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The Four Best Ways to Tank a Job Interview

March 9th, 2012

When we head out the door on the way to a job interview, most of us know that we’re about to step into a stressful situation. We’re ready to control the things we can and let go of the things we can’t. We’re wearing strong deodorant, we have plenty of copies of our resume in hand, our timepieces are accurate, and the gas tanks of our cars are full.

But unfortunately, even the best preparation can’t protect some candidates from silly, preventable, interview-killing mistakes. Don’t become one of these candidates. If you’ve landed a promising job interview, congratulations! Now just avoid these simple blunders that often take place before applicants have a chance to close the deal.

Brain-Mouth Disengagement

A well-qualified, promising applicant can tank his chances entirely with one witless remark during an interview. If you tend to blurt things out when you get nervous, recognize this tendency and plan ahead. Try this tip: Pause for two full seconds (two Mississippis) before responding to any question, even a pleasant inquiry about the weather or your drive to the venue. A two second pause is short enough not to seem odd to your interviewer, but it’s long enough for you to take a full breath and assemble your thoughts before your mouth opens.

Dishonesty

While you’re pausing and counting out two full seconds, make sure that what you’re about to say is honest. Positive spin is one thing, but exaggeration and outright lies are another. If you’re asked about your experience, feel free to focus on accomplishments that are relevant to the position, even if you have to pick and choose among the things you’ve done. But don’t stretch the truth.

This also applies to anything you commit to writing in the form of an application or resume. It should go without saying, but never claim schools, degrees, positions or affiliations that aren’t real. And never “adjust” your dates of previous employment. These are easy lies for your employer to uncover, and the resulting humiliation isn’t worth the risk.

Underestimating the Value of Appearances

If you aren’t sure what to wear, opt for a simple grey suit in an updated style. Suits with either pants or skirts are almost always appropriate, no matter the position. If the workplace and venue are more relaxed, feel free to wear a simple, conservative shirt and tie with pressed trousers, or a neat blouse and skirt ensemble. In any case, err on the side of formality. And check carefully for loose threads and tiny stains before you leave the house. Neatness and attention to detail will show respect for both your interviewer and yourself.

Emphasizing Your Own Needs

Try not to focus on your own needs until you have an offer in hand. It’s true that an interview is a two- way street, and you’ll need to evaluate your potential employer just as she evaluates you. But don’t quiz her about salary, bonuses, parking, or perks until later. For now, make sure you emphasize all the contributions you’re ready to make to the business, rather than the benefits you intend to take away.

Contact a personnel staffing agency at Merritt Staffing for specific questions about interview protocol and help with the job search process.

Five Non-Traditional Interview Questions That Can Help You Select the Best Candidate

November 23rd, 2011

As you get ready for a few long days of candidate interviews, you’ll want to make sure you choose questions that accomplish the following goals. Regardless of the position, your interview questions should:

  1. Allow the candidate to reveal her qualifications for this particular job.
  2. Offer open-ended opportunities for the candidate to express her personality and personability.
  3. That’s all.

No matter how bored you may be with traditional interview questions, or how tempted you may be to test a candidate’s wits by asking something off-beat, don’t do it. Stay professional and keep your questions relevant to the job at hand. Resist the urge to ask things like, “Give me five reasons not to hire you”, “If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be?” or “Which do you value more, work or family?”

In an interview setting, these types of questions are unprofessional and not nearly as amusing as you may think. Give applicants a chance to shine. Don’t bait or embarrass them, don’t expect them to grovel, and don’t let silly, poorly-chosen interview questions allow excellent candidates to slip away. That being said, there are several legitimate ways to expand on traditional interview questions in order to gain deeper insight into an applicant’s problem solving skills, sense of humor, perseverance, and other relevant character traits.

Some of these can include the following:

  1. Describe a situation in which you worked with a team and the team failed to reach its goals. How did you respond and what did you learn?
  1. Describe the most challenging aspect of your most recent position. How have you managed this challenge on a regular basis?
  1. Describe one of the worst interpersonal conflicts you’ve encountered in the workplace. How did you handle this conflict?
  1. Tell me about a time when you had to win someone over to your way of thinking. What approach did you use and how well did it work?
  1. Tell me about your proudest moment in your last position. What challenge did you overcome? How did you excel?

For help contacting the best candidates, your local recruiting agency in CT at Merritt Staffing can weed out the best candidates to keep you from performing endless interviews and keep you fresh for the top performers.

“Why SHOULDN’T I Hire You?” Trick Question, or Opportunity to Reflect and Impress?

November 18th, 2011

Every now and then, especially when dealing with novice hiring managers, you may find yourself fielding odd, intentionally quirky, or even insulting interview questions. Hiring managers sometimes present these questions because

1. It makes them seem innovative or offbeat, and presumably sets them apart from other employers

2. They genuinely want to ask candidates something off-putting to see how well the candidates think on their feet

3. They simply want candidates to grovel for the job, since the willingness to do this may suggest higher levels of dedication down the road.

Ideally, an interview should be a civilized conversation designed to assess your skill sets and readiness for a specific position. As they help employers get to know you on a personal level, questions should stay straightforward and should focus on your qualifications. But like life, interviews aren’t always perfectly predictable, and interviewers aren’t always perfectly professional.

If you’re presented with something that seems like a trick question designed to test you, pause and reflect before answering. Ask yourself how badly you want this particular job.

If you’re desperate for the job and are willing to put up with a bit of nonsense, give the interviewers what they want. Answer in a thoughtful way that highlights your humility, your grace and your wits. You can also answer by politely taking control of the conversation and steering the interview back on track. For example, if your interviewer asks for a list of reasons not to hire you, you can simply use the question as another opportunity to list your qualifications, gently but firmly bringing the interview back where it needs to be. Politicians do this all the time. But remember: If you get this job, you’ll be working with these people all day, every day. Make sure you’ll be comfortable within this company culture.

If you aren’t desperate for this particular job (and you shouldn’t be), then you have every right to politely decline the question. No job is as costly as your dignity. Your skills and qualifications were hard- earned, and as a candidate and a person, you are worthy of respect. Stay confident, patient, and self-possessed, and the right job will come your way in time. For more interview opportunities contact your local employment staffing services at Merritt Staffing for help.

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