The Importance Of Being Focused—Sharpening The Tools.

In an interview, your focus or lack of it is picked up very quickly by the interviewer.
Many a career opportunity is lost through lapses of attention, or assuming that the
interviewer understands what you are saying.

This is a problem for people who are unaccustomed to interviews. Without practice and mindfulness, which means a heightened degree of awareness of your surroundings, you may miss a question or misunderstand it, and give a response which isn’t well received.

The best way to avoid this situation is to practice being interviewed with a trusted friend who plays the role of the hiring manager. Ask him/her to interject when they feel you are wandering off topic.

Some questions and topics you can expect will be explored are:

▪ So, tell us about yourself.
▪ Describe what you did in your daily duties.
▪ Give us examples of how you met challenges in your previous jobs.
▪ Why are you looking?
▪ Why do you want to work for us?
▪ Why should we hire you?
▪ How would you handle the challenges of this job?
▪ What strengths do you bring?
▪ What are your weaknesses?
▪ What are your salary expectations?
▪ Where do you see yourself in a few years?
▪ How long do you think it will take to get up to speed?
▪ Why did you leave your last employer?

Each one of these questions is a standard open-ended probe to gather information. You cannot answer them with a ‘yes’ or no’; more details must be provided.

Practice these answers until you are comfortable with them and their variations. You don’t want to sound robotic in your responses, you want your presentation to flow smoothly from one topic to another, and repeatedly answering these questions in a practice session helps you accomplish this.

“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln


New Graduates: Create Buyer Interest In The Interviewer.

Define your worth to the employer. Convince employers that they should invest in you.

Progressive employers view talented graduates as a valuable resource for future growth. Employers hire people who have demonstrated that they want the opportunity to grow.

Many employers have said to us that without an established track record, they will tend to hire someone because of what attitudes, energy, and character strengths they see that can be a foundation for training and future development.

Think about your skills, your strengths, and your experiences in school.

How have you applied yourself to your studies? What strengths and skills helped you succeed? If you have had the opportunity to work in an industry related co-op placement, then there is some assessment that the employer may obtain, based on your employment reference.

The skills you learned in part-time jobs are transferable to other employment. Employers look for evidence of the ability to learn quickly, get along with coworkers, and work in an organized, self-motivated manner. Extracurricular activities are taken into account, as is volunteer work. List your accomplishments and talk about them.

As an entry-level employee with no co-op history, the employer doesn’t have a track record to measure your performance. Instead, they look at grades, honours awarded, scholarships received, and Dean’s list citations. Tell them what you have done and how you did it.

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes, and understand the employer’s point of view, concerns, and needs:

  • Is this person someone we can invest time in to train them?
  • Will this person be staying with us long enough for us to benefit from having trained them?
  • Does this person have a willingness to cooperate and be a good team player?
  • Is this person someone who communicates effectively?
  • Does this person have realistic salary expectations?

Hiring managers hire people that show confidence, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and work hard, and flexibility in an interview. These attitudes make a positive impression which lead to job offers.

Seven Warning Signs To Recruiters That Limit Your Prospects For Referral To Their Clients

Recruiters are alert to signals that indicate to them that a candidate may not be suitable to refer. Your recruiter is constantly putting you in front of his/her client, mentally, imagining how you will present yourself, and whether you meet the criteria for hiring established by the client.

These warning signs factor into a decision to refer or not:

Negative attitudes such as victimization, resentment, grievances with employers and arrogance give pause to recruiters because they want their client to identify with and not be turned off with the people they refer.
Rambling, unfocused responses cause hesitation because clients like clear and focused answers to their questions, and they don’t want you to annoy their client.
Unrealistic salary demands relative to the position under consideration often prevent your referral for review to the client.
Lack of flexibility to accommodate an appointment time for a client’s busy hiring schedule.
Low buyer interest due to a poorly constructed resume, poor grammar and typos, and/or the inability to clearly express what you have accomplished, learned and want to achieve is a major stumbling block to referring you.
Many moves from company to company that aren’t contractual ones, and/or backward moves in title and responsibility are a concern to recruiters because their clients expect evidence of stability and forward progress in a candidate’s work history.
Long, unexplained periods of unemployment raise red flags because this issue raises other questions about employability, self-motivation, and work performance competence.

Be Clear About Your Salary Expectations With Your Recruiter.

Clarity is essential. Ensure that your recruiter knows what your expectations are. Many people assume that there’s salary flexibility with an employer based on their having the experience and skills required for the job.

Some companies have flexibility for the ideal candidate, others don’t. Some recruiters are vague about compensation levels—especially if they don’t have clear guidelines from the employer. Some employers like to avoid giving anything other than a ballpark range.

Establish the playing field:

▪ What is the mid-range and maximum salary level available?
▪ Has this range been established by the employer (not the recruiter’s guess) ?
▪ What bonus or incentives does the employer offer, and how is this paid?
▪ What criteria do you have to meet to receive incentive income?
▪ When is the first salary review date?
▪ Instead of an annual review, what flexibility exists for a six-month salary review?
▪ What percentage of the company benefits premium is paid by the employer and the employee?

Some recruiters send you in to establish their credibility with a potential employer, convincing you to explore the opportunity—even though you’re earning more than the maximum salary that they know the employer won’t exceed.

This is done for their benefit, and it’s a waste of your time and the client’s. You serve as a useful way to enhance their prestige, as they show their client that they can present quality candidates…

Communicate your expectations clearly to avoid misunderstandings.

What Questions Can I Ask In A First Interview?

Preparation is key to a successful interview. It is a two-way discussion. At some point, usually at the invitation of the interviewer, you can ask questions to better understand the scope of the position, its requirements, the training provided and how your performance is assessed.

Ask questions to learn what their expectations are and what degree of support you will receive.

  • What will I be doing on a typical workday?
    Determine what your daily responsibilities are if this is unclear from the job description.
  • What training will I receive?
    Establish how long you will receive training and what it consists of.
  • How will you evaluate my job performance?
    Understand how they measure performance and what the expectations, priorities and challenges are.
  • Why do people like to work here and what is the company culture like?
    Companies have personalities like people do, attracting individuals with shared values.
  • What will be the toughest part of my job?
    The answer to this question zeros in on what the key challenges are
  • What qualities do you look for in the people you hire?
    You need to identify with these attributes to fit the profile they have in mindThoughtful questions asked in an open-ended format to gather impressions and information help you decide if this company is a good fit for you.

How Do I Get Hired With Minimal Job Experience?

The biggest assets you can bring to any job interview when you have little or no practical experience are your communications skills, your listening skills, your flexibility and your enthusiasm. The ability to communicate effectively, maintaining good eye-contact and asking questions concisely and in a focused manner, listening actively instead of passively, thinking ahead to what you are going to say next, and the personality and attitudes that you project to the interviewer are as important—if not more so—than a good academic resume.

At the entry-level, you are hired more on your ability to communicate effectively and the willingness to learn and accept direction with enthusiasm and flexibility.

Project Self-Confidence Through Your Voice And Body Language.

The word that most comes to mind to suggest to you to increase the effectiveness of your
presentation is ‘projection’. If you are naturally soft-spoken, a conscious effort to speak more forcefully will be helpful. This doesn’t mean shouting at the interviewer, rather it is about putting more energy behind your words—projecting.

You know what you can do; you have a storehouse of knowledge, the accumulated experience built over years in the industry, and if a potential customer asks you questions about how you do what you do, you have ready answers based on that foundation.

Imagine that you are going in to sell a potential, important customer on the benefits and advantages of using you, as if this is a company that you have identified as having great prospects for revenue for your current employer. You will be on your toes, ready to give it your best shot.

Sell the benefits of you: project the strength of your knowledge and abilities through your voice and body language. Employers respond to self-confidence and belief in what you can do. The best salesmen believe in the products and services that they represent.

Engage the interviewer’s imagination through holding their attention with a smoothly flowing narrative, focused on your proven track record: tell them what you have done with time-frames, results achieved and growth realized.

Facing the interviewer squarely, leaning toward the interviewer, holding their gaze, and using your hands to reinforce a point that you are making are simple techniques to put more power behind your words and the ideas you express.

If you project that confidence in who you are, why you are successful and give concrete
examples of your progress and achievements, you will go a long way toward convincing the interviewer that you are the one to hire.

Self-Possession And Quiet Integrity Are Valuable Assets.

An interview is like travelling through a strange new land. You do not know the topography nor whom you can trust. What you can rely upon is simply being who you are, and expressing your values and principles. Your self-possession, sincerity and integrity will then shine through to whomever you encounter.

Your dignity and sincerity then colour your answers and questions and the interviewer will know that they are meeting someone with genuine self-confidence and be able to assess the fit without wondering if they are hearing the truth or not.

Create Buyer Interest In The Employer’s Mind.

Sports people, high achieving sales people and actors frequently use visualization to enhance their performance and presentations. For an employer to make a hiring decision in your favour, they need to see you working there, and to do that they must identify with what you are saying about yourself, your abilities, and your track record.

Being genuine, projecting your strengths of character, personality, and making the human connection with the employer helps create this buyer interest.

Mentally rehearse how the interview will unfold, what you will say and how you will feel in speaking about who you are and what you can bring in the way of experience, knowledge and achievement to the employer. The more vividly you can see yourself connecting with
the interviewer, the more confidence you will project. Sincere confidence founded on being who you are generates a sense of trust.

Many accomplished speakers practice their speeches in front of a mirror, or will work with a colleague, practicing and polishing their delivery. When salespeople know the features of their product or service and believe in the benefits, they are able to communicate those ideas successfully to the prospective buyer.

The same holds true in interview situations. If you know yourself and what you can do, you can create that buyer interest by being yourself, and presenting your unique features and benefits that the employer can see will bring value to their company.

What’s The Difference Between Active And Passive Listening?

Active listening is focusing your attention on what the speaker is saying, visualizing the person behind the voice, and thinking of good follow-up questions to ask . Customer service people in many industries are trained to picture the customer on the other end of the line, to put a ‘smile’ in their voice to establish good rapport. Create the human connection through practicing active listening, and displaying interest and attention throughout your discussion.

Passive listening often involves missing key points that the speaker is trying to make, as you wait for your turn to speak. Interrupting the speaker, not allowing them to finish a sentence or asking for a question to be repeated more than once in a discussion signals a lack of attention.

Offering information that is unrelated to the question they are asking you transmits nervousness to the interviewer. Before you initiate a callback, take a few deep breaths; this creates a calmer inner state, and allows you to speak at a more moderate pace. There is no need to hurry your responses. You make a positive impression if the listener has time to absorb what you are saying.