in reentry can do to help conduct a successful job search is to create a turnaround packet and the talk to go with it. And with people sheltering in place, there’s no better time to do it than now.

While we’ve covered this on our website and extensively in our book Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed, we’ve never written a blog article about it. And I suddenly realized that fact while sitting in on “Ready, Set, Goal,” an online forum conducted by Oakland, Calif.-headquartered nonprofit Root & Rebound. It was all about what they call a rehabilitation packet and we refer to as a turnaround packet. But it’s basically the same thing. And it can be a very powerful tool.

Packet shows you’ve turned your life around

We originally got the idea from Larry Robbin, a nationally-known expert in the area of workforce development. And its purpose is to convince hiring managers that you’ve turned your life around. You’ve made the effort to improve your skills, character and relationships. You are not the same person you were when you made the mistake that got you incarcerated.

This packet should affirm how you have been rehabilitated and won’t reoffend. It can include a variety of items and be reconfigured depending on the type of job you’re applying for. With people staying at home and many businesses on hiatus, now is the time to spend putting a turnaround packet together.

“Start by making a list of all the accomplishments you’ve achieved since release and even before being incarcerated — leadership positions inside, if you were in the honor dorm, had access to the honor yard, your Involvement with a faith-based community, classes you took, mentoring or sponsoring that you’ve offered, inside and out, everything you can think of,” said Nicole Jeong, Root & Rebound’s Los Angeles site director and senior staff attorney during the forum.

Things to include in a turnaround packet

Here’s what we recommend including (but be sure to only include items that show you have been rehabilitated and are not the same person who offended):

  • Letters from groups you’ve done volunteer work for.
  • School enrollment forms.
  • Certificates of completion of training programs (both pre- and post-incarceration).
  • Courses you took while incarcerated.
  • A clean printout from the DMV, if you have a good driving record. Visit your local DMV office, and ask them to print one out for you.
  • Honorable or general discharge papers from the military, if you served. If it was a dishonorable discharge, don’t include it.
  • Photos of your accomplishments as a volunteer.
  • Copies of award certificates or other forms of recognition.
  • A copy of a clean drug/alcohol report, especially if you were arrested for drug use or have been in an alcohol or a drug rehab program.
  • Documentation of restitution, if you had to pay restitution to a victim or victims.
  • Photos of any hobbies or interests you might have, such as car or motorcycle restoration, dressmaking, artwork, furniture refinishing, gardening or whatever.
  • Photos of family, children and even pets. It can demonstrate you care, that you’ve rebuilt relationships, and are responsible and share common values with the hiring manager.
  • Accomplishments before the offense/incarceration can be good to include as well.
  • Your resume and master application.
  • Copy of your sobriety coin/chit, especially if your conviction was alcohol or drug related.
Don’t forget letters of recommendation

You should also include letters of recommendation, four if possible and two from people that recognize the fact that you have a conviction.

‘Sit down and think about your life and all the relationships you have. It can be someone with whom you volunteer, an employer. People at your church. The pastor. If you’re a member of a community group, get the leader to write a letter,” said Felicia Espinosa, Root & Rebound’s Fresno site director and senior staff attorney, during the online forum. The recommendation letters can also come from former employers or even a landlord who you have a good relationship with.

When you ask people to write a recommendation letter, “Give them as much information as possible. Tell them what you want them to talk about. Be very specific. It makes it easier for them, and you’re going to get exactly what you want,” she said.

For example, if you volunteer for an organization, you might ask your boss to include the fact that you’re a very hard worker, you always show up on time and get along with the staff employees or other volunteers, if that is the case.

Friendly reminders are sometimes needed. Give the person who has agreed to write the letter a sample of what you want included. Offering to draft the letter for them can be helpful for some. And if you do draft any letters, remember that each person’s must be totally different.

Once you gather all of the items together, put each of them into a protective plastic sheet and arrange them in a binder. Make sure the first page has basic information about yourself and a note thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to interview you. If you’d like to give the prospective employer a copy of your turnaround packet, never give them the originals. Take copies of everything.

A lot of work, but worth it

It’s quite a lot of work, but your potential employer is sure to be impressed by your effort and, hopefully, by the changes you’ve made in your life. The process of putting together the turnaround packet will help you realize many positive things to talk about in your interview and give you confidence when the day arrives.

Remember to plan ahead and decide the things to highlight and emphasize that will demonstrate your rehabilitation. This is important, since you may not have enough time to go through your entire packet with the hiring manager during the interview.

A turnaround packet can also be useful to share with your family and friends, as well as in family court and other court proceedings, emphasizing to the court and all those who review it how you truly have changed and been rehabilitated.

In a later blog article, we will discuss the turnaround talk that you can prepare to go with the turnaround packet.

Using proper body language in an interview can help you get the job

body languageExperts say that potential employers will make up their mind about you during the first few seconds after meeting you. And it has a lot to do with body language.

The importance of body language cannot be underestimated. Most job seekers spend hours and hours thinking about and practicing what they’re going to say. But they should also spend some time considering how they’re going to use nonverbal communication to establish rapport with the hiring manager.

It starts with a handshake

It all starts with the initial handshake, which believe it or not, can make or break an interview. When you first meet the interviewer, they will probably offer you their hand.  Watch for their cue before you extend yours. Then squeeze their hand firmly – not too hard or too soft and avoid the limp or “dead fish” handshake, which will make a horrible impression.

Be sure to make eye contact and smile. Even if you might be nervous, let them know that you are happy to be there and excited about the job you are interviewing for.

Eye contact

Making eye contact is an important part of how you communicate. Looking in someone’s eyes helps establish rapport and shows that you are interested. Look them confidently in the eye, but don’t stare. That may make them feel uncomfortable

Be sure to make eye contact with the interviewer when they’re speaking and as much as possible when you’re speaking as well. If you are being interviewed by a panel of people, use what is sometimes referred to as the lighthouse technique. Look from one person to the next pausing briefly at each. But if a particular interviewer asks you a question, make sure to maintain steady eye contact with that person.

Practice using eye contact on a daily basis with friends and family. That way it will seem natural and you will become used to doing it. A good rule of thumb is each time you offer eye contact, make it long enough to notice the color of the other person’s eyes, or a little longer.

Good posture

Don’t’ slouch. Sit up straight in your chair and plant your feet firmly on the floor. This will show that you are confident and ready to tackle the questions that will be thrown your way.

Don’t cross your legs or your arms. Although the reason is open to interpretation, crossed arms are considered negative by most people. They are thought to be a sign of insecurity or a means of putting a barrier between yourself and others.

Put your arms by your side but feel free to gesture. “Talking” with your hands can add emphasis to what you say, but use gestures sparingly.

You will also want to nod your head while the interviewer is speaking to show that you are listening and engaged, and agree with what they’re saying (if you do).

Remember to smile

Like eye contact, a smile can establish rapport with the person or people interviewing you. Make sure you smile and smile sincerely. A smile shows that you are confident, at ease with yourself and will be a pleasant person to work with. It also offers connection and a sense of empathy which can demonstrate that you possess important soft skills, setting you apart from other job candidates.

It ends with a handshake

When the interview is over, the hiring manager will probably want to shake your hand again to conclude the process. Make sure to thank them for taking the time to interview you and put on your best smile.

In the days before an interview, practice your body language techniques to make sure that you’ll feel comfortable and it comes off as natural.

Try a power pose

Right before the interview you can also try a little trick that will improve the way you present yourself. It’s called a power pose – the hands-on-the-hips wonder woman pose or what an athlete does when he raises both hands above his head to celebrate victory after crossing the finish line. Researchers have found that assuming a power pose for two minutes before going into an interview gives people the confidence they need to make a favorable impression. It should also put you in the mindset to use your best body language.

Using the proper body language is an important skill and should help you make a good impression and get the job.

 

 

How to make an elevator pitch memorable

elevator pitch It isn’t often that we find a unique job search idea that we haven’t heard of before. After all, we’ve been writing blog articles on the subject for nearly eight years now and did a lot of research and gained extensive knowledge through writing our book, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed.

But recently we came across an article by Priscilla Tan on The Muse website that made us stop and think more creatively about the so-called elevator pitch.

Elevator pitch answers “tell me about yourself” question

Everyone who is searching for a job needs an elevator pitch, a 15- to 30 second speech that job seekers use to sell themselves and to answer the “tell me about yourself” question that almost always pops up in interviews. Its name comes from the fact that you should be able to give it during the time an elevator makes its way between a few floors.

The point of an elevator pitch is to draw attention to yourself and start a conversation. They can be – and usually are — pretty standard and dull. But they don’t have to be. They can go beyond the “I’m  (fill in the blank) who enjoys (fill in the blank) and has accomplished (fill in the blank), or the “what.”

Highlight the “why”

According to Tan, these speeches can speak to the “why” – or why you do the type of work you do. And we feel that they can also tell a story.

Stories can be used to demonstrate where someone finds meaning in their life. Offering the “why” embedded in a story can be a great way to convince someone you are a good fit for a job.

For example, a carpenter might say, “Ever since I was a child I liked to build things. When I was in high school I built a tree house that was the social center for my circle of friends. Since then I have worked on house construction and cabinets and have a special interest in building things from recycled wood, adding touches like stained glass windows from old homes that have been demolished. I love to be a part of creating something beautiful that people can use or live in.”

Another example for someone who works with computers: “I started to use a computer at age 3 and programmed my first video games in elementary school. I taught myself more advanced programming online and now design websites for restaurants and hotels, which I love to do because it brings out my creative side.”

The goal of an elevator pitch is to get hiring managers – and potential hiring managers who you might meet at a party or event – to remember you. It can also be a conversation starter.

Tips for presenting the best elevator pitch

But writing an elevator pitch is just the first step. To make sure that it is as good as it can be, you should:

  • Write it down and practice it every day until it becomes part of you.
  • Record it to see how you sound.
  • Do it in front of your family and/or friends.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Deliver it in a natural way that doesn’t sound memorized (even though it is).
  • Use conventional English – no slang.

Make sure you use your elevator pitch when you meet a new person at a party, event or in your neighborhood. You can never practice too much.

And who knows? One of these people might know someone who knows someone who just might be interested in hiring a person with your skills.

If you have a criminal record and are looking for work, don’t ever give up

Caroline Trude-Rede

Caroline Trude-Rede

Looking for work if you have a criminal record can be a Herculean task. One that requires more than a little out-of-the-box thinking. And perseverance that compels you to never give up no matter what it takes.

A woman in Florida named Caroline Trude-Rede is a perfect example of this. She left a comment on our Facebook page, and we knew from what she wrote that her story needed to be told.

Her message: Never take “no” for an answer. If you think you’re the right person for a job, make sure they know it. And don’t let them turn you down just because you have a record.

Here’s her story. The reason for her felony conviction and incarceration is a bit complicated, but it has to do with the fact that she received Veteran’s Administration benefits based on her father’s military service. The payments, which she thought were like a pension that would continue to be given to her, were actually supposed to stop at her mother’s death in 2003. The result was a felony charge of grand theft and a six-month sentence in federal prison – FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas – that began in January 2018. Up until that time she had never been arrested for anything.

But like most others with felony convictions, surviving prison wasn’t her only challenge. After release, she needed to find a job, not only to pay the bills but because her probation required that she work 32 hours per week.

Two-hundred applications, 10 interviews and no job

So Trude-Rede applied for about 200 jobs during the 3-1/2 months between the time of her release and until she became employed. She applied for a variety of types of work, including taking orders at Panera Bread, answering phones in call centers and stocking items at places like Target and Sam’s Club.

“I was willing to take anything to get employed. I have two college degrees and I was applying for jobs at entry level just to try and get a foot in the door,” she says.

Although Trude-Rede had about 10 interviews, no one would hire her, not even Universal Studios, where she had previously worked for five years in a professional position in the creative department.

And then she interviewed for a graphic designer position at an architectural firm. The interview – which was conducted by her direct boss, the president of the firm and a potential coworker – went well, and she knew that she was the perfect candidate for the job. In fact, she thought she would get it.

Trude-Rede brought up her felony conviction in the interview, but the president of the company had already left, after saying, “I see all I need to see. She is perfectly capable of doing the job.”

The human resources department then emailed her a form to complete for a background check. But 10 days after the original interview, she received an email stating that they had gone a different way.

She refused to take “no” for an answer

When she saw that the position was reposted online a few days later, however, she decided to take action. She refused to take “no” for an answer.

Trude-Rede sent an email stating why she’s the person they should hire. In the email, she included a link to an article on her blog explaining her incarceration, said that she’d never had any interaction with law enforcement before that point and mentioned all the things she had accomplished in prison.

In addition she explained the Federal Bonding Program that protects businesses from financial or property loss that might incur from hiring workers in “at risk” groups and mentioned that his company could also qualify for tax breaks and/or credits if they hire her.

And it worked. She sent the email on Friday, and on Monday she had a response and invitation to interview with the firm’s CEO/owner.

“He started off (the interview) by thanking me for my email and said that he was impressed by my tenacity. The fact that I wanted the job so much and was so determined was extremely impressive to him,” Trude-Rede said. “He also appreciated my honesty and candor. He said he wasn’t quite sure that everything went down exactly how I explained the story, but my frankness about everything was refreshing.”

The next day she received an offer letter and is now very happily employed. “I absolutely love the company. Not just because they took a chance on me, but I truly fit in there. I am not treated any differently by anyone who knows my story and was given a Christmas bonus after only being there three weeks,” she says.

The moral of this story

“Job seekers with a felony on their record should never give up on themselves or their dreams,” Trude-Rede says. “If they want to go back to school because they would like to do something they need a degree for and are worried about employment afterwards with the felony, I say go for it.”

“You define who you are, not what you did in the past. Be humble. Be brave. Know that it is going to be hard, but we all start somewhere. Take chances. A few minutes of courage could change your life. A five-minute email changed mine.”

From the editor: In preparation for interviewing, we suggest that you check out our interview tips, including how to create a turnaround talk and turnaround packet. Preparation and having a plan can make a big difference between getting a job offer or not. Good luck!

 

How to negotiate the salary or wage you think you deserve

negotiate the salaryOne of the most important steps in a job interview comes at the end when it’s time to negotiate your salary or hourly wage. The last thing you want to do is to accept a job and then discover later you should have been getting paid more.

To be confident you’ll be paid a fair rate for the particular job you’re accepting, the first step is to do a bit of homework before the interview.

Research pay ranges

First check out two or three websites that will give you an idea of what sort of salaries are paid for particular jobs in various locations:

  • Glassdoor.com allows you to just enter the type of work and the location, and it brings up a graph with the average salary for that job, adjustable by size of company and other criteria.
  • Payscale.com asks for additional information, including your years of experience, what type of businesses you have worked in, your level of education and the name of the college you attended, if any. It then gives you a chart of the salary range for that position.
  • Salaryexpert is another site you may want to try.
  • The American Job Center offers an hourly wage calculator by occupation and local area.

You can also check out similar job titles on online job boards like indeed.com or careerbuilder.com. Another tactic, although it may be a bit more difficult, is to find someone who works inside the company and ask them about wages paid there. Or just speak with other people in similar businesses to find out the industry standard for the type of work you’re looking for.

With this information in mind, you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be able to aim for in terms of pay.

Negotiating salary is essential

Although not everyone negotiates salaries – according to salary.com, 18 percent of the people it surveyed never negotiate their salary – it’s important to do so. Otherwise you might miss out on money you wouldn’t get if you didn’t have the confidence to ask.

If the hiring manager asks what salary you’re looking for early in the interview, tell them that you’d like to get to know more about the job and its requirements before discussing salary. It will work to your advantage if you take this approach.

And if they ask your salary history, you should be honest and tell them. But then you should also make your case that with your skills and experience, you think you’re worth more. Answering their salary question directly can also show that you’re candid and have integrity.

In some states it’s no longer legal to ask your past salary. In fact, a new Massachusetts law that went into effect on July 1, 2018 makes it illegal for any employer in that state to ask about current or past salaries. They must also publish pay ranges for all job openings. A similar bill has been passed by the California legislature and approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

Pay negotiations come last

The salary negotiation should come at the end of the interview – or during the last of a series of interviews – when the hiring manager is ready to make a job offer.

But be careful if they ask for your salary requirements. You may name a number that is too low, thus shortchanging yourself, or an amount above the company’s budget. Instead, say something like, “What is the salary range you have in mind for this position?”

If they tell you, you can say (if you agree), “Well that’s the range I had in mind. Are you willing to offer (name the amount at the top of the range, if you feel comfortable doing so).

And if the range for this particular job is lower than the average salary or pay that you’ve found through your research, you can reply with, “Based on the research I’ve done on jobs similar to this one in the area, I was hoping to receive a bit more. Are you willing to be flexible?”

If they only mention a single number, that “$60,000 is what we’re offering for this position,” for example, it could just be an opener for a negotiation. You can answer with, “Would you be willing to consider a slightly higher starting salary of, say, $65,000? Based on my research, this is the average for this type of work around here, and I’m confident that you will be happy with the skills and experience I will bring to the job.”

Keep in mind that it’s usually easier to get a higher salary before you accept a position than to wait for a raise that may or may not materialize. If the hiring manager insists that you start at a certain pay level but will get a raise in “x” amount of time, try to get it in writing. Sometimes verbal promises made during the hiring process are later forgotten.

Also keep in mind that with taxes figured in, the differences in various salaries may not be as great as you think. Benefits, including health insurance, vacation and sick pay can outweigh extra pay. You need to be realistic about income, especially if it’s your first job after being incarcerated. As long as it’s a living wage, you should be satisfied.

Take time to decide

The hiring manager may say that they’ll look into it – or they may say that’s the final offer. If it is the final offer, you need to decide whether to accept the job offer or not. And it’s best to take some time to think about it, so make sure to ask how long you have to make a decision. Not only do you appear more professional with this approach, but it will give you time to think about and weigh the options. Giving an applicant a few days to make a decision is common practice among employers these days.

Keep in mind that a negotiation is a discussion of pay and shouldn’t be adversarial. You and your potential employer are attempting to come to an agreement that, hopefully, will make you happy and will fall within the department’s budget for the position.

And ask for the salary offer in writing, especially if it’s a small company. If the hiring manager doesn’t typically do this, you may want to write an email confirming the fact that you are happy to accept the position, mentioning the salary that was offered.

Determining the cost of living

Especially for those who are just getting out of prison or jail, it could be useful to determine the cost of living in the place where you’d like to settle. That way you can determine if you can afford to live there or whether you might need to consider taking on more than one job. And you can find out the cost of living by using the MIT Living Wage Calculator

Just select a state and a county from the list on the website, and you can find out the living wage for 13 situations ranging from 1 working adult to 2 adults (1 working) and 2 adults with 3 children. The calculator also includes a list of typical expenses: food, childcare, medical, housing and transportation, as well as the required annual income before taxes, so people will know how much they will need to earn.

For some in reentry and just returning to the workforce this very useful tool can be shared with the hiring manager, if needed, to influence a pay rate that is at least in line with a living wage.

From the editor: Bringing notes to your interview is considered acceptable by most hiring managers. Not only do your notes help to calm your nerves during an interview and offer a reminder of the key points to cover, they can also serve to express your preparedness and professionalism to the hiring manager. Bullet points and short phrases as reminders, and questions to ask can all be useful. Asking good questions can also help to make a favorable impress with the hiring manager, and having them written down makes for less that needs to be remembered.

A unique approach to handling a job interview over lunch

job interview over lunchA while back Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s social science correspondent, had an interesting segment on scientific research proving how eating the same food can bring people closer together. And it’s something you might want to consider if you’re having a job interview over lunch.

He interviewed Ayelet Fishback of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. She and a colleague ran a series of food-related experiments, including one in which a group of volunteers playing union members and managers were negotiating hourly wages.

The two members of each pair were either both given candy, both given salty snacks or one received candy and the other salty snacks. It turned out that when each was eating something different it took twice as many rounds of negotiations to make the wage decision than if they were both eating the same thing.

The researchers admit that the process is probably unconscious. They don’t exactly understand how it works but suspect that eating the same food creates trust and fosters cooperation.

This may be something to keep in mind when you get together for a job interview that involves a meal.

Important tips to keep in mind for a lunch interview

But then there are also many other things to do:

  • Prepare as you would for a normal interview, although often an invitation to a meal is the second or third interview, so you may have dealt with all the ordinary interview questions previously.
  • Either way, taking you to lunch is a chance for the employer to observe how you act in a social situation and get to know you informally. Make sure you plan ahead for some interesting things to talk about (along with the usual answers to typical interview questions). Try to stay clear of anything controversial, including political subjects. Also keep the conversation professional and be careful what you say in general.
  • Research the restaurant ahead of time to get an idea of the ambience and location. Study the menu and think about what you might like to order (in case you don’t want to order the same thing as the interviewer, although we suggest you do when possible). Also, if there’s something interesting you learned about the building it’s in or the food it serves, you can use that as a topic of conversation.
  • Arrange a meeting place preferably in front of the restaurant, so you won’t have trouble identifying the person you’re meeting with. And if you’ve never met them look for their photo online so they’ll be easier to recognize.
  • Dress professionally appropriate to the job you’ve applied for.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early.
  • Practice a power pose to boost your confidence.
  • Turn off your cell phone and don’t check it – not even once – during the meal.
  • Try to relax and enjoy yourself.
Make sure to mind your manners

Practice proper etiquette:

  • Don’t order the most expensive – or the cheapest – item on the menu.
  • Don’t order alcohol, even if your host does. Alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions, and you might say something you didn’t intend to.
  • Order something easy to eat.
  • Be polite to the waitstaff.
  • Wait until everyone receives their meal before you begin to eat.
  • Eat slowly, and don’t talk with your mouth full.
  • Make eye contact with the person interviewing you and others if more than one person comes.
  • Don’t forget your manners. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Try to eat everything, if possible, and never ask for a doggy bag.
  • When finished, put your knife and fork on the plate and carefully fold your napkin and place it beside the plate.
  • Let the host pick up the bill. You were invited.

Follow these rules, and your interview should be a success.

And don’t forget to follow up with a thank you note.

 

How to get an interview by offering to help hiring managers solve their problems

Get an interviewAs many jobseekers have discovered, contacting HR (human resource) departments or applying online – where resumes also tend to end up in HR – are rarely effective job search techniques.

In fact, the primary purpose of HR departments is to screen people out. We recommend avoiding HR and instead contacting the hiring manager of the department you want to work in. If it’s a small company, that person might be the owner or president.

And when you contact them, there’s a unique approach you may want to try.

A very unique process for getting an interview

To carry out this approach you should first create a list of companies where you might want to work. A good way to find these companies is by using CareerOneStop’s business finder database. Include as many companies as you can within whatever specifications you set, whether it’s the distance from where you live, the size of the company, the products it produces or the services it offers, or whatever.

Then the real research begins. Decide which department would use your talent and skills, and find out the name of the hiring manager for that department.

You may be able to find them on the company’s website. Or you might try using the “advanced search” function on LinkedIn and entering the company name and a variety of manager titles, which could bring up the name of the manager you’re looking for and their correct title. You can do the same thing by doing a general internet search – Google a manager title and company, and see what comes up.

If neither of these work, you can call the company’s main telephone number and ask the person who answers the phone to give you the name of the manager in whatever department you’ve decided would be the right one.

Once you have the hiring manager’s name, you’re ready to begin this process, which is different than any other we’ve ever heard about it.

The idea comes from Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace in Boulder, Colo., and author of Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want & Career You Deserve.

Determining business pain is the key

This technique is all about business pain. In other words, you have to figure out what challenges and problems the hiring manager may be facing and let them know how you can help solve them or “lessen their pain.”

Once you’ve zeroed in on the companies you want to work for, do some research on them and others like them to see what kinds of problems they or their industry are facing. If ideas for these problems aren’t obvious from what you already know, search the internet, check out LinkedIn and read local business publications.

If you live in a city with a Business Journal or Business Times (search by using “name of city” and business journal or business times), you have an excellent resource. These newspapers provide invaluable insight and most can be searched online. While some of these are independent publications, many belong to a group known as American City Business Journals, which has publications in 40 cities across the U.S.

If you’re looking for blue-collar work, think about the challenges and problems you’ve encountered in the type of work you do and how you’ve created ways to deal with – or solve –  them.

Now comes the creative part. You’re going to write what Ryan calls a “pain letter.” Instead of promoting your talents and skills like you would in a normal cover letter, you address the issues your potential next boss may be facing.

How to write a “pain letter”

Your brief pain letter should begin by complimenting the hiring manager on something the company has recently accomplished, whether winning a new award, releasing a new product, discovering a new way to operate or whatever.

The next paragraph, according to Ryan, should be a “pain hypothesis,” something you think might be troubling the hiring manager and that you know about from your previous experience.

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For example, you might write, “I can imagine that you sometimes have trouble because there aren’t enough people scheduled to work on your manufacturing production line, and it could slow down.”

Then tell what Ryan refers to as ­­­­­­a dragon slaying story, how you had this problem and solved it in a previous position.

For example, you might write, “When I was the production supervisor at Excellent Technologies, I instituted a new training program for the 30 assemblers on the manufacturing line that trained at least two people for every position. That way if a person was absent, there was always someone else to take their place. And slowdowns became a thing of the past.”

The letter should be as brief as possible, and all that remains is the closing.

For that you might write something like, “If production line slowdowns or stoppages are something that your company is challenged with, I would love to talk to you when you have some time. Sincerely, Jack Rogers”

Once you finish your pain letter, Ryan suggests printing it out along with your resume or JIST card and mailing it to the hiring managers you’ve targeted. Yes, you read it right. Snail mail. That way they’ll surely see it when it lands on their desk. If you don’t hear back in a week or two, she recommends changing the date on the letter and sending it again.

Still no response? Pick up the phone and call, but do that before or after hours. That’s when you’ll be more likely to reach the hiring manager. Don’t leave a voice mail message, Ryan warns. It’s better to keep calling until you get them on the line. Then you can have a conversation and tell them verbally what you wrote in your pain letter. And if they think you can help alleviate “their pain,” the end result will be an interview.

This is a rather revolutionary technique, and it might not always work, but it sure beats submitting your resume on a job board and having it disappear into the black hole.

 

 

Five pre-interview confidence builders that may help you get the job

pre-interview confidence boostersIf you haven’t been for a job interview in a while and are beginning to feel nervous, that’s OK and perfectly normal. Even someone with extensive interview experience can get the jitters or butterflies in their stomach when the day arrives.

But don’t worry. There are things to do so you can participate in that interview – and any others in the future – more relaxed and confident.

Here are our five favorites:

  1. Strike a power pose. – Few things are likely to make you more confident than imagining you’re Wonder Woman or Superman or that you’ve just won a major athletic competition. And there’s an easy way to do that. It’s called a power pose. About 10 minutes before your interview, go into the bathroom, put your hands on your hips – like Wonder Woman or Superman – and pose for a couple of minutes. If you prefer another style, pump your arms up into the air like athletes do after they cross the finish line or finish a competition. Try it. It works, and there are scientific studies to prove it.

 

  1. Dress for success. – As they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And much of that first impression may come from the way you dress for the interview. Research the company where you’re interviewing to get an idea of the employee dress style and dress a bit above that. Wear something that feels comfortable and that you know looks good on you. If you can’t afford interview attire, try to find an organization in your area that will supply you with free professional clothing. And don’t forget. The most important thing you can wear is a smile, and there is research to back up this claim.

 

  1. Get a pep talk. – Ask a close friend or relative to call you a few hours before the interview to say some good things about you. Encourage them to tell you what your strong points are, the reasons that you’re an excellent candidate for the job, and why they should hire you.

 

  1. Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more. – There are few things that will give you more confidence than being prepared for an interview. Rehearse the way you will introduce yourself to the hiring manager in front of a mirror, and practice giving a confident handshake. Search the Internet for job interview questions, and rehearse the answers out loud. Research the company where you’re applying so you understand what they do and can tailor your answers accordingly.

 

  1. Remind yourself that you were chosen. – And most important of all, remember that you were selected to be considered for the job. Out of those who have applied, the hiring manager believes that you are a viable candidate for serious consideration. Keep this fact in mind. It can be the best confidence booster of all.

 

 

How to dress for an interview and for success at work

How to dressWhat you decide to wear for an interview can help make or break your chances of getting the job.

It’s important to make a positive impression by dressing appropriately. Studies have shown that hiring managers make a decision on a particular candidate within the first few minutes of the interview. Their opinion is based on how they dress, their body language, their handshake and the way they speak.

Before the interview you need to do a bit of homework. Be sure to look at the company’s website to see pictures of employees and what they wear. Many job search experts suggest dressing a bit better than what you would wear every day for the job being applied for, but don’t overdo it. Dressing appropriately shows you understand the company culture and will be likely to fit in.

Where to find free interview clothing

Once you understand the dress style, you can go shopping and purchase an interview outfit, if you can afford one. Otherwise you can go to one of the nonprofits that give away free interview clothing and work with them to create something to wear. You may be able to find one of these nonprofits in our online directory of organizations nationwide.

Job search experts recommend that women should not overdue the makeup. In fact, many say to wear as little as possible. Pay attention to shoes, which should match the style of your outfit and be comfortable and polished. Needless to say, tattoos should be covered, if at all possible. And don’t forget to wear a smile.

The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident, so you will do well in the interview.

Once you get the job, then what?

After spending the first few days at your new employer, you’ll have an even better understanding of what’s considered acceptable attire.

Payscale survey finds most companies have dress codes

In a survey conducted by Payscale of 34,000 employees between November 2016 and January 2017, 49% said their company had an explicit dress code. Another 19% said that although there is not a dress code, pressure exists to dress a certain way.

The research found that companies in western states were most likely to have a casual dress code, while those in the southeast were least likely to have one.

And it also found a correlation between dress style and salary. The median salary for employees at companies with a:

  • Formal business dress code is $57,800.
  • Business casual dress code is $53,700.
  • Business Casual dress code is $50,300.
  • Requirement to wear work uniforms is $38,300.
How to dress for success at your new job

Be sure to understand and follow your company’s dress code, if there is one. Otherwise just look around and determine what people doing a job similar to yours are wearing and what the bosses are wearing to get a good understanding of the company’s dress culture.

Here are a few tips that women may want to follow:

  • Don’t wear clothes that are too flashy or look like you’d rather be in a nightclub than at work.
  • Make sure your dress or blouse is not too revealing. In other words, don’t show cleavage.
  • Skirts and dresses should not be shorter than knee-length.
  • Avoid heavy makeup.
  • Super high heeled shoes are not only inappropriate, but they can be difficult to walk in.
  • Don’t make a statement with your jewelry. Keep it simple and conservative.
  • Avoid wearing fake fingernails, and if you use nail polish make sure it’s not an unusual or eccentric color and that all of your fingernails are painted the same color.
  • Cover up tattoos, if possible.
  • Avoid wearing strong perfume.

Here are a few tips that men may want to follow:

  • In most office jobs, khaki pants and long-sleeved button-down shirts will work just fine.
  • Those who must wear a suit should stick with white or pastel colored shirts and black, gray or dark blue slacks with a matching coat or a sports coat.
  • Make sure your tie is properly tied if you have to wear one.
  • Avoid boldly designed ties. Rather, stick to single colors or simple designs.
  • Choose brown or black leather shoes, and be sure to keep them polished.
  • If T-shirts are allowed, be careful not to wear any with inappropriate designs or messages.
  • Cover up tattoos, if possible.
  • Avoid wearing strong cologne.

Above all, it’s important to remember that the whole point of proper attire is to draw attention to the talent you bring to the job and your abilities to perform the work rather than what you look like and the clothes you wear.