Monthly Archives: February 2011

Are Your Interviews Conversations or Interrogations?

What is the first question that comes to your mind when preparing for an interview?  Let me guess:  What questions will the interviewer ask me?  You work yourself up studying interviewing questions just like you would a multiple choice exam.  When job seekers do this, they lose sight of the purpose of the interview.  They want to know what questions will be asked but fail to realize the purpose of the questions in the first place.

Who likes to answer the question “Tell me about yourself”?  What about “tell me about a time you failed”?  I can imagine the cringed look on your face as you read this. But have you ever sat down to really ask yourself why these questions are asked in the first place?  

Interviewers want to talk with you and ask questions to see if you are the best candidate, so why do we treat these interviews as if we have committed a crime and are being put through an interrogation to see if we will crack under pressure? 

Trust me; interviewers do not take the time out of their work day to torture you.   Some might come across that way, but that is not the purpose of an interview at all.  Companies have to hire talent to help the company grow; therefore, the interview is meant to get to know the person behind the resume.  It’s not meant to make you feel less about yourself or make you ill.  A company’s culture might be competitive, so the questions you are asked might lean towards those to test your ability to succeed in that environment.  However, the interviewer is not trying to beat you up at all. 

The next time you go into an interview, and I hope soon, sit down and talk with the interviewer relaxed and ready to “talk” about your qualifications, the position you are interviewing for at the time, and the company itself.   If you really studied the company culture and position in which you are interviewing for in the first place, you will know if the candidate needs to have certain traits which may sway the types of questions you are asked. 

In preparing for your interview “conversation”, focus on the position, the company, and YOU!  Know the position and be prepared to answer questions concerning your qualifications to succeed.  Know the company; its mission, competitors, partners and recent press releases.  And most importantly know you!  Know your strengths, your weaknesses, your failures, the reasons why you want this job, and your ability to succeed in both the position and a career with the company. 

Relax and smile.  You have committed no crime, so stop treating your interviews as if you have.

Are You a Member of a LinkedIn Group?

No wait, I think the better question is “Do you know what LinkedIn Groups are in the first place?”  If you do not know, then I highly recommend you log into LinkedIn and look for the latest tutorials because this amazing resource is ever-changing with phenomenal new features.  My favorite is the “Group”.  There are Groups for various school alumni, industries, companies, and functional areas.  Some groups are pretty general and some are very specific.  If you haven’t searched for or joined Groups, you must do so today.  I mean right now as a matter of fact. 

The value of Group activity on LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful networking tools in business today, and that value translates to job seekers.  LinkedIn Groups offer not just great forums for discussion and job boards but also CONTACTS! 

Belonging to and being active in Groups within LinkedIn can make a dramatic difference in finding individuals who can and, most likely, will offer great advice as you navigate through your job search.  What better way to build your network than to find targeted groups of people with interests that align with yours. 

The Group function in LinkedIn alone is one of the best arguments for you never beginning a cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” again. 

In my profession, I have found a dramatic difference in expanding my network and relationships with colleagues I never knew existed through Groups such as the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Texas A&M Alumni, and Relationship Masters Academy to name a few. 

I highly advice you join targeted LinkedIn Groups that are right for your career goals, get involved in the discussion forums, add contacts from the group to your network and start building new business relationships.   I am confident you will see a dramatic difference in your connection to your profession and potential employers.

It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You

How often have you heard in networking workshops that successful job search networking is all about who you know?  While that statement is basically true, I argue that it is really who knows you that define successful networking.

I am so fortunate to be a part of Keith Ferrazzi’s Relationship Masters Academy (RMA) right now and am learning so much about not just building my network but cultivating and strengthening my relationships.  This program has really made me reflect on the art of networking.  For job seekers, it is not about asking people for a job or asking for contact names of hiring managers.  Networking is about learning and not about increasing the list of people you know by leaps and bounds.   

I remember when I first built my LinkedIn profile.  I went out searching every person in business I had ever met.  I wanted people in my LinkedIn network.  The same can be with business cards.  Attending an event only to gather as many business cards as possible is a great way to build contacts and names, but how many business relationships have you really cultivated with that group?  How many of those people would even remember you if you called or emailed today? 

If you have not built a reputation with your network, then no one is going to remember your name when the right opportunity comes along. 

I challenge you today to think about those you would say are in your job search network.  Would these people remember you?  Do these people know you are searching for full time employment or an internship? Do they know your strengths, goals, or current status in the job search process?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the first thing you need to do after reading this blog is take the necessary steps to changing the answer to yes.