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Tough Interview Questions

We have all had them in our career.  The tough, direct question that we should have been prepared for and weren’t.   Did you ever leave an interview and feel like you weren’t at your best?  What were the questions that threw you off balance?  In a previous blog, I wrote about answering the “ Tell me about yourself” question that can cause you to stumble and there are others as well.  Have you ever been asked to resign?  Why have you had so many positions in the past 3 years?  What were you doing during the 6 months between your last two positions?

If you have a gap in your employment or you were asked to leave a job in your past it doesn’t mean that you can’t get rehired in another position that is a better fit but you better be able to articulate why you have had 3 jobs in the past two years or why you were fired.  A good offense is the best defense.  Be upfront about it.  If everyone that got fired from a job was no longer employable, there would be a LOT of unemployed people.  Sometimes people make poor decisions choosing an employer and accepting a job in the same manner that some people choose the wrong mate and end up getting a divorce.  The key is to learn from it, be able to verbalize why it was not a good fit for you and in such a way without badmouthing the company.

My suggestions are:

  1. Never lie.  Tell the truth and people will forgive you- lie and they’ll never trust you.
  2. Be prepared- don’t cross your fingers and hope it won’t be addressed during the interview.
  3. If you were fired, share the reason and what you have learned from the experience and how it will help you in your professional growth in the next position.
  4. If there is a gap on your resume, fill it in with the reason you did not work- took care of a family member during illness, actively looked for work and worked part-time,  etc.

 

We have all had positions that have not been a good fit or a personality conflict with a co-worker or boss- life happens.  We have deaths in our families, we go through divorces.  If you take the time to prepare for the interview and anticipate the tough questions, you are much less likely to stumble.   Being prepared is the key.

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Thanks GrossDaddy…….You ruined the SuperBowl

If the only way you can make an ad memorable is to be gross, disgusting, and not to mention tasteless, then GoDaddy wins the prize for the most disturbing commercial for the SuperBowl.  Watching the game with your family (10 year-old son included) and listening to wet, sloppy kisses in a close-up view of two people in a total slobberfest kiss really shouldn’t have to happen in order to sell $19.95 URL domain names.  Really?

As a business owner and a consumer, we all have choices and I for one am thankful that my website is NOT hosted by GoDaddy.  While they were named the top website host for 2012, there are other choices for webhosting: Namecheap,  1&1 or YahooSmallBusiness and many others.

I invite you to send a message to GoDaddy and that message is: Your ad was gross, tasteless and entirely not necessary and just be sure….there are choices.  The word GROSS and GoDaddy are now synonymous…not to mention YECH!

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Is The Housing Boom Finally Back?

It’s been four long years….as a recruiter looking back to the heady days of 2002-2007; I remember the critical shortage of civil engineers in Florida with experience working on land development projects was so extreme I often silently wondered “How long can this demand continue?”  The answer came painfully fast when the economy declined and the housing bubble burst and along with that, the demand for civil engineers declined rapidly- especially hard in the state of Florida.

A recent report from CNNMoney.com predicts the increased demand for housing will help drive the economy back in 2013 with an estimated 1 million new jobs created.

While it may never return to the crazy days of the mid- 2000 years, it may help drive a healthy, sustainable growth in our economy.

 

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Retaining your key people

As we head into the middle of the first quarter, all indicators point to job recovery.  I saw this trend after the last recession in early 2002 as economic confidence returned; employees started looking at their job satisfaction and decided to seek greener pastures.  In the annual SHRM survey worker’s job satisfaction is down five percentage points from its high in 2009 which is an early indicator that employee turnover is now poised to rise in 2013.

 

Now is the time to be evaluating your senior staff and meeting with them to take their “satisfaction temperature” and see what if any steps need to be taken to insure you retain them.  Money is rarely the main factor in employee satisfaction.  While we all work to earn a living, we also gain personal satisfaction from our jobs or at least we should. Take the time to sit down with your key people and don’t assume that just because they have been with you for years and years, they are happy and stable.  In an interview with SHRM Workplace Trends Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project explains that a small minority of employees are fully engaged due to the fact that employers have lost sight of meeting basic, fundamental needs: feeling under-appreciated with a lack of meaning in their work.

The Generation Y and Gen X’rs are notorious for being restless when they feel stagnant and stuck.  Make a list of your ‘up and comers’ and take each one out to lunch.  Asking open-ended questions about how they feel in their current job just may open your eyes giving you a glimpse if they are looking at other opportunities.  Employee turnover costs billions of dollars each year and is only predicted to rise in 2013.  By addressing any items now, you could prevent turnover in some situations. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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What does 2013 Hold in Store For You?

Every year in December or January I sit and plan for the coming year.  Can you really plan what will or will not happen?  I don’t know, but it makes me feel better knowing that I have a road map, even if that map has some hidden or unexpected detours ahead of me.

Many people do the same thing with regards to thinking about a career change.  You should ask yourself, “If I stay on the current path I am on will I be moving towards a goal or will I feel like I am treading water (or worse, moving backwards!).”  In previous blogs, we have talked about personality and culture in the workplace but there is also importance on the job itself and the satisfaction that comes from new challenges and being stretched beyond our current capacity.

One of the questions I ask when I am talking with a potential candidate is what would you want in your current position that you currently do not have?  This is a thought-provoking question.  Would more responsibility or the chance to lead a team or grow a new area of business be a new challenge?  What about the ability to work on more complex projects?  Or would it be simply to get out from under a micromanaging boss that would allow you to grow?  Whether you decide to freshen up your resume and start a search for a new job or just reflect on ways to improve your current role, I invite you to have the conversation with yourself and see where it takes you!

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Personality and cultures in the workplace

I often tell my clients that one of the key things we focus on besides just skills and experience is finding the candidates who will mesh well with the rest of the team.  Studies have shown that chemistry is 60% or more of the hiring decision.  On the flip side, as a candidate looking for a new career opportunity, this should be 60% or more of your focus as well.  This becomes even more crucial in smaller companies where the wrong mix of personalities can make or break your happiness quotient.  How many times have you left a job because of co-workers who just drive you to the liquor cabinet when you get home?

A few things to keep in mind during the interview:

  • During the interview process, it is critical to “look around”.  As you are getting the tour of the office, do people look up and smile when you walk by or do they look like prisoners of war?
  • Longevity of the team is also a good indicator of the office “happiness quotient”.   If everyone you meet has been with the company less than a year, you may want to ask some probing questions about that.  Growth and expansion could be one factor or it may be something more sinister like a revolving door culture.

As a candidate evaluating a job opportunity, you need to ask these questions and follow your gut instincts- they usually are correct.

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Wishing you and your family a Happy Holiday-

In December of each year I generally take time to reflect on the previous year’s goals and milestones as well as take time to plan for the coming year.  It is something I have done for the past 10 years now and every year there is always a mix of relief and hope: relief that I have my family, my health and so many other blessings- even amidst the tougher years, there were always so many things to be grateful for, as well as hope for a better year as we tear off the last sheet of the calendar.

I know there are many people who are still looking for work after many months; I know there are many people grieving over the loss of a loved one; there are many people wondering how they will get through this holiday with health problems and a host of other issues. My wish for you and your family is simple: take a few minutes to get quiet from the world’s noise, give thanks and to be grateful even for small things.  It is only when we are living within a state of gratitude that we are lifted above the pain and suffering.

Happy Holidays…. Joy, Health and Happiness for the New Year

 

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Living like The Jetson’s

Last week I upgraded my ‘smart phone’ to an Android phone.  As I sat there playing with my phone it occurred to me that I was living in an age that would have seemed unimaginable even ten years ago.  I spoke into my phone and asked what the weather would be later in the day and a  very polite voice responded to my request.  Wow.

When I go to the airport I simply type in a code and magically print a boarding pass to get on a plane.  I swipe a credit card and push a button to have a Redbox video dispensed.  I wave my cell phone over a barcode to get information on a product in my favorite magazine.  I stand on my Wii-Fit balance board and a pleasant voice says, “Welcome back Juli, it’s been four days since you last checked in.”

The wave of the future is here and we are now living what many of us Baby Boomer’s saw on the Saturday Cartoon, The Jetson’s.  As we head into the second decade of the new millennium, the products that we don’t know that we can’t live without haven’t been invented yet.  Who will be the next Steve Jobs to bring previously- unheard-of- but- now- indispensable items into our lives?

How will the future of the Smart Grid impact our energy use and our water use?   The new developments also come with risks.   In an article in the New York Times this morning warns of the new terrorist attacks on our internet and infrastructure citing a report by the National Intelligence Council.  The report warns of small radicalized groups now gaining the ability to impact and disable our everyday lives with cyber weapons and the growing need for the world’s superpowers China and the United States to be able to work together.

As we get used to the “coolness” of being able to access everything and anything via the internet could we be creating our own demise in a ‘David and Goliath-esque’ manner?  It will take global cooperation on a massive scale and hopefully cooler heads will prevail.  Perhaps the fiscal cliff is merely a training exercise in learning how to compromise and play nice in the sandbox on a broader, more global scale.

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To use a headhunter or not to use a headhunter…

I remember being asked this question by a candidate during the crazy days of 2006.  Our country was in the middle of an economic boom.  The 9/11 economic hangover was fading and dot-com bust was a memory.  I made a recruit call one afternoon and a candidate asked me why he would use a headhunter when he could walk across the street and get an offer at pretty much any firm he chose.  After I squelched the urge to hang up on the egotistical candidate with the holier-than-thou attitude, I realized it was a fair question in his mind even if it sounded arrogant.  Why would you use a headhunter?  The old what’s in-it-for me…

 

  1. Hollywood personalities and Sports Stars have an agent negotiating their contracts while they do what they do best- why wouldn’t you want someone negotiating to help you get the best offer while you are focusing on your job?
  2. When you go on an interview on your own, you are walking in blind.  A good recruiter will give you the inside scoop on the personalities of the people you will meet, the hot buttons of the hiring managers and more information than you can glean from a corporate website.
  3. A good recruiter can help you mentally prepare to nail the interview.  We always get such positive feedback from our candidates on our interview prep because the comfort level increases with knowledge.

 

The key component to all of this is the phrase “a good recruiter”.  It is very important to work with a recruiter that you like and more importantly that you trust.  As with all industries, there are professional and ethical recruiters who know the marketplace, who are masters of their niche, and will look out for your best interests…..and there are those who do not.

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Are the holidays a bad time to look for a job?

With fourteen full Holiday seasons under my belt as an executive recruiter, I always hear this from candidates who are under the impression that the Holiday season is not a good time to look for a new position.  In fact the opposite is true.  Many companies are evaluating end-of-year staffing requirements and preparing for the New Year.  A mental slow down at this time in many companies makes it easier to get multiple hiring managers together to interview and make decisions which allows the new hire to give their notice and start after the holidays.  Now is a great time to spruce up you resume and put feelers out there.  The economy is heating up and companies are hiring in the Engineering and IT sector.  Are you ready to upgrade?

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