Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to Reapply After a Rejection

I was recently interviewed for an article published yesterday on, outlining steps to take to get your resume noticed, even if it was previously eliminated from consideration.

How to Reapply After a Rejection

Monday, May 10, 2010

Interview U

There is only one goal in any job search - to get offered the job. The choice to accept is up to you - but only if you get an offer. What can you do to make sure that you will get the offer, and get to choose whether or not to take the job? The answer is in how well you know yourself, and how well you have prepared to share "you" in the interview process.

When most people prepare to interview, the first thing they do is look for books or research online for the best/right/smart answers to tough interview questions. Big. Mistake. To be able to answer questions about anything, the most important step is to know your subject matter. And when it comes to interviewing, you need to be a subject matter expert.

The only way to truly prepare for the interview process is through self-examination. You should have an honest understanding of your strengths, and be able to clearly articulate how those strengths will be of value and can fulfill a need for your prospective employer. And, you also need to be honest with yourself about those areas that are still under construction, and be prepared to articulate a clear plan to meet your own growth and development needs.

Once you are a subject matter expert on you, your next step is to thoroughly research the organization with which you will be interviewing. Use every tool at your disposal, i.e., the organization's own website, the job posting, Google, news searches, blog searches, and LinkedIn. Get a keen understanding of the culture and communications style of the organization, and frame your presentation of you by highlighting those areas of commonality that you share with the organization. By presenting yourself within their context of understanding, you will demonstrate your "fit" with the culture and mores of the organization.

In the course of the interview, you will be asked to articulate your abilities and cultural fit for the position through only four possible types of questions:
1. Personal Challenge Questions - These are those questions that offer the interviewee no clue as to what answers the interviewer is seeking. They are abrupt, and seem to be designed to expose your shortcomings and/or uncertainties. These are the questions that will allow you to demonstrate that you are, in fact, a subject matter expert! Examples: "Tell me about yourself." "What are your strengths?" "What are your weaknesses?" "Why should we hire you?"
2. The Abstract Calculation - These questions are nonsensical, in that they have no actual answer, but are utilized to demonstrate to the interviewer how the interviewee will respond under pressure, and their problem-solving style and abilities. Example questions: "How many baseballs are there in the United States right now?" "How many band-aids are used in Texas each day?" "How many jelly beans does it take to fill a five-gallon jar?"
3. Behavioral Interview - These questions are presented in a format that requires the interviewee to reflect and look back on their past experiences, and describe examples of their behaviors that demonstrate specific outcomes. Examples of behavioral questions are: "Tell me about a time when you had to overcome challenges to achieve your goal." "Tell me about a time when you were recognized for providing service excellence to a customer above and beyond what was expected in your job description." "Tell me about a time when you did not achieve your goal, and how you handled the situation."
4. Situational Interview - These questions are real-time. They present complex situations to the interviewee, and ask the interviewee to describe how they would respond and resolve the situation. These type of questions also tend to reveal the values and stress demeanor of the interviewee. An example of these type of questions is: "It is after midnight, your patient is not responding to prescribed treatment, and their physician has made it known that they do not want to be disturbed during the night except in an emergency situation. Although they are not in an emergent state, you believe that the patient will respond immediately to a different course of treatment. Will you call the physician now, or wait until morning? When you do call the physician, how will you present the patient's status to convince the physician of the need for the differing course of treatment?"

Are you a subject matter expert on you? Are you prepared for any or all of the four types of interview questions? Are you prepared for your next offer?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creating Rapport - It's Key To Your Professional Success

As any good recruiter will tell you, when it comes down to a hiring manager choosing which candidate to offer their position, the hiring manager will not always select the most experienced, best educated or most credentialed candidate. They will, however, always select the candidate that they connected with - the one with which the hiring manager felt the best rapport.

Creating rapport starts at the first impression. When meeting someone for the first time, especially in an interview situation, most of us become too nervous to think beyond our own role in the interview, i.e., firm handshake, eye contact, genuine smile, listening carefully, selling our talents as we answer questions. But to create rapport, you have to pay attention to the other person. What is their emotional state? What motivates them?

In my coaching practice, I often teach mirroring techniques to help my clients gain understanding of others with whom they interact. For instance, someone who is very direct in their communication style might come across as abrupt to another whose style is to take a softer, more considered approach. When utilizing mirroring techniques, you exhibit a reflective communication style, meaning that you adapt your communication style to reflect harmoniously that of the other person. So that person with a very direct communication style, when interacting with someone with a softer, more considered style, would slow down, listen carefully, and adopt a more considerate approach. By doing this, you are creating immediate understanding and rapport with the other person. Since your communication styles are now compatible, the other person will be focused on what your are saying, rather than your communication style.

Creating rapport begins with your very first encounter with another person, whether in person or in writing. Becoming aware of your own style, the way you prefer to function, is the first step in gaining understanding of the preferences of others, which is the first step in creating rapport. So be aware. Seek out opportunities to practice mirroring techniques. See how your ability to reflect the preferred style of another helps you create rapport with them.

How could you utilize this talent to become the preferred candidate in an interview opportunity?

How could you utilize creating rapport to better demonstrate your effectiveness to your manager?

How would creating rapport help you to better motivate and lead your team?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leadership Performance Management: Reviewing the Reviewer

For a lot of companies, Q1 is performance review time. Given the economic hurdles of the last few years, most employees are hoping that their efforts will be acknowledged by their managers, even if they can't be rewarded with the substantial raises and bonuses of years past. But what if the manager is the one in the review hot seat? And what if that manager has exhibited some serious performance gaps during the last 12 months? How do you provide constructive performance feedback to a performance manager?

When giving feedback to someone in a leadership role, make sure that you have all of the facts and data to back up performance conclusions. Acknowledge positive performance; never allow negative performance issues to completely overshadow positive contributions. Don't allow the person being reviewed to become focused on the fact they are receiving negative feedback. Rather, impart the data and the resulting conclusion, and then guide them to focus on probable resolutions to their performance gaps. Have them offer a reasonable timeline and reporting mechanism for chosen resolutions. As a final close, communicate the expected performance standards for their role, acknowledge those they have performed well, and restate the areas targeted for improvement along with their performance plan, timeline and reporting mechanism.

We coach managers to take CARE when giving bad news: be Confident in their message; exhibit Authenticity and speak the truth to their audience; have all the facts in their Rationale; and always have Empathy for their audience. By taking CARE when imparting poor performance feedback, the reviewer will empower the employee to understand the feedback, and create a performance improvement plan of action. The CARE method applies, even when reviewing the reviewer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Party On, Dude!

Ten years before he became famous as cool-black-duster-wearing Neo in The Matrix, Keanu Reeves took us on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, where he gave us two enduring rules of life:

1. Be Excellent To Each Other


2. Party On, Dude!

Recently, I was enrolling in a great new online program, and during the enrollment process was asked to agree with their 5-point terms of service. The first four points dealt with their rules of business conduct, but the fifth and final point really grabbed me: 5. Be excellent to each other. Not, 5. Obey these rules or we will refuse you service, nor 5. Obey these rules and be nice to each other. No, their final term of service for their customers was to be EXCELLENT to each other.

We have weathered the recession, and are now trying to recover our economic strength. In order to succeed, our companies need to be strong and profitable. And our companies are only as strong as their employees. Now is the time for employers and employees to work together, and be proud of the work they do. And, don't forget Rule #2: Party On, Dude! Let's have some fun again!

What one thing can you do differently, starting right now, to be excellent to those around you?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's All In Your Mind - Answers Revealed

In our last post, we posed Dr. Shane Frederick's three-question Cognitive Reflection Test, and promised the answers. Here they are:

1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? _$1.05____ cents

(2) If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? _5___ minutes

(3) In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? __47___ days

According to Dr. Frederick, those who are able to correctly answer all three questions are the most brilliant among us. Well, I will confess, I correctly responded to number 2 immediately, and came up with the answer to number 3 only after drawing it out on paper. However, I do not think this is in any way indicative of a lack of brilliance on my part. I simply have no interest in baseball.

I think the real test of one's cognitive reflection, or critical thinking skills, is not necessarily related to their IQ (sorry, Dr. Frederick). The real indicator is how someone looks at a problem, not just coming up with the correct mathmatical answer. To be a true critical thinker, you have to be able to suspend your own opinions and biases, and look at a problem from every possible angle - step out of your own shoes, walk across the room and see it in a completely different light. Those of us who are able to do this consistently are the truly brilliant among us, for they will see not just answers, but possibilities.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's All In Your Mind

With the economy picking up a bit, a lot of our coaching work over the last few months has been Interview Coaching. The feedback we are hearing from our clients indicates that a lot of companies out there are utilizing interview techniques that reveal more about a candidate's ability to think on their feet than about their work experience. Candidates are experiencing "critical thinking assessment" questions, which reveal the way a candidate problem-solves and responds under pressure.

Some of these questions don't really have a definitive answer. For example, one candidate interviewing at a major oil company in Houston was asked "If you filled a two gallon jar with jelly beans and put a softball in as well, how many jelly beans will it take to fill up the jar." Obviously, the interviewer was not looking for a definitive number from the candidate. Rather, they wanted to see how the candidate would respond under pressure, and what critical thinking tools would be revealed as they tried to solve the problem.

Other employers are using Shane Frederick's Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT). Although the test only has three questions, Dr. Frederick's research proves that how a person answers can be a strong indicator of both their intelligence and their critical thinking skills. Let's see how you do:

(1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? _____ cents

(2) If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? _____ minutes

(3) In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? _____ days

Post your responses. We will reveal the answers in the next blog post. Winners will be entered in a drawing for a free coaching session!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are You Resume Ready?

Is your resume current and updated?

Does your resume clearly present your talents, experience and accomplishments?

Will your resume get you an interview for the job you want?

In today's highly competitive job market, you should be able to answer a resounding "Yes!" to each of these questions. With four generations of qualified workers sometimes competing for the same position, and most companies utilizing web-based application systems, the right resume can make all the difference when it comes to getting the all-important interview opportunity - even one within your current organization!

2010 is the year to advance your career! Are you resume ready? We are offering a 20% Discount on custom resume services during the month of January!

Email for a FREE resume consultation.