3 Absolute Interview Killers – Avoid saying these at all costs

In the past I have written posts about things you shouldn’t say, things you should say and ways to phrase certain things. However, after some recent feedback on an interview I felt it made sense to share this post on things you absolutely have to avoid saying. These are things where if you say them, you will absolutely not be getting that job. Now, I will say this is of course subject to the Welding Engineer exception. If you have read any of my posts in the past I have referred to the fact that some of the standard rules may not apply to people who happen to have a really rare skill set, like Welding Engineers. Bit for the rest of us, like you and me, if we say these things in the middle of an interview, you might as well save everyone’s time by picking up your stuff and going home. So with that being said let’s look at the things you must avoid saying at all cost if you want to be successful in your interview.

My last job/boss was terrible!

Most of us have had several bosses or jobs that were terrible. Maybe the culture was toxic or perhaps there was no work life balance. This happens. It’s out there and if you have avoided these situations, that is awesome. However, most working adults have situations we look back not so fondly on. However, if at any point in your interview you mention that your prior boss sucked you aren’t getting that job. That’s pretty black and white and yes, perhaps there are instances where you will get the job. However, you just put yourself at a disadvantage, unnecessarily I might add. If you were going to run a marathon, would you want to eat a bunch of McDonalds right before the race began? Of course not. Could you still end up finishing? Yea, of course. But is it a smart idea? Of course it isn’t. Be positive and take the high road for your own good.

 

I decided to take this interview just to see what’s out there

I want to start by saying that obviously this one isn’t as bad as the first. However, you still need to avoid saying it.  Imagine you go on a date and the person you are out with says something along the lines of “the only reason I am here is to see what’s on the menu at this restaurant”. How excited are you about that response? Might you have taken the interview out of curiosity? Sure. However, that goes under the category things you may actually feel but make no sense for you to disclose. That answer benefits no one. And quite frankly, it’s not true. Nobody goes on an interview solely out of curiosity. There is more to it. Perhaps they heard great things about the culture or feel like their current role doesn’t afford them the growth they desire and they want to know if this role might. There is always something else. That something else is usually way better than just seeing what else is out there. If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, people buy passion. People want to feel the excitement in your voice. They want enthusiasm and if you really want to move forward in an interview process you would be wise to give it to them.

 

Saying anything offensive or inappropriate

This falls under the no brainer category. That being said, much to my shock and bewilderment, it still happens all the time. Most people spend a very short amount of their professionals lives immersed in the interview process. They occasionally interview or if they have a team, they occasionally hire someone to join it. As a recruiter, a live in it. Every day of my working life I am involved in it in some way or the other. The fact if the matter is people say things that are shocking all the time. If its political, inappropriate or in any way offensive, you need to avoid it. If you would have a hard time explaining yourself in an HR meeting or in front of your grandmother, don’t say it. If its political or religious, I would avoid saying it. You might say something and the person interviewing you agrees. For the sake of argument, let’s say 50% of the people you will ever interview with will have that same opinion. Well guess what, with that math, 50% of the time you will offend the person you are interviewing with. Do you like that math? I don’t. Now let’s circle back. Imagine the 50% of the people who agree with you. Let’s be conservative and assume that will half of them will find what you said to be poor judgement, which most reasonable people will. Given that you exhibit poor judgement they will probably opt for a different choice. That means that your comment will disqualify you 75% of the time. Guess, what, that other 25% of the time it doesn’t actually help you, it just doesn’t hurt you. If you were in a room with two doors and you had to make a choice which one you exited through and one of the doors you had a 75% chance of getting kicked by Connor McGregor and the other had a zero percent chance, which one would you chose? Also, the Connor McGregor door doesn’t add any additional benefit remember. It’s an easy choice. Well so is this, avoid saying those things and you will be much better off.

 

Well there you have it, those are my 3 absolute interview killers. If you can avoid saying them, you will be much better off. I hope you found value in that post, if you did please feel free to “like” it and share it on social media. And if you haven’t checked out last week’s post, give it a read here, When does your interview start?. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!

Are you prepared for a career disaster? 5 things you need to do to be prepared.

Throughout my time in recruitment I have learned that there are many conversations you would prefer not have that you will need to have over and over again. It is just the nature of the work. Telling someone who really wanted a job that the company has decided to pass on them is never a conversation that you look forward to but if you have spent any time in recruitment you understand it is a conversation you are going to have to have many times. Another conversation I have had many times is the conversation with a person who has just been downsized. Someone, who through no fault of their own, now finds themselves without a job. You can hear the gravity of the situation the surprise and uncertainty in their voices.

As unpleasant of a reality as it may be, it is just that, a reality. Everyday companies make decisions that are entirely business motivated that adversely impact their workers. I have spoken with candidates who have worked with one company the last 20 years and now, without much warning at all, find themselves in a situation they wanted no part of. For most of those people it is quite the daunting journey to start on. Many don’t have an updated resume and besides the fact that they hate interviewing, they haven’t don’t any interviewing in years and are out of the practice.

So let me ask you this one question, are you prepared for a career disaster? Think about it, if your boss called you into her office today and let you know that your team was being eliminated from the company for whatever reason, what would you do? Do you have a plan in place? What is the first action you would take? Text a loved one? Reached out to an old colleague on LinkedIn? Find the sturdiest box to pack your things into and jet it to your car? It’s not a pleasant hypothetical. The fact of the matter is most people are not prepared. Really that’s pretty understandable, most people don’t expect it to happen. After all they work for a good company, they do good work and they have a great relationship with their boss. However, I would caution you not to kid yourself, these things can happen and regardless if those things are all true and it makes sense to be prepared just in case they do.

So let’s talk about what you can do. Regardless of the stage in your career there are steps you can take so that if the unthinkable happens you have a head start. That head start can be important too because although nobody wants to mention it, if you are part of an eliminated group, your former colleagues have just become your competition for the jobs available. So with this dreary picture painted let’s talk about the steps you should be taking now so that if push comes to shove you are ready to sprint.

  1. Have an updated resume

I have talked to many people after they get the bad news and a common theme is they don’t have an updated resume. I understand how that happens. You have a job, you aren’t looking, why have your resume updated. This scenario is the why. Periodically open up that word document and make the necessary changes so that your resume reflects your current responsibilities. That’s it. Just make sure it’s ready to go should you need it. If you want professional help getting a resume up and going check out my Resource Page for helpful links to award winning resume writers.

  1. Set up an Indeed Alert

Go to Indeed and do a search for jobs that interest you within a 20-mile radius of your home. Once you do that it will give you the option to save this search and receive emails when a job matches your criteria. You are doing this for a few reasons. The first reason is you should want to know when jobs open up that fit what you are looking for. The second takes us to our next point.

  1. Take an interview every now and then

I want to be clear, I am not advocating you waste anyone’s time but you can’t argue that it wouldn’t benefit you to see what’s out there. If you find a job that interests, you and you apply to it and end up getting an interview the outcomes are almost entirely positive. Let’s examine these outcomes. The first is you interview and end up really liking the job enough that you make a move. You wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a better role, so that’s a positive. Now let’s say you interview and you decide the role isn’t for you. You politely thank everyone involved and remove yourself from the process as soon as you make that decision. You know what that was? It was a dress rehearsal. Now if you find yourself unemployed your next interview won’t be the first one you have done in fourteen years. Also, if you want to be good at interviewing do yourself a favor and download my FREE Interview Prep Guide. It is 100% free with no email opt-in requirements and has tons of useful knowledge, what are you waiting for? Download it!!!

  1. If a recruiter reaches out to you, have the conversation

I reach out to professionals every day to connect with them and discuss their careers and possible opportunities with them. And every single day people complete blow off my attempt and go about their lives. Don’t worry, no need for a waterproof pillow, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. I am like Kobe Bryant when he misses a shot, I completely forget about that missed shot and I take the next one. However, upon reflection I feel like it’s foolish to completely ignore or decline my attempt. For example, if that person declines my inmail or hangs up on me and a week from our interaction gets let go…wouldn’t they probably wish they had invested 5 minutes and had a courteous conversation with me? Shoot, I know I would. Take the call, you can always say no to the opportunity. Use that call to describe the roles you would have interest in hearing about and network. Build a connection as opposed to burning a bridge.

  1. Connect with old colleagues who have moved on

If you find yourself laid off its probably unlikely you return to an old employer. Sure, sometimes it happens but most of the time you left for a reason. However, some of the people you used to work with could be of great assistance if you find yourself needing a new role. If someone you used to work with gets a new job, reach out to them. LinkedIn makes it easy to stay in touch. Don’t be lazy and just click the like button though, that is generic and worthless. Send them a message, ask a few questions, strike up a dialogue. Nobody ever expresses regret to me about maintaining past relationships or being too well networked. Meet them out for a lunch or coffee. Trust me, if you ever find yourself needing to find a new role you won’t regret that you maintained good relationships.

Well there you have it. If you do the above things you can definitely say yes to the question, are you prepared for a career disaster. A few parting words, if you find yourself in this situation, stay calm and stay positive. It will be ok If you liked this post please “like” and share it with your social media friends. It’s much appreciated. Show up early, be positive, work hard and have an awesome day!

If You Want a Recruiter to Delete Your Message, Do This!

How many of you start out writing an email hoping that the content is completely ignored? I imagine that since you have arrived on my site, the answer to that question is that none of you actually want that. Let’s be more specific, how many of you reach out to a recruiter, hoping that he or she will delete your message without reading it? I’m going to wager a guess that once again, none of you have that as the desired outcome of writing a message. At this point I imagine some of you are thinking, “Ben, you are now four sentences into this post, where are you going with this?”

Fair, let’s get to the point. I am writing this post because I see people write messages every day that I know will be deleted. I also receive messages from people at least once a week that are wildly ineffective and that, simply put are not accomplishing what they were created to do. In fact, I am going to say that this method is the least effective way to contact a recruiter if the end goal is a job, an interview or a relationship. I am going to tell you what this method is now so that you can avoid doing this for the rest of your professional career.

Ok so let’s get to the message. Now, this message can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a message on LinkedIn and sometimes it’s even a reply to a post. However, the one thing they will all have in common is that they will soon be ignored or deleted. Let’s take a look at what this might actually look like. Usually it reads something like the following:

 

“Hi Ben. My name is Katie. I am a Mechanical Engineer who graduated from Sterling University. I am looking for a new role, if you have anything suitable please advise.”

 

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of Recruiters everywhere clapping and yelling “Preach”. I cannot begin to tell you how ineffective that message is. Whatever the goal of that message was, it will not be accomplished. Now some of you might be thinking “Ben, what is wrong with that message? I thought you were a recruiter….recruit!” Well the first thing that comes to mind is that this person did absolutely no research. In fact, besides saying nothing at all this is literally the least amount of effort someone could put in to try and achieve their end goal of employment.

The caveat here is that you happen to have a skill that is such a rare commodity and I happen to be looking for someone with that skill, then that might work. However, if you aren’t a welding engineer or a penetration tester or a paint coatings scientist or a Senior Crystal Growth Scientist (I have filled all four of those roles by the way) then you are probably out of luck. The above message will not resonate with good recruiters. It shows lack of effort when it comes to research and it comes off as lazy.

Now for those of you saying “well Ben, I get tons of messages from recruiters and they are lazy as well and they don’t do the necessary research either!” you aren’t wrong. That is true. It would be impossible for me to defend the actions of all recruiters out there. However, the goal of this post is so help you recognize what not to do and spend the extra five minutes to make your outreach attempt 100x more successful.

Now I most frequently get this message on LinkedIn. So that means someone requested to connect with me or already was connected to me. Which means before they sent that message they had the ability to view my profile. Which means they can see where I work and with just a little bit of leg work they themselves are capable of seeing some of the jobs my company is looking to fill. Now if the recruiter happens to be a headhunter, you may not have access to their jobs making this more difficult but if they are a Corporate Recruiter, this really is quite easy. Now let’s look at an example of a really effective message.

 

“Hi Ben. Thanks for accepting my request to connect. I see that you work for ABC Company. I have been hearing a lot about your company in the news recently and have always respected your company’s products. I was on the website and noticed you currently have a posting for a Mechanical Engineer. After reading the description, not only does it sound really interesting but I strongly believe I meet the requirements. The posting says it requires 4 years of experience, a strong knowledge of metal fabrications and a strong proficiency with solidworks. I have 5 years’ experience, I have over 2,000 hours working with solidworks and a strong background in metal fab. This position seems like it could potentially be a fit. I would love to talk with you more about the role, when would you have a few minutes to chat? You can reach me at 123-456-7899 between the hours of 12-1pm or 3-6pm. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you!”

 

Do you see the difference? For me the difference is I am responding to the second one. They showed initiative, were polite and from the looks of it, are qualified. The message will take a little bit longer to write but if you care at all about the success rate of the emails you write, I would advise you to go with option two. Hopefully this helps and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you have a few more minutes go check out this post, The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers, it’s one of my favorite posts I’ve written over the last six months! If you found some value in this post, please share with your social networks. Thanks and have an awesome day!

3 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things in Your Control

Last week I wrote a post about the some of the reasons you might not be getting called to do interviews. After all, you are totally qualified, presentable and generally speaking, pleasant to be around, you should be beating recruiters off with a stick. So when you aren’t, I know that it can be pretty frustrating. Last week’s post was about things that are out of your control. (If you haven’t read it yet, give it a read here, 3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things that are out of your control) However, this week I want to focus on things that are well within your control. It’s one thing to be adversely impacted by things you can’t change, that’s an unfortunate reality in certain situations. But in those situations where its within your power to alter your circumstances, you owe it to yourself to do it. The below situations are all things you can change now that will immediately impact your job search.  Also, make sure you read the entirety of the 3rd tip, most people don’t know the impact it has on the way they are viewed.

 

Your resume looks terrible

Let’s start with the low hanging fruit. There is no excuse for having a bad looking resume. There are literally hundreds of sites where you can go and find templates. In fact, check out my Resource Page, there are a few links there to resume services. Now, if you want someone to help you there, then there is a charge. However they also have resume templates you can copy….for free. Literally, they are free, there is no reason not to have an awesome looking resume. However, even with the wealth of free resources out there at the fingertips of job seekers everywhere, time and time again I see resumes that just look bad.  Let me explain to you why this is such a big deal by explaining to you at a high level what life is like for a corporate recruiter. Most corporate recruiters I know (and myself when I was one) have like 20 to 40 positions they are responsible for recruiting on. A lot of that is just opening the req, looking at applicants and sending the best ones to the hiring manager for their review. So, knowing that, if you are one of let’s say 45 applicants who all happen to be similarly qualified and your resume is terrible to look at, how likely do you think your chances of being moved forward are? Exactly, next!

 

You have an objective that you don’t change

I have always been of the opinion that the best objective on the resume is one that doesn’t exist. I have pretty much always been an outspoken advocate of dropping the objective from your resume. In fact, I reference it in both my My eBook and my FREE Interview Prep Guide. I think they are a waste of space and occasionally harmful and here’s why. As a recruiter, if you applied to my job, I know you are interested in it. You literally demonstrated that you want the job by going through what is frequently an unpleasant process and applying. You created an account, a fancy password, answered a bunch of questions and finally hit submit. If you didn’t want the job you wouldn’t do that. So when I see “my objective is to get a mechanical engineering role at ABC Company” it is redundant. I don’t ever look at that and say to myself “oh, thank god, she wants the job….I thought she was just applying to kill time”. The bottom line is you do not benefit from having an objective. If google wouldn’t punish me for the redundancy I would type that sentence out again. So we have established that they can’t help you, let’s talk about how they can hurt you. It’s simple, people don’t always change them. I have had people say they were looking for a job that’s different from the one they applied to and at a different company. So if I send your resume to my hiring manager and they see that, what do you think they are going to think? Worst case scenario, they don’t actually want my job, delete! Best case scenario they think you are lazy or have low attention to detail. There is no positive outcome here. So in summary, doesn’t help you can potentially hurt you. I rest my case.

 

You aren’t customizing your resume for the job you want

If you aren’t customizing your resume to mirror some of the responsibilities of the role (in a truthful manner, don’t say you have done something if you can’t) then you don’t realize its benefits or you are just lazy. And since I am about to tell you the benefits, if you don’t do it moving forward then the only option left is that you are being lazy and you are better than that. So modifying your resume helps you in two critical ways, one obvious and one not so obvious. The obvious one is that anyone looking at your resume will see that you have the experience that makes you a fit based on what they have said they are looking for. That is obviously a very good thing. The second way is not so obvious but almost just as important. When you apply to a role, in most cases your resume is store in an applicant tracking system. You are put into a folder with others who apply to the role. Now this is why it’s so important to try and mirror the job description if you happen to have the qualifications they look for. Most applicant tracking systems use some sort of algorithm to match the resumes of the applicants to the job description. Think about that for a minute. Now imagine you are a recruiter with a finite amount of time and a lot of work. You open up a folder looking for a few good candidates to send to your manager. Your fancy ATS shows you that you have forty applicants you haven’t looked at yet. It gives you a percentage of how well each candidates resume matches the job description. Would you rather be the candidate who looks to be an 88% match or the one who is shown as a 43% match?

 

So there you have it. If you change these things you will immediately increase he likelihood of you getting interviews. Thank you for reading, I hope you found it helpful. As always, if you liked his post please share it! I love getting notifications on LinkedIn that my post has been shared (as a recruiter I am literally on there all day). Thanks again and have an awesome day!

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things that are out of your control

Have you ever read a job description and thought to yourself “well they might as well take this posting down now, this job is an exact match for my skills!” only to apply and never hear back? I have. When you are looking for a new role, find one you are qualified for, go through an exhaustive application process only to never hear back, one cannot help but feel frustrated. Especially if it is happening a lot. Imagine filling out hundreds of applications and never receiving a single call or email asking for you to interview.

I have had candidates tell me that exact thing. In fact, I have had many candidates tell me that I was the first person to call them after filling out hundreds of applications. Although you will most likely find little solace in these explanations if you are one of those people, there are in fact reasons why it’s happening. In this two-part series we will examine the reasons why it’s happening. In today’s post we will examine the reasons why it’s happening that are out of your control. Next week we will take a look at the things you can change that will help. However, I wanted to start with the things that you can’t control because they are frustrating but they do exist and perhaps knowing of them can help put some people at ease.

 

They are hiring an internal

People love it when a company promotes from within…when you are a member of that company that is. When you are on the outside looking in, it can be pretty frustrating. As a member of the company obviously it is great and the list of benefits from an employee engagement standpoint are significant. However, as an applicant there really is nothing you can do. Why do the companies even post a role where they intend on hiring an internal you ask? Great question. Well sometimes it has to do with compliance. If a company is a government contractor there are metrics there are held to from a diversity standpoint and simply put, they need to track a bunch of information. Tracking that information means they need to post the role and have to go through their applicant tracking system. Sometimes hiring managers plan on hiring the internal but want to post it “just in case” which doesn’t give outsiders much of a chance unless they happen to be great. Even then it is an uphill battle.

 

You applied too late

So this is one where perhaps you have some control so I hesitated including it here, ultimately I felt it made sense for a few reasons. First let’s examine why this is a thing though. There were times as a corporate recruiter where I would post a role and receive an overwhelming amount of applicants. I mean, I would post it and next thing you know there would be 60 candidates. I would start looking and 10 candidates deep I would realize they were all qualified. As a OFCCP compliant, government contracting company it made sense to not view all applicants. You see the more applicants you view, the higher the likelihood is that you are going to have to explain why certain candidates where interviewed and others weren’t should you ever get audited. So, from a compliance standpoint, it made sense when you had a surplus of qualified candidates to only view the first 10,15 or 20 who applied. So what does that mean? It means if you applied 21st through 60th it didn’t matter how great you were; you weren’t being viewed. The counterpoint to this being included in this post is that you can control applying earlier. While that is true, you aren’t always aware of all openings making this out of your control.

 

Your reputation precedes you…negatively

This is the big one. It’s actually the reason I decided to write this post and the one next week. So this single thought dictated two weeks of content. Simply put, at some point in your career you either will or will not get an interview based on the opinion of someone you used to work with. Most of the time you will not know when it happens, but believe me it does. This is how it works, you apply for a job, the hiring manager see’s you used to work at ABC company, the hiring manager knows someone who worked at that company during your time there and the hiring manager asks them their thoughts on you. It happens all the time. So besides people a total rock star at every job you have ever had, it’s hard to control this. What is in your control is being nice, always doing your best and being careful to not burn bridges. Certainly I would advise those things but just know, sometimes, it just came down to someone you knew at a past company who didn’t rave about what you bring to the table. Even an “eh, Ben was alright I guess” can derail your chances of getting an interview.

So there you have it, those are my 3 reasons why you aren’t getting interviews. It can be tough when it’s out of your control but sometimes that’s the case. That is why when you do get an interview it’s important for you to make the most of it. Speaking of make the most of it, if you haven’t yet, go download my FREE Interview Prep Guide. Its free, what are you waiting for? If you liked this post, please like and share it! I appreciate it and as always have an awesome day!

3 Great Interview Questions That Will Catch the Interviewer Off Guard

When I have interviewed in the past there have been several times where I was caught off guard. There have been questions I was expecting to have to answer and thusly wasn’t prepared to do so. Having done a ton of interviewing myself, someone has to come up with a really off the wall question to catch me by surprise. Basically that means that the person was intentionally trying to catch me off guard. But…why would you want to intentionally catch someone off guard? The reason is simple, when you catch someone off guard, you are increasingly the likelihood that you are going to get a candid response.

When you interview someone, you can pretty much rest assured they have prepared a ton. They have practiced answering questions they think you are going to ask ahead of time so that their answer comes off more polished than it might otherwise. I personally can’t blame anyone for that, I do it myself. There are so many resources available today to help someone prepare for phone interviews as well as in person interviews. For example, this site is a solid resource to learn how to interview. There are eBooks out there to help you prepare like My eBook and my FREE Interview Prep Guide. So to try and get some authentic, not prepackaged answer, sometimes interviews ask unique questions that will catch you off guard. They want to see you think on your feet and get a gauge on how you handle pressure.

However, this goes both ways, as the interviewee you also have the ability to catch the interviewer off guard. Why would you do that you ask? Well you could do it for some of the same reasons. Maybe you want to get an honest answer from them. Personally when I am asked a question, as the interviewer, that really makes me think I appreciate it. It’s not that often that its flipped around and all of a sudden I am the one trying to figure out the best way to response. So in some ways I think it is the sign of a good interviewer. It’s also a good way to perhaps shift the balance of power just a bit. At the very least, you can gather a little more information and it won’t hurt your chances of getting the job. So with that being said let’s take a look at 3 great interview questions that will catch the interviewer off guard.

 

What will be the most challenging aspect of this job for the person who ultimately ends up filling it?

What a great question. Its good because as recruiters you are so used to selling a role. However, you don’t spend a lot of time talking about why the role will at times be challenging. Quite frankly, I don’t care what your job is, there are aspects of it that are less pleasant than others and this gives you a glimpse at what some of those are.

 

What is your biggest reason for staying at this company?

This is one of my personal favorites to ask someone interviewing me. In fact, the last several interviews I have taken I have asked this question. I ask this question for a few reasons. The first being I want to hear the enthusiasm in their voice. If they are unconvincing with their answer that might tell you everything you need to know about securing employment there. Are they having a hard time coming up with a reason to stay? Well that’s not good. Do they seem like they are describing why they continue with the same dentist? “Well it’s close to my house, I have been here for a long time, it’s close to my gym…” While I find it extremely convenient to have my work situated close to the place I go and throw weights around, that isn’t what I want to hear here. I want enthusiasm, passion, I want solid reasons that motivate me to take an offer if presented with one. From what they say, to the way they say it, every bit of information you get from this question is valuable.

 

Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to do the job?

Game changer…. Read that question again. In my My eBook I have this question as a must ask in the closing section. I had an awesome boss once who told me to prep all my candidates to ask this question at the end of their interviews. Why? For two simple reasons. If they say something like “No, not at all, you are a total fit for this role” you can respond by saying “Great, in that case I want you to know that I am very interested in this role and I look forward to hearing from you further”. However, if the response isn’t as positive and they say something like “well, everyone really liked you but there are concerns about your job stability” than that’s awesome! I mean, it’s not awesome that they have concerns but it’s awesome you get a chance to address them. You almost walked out and you would have never gotten the chance to address their concerns. If they say that then use the next moment to try and answer their concerns. Don’t be pushy but you can confidently explain why their concern shouldn’t disqualify you from coming and working here.

 

Well there you have it, those are 3 great interview questions that will catch the interviewer off guard. Not only that but there will be value in the answers for you as well. Can you think of any other great questions to ask? If so comment below, I always love seeing the great ones you guys come up with. If you liked this post, as always please share it with your networks! Have an awesome day!

3 Razor Thin Lines You Must Walk to Be a Great Candidate

In some recent posts I have had discussions about the difference between good and great. I have never met someone who wants to be below average however I think there are many people who are satisfied with being good. With the best roles being sought after competitively you have to ask yourself a question, is good going to get it done? Actually, sometimes the answer is yes. If lack of talented candidates in your field has created a significant scarcity then yes, being just good might be more than good enough. For example, there are only 4 universities in the United States that graduate degreed welding engineers. I have actually filled a few welding engineering roles I can tell you from first-hand experience that they are extremely hard to find.

If you want to hire a recruiter perhaps you can look at your three or four finalists and determine who would be the best culture fit. If you are looking for a welding engineer the criteria might look a lot different. “Can she weld? Yes? Hire her!” I’m kidding…a little… However most of us don’t have welding engineering degrees and tend to work in fields that don’t experience that perpetual scarcity that gives welding engineers the type of career control all of us might envy if you take the time to think about it. Most of us, if we want that next role with all the perks and career advancement are going to have to come off great in the interview. Like many things worth doing that is easier said than done.

I have one singular goal for this post. I am going to look at three different things that will help you distinguish yourself as top 25% talent. We are going to operate under the assumption that you are qualified for the role, have done your research and that generally speaking you make sense as a hire for the role you are interviewing for. If all that is true and you can pull of the three things below then you will go a long way towards being considered great. Before you get started, of you haven’t downloaded my FREE Interview Prep Guide what are you waiting for? Its free, click that link and get it!

 

Being perceived as confident, not cocky

I am going to start here just in case you only have time to read one of these. When I have an amazing candidate, who fits all the criteria amazingly and I hear that my client is going to pass, this is often the reason. For a lot of people this can be hard. You are amazing at your job, you have the track record, the attitude and you know you are just what they need. You know that you can do that job today and hey have problems you have fixed in the past and you feel you can fix it here. When all those components are there it can be hard to taper back the enthusiasm about what you bring to the table. But, if you really want to be a great candidate, you have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, feel free to brag about yourself a little bit. People like confidence and they buy passion. But also show some humility and the desire to continuing to develop because let’s face it, you don’t know everything. You can be a great candidate but still have areas you want to develop in, great candidates know this.

 

Come off interested but not desperate

Let’s pretend for a minute that being desperate wont impact your leverage to negotiate if an offer comes. I mean, it totally does, but momentarily let’s just look at how it impacts how you are perceived as a candidate. If you are totally desperate and everything about you screams “I NEED THIS JOB, I MUST GET THIS JOB” how do you think it makes you look? What questions do you think that puts into your interviewer’s head? The fact of the matter is at the end of the day you want every person to who interviews you thinking “we would be lucky to land this candidate”. You want employers thinking that not only would you be a great hire but that it is an opportunity with a limited window. It’s basic psychology that people want what they think they can’t have. Bottom line is that it’s not good for you to come across as desperate. Now, by no means am I advocating playing hard to get. Don’t do that. These are adults and if you play games they will get tired of them. However great candidates can walk this line. They can express interest in what the opportunity could mean for their career but they take a measured, pragmatic approach. That is what the best candidates do and what I would advise you to do.

 

Motivated to leave your current role but not bashing

This is another one that impacts a ton of candidates. However, this one doesn’t just hurt potential great candidates, its literally one that everyone will have to find balance when discussing. A cardinal sin when interviewing is bashing your former employee. I don’t care if you worked at Enron right before the financial crisis, bashing your former employer will never ever be received well. You could be telling the 100% truth, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes things aren’t black and white, there are many shades of gray. This is not one of those times. If you bash your old employers, you are hurting your chances of getting the job. I have never been a meeting following a group of interviews and heard someone say, “You know what really impressed me? I love the way Ben just eviscerated the work habits of his former boss. Epic!” That doesn’t happen. It makes you come off as difficult and people will consequently want to avoid working with you. On the other end, if you work for the greatest employer in the world, why in the hell are you looking? You have to find a balance here. While your current employer is great and you have learned a ton, they have some basic limitations that stand in the way of the lofty goals you have set for yourself in regards to personal and professional development. Find a good way to say that. Find something that is true to you, doesn’t make you look desperate and makes you feel grateful for your time there while still indicating your desire to move for what you would consider the perfect opportunity. That my friends, is the key.

Was that helpful? I hope so. Walking these 3 razor thin lines you must walk to be a perfect candidate may not be easy to accomplish but if you can, you will have gone a long way towards strengthening your candidacy. Any other ones I missed? Feel free to comment below and as I always, please share with your networks on any social media platform you use, I appreciate it. Oh and one last thing, if you have check out my Work with Ben section, give it a look. After some feedback from readers I have created a way for candidates who need assistance to work with me as well as a way for organizations who want to find the best passive talent to engage my company and I. Even if you just want to have a conversation about it check it out. My company saves our clients over 50% on traditional agency recruiters and every single candidate we supply is 100% passive, we never post jobs….period…even if I wanted to do I wouldn’t be able to. Thanks again and have an awesome day!

The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers

There is a huge gap between bad interviewers and good interviewers. As a recruiter, you know pretty much right away if a candidate is a bad interviewer. There is the awkward and unenthusiastic “hello” when they pick up the phone. There is the lack of preparedness that becomes more and more obvious as the conversation goes on. There is the constant noise in the background that indicates “I didn’t plan far enough in advance to get to a quiet spot” and a variety of other cues that are painfully obvious to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time interviewing people. However, there isn’t that big of a gap between good and great interviewers.

In fact, it could take a whole conversation or perhaps more time to be able to distinguish whether you are talking to a great interviewer or just a good one. There are many things that you can do that will put you on one side or the other. Some of them are small things but sometime they can make the difference. I am willing to bet that some of you reading this are good interviewers while others of you are great! (there might even me a correlation between those of you who frequent my blog and are great interviewers perhaps….jk) I am also willing to bet that none of you pick up the phone when you interviewing thinking “I hope that I am good, not great for this phone interview”. While there are many things you can do to become good, I am going to give you one solid thing you can immediately implement to become a great interviewer.

Before we go into that let’s talk about the process of putting together a phone interview. Initially I have a meeting with my hiring manager where I am told what it is they are looking for. I ask a set of questions that will help me determine in greater detail what I need to go out into the market and find. At some point in the conversation certain questions the hiring manager would like asked are discussed. Frequently those questions are something like this “Give me an example of a time you had to deal with competing deadlines? What was the decision you had to make? What did you decide to do? And “What was the outcome?” So your recruiter might ask you those series of questions and often it’s because the hiring manager is looking for something specific in your response.

So back to being good or great. When I as a question like that most candidates will start by saying, “well in my role that happens every day.” In my book, that is a fair start. In many roles they will ask you a question that turns out to be something that you need to deal with frequently. So here is where good and great gets defined when it comes to this questions. Good candidates will say something like “In those case you need to assess the situation, take a look at the manpower you can get to assist or make a judgement call based on priorities etc.” Depending on the recruiter, that is a good answer. But, a great answer is different in a very specific way. A great answer gives you a specific example. It tells of an actual time you, as the candidate, did that exact thing. In great detail it describes your thought process, the action you took, the outcome of that action and how this specific example has contributed to the professional you are today.

You see, saying that happens all the time may be true. And following it with a hypothetical situation may give your interviewer a glimpse into your decision making process in said situation. However, in the truest sense, it isn’t actually answering the question. Your interviewer asked for a specific example. You weren’t asked what you might do, they want to know what you have done. If you answer in hypotheticals, then you are missing the boat on what your interviewer was actually trying to accomplish and you are falling short of great. Give a specific example, tell the interviewer your specific actions, not what the team did, reach a coherent conclusion and do this without the story going on too long. That can be the difference between good and great.

Well there you have it, that is the difference between good interviewers and great interviewers. If you haven’t done so, go get your free copy of my new FREE Interview Prep Guide, it’s absolutely free, get yours now! I hope you find this helpful and actionable. Please feel free to share and as always, have a great day!

3 Powerful Reasons to Never Accept a Counter Offer

If you like your job and you like your boss, giving your notice can be an extremely difficult conversation to have. You might find yourself dreading having the conversation and even experiencing anxiety over the conversation. I have given my notice several times and in my experience it is always a hard conversation to have. In fact, the first time I did it I was nervous the entire week leading up to it. You combine that with the fear of change and comfort of familiarity and sometimes people end up accepting a counter offer. I mean, at first glance it seems like a great idea. You might love your company, enjoy the cafeteria and love your team…but, you don’t think advancement opportunities are there for you. Perhaps everything is great but you feel you are underpaid. Both of those reasons are good reasons to look if you feel so inclined.

But then you go to your boss and tell them you are leaving. They hear your reasons and they say “why didn’t you tell me you felt this way, tell you what, let me see if I can match he salary the new company is offering you. Will you stay then? As a recruiter I have been witness to this plenty of times. And frankly I get it, if everything is great but one thing and then your current employer fixes that one thing, isn’t that best case scenario? The answer is a resounding no! Below I will give you three reasons why you need to stick to your guns and move on.

 

The Math

As a recruiter, when I have a candidate call me and tell me that they think they are going to take a counter offer my advice to them is simple, Google it. They know I have a horse in the race and want them to take my role so anything that I say to them they are going to discard. I get that and it makes sense. SO I tell them look it up themselves, often that’s enough. The data is overwhelming. According to US News, it’s between 70-80% of workers who accept a counter who end not working for their current company within the year. Think about that, if five people accept a counter offer, 4 of them will not belong to that company by the end of the year. Do you like those odds? I wouldn’t. The nice thing about math is it takes the emotion of the decision out of it. If you can look at it and say mathematically this is the decision that’s best for me and my family, it’s a big help in what can be a highly emotional situation.

 

The impact on the relationship

This reason is the interpersonal reason why you never accept a counter offer. Let’s walk through this logically. You tell your boss that you are leaving. The fact of the matter is that even though some days it might not feel like it, what you do for your company is extremely valuable. They pay you a salary because there is some task the organization can’t go without. When you leave, you leave a void productivity. So something important doesn’t get done or they need to shift resources so that the task gets done. Whatever the case you have made life more difficult for many people when you leave and frankly you have made your company less efficient or less productive or both. So as a boss, you think to yourself, “I can’t let this person leave…maybe if I give them more money to change their mind.” Make no mistake, this is a short term fix. You are a leaky pipe and that extra whatever it is they are going to give you is duct tape. Imagine yourself as a manager and imagine someone vital to the success of your organization is leaving. Imagine you’re are able to throw 15k their way in order to keep them from leaving and putting you in a bind. Now you have done that and they are doing the same work for you but making a lot more money. Now imagine six months down the road you have to make a cut. Imagine you have four people to choose from who all do the same thing. They are all equally skilled and there don’t happen to be any differentiators to speak of in terms of making this decision.  Now imagine one of those people makes 15k more than the other three and six months ago was ready to leave. Now not every manager will think this way but you are kidding yourself to think that in no cases will this be a factor.

 

Everything doesn’t improve overnight

The last reason you need to consider is the fact that just because they change one thing, doesn’t mean that everything wrong with the situation has been remedied. Typically, when you have made the decision to move on from a situation, it’s for a multitude of reasons. Its usually the culmination of many disheartening events over the course of your time at the employer. When they give you a bunch of money, hoping that will sway you to stay, they haven’t fixed the host of other things about the company you probably wish you could fix if you were able to. They have fixed just one factor of many. So even if you discount the first two, which I would say you definitely shouldn’t, the fact of the matter is the same reasons you made the decision to look elsewhere in the first place still exist.

 

For these three reasons, my advice is to never take a counter offer. When you walk into your boss’s office, make up your mind that regardless of what they say you are going to stick with the course of action you have decided on. Go in there knowing there is no going back and regardless of what happens in that conversation you have already charted a new course. Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. If you have any counter offer stories or resignation stories, please share them below! I love hearing them! Also please check out these two exciting new sections of my site! Check out my FREE Interview Prep Guide here and if you want to work with me, either as a candidate or as an HR Professional, check me out here Work with Ben!

Who is ready to fail? Plus my thoughts on Brene Brown

It is Memorial Day and I am currently sitting on an airplane going from Austin to Atlanta. When I land I will have about half an hour or so to get to my next flight that will bring me from Atlanta, home to Milwaukee. I spent the last several days down here after attending the Indeed Interactive event, Transformational Talent. It was a great event with wonderful speakers and a preview of some really cool technology Indeed is going to be rolling out. Some of it may very well change the landscape of recruiting. While there I attended a talk given by one of the keynote speakers Brene Brown. I had never heard of her before going down there but apparently she is a pretty big deal and has some very highly respected TED talks. She is a PhD who focuses on being vulnerable.

Along with giving extremely interesting speeches on vulnerability, she also consults with companies on how they can shape their culture in a way that empowers their employees to be better. Very cool stuff in my opinion. While I was listening to her I decided I wanted my next post to be on failure. Failure is something that is extremely relevant to job seekers. You might fail to answer an interview question as well as you might like. You might fail at securing an offer after interviewing. Hell, you might get lost on the way to your interview and fail to show up.

However, that is not the failure we will be covering today. I was asked in an interview once, what has been my biggest career failure thus far. It is a great question and it’s a question that at the time caught me off guard. You see, when you are conducting an interview, you are looking for a variety of things when you ask a question. Outside of the answer given by the candidate there are so many relevant things you can look for. How long did the candidate take to answer the question? Did they say it with the command in their voice that demonstrates confidence? Did they answer the question directly or are they doing their best impression of a politician and skirting the question.

This specific question is great because most people won’t have an answer to give right away. You see most candidates have answers prepared for a variety of questions. They have example after example of “Tell me about a time when…” questions. Most have a “weakness: prepared that makes them look like a dedicated worker committed to overcoming obstacles. Most can tell you why they left their prior employers and do so with the type of reasoning that has you thinking, “Well yea, that makes sense to me”. However most won’t be prepared to talk about their greatest failure.

So when you ask this question you get to see how fast they think and you get what you simply don’t get with most questions, some authentic. Because interviews won’t have planned for this question you are getting an authentic response. Those are the best. If you practice a list of questions and then get those questions during an interview, they are easy to nail. It’s like knowing what defense your opponent will run and being able to specifically game plan for that defense.

However since you are reading this post right now that should never be you again. You are aware this question exists and that there is at least some probability that you may be asked it. So, take a minute to think about it. What is your greatest career failure so far? In a way this question is a lot like the, “what is your biggest weakness” question. In fact, because in a sense it’s impossible to surprise someone with the “biggest weakness” question this could be considered the new version of it.

When it comes to answering them you essentially want to do very similar things. You want to be authentic and give an actual example. It’s best to give an example that actually happened if possible because it can be easy to tell if something is made up. Secondly you need it to be an actual failure. If your failure is a thinly veiled success your response comes off as disingenuous as well as ridiculous. We know it’s a hard question if we are asking it but the fact of the matter is that doesn’t give you license to just not answer it. Certainly it is your choice but my advice is to give something that is an actual misstep, everybody makes them. Thirdly you the answer you give needs to be a two part answer. Part one is what you did wrong, part two is how that has positively impacted you and impacted you for the better moving forward in your career. The fourth thing is the example you give shouldn’t be something that is far too off-putting to look past. Ideally this mistake is a misstep and not a symptom of a terrifying character flaw that is going to make it difficult for them to justify hiring you. You want to be real but you don’t want them to walk away from the interview saying this person could pose significant risk to our company if we decide to hire them.

Answering this interview question correctly kind of reminds me of what Brene Brown so excellent covered in the speaking engagement I attended. There is a certain power in vulnerability. Again, this shouldn’t be something that gives them pause about what you might add to the organization but if you are able to give them an example that is authentic and impactful then you might come off looking like someone capable of growth. Recruiters are people too and I have made my fair share of mistakes. We don’t expect our candidates to be infallible.

So think of something you have done, own the failure and don’t distribute the blame to others incapable of defending themselves and explain why in the end it turned out to be positive lesson for you. Candidates usually spend the entirety of an interview trying to showcase why they are the perfect addition to a company and quite frankly, that is a winning approach. However, if you are given the opportunity to appear vulnerable and through story demonstrate your ability to learn, it’s certainly something you should be prepared to take advantage of.