hiring process infographic for private service and domestic staffing

Making sense of the hiring process: an infographic

For many private service professionals, the recruitment agency is a vital piece of their job search.  Employers frequently reach out the agency to list their positions, trusting them to make the best match based on experience, skills, and personality.  However, not all of the candidates understand exactly what goes into that hiring process.

Check out the infographic to learn more about the multiple phases required to secure a top position in the luxury lifestyle management industry…

hiring process infographic for private service and domestic staffing

Using diversity to evaluate company culture

In the modern world of job searching, finding a position that is a good match has more to do with company culture than any other factor.  However, many job seekers don’t know what to look for when trying to determine the workplace culture.  Some things are obvious, such as the physical aspects of the work environment – for example, many introverts are not comfortable working in an “open office” design, where there is very little separation from one person’s workspace to another. However, how can you gauge the real flavor of the office during the interview phase?

One of the biggest indicators of a company culture falls back into the importance of diversity.

Defining workplace diversity

According to BusinessDictionary.com, diversity is defined as “similarities and differences among employees in terms of age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.” (Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/workforce-diversity.html#ixzz3teUk7q1G)

When interviewing with a company, take note on if they have a diverse workforce.  Smart companies understand that it can take an extra effort to hire a diverse workforce, but it also helps them gain a competitive advantage as the company’s culture becomes more flexible thanks to the diverse points of view.

Diversity of thought

There is another aspect of diversity that is not as readily apparent as the outward physical characteristics.  This is the “diversity of thought,” which reflects how the employees actually think and approach their work.  For a real forward-thinking company, it is necessary to employ people who actually offer different perspectives in how to solve problems or to apply their area of expertise.

For example, in one of my past roles, I provided the recruitment for a small business in the Denver area.  The original founders of the company were brilliant engineers, who also happened to be some of the most introverted people I had ever met.  When it came time to hire new employees, they heavily favored candidates just like them, regardless of the role.  They valued an engineering background above all other qualities, having convinced themselves that their products were so technically complex that only engineers could properly represent what they were manufacturing.

However, problems quickly arose once the company tried to expand.  They hired several Sales Engineers – again, emphasizing the engineering aspect.  Unfortunately, they failed to understand that they really needed smart SALES people who could be trained in the technical benefits of their products.  The core problem here is that people who are drawn to sales usually have an entirely different set of soft skills and personality traits than engineers.  By only hiring engineers, their sales continued to slump to the point that the company struggled to survive.

Diversity of roles

Another common problem that a company may face is hiring too many managers.  While many people know about the challenges of large companies generating a wide base of middle-level managers, this issue can impact small companies as well.

For example, another small company that I worked with had 70% of their workforce with the phrase Manager, Director, or Vice President in their title.  Out of all 10 employees, only 3 of them were actual “boots on the ground” employees, performing the day-to-day work of the company.  Even when the company decided to expand their operations, they hired another Vice President rather than a team of employees to provide the heavy lifting to get the new venture off the ground and profitable.

When interviewing with a new potential employer, be sure to ask about their company structure and how many managers would be in place over you.  If the company is extremely top-heavy, it could be an indicator of problems to come.

Practicing diversity

Finally, take note of how well a company actually implements their diversity programs.  Some companies may make a real effort to hire diverse teams, yet struggle to retain those same staff members.  Rarely is this because of blatant racism or other discriminatory actions, but more of a case of just not thinking about things from the other person’s point-of-view.

For example, with one of my past positions, I had a wonderful assistant who just happened to be Jewish.  On December 1st, the owner of the company told her she had to put up all of the Christmas decorations for the office.  Of course, she wasn’t very pleased with this directive; however, she did as she was asked.

The real problem started when the owner came by to review her work and proceeded to complain loudly that the decorations weren’t done correctly.  My assistant defended her ground, pointing out that she had never put up a Christmas tree before and really didn’t understand what this was all about.

I almost lost my outstanding assistant that day, as she was ready to walk off of the job based on the insensitivity of the owner.  In the end, I finished the decorations because keeping her on my team was critical to our long-term success.

Knowing where you fit

Diversity can be a great indicator of the workplace culture for any job.  Along those lines, it’s important to define what you are looking for in an employer.  Do you want a loud, fast-paced collaborative environment where you can bounce a lot of ideas between team members?  Or do you favor a quiet workplace where you can concentrate on your tasks with little interruption?  Are you driven to meet new people or do you prefer to work alone?

By defining the elements of company culture that appeal to you the most, you are more likely to identify the opportunity when it comes along.  And remember, diversity in all of its forms can be one of the best subtle and covert ways to gauge company culture during the interview process.

Simplify your life with a Personal Assistant

Personal assistant finding her center

The right PA can bring order to any chaos

What would you do with your life if you had more time to enjoy it?  Between the demands at the office and the home, everyone gets stretched thin.  Add in the important factors of professional associations, non-profit boards, children’s schedules, and the ever-present unexpected twists of a busy life, it can be downright maddening.  Fortunately, there is a dedicated, efficient, and organized solution: the professional Personal Assistant.

Bridging the gap between the home and the office, a Personal Assistant can tackle everything from representing you at non-profit board meetings to organizing your closets.  This specialized administrative professional utilizes all of the latest technological advances to maintain comprehensive calendars that merge your business, personal, and family members’ schedules – and can do it on the fly.  Too busy to handle crucial errands like shopping, dry cleaning, and vehicle maintenance?  The Personal Assistant can not only perform the work, he or she will also memorize your favorites and preferences, making sure that everything is done to your standard of perfection.

While all Personal Assistants are focused on making your life easier, there are different levels available to fit your particular needs and lifestyle:

The Executive Personal Assistant

Often working within the business office, the Executive PA is the pinnacle of personal assistance.  Not only can this trusted right hand manage all of the duties of the typical, high-level Executive Assistant, he or she extends these services to the needs of your personal life or properties.  Frequently, this includes helping with non-profits, from Board meetings to the planning and execution of large scale fundraising events.  The EPA works very closely with the employer, which may include traveling with the principal for extended periods, both domestically and internationally.

Most EPAs possess extensive experience in business, often serving as an Executive Assistant for C-Level executives for many years before adding coordination of personal affairs to their repertoire.

The Personal Assistant

Instead of being attached to the office, the Personal Assistant is more closely related to the concerns of a single person or persons and their home.  Ideal for anyone with a busy lifestyle, the PA is a trusted partner in meeting all of those obligations. Some of the typical responsibilities include personal shopping, event planning, calendar coordination, travel planning, and even domestic staff management.  As each job is customized to meet the particular needs of the employer, the PA is the epitome of flexibility and adaptability.

Since these jobs are so unique, PAs may come from many backgrounds, such as event planners, concierge, hospitality, administrative assistants, and professional organizers.  Regardless of their history, all true PAs are masters of technology, using everything from Microsoft Office programs to mobile devices to stay on top of all the demands of their employers.

The Family Assistant

For households who may not need a full Personal Assistant, a Family Assistant is a great solution.  Many times, a FA may help care for older children after school, coordinating their activities and appointments. During the day, they handle the essential “business” of the home: budgets, shopping, home organization, social obligations, and home maintenance coordination.  While they usually don’t perform the housekeeping or cooking beyond light housework, they do manage the staff or contractors who do.

Hiring Your New Right Hand

When considering hiring a new EPA, PA, or FA, start with making a job description.  While it may evolve over time, you need to define what areas you need covered to accurately evaluate candidates.  Next, think about the level of technical skills required.  For example, do you need an expert with Microsoft Office and cloud computing, or can everything be accomplished with your iPad? Should they be an experienced event planner, or does errands and personal shopping fit your needs better? Depending on these requirements, your salary range should be competitive in the market to attract the right candidates.

Next, think about security concerns.  When hiring anyone who will be involved with your personal affairs and family members, be sure to run complete background checks, including criminal and credit checks.  Consider using testing measures as well, not only for their technical skills but also personality traits.  After all, this is someone that you will be working with closely, and you want to make sure that their personality is compatible with yours.

Many times, private employers turn to specialized employment agencies to help with their search.  In that case, do expect to pay a fee on top of the annual salary. However, keep in mind that these agents are experts in the private service industry.  As such, they can help with every phase of the job search, from developing a workable job description to conducting comprehensive background and reference checks.  Most agents are contingency-based, meaning that the placement fee is only paid when the new PA is hired.  Some, like the Personal Touch Recruitment, offers retained searches as well as contingency hiring.  In that case, the agent acts as your own personal HR department.

A Vision for You

Thanks to the help of a talented Personal Assistant, you gain the most precious commodity: time.  Time to spend with your family, your work, and your true passions – like more golf!

 

About the Author

Donna Shannon is the President of Personal Touch Recruitment Services, a boutique agency that helps private employers find and onboard elite professionals such as Personal Assistants and Household Managers. For over 10 years, she has worked closely with the luxury lifestyle management industry, both as a recruiter and as a career coach for private service professionals.  To find out more about Personal Touch Recruiting and all of their services, please visit:

www.personaltouchcareerservices.com/recruitment

Perfect resume recipe

Hungry for a new job this holiday season? Follow this simple recipe for a tasty new resume and enjoy a main course of great interviews that lead to your next sweet job.

Ingredients

1 Microsoft Word document

3 – 4 relevant job postings

800 – 2000 words

3 cups experience

1 cup relevant skills

1 cup previous achievements

1 bottle Key Word marinade

3 tbls contact information

2 tbls education

Season to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat brain to 350 degrees. Lay out ingredients on Word Document in the following order: 3 tbls contact information, 50-70 words introductory paragraph, 1 cup relevant skills, 3 cups experience, 1 cup previous achievements, 1 tbls education. Combine ingredients in document.
  2. Place resume in warm brain for 20 minutes.
  3. Lay out relevant job postings on cutting board. Find key elements by cutting away fat, keeping only desired skills and experience. Combine to create the key word marinade.
  4. Remove resume from brain and add key word marinade. Return resume to brain and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with personal flavor to capture your unique personality.
  6. Garnish with cover letter and serve to potential employer.

All metaphor aside, a good resume starts with a basic understanding of what goes into making one. When writing a resume, most people ignore some essential elements.  Just like a failed soufflé, missing the essential ingredients will make the resume fall flat.  Without the right key words, it can’t pass the screening process.  Not enough spice and it will bore the hiring managers.

Don’t forget to do a taste test before sending your resume out to potential employers.  Show it to colleagues, friends, and family to get their opinion.  Remember to put more credence on the opinions of people within your industry, but multiple reviews can also spot the simple grammar or spelling error that can ruin a resume.  If you are working with a recruiter you trust, they can provide some guidance as well.

Remember, your resume should be a representation of you on paper.  You want the employers to savor it, not just screen it.  While key words can get you through the door, you still have to impress the hiring manager with your relevant knowledge, skills, and experience to land the interview.

The horrors of interviewing

© Omino di Carta - Fotolia.com

© Omino di Carta – Fotolia.com

You are sitting in a waiting room, surrounded by others wearing the exact same clothes as you, their faces blurred and featureless. The receptionist sits behind her desk, typing away at her computer, her lips curved in an unsettling smile.

Every few minutes, the door behind her opens and you hear a muffled call. One of the featureless-faced individuals stands and goes back into the doorway. None of them ever come out.

Finally, you hear a muffled call, but know it’s your name. You stand and walk through the doorway. Before you is a well-furnished office and a man with a cruel grimace, his hands folded neatly on the desk. He welcomes you and offers you a seat.

“Tell me about yourself.” He commands, “Impress me, and you just might have a future.”

Okay, so maybe going to an interview like the one above is something more out of a horror movie or a scary story. However, the same kinds of feelings of anxiety and stress going into an interview exist in real life and often has qualified applicants wracked with terror. I have personally had dreams like the story above just before going into an interview the next day.

That said, here are some tips for your next interview:

1.      What they really want to know

When we get right down to it, the big scary HR manager wants to know a few things when it comes to the interview:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you fit in with the company?
  • Do you have any issues?
  • Can I get you at the right price?

All of these are important factors with the job you are going for. Granted, some of those questions can be answered in the cover letter and the resume, but this is where they go into the gritty details. They will ask detailed questions about your work history on your resume, so be prepared with some examples. Meeting you in person is a great way for them to assess whether or not they feel you are going to be a good fit for the company. They also want to know why you left your last jobs. Do you blame the boss? Do you get easily frustrated? There are other things they look for in terms of issues, but those are probably the biggest ones.

2.      Be yourself

This is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to the interview. Honesty is the best policy here. If you are pretending to be outgoing when you really aren’t, it will come across as fake and dishonest in the interview.

They want to know the real you when you get into the interview. Pretending to be someone you are not will almost always end badly.

3.      Different interview styles

Different interviewers have different ways of interviewing candidates. Some are super nice, others might even seem skeptical about everything you are saying. Each one has their reasons for doing this, whether consciously or subconsciously.  Your survival tactic? Remember to be on your guard. Don’t be suckered in by a pleasant smile or feel defeated because the interviewer is seeming to not pay attention. Check out this post for ways to keep yourself on the right track when it comes to the most common styles of interviewing: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/handling-different-interviewer-styles

4.      Prepare

This is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself. Prepare some questions for the interviewer about the company, the challenges of the job or even how long the position has been open. Having these kinds of questions at the ready when they ask “Do you have any questions for me?” sets you apart from other candidates because it shows you know about the company itself.

Also preparing answers to the more common interview questions out there is extremely helpful. For more advice on that, check out this article: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-job-interview

 

Is your resume getting moldy?

Has your resume seen brighter days?

Has your resume seen brighter days?

In the modern job search, an up-to-date resume is an absolute given. However, plenty of job seekers still cling to some of the techniques that became obsolete 10 to 15 years ago.  Is your resume making any of these old fashioned errors?

The one page resume myth

Unless you are an entry level candidate, the one page resume is not going to support your job search.  This really changed back in the 2000, when online job searching sites like Monster and CareerBuilder became the standard.  Due to the online application process, even the tightest formatting would be converted to text, forcing the resume into a multi-page format.  While online applications and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are more sophisticated now, recruiters and HR have come to accept the two page resume as standard.

Modern key words

HR relies heavily on key words to help them screen applicants for just about any job.  Even smaller companies can now afford the next generation of ATS, making the screening process more common than ever.  For these reasons, job seekers must make sure that they are using key words – and be certain that they are the modern version of those key words.

I know of one Controller who was having difficulty landing a new job, in spite of the fact that she had several years of relevant experience.  When we evaluated the key words in her resumes, she repeatedly used the term “periodic close.”  However, when we compared recent job postings, the term had changed to “financial close.”  While these terms technically mean the same thing – closing the books at the end of the month – one of them was the old fashioned phrase.  When she changed the key words to match the modern “financial close,” she suddenly began landing interviews.

Looking for modern key words is easy: always conduct an analysis of multiple job descriptions to make sure you use the current language trends for your industry.

Using Word templates

One of the biggest problems with the pre-built templates from Microsoft Word is that they are constructed with tables.  While this looks good on your computer or when you print it out, they are a curse to online applications.

Why?  It’s simple.  Computers don’t read like humans.

Whenever the computers view the tables, they read all of the first column DOWN, and then over.  As humans, we read the rows ACROSS and then down.  So the final result is that your data gets mangled in the computer.  If you’ve ever uploaded and resume and the preview shows all of your dates separated from your actual work experience, the ATS just choked on your table-based resume format.

PDF vs Word: what’s the best format?

Technically, this is a trick question: both are required for an effective job search.

A new trend in recruitment is to allow applicants to apply to jobs from their phone or other mobile device.  In this case, using the PDF version makes sure that the format will hold true no matter how the receiver views it.  Plus, many ATS now are intelligent enough to accept a PDF and be able to analyze the key words, experience, and education.

However, the Word resume is not dead yet.  While many current ATS can handle the PDF, companies still use the older versions that require the Word document to parse the information correctly into their database.

So which should you use?  Read the job posting carefully and make sure that you submit your resume in whatever format they tell you.

Keeping it fresh

Every couple of months, make sure to read through your resume with a critical eye. Are the key words still effective? Are the descriptions of your experience engaging and written in active voice? Are you addressing any of the current trends in your industry?

The modern job search is evolving. Let your resume evolve to stay relevant, fight off mold, and keep your inner fire lit.

Job hunting: is it a wasteland?

I just saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” (George Miller / Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015) for the first time yesterday. (I know, it hit theaters forever ago, but I never took the chance to go see it in the theater.) It reminded me of some people’s job search when they call our office.

 

Often times, these job seekers have been looking for a job for months with little success, leaving many to wonder if, in fact, there are any jobs at all.  The job market for them feels like the apocalyptic wasteland, where they race with the competition for the best prospects.  It seems like only the strongest, smartest, or most ruthless survive the furious chase.

 

Granted, they aren’t wearing distressed leather jackets, driving supped up V8 engines, and spearing each other’s vehicles with bombs, but the mentality has some striking similarities:

 

1.      The market crash and the Great Recession is still fresh in people’s minds, giving them a survivor’s mentality

Many job seekers are still scared from the brutal unemployment rates and overall hiring landscape after the market crashed. Many people were forced to learn new professions just to keep their heads above water, all while dreading the possibility of getting laid off. A survivor’s mentality permeated the population. Some, such as myself, worked for temp agencies or had to take odd jobs in order to pay for simple things like food or a roof over their head.

 

Like huddled groups of War Boys, many Millennials took up residence with multiple roommates just because they couldn’t afford their own place, or worse, had to move back in with their parents. Meanwhile, older generations of the American workforce were under constant threat of a layoff just because of changing market conditions.

By my words and deeds, I totally qualify for this job 

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

 

As the lone job hunter, I felt like the job boards such as CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com transformed into a vast wasteland where no jobs existed, with an occasional oasis of opportunity springing up just to be closed within a matter of days.   Even though the market has greatly recovered these days, people still remember being in that position. These are the hardened survivors of the wasteland. Plus, we still see the proverbial roving gangs of revheads swooping in to take the best jobs, hoarding and distributing them to their network like a coveted resource.

 

2.      Self-Sufficiency is paramount

If you can’t take care of yourself out in the wasteland, you will quickly be trampled over by someone that can. The same is true in job hunting. Granted, you are not ever truly alone in real life and can use services such as ours to help you, but you can’t take those resources for granted.

 

Ultimately, you are responsible for getting the job you want, no one else. If you are not motivated and self-starting when it comes to looking for a job, you will find yourself in a very similar situation that faces a wasteland wanderer every day. If they are not doing everything in their power to survive, they quickly fall by the wayside and are consumed by the harsh sands.

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

If you don’t keep yourself moving with a proactive job search strategy, you will likely miss out on the best opportunities.  This goes beyond just looking at the employment websites.  Even today, it is necessary to research companies, reach out to key managers, network within your industry, and contact recruiters to find the best jobs.

 

3.      Have the right tools and keep them maintained

 

In any apocalyptic film, the protagonist always has some kind of tool, car, weapon or some other advantage in the wasteland. For Mad Max, it was his Interceptor. Furiosa had the War Rig. For countless others, it was simply their intelligence, skills, or even the simple will to live that gave them a distinct advantage.

I mean, just imagine having to repair this monster war rig while on the run from gangs of psychopaths

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

For you, your tools include your resume, LinkedIn Profile, cover letters, and references. You want to be sure to maintain these resources and make sure they are always up to date with your current work history and relevant key words for your field. Without them, your resume is often never seen by a real person and is screened out by computer programs.

 

Most people will invest the time to create a strong resume at the beginning of their job search. However, it must be maintained as well.  If you aren’t getting many interviews or if the interviews don’t reflect your true target jobs, you need to revise your tools.  Generally speaking, give it about 30 – 45 days to evaluate the effectiveness of your resume and LinkedIn profile.  This allows for enough time for the HR hiring cycle to complete.

  1. In Conclusion: Your Redemption

The real message behind “Mad Max: Fury Road” is not the chase, the explosions, or even reaching Valhalla: it is redemption.  By the end of the movie, our heroes turn away from the wasteland to risk going against the odds to open up opportunities not only for themselves, but for the entire population under Immortan Joe’s control.  When you approach your own job search with courage, solid tools, determination, and a strong, supportive network, you too can reap the shiny and chrome rewards of your own job search.

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

What a lovely day!

Picking the best picture for your social media

Photofeeler.com offers peer reviews of your social media pictures

Photofeeler.com offers peer reviews of your social media pictures

Your picture: on social media sites like LinkedIn, profiles with a picture gain a significantly higher amount of views.  However, that picture can be either the kiss of death or the start of a professional relationship.  With so much riding on this first impression, how can you be sure that your picture is conveying the right image?

www.PhotoFeeler.com is a website that allows users to upload a photo and gain insight from other users on key components on their first impression, specifically on competency, likability and influential factors.  You can do a quick, free test by earning credits by voting on other people’s photos as well.  Each picture you review earns you credits, which you can then use towards your own evaluations.

Common picture mistakes

I know that as a career coach, I cringe when I see people with a LinkedIn profile with a bad picture.  Some of the most common offenders are:

  • Poor picture quality, either in resolution or lighting
  • Bad framing – a full body shot of someone standing on a mountain trail doesn’t allow me to see the face
  • Wrong clothing choice – it’s not a good idea to use something too casual or a stuffy wedding reception photo
  • Group pictures – in this case, no one can really tell who is the right person for the profile
  • Extreme close-ups – these can make the viewer uncomfortable as a good portion of the face is hidden
  • Selfies – rarely are these the best choice, especially if it’s the mirror version or “duck face”
  • Disembodied limbs – if the other person is cropped out but there arm is still around the subject’s shoulder, that comes across as very unprofessional

Invest in your pictures

In most cases, spending a little money to get a professional headshot done is well worth the investments.  Many photographers can do this for $75 – $100.  Just make sure you get the digital rights so that you can use them online without paying royalties later on.

Tapping the Hidden Jobs on Linkedin

It’s no secret: LinkedIn has become a powerful tool for job seekers.  It is easier than ever to find decision-makers and other valuable contacts through active networking.  There are even jobs posted on the site.

The Jobs Tab

At the top of the webpage, there is a tab marked “Jobs.”  These are jobs that recruiters have paid to post on LinkedIn, just like CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com.  They are more powerful, however, as when you apply the recruiter receives your full LinkedIn profile – including all of your recommendations and endorsements.  In fact, many recruiters won’t consider candidates with less than 3 recommendations.

 

Job Postings in LinkedIn Groups

Recruiters are able to post jobs directly into groups.  However, only the paid advertisements get posted in the “Jobs” section of each group. For example, this screen shot of the 5280 Linked Group indicates where to find this…

 

LI jobs tab

 

Recruiters are able to re-post their paid advertisements in the Groups with a few simple clicks.  These are listed in the Group’s Job section as “Jobs:”

LI Jobs in groups

So where do you find the jobs that people are posting for free?

 The “Hidden” Jobs on LinkedIn

If you look in the Jobs section of most groups, there is a subcategory called “Job Discussions.”  This is where other group members post the jobs for free.  However, the posting only lasts for 14 days and then it will be automatically removed.

LI Job Discussions

 

 

Often times, a recruiter will post a job in the Job Discussions category to see if he will get a response.  That way, he can test the waters and try to snag a quality candidate without having to pay for the job posting.

Group members often post jobs in this area, passing on job leads that they may find on employment websites or even individual company websites.

The group Job Discussions can display many more job leads than the paid job postings.  For example, the 5280 Linked group, a Denver-based networking group of more than 30,000 members, currently shows seven job postings in the “Jobs” part of the group.  However, the “Job Discussions” reveals three more job postings.  And remember, they are all current postings – any job posted in this section is under 14 days old.  Depending on the group, you may see well over 20 of these hidden jobs on any given day.

 

Getting involved in groups is one of the best ways to make connections on LinkedIn.  Thanks to the Job Discussions, groups are also a great way to find jobs in your area of interest.

Interested in more helpful job search tips? Check out my book, How to Get a Job without Going Crazy on Amazon or on my website: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/books

Handling Different Interviewer Styles

skeptical interviewer

Do you know how to deal with the crazy interviewer?

There is plenty of advice online on how to deal with the professional interviewer.  However, job seekers often face an interviewer who may not actually be trained in the art of interviewing.  In that case, they may need to adjust to wildly different interviewer styles.

You could be subjected to a veritable stress test, just to see how you react.  Or the interviewer just might be as nervous as you are.  In any case, anticipating these various styles and knowing how to deal with them can help you ace even the worst interview situation.

  1. Friendly and Personable

Don’t be fooled!  By being open and nice, the interviewer is putting you at ease and getting your guard down.  In truth, she is evaluating everything you say.  Candidates will reveal more than they ever intended in a relaxed atmosphere.  Ever come out of an interview convinced you’re hired because you “really connected” – only to be shocked when you didn’t get the job?  You got taken in by the Friendly Style.

  • Survival Tactic: Don’t get too comfortable. Stay on your toes and keep your goals in mind.
  1. Nervous and Uncomfortable

This is not an act!  Not all hiring managers are smooth and polished. They can be intimidated by the interview process as well.  If he tends to ramble on about the job and forget to ask questions, he’s stumbling through it.  Likewise, his questions may be very terse and limited.

  • Survival Tactic: Take the lead. Offer to tell him about your experience and skills.  Be proactive with your questions.  Ask him what he did or didn’t like about the last person in the job, or what his expectations are going forward.
  1. The Skeptic

Here’s the grumpy interviewer.  Everything about her manner is reserved and distant.  Arms crossed, she doesn’t seem to believe anything you’re saying.  Why?  She’s expecting you to sell her on your abilities.

  • Survival Tactic: Drop the touchy-feely answers and use solid examples of your past accomplishments. Maintain your good humor and self-confidence – remember, she’s doing it on purpose to rattle you.
  1. The Bored and the Boring

This guy is so withdrawn his mind is in the other room.  You could be his fourth interview of the day, or coming in just after lunch when productivity lags.  Everything says he’s just not into you (yawn.)  But be careful; don’t mistake an introvert for boredom.

  • Survival Tactic: Be concise and get to the point. Show your own enthusiasm for the job.  Ask him about himself.  People like to talk about themselves, and this could draw him into your conversation.
  1. By The Book

She has her list of questions and she’s sticking to them no matter what.  She might be using her prepared questions to hide her own introverted nature.  Her position in the company can give a clue as to her motive.  For example, if she’s from the HR department or someone’s assistant, she’s running you through the screening process.  A manager who uses this tactic is a process-driven person, methodical in everything she does.

  • Survival Tactic: Answer questions fully. Expand your answers to include good examples, but don’t ramble on.  This is an efficient person and expects people to get to the point.  Stay on her agenda and let her follow her methodology.
  1. Surreal

Not too long ago, an interviewing fad hit the internet: throw bizarre questions at candidates to see how they think.  “How many quarters does it take to reach the top of the Empire State Building?”  “If you lined up hamsters nose to tail, how many would it take to reach the moon?”  “How would you sort a bucket of golf balls?”  All this goofiness was supposed to give insight into your problem-solving skills.  In practice, it’s just weird.

  • Survival Tactic: Think before you answer. The actual answer doesn’t matter – it’s how you get there that does.
  1. Highly Technical

If you are going after a very technical job, be prepared for this.  You may encounter very specific and detailed questions to test your knowledge.  It could even be done in conjunction with timed and graded skills tests. However, no matter how grueling the test, people do get hired; just because a test is tough doesn’t mean you lost the opportunity.

One engineer I know interviewed all the new PhD candidates for a Research & Design company.  He grilled them on specific formulas and principles for over an hour.  If an applicant didn’t know the exact definition and application of entropy, he would get marked down – and saw the marks being made on his resume. (In physics, entropy is an exact mathematical equation, not the dictionary definition.)  Candidates left the office feeling like they just took the worst college exam of their lives, and certainly the most grueling interview they would ever encounter.

  • Survival Tactic: Think before you answer. If you’re struggling with an answer, don’t let it rattle you too badly.  Prepare for this interview: study up on key points, skills or processes necessary for your job.
  1. Deliberately Confrontational

Everything about this guy’s attitude just screams “I’m gonna get ya!”  He is dismissive, he cuts you off, he drills into your answers with an air of scorn.  Why?  He wants to see how you act under pressure.  Don’t worry; he may not be like this as a boss, and often times he will be a completely different person on the second interview.  His philosophy is to see you sweat in the interview; that way, he knows you can handle the job.

  • Survival tactic: Don’t give in to the stress or get upset. Concentrate on your breathing, get grounded and get focused.  It will be over soon!

Final Thoughts

In any interview situation, don’t be too hard on yourself.  One manager I knew preferred to hire people who got nervous during the job interview.  In his mind, this showed that the candidate cared about the job.  Just because you may be hyper-critical about your own performance, doesn’t mean that you can’t get the job.  Prepare yourself, take a deep breath, mind your manners and you will do just fine.

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