Interview Hack: Don’t Be Insecure

HBO-insecure

Interviewing sucks. The interviewers and screening methods aren’t always objective. You have less than one hour to impress a stranger while being judged by them. There is only so much you can do as a candidate during the interview process.

Good news is that if you got a call scheduled, you’ve passed the first test. You’ve done a decent job crafting your resume or online profile to showcase your experience and skills. The rest is on your ability to further demonstrate your worth as much as possible.

Here are a few quick tips on how to minimize your insecurity as a job seeker when interacting with recruiters and interviewers. Think of the interview as a final exam and crush it like a pro.

insecure not ready

Hack #1 Study & Do Your Homework!

Research about the position, team, and company. Prepare answers for commonly asked interview questions. Being stumped is uncomfortable for both the interviewer and interviewee. However, do not steal other people’s answers online and use it verbatim; interviewers will know because they heard it before! You want to study and practice as much as possible especially for technical positions that require tests. Get a whiteboard and practice writing code and explaining it to someone.

Prepare at least three meaningful questions for each interviewer. Show your passion for the subject matter and company’s mission. The lack of curiosity is often perceived negatively. By simply asking good questions, you appear as someone who cares deeply about the opportunity. It’s also a nice break from doing all the talking.

On the other hand, you will know if you want the job or not by the end of the discussion with meaningful questions. It is your chance to check your mental wishlist to see if the position is indeed a growth opportunity for you.

“What is the biggest challenge for the team?” “Can you tell me about a typical day?” “What are the top three priority for the person in their first year?” “What is your leadership style?” By the way, asking about pay or benefits or PTO is not a meaningful question – save those to discuss with your recruiter.

insecure listen

Hack#2 Give Them Cliff’s Notes, Not A Lecture

Give a concise and relevant answer to each interview question. When interviewers inquire about your current team, no need to start your story with your college roommate. Cut to the chase… we’re not sitting by the campfire and making S’mores here.

When sharing your experience, keep your story within two minutes, just enough time to play a song and hold your listener’s attention. Like a well-composed song, you want a strong beginning (a business problem), memorable chorus (what solutions you provided and how you solved it), and satisfactory ending (positive results and impact). Give them the highlights of your career that will sear in their brains like a song that keeps playing and won’t go away. The interviewer needs to walk away knowing why you want the job, what assets and experience you bring to the table, and exactly how you can collaborate with the team and contribute to the company. Give them no reason to reject you.

insecure woot

Hack#3 Smile & Be Nice

Even when you don’t have the right answer, good attitudes go a long way. Emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual capacity and curiosity. Interviewers want someone who won’t be angry, bitter, or frustrated when a perfect answer isn’t available because that’s life. We are often wrong but it is ok when we know we can count on you to figure things out together. If you are driven by positive energies, people are naturally drawn to you and will be supportive of you as a candidate even when they disagree with your point of view.

Lastly, don’t be insecure if you end up not getting the job. No need to take the rejection too seriously. More often than not, employers decided to promote or transfer someone internally or hired someone with a very specific type of experience to fit the business needs. You did your best and there’s no regret. Rinse and repeat.

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Interview Hack: Don’t Be Insecure

Sing Your Way To A New Job

woman-sitting-at-table-and-using-laptop-with-tea-cup-in-background

As a recruiter, I’ve read thousands of resumes, interviewed hundreds of candidates, and witnessed a few common job search mistakes. What could possibly be better to ring in the new year than singing along with me and learn how to increase your chance in upgrading your career in 2017?

♥ Call Me Maybe ♥ Hey, I just read your resume/ And this is crazy/ But where’s your number/ So I can call you, maybe?!

To get a call back from a company, it is extremely helpful to give your contact information (duh!): full name, email, phone number, address (local AND non-local if relocation is applicable for the position), personal website or online professional profile (if available).

It is okay to use your alias on your job application but make sure to include your full name for a professional job (unless you are Beyonce or Drake and I can see why you don’t need to). Please change your email sender name to your name listed on the resume as well. I get how Katy Brand used to be Katy Perry. But what confuses me the most is when I emailed Bruno Mars (name on application) and then received an email from Will Smith (email sender name). Eh?

Also, please explain why you apply for a job in Phoenix, AZ if you have lived and worked in Ann Arbor, MI for ten years. Are you open to relocate? Are you looking to work remotely? Most recruiters don’t have the psychic power to read minds even though mind-reading would be an awesome skill and not yet a resume buzzword (!).

No, a LinkedIn profile or an online portfolio such as github is not required unless requested by the company’s job listing. However, it is in your best interest to update and clean up all of your social profiles prior to your job search. Yes, 100k followers on Twitter is definitely impressive but your hating-on-your-company tweet probably won’t help you.

∞ Hello ∞ Hello from the other side/ I must have called a thousand times/ To tell you I’m ready to consider you for the job/ But when I call, you never seem to be home

“I’m available before 8am and after 5pm during the week and I’m open to speak any time on the weekend.” This is the most dreaded phone scheduling response for every recruiter. We are not trying to take you out for a date! Right, you are busy with a full-time job and so are we. Like anything worthy in life, landing a better job takes time, efforts and commitment. Time management is key to your success. Be ready to carve out some time in your regular schedule for calls with potential employers.

× Don’t Speak × I know just what you’re saying/ So please stop explaining/ Don’t tell me cause it may hurt you/ Don’t speak/ I know what you’re thinking/ I don’t need your reasons

When singing Karaoke, it is great to express your emotions and how you feel about the song. It isn’t just about the lyrics; it is how you make people feel with your performance. To impress your interviewer over the phone, emotion management is just as important as your answers. Job search is indeed one of the most stressful life events and many job seekers are in the market due to an unfortunate environmental factor such as lay-off, management change or toxic work culture. Regardless of what you have been through lately, employers are looking for people who are able to stay humble and positive, open to learn from the past, and excited about the future.

Bad things sometimes happen to good people; you can still present yourself with dignity and grace. I’m not asking you to talk like a robot because we are emotional beings and it is natural to show your feelings. Rigid and scripted answers to interview questions are just as deadly as lip-syncing in a live Karaoke show. Interviewers can spot a scripted answer and lose interest quickly. Be honest and genuine without spilling your frustration or hurt feelings when addressing your employment termination with past companies, your relationship with previous supervisors, or any change in career path. Your attitude and action towards adversities is what defines you, not what happened to you.

« Don’t Stop Believin’ » Don’t stop believin’/ Hold on to the interviewin’/ Opportunities, people/ Ohh-Ohh-Ohhhhhhhh

It usually takes about a month and sometimes up to three months to fill a skilled position. Sit tight and be patient. It is a process that may be very rewarding and life-changing!

 

→ I’m always hiring! Click here for open positions. I read every resume and email unlike your last recruiter (Ok, maybe not your last one, just the one(s) who ruined recruiter’s rep).  

Sing Your Way To A New Job

Try Knitting While You Wait

knitting

Nobody probably told you this before- one of the biggest pet peeves HR and recruiters have is candidate showing up too early for his/her time. We really hate it when you show up too early.

How early should you show up for your interview? While interviewers expect you to be on time, we don’t want you to show up too early. It is very likely we have meetings to go or work to do right before the scheduled interview.

Be prepared in advance for the travel time, considering general traffic condition and the exact interview location (what floor? what suite? security check-in needed? easy parking?). Managers expect you to arrive on time but you may arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled time. 10 minutes is good enough if you wish to use the bathroom to freshen up and calm your nerves. You are pushing the button if you decide to show up 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. 20 plus minutes before scheduled time? Please just sit in your car, read today’s news, play Candy Crush, meditate, or walk around in the neighborhood to find tidbits to chat about with the interviewers.

You normally wouldn’t show up 20 minutes early for your restaurant reservation, right? It’s even more uncomfortable for employers because we don’t usually have a bar for you to get a drink while you wait. Typically you won’t have the DMV experience where you have to wait a long time for your turn with skilled, non-volume positions. If you insist on showing up super early, expect to be left alone until your scheduled time.

I’m seriously thinking about giving unfinished sweaters to candidates who show up way early for their interviews. Yeah why don’t you try knitting while you wait?

Try Knitting While You Wait

Infographic: Ace Your Candidate Experience With Interactive Recruiting

In a world of talent shortage, passive candidates and LinkedIn inMails with low response rate, it is obvious that we are in a candidate-drive market. However, many employers are slow to adapt to the trend. For example, many HR & recruiting professionals don’t track any meaningful data beyond the old-school recruiting metrics such as time to fill and cost per hire.

With all the talks about candidate experience, the so-called talent strategies and recruiting technology are still reactive and limited by the design of applicant tracking systems.

How do we move away from reactive recruiting to interactive recruiting? How do we reverse the impersonal, transactional job search experience via applicant tracking system? How do we leverage the power of software without discouraging meaningful conversations & interactions? We know the recruiting process is broken and frustrating.

See the infographic and my proposal below on how to ace your candidate experience and apply recruiting analytics to your talent acquisition strategy.

Reactive VS Interactive Recruiting- Candidate Experience by Recruiter's Digest

  • Attract talent with great contents, UI/UX, & interactions.

First, find out if your branded, career-related pages are attractive to potential candidates. Second, update and create landing pages with great UI/UX design. Last, encourage conversations and interactions between recruiters and general visitors, including candidates, referrers, and brand followers.

  • Are your career-related contents relevant, educational or entertaining, and timely?
  • Are those career-related pages easy to find, use and navigate?
  • Do you encourage conversations and interactions on and beyond those pages?
  • Which websites or pages refer the most qualified candidates and the most loyal brand advocates to your site?
  • How friendly or unfriendly is your applicant process? Does it take more than 30 minutes?
  • Convert page visitors into candidates and/or referrers and/or followers.

Depending on the nature of your business, your website may attract mostly customers, vendors, partners or even competitors. However, it is crucial to optimize your branded pages and convert your visitors into your brand advocates on every degree possible: a brand follower on social media, a job referrer, and/or a candidate. Make it easy for people to apply for jobs, refer someone for a job, share a job with others, and follow your brand on social media and beyond.

  • How many people visited your page and became a candidate and/or referrer and/or follower on social media?
  • How many people clicked to apply for a job but never finished the application?
  • Do you send follow-up or reminder emails to candidates who abandoned the application?
  • Do you drive the target audience to visit and share your career-related pages?
  • Do you have call-to-action buttons for site visitors to apply for jobs, subscribe to job alerts, or follow your company on social media & niche sites?
  • Engage target communities with integrated campaigns.

People are tired of relentless cold calls and unsolicited emails about job openings. Employers are trying hard to connect with potential candidates by talking at them, not having an open conversation in a timely manner. Engage talent with activities, conversations, causes, and events that matter to them such as healthy contests, charity or community outreach, and purpose-driven sponsorships.

  • Do you actively monitor and manage your employer brand with open communications & public relations efforts?
  • Do you address candidate’s feedback and questions with respect and transparency?
  • Do you evaluate, validate and improve your recruiting campaigns and processes based on data?
  • Do you integrate your recruiting campaigns on multiple platforms and websites?
  • Do you know what each candidate segment is looking for and customize your recruiting campaign for each group?

Please share your thoughts and continue the discussion on candidate experience! Together, we can make the candidate experience better.

Infographic: Ace Your Candidate Experience With Interactive Recruiting

When Recruiters Go Bad

Bored waiting iStockphoto.com:drewhadley

Yes, I’m a recruiter and I’m going to talk about those recruiters who give us a bad rap. Why? Because I love recruiting and it hurts me to continue seeing those who ruin the experience for all. Being a recruiter is fun because we have the power to make someone’s dream come true (or at least bring him/her closer to it). We make magic happen- the moment when we seal the deal between a great candidate and a satisfied employer. It’s all about creating and maintaining happy relationships.

As both the company advocate and talent advisor, why can’t many recruiters follow simple business etiquettes?

Recruiter is probably the only occupation that gets away with being flaky and rude because no candidate wants to be on a company’s bad side.

I bet you have experienced this scenario at least once in your professional life: applied to a job, talked to the recruiter & hiring manager on the phone, brought in for in-person interview, then silence. You called, you emailed. Silence. You called again, you emailed again. Silence. 3 months later, you’d be lucky if you get a canned response about the rejection.

A bad recruiter is like that guy/girl who never called again (or returned calls) after the first date, leaving you hanging, feeling all the negative emotions, and going through all the possible things that could’ve gone wrong in your head. Sadness.

We are all adults; we know how to handle rejections gracefully with our dignity intact. Just tell us the truth and we both can move on. Right?

I understand sometimes a recruiter has no control over the course of action. An interviewed candidate can be ‘put on the back burner’, ‘kept warm’, ‘circled back after we see more candidates’, or ‘second choice if number one doesn’t take our offer’. Complete silence for 3 months or for good is just not nice. Right?

There is almost no repercussion for a recruiter being flaky or rude.

It’s almost impossible for you to complain about anything to a company regarding their recruiting processes. Some candidates take their time to share their stories on Glassdoor, yet most employers dismiss the reviews assuming they all came from bitter, disgruntled, rejected candidates.

Again, I totally get how HR or Recruiting department is usually under-staff, under-budget and with the most ancient tools/software (if any at all) because HR is not a revenue generating function. This is one of the most ironic things about corporate America, we think “people are our biggest assets” but we spend minimal investment in treating talent right.

Unsubscribe marketing emails all you want, but you’re not likely to escape spam emails from bad recruiters. Most of them probably don’t even know what CAN-SPAM act is.

I receive about emails/inMails regularly for legitimate career opportunities that match my skills set and also for random jobs that match some keywords on my LinkedIn profile. Those random jobs include various engineering positions that I have no capability to hold whatsoever. It saddens me when recruiters don’t read resumes/profiles before they poach a passive candidate. It’s really sad, like 😦 x 10,000.

Selectively, I responded to some of the legitimate emails not because I was looking for a job, but to learn some market intel. After all, it is the best way to gain the insider’s view and industry trends from your fellow recruiters. And honestly, you never know what kind of opportunity you may miss until you hear about it.

Sadly, I also received poor treatment from recruiters. My most unpleasant experiences include the following: [1] When they rejected me as an active applicant and reached out to me as a passive candidate. {Why did you reject me in the first place? Hello?} [2] When they failed to reject me after interviewing me, and later tried to sell their services or products to me. {They just turned me from a candidate to a potential client without even consulting me first. WTH?} [3] When I responded to their poaching emails, they didn’t follow up but emailed me again two months later for the same job. {Now I know why that job was open for a year. Duh.}

It’s time for us to rethink recruiting. The system is broken. The process is broken.

We keep talking about this huge talent war and how we suffer from a massive talent shortage. How about starting treating candidates with respect? Adapt customer service and marketing strategy to create quality candidate experience. Similar to what the internet has done to the sales industry from a ‘Buyers Beware’ to a ‘Sellers Beware” world. We have to adapt the ‘Candidate Driven’ model soon away from the ‘Employer Driven’ standard.

My suggestions to break the vicious cycle and improve your candidate experience:

  • Hold your hiring team accountable for candidate experience, including the hiring manager, interviewing panel, and HR/recruiter. Ask your candidates to rate their experience on key performance indicators (KPIs) according to your talent acquisition strategy.
    • Email an automated survey link to every candidate after each phone and in-person interview.
    • Include a ‘unsubscribe’ link in each sourcing email. Track the unsubscribe rate, segment your candidate population, and create targeted job promos or candidate engagement campaigns.
  • Ask for candidate feedback regarding your current application process and applicant tracking system if any.
    • Add a survey link on your careers page or encourage candidates to talk about their experience on social media if applicable.
  • Be kind. Don’t be a jerk. Treat a candidate how you want to be treated.

P.S. Candidates, When a recruiter asks you to wait two weeks for a decision after an interview, please wait or tell them that you can’t wait that long. Also, please don’t hate on a recruiter when you are rejected in a timely manner after an interview. 99% of the time you just don’t match all of the hiring manager’s laundry list of requirements or some external factor happened to be against your odds. It’s not you, it’s them. Seriously.

When Recruiters Go Bad