interviewing

Explaining unemployment in the job interview

THIS IS A MORE COMMON CONVERSATION THAN YOU THINK.

In April 2015, the unemployment rate hovered around 5.4 percent — or 8.5 million people who want to work and who can, but aren’t. Taking care of family, changing career paths, going back to school, getting laid off — these are only a handful of reasons why some people are currently unemployed.

You’re not the first person to explain why you’re currently unemployed when you get to the job interview. But how you explain your unemployment will have a big impact on your chances of getting the job. Here’s what you need to know.

Assess the length of explanation needed
Some reasons you’re currently unemployed — like taking care of a loved one or recently being afull-time student — are perfectly sufficient reasons on their own. In the interview, focus your answer on how you’ve been preparing yourself for this job opportunity. Have you recently been certified in an industry skill or working temporarily for a family friend? Keep the conversation on the responsibilities you’ve had during your unemployment. Hiring managers are primarily interested in being assured that you’re ready to work and that there aren’t any red flags, such as bad employer reviews.

If your unemployment status is more complicated than a personal leave from the workforce, though, the length and tone of your answer will need to accommodate that. You can still assure the hiring manager you’re a reliable employee, even if there have been some past bumps in the road. As Jessica Steinberg, talent community manager for ADP says, “Any gap is acceptable. It’s all in how you position it. Take one to two sentences to concisely explain why you were out, and any achievements you had while you were out of the workforce during the gap on the resume.”

Stay positive
Never bash your previous employer, even if there was cause to be angry. When the question “Why did you leave your past job?” comes up, whether you were fired or laid off, you can be frank about it and explain yourself — with tact. In “Explaining previous employment issues during your job interview” (watch the video here!), a key point to explaining more complicated situations is underlining the lesson you learned and how you benefitted from the experience. If you were fired for repeatedly being late, speak to how you mastered time management. For personnel issues, explain that your values and work ethic are important to you, and that they align with the company’s.

Highlighting your passion for this type of work and the enthusiasm you have for this opportunity will also help to reassure the hiring manager. From their perspective, they have a vacant role and need to fill it with someone dependable. Appearing bored or disinterested won’t help your case, but asking plenty of questions, showing your positive personality and creating a relationship with the hiring manager will help hiring managers see you as a potential fit.

Emphasize readiness
Before the interview, conduct lots of research. Know what the company does, what your role there would be (and make sure the employer’s answer matches your understanding of the role), and investigate the organization’s values and recent news and achievements. That way, you’ll be able to connect the dots when you’re talking about your own growth in your career, and the growth of the company you’re interviewing for. “The best thing you can do is to talk about what you learned from the experience, how you’ve grown as a professional and how you’d apply any of those learnings to a new position,” says Shawn Tubman, vice president of employment for Liberty Mutual.

Addressing your unemployment in a job interview is not as uncomfortable as it might seem to you. In reality, hiring managers are familiar with every aspect of hiring and firing, and your story probably isn’t the strangest they’ve ever heard. And the important fact is that you’re here now. “Talk about the future,” says Becky Havlicek, senior human resource manager at Merrill Corp. “Sometimes we do have bad experiences, but I would focus on why that next role is important to you, why that next company interests you and stay positive.”

Advertisements

What to research before a job interview

BIG PART OF PREPARING FOR A JOB INTERVIEW IS RESEARCHING THE COMPANY. HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU STEP INTO THE INTERVIEW.

It can be easy to forget that a job interview should be a two-way street – not only is the employer trying to determine whether you fit their needs, but you should also be evaluating whether they fit yours.

Many job seekers don’t view the interview this way, and as a result, put themselves at a disadvantage. After all, most companies research candidates online before hiring them – and even if they don’t, you sent them an overview of relevant information about yourself – your resume.

Not only does researching an employer help even the playing field in the interview, but it also shows that you’re committed to getting hired. Here are some key things you should know about a company before sitting down for an interview.

What do they do?

First and foremost, you should understand what the company does. It may sound obvious, but not being able to supply a clear answer to this question in an interview will severely hurt your chances of being hired.

The best way to find this information is often a combination of the company’s website – where you can learn how they view what they do – and Wikipedia – where you can usually get a much more clearly worded, bare-bones definition.

What will you do?

Again, this may sound obvious, but not knowing what the job they’re interviewing for entails is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make. Your goal in the interview is to demonstrate and explain what makes you the best candidate to carry out the duties of the position – how can you expect to successfully do that if you don’t know what those duties entail?

What are their values?

Most interviewees will be able to explain what the company does, but you can really impress your interviewer by demonstrating an understanding of why they do it. This can usually be gleaned from the company’s mission and values – both of which can typically be found on their website. This type of information is also usually found on their social media accounts and in interviews with company leadership.

Not only is this a great way to show your commitment to getting this job, but assessing a business’s mission and values and how they align with your own personal values can be a great indicator of whether this company is a good fit for you.

What’s new and noteworthy?

A company’s function and mission are typically somewhat broad in scope and relatively unchanging. But what have they been up to recently to better achieve their goals? Are they offering any new products or services? Opening offices in new markets? Have they recently taken up a new cause or started any new initiatives?

This is all great information with which to arm yourself before entering an interview. It shows that you did more than a quick look at their homepage, and that you’re genuinely interested in what they do as a company. Start by looking at the company’s press room, where you can find information they’ve prepared for reporters and the media. A Google news search for the company or the names of company leaders can also provide useful information.

Who are the leaders?

As mentioned above, knowing a bit about the company’s leadership team can be helpful in researching and preparing for an interview. Many corporate websites include brief bios on a number of their key leaders, and in some cases you can even find them on social media.

Depending on the size of the company and the position you’re applying for, it’s not unheard of for managers or executives to get involved in the hiring process.

Who is your interviewer?

As we mentioned, going into the interview, they already know a lot about you, so it can’t hurt to find out what you can about them. Often, your interviewer will be the person to contact you to schedule the interview. However, if this isn’t the case, ask your contact for the name of the person you should ask for when you arrive for the interview.

While knowing the interviewer’s title and work history can potentially help you prepare for what kind of questions to expect, it’s often more useful to simply get a feel for their personality. After all, employers often use interviews to gauge how well you’d fit with the team culture. Look for shared interests and other potential conversation topics that you can use to build a rapport.

How To Handle Cancelling An Interview

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a growing complaint among my friends who are small business owners. They’ve experienced an increase in candidates not showing for interviews or cancelling an interview at the last minute with wacky excuses. If you have been invited for an interview, but can’t attend for some reason, take the following steps to ensure that you don’t burn bridges to future employment.

Contact Them ASAP

As soon as you know you won’t be able to interview, contact your recruiter or the person who set-up the meeting. Most recruiters and hiring managers are understanding enough to realize that life happens and it sometimes gets in the way of even the best intentions. If possible, try to reach the person in multiple ways, via phone and e-mail, to ensure that your message is received. Politely request that the person call or e-mail you back with confirmation that your message was received.

Be Honest

There’s probably a legitimate reason why you can’t attend the interview at the established time. Be honest and convey that message. If your reason is legitimate, there’s probably a good chance that the interview can be rescheduled at a more convenient time. There’s really not a need to make up excuses or tell lies. Your honesty does not need to include specific details about an illness or family emergency. In fact, most interviewers won’t want to know the specific reason, especially if it’s something personal or medical-related.

Apologize And Move Forward

Recognize that you are causing an inconvenience, apologize, and determine next steps. If you still want an opportunity to be considered for the job, end your conversation by asking about setting up an alternate interview time.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to obtain a new position with another employer before the interview, it’s still best to call and share that information with the recruiter or hiring manager. No shows are very frustrating because the interviewers have blocked time on their calendars to meet with you. If you aren’t interested in being considered for the position any longer, you can help the employer by allowing them to resume the recruiting and interviewing process.

Furthermore, there may be a time in the future that you will again want to be considered for a position with that employer. If that’s the case, it’s best to handle interview cancellations professionally and with tact. Many companies maintain candidate files and would be able to refer back if you re-submit a resume or application for consideration. If you’ve blown off an interview once, it could hurt your chances of being asked to interview again in the future.

Read more interviewing tips at http://www.careerealism.com/cancelling-interview-how-to/#hEoe7eCbYOWZ7Wc8.99

Do You Manage Your Career Like A First Date?

First date.. Career… You heard me correctly!

Do you manage your career like a first date?

I remember what it was like to be single. That was over thirty years ago but I remember the awkward feelings of trying to find someone who would just go out with me on a date.

When I graduated from high school I was 6 feet 4 inches tall and a mere 145 pounds. I had a big head of red hair. I was no chick magnet!

I was an awkward nerd.

I tried to make myself attractive to the opposite sex. I picked clothes so that girls would notice me.

Now you wordsmith your LinkedIn Profile so that recruiters will notice you. You are establishing your brand just like I was trying to be stylish.

When I asked a girl out, I was just hoping not to be rejected. You submit your applications and pray that the recruiter calls you.

When I got a date, I was just trying to make a good impression. Was she the right girl for me? I was not worried about that I just wanted her to like me. When you go for an interview you are just praying that they call you back for a second interview. You just want them to like you.

Does this sound familiar? It should because this is how many of you manage your career.

  • You scour job boards looking for a date…. oh I mean a job
  • When you find a girl….  a job that meets your requirements you send in your resume and pray you will hear a response
  • When she calls…. I mean the recruiter calls you put your best foot forward hoping not to get rejected
  • When you get the first phone interview you try to sound like a nice guy… I mean like a experienced professional but still hoping not to get rejected
  • When you get the first interview you put you really try to show your stuff off… I mean you try to demonstrate your outstanding skills and talents
  • When you get the second interview, you are thinking will I get to second base with her… no I mean get an offer.

Are you concerned that this might not be the job for you? Heck no! You just want to get the next step!

You should be concerned on whether there is the right chemistry between the boss and you. Are you going to be happy in this next position?

Your job search is just like dating! You have to date to get married. Not every date turns into marriage. In the job search you have to interview to get the job. Not every interview turns into a job. Half of all marriages end in divorce.

Your career is very much like a marriage. It is about finding common ground, compromises, happiness, successes,….

Have you gone on a date that you just wanted to walk out? I hear there are strategies for that now.

Have you gone into an interview prepared to ask all of the right questions? Is this the right job for you?

Do you even know what the right job for you is?

What kind of boss do you want?

What kind of team do you function best on?

How do you want to be rewarded? Most of us want a combination of the following:

  • The bonus check
  • Public recognition
  • Pat on the back from the boss
  • Pat on the back from your team
  • Pat on the back from your client

How much variety do you want in your day?

Do you know what you need in a work environment and then how to determine whether you are going to get what you need?

Have you taken a job and suddenly said — what have I gotten into!

Finding your next job is serious business just like finding a spouse. There must be the right chemistry to make the relationship work… oh I mean the workplace fun and rewarding.

Go find that perfect match. Go find the perfect job for you. One that meets all of your requirements and reject those that do not.

By Mark Miller: Original Posting via Purzue

What’s “Fit” Got to Do With It?

Companies today are looking for more than just education, experience, and transferable skills.  With an increasing price tag on turnover, recruiters and hiring managers are looking deeper into the intangibles.  The article below gives good perspective on what “fit” has to do with anything.

How often have you heard something like this when you’ve been rejected for a job: “We found someone who we feel is a closer fit.”

When you know in your heart that you have all the skills, experience and education that the employer seeks, it is only natural to ask: “How can they say that I’m not a right fit?”

You might reprise Tina Turner’s song with modified lyrics: “What’s fit got to do with it?”

Using “fit” can be a fudgy kind of excuse that employers give when they don’t want to risk revealing the real reason someone else beat you out for that prized opportunity. Employers aren’t under any obligation to reveal the reasons that they reject any given candidate. And, they are reticent to do so lest it open them up to unwanted protracted discussion, or even to a lawsuit.

“Fit,” however, often really is the issue. Employers are rightly concerned these days about more than just melding a candidate’s skills and a job’s responsibilities. In a landmark survey, Leadership IQ determined that a shocking 46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, and that technical competence was only related to 11 percent of those failures.

Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, contends that the managers who fared significantly better than their peers in their hiring decisions focused their emphasis on interpersonal and motivational issues. The survey suggests that the key elements of fit that make for long-term employee success include “coachability,” emotional intelligence (or “the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions”), motivation, and temperament, which includes one’s attitude and personality.

So what is a job hunter to do?

1. Search for a great fit, not just a great job. While the need for an immediate paycheck can be very real and pressing, remember that signing on now to a job with a poor fit can be very costly for you later on. Each time you apply for a job you’ll likely have to explain all the transitions from one company to the next on your resume. If at all possible, you want to avoid in future job hunts having to explain why the job you take now just didn’t work out. Even if you’re successful in obtaining and taking an ill-fitting job now and becoming one of those 48 percent who fail within the first 18 months, you can create a red flag in your own future.

2. Look for companies that fit your personality and work style. Rather than randomly applying to a large number of jobs at many companies, look beyond job descriptions. Slow down and take the time to learn something about each company to which you want to apply. What do current and former employees say about its corporate culture? Does the company encourage teamwork and camaraderie, or is it every person for him/herself? It is a company that cares about its employees enough to have mentoring programs, and are you open to them? Are managers hard to access, likely to be available when you need them, or are they ever-present micro-managing one’s every movement? Which management style do you need to be successful? Learn about these and other fit issues on sites like Glassdoor.com, Vault.com, etc.

3. Use your interview to demonstrate your fit. You can do this in a couple of different ways if you’re well prepared. First, weave in things that demonstrate your fit into your interview. For example, if you know that a company wants to mold their employees through mentoring, you might talk about how much you appreciated being mentored in some past experience and how it helped you to grow professionally. This can be especially powerful if you can use it in answering a question, “Tell me about an area of your weakness.”

Second, if you haven’t had an opportunity to weave your fit stories into the early part of an interview, use your research when you ask your own questions at the end. You might pose something like: “I thrive in an environment where [fill in the blank with something about yourself that matches with the company’s culture]. If I were to work here, is that what I would likely experience?”

Sometimes fit really is a wimpy excuse used in rejection letters. Yet, if you can demonstrate your fit for a role in addition to showing that you have the right skill set and experience, you increase your chances of hearing: “We think that you would make a great addition to our company, and would like you to start within the next two weeks.”

Happy hunting!

Source: US News, by Arnie Fertig

5 Ways to Become an Efficient Job Seeker

Are you the kind of job hunter who feels that the search is taking over your life? Perhaps you sense that you’re spinning your wheels, putting in lots of hours looking for that new job and never gaining traction. Maybe you can relate to the person who stays up ’til all hours of the night, prowling job boards and sending a resume to anything that looks remotely interesting. If your job hunt consumes every waking moment, it is time to put it into perspective and more effectively utilize your time and energy.

Here are some things that you can do to gain control of your job hunt, save time, and allow you to appropriately balance it with the other parts of your life:

1. Treat your job hunt as a job. Define and schedule your “on” and “off” hours. Work hard and be productive while you are “on,” but also carve out guilt-free “off” time for proper work-life balance. As you gain that balance, you’re likely to find that you’re working more efficiently and productively.

2. Organize your time. Determine in advance how much time to allocate to each task, and focus exclusively on one thing at a time according to the schedule you lay out for yourself. If necessary, set a timer on your computer or phone to prompt you to go on to the next thing. While many people feel that they thrive on multitasking, studies have repeatedly shown that this doesn’t work as well as we tend to believe that is does.

Whatever puts you closest to nailing down a job offer should get top priority, and dealing with people always trumps impersonal online activities. Top priority goes to preparing for and following up actual interviews. Next is following up with networking opportunities, then comes creating new networking opportunities, etc.

Make time in your schedule for in-person business networking, researching new companies and their openings, participating in job hunter networking groups in person and online, and expanding your personal brand on LinkedIn.

3. Organize your desk. It can be altogether overwhelming to come into your home-office and see piles and piles of disorganized papers. Allocate some time each day to throwing out or shredding whatever you can part with, and putting everything else into a file or folder.

Rule of thumb: Only touch each piece of paper once. Deal with it, and don’t just keep shuffling paper or creating piles that you plan to deal with later.

At the end of your job-hunting business day, clear everything off your desk so that you can start fresh the next day.

4. Organize your computer. Create a filing system that works for you. You will benefit by having a folders for research, applications sent, each company with which you’re actively speaking, each recruiter you’re actively working with, networking groups, etc.

5. Don’t bother reinventing the wheel. There are many repetitive tasks that you can automate so you don’t have to “rethink” them time after time.

Examples:

a. You can save the URL of search results on Google, Yahoo, and Bing as a hyperlinked cell in your spreadsheet. Make each one a separate line, and in the next column remind yourself of what the search was for. On a regular basis, repeat the search by clicking the link and your results will be updated. In a similar way you can track company websites, specific job postings, etc.

b. Use Google Alerts to follow people, companies, or topics of interest and get a note in your inbox automatically. For example, if you follow a person, every time his/her name comes up in the news or a web posting, you’ll immediately receive word.

c. Within LinkedIn you can also follow people or companies of interest. When you do, you will get ongoing updates whenever their status or something else about them changes.

Central to the effectiveness of any time management strategy must be your desire and commitment to manage your time. When you begin the process, you may be amazed to see how much more productive your time can be, how your job search process can be enhanced, and how you will enable yourself to engage in a healthy work-life balance.

Happy hunting!

US News    Arnie Fertig