Have You Done Your Homework? When an Interviewer Asks What You Know About the Company

What Do I Need to Know words in 3d letters beside a thinker wondering about information he must have for a job, task or learning in education

One of the most common tactics interviewers apply when interviewing candidates is to see whether you’ve researched the organization before the interview. Here’s a guide for responding to company-knowledge questions.

Interviewer motivation for asking: Quite simply, the interviewer wants to know that you’ve done your homework. The employer expects you to come into the interview with thorough knowledge of the organization and the position. The interviewer wants you to know the organization well enough so that you also know what you can contribute and perhaps how you can respond to the employer’s issues and challenges. The degree to which you’ve researched the employer shows your level of interest in the job. The interviewer may also ask you about the geographic area in which the organization is located if relocation is part of the job.

Strategy for response: Having done your due diligence and performed extensive research on the employer and the job, showcase that knowledge in your responses. Be prepared to demonstrate not only what you know about the organization, position, and geographic area, but also what you like about them. When asked about the contribution you can bring to the employer, relate one of your accomplishments to a need that your research has told you this organization has. If you are asked about solving a company problem, be sure your research has given you sufficient background about the issue before responding. If it has not, ask the interviewer questions (such as finding out what approaches have been applied to this problem in the past and why they haven’t worked) to get sufficient information. Don’t assume that a solution that worked in one of your past positions will automatically work for this employer.

Sample questions in this subject area:

  • Tell me what you know about our company.
  • Why did you decide to seek a position in this company?
  • Why are you seeking this position?
  • Why do you think you might like to live and work in the community in which our company is located?
  • If you were hiring for this position, what qualities would you look for?
  • What suggestions do you have for our organization?
  • What are your expectations for this position?
  • What do you expect to contribute to our organization?
  • What changes would you make in the organization?
  • What can you tell me about our organization’s …
    • Size?
    • Key stakeholders?
    • History?
    • Revenues?
    • Products/services?
    • Mission statement?
    • Most recent media releases?
    • Competitors? News about the competitors?

Sample responses for this subject area:

Question: Why do you think you might like to live and work in the community in which
our company is located?

Response: The great thing about Bentonville is that the city is a microcosm of WalMart’s strengths, as well as the opportunities and challenges facing the company. Bentonville, like many places across the U.S., has changed dramatically since the time when the first WalMart store opened there. In fact, just in the past 40 years or so, the population has more than quadrupled–going from a rural community of about 5,000 people in the 1970s to more than 20,000 today. While still the county seat, the town has seen the development of upscale neighborhoods and shopping centers. Just like the town, WalMart’s growth and expansion over the past 40 years has brought amazing success, but also many new challenges, especially as the traditional markets become saturated and the company expands into new and unchartered territory. Thus, driving around Bentonville and talking with the townspeople will not only be a fun and challenging experience–as any move to a new town is–but I believe the experience can also help foster new strategic ideas for helping WalMart achieve even greater success.

Final Thoughts

Never neglect this important research facet of job-interviewing. The Internet puts just about everything you’d need to know at your fingertips. Don’t forget, too, that your research can include gathering insights from people who already work for the organization.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

Are You Overqualified?

Ever been told you’re overqualified? Overqualified can mean many things such as:

  • too many years of experience
  • too much education or too many credentials
  • too highly paid in your current or previous job
  • too dated, senior or old.

Or, it can simply be a way to eliminate you from the running because you’re not the right ‘fit’ for the position. Overqualified is often a category that encompasses a wide variety of factors or qualities related to fit.

Many hiring managers feel that overqualified is a complimentary and safe way to explain your elimination from consideration for the position.

So how do you respond if you’ve been told that you’re overqualified? First, you’ll want to switch the language from “overqualified” to “fully qualified.” Having all the qualifications simply means you’re fully qualified and can do the job extraordinarily well. Isn’t that what the company is looking for?

If you’re in an interview and you’ve just been told you’re overqualified, respond with a question to find out specifically how the interviewer feels you’re overqualified. Ask the interviewer, “What about my qualifications over qualifies me?” You need to find out specifically what their objection is so you can address it.

Some of the interviewer’s concerns may be:

  • you’ll cost too much to hire
  • you’ll get bored, frustrated, resentful
  • you’ll leave as soon as you find something better
  • you might take my job because you’re more qualified than me.

So, how do you respond to these objections?

You’ll want to address these concerns with stories of past experiences, demonstrable proof, and the return on investment the company can expect from hiring you.

If salary is the issue, you can explain that you are aware that the economy has caused significant changes in salaries and that you have adjusted your lifestyle so that you are able to accommodate these changes. Alternatively, if appropriate, you could explain that at this point in your career, you want to eliminate some of the stress and demands of your more recent senior positions.

If the position is similar to a position you held five or ten years ago and really loved, express your passion for that role and share a compelling story about how you delivered value to the company while in that role. Explain that you are looking to get back into a role that you loved and capitalized on your core skills.

If you have a history of longevity, loyalty and commitment to past employers, share that information so the interviewer feels secure that you won’t resign the moment you receive a better offer.

If you suspect that overqualified means too old, emphasize your reliability, commitment, work ethics, and ability to meet objectives in a smooth, efficient and timely fashion. Share stories that demonstrate the positive effect you bring to the workplace.

If you suspect that overqualified means you’re too senior or outdated, read,“How 55+ Year-Olds Can Compete in Today’s Job Market” to dispel this concern.

If it appears you would be working for a young, inexperienced manager, give an example of a like past experience and what you did to make the situation work. Also share stories that allude to your agility, flexibility and physical stamina.

Leverage your vast experience to demonstrate your ability to work well in groups and on teams, communicate across various functional groups in the organization, and avoid potential landmines and crises. Emphasize your ability to ramp up rapidly with little or no training and take on added responsibilities as they arise.

If the interviewer feels intimidated by your qualifications, reassure him that you are purely interested in supporting him, making him look good, and achieving the company’s objectives so that the company can thrive. If you are the type of executive who surrounds yourself with people who are smarter than you, share a story about some of the people you’ve hired that were smarter than you, how you leveraged that, and the outcomes.

You can also compliment the hiring manager on his outstanding qualities and strengths and share how you would enjoy blending your strengths with his to create a dynamic team. Perhaps some of your weaknesses are his strengths.

It’s best to address these concerns about being overqualified before they arise. To discover how to customize your resume so you won’t be considered overqualified before you have a chance to interview, read,“How To Improve Your Response Rate”.

If you’ve had the opportunity to interview and suspect that you are overqualified for the position, include additional stories and outcomes in your thank you letter. Demonstrate how you’ll be the perfect fit and deliver far more value than the cost of your compensation package.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

20 Dress Faux Pas That Can Jeopardize Your Interview Success & Undermine Your Credibility

Job search is marketing…and marketing includes packaging and presentation. You want your appearance and presentation to exude a polished, confident professional.

When you’re interviewing, obviously, you want the interviewer to concentrate on your expertise, qualifications, and value you can bring to the organization. However if your appearance is flamboyant, outdated, or disheveled, the interview will find it distracting, and you may be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Following are 20 faux pas that WILL derail your ability to make a professional first impression and undermine your credibility.

Suit:

•   Faux Pas: Wearing a suit with bold colors, large prints, stripes, plaids or funky patterns
•   Appropriate: wear a suit in a dark, solid color such as navy or charcoal/gray
•   Faux Pas: Wearing a suit jacket with pants that don’t match
•   Appropriate: Wear a 2-piece matched suit
•   Faux Pas: Wearing a suit made of an exotic fabric such as suede, leather or velvet
•   Appropriate: Wear a suit made of wool, a wool blend, or a very high quality blend with natural fiber
•    Faux Pas: Wearing a suit that is too large, too small, or too long
•    Appropriate: Invest in a properly fitting suit. Suit jackets should fit so that they can be easily buttoned without any significant pull marks across the fabric. The sleeve should be long enough so that about a ¼ inch of your dress shirt can be seen beyond the cuffs when your arms are relaxed by your side
•    Faux Pas: Wearing rolled up sleeves
•    Appropriate: While rolled up sleeves may be in style, err on the side on conservatism and do not roll up your sleeves
•   Faux Pas: Wearing a suit with the tacking stitches still in place
•    Appropriate: Suits typically have tacking stitches to hold vents (on the jacket back and sleeves) in place before the garment is purchased. Cut them off if your retailer/tailor doesn’t.

Socks:

•    Faux Pas: Wearing no socks, short socks, or socks with large prints, patterns or bright colors.
•    Appropriate: Wear socks mid-calf length so no skin is visible when you sit down. Wear dark colored socks that match your suit.

Footwear:

•    Faux Pas: Wearing loafers, dress boots, athletic shoes, boat shoes, crocs, or open-toed shoes such as sandals or flip flops
•    Appropriate: Wear black leather shoes with laces—shinier materials usually indicate a dressier shoe
•    Faux Pas: Wearing shoes or boots with a 2-inch or higher heel
Appropriate: Wear oxford leather shoes with a traditional heel height

Shirt:

•   Faux Pas: Wearing a short-sleeve shirt, collarless shirt, ill-fitting shirt, or wrinkled shirt
•   Appropriate: Wear a well-pressed, long-sleeve, button-down-the-front shirt with a crisp collar. Wear a shirt that fits your neck size perfectly (the top button must be buttoned with no straining — the neckline should not be so large that your tie drags your shirt down)
•    Faux Pas: Wearing bold, flashy colors or prints
•    Appropriate: Choose a solid colored shirt or one with conservative stripes

Tie:

•   Faux Pas: Wearing an outdated tie (too wide, too narrow), a flashy tie, a tie with religious, political or sports symbols, or cartoon characters
•    Appropriate: Wear a 100% silk tie with neat repeating patterns (foulards) or a traditionally striped tie. Err on the side of conservatism
•    Faux Pas: A tie knot that doesn’t fit the neck opening
•    Appropriate: Choose a four-in-hand knot or a Windsor knot (no bow ties)

Jewelry:

•    Faux Pas: Wearing excessive amounts of jewelry or body jewelry (ear, eyebrow, nose rings)
•    Appropriate: Wear a conservative watch and limit jewelry to one ring per hand
•   Faux Pas: Wearing flashy cufflinks
•    Appropriate: Wear a barrel cuff shirt (a shirt with one button at the bottom of the sleeve). Do not wear cuff links

Belts:

•    Faux Pas: Wearing a large belt with a buckle signifying which team, sport or race car driver you favor
•   Appropriate: Choose a leather suit belt that matches your shoe color

Suspenders / Braces:

•  Faux Pas: Wearing suspenders
•    Appropriate: You may wear braces, but not suspenders. (Braces button into your suit slacks, while suspenders clip onto the outside.)

Briefcase / Portfolio / Pen:

•    Faux Pas: Carrying an old worn briefcase or portfolio that you’ve carried for several years or ever since you graduated from college
Using the pen provided by the hotel or the last trade show you attended
•    Appropriate: Carry a leather briefcase and portfolio and a quality pen with no advertising printed on the housing

Cell phone:

•   Faux Pas: Talking or texting on your way into the interview area — or worse yet, taking a call during the interview
•   Appropriate: Turn off your cell phone as soon as you step out of your vehicle or transportation

Hats / Sunglasses:

•    Faux Pas: Wearing a hat or sunglasses
•    Appropriate: Do not wear a hat and remove sunglasses immediately upon entering the building. (Do not push your sunglasses up on top of your head—remove them completely)

For Women

While many of the faux pas and appropriate recommendations above apply to women as well, there are a couple of additional points for women:

•   Suit: Wear a pant suit or a knee-length, skirt suit
•   Hosiery: When wearing a skirt suit, wear neutral or flesh-tone stockings (despite the no-hosiery trend)
•   Shoes: Wear a low-heel shoe versus flats or 4+-inch high heels
•   Necklines: Wear a blouse with a collar that buttons up rather high. Too low a neckline can give the interviewer the wrong impression
•   Hemlines: Wear a suit that reaches the middle of the knee or 1-2 inches below the knee. Too short a hemline can give the interviewer the wrong impression

These recommendations are for the traditional, conservative industries. If you’re pursuing a position in the creative or artistic field, you may need to adjust these recommendations to the field. However, always err on the conservative side of the industry unless you feel you simply could not be happy working in a somewhat conservative environment.
Remember, you want to be remembered for your ability to perform — not for what you were wearing.

Tough Interview Questions

As a senior executive, securing the position you want in today’s job market is going to take some extra preparation. Be ready to shine by showcasing your expertise to your potential employer by thoroughly preparing for interview questions. The following interview questions are intended to find the top candidate, so it’s important to consider your answers carefully ahead of time and be ready to explain them when necessary.

Let’s start with three common but tricky interview questions…

Why have you been unemployed so long? Clearly, this is not the right time to share your disappointment with the current state of the economy; that’s not what employers are interested in hearing. The key here is to answer honestly, while staying upbeat and positive. You might say, “I took this opportunity to re-evaluate the direction of my career path … and I have decided that this is the exact type of position I’m interested in … and this is the company I’d really like to be a part of.”

If you’ve interviewed with other companies, don’t be concerned about letting the recruiter know you have declined other opportunities offered to you in the interim that didn’t quite fit your criteria. Also let them know if you utilized this gap in your career to take a class, earn a certification, or volunteer your time to a worthy charity. Whatever your answer is, let them know in no uncertain terms that you are ready, willing and able to re-enter the corporate world.

Would you be willing to take a salary cut? Obviously, no one wants to take a salary cut, but the reality is that you may have to be prepared to take home less than you did previously. However, before you agree to any cut in salary, request additional information about the responsibilities of the position. Don’t forget to take into account the benefits package. Consider opting out of the perks you can live without in lieu of the salary cut. Regardless, don’t waste the recruiter’s time or your own. If you are not willing to accept a cut, make sure the recruiter knows that your salary requirements are firm.

You appear to be over-qualified for this position. What caused you to submit your resume for it? With the tough job market this is a common occurrence. If you’re truly interested emphasize your desire to establish an association with the company. You might say something like, “I assume that if I perform well in this position, new opportunities will become available that I may step into.” You might also say, “I’m here because I’ve researched your company and it’s innovative, cutting edge technology is appealing and something I want to be a part of.” Mention that since you are so well qualified, the company will realize a rapid return on investment and very little training will be required.

While you have no way of knowing exactly which questions you will be asked during your interview, preparing your responses ahead of time is extremely important. Think your answers through and then practice saying each until you are comfortable with it. Your well-thought-out response may make all the difference when it comes to obtaining the position you want.

How to Improve Your Response Rate

In this highly competitive market, it’s critical that your resume and cover letter be specifically geared toward a specific opportunity. One size does not fit all! Customized marketing documents are crucial for senior-level executives.

Following are several areas that will need to be customized:

Function – It’s critical to target your resume to the functional role you’re pursuing. Recruiters are looking for a specific candidate. Portraying yourself too broadly sends a message that you are desperate. While broad and diverse functional experience across all phases of the business can be an asset, it is important to target your resume for the opportunity you are currently pursuing.

  • If you are pursuing multiple job titles (for example, COO, CFO, CIO, and/or general manager), you need more than one version of your resume. In this competitive environment, you need one resume for each function unless the position description specifically requires a combination of two functions (for example, CFO/COO). While you shouldn’t eliminate all the information about the other functional areas, you should emphasize one function more prevalently than the others.
  • If you have extensive experience in just one function, focus on the depth and breadth of your experience. Within your profile, position yourself as an expert in your function.

Industry – Executive search consultants and corporate recruiters look for candidates with industry experience. Within your profile, list your industry experience as it relates to a particular opportunity.

  • If you are changing industries, research each industry in which you have an interest and create a resume for each industry. Familiarize yourself with their lexicon of buzzwords, lingo, expressions and terminology, as well as their unique concerns, challenges and trends. Explore the industry’s trade associations, publications and conferences. Note the topics being addressed as these will be related to the challenges and concerns the industry is facing as well as the trends and direction in which the industry is headed. Translate your experience and qualifications to fit the target industry.
  • If you have industry experience, focus on depth and breadth of your experience.

Size of company – Executive search consultants and recruiters search for candidates who have worked in a company whose size compares to the size of the company they are representing. Make sure your resume includes the company size.

  • If you have worked in corporations that are significantly larger than the target corporation, consider omitting the size of the entire company and focus on the size of a division or business unit that would be more relevant to the size of the target corporation.
  • If you have worked in companies that are considerably smaller than the target company, perhaps you could focus on the size of the larger parent company, if applicable. If that’s not an option, you may want to focus more on their industry ranking, competitive intelligence, ground-breaking efforts, or other areas that may be appealing to the target company.

Profit & Loss or Budget Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have held financial responsibility similar to that of the position they are filling. If you have not defined the size of the profit and loss responsibility you have held or the size of the budget you have managed, consider adding that information.

  • If you have managed P&Ls and budgets much larger than the recruiter’s company, consider leaving out the size of the financials for the entire company and instead focus on the financial figures of a division, business unit, group or project in which you were involved.
  • If you have managed P&Ls and budgets smaller than the recruiter’s company, consider focusing on how the P&L and budget has grown during your tenure to demonstrate that you manage growth or consider focusing on your participation in the parent company’s budget, if applicable.

Staff Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have led and managed teams similar in size to the company they are representing.

  • If you have led and managed teams much larger than the company is requiring, you may want to mention your number of direct reports versus the total size of the team.
  • If you have not managed teams of a similar size, you could include the number of people impacted by your role or the number of people you influence despite the fact that they don’t directly report to you.

Local, National, International Experience – Recruiters scan your resume to see if you have worked at companies with a similar geographic focus.

  • If the recruiter is representing a regional or national company, you should tweak your resume to reflect the same type of geographical territory.
  • If your resume focuses heavily on international experience, you may want to tone down the international experience by eliminating a few references to other countries.

Other comparisons recruiters consider include the company’s customer classification, industry ranking, company culture, products and services.

The goal is to create a resume that aligns with as many of the company’s requirements as you can. In some instances you may need to tone down the resume so you don’t appear over qualified and in other instances you may need to up-scale your resume to match the requirements.

While this is a great deal of work, you will eventually develop a portfolio of targeted resumes that you can use repeatedly for similar types of positions.

The bottom line: It will increase your response rate.

How to Position Being Fired When Interviewing

FiredGetting fired is one of the most stressful events that can occur in an executive’s career. It generally brings up a lot of negative emotions relating to one’s value and sense of their self worth. The first thing to do is evaluate the reason you were fired. Was this a matter of redundancy created by an acquisition/merger, incompatibility between you and someone in the company, corporate bureaucracy, or was this a result of your inability to do the job? If it was the former, there’s most likely nothing you can do about those matters, however if it was the latter, you may want to consider pursuing leadership coaching or a training program. It’s important to be clear about the reason before you start interviewing.

Give yourself some time to come to terms with the initial shock and regroup. The typical emotional cycle involves panic and fear, shock and disbelief, anger and depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance. Being aware of your emotional state can help you move through the process more quickly. If you find yourself stuck in one of these cycles, be sure to seek professional help.

A few questions you can ask yourself include: “How can I look at this in a positive light?” “What good can come of this?” “How could this be an opportunity for change and growth?” “In what way is this a blessing?” Write down the answers to these questions and review them frequently to help you regain and maintain a positive frame of mind.

When you interview, volunteer the fact that you were fired. Being proactive about the matter will demonstrate your integrity and fortitude. You’ll want to speak about it factualy, without any resentment or remorse. Honesty is the best policy. In this economic environment, you most likely won’t be grilled too harshly due to the severe cutbacks that have occurred.

Keep your explanation regarding why you were fired brief and to the point. Provide a high-level reason for your departure. Don’t go into a long, rambling story. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail. Keep your explanation positive and do not blame anyone or say anything negative about the company, your boss, or anyone in the company.

If the firing was a result of the company’s immoral or illegal activities that you refused to participate in, you might say: “There were some activities being endorsed that were incongruent with my values. I’ll provide more detail once we decide if this position is a good fit. At this point, I feel it would be inappropriate to share the company’s internal operating policies.

If the firing was your fault, provide a high-level explanation followed by what you learned from the incident and what you’ll do differently in the future. Being able to reflect on something that went wrong and learn from your mistakes is a sign of a true leader. If you’ve taken some steps to insure this incident won’t happen again or enrolled in a program to develop advanced skills, share this with the interviewer as well.

Crafting a strategy in advance and offering a compelling success story complete with a strong value proposition will help you conquer the glitch.

8 Tips on Coping with Rejection

Whether you receive a rejection call, letter or email, or no response at all, it is important to remember that rejection is not a reflection of your self-worth. It may take many rejections before you win an offer.

Learning how to deal with rejection will keep you from sinking into a place of immobilizing despair that prevents forward motion.

Sigmund Freud said, “Sometimes when we are going through pains of rejection, it feels like a global conspiracy.” Those pains of rejection may include sadness, frustration, anger, uselessness and unworthiness. The main reason we see rejection as pain is because we see it as loss of control and most of us fear loss of control. Fortunately, there are things we can do that can help us handle rejection with dignity and purpose.

1. Be aware of your reaction to rejection. In an article on LifeScript.com, Liz Davis writes, “Being rejected can feel like an outright violation of our expectations, which is why many of us feel offended when we are rejected. When the rejection is very painful or unexpected, it can be scary, making us feel as though the world we live in is unsafe and malevolent. When things do not go the way we expect, we often feel devastated and powerless, especially if we are very attached to a particular outcome.”

Recognize your thoughts and emotions and realize that it is what you do in response to these thoughts and emotions that determines how you feel about yourself and your job search. You need to acknowledge the rejection, harness your thoughts, and realize that this is part of the process and you’re going to receive several rejections before you win your next position.

2. Talk to people you trust. Feelings of rejection may cause you to want to isolate yourself from others to protect yourself from further pain and damage to your ego. However, this will only feed the negative emotions of rejection. So be sure to connect with others—perhaps your mentor, career coach, a job search group, a religious group or close friends.

3. Don’t take it personally. It’s business. In most cases rejection in a job search is more about the company than it is about you. Hiring managers fear making a mistake that will cost the company money and are being extremely cautious. They are rejecting candidates who don’t appear to be a perfect fit, in essentially every category. While you may feel you exceed the requirements posted in the job description, perhaps not all of the requirements were disclosed. Alternatively, there may have been an internal candidate that they wanted to promote into the position and posting the position was a requirement of the organization.

4. Ask the interviewer for constructive feedback. Ask him/her what qualifications, credentials or experience you were missing. If you feel you were 100 percent qualified, ask the interviewer what qualifications the selected candidate had that won him/her the position. While it’s too late to defend your candidacy if you have the qualifications mentioned, it may give you some insight into what qualifications you need to articulate more clearly in your next interview.

5. Avoid over thinking the rejection. Don’t beat yourself up. Realize you are not the perfect candidate for every position you may pursue and you may never know the reason why. Take a minute to reflect on the last time you hired someone: Did you spell out every single qualification and credential you wanted for the position? Most likely you only communicated the most important ones. Then, during the interview you drilled down on details and identified the perfect candidate while also considering if this candidate would be a good fit and if you could work with him/her.

6. Take action and get moving. Control the controllables. Increase and expand your network and job search activities. Understand that this is going to take aggressive action and you don’t have time to worry about recruiters and hiring managers who don’t understand the value you bring to the company or are too consumed with doubt and fear to make a decision.

Sylvester Stallone, the actor, stated, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”

Earl G. Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, stated “We keep going back, stronger, not weaker, because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way.”

7. Develop stories to overcome any objections before they are raised. If you know there is an objection that employers will have, develop a way to present information that will overcome and dispel the objection before it comes up.

8. Take care of yourself. Get plenty of exercise to help you relieve stress. Write down all of your accomplishments and major contributions to every employer. Write down your greatest challenges and how you handled them. Write about a time when you were asked to take on a totally new role and how you handled it. Create a list of your talents and skill sets. Review and add to these entries frequently. This record will help you concentrate on your value and will most likely come in handy during an interview.

16 Tips for Video & Webcam Interviewing

Video interviewing is a cost effective alternative employers can use to meet with prospective candidates, particularly in our current economic situation. A good quality video interview can be as effective as an in-person interview and there are several benefits to conducting interviews via video conferencing. In addition to saving travel expenses, the company will also be able to share the candidate’s responses with other decision makers and will be able to replay the interview to review key points that may have slipped his/her mind.

In addition to your typical process for preparing for an interview, you will want to prepare for the video session as well. Following are some tips in preparing yourself and your location for a video interview:

Video Conference Interview

  1. If you’ll be going to a business center for the interview, visit the facility where it will be taking place and ask for a tour of the video conferencing area.
  2. Ask for a demonstration of the equipment so you can gain an understanding of the equipment and process. Ask the technician what type of mike she will use and how she will mike you.
  3. Ask the business center for a tip sheet on video conferencing nuisances.
  4. While there will most likely be a screen where you can see the interviewers, you will want to speak directly to the camera so that it appears you are speaking to the interviewer.
  5. When touring the facility, consider privacy issues as you will most likely be asked some confidential or personal questions. Ask the operators how this will be handled.
  6. Also consider potential distracting background noise such as printers, copiers, fax machines and such and ask if and how this might be controlled.
  7. Position your materials in close proximity to the camera so that when you glance at your notes, you will not appear to be looking away from the camera. Some video conferencing rooms are set up much like a TV studio with teleprompters for your notes, however some are not nearly as sophisticated.
  8. Dress professionally. Although it is likely that you will only be seen from the waist up, you should be dressed as you would for an in-person interview.

Web Cam Interviewing

  1. If asked to interview using a web cam, prepare your surrounding area. Choose an area with a neutral background and adjust the lighting in the room. Make sure the areas in front of, around you and behind you are clear, and that the entire room is clean and orderly.
  2. Remove all potentially distracting noises. The microphone on a webcam can magnify the slightest sound, so turn off your mobile phone and unplug any other phones. While you will need to have your computer speakers turned on, be sure you don’t have any webpages or programs open that emit sounds or play audio.
  3. Prior to the interview, close your office windows to prevent exterior noise, and let people know you are not to be disturbed.
  4. Check that the chair you are sitting in does not squeak. If it is a swivel chair, do not swivel during the interview and sit upright at all times.
  5. If using a laptop, make sure your battery is fully charged.
  6. If using Skype, you may experience some time-lag when you’re talking. Make sure you talk clearly so your voice will be easily picked up by the microphone.
  7. Test your equipment and practice using your webcam before the interview. Schedule a time a day or two before the interview with the company’s technical specialist to test connectivity with the company’s equipment. Be sure to ask the person scheduling the interview to schedule this appointment as well.
  8. View yourself from different angles and decide on the best angle to appear on camera. Practice speaking calmly and clearly. It’s a good idea to have someone critique your practice video.

It’s important to remember that a video or webcam interview is a “real” interview. Your answers will be weighed and selection decisions will be made based on your answers and your on-camera presence. So be sure to practice. Practice using the technology AND practice your introduction, your responses, your value proposition statements, and your accomplishment stories.

Are Your Job Offers On Hold?

Does it look like the perfect job offer is imminent? Do you have two or three offers pending? Great … but don’t halt the job search just yet.

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is to stop their job search activities when it looks like the perfect job offer is imminent. However, even if you have multiple pending offers on the table, do not turn off the job search engine, put away your files, and end your job search just yet. The job search isn’t over until you have received, signed and returned the offer letter and you’ve spent a week or two on the new job.

I’ve heard stories of job seekers who have multiple job offers pending with the caveat of “as soon as I get approval from the boss” or “as soon as the economy turns around” or “as soon as the Board reviews the quarterly figures and approves our request.” These “as soon as” clauses seldom have a specific date attached to them and oftentimes they’re suspended for months for one reason or another and then eventually evaporate. Therefore, you need to keep your job search momentum going until the deal is signed, sealed and delivered!

Many employers continue to advertise so that they can identify and keep a database on the best talent in the market. And what better time is there then now, with so many people unemployed and looking for their next opportunity. The employers’ goal is to keep their pipeline full so that when the economy turns around, they will be able to bring top talent on board quickly. Likewise, you must identify the very best companies to work for and build a relationship with them so that when things turn around, you’ll have your pick from your prime target companies.

While everyone anxiously waits for the economy to turnaround and the job market to return to normal, employers would like to hire some of the good talent they’ve found, but their current restricted budget just doesn’t warrant it. As a result, many recruiters are bringing their candidates in for interviews with different people in the company on an intermittent basis to keep the candidate interested so that when the economic situation turns around they are ready to move forward rapidly.

So, while you may have two, three or even four offers on the table, you cannot afford to let up on your job search no matter how confident you are that an offer is forthcoming. Situations and times change; the company’s goals and objectives may change by the time the economy turns around and perhaps they’ll no longer need that particular position in their company. At the rate companies are being acquired and merged, there’s no telling what positions will still be open in the future. So until you have a firm offer, you must proceed as if you don’t, because ultimately you can only control your side of the search.

When interviewing, be sure to ask questions to uncover these potential scenarios. Ask questions like: How soon will you be filling this position? What is your time frame for filling this position? What are the objectives for this position? What would you expect me to be able to complete in the next three months? How will my performance be measured in the next three months? How long has this position been open? Why is this position open? Was the person who had this position, let go? What is the next step? These questions will help you get at the root of the reason for the opening and perhaps how soon the company realistically expects to fill the position. If the interviewer can’t answer this type of question, then you know it may be a very long time before you receive an offer letter.

While waiting for the position to open up, be sure to keep in touch with the interviewers. This is your opportunity to learn more about the company and the industry and strengthen your relationships. If you have any gaps in experience or knowledge of the company or industry, this is your opportunity to fill in those gaps so that when the position does open up and you re-interview, you’ll appear even more qualified. In the meantime, continue to read about the industry and send the interviewers articles with your comments, opinions and solutions. You may want to share how you can solve the industry’s problems based on problems you’ve solved for other companies and industries. You never know when you’ll strike a chord, gain their interest, and cause them to find the budget to bring you in immediately.

Even if the offer never comes to fruition, bear in mind that you have made some new contacts and expanded your network. You never know what the future holds.