3 Things To Avoid Doing When A Recruiter Calls You

You only get to make a first impression once. When it comes to your career, maximizing those opportunities is paramount. In most instances it is not enough to be good at what you do if you are trying to get a new job, you must also do well in your interactions. Once you have found a job that you are interested and you have applied, the next step is to wait for the communication to have your interview set up. Now depending on the recruiter this communication will either come in an email or it will come as a phone call. Now with an email it is pretty straight forward. It is easy to craft a simple, straight to the point email expressing when you are able to have a conversation. As long as you aren’t overly difficult or go out of the way to mess up your chances, this will most likely happen without incident. Now a phone call can be much more difficult to navigate. While the purpose of this call is to set up a time for the two of you to talk, the recruiter, who talks to candidates all day everyday typically takes a lot more away from a call like. Just in that in that first call alone recruiters are able to gauge communication skills, enthusiasm about the opportunity and preparedness. So while it seems like a relatively inconsequential conversation, in a competitive market, it is critical to be maximizing every bit of communication you are afforded. As someone who has had thousands of these of calls I put together a list of common things I have run into that you should avoid doing when you are contacted by a recruiter.


Coming off as disinterested 


Every recruiter who has ever done this job for any significant amount of time has had someone turn down as offer. In this line of work it is one of the worst things that can happen to a recruiter. Sometimes we work on a role for a long time, put a lot of focus into, become well versed on the ins and outs, interview many candidates, search far and wide to find what we think is the perfect candidate just to have an offer extended and have it turned down. We go from the excitement of filling the role to feeling the overwhelming despair of starting over. For this very reason we are always on the lookout for the signs that a person might ultimately make the decision to not accept the role if its offered to them. Whether or not you even want to fine tune this sixth sense it just happens to you. Through a trial and error process you start to notice things about candidates who will back out, accept the role, do well or become a horror story. One of the big flashing red warning signs is if you have a candidate sound as if he or she is setting up a dentist appointment. When you are offered a chance to interview for a job you want, you would think there would be some excitement associated with that. So if you end up talking to a recruiter about setting up an interview and you sound as if is more a chore than an opportunity, you are certainly getting off on the wrong foot. You don’t need to be bubbly and over the top, but show some enthusiasm and thank the recruiter for calling you.


Asking which company and which position it is


Now that might seem like weird advice. Some of you are probably thinking “But Ben, don’t I need to know what company and what position I am interviewing for?” The answer to that question is a resounding yes. You absolutely need to know what the role is but like most things in life there is a wrong and a right way to go about it. Most recruiters who call you will say who they are with or representing and what the position is, so it really shouldn’t be an issue. Also, it’s probably best as a job seeker to not be applying to so many places that when one of them calls you, you have absolutely no idea what it’s for. However if they don’t make mention of that information and you aren’t sure which company and role it is, make sure you ask in a polite way. Phrasing like “Excuse me, what was the company name and the position title?” is an acceptable way to ask. The wrong way to ask is to say something like, “Wait, which role is this? And which company, I have been sending out a lot of applications.” While that might be true, no recruiter wants to hear that. When I hear that several thoughts pop into my mind. Well this person is interviewing everywhere, I don’t want to get into a bidding war if we get to the offer stage. Wow this person seems unprepared to field this call, are they really interested? Why is this person interviewing at so many places? Is something going on in their current role that necessitates such an aggressive approach to finding a new job? None of these questions are good questions. It’s not like a recruiter is going to think, “wow this person is so in demand that they aren’t able to remember the role!” So make sure you position yourself so that you come off as polite and deliberate.


Pushing the date back too far


One of the biggest mistake I see if someone pushing the date of the interview back too far. There are times people ask to speak with me a week later or even two or three. From personal experience I can tell you that is too late. If you want to do a first round phone interview more than a week after the recruiter calls you to schedule, there is a good chance you might be wasting your time. To explain why they me tell you about the interview process real quick. Once a position is approved and sent to a recruiter, they schedule a call with the hiring manager to discuss what they are looking for. Once that call occurs the position is posted. If we assume a handful of qualified applicants apply within the first ten days or so, the recruiter is going to pick the top three, four or five candidates and call them to interview them. The recruiter will batch schedule them so that they all occur in a relatively short period of time so that they can send over the slate of candidates to the hiring manager so they can decide who they want to move forward with. If the recruiter suggests a day or perhaps a couple of days, that is the period of time the recruiter is planning on talking to every single person they intend on talking to for the role. So, if you push back a week or two past the suggested time, the recruiter is not going to wait for your interview to be completed to send over the others. The hiring manager will see your information way later if at all. In fact the recruiter might go back and call another candidate they didn’t plan on speaking with just to get another in that group they submit over to the hiring manager. If you push your interview back a week and a half for example, the recruiter might have interviewed three candidates, made a recommendation for action and the hiring manager might have already conducted phone interviews. In fact the might have made further decisions about who they would like to schedule for onsite interviews. If that happens, your only hope is that the onsite interview goes poorly and they want to restart the search. Even if your phone interview goes great with the recruiter, if the recruiter has other people in process they will be unlikely to submit you because starting your interview process would only distract from what might be the conclusion of a successful search. So while we are all busy, sometimes it all comes down to timing. So my advice is find a way. Don’t push the interview back too far or you might just be pushing yourself right out of the process.


So there you have it. Those are my 3 things to avoid doing when a recruiter calls you. If you can avoid these missteps you will be getting off to the right start and you will position yourself to have success in the upcoming interviews. If you want to find out how to possibly surpass or guarantee success on the phone screen check out one of my more popular posts using the following link The Fastest Way to Almost Guarantee an Onsite Interview. If you have any questions or comments or perhaps think I am totally wrong, please feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!

5 Things Smart Interviewers Do in the Lobby

We have all been there. You have arrived 15 minutes early (not part of the 5 things but certainly a smart idea) and you are waiting in the lobby, nervous, for your interview to start. Hopefully at this point you have prepared, done adequate research on the company and have done everything you can to do a great job in the interview. However. Don’t stop now! There are still things you can be doing that will position you to not only do well in your interview but also things you can do to help you decide if you actually want the job. If you are spending the 15 minutes prior to your interview playing Clash of Clans, while widely entertaining, you aren’t doing anything to benefit yourself for the interview. You may have a lively Facebook or Twitter feed but let’s face it, that stuff is a distraction and right now you don’t need that. The rest of this post is about doing that’s that will best position you for success, in the very last moments you have to prepare.


Be nice to the receptionist

The first thing that you need to do when you walk in is be nice to the receptionist. For one, it’s just a good life policy to be nice to people but secondly it could really impact how you are viewed within the company. How so you ask? Well the person interviewing you is going to come and get you from the lobby and most likely is going to drop you off. If you were unpleasant, have you ever thought that the hiring manager might ask the receptionist if you were kind when you came in? Perhaps if you were polite or how you were while you waited? Or perhaps they might ask what you were doing. Sure, this doesn’t always happen but it does happen. So besides the fact that being kind costs you nothing, it is always better to air on the side of caution because you never know.


Look over prepared answers

If you have ready any of my other blog posts then you know how I feel about preparation. In my opinion preparation is king. One of the things I like to do is write down questions I feel like I am likely to be asked and then right below that I write out my answers to those questions. I always bring a folder of some sort with twice the amount of paper resumes I imagine I could potentially need, a notepad and these questions and answers. I’ve heard many horror stories of people being asked questions they knew how to answer but then blanking on the day of the interview. This happens and a great way to combat that is to be practicing answers like this right up until the last minute.


Look at the conditions of the office & the workers

Not everything is about you impressing the people there. Some of interviewing is you deciding whether or not the job is a great fit for you. When you arrive at your location, literally from the moment you drive into their parking lot until the moment you leave, everything there is information about what working there would be like. Is the parking lot full? How do the grounds look, are they nicely maintained? When you are greeted by the receptionist, do they seem happy or are they miserable? All the people you see walking around, what is there body language telling you? Are they miserable, are they in a rush, do they seem happy? Sure, seeing one person smiling doesn’t mean working there is like being at Disneyworld, if you see patterns, perhaps that does tell you something. What about the lobby, how does it look? Good places to work tend to put a lot of effort and resources into a creating a nice and welcoming space in their lobby. If they haven’t done that, perhaps you should ask yourself why. What does that say about them?


Turn off your phone

Today people are incredibly attached to their phones. While I totally get that, never make the mistake of leaving your phone on during an interview. A simple vibration, let alone an actual sound could derail an otherwise promising interview. Whatever you were going to use your phone for it can wait, you shouldn’t need it anyway so you might as well turn it off.



Recently I was walking to the bathroom and I saw a candidate of mine in the lobby. This was about 4 minutes before the interview was going to start, so they could have been brought back at any moment. I looked closer and I realized that the candidate had a giant frown on their face. Instead of looking happy and energized, they looked as if they were about to go into a dentist appointment. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “does this person not want this job, are they not excited about the opportunity?” Whether or not this impression is accurate, it is the impression given off when you look at someone who looks unhappy to be there. Not only that but smiling has actually been proven to improve your mood. So if you are nervous and that is impacting your mood, just smiling will put you in a better mood and put you in the right frame of mind to be successful.


Just remember, it starts the moment you walk in. You never know who is seeing you and how you are coming off. If you can manage to do these 5 smart things interviewers do in the lobby you will be putting yourself at an advantage and increasing the odds you receive an offer. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. Thanks!

3 Smart Things to do When You Don’t Get the Job

There are few things that are more disappointing than interviewing, sometimes three or four times just to end up not getting chosen for a role. Coming in second place is very bittersweet. It’s good to know that they liked you as a candidate but when you want a role and you get passed over it’s a depressing feeling. That being said, once you have found out you can decide how you are going to handle it. My personal preference is to handle it with class and try to set myself up for future success. Your initial reaction might be to think, well whatever, you don’t know what you are missing out on. While that may be the case, what do you stand to benefit from acting like that. The answer is very little. The following is a list of things you can do when you don’t get the job. Don’t confirm their thoughts they made  the right decision but rather make them understand that even in disappointment you are classy and professional.


  1. Thanks them for their time (sincerely)


When you get that call it is likely that you are going to be disappointed. My advice is think it through and consider the scenario that you may not get the job and rehearse how you are going to act. When they call you and let you know, it’s not going to be easy for them. If you were a good candidate and you invested your time it is only human for them to feel bad delivering bad news. When they let you know, compose yourself, and thank them. Something to the tune of “Well, that’s not the outcome I was hoping for however interviewing with your company was a great experience and I really appreciated the time you and your team invested in meeting me and answering my questions. If a similar role opens up in the future please feel free to reach out to me. This experience really increased my interest in your organization.” After you say that it’s a good idea to ask “For my knowledge, is there anything I can do to better position myself for a role like this if it was to open up again in the future?” This is a good opportunity to get feedback and perhaps learn what skills you need to add to your toolbox so you can be more successful in the future.


  1. Make the connections on LinkedIn


While disappointing, it’s a great opportunity to connect on LinkedIn. Shortly after you receive the call, make sure you use LinkedIn to connect with everyone you interviewed with. Add everyone as a connection. When they accept your request, go to their page, endorse them for a couple skills. This way you can be visible to them in case the person they hire doesn’t work out or another opening comes up. In order for this to be a really good idea, it makes sense to have your LinkedIn page optimized. If you add them and your page looks bad or you don’t have a picture, it doesn’t help you much.


  1. Take a thorough look at the interview


When you look back at the interview, what went right? What didn’t go as well? You should take time to evaluate where you might have dropped the ball and then think about how you could do it better. I like to think of the interviews where I didn’t get the job as the best practice you can possibly get. When I look back at all of them, ultimately they made me better. So try to think of the questions they asked that you didn’t do so hot on. Write those down and then write answers to them. When I prepare for an interview I like to write out questions I will likely need to answer and then I like to write out my responses. This is perhaps more effective and targeted when its interview questions you didn’t go a great job answering. This way, if you are ever asked these difficult interview questions again you are prepared to field them excellently.




The next thing you should do is go out on Indeed.com and look for similar roles. Don’t let it get you down. Sometimes you lose out to internal candidates or referrals. It doesn’t mean you aren’t awesome. So set up an indeed email alert for jobs that fit your interest and don’t be too hard on yourself. Get ready for the next one. Now you know the 3 smart things to do when you don’t get the job so that you are able to take a negative and make it a positive. Often the people who succeed are those who refuse to give up. If you want it, you just have to prepare and go get it!

3 Ways Job Seekers Sabotage their Chances at Landing a Job

Navigating the hiring process can be a long journey with many potential pitfalls. From the second you hit submit until your first day there are many things that can happen that can adversely impact you as a job seeker. These post will specifically focus on three things I see frequently that can make otherwise good candidates look like they won’t be a good fit for the role. These are also things that are easy to fix which are good. Also, this post will specifically revolve around the candidates actions as they relate to the recruiter. The blow three things can totally derail your chances at landing your dream job, so avoid them at all costs!


  1. Non Stop Calling


We get it, you really want the job and you are dying to know what is going on. We have all been there and all know the feeling where you have either applied or perhaps already interviewed and you are waiting for the next step but you haven’t heard anything. One of the biggest mistakes people commonly making is following up too much. While some level of follow up shows interest in the role you have to find a balance because if you are calling twice a day everyday it can become very off-putting.  Not only can it be kind of annoying but it can also make you wonder about the viability of the candidate. Is this the type of person who will fit in with our company culture? Why is it that they are so free to invest so much time in following up with me, don’t they have a job? I told them I would reach out to them when I had more information, do they just not take direction well? All these thoughts occur if you are dealing with someone contacting you too much. On the other hand, you don’t want to seem disinterested. So yes, admittedly this can be hard to strike the correct balance. So here are my tips for striking that balance. Let’s say you have spoken with a recruiter and you want to seem interested and be aware of what’s going on but don’t want to be super annoying. The first thing you need to do is ask them if they wouldn’t mind you following up, through which medium you should contact them and when would be a reasonable time. By asking these questions you can gauge their feelings on what’s reasonable in terms of contacting them. In addition their enthusiasm here could certainly be an indication of how they thought the interview went. The next thing you need to do is send a thank you email. Send it later that day or the next day or don’t bother. This is not only a nice touch but it’s a reminder of your candidacy and a gentle tap on the shoulder if they have more information about next steps for you. For more information on that check out my blog post on writing thank you letters. Adhere to what they say is reasonable in terms of reaching out to them and you should be fine.


  1. The Passive Aggressive Message


The average person might be surprised how often recruiters receive little passive aggressive jabs from job seekers. For example there I have gotten emails saying something “Hi Ben. I interviewed with you last week and I haven’t heard back. Should I go ahead and contact someone else?” Messages like that are a terrible idea. That might have been an innocent enough request, perhaps they just want to help. However it does not come off that way. It comes off as a person saying you are either a barrier to me proceeding further or you are unnecessary. It can also be perceived as a threat, “you aren’t doing your job, I am going to get you in trouble”. Either way it’s a bad idea. Either the recruiter hasn’t shared your profile with their hiring manager yet for various reasons and now the recruiter see’s you in a much different light or they have already sent it over and the hiring manager hasn’t made a decision yet. If the hiring manager hasn’t made a decision yet, depending on the relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager, the hiring manager might ask for the recruiters opinion on how you as a candidate rank versus the others the recruiter has spoken to. How do you think you will fare if you recently sent a recruiter a message like this?


  1. The “Do the legwork for me” LinkedIn message


This one is a personal pet peeve of mine and it happens all time. I have just under 8,000 first degree connections on LinkedIn and at least twice a week I get a message from someone requesting I look at their profile and tell them if any of my jobs are a fit for them. I also get emails like that as well. Most of the time they are worded like “Hi Ben, I am a recent graduate with a BSME and a MSME from ABC University, please look at my profile and tell me if I am a fit for any of your roles”. While that’s what it says, this is what I read “Hey Ben, I am sending this message out to everyone who is a recruiter on LinkedIn. I haven’t looked at your company and its openings but could you do the leg work for me and see if I am a fir for any of your jobs.” This is a classic shotgun approach and to me it lacks sincerity and the preparation I am typically looking for in a candidate. Don’t be one of these people, in all likelihood it is a waste of an email and could even potentially keep you from getting future jobs with said company.


Thanks for reading to the end. Avoid these early mistakes and you will be in much better position to get the job you want. There are many way you can put yourself at a disadvantage but these are 3 ways job seekers sabotage their chance at landing a job that are fairly easy to correct. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below.  Thanks!

The Fastest way to Almost Guarantee an Onsite Interview

Finding a new job can be a very stressful situation. There are all the questions, getting time off from your current role, references etc. However sometimes the hardest thing to do is even get to that first interview. Anyone who has ever applied for jobs they have wanted knows the feeling of setting up a profile, tediously filling out page after page of information (often its information available in the resume you have already uploaded), submitting your application, feeling really good about your chances just to never hear anything back from the company. Sometimes you won’t even get the rejection letter. You will have just invested a bunch of time to never hear anything.
Now there are many reasons why something like this can happen. Perhaps they hired somebody internally. I used to work for a company where about 40% of their hires where internal but many of the roles were posted for compliance reasons. So many applicants applied just to end up not being considered for the role. The other thing that might happen is you might just apply too late. If a role has been open for a month and you apply, its highly likely they have gone through the first round of interviews are proceeding to onsite interviews at which point looking through the new applicants becomes a relatively low priority. Another thing that can happen is a role is posted and the company decides not to fill the role for business reasons and for whatever reasons the position is left out there for a while, again, this means the likelihood of you hearing from the company would be pretty low.
So now you are probably thinking, ok Ben, that sounds terrible, how can we avoid this? That’s a great question and one I will spend the rest of the post explaining. Most people think that the single most important factor is being absolutely qualified for the role. While important, that’s not it. In fact, imagine you are only one of fifteen qualified people who have applied. They might not even call you just because they are interested in the other candidates. Other people think that its applying right away, as soon as the post opens. Again, this is very important but it’s not the most important thing. Being at the very top of the list doesn’t mean the recruiter will look at your resume, compare it with your contemporaries who have also applied and not just happen to favor what they feel those other candidates will bring to the table.
While both of those are certainly good things to have going for you, in my opinion they are not the one single factor that is most likely to guarantee you initial entrance into the hiring process. That one thing is being a referral. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone drop off a resume at my desk or send me an email saying, hey Ben, this person is a referral from (Insert important title here), we would like you to interview them for (insert job they may or may not be qualified for). In my six years of recruiting I have seen that person get the job so many times and they are almost guaranteed to at least get an interview. So the big takeaway there is if you know someone who works for the company you want to interview with you absolutely should be reaching out to them to try and get an interview. The higher up in the company the person is, typically, the higher the likelihood is that you get that interview and maybe the job.
Now some of you are saying right now, well Ben, I don’t know anyone at ABC Company and I still want to work there, what do I do? Another great question. While yes, it’s ideal that your best friend is the VP of Marketing, many times you aren’t close with anyone who works at said company, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t still attempt to go after the referral route. Hopefully you have a LinkedIn account and have been relatively active on it. If you have perhaps you know someone who works at ABC Company and if you don’t know them, maybe it’s someone in your network and you can still approach them about the role. Let me explain not only how you can find them but then also approach them if you only happen to know them via LinkedIn. (PS. This works better if you have a strong LinkedIn profile since they will probably go to your page after you message them and it obviously benefits you to have a solid looking LinkedIn profile. If you need help optimizing your LinkedIn profile, check out this link, Service Offerings and look specifically at LinkedIn Optimization). So first things first go sign in to LinkedIn and go to the top of the page where it has the search bar. Next to the search bar is the “Advanced” button, click on that and it will bring up the menu belowimage001

See where it said company, type in the name of the current company, fix the location to be your targeted location and search. It will bring up a list of people who work at the company. In addition to that it will put all your first connections first and your second connections second etc. Now, best case scenario is you do actually happen to know someone who works at the company. Problem solved! Give them a call and prepare for that interview. If not it’s not the end of the world. Look at your first connections, any one of these people might be your path into the company.

What you want to do is take at their LinkedIn profile. What do you have in common? Did you go to the same school, perhaps share a past company or be in a LinkedIn group together? Find what you have in common and craft a nice message and send it to them. For example “hey Bill, you and I happened to be connected on here and I happened to notice we actually both attended Ball State University, small world! I wanted to reach out to you because I noticed your company is looking to hire (insert dream job) and after looking at the job description I am pretty convinced I would be an excellent fit. I wanted to reach out to you to ask if you knew where your company is in the hiring process, I would love to get a chance to interview. Any help would be appreciated. All the best! Ben”. It doesn’t have to be exactly that obviously but something to that effect that demonstrates common ground, your interest and belief that you would excel in the role and a not so subtle but polite hint that you would be interested in some help. At this point their response will tell you everything you need to know about their willingness to help. If they aren’t, perhaps try another one of your connections.

For a lot of people this approach might be a little too forward but I say why not. What is LinkedIn for if you can’t use it to network and progress your career? Also what’s the worst that can happen, they remove you as a connection? If they aren’t willing to help you get noticed for a job you are qualified for at their company how useful of a connection were they in the first place. Not only does it not hurt in my opinion but it is also the fastest way to guarantee an onsite interview. In life it often pays to be aggressive. Remember fortune favors the bold. If you want that job, go make it happen!


Confident or Cocky? How are you being perceived during interviews?

For me one of the things I always admire in candidates and something I always try to project myself in interviews, is confidence. Interviews can be intimidating. After a harrowing process you have finally arrived at the onsite interview step. You have had to pass through a recruiter phone screen, a hiring manager phone screen and now you are about to walk into a room and sit opposite four people who are going to ask you questions trying to trip you up.  That can be a lot to take in but that is exactly what you might be up against as a candidate.

When you consider that situation it is not crazy to see why interviewing is one of the most stressful things you can through. You are literally being judged and the stakes are very high. In addition you are most likely in competition with other people who want the same thing, have the same education and the same background. If you think about everything I just mentioned it can be kind of hard to feel at least a little bit of intimidation. And while that is totally understandable it can also be very much to your detriment. If you get intimidated and nervous you are likely to turn in a performance that isn’t your best. You might forget things, talk too fast, talk to quietly or any combination of things that your potential future employer isn’t looking for in a candidate. Pretend you are hiring someone, do you think the thought would ever cross your mind, “well I hope this candidate is timid”. The answer most likely is no.

Nobody is intentionally looking for timid. They want someone who is confident and comes off as self-assured. This is nothing new and I would wager that most job seekers know this but getting your demeanor to be a perfect fit if a lot easier said than done. Many times, the job seeker with over compensate and they will come off as cocky. That can be just as bad or even worse depending on the hiring managers opinion of how these attitudes my alter the chemistry of their existing team. Nobody wants someone to be bragging about their accomplishment and acting as if they are gods gifts to spreadsheets.

Ideally you want to find the perfect mix. You want to be kind, outgoing, confident but not braggadocios. This is one of those easier said than done things but let me give you a few guidelines to make sure you put your best foot forward. By the end of this post you should be able to project the correct attitude and body language for you to be successful during interviews.

The first thing I want to talk is body language. You want to make sure when you walk that you are walking upright and walking with a purpose. Now this doesn’t mean that you are walking so fast that you are creeping them out but match their pace and make sure you align your spine and your back is straight as if you were a Christmas ornament and the hook was attached to the top of your head, straightening you out. When you sit down for the interview sit up straight and look them, in the eye confidently. Don’t slouch, don’t lean back and don’t eagerly lean over their desk.

The next thing you want to do is to watch what you do with your hands. When people get nervous you can often tell in their hands. They begin fidgeting and it is very apparent. The other things people do is they keep their hands at their sides, as if they are sitting on them or they are overly active with them, gesturing for everything. The key here is you don’t want to fidget and you want to gesture an appropriate amount. Not too much, not too little and when you do make gestures with your hands, don’t go crazy.

When I interview I always bring a leather folder with me. I keep extra copies of my resume in their as well as pre-written questions to ask when the time comes. I also keep in their a bunch of likely questions and my prewritten answers (not that I will ever pull this out and read an answer but it is nice for a little last minute prepping). If you bring something to the interview, make sure you don’t use it as a barrier, shielding yourself from the interviewer. It is normal when people get nervous to use objects as physical barriers in a subconscious attempt for us to protect ourselves. Make sure you don’t do this as it is very off-putting.

Smile! This one should be obvious. Eye contact and smile. If you take only two things away from this post, make sure it’s those two things. However don’t just smile during the interview, you also want to be smiling beforehand. There have been many scientific studies that suggest smiling produces a change in brain activity and can actually make you happier. So, in the few minutes leading up to your interview make a conscious level to smile and you will literally feel it positively impacting your mood.

Lastly, one of the keys to having a good interview is to pretend as if you are talking with an old friend. Relax, smile and deliver your points. After all, you are qualified the role, who wouldn’t want to hire you? Smile, be condiment, demonstrate your value without overstepping that line into being cocky and talk to the interviewer as if it was an old friend interested in hearing what you have been up to and what you have accomplished.

What can Job Seekers learn for Super Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning #SB50

Today marks the biggest sporting day of the year and given the occasion on wanted to write a post related to a certain player and what job seekers can learn from this player. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He is pretty much top 5 in all statistical categories in which quarterbacks are measured, he has one Super Bowl ring and today marks his third Super Bowl appearance. Right now you are probably thinking, well Ben, that’s great, but what does that have to do with someone looking to find a new job? A fair question and I promise I will get there. With Peyton Manning being 39 years old and coming off a variety of injuries, it is likely that Sunday will be his last game. And at 39 years old Peyton, who was never the most athletic quarterback, is a shell of what he once was physically. However that is not the reason Peyton Manning is out there, Peyton Manning’s success can be attributed to his mind just as much as it can be to his arm. Peyton Manning’s preparation is the stuff of legend. As a freshman in college, before he was even the starting quarterback he asked for the film of their first opponent, UCLA. However he didn’t want a couple games, he wanted the entire last season so that he could watch every snap UCLA had played the previous season, and that’s when he wasn’t even playing!

The insatiable amount of knowledge is what Peyton Manning brings to the table as your quarterback. He knows what the defense is going to do before the play even happens just by the way they are lined up. With his body failing him he has no choice if he wants to be successful to out prepare the other team. While I personally expect the Carolina Panthers lead by Cam Newton to win Sunday, one thing is for sure, Peyton Manning will be ready. So, why talk about Sports on a blog dedicated to those driving their careers. Well the answer is simple, what makes Peyton Manning successful is the thing that can set all of you up for success. Preparation.

In the same way Peyton Manning watches every snap of his opponents defense so he can diagnose how they plan to stop him, you can research and practice every common interview question so that when it comes time for you to answer those questions you know exactly what to say. A simple Google search on interview questions will give you unlimited access to virtually every question you could be asked. Knowing what the role you entails you can discern which questions you will most likely be asked, print out the questions, write out your perfect response to the question and practice your delivery. People find interviewing stressful and I get it. A lot can ride on a successful interview and they can be very intimidating. But the more you prepare the less intimidated you become. Have you ever been in an interview and been asked a question that totally stumped? Maybe you stammered for a bit, said your fair share of um’s and then answered the question in a way you wish you could take back. I know I have. Well if you knew what that question was ahead of time, likely, it wouldn’t have bothered you at all. With proper preparation you can set yourself up for that kind of success.

In addition you can find out the people interviewing you, find them on LinkedIn and learn about them. Where did they go to school? What roles have they had on the pathway to their current role? What companies have they worked for? All these pieces of knowledge can set you up to successfully interview and with the access you have you are doing yourself a disservice not to. Also, know about the company. What articles about them are currently in press? Are they public, if so, what are their financials for the last quarter? For the last year? In my experience preparation is just as important as meeting the job qualifications. Find the questions they are likely to ask you and then practice, practice, practice. Have a family member or friend ask you the questions and prep you. If you want there are services out there such as this, Interview Coaching , where professional can prepare you for your interview. Whatever you do, don’t walk into that meeting room or office without putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed.

Is it ever ok to lie during a job interview?

Warren Buffett once said “You’re looking for three things, generally, in a person, Intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.” While that is one person’s view on hiring, most people mirror that sentiment. In my career I have seen many offers not happen or be rescinded based on the company finding out that a person lied or omitted something during the hiring process. While most people know it’s a bad idea to lie during an interview, I think it happens because it’s not so cut and dry.  I think a lot of people think “well, if I tell the truth about this they aren’t going to hire me so I might as well lie about it.” Often this can about why they left a role, or a skill they don’t have or perhaps salary information in order to receive a stronger offer.

In the case of lying about a salary you had in the past, it is almost always an absolutely terrible idea. In the past I have seen people lie and say they made more than they did because they wanted to receive a stronger offer. To me this is a terrible idea for several reasons. The first being if the hiring company does employment verification they often also verify salary. If they find out that the amount you actually made was less than you said then they know you lied. I have seen this before and seen the person get an offer rescinded. The unfortunate part was they were more than qualified for the role. Another reason why it is a bad idea is because you don’t actually need to tell them what you were making. If they ask, you are entitled to say something along the lines of “I would prefer to not share my previous salary but I am targeting a salary between the ranges of X and Y.” While they may not love this answer, at the end of the day you let them know where they will need to be money wise if they want to acquire your skills.

People also frequently lie about being dismissed from a previous role. To me this is another poorly thought out move. In this day and age where it’s very easy to get in contact with people you are risking them asking someone who knows of what actually happened. This “backdoor reference” is common in highly connected fields and can torpedo your chance of getting a role.

Another thing people lie about is a skill they don’t have that is required for the role. This is another terrible idea for a few reasons. If it’s a testable skill many organizations my include this skill in later interview rounds and if it turns out you don’t have this skill then you just wasted everyone’s time. Even worse you might accept the role and some time into your employment be required to do something you aren’t capable of which might lead to your dismissal. At a very minimum at will put you on very bad terms with your boss.

The safe bet is to always tell the truth. It most instances the lie won’t work and it will tarnish your reputation. If a potential employer finds out that you were lying about something, it is no longer about what it is you don’t have but it becomes about your lack of integrity. The sad thing is I have seen several instances where a person was going to be hired but solely based on the fact that they lied, they didn’t receive in offer. In many of these cases the thing they lied about could be overlooked but the lie itself could not. Hiring is expensive and no manager wants to commit to hiring someone who they feels is going to lie to them, especially right away.


Instances in which you can blur the truth


Like everything I feel like there are some exceptions. For example, if they ask you about your last job never be negative. You may have hated your boss and hated your team and hated the company but you can never say that. Even if all of it is true it is way more likely to reflect poorly on you than it is to reflect poorly on the company. Instead focus on the positives like how much you learned in your last role and how much experience you gained. Trying to be positive and reflecting kindly on past experiences that may have been very difficult is much different than lying to cover up a past indiscretion or lying in order to try and get a higher paying offer.


A personal story


In my first year as a head hunter I had a role where I was searching for a Foundry Manager. I had a great candidate who had awesome experience working in leadership at several prominent foundries. He had the experience, he interviewed very well and for most  purposes, looked to be a great fit. However there was a problem. When they checked his education, it turned out the establishment where he received his master’s degree was a “diploma mill”. A diploma mill is a non-accredited university where people can use life experiences for credit and basically buy a higher education. Usually when one of these exists people find out about it and it is shut down. When the company found out about this, they decided that him leaving that on his resume and acting as if he had obtained that higher education was ultimately an integrity issue and they decided against offering this candidate the job. The frustrating part about this story is that they didn’t require even a bachelor’s degree. They would have been willing to hire someone with a High School education and the requisite experience in a foundry environment in a leadership capacity. Ultimately he lost on getting the job (and I lost out on getting that placement fee) because he lied about something completely unnecessary to the role. He was more than qualified but they considered what he did to be unethical. At the end of the day integrity matters to companies and in most instances you are better off telling the truth.

Relocation Question

Earlier today I had a member of the LinkedIn group I manage, Career Discussions – Job Seekers, asking a question about trying to find a role in an area he was planning on relocating to.  Below are the question he asked and the answer I posted but I thought it might make sense to share it here to.  It is a great question and one that has many ways you might go about answering it.  People who decide to relocate to a new area often find themselves in this circumstance. For obvious reasons it would be nice to find a job before you relocate but it can be difficult to secure a new position when you are currently elsewhere, especially when facing the competition of local talent. By the way, if you would like to check out my group on LinkedIn, here is the link:



Looking to make a move to Minneapolis in the late spring. 

I have no family in Indianapolis and a brother in Minneapolis. Looking to find a good company that is solid and has low politics. (and may move me). I am an experienced Quality Engineer with a good record for driving improvements. Any thoughts on the best way to focus recruiters to a certain city or area?



Hi Curtis! That is a great question. I could probably write a 20 paragraph response to this question but I will give a few basic recommendations to start. The first thing I would do is make sure your resume is order and make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated, tells a good story and is keyword heavy. I would then set up Indeed alerts to let you know when Quality roles that fit your criteria open up. When you find roles you are interested in, check to see if you are connected to anyone who works in that company. If you happen to know someone they might be able to get you in front of the hiring manager as a referral. Even if you aren’t super close with the person and you only know them through LinkedIn, reaching out to them to ask them questions and let them know about your level of interest can certainly help. Another approach would be to do a Google search to find Recruiting Agencies who specialize in that geographic area. In addition to that if you happen to be in a certain niche, like “plastic injection molding” or “metal stamping” it would be great to find a Head Hunter who specializes in that area. You can Google them, find the phone number to their office and simply call in and make the introduction. This can be helpful because they may have clients in the area they can help get you in front of. They will often be grateful to hear from a new potential candidate looking to move into their market. I would also recommend you put together a cover letter indicating your expertise and your intention to relocate to this area. Sometimes recruiters who see a resume with a different location will pass on a candidate unless they specifically mention they are looking to relocate. Hope this helped. If you have any more questions I would be willing to chat on the phone for a few minutes. Great question! Thanks for adding to conversation!