The Daily Recruiter

The Ezine for Executive Managers … brought to you by The SearchLogix Group.

Category: Interview Tips (Page 1 of 2)

Skype Interview

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By Rachel Morgan Cautero, of Daily Worth”

You did it! You finally scored an interview for your dream job. The only thing? The interview isn’t in person. It’s via Skype or some other video-conferencing platform.

Don’t worry! This is totally normal. Employers are increasingly turning to video interviews when searching for the perfect candidates, since it cuts down on cost, encourages consistency, and even allows potential employers to replay or share the interview with others in the organization.

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What You Need To Know Before Interviewing With A CFO

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“By Samantha White, of”

Scheduling your job interview for first thing in the morning may help you get hired, a survey of CFOs suggests.

Sixty-one per cent of the finance leaders polled regard the 9-to-11am slot as the most productive time for interviews.

Eleven per cent of CFOs prefer to meet candidates before 9am, and another 11% opt for between 11am and 1pm. Afternoon interviews proved less popular, with just 16% of CFOs conducting hiring interviews after 1pm.

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5 Interview Mistakes Entry Level Candidates Make

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“By Ben White, of Getting The Job HQ”

What an exciting time! You have just finished school and with all the enthusiasm in the world you create a resume and attempt to land you first real job! While that sounds like quite the adventure, I can remember not too long ago when that was me and what I ended up finding out is that adventure can be longer than anticipated. I have a unique perspective on this seeing as how I went through it not too long ago and I speak with entry level candidates all the time. Now don’t get me wrong, some entry level candidates come off sounding like experienced vets. Their resumes look perfect, their LinkedIn profiles fully optimized and they are networked well better than those five or even ten years their senior. However this wasn’t me and quite frankly it’s not most people. Even if you have had jobs before, it’s a totally different call game when you finally get to the big leagues. The questions are tougher and the reality is the competition is a lot stiffer. At the same time you find yourself graduating, a ton of other people with similar goals and ambitions are also ready to enter the job market. According to the National Center for Education Statistics during the 2015-16 school year colleges and universities will award 1.8 million bachelor’s degree and over 800 thousand masters degrees. Talk about competition. Knowing that, it only makes sense you would want to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Well today is your lucky day because I am going to share with you the 5 interview mistakes entry level candidates make so that you are able to avoid them. These are the mistakes I have noticed frequently occur when I interview entry level and early career candidates.

Unfamiliar with the company

You would be surprised how many times I have someone say to me, “what does your company do?” during an interview. What does your company do? What does your company do? It is an absolutely terrible question to ask because it highlights several negative things to us. You can tell right away this person didn’t adequately prepare. It also gives us a sense that they don’t value the opportunity. If this was something that was really important to you, you would already possess this information. Going into an interview not knowing what the company does is literally the second biggest indicator possible that you didn’t prepare for this interview. Literally the only thing indicating it more would be if you didn’t pick up the phone when you are called at the pre-agreed upon time. The thing that is most frustrating about it is that this information is painstakingly easy to find. If you are reading this, whether it is from your computer or your smartphone, it is possible for you to find out what pretty much every company in the world does in virtually no time at all. Be prepared and know a good deal about the company you are interviewing with and if you can’t do that, at least don’t broadcast your lack of preparedness by asking this question.

Failing to familiarize themselves with the position description

There is usually a significant gap in the time between applying for a role online and when you find yourself in that first interview. Given this gap it is natural for you not to remember details about the job description. Now, that doesn’t mean it is ok. Not knowing the details of the job description  not only makes it looks like you aren’t prepared but it also puts you at a disadvantage when  it comes to answering questions. If you are familiar with the tasks and responsibilities of a role you are better positioned to answer many of the questions that typically come up during a job interview. Job descriptions are pain points for companies. If they need someone to do something it is because they don’t currently have someone doing it. If you can incorporate components of the new role into answers about your skill set you start to make yourself sound like you are part of the solution. Even better would be to find a role you are interested, look at the responsibilities of the position and then customize your resume to match the duties of the role you are applying to. The fact of the matter is the likelihood of you being asked a question related to the job description is extremely high. If you are unfamiliar with the job description you are positioning yourself to potentially miss on questions that should be opportunities to sell yourself.

Failing to ask questions 

In most interviews you will be given an opportunity to ask hiring manager or the recruiter questions. All too often I have candidates have the opportunity but ask me nothing. There are so many good questions to ask at this point and so many things candidates should be curious about that it strikes me as odd when someone doesn’t take advantage. Most people view asking questions in a job interview as a way to obtain information. While that is true, what they are overlooking is that it is also a way to convey interest. Well worded questions citing information about the company can even be used as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge about the company. For example you can ask something the like this “In 2015 your company experienced a 8% improvement in international sales, what would you contribute that to and what does your company have planned moving forward to make sure those trends continue?”. A question like that not only gives you useful information about the company but it also lets the interviewer know that you did your homework. Make sure you go into every interview with questions to ask not only for yourself but for them as well.

Not researching salary

This is a mistake a ton of entry level candidates make and quite frankly I get it. If you haven’t ever had a full time professional role before, it can be easy to not know what you should be making. However the fact of the matter is, any good recruiter is going to ask you a question or two around salary. The last thing you want to do here is throw out a number that’s too high and disqualifies you are throw out a number too low and had them low ball you when it comes time to get an offer. The solution to that is you need to go in there prepared. There are many websites that can help you with that but I personally like Glassdoor. Look at the pic below, by clicking on salary it will let you search by occupation title and geographic area. 

Feel free to use this link to check out the tool and see how you stack up in your current role in your area Glassdoor Salary Tool. This is a simple way to find out what people who do the job you are interviewing for make in your area. That way when a recruiter asks you what you are looking for in terms of compensation you can say something like “My research shows me that an Jr. Accountant in Milwaukee, WI makes XYZ a year. I would be targeting a salary in that range but I am open to a fair and equitable offer”. In my book, Getting the Job, I have a great chapter on negotiation if you want to learn how I recommend positioning yourself for the strongest offer they are able to make.

Not being prepared to expand on their experience

Entry level roles are the quickest phone screens I ever do. On one hand this makes a lot of sense, they don’t have as much experience to talk about so their interviews are shorter. However its often because they don’t really expand on their experience. Whenever I ask questions I get a lot of short, one word answers. Or I asked them to walk me through their experience during an internship and they finish telling me everything they did in a sentence or two. Not only does this leave me asking myself “is that really all this candidate did here?” but it is also selling yourself short. Most of the time there is a lot more that was done besides what the candidate is offering up. What has always helped me was writing down each role I have had on a piece of paper. The under that I write my tasks but more importantly I write a few things I accomplished in each of my roles. Usually there are a few questions asked during an interview that afford you the opportunity to share accomplishments from previous roles. If you have these already written down it is easier to recall them and use them as examples.

There you have it, those are my 5 interview mistakes entry level candidates make. Have you made any of these in the past and are brave enough to share them below in the comments? I know I have made a few. Now moving forward you can avoid these mistakes and nail the interview. I hope this helped and thanks for reading!

17 Signs Your Job Interview is Going Horribly

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“by Jacquelyn Smith,”

Most people think that it’s difficult — or even impossible — to determine how well they’re performing during a job interview. But if you look closely, the hiring manager’s body language and subtle cues will probably tell you exactly how they feel about you as a candidate.

“It behooves you to read between the lines and gauge the interviewer’s actions and responses, so you can shift your approach, presentation style, or better clarify your answers,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, author, and leadership coach.
For example, you can take note of what appeals most to the hiring manager about your background and what triggers a yawn, such as long-winded answers — and take a different direction. “Other times the fit just isn’t there, or you had an off day. In the worst-case scenario, by looking for subtle cues, you’ll be better prepared at the next job interview,” she says.
If you detect any signs that the interview is going horribly, it’s important to maintain your confidence and a positive attitude, no matter how discouraged you may be.
“The hiring manager may just be distracted for other reasons or could be having a bad day,” Taylor says. “So don’t give up and shut down.”
Here are 17 telltale signs that the interview may not end with a job offer:
1. The hiring manager doesn’t maintain eye contact
If you feel like saying, “Hey … I’m over here!” as your interviewer seems to be looking everywhere but at you, that’s not always a great sign.
“Gauge what is going on and whether and how you can improve the situation,” Taylor says. “Maybe you need to take up the energy level a notch, or perhaps you should find a way to connect with the interviewer on a more personal level.”
2. They display negative body language
If the interviewer is crossing their arms, leaning away from you, or looking at the door, it could mean that they aren’t impressed or interested.
“This is a good time for you to lean forward with enthusiasm as you speak; it’s likely to get attention and exude confidence,” says Taylor.
3. They seem distracted
If the hiring manager is texting or checking email, surfing the web on his or her computer, or walking around the room as you speak, this is never a good thing.
“Try to make your presentation and dialog more engaging,” says Taylor. Then ask yourself, “Would I really want to work for someone who is this distracted?”
4. They don’t smile — ever
“Maybe this is just their personality — but if you noticed the hiring manager laughing and smiling prior to entering the interview room, and then they suddenly look like their cat just died, it could mean they’re simply not excited by you as a candidate,” Taylor says.
“If you feel daring, try a few lighthearted comments. And if that doesn’t work, consider whether this is just the tip of a very chilly iceberg. You might want to run for the hills while you can, anyway,” she says
5. They cut the interview short
If the interview comes to an abrupt end just minutes after entering the room, you probably aren’t going to get the job. Of course, there may be a special circumstance like an emergency, but if the hiring manager wraps things up quickly and doesn’t explain or apologize, that’s not a great sign.
“You can’t ask for more time, but you should thank the interviewer for his time and remain poised,” says Taylor.
6. They go on the offensive
When you feel like you’re playing a battle of wits as the hiring manager tries repeatedly to put you in the hot seat, this isn’t great.
“Don’t play the game and challenge back. Remain calm and determine if this is an aberration in the discussion — or the sign of a merciless tyrant,” says Taylor.
7. They pause often as they try to think of the next question
“Sometimes in a bad interview, it seems like it takes five minutes for the hiring manager to come up with the next question,” Taylor says. “This happens because hiring managers don’t always know how to handle their lack of interest.”
You don’t have to be reactive, however. This is your opportunity to take the floor and ask questions.
8. They don’t listen carefully to your answers or ask pertinent follow-up questions
If you feel like you’re speaking to a wall, try a different tack, such as asking for their opinion on the topic: “How do you structure your team for those kinds of projects?”
Once you get the interviewer talking, they’re more likely to perk up, Taylor says.
9. The interviewer mentions there are other qualified candidates in the running
“This is a warning of sorts so you’re not too let down later,” Taylor says.
Remain undeterred: As long as you’re in the interview, you still have a shot.
10. It seems as if they’re reading your résumé for the first time
It’s possible that a hectic day is at fault and your interviewer wants to be thoughtful about his questions. But if they seem somewhat clueless about your background or detached, you can assume the interest level is dwindling.
11. They ask you about your biggest weakness, then dwell on it
“If the hiring manager continues to needle you throughout the interview about your primary weakness, this is a bad sign,” Taylor says. “They are seeing a clear problem in the lack of a required skill set, or they see issues they feel may hamper your success in the new position.”
12. There’s little discussion or enthusiasm about your skills, accomplishments, or goals
This one may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning, says Taylor: “When this happens, ask about what would define success for them in the job and at the company.”
13. They highlight the negative aspects of the job
If they repeatedly “warn” you that the job requires a lot of travel or that you may be expected to work long hours, they could be trying to turn you off and drive you away.
“The hiring manager might be attempting to put a damper on your enthusiasm, to let you down indirectly,” says Taylor.
14. The conversation doesn’t flow and there are lots of pauses or interruptions as you try to respond
“Chemistry is measurable … by your gut,” says Taylor. “You know when the conversation flows and you have a feeling of camaraderie and when you don’t. Don’t discount your own emotional intelligence or how you physically feel during the interview.”
15. They don’t mention ‘next steps’ or ask about your availability
“If you’re not introduced to other managers or the interviewer fails to show interest in moving forward, you can be proactive,” Taylor says.
For instance, if you feel like you still have a shot at the job, you can always say, “I’m very interested in the position. What would be the next step?” It’s at least another data point on where you stand.
16. You get the limp handshake
If on your way in the interviewer had a nice, firm handshake, and then on your way out you get a “cold-fish handshake,” which seems obligatory at best, you probably won’t be getting an offer.
Regardless, be firm with yours and smile, Taylor suggests.
17.  You’re asked to follow up with an assistant
“This may be a sign that the hiring manager doesn’t want to spend further time evaluating you for the position, unless the follow up is about a second interview,” she says.
“By taking careful note of job interviewer indicators, you can shift your approach and take action in the moment, when it counts the most,” Taylor adds. “Also remember that just because you didn’t feel you performed well doesn’t mean you lost out. The job interview is also your opportunity to vet the prospective boss and company, so remain objective.”


8 Important Reminders for Your Next Interview

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“by Lily Herman,”

The job interview is one of the most important (not to mention one of the most nerve-wracking) parts of the job search process, but everyone has to do it. The good news? Taking some time to prepare can ensure success when you walk into a potential employer’s office.

Even better news? We’ve scoured the web to bring you some awesome job interview reminders so that you can totally nail it on the big day.

1.Reading a company’s mission statement won’t cut it anymore; look at earnings calls, quarterly reports, and blog posts, too. (Forbes)

2.Your knowledge of a company won’t be the only thing that’s tested. Hiring managers will also be looking at your “cross-disciplinary self” to see what you’re made of. (99U)

3.Another interviewing pro tip: Put some talcum powder on your hands so that your palms aren’t sweating when you go in for a handshake. (Undercover Recruiter)

4.Job interviews are just as much about getting inside the head of your interviewer as they are about your interviewer testing you. (Business Insider)

5.Be prepared to potentially answer some really weird interview questions. (Fast Company)

6.Read about the big interview mistakes of others to know what you should avoid doing. (HubSpot)

7.Make sure you have some idea of when an employer will follow up with you after a job interview. Haven’t received anything yet? You can follow up without being creepy. (Lifehacker)

8.When you do land that offer? Jokingly ask for a one-million dollar salary. Doing so can actually increase your salary by 10%. (Fortune)


10 Body Language Mistakes You Can Make In a Job Interview

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“by Janice Burch,”

Your resume got you in the door and you landed the interview. You did your company research. Picked up your suit from the cleaners. You look amazing.

You are ready for the glare and the grill of the interviewer.

You sit down in the chair and cross your legs. As the interviewer takes a moment to review your resume, you start nervously tapping the foot of your crossed leg to a beat in your head as you bite your lower lip. Your hands begin to fidget and you start picking at the loose cuticle around your thumbnail. You slouch down in the chair as he finishes reading through your resume, unaware that you have done so.

And though you may not think so, the interviewer is picking up on all of it.

His or her thoughts: Nervousness. Lacks confidence. Feels out of place. Perhaps not qualified. Maybe he lied on part of his resume.

Many thoughts go through the minds of hiring personnel when they first meet an applicant. Our body language can tell an interviewer as much if not more than our words as to whether we feel we are qualified for the position.

Below are the top 10 body language mistakes you can make when interviewing. Take note of these and be aware. Do some practice runs with a friend or family member. Old habits are hard to break but this is one time when you will want to make sure you have EVERY EDGE over the other applicants. It would be a shame if a judgment is made about your abilities based on nervous habits you can easily fix.

Here you go:

Slouching: Leaning back in your chair makes you appear either lazy or arrogant. Leaning forward makes you look too eager or aggressive. Experts say your best bet in an interview is to sit up straight in the chair, without letting your back touch the back of the chair. Pretend as if a string is connecting your head to the ceiling to keep your posture in check.

Breaking Eye Contact: Don’t stare, but try to hold your interviewer’s gaze for an extra second before breaking away from the first handshake. It establishes a personal connection with them and lets them know you are engaging. During the interview pay attention and maintain good eye contact. It shows authenticity, sincerity and an earnest intent.

Pointing: Agreed that this might be a way to make a point but that and the action of “chopping” with your flat hand to make a point creates a space between you and the interviewer and can be viewed as overly aggressive.

Crossed arms: Crossed arms over your chest signal defensiveness and resistance and you appear less approachable. Keep your arms at your side or hands folded gently on lap to appear more open to conversation and open to the interviewer.

Excessive Nodding: You don’t want to look like a baseball bobble head figurine. Often, we are unaware of how much we are nodding our head as people speak to us. A few nods with a smile of agreement works but find your center and keep your head there while focusing on paying attention, good eye contact and appropriate affirmations like, “Yes, I see,” or “that makes sense.”

Fidgeting: Your mother used to tell you all the time “stop fidgeting!” This is one time you should heed mom’s advice. The nervous energy you display whether with finger nail biting, shifting in your chair too much, crossing and uncrossing and crossing your legs again and again or jingling the coins in your pocket will distract the interviewer and show your lack of confidence and make you seem like a Nervous Nelly.

Hands Behind Your Back: It’s important to appear approachable and open, so don’t try to control gestures or fidgeting by keeping your hands locked behind your back. This is especially important when you begin to speak. Keeping your hands in your pockets or behind your back inhibits movement and makes you appear stiff. Bring those hands out in front and use them in a casual manner when speaking during your interview.

Mismatched Expressions: Does your facial expression match the enthusiasm of your voice? If someone asks you during your interview what you’re most passionate about and your face looks like it’s been embalmed or deadpan as you answer, interviewers may see this as a lack of sincerity.

Shifty eyes: Be aware of any habits to shift your eyes upward as you speak. It can suggest someone is lying or not sure of themselves. It’s important to look someone directly in the eye to convey certainty, confidence and honesty.

Staring: There is a distinct line between good eye contact and staring during an interview. Be aware of this. You do not want to look creepy by appearing as though you are hexed on the person with a long, no-blink stare. Maintain good eye contact but look down when you need to take a moment to gather your thoughts in response to a question. Locking eyes with someone for an extended period of time can be interpreted as aggressive, not to mention creepy.

Be aware of what your body language is telling the interviewer about your maturity, confidence and ability to represent their company well in any setting – social or professional.

Don’t let these nervous habits distract the interviewer. Be aware of these potential pitfalls to help you maintain control in the interview and keep the focus on your skills and strengths.

Job Interview? Here’s How to Prepare

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“by Beth A. Berk,”

Not being properly prepared for an interview can ruin your chances of landing a job. What you say—and don’t say—through your words, tone, dress, and gestures will affect how others perceive you. That’s why you need to be prepared at every stage of the interview process, from the time you decide to seek a new job to the final interview. Your preparedness gives employers vital clues to how you will behave, communicate, and perform in the role for which you are being considered.
 Here are some ways to ensure you’re fully prepared for your next interview:  
•To prepare for interview questions, search for lists of the most commonly asked questions online. Brainstorm answers to all of them. In particular, be sure you know how you’d answer questions about the following: your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement; why you are looking to leave your current job and why you left prior jobs; how you handled a challenging situation; your accomplishments and contributions; and your goals. Regarding accomplishments, it helps to have specific quantifiable data about how your performance compares favorably to others who were in a similar situation (e.g., you saved the company $200,000, reduced month-end close by two days, etc.).

•Review the website of the organization you’re applying to in order to learn about the products and/or services it offers, the management team and other key professionals, any awards it recently received, and where its offices are located. Read the organization’s recent press releases. Also, read the LinkedIn profiles of the professionals with whom you will be meeting.

•Make sure your résumé (and LinkedIn profile) is up to date and complete. If you haven’t reviewed your résumé in a few months or more, make sure you include any new information, including responsibilities and duties, a promotion or title change, and recent accomplishments including awards, classes, or training seminars you’ve attended.

•If you realize that information has been omitted from your résumé that you may be asked about during the interview process (such as prior work experience, short-term employment, employment gaps due to health or family problems, other schools you attended, etc.), you should disclose it as soon as possible, either before or during the initial interview. You can do so by updating your résumé immediately and forwarding it.

Sometimes, CPAs leave information off their résumés to save space or because someone suggested they not disclose certain details. I believe this isn’t the best approach. Put yourself in your interviewer’s place. If information that wasn’t disclosed came up during an interview, how would you feel? You might lose trust in the other information the candidate provided.

•Consider your résumé’s appearance. This really should happen once you start to consider applying for a new job. It’s important to mention here because it will be a document that your interviewers review before you come in—and they may very well have it in front of them while they talk to you. So you should have someone else review it to make sure there are no typos, that the font size is not too small and the type is easy to read, and that the formatting is consistent (e.g., font size and spacing stay the same throughout the résumé, that there’s a period at the end of each bullet, etc.). If you tracked changes, make sure you know how your résumé will look to others when they open the document. Also, if you have very little information on the second page of a two-page résumé, try to reformat it so it’s only one page.

•Whether you are interviewing in person or via a webcam, don’t forget about nonverbal communication. Be aware of what your body language may be saying based upon how you are sitting, how you are dressed, whether you look or seem nervous, and your tone of voice. Your tone can imply a lot more about your attitude and state of mind than you think. And, if you tend to speak quickly, you may want to practice speaking slower.

•If you want to see how you appear and sound to others, you can have someone record you on video or with a phone, practice a webcam interview with someone who will provide you with honest feedback, or watch yourself speaking out loud in a mirror while paying attention to your facial expressions.

•Make sure you have all necessary materials ready before the interview. I once had a job candidate go on an interview and hand an HR director a flash drive with her application because she was unable to print it out at home! This may seem like a small mistake, but errors such as these leave a bad first impression.

Finally, decide whether you’re really ready to go on the interview. If you are not up for the challenge of presenting your best self, including making the time to be prepared, consider rescheduling, especially if you are really interested in the job. If you are really unsure of yourself or the role, you may want to cancel altogether. If you do, thank the hiring professionals for taking the time to consider you. Let them know that you have decided to put your search on hold, hopefully leaving the door open for the future.

Good luck with your next interview and remember: Be prepared!

How Many Job Interviews Are Too Many?

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“by Jorg Stegemann,”

The job interview process is probably the most crucial part to a successful hiring. And without successful people on board – from the switchboard operator, over Research & Development and accounts receivables to the CEO – no company will stay in business.

Much has been written (including on this blog) on how to master the job interview, both for the hiring manager and the candidate. This is the quality part. What about the quantity, more specifically: how many job interviews are too many?

I have heard everything from we hire after “1 phone interview” to “17 personal interviews”.

It is difficult to give a clear answer. My experience after 15 years’ in recruitment is:
•There should be no less than two physical meetings between candidate and future manager. I feel it is important to meet once, go away, digest and come back to see if the first impression is consistent. I have seen people change from interview 1 to interview 2 and anything that is inconsistent, is not good in business (or child education…).
•If the interview process gets too long, you risk losing the momentum – and the candidate. In recruitment, time is always your enemy. Always. The argument I have heard from my clients “if s/he is really motivated, s/he will wait” falls short: your company is not the best one in the world even though we all think so (hey, by the way: Kennedy Executive REALLY is the best executive search firm in the world or at least, I think so. Call us in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Milan, Paris or Prague to find out). Let’s do the math: two interviews with the direct superior, one with HR, one final with senior leadership make 4 maximum (for junior to middle management positions). If you have more than 4 for middle management jobs, I invite you to question the process. I personally refuse to accept assignments in middle management if there are more than 5 interviews as chances are high we will lose the candidate on the way.


Hiring is an art and a science. The impact of a bad hire can be costly and create internal frustration and dis-equilibrum. Too few interviews risk not to give you the information you need which are for the hiring manager essentially “is this person able to do the job, does s/he want to do the job and will s/he fit into the corporate culture?” and for the candidate “can I do the job will I learn and grow and do I want to spend time with these people?”. Too many interviews bear the risk of losing momentum and giving the impression of inefficiency.

5 Job Interview Deal Breakers

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“by, Neil Amato,”

A new survey reveals what should be obvious to job-seekers but apparently isn’t: The most likely way to bungle your chance with a potential employer is by checking your smartphone during an interview.

Seventy-seven per cent of advertising and marketing executives said it was likely they’d remove a person from consideration if the person used his or her phone during an interview, according to a survey by Robert Half affiliate The Creative Group.

Showing up late and not acknowledging the tardiness was chosen as a deal-breaker by 70% of the executives. The other top ways for your job interview to have an unhappy ending: not bringing requested items, such as a CV or references (also chosen by 70%); wearing improper attire (69%); and speaking poorly of a past employer (62%).

Technology is a hurdle not only for job-seekers but also for those who already have a job. Nearly two-thirds of chief information officers in a 2013 survey said increased use of mobile devices had led to more breaches in workplace etiquette at their organisations.

While organisations have allowed employees to bring their own devices to work and even have permitted some amount of social media activity during the workday, some companies report that employees are less productive because of mobile devices.

And, when it comes to hiring, there’s very little patience for someone who insists on scrolling through email during an interview.

“Hiring managers typically assume candidates are putting their best foot forward during job interviews, so any sign of unprofessional or unproductive behaviour makes a big impact, no matter how qualified the person may be for the position,” Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, said in a news release. “Job-seekers should do everything they can to tip the scales in their favour, including paying attention to the smallest details.”

The Creative Group offered tips for avoiding missteps that can ruin a job interview:

  1. Turn off your phone. Before entering the building, turn off your phone and put it away. Instead of surfing the internet or checking social media while waiting in the lobby, peruse company literature that’s available. When the interview begins, give the interviewer your undivided attention.
  2. Be on time. Showing up even a few minutes late could signal to a hiring manager that you have little regard for his or her schedule. Plan for traffic and arrive about 10 minutes early. If you’re running late, call ahead and explain why. And consider driving to the location of the interview a day or so in advance to gauge traffic. 
  3. Don’t arrive empty-handed. Print extra copies of your CV and bring a laptop or tablet with your online portfolio saved to the desktop so you can easily present it without an internet connection – just in case the interviewee doesn’t have all of your application materials.
  4. Don’t dress too casually. Do some research to find out the company’s dress code and choose an outfit that’s slightly more formal.
  5. Don’t complain about a past job. It’s often necessary to discuss work-related challenges, but show tact during these conversations. The ability to describe difficult situations diplomatically can reflect well on you. Badmouthing former employers, colleagues, or clients may cause interviewers to question your attitude.

60 Plus Interview Questions People Said Were Their Favorites

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“Todd Raphael,”

A recent contest for people to submit their favorite interview questions yielded the interesting, the odd, the useful, the insightful, and the obscene.

They included such questions as: “What is your favorite palindrome?” and “Why did America stop selling War Bonds?”

And, there are some I can’t publish without washing my own mouth out with soap. 

A contest about questions

The contest, put on by VoiceGlance, ran in a 10-week period from May into July. Most of the answers came in via LinkedIn groups, and were sent in by HR managers, recruiters, and some job seekers in the U.S., India, China, Nepal, Malta, the UK, and Canada.

Here are the questions turned in, and at the end of this post, some of the questions the judge — me — selected as winners.

(I generally tried to pick questions that were related to actual success on the job. Suffice it say, I didn’t pick any questions about your favorite barnyard animal, and I didn’t pick the one about “what does family mean to you?”)

The questions submitted

Give an example of a situation where you had a conflict with a coworker, and how did you handle it?
How would you define servant leadership?

  1. In 50 words or fewer, describe what skills and knowledge you can bring to our team.
  2. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?
  3. Humans do make mistakes. Please share with us a time where you have made a mistake which had a significant impact to the company/your team, what mistake was that, and what remedy action you took.
  4. Describe for me some safe work practices you’ve learned from previous employers and how you rate your overall safety record.
  5. How do you motivate others?
  6. In a team environment, what role do you usually take on?
  7. How do you handle criticism?
  8. What is your philosophy towards your work?
  9. If you had to compare how you take decisions, to which animal do you think you would be most similar and why?
  10. If you have a say in the decision taken by management and (say) if you are quite against theirs, will you stick on with your decision?
  11. How would your best friend describe you?
  12. What best a company can do for their employees so its turnover ratio can be maintained?
  13. What three things do you need to be successful in this job? What are deal killers for you?
  14. If I were to talk to one of your previous supervisors, what might they recommend as an area of improvement for you?
  15. What are your long-term motivations in a company or a position?
  16. Tell me about a time you did the right thing at work and no one saw you do it.
  17. Ideal for salespeople — present them with a brick and say “you have three minutes to sell me this brick.”
  18. What do you do when your client says “no” but doesn’t really mean “no”; he only means “tell me more and break down the issues?”
  19. What do you worry about, and why?
  20. How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
  21. What was a situation you handled poorly in the past and how would you handle it in the future?
  22. What do colleagues say is your best quality?
  23. If you were left in the woods with only the items in this room, what would you build?
  24. Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?
  25. What is your favorite palindrome?
  26. Why did our government stop selling War Bonds? It seemed like a great idea for many reasons.
  27. Which of the two animals would you say you are most like — a sheep or a wolf — and why?
  28. What does family mean to you?
  29. If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
  30. What are the titles of the last three books you have read? Tell me how you related to one of the characters.
  31. Tell us about yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
  32. Why do you want to change your job and work with our company?
  33. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  34. Tell us something about our company; how it is better than your present working company?
  35. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
  36. What qualities should a team leader have?
  37. What changes would you make if you are selected and you come on board?
  38. How do you feel about reporting to a boss younger than you or if she is a lady boss?
  39. How do you define success and how do you measure it?
  40. Can you work in critical situations with work pressure?
  41. First ask, “If I went to your last boss and ask them to tell me about you, what would they say?” Then follow it with “Now, if I went to your best friend and asked them to tell me about you — personally, not professionally — what would they say?”
  42. Would you rather be liked or respected?
  43. If your boss asked you to jump, would you ask how high? Or, would you ask, why do you want me to jump?
  44. Tell me something you have never told anyone else.
  45. Tell me about the biggest mistake you ever made at work and what did you do about it?
  46. If you could be any animal on a carousel, what would you be, and why?
  47. Typically you are asked to tell about an accomplishment you are most proud of during your career. I would like you to talk about an error/mistake you made and how you went about resolving it.
  48. Tell me something you have done that goes against all social conventions, yet you did it anyway because it was the right thing to do!
  49. How do you evaluate success?
  50. If you were I, would you hire a person like you, and why?
  51. What were some of the first impressions you got from walking into and waiting for a few minutes in our (organization/newsroom/business)?
  52. Describe for me your most ideal work environment.

Some of the winners

OK, now here are some of the winning questions. Remember that the judge — me — had to choose the best given any particular week. Some weeks there was a great question, and others I was picking the best of a bad bunch.

  • Can you tell me about a situation that was difficult and you were able to overcome it?
  • What’s the worst thing about your current job and what’s the best?
  • What would you like to change (positively) in our organization, and how would you do that?
  • Explain how you will add value to our company if hired.
  • What one skill do you possess that will most impact our bottom line?
  • What did you love best about your last full-time position?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Communication is important within every organization. Thinking about your style of communication, how will you use it to ensure you are communicating effectively with your team, and what suggestions would you offer your teammates on communicating with you?

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