Interviewing by Storytelling

How can you be comfortable in an interview and show the best picture of you?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I struggle when interviewing as I am not comfortable in this setting. How can I be more effective in my responses?

GD
Short Hills

 

Interviewing can be stressful if you are not prepared. Although you cannot prepare for every question or situation encountered, practice can reduce the anxiety you may feel going into an interview setting.

A certain amount of stress or anxiety can serve to elevate your performance during the interview. If the stress or anxiety is too much, then it can have a negative impact on your presentation.

The key during an interview is to shift ever so gently the interview from a question grilling situation into a conversation. You can achieve this by answering the questions concisely and asking clarifying questions as you close your response. For example, for the “tell me about yourself” you can say “based on my understanding of the position, I have the knowledge to help the company leverage itself in this new market with experience in…” Then close your answer with “please share with me what some of the initial projects you see this role taking on.” Closing in this manner will allow you to gain insight for the questions that follow and you are gently shifting the interview into a conversation style.

The key is to know the job, the company and potential issues the company is facing—compliance, regulatory, globalization, environmental and social concerns prior to your interview meeting. If you can gain intelligence on the individuals you will be meeting with is very important as well. Ask about their process, next steps and when you can connect with them to follow up.

Learn yoga breathing so you can calm yourself prior to interviewing. Clear your mind and focus to get the conversation flowing. Wrap your answers in stories after you provide a concise technical answer by saying, “May I elaborate by sharing a work situation?” It allows the interviewer to respond and then you are able to engage in a story. Keep the story brief, emphasizing the point you want to make and do not go off on a tangent. It’s a powerful way of sharing your strengths while weaving a story.

Remember it is your responsibility to tell an accurate story about yourself, stressing your strengths and abilities. If you are scheduled for an interview, then you have passed the initial match or competency screen. Now it is up to you to show your personality. People like to hire individuals that they like and get along with, so chemistry is important. Watch for work style, approach and engage so you can begin to build a relationship. Typically the hiring manager selects the candidate they believe will perform well and that feels comfortable within the company culture and department’s style.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

How Do I Network?

The advice is to network to get a new job, but how do you do that?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

Everyone says I need to network to find a job. As a recent graduate, I am applying to multiple jobs online and not getting responses. How do I network?

MP
Short Hills

 

Job hunting takes persistence and resilience. In the past, job hunting consisted of submitting resumes along with a cover letter either by mail, fax, email or online. Some job seekers like to post their resumes on selected job search sites for employers to view.

In the last few years, many job seekers are using social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and job sites where the site is doing the preliminary matching for you. Many of these matching sites request a membership fee. Since there are so many free job site resources available, I am not a proponent of online job sites that require payment for memberships.

The Warren Township Library and I conduct quarterly workshops (for free) on the tools available through your public library and how to work with these tools to develop your job search strategy.

One approach is to set up job alerts by selecting key words that solicit job matches from numerous job boards. Selecting the job sites you want to search will take a bit of research once you refine what you are looking for. Once you determine certain areas of interests, then determine the best key words to target your job search criteria. Determining the key words may take a few trails but is worth the time to get it to your liking.

Ryan Derousseau of Mediabistro explains in “Can You Reach the Right People While Schmoozing on LinkedIn?,” “online schmoozing has become the norm… but are you really reaching the people that will help your career while networking online?… The answer is yes. Hubspot confirms that 28 percent of LinkedIn users are senior executives… and of all the users, 67 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54… 80 percent of recruiters say they use the site to find applicants.”

So, how does one network in today’s market? In person, through social and professional meetings, through meetup.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, your ability to generate conversation is essential to turn your online relationship into a cultivated longer term relationship that will last beyond this job search period.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Guide to Screening

What do you do when you’re asked to screen job candidates?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

Recently I have been asked to screen candidates for a client that I am consulting with. I do not know how to go about this. Can you guide me on how to approach this?

SB
Short Hills

 

There are legal requirements for compliance that come into play when interviewing. Ask your client if they will be handling these requirements or if you are expected to handle this aspect as well.

Assuming they are handling the compliance aspects, let’s begin with the positions you are trying to fill. Have you been given a job posting or description of what is expected? If not, meet with the hiring manager and ask what they are ideally looking for. Ask what specific responsibilities are required for this position and what is nice to have. Ask what will make someone successful in this role. Ask who on their team is an ideal role model. Ask if there is any need to reshuffle any of their team members’ current job responsibilities so they can help develop them or play further into someone’s strengths. Ask if there is anyone within the company that may be considered before seeing outside candidates. These questions allow you to show your client your commitment to the overall success of their staff.

Based on the conversation above, create a one page summary that will serve you well when you begin to screen or interview candidates. From the summary and knowing the company’s culture, you will have a good sense of what they are looking for in a qualified candidate.

Assuming they are providing you with the resumes received, create a list of consistent questions you will ask each and every candidate you speak with. You may deviate beyond the core questions but having a consistent approach will help you evaluate the candidates evenly. This core question list typically consists of four to six questions with additional questions focused on a specific topical matter. Ideally, the technical questions should come from the hiring manager unless they have asked you to do this.

Screening or interviewing candidates, whether it’s a technical interview or screening for the right personality and cultural fit, is not as difficult when we know what questions we need to have answered. Preparation up front is the key to successfully screening candidates. Consider screening over the phone with 20 minute conversations. If the candidate is a good fit, you will probably schedule additional time with them or invite them to the office. Best wishes for a successful consulting engagement.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

Acing the Group Interview

How do you prepare when you will be interviewed by a group from a potential employer?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,
I am about to enter my second round of interviews for a position I really want. When the recruiter gave me the information for this interview round, he mentioned that the company will be conducting a group interview with the hiring manager, human resources and a peer. Then I will be taken to lunch by some colleagues of this position. Is this typically and how do I prepare for this?
ST
Short Hills

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