Interview Times: the good, the bad and the ugly

Setting up an interview can be tricky.  No matter how excited you are about the opportunity, it is another thing to squeeze into your already busy life.

When you are offered a time slot, make sure you can build in enough time to travel to the location and a good buffer on the other end as well.

Strategically, early and late in the day are probably best.  Those times are usually easier to work into a schedule.  Coming in a bit late and leaving a bit early are generally accepted for doctor’s appointments which is good because it won’t draw a ton of attention.

Things get awkward when either party is late for an interview.  If you find yourself running late, call or send a short email with an apology and an estimated time of arrival.  Try not to panic.  You will get there when you get there and swearing at other drivers won’t make a bit of difference.

Hopefully, you took the time to prepare the night before and you know the directions and the suite number.  Trying to read your phone and navigate when you are late is really hard to do.

What if you are on time, but the interviewer is late?  What you do in this case is really up to you.  I usually give 15 minutes grace period.  That’s what I would want if I was the one who was late.

You might want to send a note to the person who set up the meeting after you have been waiting for 10 minutes.  Maybe they can track the person down and find out what’s going on.

If enough time has elapsed that you are feeling a little irritated, then go.  You don’t want to go into a conversation about a job in a pissed-off frame of mind.  And honestly, if they don’t make time to meet  you, do you really want them?

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They Yawned in my Interview

Picture this: you are in an interview with two hiring managers.  One of them is looking at you, making notes and nodding often.   The other is looking at you and has asked a couple of question. Then it happens.  That second person yawns.

You are a bit taken aback but you keep rolling along.  You spend a bit more time looking at the interviewer who seems more engaged.  Then it happens again.  The yawn.  By the third yawn, you are questioning why you are even there.

On the way home, you are battling in your mind.  Was it a big deal or a small deal?  Tiny red flag or monumental deal killer?

Probably the latter.

According to Carol Blades, Master Facilitator at LHH Knightsbridge, this is a form of micro-aggression and it is definitely  a sign that things will not work out.

Even if one half of the hiring team loves you, the other half is just not into you.

You can surmise the same thing if that person cannot seem to remember your name or turns a shoulder to you instead of facing you.

Even if all the stars align and they make you an offer, you will have a long and uphill battle to win the yawner over.

The bottom line is that you need to take interviewing seriously.  You need to do your research on what the company is looking for and what YOU are looking for.  Be able to articulate with confidence on both.

In your post-interview assessment, pay attention to the little red flags and the big ones.  Decide carefully on if and how you want to proceed with the process.

Don’t ignore your gut on this – it’s too important.

 

 

 

 

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Get Loud for Mental Health

It is Mental Health Week and the Canadian Mental Health Association is running a week long awareness campaign. We are being encouraged to #get loud – a trendy way of telling us to stop being embarrassed or callous and get on with learning about the issues.

Mental illness is difficult to understand.  If you have never suffered from depression, it is hard to understand that someone cannot just “snap out of it” or “get over it”.

It is so easy to joke about a colleague’s behaviour instead of taking the time to try to understand what they might be going through.

There are many resources available to help us with this.

http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca/employees/what-i-wish-i-knew

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Pages/home.aspx

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/

These sites offer free resources to employees, friends, colleagues, managers and HR Departments.  There is a lot of good stuff here to help you get familiar with different types of depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness.

I am not saying you need to become a psychologist for your cube-mate. There are Employee Assistance programs for that. But you can be more empathetic and understanding towards people who are having difficulty. You would hold the door for the guy with the crutches, right?

You know what would be a good start?  If we took negative mental health references out of our everyday conversations. “That guy is crazy!”  “My client just went nuts.”  I think that would go a long way towards helping our friends and colleagues feel like there is more support and that they are not as alone.

So, read up and be nice. We are counting on you.

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How to Ace the Phone Interview

Picture this: your phone pings with a personal email.  You take a look.  It’s a recruiter asking to talk with you about a job.  You send a note back with a time and then sit back to try to figure out what you are going to say.

Before the Call

Read about the opportunity

Think about what would find appealing in a new role or a new manager or a new company.

Think about where you want to be for the call.  An enclave in your office will do but if you can be offsite, it would be better.  Your car is okay or a coffee shop as long as it’s not too loud.

Be ready to talk about your responsibilities and career path.

Make sure your phone is charged.

Have a list of questions ready to ask.

Take a few deep breaths and wait for the phone to ring.

During the Call

Wait for the full questions to be asked.  Resist the temptation to jump on the answer before you know  the question.

Speak as clearly as possible.  Slow down a little.

Keep your answers concise.

Make sure to ask about the next steps in the process so you can be prepared.

After the Call

Send a note acknowledging the conversation.

Write some notes about what you learned.

Think about what you want to do about the opportunity.

If you are not going to pursue it, maybe there is someone you know.  Passing on this sort of information to a friend or former colleague is always very appreciated.

You can turn a luke warm conversation into big pile of good karma.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Truth about Passion

As this year’s class starts looking towards graduation, I have seen a disturbing trend.  There seems to be this idea that university students should focus on finding their passion in their first job.

Find their passion?  Most teenagers cannot find their pants.  How can we think that they will find their passion somewhere between the pub, the classroom and the dorm?

I think expecting to find your passion before you can legally drink is pretty unrealistic.  As parents, we are setting up a pretty big failure platform if we set those expectations before they even leave high school.

There are exceptions: gifted athletes, artists and musicians have their talents identified early on so they are pretty advanced on the passion scale.  People following in the family footsteps of law or accounting, have a prescribed path too.  (Sometimes in spite of their passion)

University and first jobs are more about finding what you don’t like.   Learning about the kind of professors/bosses that you don’t get along with.  Working with group members who don’t pull their weight.  Figuring how to identify the room mate who parties too much; that sort of thing.

The world is really, really big.  You have to get out there and explore it beyond just university.  Don’t be surprised if your passion does not start to reveal itself until you are well into your 30s or even later.

In the end, it’s not about when you find it, it’s about recognizing when you are in the right place at the right time and really enjoying yourself.  That‘s what we are all shooting for.

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Extreme Career Makeover

My company recently went through a “re-branding exercise” and have all kinds of new stuff.

Watching the various changes in the works got me thinking about how a “career makeover” would look.  Think about when you get a haircut and everyone thinks you look younger or when you get glasses and everyone suddenly thinks you look smarter.

If you did a wholesale refresh on your resume today, how would it look?  Would you use more contemporary fonts?  Change the focus of your objective?  Maybe you could add some different achievements like the webinar you co-hosted last week or the big project that your team just completed.

Maybe you would sign up for that course you have had your eye on.  You could do one night a week, couldn’t you?

You could take a look at your Linkedin profile.  Does it really reflect who you are today and more importantly, where you want to be tomorrow?  Is the picture fresh?  Please tell me you are not using the photo of you and your ex…..that would be bad, really bad.

You can go ahead and make a haircut and brow renovation appointments.  You can visit Warby Parker and pick out some new glasses but you don’t have to go great expense for a career makeover.  Just give it some time and some thought.  That’s all it takes.

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How to Make the Most of an Information Interview

Information interviews are pretty popular these days. They can be a great way to learn about different roles and different organizations.

These conversations, usually more casual than an actual interview, also provide a great platform for you to leave a lasting and positive impression.

But only if you are prepared.

So don’t blow it.

When someone grants you some of their valuable time, be respectful and use the time wisely.

Do some thinking and research before you go.

What specifically do you want to know?  What knowledge do you want to take away from the meeting?

  • What was the most valuable part of their education?
  • How do they deal with the challenges of their job?  You can show off your knowledge here by citing a particular challenge.
  • Is this where they imagined they would be at this point in their career?
  • What is the best piece of advice they ever got?

Notice that there are two questions that are not on the list. How do I get hired here and will you be my mentor are out of bounds for this type of conversation.  They should only come up if it is initiated by the person you are meeting.  The point of the meeting is to get information, not ask for a job. Respect that.

They are just some ideas to get you started. Powerful and interesting questions will allow you to make the most of your time together.

And if you are going to shower, shave and put on a suit, you want to be the best investment possible.

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