Posts filed under Interviewing

Using The STAR Method To Ace An Interview

desk-discussing-discussion-1311518.jpg

Open-ended interview questions such as, “Tell me about yourself,” or “Have you ever worked with a stubborn teammate” are stressful! It’s hard to prepare in advance for situational or behavioral questions that sometimes come out of left field.

If you struggle with these types of questions, the STAR method is a great way to lower your stress level and answer in a way that will satisfy the interviewer.

The STAR Method

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This method helps formulate your answers in a clear and specific way. Since past performance is a good indicator for your future performance, interviewers will be listening closely to the way you answer questions such as:

“Give me an example of…,”

“Describe a situation in which you were able to use…,”

“Describe a time…”

Situation - Start by describing the situation that required you to solve a problem, use a skill, or come up with a new idea. Be specific and give enough information for the interviewers to understand.

Task - What goal were you working toward? Explain what your job required in the situation. Make sure to include any specific challenges you faced.

Action - This is where you describe exactly what you did to overcome the challenge. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution?

Pro Tip: Focus on qualities and soft skills the hiring manager is looking for (i.e., initiative, leadership, attention to detail, teamwork). You will know this from the job description.

Results - Finally, describe the outcome of the situation. Don’t be shy in  emphasizing your contribution. Also, incorporate what you learned through the process.

Tips for Using The STAR Method

  1. Be prepared. You won’t know the questions your interviewer will ask, so think through several STAR situations from your experiences that highlight your best traits. Practicing the method will help when you are put on the spot in an interview.

  2. Be specific. Make sure your situations are targeted and specific. Identify qualities the hiring manager is looking for in the role before the interview and incorporate those words into your responses.

  3. Be quantitative. If you were responsible for growth in your department or project, know growth percentage and share those numbers in your interview. When you incorporate numbers, you're not just voicing your ability, you’re proving it. Numbers don’t lie!

  4. Be honest. Avoid inflating your story or success in hopes of impressing your interviewer. Not only is this lying, but when they find out you fibbed, workplace trust will be compromised.

Want to practice the STAR method and other interview tips to help land your dream career? Through our Interview Preparation service, our team of career consulting experts can equip you with the tools and guidance to succeed. Contact us today!

Posted on December 11, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

Tips For Handling A Lunch Interview

adult-beard-blur-573562.jpg

Lunch interviews, while a routine part of the hiring process in many organizations, can be quite nerve-wracking. But remember, lunch interviews are a good thing – it means the interviewer wants to spend more time with you and get a better sense of your personality. However, it’s incredibly important to remain professional and avoid handling this interaction like it’s a casual lunch. It’s still an interview and your overall behavior will be considered when it comes to a hiring decision.

If you have a lunch interview coming up, don’t stress! Here’s a list of the top tips for handling a lunch interview like a pro.

Arrive Early & Prepared

Before the day of the interview, research the restaurant and its location. Is parking nearby? Will there be traffic? What type of food is on the menu? If it’s feasible, drive there beforehand so you know exactly where it is. Ease your interview jitters by knowing exactly what to expect. Aim to be at the restaurant about 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.

Come prepared with everything you would bring to an office interview including your resume, work samples, references, and recommendations. You may not have the chance to present them, but you can hand them to the interviewer after the lunch.

Mind Your Manners

Your interviewer will take note of the way you treat and interact with everyone at the restaurant. After all, they brought you on a lunch interview to get a better sense of your personality. Be kind, courteous, and respectful to all restaurant staff including the hostesses, servers, and bussers. If you’re interviewing for a customer service or client-facing role, this is especially crucial.

Order Your Meal Strategically

Yes, you are meeting over lunch, but we suggest eating beforehand and ordering a small dish during the interview. You’ll be talking a lot and don’t want to be distracted by an empty stomach. Avoid finger foods and anything that’s hard to eat. Even fish can sometimes have small bones in it – you don’t want to be picking food out of your teeth while you’re explaining why you’re great for the job!

Pro Tip: let the interviewer order first and choose something similar.

Offer to Pay

If your lunch interview is one-on-one, offer to pick up the check. This shows politeness and courtesy. If this isn’t feasible for you, do not worry, the interviewer will likely insist on paying since they invited you. But if you offer to pay, you must be ready and willing to pay. It would look even worse if you offered and then backed out.

Bottom line: While not required, offering to pay is a polite gesture and will go a long way to making a great impression.

Do you want more interview guidance? Our team at Wilbanks Consulting Group offers a variety of professional services to highlight your individual strengths and help you shine in interviews. Get in touch with us to learn more.

Posted on September 25, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

The Most Important Person You Need To Impress During An Interview

brooke-lark-609911-unsplash.jpg

Do you know who the most important person to impress during an interview? While it is extremely important to impress your interviewer, impressing the secretary or assistant who is helping you is perhaps even more important.

Secretaries and assistants usually handle emails, scheduling, and are typically your first point of contact. Although it can be very easy to overlook them because they may seem unassuming behind their desk, they are the gatekeeper to the entire organization and are paid to weed you out. Leaving a good impression matters because secretaries and assistants can hold more responsibility and influence than most people assume. They absorb everything and filter out what’s important for their boss. Oftentimes, these are the positions that are most trusted in the company.

Showing that you are professional in all circumstances and to everyone, despite their job description, can be the key to getting hired. The following pointers can help ensure you leave a positive lasting impression with the most important person - the assistant or secretary!

  • Know and use their name (Ms. Smith, Mr. Johnson, etc.)
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the interview time.
  • While you wait, keep your phone out of sight.
  • Be polite and friendly.
  • Keep good posture and body language.
  • Be sure to thank them and say goodbye on your way out.

Remember, they have a relationship with the hiring manager and will reveal if you were rude or unprofessional. Make a positive and lasting influence on the receptionist and it might help your chances of success with the company; create a negative impression and there is a good chance your future with them has reached its end.

For more interview Dos and Don’ts, read this quick guide.

Posted on May 23, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

How To Follow Up When You Don’t Have Contact Information

kevin-xue-603417-unsplash.jpg

You just wrapped up an interview and hit it out of the park. Now what? Follow up with a thank you! But what if you don’t have the interviewer’s contact information? It’s a pretty common problem, but there are a few things that you can do to follow up:

1. Send a thank you note to the person who scheduled your interview. Although you may not have direct contact information for the interviewer, sending a follow up thank you email to the scheduler - Secretary, Assistant, or HR representative - with a note to pass along the message is acceptable. Here is a template email you can adapt for your own follow up:

(Add contact name),

I wanted to extend my thanks to you for scheduling my phone interview last week. I enjoyed speaking with (insert names of interviewers) and was thrilled to hear about the great work taking place at (insert company name). Would you please pass along my thanks to them as well?

If there is an update on the job process, I'd be honored if you would send me a brief note. I'm excited by the prospect of working with the team.

Thanks again for your time and assistance.

Sincerely,

(Add Your Name)

2. Do some research on LinkedIn or the company website. Check LinkedIn and the company websites to find the email address of the interviewer. Contact information on LinkedIn can be found on the right-hand side of an individual’s profile page.

3. Make an educated guess. Many times, if you have a company email from a secretary or assistant and your interviewer's full name, you can make an educated guess for their company email. For example, if the assistant’s name is Victor Gonzales and the email associated with him is vgonzales@company.com, it is likely that the email of the interviewer follows the same pattern.

Following up can be a difficult task especially when you don’t have the contact information you need. These tips and tricks can be helpful when trying to leave a good impression. For more tips and tricks, visit: Job Search and Interview Follow up Etiquette and I’ve Had an Interview. Now What?

Posted on May 2, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

How to answer “What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?”

Strength Weaknesses

Interviewer: “What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?”

Interviewee: “My strength is that I have no weaknesses.”

Please don’t answer the classic interview question like this. No one is weakness free! And while this isn’t a trick question, it is a question that is meant to reveal how you view yourself, your confidence level, and your forward-thinking skills. Most of the time, interviews don’t actually care what the strength and weakness are - they want to hear how you handle a self-assessment.

Here’s the key: There is always something you can be working to improve, and this question opens the door to show interviewers that you are actively working on an area or skill.

Here’s 5 easy steps to prepare for this classic interview question:

Step 1: Write down your honest answer to this question. You don’t have to show it to anyone at this point, so be truthful!

Step 2: Ask your best friend to answer the question for you. Ask them to be honest, but helpful. In all the time you’ve known this person, what do they see as your greatest strength and weakness?

Step 3: Ask a close colleague to answer the question for you. Your best friend will answer a bit differently than a colleague. Having the two perspectives will be insightful.

Step 4: Compare notes. Were any of the answers similar? How were they different? Do you agree or disagree with their assessment? Spend some time to think through the responses and form one coherent and honest answer that is appropriate for an interview. Bonus points if you can tailor your response to the specific position you are interviewing for!

Step 5: Come up with a plan to address your weakness. It’s important to not just answer the question with the strength and the weakness, but to include a plan of action for improvement that is already in place. Here’s a great example from an author:

“I’m really creative when it comes to brainstorming topics for my writing and I’m quick to lay out an outline. My weakness lies in catching the details. I sometimes struggle to catch the small stuff when editing, but I think being aware of the problem is half the battle. In addition, I’m working to improve on this by taking editing classes and allocating more time to review work before it leaves my desk.”

Everyone should prepare for this question. Having a thought-out and plan-of-action will leave a great impression with your interviewer.

Want more interview tips? Read How to present yourself as a team player.

What Is Your Body Language Saying During An Interview?

Body Language

Imagine you are at an interview and are sitting in a very comfortable office chair across from your interviewer.

You are probably imagining what the interviewer and the room look like. Forget about them. Imagine what YOU are doing in this scenario.

Are you shifting your weight in your chair? How is your posture? What are your hands doing? Where are your eyes looking?

Your body is always communicating to others. At home, at work, at the grocery store. The way you stand, your posture, your facial expressions, eye contact (or lack thereof), and personal “quirks” are all speaking something to those around you. Not with verbal words, but with body language.

If you’ve never thought about these things as they pertain to the job search, now is a great time to start. Your body language says just as much, if not more about yourself and your interest in a position than your words.

Posture

How you sit speaks loudly about your current mood and thoughts. Look down and observe how you are sitting right now. Are you laying on the couch with your laptop (casual)? Are you reading this on your phone while you pace the floor at the doctor’s office(impatient)? Are you sitting at your desk with your feet flat on the floor and back straight (productive)? Are you slouching (discouraged)?

Several years ago, I was interviewing a young woman who was sitting with one arm draped over the chair beside her and her legs spread widely - like a baseball player sitting on the bench. She was also chewing gum. I remember this particular interview well because her body language suggested she was not taking the interview very seriously and didn’t care one iota about what I thought of her.

Another interviewee’s brow was furrowed and his arms were crossed across his chest the entire duration of our time together. He didn’t seem happy to be at the interview, and exuded an arrogant demeanor by his stance.

Over the next several days, notice what your body is saying in different circumstances, personally and professionally. Ask the person you are with about what your body language is suggesting your mood or thoughts are. You might be surprised at how clearly your body language speaks!

Eye Contact

You should always look your interviewer directly in the eyes. It can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to doing it. Practice looking directly at your own eyes in a mirror to adjust to the new habit. Try to match a pleasant facial expression with your eye contact. Once you feel you are ready, try practicing with others. When you are checking out at the grocery store, look the clerk in the eyes as you interact. You can practice this skill every time you speak with someone, making it a quick habit to strengthen.

During yet another interview I was conducting, one particular woman checked her watch every five minutes and kept looking behind me at the door. I cut the interview short as it was crystal clear that she was anxious to be done with our time together.

Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, by thinking of a real-world example. Have you ever been talking with a colleague or friend and he or she never looks at your eyes, but instead looks at their computer or phone? In that moment, their eyes told you that whatever was on that screen was more important to them than you and what you had to say. Eye contact reveals distraction and priority, and that’s especially true in an interview setting.

You can see how body language and eye contact are important. Don’t dismiss the powerful language your body and eyes speak. Pay attention in every aspect of your life and you might be surprised to find you are often sending messages that you thought you were keeping internally.

Posted on March 13, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Career.

Tips for Handling Interview Nervousness

Interview

If you are taking the correct steps to showcase your value while applying for jobs, you will land an interview. Interviews are standard practice in the hiring process to ensure a candidate is not only qualified, but also the right fit for the company. It’s normal to be nervous for an interview - all eyes are on you!

One particular nerve-wracking interview that I had out of college was 3 hours long and involved me being shuttled from one office to another. I met with almost everyone in the small, family-owned company for “mini” interviews (over 10 of them!) and also had to take a three part skills test on a computer. Going in to a three hour interview, I was incredibly nervous. I was afraid that I would forget someone’s name, that I wouldn’t pass the skills test, or that the fast-paced interviews would damper my ability to showcase my value.

In that interview, and any interview you may face, the challenge is to think about it for what it really is: a meeting where both you and the interviewer are trying to figure out the best fit for the position.

Bottom Line: It’s not just you being interviewed, it’s you interviewing the company and your potential future colleagues. If you don’t think the workplace culture is a fit for you, then you don’t have to take the job if it’s offered. Keeping this mindset takes a lot of the pressure off of you and puts some on the interviewer.

Keeping that perspective, here are a few tips to manage nervousness and start your interview with confidence:

  • Research. Know as much about the company as you can before your interview. Most employers will casually ask, “What do you know about our company?” Stammering through a half-right answer won’t help your confidence or leave a good impression. Be prepared and know who it is your interviewing with.

  • Prepare your own questions. Remember, you are interviewing the company too! Come with a list of questions that you want to know as a potential employee. Here are some great examples:  

    • Can you explain a bit more about the company’s {insert project here}?

    • How are the company teams structured?

    • What opportunities for advancement come with this position?

    • What is your favorite thing about working here?

    • Do you feel that you have friends at work?

  • Put your best foot forward. This is an obvious one, but it’s so important. Dress professionally. Bring copies of your resume, just in case. Be on time. Act courteously and graciously. If you do these things, you can be confident you will make a great first impression.

  • Do a mock interview. It may sound or feel awkward, but practicing for an interview with a career coach is one of the best things you can do to prepare. This practice will empower you to answer questions with confidence and equip you with a plan for presenting your value.

Still feeling unsure of yourself? We’d love to help you build confidence and increase your chance for success. Contact your personal career coach today!

How to Present Yourself as a Team Player

Team player

One of the most common interview questions is, “In what ways are you a team player?”

It’s a tough question to answer, especially if this is an area of weakness for you. In every interview, you should expect and prepare for a variation of this question.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

There isn’t a job on the planet that doesn’t include working with other people. Even if you work from home, you still have to check in with someone to receive your instructions, or at the very least, to get paid! If you own your own business, you have clients or customers. If you are an author, you have an editor or publisher. If you work with computers, you have a supervisor. You will always have to work with people!

Hiring managers need to ensure that workplace disputes are minimized by hiring folks that are open to constructive criticism, direct feedback, and can adjust their working style based on the needs of the entire team. Employees that have strong team players are more satisfied in their positions. Happy employees result in higher project success rates and lower turnover. Thus, teamwork is important to companies, because it is all around better for business!

How To Present Yourself As A Team Player

Step 1: Find the truth. The first step to answering this question is to examine yourself in order to answer it truthfully. Take a few minutes to brainstorm how you’ve been a team player in the past, while on the job, at school, or while completing a community project. One variation of the team player question is, “Tell me how you’ve been a team player in the past,” so having this information in your back pocket is helpful.

Step 2: Write out your attributes. Once you’ve brainstormed some past examples, pull out the attributes you exemplified that made you such a great team player in those situations. For example, you might write “strong communication skills” or “ability to implement colleagues’ ideas for a positive solution.” Try to list 3-5 attributes.

Step 3: Prepare an answer using the position as the backdrop. Look at a job posting and envision how you could be a good team player in that specific role. Answer “How are you a team player?” by putting yourself in the role you are interviewing for. This is a great strategy to show you understand the position and its responsibilities, highlighting you as qualified and valuable. Here’s an example of what this might look like:

“I love working with others. In this role as account manager, I would brainstorm with others solutions to the client’s problem at hand, allowing everyone to provide their ideas and work with the entire team to process the best option. Some people are great idea-generators while others are effective “devils advocates.” Using everyone’s skills together will improve the quality of the solutions we propose to our clients.”

Pro tip: You can use this three step method to prepare for any interview question!

Prepare For Your Interview With A Career Coach

Our team of professional career coaches would love to help you prepare for your interview by tackling difficult questions like this one and strengthening your many other interview skills. Contact us to get matched with your career coach today!

 

Posted on February 21, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

Video Interview

Do you remember the clip that went viral of a professor being interviewed by a BBC news reporter? If you haven’t seen it, watch it here. It’s hilarious! Thankfully, this family has a good sense of humor and were met with mostly understanding supporters after this happened. However, as a job interviewer, you don’t want something like this to happen. If you plan ahead of time, scenes like this are (mostly) preventable.

Why Did You Secure a Video Interview?

You’re likely to secure a video interview if you live out of town from the job to which you are applying. Many companies conduct phone interviewers, but video interviews are becoming more popular since they are free and easily accessible to most. Technology has transformed the hiring process - interviews included!

A video interview provides insight into a candidate that a phone interview cannot: Does the candidate dress professionally? Does the candidate’s body language communicate confidence? How well does the candidate hold eye contact? Stay focused? From your perspective as a candidate, video interviews provide a connection between you and your resume. In other words, it “puts a face to the name,” which will help you stand out in their memory. If you’ve landed a video interview, you have a great opportunity before you!

How to Prepare For A Video Interview

Preparing for a video interview is a bit different than preparing for a traditional interview or a phone interview.

Here are a few tips to put your best foot forward during a video interview:

  • Location, location, location!

    • Choose a quiet location to sit for the interview. You don’t want dogs barking or kids barging into your interview! You also don’t want the loud hum of a coffee shop that will make it hard for you to hear the interviewer. Brainstorm your options and take the needed steps to ensure you won’t be interrupted during your interview.

    • Choose a location with strong internet connection. The best case scenario is for you to hardwire your computer or phone so that you have the best, strongest signal. If that’s not an option, sit as close to the router as possible!

    • Choose a location that has a great background. Make sure your webcam doesn’t face an open closet door, a trash can, or your unmade bed. The best background is a wall (blank or with tasteful artwork), bookcase, or an arrangement of houseplants. You can always choose the best location and then temporarily decorate the background for the interview.

    • Choose a location with the best lighting. You want light that shines on your face, not the back of your head. Trust us, this will make you look your best and most professional! If the room doesn’t have the best light, sit a lamp in front of you, but still out of sight of the webcam.

  • Dress professionally from your head to your toe. While the chances that you need to stand up during an interview are slim, you never know what might happen. Wearing a dress shirt with pajama pants (or no pants) is a very BAD idea!

  • Wear headphones. This will prevent a distracting echo or other audio feedback that might happen during the interview. And while your giant, over the ear headphones might sound better for your music, they are distracting in an interview setting. Grab a pair of small, discreet earbuds instead.

  • Have a cup of water next to you. There is nothing worse than a tickle in your thought or uncontrollable coughing!

  • Test your audio and visual with a friend ahead of time. That will give you plenty of time to troubleshoot any problems on your end before the important interview!

  • Finally, remember to smile! Everyone wants to work with friendly, smiling people. It’s easy to forget to smile when you’re nervous, so practice answering interview questions while looking friendly prior to your call.

If you’re interested in even more great job search tips, contact one of our qualified career coaches for personalized service and successful results.

Posted on February 7, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

5 Tips For Preparing For A Phone Interview

Phone Interview

Many companies conduct phone interviews before bringing in candidates for a face-to-face meeting. These “screen interviews” save time and money from the company's’ perspective, providing an opportunity to weed out candidates who aren’t a good match quickly without much investment.

Practice phone etiquette in every conversation you have so that it comes naturally. How you say hello, how you say goodbye, and your manners throughout the conversation speak volumes about your professionalism. Some questions a phone interviewer will be asking themselves are:

  • Are they courteous and polite or do they come across gruff and cold?

  • Do they talk over me or interrupt frequently?

  • Did they make the effort to make this call a priority by finding a quiet place to talk?

  • Did they miss the initial call? What does their voicemail portray about their professionalism?

To knock your upcoming phone interview out of the park, these five tips will set you up for success:

  1. Treat it just like a face-to-face interview. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is to think they “just” have a phone interview. Even if the phone interview is an HR screening, the person on the other side of the line has the power to immediately take you out of the running for the position. Take a phone interview just as seriously as you would a face-to-face interview.

  2. Find a quiet space with no distractions. If possible, get out or range of your dog barking, your kids playing, turn off the TV, etc. If you aren’t able to be in a completely quiet space, give a heads up to the interviewer that there may be some background noise. It will be less distracting if they know to expect it.

  3. Make sure phone service is reliable. There are many places in buildings, and maybe even your home, where phone service may cut in and out. Don’t walk around during your interview to avoid static or dropped calls. A good way to test the best place to have the phone interview is to call a friend from the spot before hand and ask them how you sound.

  4. Check your email several times in the minutes leading up to your interview. You never know when something might come up or if someone is running behind. Any last minute updates will be sent to your email, keeping you in the loop.

  5. Be ready to take notes. Being on the phone is a bit more challenging than face-to-face because it’s easier to get distracted. Taking notes will help you to focus on what the interviewer is saying and provides something for you to reference afterwards.

Phone interviews are important and you can secure a face-to-face interview with the proper preparation. If you have specific questions about the interview process, we’d love to help!

Posted on January 31, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

Avoid Being A Character In An Interview Horror Story

Interview

Congratulations! You applied for a great job and have been called in for an interview. You have stood out among the pile of resumes and have a very good shot of landing the job if you nail the interview. You were up against potentially hundreds of applicants. Now you are up against a much smaller pool of candidates. Three to five candidates is the average for a first round of interviews.

There are many things you should do to prepare:

  • Conduct mock interviews with a trusted peer or career coach to practice.

  • Select a conservative and professional outfit.

  • Get directions well before the meeting time so you know exactly where you are going. Be sure to add 30-45 minutes to your travel time, just in case. It’s always better to arrive early instead of late. You can review your notes in the lobby so you don’t arrive too early.

  • Gather the essential resources you’ll need to bring with you.

It’s not a long list, but these items are really important if you are to make the best possible impression.

There are many horror stories that hiring managers share about the interview process. Many are about what people bring - or do not bring - to the interview. To help you avoid being a character in an interview horror story, here is a simple list to help you pack your briefcase and make a great impression:

What to bring to an interview

  • Updated copies of your resume. We recommend at least five printed on resume quality paper.

    • Horror Story: One candidate was so nervous she couldn’t remember what was written on her resume and was unable to answer basic questions about her experience. Having a copy of your resume for your own reference is just as important as having it for your interviewer.

  • Notepad and pen. You don’t need to take notes on everything that is said, but be prepared to jot down something of importance at any time during the conversation. You won’t want to rely on memory to remember everything, especially if you are nervous. Also be sure to test your pen before the interview to make sure it works!

    • Horror story: A candidate came up with several additional examples of how she would add value to the company, but she didn't have her pen and paper for notes. After the interview, she stressed for hours about what additional information she wanted to provide in the follow up email.

  • Bottle of water. While the interviewer may offer you one, don’t assume it will be provided.

    • Horror story: A candidate had a tickle in her throat mid-interview so severe she couldn’t speak. The interviewer had to walk to the other side of the building to get her water, which interrupted the flow of the conversation and put the focus on the unfortunate event instead of her qualities as a potential candidate.

Do NOT bring to an interview

  • Your mother. While you may be chuckling, people have actually brought their mothers to interviews. If anything shouts unprofessional and immature; it’s bringing your mother!

  • Your pets. This seems like it’s common sense, but again, this has actually happened! Not everyone thinks cats are cute and dogs are fun. Many people are allergic or just don’t like animals. A job interview is not a place for pets.

  • Laptop. Unless the interviewer specifically requests you to bring your laptop, don’t. Using a laptop to take notes puts an obstacle in between you and the interviewer. They also can’t see what you’re actually doing on the screen, which may be distracting.

What is in your briefcase during an interview? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Posted on January 24, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

Job Search and Interview Follow up Etiquette

office-620823_1280.jpg

The waiting game is by far the worst part of looking for a job! You finally find a job posting that looks perfect for you. You spend time tailoring your application and resume. You are excited when you hit the “apply” button and then...nothing. For days and days.

When is it appropriate to follow up? Here are some tips to help you maintain a professional vibe while inquiring after two specific job search situations:

Job Application Status

The best case scenario is that you’ll initially receive an auto response, confirming that your application was received. A lot of companies don’t have this automation, however, so you may not receive a confirmation.

After submission, the ratio for how many jobs you apply for to how many you’ll hear back from is, sadly, low. Many job postings receive hundreds of applications and the HR department or hiring manager is overwhelmed with sorting through the responses. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer: if all 150 applicants followed up with a phone call, it would be quite annoying. Instead, opt for a simple and quick email to the hiring manager. State that you applied for the job, wanted to make sure it was received, and are excited about the opportunity.

If you don’t hear back after this follow up, assume you did not move on to the interview stage. But don’t worry! Keep applying and don’t get frustrated. It’s all a part of the job search process.

Post Interview

If you receive an interview - congratulations! There are a two things you should do to follow up:

  1. Ask at the end of the interview what your expectations should be regarding hearing the outcome of the interview process. Are they hiring within the week? Will you hear one way or another? Is it OK for you to follow up if you don’t hear anything? Asking at the interview is not only appropriate, it ensures you are respecting their process and communicating in a way they prefer.

  2. Send a thank you note! If you need some pointers on how to do so, read Stand Out While Being Professional: Proper Thank You Notes.

We’d love to help you with all of your job search needs. Click here to view our career exploration services.

Posted on October 11, 2017 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

Stand Out While Being Professional: Proper Thank You Notes

thank-you-515514_1920.jpg

The art of the thank you note has lost it’s popularity over the decades. Today, thank you notes are typically reserved for wedding and graduation gifts. Even those have become generic, often missing the personal notes that make them meaningful. If you start writing hand written thank you notes, personally and professionally, you will make a lasting, positive impression!

In the workplace, thank you notes should be given for many reasons: thanks for a great first year, thanks for being a great boss, thanks for going out of your way to help me. A thank you note should always be sent to interviewers. Most people don’t send thank you notes. If they do, they usually send thank you emails. YOU should send a handwritten thank you note, personalized to your experience and the interviewer.  You’ll stand out among the other applicants if you do.

How to Write a Thank You Note

Hallmark provides a great structure for writing thank you notes here. We’ve adapted it for the interview process below.

#1: Greeting - Write the name of the person as they introduced themselves. “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Larry”

#2: Give thanks - Say thank you immediately and clearly. “Thank you for the interview yesterday…”

#3: Specific, personalized details - If you learned something beneficial, are more excited about the position, found a common interest between you and the interview, say so!

#4: Look ahead - State that you are looking forward to hearing from them, seeing them at the second interview, or whatever timeframe was set when you were interviewed.

#5: Say thanks again - Add a little something new so you aren’t repeating what you’ve already said but expressing your gratitude. Something simple such as, “Thanks again for your time. You’ve solidified that XYZ would be a great place to call my work home!”

#6: Regards - “Sincerely” is the most appropriate in most situations, unless you know the interviewer well.

After you’ve written your note, you can put it in the mail or drop it off at the business you interviewed with (leave it with the front desk or secretary, if possible). You’re well on your way to standing out from the other interviewees. Even if you don’t get the job, there is a great chance they will remember you for other opportunities that may arise.

Posted on October 4, 2017 and filed under Interviewing.

A Quick Guide: 6 Interview Dos and Don’ts

The Wilbanks Consulting Group recently presented a whole workshop on Interview Illustrations: Highlight Your Value to the Texas Medical Center Community. While a simple blog post can’t begin to cover all those valuable nuggets of information, we can share some basic Dos and Don’ts for nailing that crucial interview.

BEST PRACTICES

1.       Bring Your Energy

Employers want to hire self-motivated, focused employees with energy and drive. To ensure that you demonstrate these qualities in your interview, get plenty of rest in the 2-3 nights ahead of an interview. Sleep debt builds up over time, so sleeping well for several nights in advance can help you overcome an unexpectedly sleepless night before the interview.

Once you are in the interview, show an appropriate level of enthusiasm—enough to convey your excitement for the position and the company, but not so much that you intimidate your interviewer. Oh, and don’t forget to smile!

2.       Arrive on Time

We recommend that you plan to arrive 30 minutes early—well in advance to allow time for traffic, parking, getting lost in the building, or any other issue that might cause you to be late. If you take public transportation, you may want to plan to arrive even earlier.

One benefit of planning to arrive early is that you won’t be late in case Murphy’s Law decides to interrupt as you make your way to the interview. However, if you arrive with ample time and no issues, being early allows you time to get in the right mindset and focus on your interview.

3.       Dress Appropriately

It’s always a good idea to dress to impress, though you will want to choose your attire appropriately based on the company’s culture. Well-groomed business casual may be just as good or better than a traditional “interview suit.” Err on the side of overdressing, because being underdressed will draw negative attention and distract from your value.

Your whole appearance will be taken in during the interview, so ensure that your clothes, shoes, and hair are in impeccable shape. Don’t wear something that shows signs of use or abuse (e.g., make sure your shoes are polished and not terribly scuffed up). Use an iron to press out any wrinkles or pay the dry cleaners if you are not confident in your ironing skills. Plan ahead, get a haircut, and make sure you are well groomed.

4.       Behave and Speak Professionally

As this is a professional interview, stick to the topics at hand. Avoid politically or socially charged topics. In addition, remember that professionals use business-appropriate language. Avoid slang, filler words, and sloppy speech habits.

 MISTAKES TO AVOID

5.       Talking Negatively of a Previous Employer

Talking negatively of a former employer reflects poorly on you. In addition, the world is a fairly small place—you never know whether an interviewer could be friends with your former employer. If you had a bad experience with a previous employer, be honest, but strategic—identify a concrete reason for your move. You want to leave a positive impression on the interviewer.

6.       Staring at the Wall

Eye contact with your interviewer conveys confidence in your abilities and helps to convince the interviewer of the truth of your statements. You don’t need to stare at your interviewer the whole time, but you do need to stay focused and maintain good eye contact. In addition, pay attention to body language, both that of your interviewer and your own. A good tip is to mirror what the hiring manager is doing in terms of demeanor, energy, and, sometimes, even the way the interviewer is sitting (i.e., leaning to one side or the other). These subtle cues can not only help the interview feel more relaxed, but can also help convince them that you fit in well with the organization.

Paying attention to this quick guide of interviewing dos and don’ts will help ensure you make the best first impression on your interviewer. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg! We offer a variety of personalized services to dive into the details and truly prepare you for the interviewing experience. The most successful interviewees make a great first impression and then wow the company with succinct, clear explanations of their work experience.

Contact us to learn more about the different packages The Wilbanks Consulting Group offers to help you prepare for and excel in interviews! Biomedical science and healthcare students, trainees, postdocs, and professionals can take our WCG Online Academy “Interview Illustrations” course anytime, on-demand by clicking here: http://www.wilbanksconsulting.com/wcg-online-academy/.

Amanda Y. Hendrix
Expert Consultant, The Wilbanks Consulting Group

Posted on April 20, 2016 and filed under Interviewing.