Category Archives: Interview

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the wait, or not!

DSC_0093You nailed the interview, sent a thank you note, now what? What happens after the interview is totally in your hands?

Research shows that along with a thank you note, the follow up phone call is the least used way of checking the status of your application.  This phone call is not only beneficial to you, but helps remind that interviewer of your keen interest in the position and company.

CC Connection Tip: A simple follow-up call keeps your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind.

Is it rude to call you ask? Not at all, especially if you set the phone calls up at the end of your interview. Before she shakes your hand and bids you on your way, she typically asks if you have any other questions. Your answer should be yes, followed by “when do you expect you will make a decision?” The interviewer then will give you a time frame therefore, setting up the phone call.

How soon is too soon and how many calls are too many?

Keep in mind the time frame given and whatever you do, do not call ten minutes after you walk out the door. Within the next few days, make a professional call. If the interviewer is not available to receive your call, leave a message. If she does not return your call, try one more time. If you receive silence once again, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

Remember a follow up call can become a double edged sword do so not be the stalker… nothing good comes out of that.

CC Connection Tip: One (or two) calls can made the difference.

With so few taking that extra step, you can be in the driver’s seat quickly. Truth is, the only person that can make that phone call seem rude or classless is you.

Penned by:
Louann Alicea
Your CC Connection

What NOT TO SAY at a job interview

DSC_0089According to a majority of hiring managers, one of the most common interview mistakes is: Talking TOO Much.  With that in mind, let’s spend the next few minutes reflecting the concept of “talking” and what it means to talk too much (or about irrelevant things).

A mistake made by rookie candidates (okay, seasoned ones too) is to get sidetracked and start talking about personal life issues, no matter how warm or welcoming the interviewer may be.  In other words simply answer the question and keep your answers to the point and focused.  Truth is, sharing the wrong thing makes it easier for the hiring manager to reject your candidacy.

Subjects such as spouse, home life, or your adorable children are topics falling into the area invading too much info. Rule is, an interview is a professional situation – not a personal one. With professional sitting center stage, examples of things not to say include the following:

  • How much does this job pay or when does paid off begin?
  • I hate my current employer.
  • I didn’t like my previous boss. Talking bad about your previous employer gives your interviewer the impression you are difficult to manage.
  • I am not aware of any weaknesses.
  • How many vacation days will I get?
  • I don’t have any questions for you.
  • In five years I’ll have your job.
  • When responding to: “Tell me about yourself.” Do not answer talking about your place of birth, experiences in grade school, or bad relationships.
  • When responding to:Why do you want to leave your current job? Do not say you want to leave your company because of anything relating to pay or benefits.
  • When responding to:How would your current or former colleagues describe you? Avoid responses like; “the only employee who did things right” or “a great guy to hang out with after work.”

Many hiring managers suggest candidates who seem perfect get crossed off the list by saying something senseless, irrelevant, or discriminatory.  In general, do your best to avoid discussing personal dislikes or negative comments.

CC Tip of the day: After answering questions, stop any inclination to ramble.

Once you interview successfully, thank the hiring manager for their time and follow up with a thank you note.  Good luck on your job search.

Your CC Connection

Using Online Tools to Gain Your Interview Edge

DSC_0024The world is a global village; the internet and digital resources continue to play a key role in making this a reality. Having said this, it is mind bugging to know people are still not taking advantage of the opportunities the internet affords them.

The birth of the internet comes with a rising number of Social Media and Networking sites which makes communication and rubbing of excellent minds indispensable. Top Social Media and professional networking sites such as Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a host of others can give a candidate added advantages in preparedness for an interview.

Recognizing knowledge is power, especially when it comes to career success, let’s take a look at some added advantages gained by using online tools and resources to prepare for an interview:

  • Researching the company: Using the internet to research a company gives you insight and information concerning the company you’re interested in. Be sure and become more than familiar with the company mission
  • Learning about top skills employers are looking for in a prospective employee: When you attend an interview, you want to be in a position of strength by knowing you have the skills and educational background of the job you’re interested in
  • Identifying local employers and top hiring companies: Many sites provide information concerning top jobs in the market and companies that are hiring
  • Searching for job listings: Sites like O-net and Twitter are valuable assets when it comes to following companies and searching for job listings. Also, online networking sites give you an opportunity to make amazing professional connections with different people which keeps you afloat in terms of being informed

When faced with questions like ‘tell me what you know about our company.’ or ‘you tell me what attracts you to our company?’ the only way you can be prepared to answer such questions would be if you have taken time to research the company AND job.

To your advantage, many candidates show up for a job interview dressed to impress but hit a dead end when the conversation turns to the company itself.  Researching about a company using online tools available is very pertinent AND your advantage.  If you cannot state the reasons why you’re attracted to a company or say all you know about them as an entity at the snap of a finger, it would be difficult to sell yourself as a great fit for the company. BTW, you do not have to memorize the company’s entire profile but at least browse their website and go to their “about us” section.

CC Career Tip: Not knowing anything about a company is an immediate red flag

Make that Connection: In addition to browsing a company’s website and learning a thing or two about them, the internet is also a great tool for Professional Networking (making valuable connections). On a personal note, I know a several people who lost their jobs but made valuable connections to land them a new job or even a better job by staying in touch with their professional online connections. You can ask questions, ask for help in reaching prospective employers, using the Social Media sites like Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of them are important tools that can afford you that opportunity.

Get Connected!
Alache Mary Bagna
Your CC Connection

Name Discrimination… Really?

DSC_0104Good resume but no interview? Could it be your name?

Name discrimination is a discouraging fact, but hardly a surprise.  It’s just one of the many biases that can affect the hiring process.  If you were a job seeker facing possible name discrimination, would you switch to a more commonly known middle name or a nickname that sounds mainstream Anglo?  Maybe use only your initials, or otherwise change the name on your resume?  Or, would you stick with your real name, regardless?

Like it or not, your name can impact your career.  Your name can make a difference in how seriously you are taken at work and whether you even get your foot in the door for the interview.  Indeed, it’s what people don’t know or understand that is sometimes at the heart of prejudice; catering to such ignorance is no excuse for work place discrimination.

Like it or not: Hiring managers sometimes read a name that is obviously ethnic and perceive that person as unable to get the job done, as having low education, or as coming from a lower socioeconomic class.

Bruce Lansky, author of “100,000 Plus Baby Names” is convinced a name could potentially make or break a child’s future career.  One study conducted by researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found job applicants with names inferring an African-American heritage received limited positive feedback when it came to the hiring process.

Here’s how far the name-game has come: Larry Whitten, owner of the Whitten Hotel in Taos, N.M., ordered a group of Hispanic employees to change their names to sound more Anglo Saxon.  For example, a name like Marco was to be changed to Mark.

Studies surmised managers tended to seek out applicants they felt perceived as “familiar” or “mainstream.”

Going back to the original title and name discrimination, how does one mitigate?  No doubt tolerance begins by teaching people in charge of hiring about the subconscious biases they may have. Until acceptance, there will be no way to change these patterns.

CC Connection: Sometimes name discrimination isn’t about race or ethnicity or xenophobia at all.  It’s just laziness or fear of embarrassment.  If the name on your resume looks hard to pronounce and/or isn’t gender-specific, it’s quite plausible that a hiring manager might (consciously or not) reject it for that reason alone.

If you want to mitigate potential name discrimination, try the strategies that follow to get your resume noticed:

  • If you feel comfortable going by a western nickname on your resume, make the switch. The idea isn’t to permanently change it but to increase the chances that a prospective employer will read your resume.
  • Consider using your first and middle initial in place of your first name.
  • Conduct an experiment of sorts. Send two resumes out to the same companies, one with your name as is and the other with your name westernized.

If an employer intentionally discriminates, you’ll be rejected during the interview.  On the other hand, some employer’s only subconsciously eliminate an applicant based on an “ethnic” name.  Once you appear in person, the employer might be more moved by your knowledge, skills, and abilities than by ethnicity.

Presented by:
Elsa De Jesus
Your CC Connection

To thank or not to thank, that is the question

So you have not found concrete evidence that a thank you note can help you get that job?

When questioning whether to send a thank you note, keep in mind that the end result is always in your favor.  A thank you note is a second chance at making that first impression.  Your expression of gratitude and recapping of the interview makes you stand out while reiterating to the employer how interested (and qualified) you are in the open position.

Thank you notes also remind the employer why you are the best fit by giving you that second chance at selling your strengths and unique contributions.  Writing a thank you note builds rapport and keeps you fresh in the employer’s mind.

Thank you notes have evolved from a simple gesture of courtesy and appreciation to a self-marketing tool. Now you know the advantages, let’s take a look at a few simple rules to live by when sending a thank you note:

  • Act fast: Send thank you notes within 24hrs of the interview
  • Make an impression: The York Technical Institute reports that less than 4% of applicants send thank you notes. Why not send yours and stand out!
  • Brief and to the point: Do NOT use it to remind them of your interest in the position by rambling into an irrelevant story or repeating the obvious.
  • Grammatically perfect: Proof read and spell check your letter AND have someone else proof it as well.

As many may question the importance of thank you notes, keep in mind that it cannot hurt.  McClure says “While many recruiters and hiring managers say they don’t care about thank-you notes and don’t pay attention to them, you never know if the person you are interviewing with does care

Think about it this way, if they do care, you just added to your chances.  If they don’t care, the only thing wasted was time.

Penned by: Louann Alicea
Your CC Connection

What is your greatest weakness?

DSC_0143Whether you are new to the job seeking field or are a seasoned professional, one interview question will always throw you a curve ball.  The dreaded “what is your greatest weakness?”  This sounds like an easy question, yet most interviewees freeze up as soon as it is asked.  As a general rule, the question is typically asked toward the end of an interview, after you think you’ve nailed it.  Employers do this to see how quick you think on your feet when posed with a question you do not have a ready answer for.

When asked, what is the most effective response?  Below are helpful tips to help you prepare before the interview.

First, research at the company and evaluate their needs.  Using websites such as ONET.Org or TagCrowd.com to gather and prioritize information places you above the competition.  Another great spot to research is the company.  Check the BBB website as well, detailing any complaints.  If there are a few, take a look at the outcomes and how you could cut back on complaints or eliminate them completely.

Additionally, go to your favorite search engine, such as Google, and enter the company name. No doubt you will discover a trove of information about the company.  You can even call the company itself and do an employee survey.  Be careful what you ask, you want facts, not gossip.

Equipped with company research, compile a list of company issues and how you can resolve them.  IF possible, incorporate an issue or two into the greatest weakness question.  True enough, the questions you have may not help you answer the question: “What is your greatest weakness?” but it will give you an advantage when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions.

Then sit and write down what you consider a weakness in the workplace.  Do not look at weakness in your personal life.  Future employers do not want to hear about personal weaknesses.  Keep your personal life separate as much as possible from you professional life.  This will show the employer that you are focused on work, not problems at home.

Think about jobs you have had in the past, what you struggled with and how you coped.  Once you’ve done this, pick the one you think would most benefit the employer (this is where previous company research comes in handy).  Then state it in such a way that your weakness is seen as strength for the company.

For example, one of my biggest weaknesses is that I get too involved in the companies I work for.  I get caught up in the day to day activities and find myself putting in more hours than intended and skipping lunch to keep working.  I take it personal if the company takes a hit for whatever reason, and I look back through my work and those around me and blame myself for missing something.  I have no problem being accountable for work that I’ve done incorrectly, or someone else who may have done something incorrectly as I feel I should have caught any errors before they turned into problems.

Notice in the above example how what I considered a weakness can be turned around to become an employer’s benefit.  The interviewer will be thinking that I am very involved with work, care about the company, and be willing to do what needs to be done, even making sacrifices in my personal life to be there for the team.  This would not be an erroneous assumption, it would be true and that is the key to comfortably answering the question.

CC Connection Tip of the Day: Stick to the truth, you won’t trip yourself up trying to lie; lying is not the way to get yourself employed.

Once you have determined how best to answer this question, you need to practice.  Practice with a friend, relative, or in front of a mirror and edit to best reflect the value you offer.  Watch facial expressions while practicing in the mirror; do you look scared or confident?  Do you have no expression at all?  How is your posture; slumped or straight and tall?  It is not just the words that have an impact on your answers; your body language speaks much louder than words.

Reword the answer so that if you do have a sudden attack of the “uuummms,” you can fall back on an abbreviated answer.  Ask for honest feedback if you practice with someone, and record yourself while practicing.  Play back the first recording to yourself and do an objective self-evaluation by asking yourself three questions:

  • Did your voice shake or vibrate when answering?
  • Did you have good tone and inflection?
  • Does it sound as if you’ve been rehearsing?

If you answer yes or no as appropriate to these questions, keep practicing.  Also have someone else listen to your response.  Be sure it is someone who is going to be honest and not afraid to hurt your feelings.  Have them evaluate you based on the same three questions.  It is best to have a second opinion, one that won’t be biased.  Truth is, we are always more critical of ourselves then others.  “Practice makes perfect,” as the expression goes. In this case, it is all too true.

Here’s a warning: You do not want your answer to sound practiced, so practice until you are comfortable with the answer, confident and contemplative.

When asked, don’t panic. Instead, take 2-3 seconds before answering. A slight pause gives the employer the impression you are seriously thinking about how to answer.

The best advice is to do your research.  I sound repetitive but I cannot stress enough how proper research helps you prepare for an interview even if questions are asked that you didn’t prepare for.

When it comes to the interview process, knowledge is everything. The more you know about the company, the better armed you are for the interview.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know.

Sharon Parker
Your CC Connection

Tell Me About Yourself…What now?

DSC_0011Finally, the recruiter calls you in for an interview with the hiring manager. This is not the time to be shy… now is the time to illustrate relevant skills and work experience to get to the next stage.

First things thing, make sure professionally written copies of your cover letter and resume are readily available in your portfolio… a simple common sense mistake many partake in.

After days of mentally and physically preparing, you walk into the conference room anxiously waiting for the interview to begin. Hiring manager, Tom, introduces himself and starts the session. After a typical introduction, Tom looks up and asks: “tell me about yourself.”

Suddenly your hands begin to sweat profusely because you didn’t anticipate on being asked this question. Crazy and doubt-adding “self-talk” bounces around, only to make matters more stressful.

Before “telling more about you,” and potentially embarrassing yourself, let’s take a moment for a quick course on how to respond effectively. After all, there is a specific way to answer the question “tell me about yourself.” There’s also a few not so-good ways.

When it comes to the not-so good ways, you need to know what’s really going on. First of all, do not give personal information such as age or number of children. Don’t mention any hobbies that are NOT related to the job or company. “Tom” does not care if you enjoy cocktails by the poolside or perform karaoke on Friday nights at Applebee’s.

Truth is: Too much or irrelevant information rarely results in positive outcomes.

On this note, Tom definitely wouldn’t want you to answer his request by asking one of your own: “What do you want to know about me?” Answering in such a way portrays unprofessionalism and a lack of confidence. This is a for sure way of getting a “we’ll call you” at the end of the interview and probably getting your resume thrown in the trash seconds after leaving. We don’t want that now do we?

Keep in mind—the company wants to know how you can benefit them. In other words, when it comes to responding to the “tell me about yourself” question, highlight your most important achievements that are relevant to the position.

With that said, follow these five tips to keep the interviewer engaged in the conversation:

Tip #1-Introduce yourself (Who are you as a professional)

Tip #2-Explain your current status (last job position, degrees (if any))

Tip #3-Describe your current experience and transferable skills related to the position

Tip #4-Describe accomplishments directly related to the position and/or company mission

Tip #5-Explain why you want to work for the company

One more thing… all the above information must be relayed under a minute or two. In other words, don’t become a chatter… less oftentimes can mean more. By way of example, Here’s my response to this challenging interview question:

I am a recent graduate from City College with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. I have over 5 years’ experience in coaching individuals, problem solving and time management in the health insurance field which has allowed me to excel in previous leadership roles. In my last position monthly quality scores increased 20% because of my persistent coaching techniques which improved product knowledge and confidence in representatives. My skills provide excellent customer service and truly define who I am and what I will bring to this company.

This is a lot to remember…but…if you practice, practice, and practice, answering the “Tell me about yourself” question will roll off your tongue naturally. Just follow my advice and you’ll be on the way to a well-deserved career. I’m rooting for you…fingers crossed.

One more thing, keep me posted on the outcome!

Tammisha Willis

Your CC Connection