Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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Your on-line brand – what does it say?

Like it or not your on-line presence could make the difference between you getting your next job or not.

Think about your on-line brand - including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, blogs etc. Will your on-line presence paint you in a positive light?

It is now extremely easy to put your views and opinions in the public domain and once they are out there these are available for anyone who wants to find them. There are even aggregator sites now that will crawl the web to compile a full on-line presence report.

I don’t care what anyone says, but most potential employers and recruiters will Google candidates. They are also likely to check the more popular social media sites. They would be mad not to – it could be as valuable (if not more valuable) than a reference check.

If they find a Facebook profile photo of you that they deem inappropriate or find a blog that you author which does not match their views/values that may be the end of the road for you; and no-one will ever tell you that you didn’t get the job due to your Facebook photo or your latest Tweets.

I’m not suggesting that you sterilize all of your on-line activities, but make sure that you have adequate security settings (especially on Facebook) to stop people seeing things that you may not want them to see.

Give it a try – Google yourself right now and see what comes up.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

During the interview - my top 10 things to remeber

Things to keep in mind during the interview:
  • Show enthusiasm – there is nothing worse than interviewing a personal who gives the impression they do not want to be there.
  • Be confident, but not cocky or arrogant.
  • Listen to the question – do not cut the interviewers off. Let them finish their questions before you answer.
  • Think about your answers. Do not be afraid to think, pause or ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify a question. 
  • Speak slowly and clearly – make sure that the interviewers fully understand your responses.
  • Give real life examples to back up your answers and speak in the active first person - i.e. " I did...", "I was responsible for...". 
  • Use open body language. Open your body to the interviewer, and be sure to give eye contact.
  • Answer the person who asked the question. It is tempting to find 1 person to talk to – the one you perceive as the nicest (easiest to convince), but make sure that you connect with the person who asked the question. Interviews find it frustrating when an interviewee only talks to 1 interviewer.
  • Do not be afraid to laugh with the interviewers. This does not mean that you should start telling jokes, but there is nothing wrong with being light-hearted if the opportunity is there. An interview does not need to be formal for the entire duration. If you are relaxed and this will rub off on the interviewers.
  • Ask questions – do not wait until the end to ask questions, if the opportunity arises during the interview ask the question. A flowing conversational interview is easier for all concerned.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Interviews - first impressions

Greeting and Introductions
When greeted by the interviewer make sure that you give a firm handshake. This is nothing worse than a limp feeble handshake. On the other hand you do not want to squeeze the life out of the interviewers hand with a vice-like grip.

Be mindful that there will be at least 2 people in most interviews, sometimes 3.

As you are introduced, shake hands with each person in turn (make eye contact with each) and try to repeat their name as you do so. Repeating a persons name when you first meet them helps with remembering names. “Hi John, pleased to meet you”, “Anne, nice to meet you”, “Hi Kate, how are you” and so on. It’s simple, it’s polite.

Try not avoid colloquialisms such as “G’day” and “How you going”.

Be positive, but stay genuine
They will, no doubt, ask you how you are – when they do be positive. Even if you have had the morning from hell, keep your answer up beat and positive. Do not go over the top with an over-enthusiastic “I’m fantastic, really good, awesome” – there are a lot of personal development coaches out there who push the ‘over-positive greetings’. These are cheesy and people see through them.

Be polite, be easy and don't mint it
You are in ‘their house’ so wait for them to invite you to sit down.

If they offer you a drink, tea, coffee, water. If you can see a jug of water but no sign tea or coffee, stick to water. Unless there is a tea or coffee machine in view don’t make life difficult for them by asking for a hot drink.

There may be sweets/mints on the table – think before you eat.
  • Are the sweets hard and will they clunk around in your mouth as you are trying to speak?
  • Are they soft and sticky and will they stick to the roof of your mouth?
  • Are they individually wrapped? What will you do with the wrapper?
If after all that you think it’s safe - feel free to have 1, but don’t work your way through the entire bowl during the interview. It may sound funny, but I have had a guy devour and entire bowl of Minties as I interviewed him and left all the wrappers on the table when he left. Needless to say he did not leave a great impression.

First impressions do last so make sure that you create a good one!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Interviews - Reading while you wait

Your choice of reading material could be more important that you realise.

10-15 minutes before the interview go directly to the floor/office specified and notify the receptionist of your arrival.

Most offices will have a waiting area. The table will more than likely have some publications on it. Usually there will be a number of publications relating to the organisation – i.e. a departmental magazine/newsletter, an industry publication or annual report. These will normally be accompanied by a few general interest magazines such as ‘Home and Garden’, ‘TV Weekly’, ‘Women’s Day’ etc…..

Always pick up one of the publications that relate to the employer – i.e. the internal magazine or the annual report. You may learn something important in the minutes before the interview, or you may just get a better feel for the organisation. Even if you are not really interested, it is worth picking the magazine and pretending to read it. An interviewer will notice which publication you were looking at, and it could go in your favour.

Do not be afraid to refer to the publication during the interview if the opportunity arises. For example you could start a question in the interview with “I was just reading the departmental news letter in reception and it mentioned , I wonder if you could give me some more information about this?” This instantly shows the interviewer that you have a genuine interest.

Remember that interviews are very much about showing the interviewers what they want to see - so don't be afraid to put on an act and do things that you may not normally do - like reading a boring old annual report!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Interviews - Be Early

"Better late than never" does not apply to interviews.  Being late for an interview is not acceptable and is not excusable.

Aim to get to the interview at least 10 minutes early.

If you are relying on public transport and you have the choice of arriving 30 minutes early or 2 minutes early, always take the 30 minute option. Even getting into the vicinity of the interview 1 hour early is better than arriving 1 minute late.

Obviously you do not want to arrive at the interview 30 minutes early, so take a walk around, clear you head, relax, read through your resume again, re-read the job description.

You could also use this extra time to see what’s around – lunch option, shops, child care facility, gym etc. You may see some facilities in the area that trigger a question in the interview or that may in some way help you to answer a question….. for example:
Q – “….you are returning to work after taking a year out to raise a family. What are your plans in the way of child care?”
A – “The childcare centre around the corner looks great. I popped in there for a brief chat and they have places and have long opening hours which would suit perfectly. Do you know if there are any other parents here that use the facility? Do you know anything about the facility?”

Tick and Tick – your answer shows that you are serious about the job, proactive, and also interested in their views and opinions. Small things like this can make all the difference.

Compare the above scenario to this:
Q – “….you are returning to work after taking a year out to raise a family. What are your plans in the way of child care?”
A – “Not sure. Haven’t given it much thought yet. I’ll look into it if I am offered the job.”

You have just Failed.

Using that extra 15 minutes to check out the local area could pay off.  Don’t waste it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview Tips - Be kind on the nose

There are a few different aspects to this and it’s not as obvious at it may seem at first.

Personal hygiene
The obvious part – shower, clean hair, brush teeth, gents - clean shaven, deodorant, subtle perfume or aftershave.

Don’t over power them
Do not overuse the deodorant, perfume or aftershave. Keep in mind that the more you use a product the more accustomed you become to the smell of it. You essentially become immune to it, so you inadvertently end up putting more on over time without realising it. Generally those around you do not notice as the change is gradual. However people you meet for the first time in a confined area may well find the scent overpowering.

On interview day back off – use less than you normally would. Do not be tempted to splash that bit extra on just for good measure.

Lingering lunch
Try not to eat right before the interview. If you find that you do not have a choice make sure you do not eat or drink anything right before the interview that may linger on your breath – i.e. onion, coffee etc. Avoid foods like burgers that may repeat on you (especially if you eat them quickly).  Eat slowly and chew your food - this will reduce the chances of an embarrassing 'food repeat' during the interview.

Smokey Joe
Do not smoke before going into the interview. Interviews can be stressful and you might need a ciggie before you go in, but try not to have your puff just before you walk in the building. The smell lingers and interviewers will smell it on you. It shouldn’t, but it may go against you, so better safe than sorry and no smoking within 30 minutes of the interview. – and make sure you have your last smoke in an open area (ideally not surrounded by other smokers)

Final freshen up
Before going into the interview have a mint to freshen the breath. Chewing gum is an alternative, but make sure that you find a bin outside the building and discard the gum before you go in. Interviews are a No Gum Zone!

If you get the chance just before the interview it’s a good idea to pop to the loo and wash your hands – and I mean wash your hands!

Monday, June 6, 2011

INTERVIEW DAY – Don't go hungry!

Have breakfast

As they say – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Feeling hungry during an interview is not a good feeling – feeling hungry or thirsty can increase anxiety and it may slow down your ‘little grey cells’.

Having a healthy, nutritious low GI breakfast is likely to help your concentration and will eliminate any embarrassing grumbling noises from an empty stomach.

Don’t skip breakfast if you are running late – don’t run late. Give yourself enough time to eat before you leave the house.

Healthy lunch - balance your glucose
If you are interviewing in the afternoon, again have something healthy and low GI for lunch.  Try to steer clear of high GI and high sugar or fatty foods just before the interview.  Spikes in glucose levels can leave you lethargic, slow and tired - none of which are good in an interview.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview Tip - Dress to impress

Wearing out
Make sure that you know what you are going to wear. If possible a day or 2 before the interview make sure that everything is clean, pressed and shoes polished. At that stage you still have time to do something about it.

Dress for success
No matter what the job, always dress to impress.

Wear you best suit for the occasion – make sure that your clothes are clean and pressed. Neutral, clean colours are best. Keep it classic.

You would be surprised how many people look at your shoes. Shoes are probably one of the most under-rated articles of clothing – especially by men.

You could be wearing the best looking suit imaginable, but if your shoes are old, scuffed and dirty you may as well be wearing your PJs. It does not take much to run a bit of polish over your shoes the night before the interview and it can make a huge difference – oh, and be sure to polish shoes the night before and not once you have your nice clean white shirt on – Murphy’s Law saws that you WILL get show polish on yourself!

There are different views on glasses, but I would say wear them. There are a few reasons for this. Glasses will generally soften the face and make your eyes look larger which in turns makes you look more friendly, approachable and interested. Like it or not there is also the old subconscious stereotype that glasses make you look more intelligent – yes, it’s a stereotype, but use it to your advantage.

Now a couple of gender specific things
For Ladies
  • there is nothing wrong with wearing a trouser suit
  • revealing is not good. Despite the old comedy stereotypes, short skirts and low cut tops will not get you a job.

For Gents
It is said that coloured shirts on men show confidence, but be mindful that heat and stress cause perspiration and if invited to remove your jacket, a coloured shirt may disclose your anxiety more than a white shirt.

A white shirt is by far the safest option.






Thursday, June 2, 2011

Interview Tip - PREPARATION (3)

Refresh & Paractice

Before the interview, re-read:
  • the job description/advert
  • your application
  • your cover letter
  • your resume
  • your selection criteria responses
You will be questioned on these.  There is also nothing wrong in taking a copy of any or all of the above documents with you on the day of the interview.

If you are not confident or do not have much experience of interview try to practice with a friend or family member.

It's not easy to role play in this way and it can be embarrassing, but it can help.

Treat this as a practice and not a rehearsal – don’t try to memorise answers, instead use this exercise to get you thinking.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Interview Tip - PREPARATION (2)

Know your enemy

If you have applied for a job with them you will hopefully know something about them…. Well, maybe not.

Due to economic pressures job seekers are more likely to apply for ‘any job’ without really knowing too much about the company. Although strictly speaking there is nothing wrong with this approach, it does carry some risk:
  • Firstly during the interview. The question “…what do you know about our company?” is pretty common during an interview and you should be prepared to answer it; and answer it well.
  • Secondly, if you are offered a job you may find that the company culture, ethos, or working environment does not match your personal views/requirements.
So – find out as much as you can about the company before the interview!

First stop – Google!
Check out the company website.
Have a look at any recent news stories/press releases
Blogs – what do employees or customers say about the company

Do you research.
  • Who are they?  
    Find out some background information about the organisation. Make sure that you know about their products, services, systems/applications, management/ownership structure. What you don’t know – ask during the interview.
  • Questions please?  
    "No, I think we’ve covered everything” is not something that an interviewer want to hear when they ask if you have any questions. Make sure that you have some questions prepared, and make sure that they are relevant – it always helps if you are actually interested in the answer.
    Try not to ask the same old cliché questions like “is there parking?”, “what is your policy on training?”…..
    Think about things that you really want to know about your potential employer and do not be afraid to put the interviews on the spot and make them think.