Wednesday, October 7, 2015

3 Standout interview questions to ask to get hired

Abridged From: Career Nook

One iron-clad job interviewing rule is: Always have questions of your own to ask. Here are 3 great questions to ask in your next interview: "What qualities does the perfect candidate have for this job?" Ask this near the beginning of the interview, and you'll find out specific desired skills that might not be in the description (who knows who wrote the description or when they wrote it?). Once you know what the hiring manager really cares about hearing, you'll be able to talk up your experience and those related skills you have in your interview answers. This way, you'll get the maximum mileage out of every interview answer you give.

"Is there any reason why you wouldn't hire me for this job?" This is a hard question to ask--but it's the only way you're going to find out if they have any doubts about hiring you. Knowing what they are gives you a chance to address those doubts and hopefully clear them up. Job seekers who ask this question increase their chances of getting hired by 30 percent.

"What are the biggest challenges of this job?" This question lets you know what the most important tasks are for this job, or what potential pitfalls may be waiting for you. It's also the perfect opportunity to show the hiring manager how, when faced with tough times, you turn to your inner strength and innate skills to find solutions.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Leading video conference tools (SKYPE, GoToMeeting and others) are becoming ubiquitous tools for recruiting.  You can make video and audio calls, exchange chat messages (using Skype's software) on your computer and/or mobile device just over the internet. Many of the services are even available for free, or you can of course pay for added features. All of these tools use your computer’s webcam or an external web cam for quick video calls.

More and more companies have begun using these tools recently. The dos and don’ts list for a video interview is different from both in-person and phone interviews. Here's a good start if you are prepping for a video interview.

Look at the camera, not the screen.
It’s not unusual to want to watch yourself or your interviewer during a video interview session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.  One trick here is to center the face of the other person on your screen to be right below your camera.

Proper Dress.
When it comes to what you wear, treat your video interview like an in-person interview and dress professionally. A professional dress code with video interviews is expected.

Select the optimal location.
Pick a quiet place to interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral.

Doing a run through interview with a friend beforehand is helpful because your first few video interview calls are likely to feel awkward, especially if you have to retrain yourself to watch the camera and not the screen (it’s hard not to look at yourself!). Play around with everything beforehand so that when it's interview time you are prepared.

Close other programs on your computer.
Getting Facebook notifications during your interview is distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all other windows on your computer are closed.

Eliminate possible interruptions.
If you are interviewing in a house with multiple people or pets, be sure to let everyone in the house know ahead of time that you will be in an interview while securing any animals away from your interview space.

Make certain your profile is professional.
Unlike an in-person or phone interview, your first impression during a video interview doesn't actually involve you. The first thing your interviewer will see is your Skype username and picture, so double check that they are both interview appropriate (professional).

Body language.
Not all physical cues translate from in-person interviews to video interviews, which make the ones that do even more important. Be sure to have good posture but don’t be stiff. Hold yourself up but be relaxed as well. Don’t slump forward.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 Ways to Kill Your Career at Your Office Holiday Party

7 Ways to Kill Your Career at Your Office Holiday Party

Whatever your opinion of the office holiday party… love it or hate it… if you are planning on attending your own, (or your significant other’s) you might want to check out this list of ‘don’ts’.

Office holiday parties, grand and modest, are a great chance to get to know co-workers outside of the work environment, and enjoy some swanky food and free booze at the same time.  Handled with some common sense and grace, they can not only be fun, but provide a social platform to launch you in your next career move.  Handle the event poorly, and you can kiss that career trajectory goodbye.  People do it every year.

Here are seven things you DO NOT want to do at that office party!

1 . Drink Too Much

This one could be number 1, 2 and 3, it is such a big no-no at any office event.  Here’s what you need to know:  This is a business event.  Behave as if you were in the office, just dressed better and with better food.
Out of concern for ill-mannered behavior, as well as the safety of employees driving home, many companies are limiting how much alcohol is served at company functions, or limiting open bars to just beer and wine.
But no matter what is being served or how much of it is flowing, drinking too much is the number one sure-fire way to do damage to your career.  Whether it’s just the embarrassment of becoming the wrong kind of legend at the office, or the more serious loss of a promotion opportunity, over-indulging is not worth the risk.

Do enjoy yourself!  But here are some tips to help you party, and still be welcomed back at work:
  • Limit drinks with alcohol to a maximum of two.
  • Don’t mix alcoholic drinks.
  • Drink coffee, tea, soft drinks and lots of water.
  • Unusual idea: Try ordering a drink you don’t really like.  You’ll drink it a lot slower than something you love.
2 . Over Eat.

Free food is good.  Swanky free food is better.  But don’t try to eat the equivalent of an extra paycheck at a holiday party.
Most important here is to just be considerate of other people, and remember why you are there (Hint: to socialize!).  Try to keep your hands free for shaking, and your chin clean of foodstuffs.
  • Do not walk around with an overflowing plate of cheese and fruit; you can go back.
  • Do not double dip.  Ever.
  • Discard napkins, toothpicks, etc. where they ought to go. 
3 . Over Talk.

Don’t spend the evening talking to the same two people you work with every day.  The office party is an opportunity to get acquainted with people you don’t know that well.  And don’t forget the boss and his/her spouse/SO. 
Holiday Party Conversation Tips:
  • Keep conversations to 5 minutes or less.  Then move on.
  • DO talk about things other than business.  DON’T talk business at all if you can help it.
  • Always thank party hosts and organizers before you leave.

4.      Ignore the Dress Code.

Dress is important no matter where the party is being held. You don't want people talking about what you wore the day or night after the party.   If the party is being run by someone at the company, ask them.  If the party is at someone's home, call ahead and ask about the dress code.

Remember: you are not going to a nightclub.  Dress nicely, but not seductively.  This is not the place to max out on cleavage.  When in doubt, go with the more conservative option. 

5.  Go on an Empty Stomach.

It’s a good idea to have some light snacks or small meal before going to a business party.  This way you won’t be as tempted to rush the buffet, and if the food is slow coming, your stomach won’t be growling.

6.  Don’t Show Up.

Yes, you should go.  Absolutely. 

Staying home is not your best option… no matter how appealing the thought.  You can be ‘conspicuous by your absence’ at office parties.   And you will be out of the loop when everyone else is talking about the event over the water cooler.

And don’t forget the networking benefits you can realize.  You might develop a nice relationship with the person who turns out to be your next boss.

7.  Spend the Evening Texting or Posting Photos.

Don’t just show up.  Get in the spirit of the event and mingle.  Introduce yourself to people you don’t ordinarily work with.  This is a way to be seen as a team player, not stand-offish.  If you are uncomfortable with small-talk, prepare ahead with some topics like new movies, vacation plans, etc.