How to Improve the Likelihood of a Job Offer After a Interview

Posted in Uncategorized

It is interview season for many recent college graduates and veteran jobseekers looking for  new opportunities. To ensure success, there are a few things that a jobseeker can do to improve the likelihood of a callback after a phone interview or a preliminary face-to-face one.  Some of these techniques are well outlined in an article in today’s NY Times Business section entitled  “Had a Job Interview but No Callback? Here’s What to Do Next Time”

While some of these recommendations are fairly obvious, I highly recommend that you review the list of things to do to improve the likelihood of success which is either to get to the next interview level or secure a job offer. Personally, the best advice that I have to offer is to have a positive attitude, exude confidence and do whatever it takes to impress an interviewer so that you can move to the next level. Frequently, many jobseekers have doubts about a job that they may be interviewing for.  In these instances, it is a good idea to forget about those doubts and be totally invested in a winning performance.  Do not tank a job interview because you may not like an interviewer or you have some doubts about whether or not the job is a good fit for you. If a job is not right for you, you can always refuse an offer if one is extended.  The goal of any job interview is to get to the next level or secure an ofter!!!!!!!!

Although US unemployment is at record lows-4.3% (lowest in 16 years), securing a new job is still highly competitive.  To that point, my son, a recent college graduate, is on his third interview (phone screen, face-to-face interview and now a skill-based assessment). Put simply, it’s still tough out there to get a new job.  Therefore, it is incumbent on all job seekers to use whatever tools that are available to them to impress interviewers and move to the next level!

Until next time,

Good luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

QuestionsThat Interviewers Should Never (But Do) Ask

Posted in Career Advice

From time to time, I get asked by jobseekers about questions that interviewers are permitted to ask during a job interview. While almost everything is fair game, there are certain questions that interviewers are not legally permitted to ask. A post that recently appeared on the “Interns Over 40 blog” pretty much covers them all. 

And, while interviewers are not supposed to ask most of these questions, many do. That said, you need to be on the “look-out” for them and be prepared to judiciously answer them whether or not you think they may be legally acceptable or not. After all, challenging the legality of an interviewer’s question during a face-to-face is not likely to lead to a job offer!

In any event, the post list 13 questions on the forbidden list and how interviewers may be able to garner the information that they are seeking without necessarily violating any laws in doing so.

1. Age

Inappropriate:

  • How old are you?
  • What year were you born?
  • When did you graduate from high school?

Appropriate:

  • Before hiring, asking if you are over the minimum age for the hours or working conditions.
  • After hiring, verifying same with a birth certificate or other ID, and asking age on insurance forms.

2. Citizenship

Inappropriate: Are you a US citizen?

Appropriate:

  • If you are not a US citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the US?
  • What is your visa status (if no to the previous question).
  • Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility upon hire?

3. Criminal Record

Inappropriate:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever spent a night in jail?

Appropriate:

  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

4. Disability

Inappropriate:

  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What’s your medical history?
  • How does your condition affect your abilities?

Appropriate:

  • Can you perform the specific duties of the job.
  • After hiring, ask about medical history on insurance forms.

5. Family

Inappropriate:

  • Questions concerning spouse, or spouse’s employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
  • What kind of child care arrangements have you made?
  • How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?

Appropriate:

  • Can you work overtime?
  • Is there any reason you can’t start at 7:30am?
  • Whether an applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities or commitments that may prevent him or her from meeting attendance requirements.

6. Marital Status

Inappropriate:

  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
  • Is this your maiden or married name?
  • What is the name of your relative/spouse/children?
  • Do you live with your parents?

Appropriate:

  • After hiring, marital status on tax and insurance forms.

7. Military

Inappropriate:

  • What type or condition is your military discharge?
  • Can you supply your discharge papers?
  • What is your experience in other than US armed forces?

Appropriate:

  • Describe the relevant work experience as it relates to this position that you acquired from a US armed forces.

8. National Origin

Inappropriate:

  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where are your parents from?
  • What’s your heritage?
  • What is your mother tongue?
  • How did you acquire the ability to speak, read or write a foreign language?
  • How did you acquire familiarity with a foreign country?
  • What language is spoken in your home?

Appropriate:

  • Verifying legal U.S. residence or work visa status.
  • What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?

9. Parental Status

Inappropriate:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant?

Appropriate:

  • After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.

10. Race or Skin Color

Inappropriate:

  • What race are you?
  • Are you a member of a minority group?

Appropriate:

  • None

11. Religion or Creed

Inappropriate:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Which religious holidays will you be taking off from work?
  • Do you attend church regularly?

Appropriate:

  • Can you work on Saturdays and Sundays?

12. Residence

Inappropriate:

  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • Do you live in town?
  • With whom do you live?

Appropriate:

  • Inquiries about the address to facilitate contact with the applicant.
  • Will you be able to start work at 8:00am?

13. Sex or Sexual Orientation

Inappropriate:

  • Do you wish to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?
  • What are your plans to have children in the future?
  • Are you gay?
  • What is your sexual preference?

Appropriate:

  • None

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!

 

Interview Gaffes Guaranteed To Prevent Job Offers

Posted in Career Advice

Sometimes job candidates do the stupidest things during job interviews. Several years ago I begged a hiring manager to give an MD a second shot at a face-to-face job interview after he botched the first one. The hiring manager reluctantly agreed to give my candidate a second chance to redeem his poor performance during the first interview. After the interview, the hiring manager told me that he wasn’t going to extend a job offer to my candidate because he was “on call” the day of the interview and he kept on excusing himself to answer his pager. This happened almost 12 years ago before the cell phone–texting explosion became annoying pervasive. 

Imagine my surprise when I learned that results from a recent CareerBuilder survey of 2400 hiring managers that revealed that 71% of hiring managers cited that answering a cell phone or texting someone during a job interview was the worst transgression that a job candidate can make (I guess things have not changed much in the past 12 years).

While answering a cell phone or texting is an egregious thing to do during a job interview (turn off all electronic devices and put them in your briefcase or purse until the interview is over), it is not the only transgression that hiring manager loathe to see from job candidates. Others cited in the survey include:

  • Dressing inappropriately – 69%
  • Appearing disinterested – 69%
  • Appearing arrogant – 66%
  • Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer – 63%
  • Chewing gum – 59%
  • Not providing specific answers – 35%
  • Not asking good questions – 32%

I highly recommend those of you who may have interviews in the near future to review this list and avoid making any of the mistakes listed there. In the current economy, hiring managers are looking for prospective job candidates who stand out from the others. But, it is important to remember to stand out for the right reasons!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!

 

A New Wrinkle to Difficult Interviewing Questions

Posted in Career Advice

With unemployment high and the economy showing little sign of improvement, finding a new job has become increasingly challenging. And, not surprisingly, the types of interview questions that hiring managers are beginning to ask prospective job candidates are becoming more intricate and complex. I found interesting examples of this at the  “You’re the Boss” blog sponsored by the New York Times.

In the article, a person who owns a small retail business revealed that he always asks job candidates to describe their most stressful customer experience in previous jobs. The question helps him to ascertain how prospective new employees might cope with difficult situations. Also, it tends to reveals whether or not they speak honestly about their own actions and what their attitudes may be towards customers. Another question that he frequently asks is “Why did you really leave your last job? Were you fired? Did you hate your boss? This is devised to determine whether or not a candidate is being truthful. If the answer is their leaving was “mutual” the owner posits that there is usually more to the story than is being divulged. On the other hand, if the response is “It was time to move on” a follow up question usually is “What does that mean?”

Other examples cited in the post include:

What am I going to hate about you in the next 6 months?

What haven’t I asked that you want me to know about you?

How will we both know in six months that you are succeeding?

Why did you apply for this job?

None of the questions is illegal, improper or out of bounds during a job interview. Consequently, I advise jobseekers to add these new questions to their list of difficult-to-answer interview questions. And, perhaps more importantly, think about legitimate responses to them before your next job interview.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

How Online Career Networking Can Help You Land a Job

Posted in Career Advice

It is well established that many scientist are not particularly adept at social interactions and are notoriously poor at networking. Contrary to popular belief these deficiencies are not genetic and likely result from the erroneous notion that scientists don’t need career network to advance their work or careers.

There is no question that face-to-face networking is an acquired skill and that practice is necessary to master it. However, the advent of Google search and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter permits even the novice jobseeker to establish an online network—in the absence of a real life one—that may be useful in a job search or future career development. To that end, I came across a 2008 post written by Trent Ham that offers insights and tactics on how to incorporate online networking into a successful job search.

Ten Fundamental Steps for Successful Online Career Networking                                       By Trent Hamm

Let’s start with the big question.

Why?

What is the point of doing online networking for your career? How is it any better than simply keeping in touch with people you know via email or at meetings? Isn’t stuff like LinkedIn or Facebook a waste of time, or at least not worth the time you invest in it?

Online networking tools serve two purposes, really.

First, they make it easy for people to find you – or at least find the information about you that you want to be found. Once you set up a proper profile at a social networking site, it’s often the first thing that shows up about you on search engines. Thus, when people go searching for information about you, you can have a lot of control over the information that they find.

Second, they allow you to keep tabs on other people – and allow other people to keep tabs on you. Let’s say, for example, that you’re starting a new project that might interest a lot of people in your field – and you might want input from some of them. Is it easier to collect all their email addresses then send a blanket email to all of them or to just simply update your online networking tool?

Similarly, if you’ve set up such tools properly, you can effortlessly and automatically follow such news and updates about others in your field, which can automatically alert you to any interesting changes without having to hope that that person remembered to send it to you.

Together, these things add up to tons and tons of opportunities to connect with people without having to invest a ton of time continually tracking people down.

Tactic #1: Just Use Google
One problem that many people have with doing this is that there seems to be a giant pile of services available for people to connect to others. Should I use Twitter? Should I use Facebook? Should I use LinkedIn?

Really, though, there’s only one you need to worry about. And that’s Google.

When people want to find other people online, they turn to Google. They type in that name, click on the first few links, and see what they can find out.

That means your focus shouldn’t be so much on which of these services to use. It should be to make sure you’re controlling that top search result on Google.

How can you do that? You need to have a page that’s (a) fully open to the public and (b) linked to by a lot of other people.

Based on what I’ve observed, for professional purposes, the best tool for that is LinkedIn, so if I were just getting started with things, I’d use LinkedIn. Facebook has more users, but it’s a “walled garden,” meaning the general public cannot read your profile. If you’re focusing solely on professional material, that’s actually a pretty big disadvantage.

Tactic #2: Detail Your Profile
When you sign up for such a service, the first step is to add appropriate detail to your profile. The key word here is appropriate.

The purpose for doing this is to attract professional connections, so keep it professional. Describe your career. Enter all of the relevant information and include as much detail as you can, including past places of employment, organizations you’re involved with (that you’d want to share professionally), where you went to school, and so on. Make especially sure to describe your current work (again, in as much detail as you can). Be sure to share it all publicly, too, so that you can easily be found on Google searches.

The more information you provide – particularly interesting information – the more likely it is that people will take an interest in you, follow you, and contact you for further connection, which is exactly what you want.

Tactic #3: Find People You Know (Or Want To Know)
Once you’re in place, start searching the site for people you know and establish connections with them. You may not know anyone – that’s fine – but if you can at least establish a few connections, you’re off on the right foot.

You might want to search whole companies, like your own, just to get a list of people, so you can quickly identify people that you may want to link up with. Don’t be afraid to connect with people above you in rank – or even below you – but focus on connecting to those that might actually have value in that connection. Don’t just connect for the sake of connecting or else you’ll suffer from needless overload.

Tactic #4: Invite Your Friends To Join
So, you signed up at LinkedIn (or whatever site you’ve chosen to use), filled in your profile, and located a few people you know. Now what?

These tools work better if you know lots of people using the tools, so email a bunch of your work contacts. Send them the URL of your LinkedIn page, along with perhaps the URLs of some other people most of them might be interested in, and encourage them to sign up. If people already know that they have at least a few connections in the bag, they’re much more likely to sign up for such a service.

Tactic #5: Keep People Reminded Through Other Means
Once you’re established there, make an effort to remind people through other mediums about your profile page, so they can follow you, too. I’d encourage you to stick a link to your profile in the signature of your emails as well as into the profile of any other online services you might use (like Facebook, for example).

What this does is it gives people many opportunities to visit your page and keep you in their mind – and that’s a pure benefit for you.

Tactic #6: Keep An Eye Out
Once you’ve established a profile and a lot of connections, it’s worth setting your basic page on the site as a bookmark so you can keep up with what’s happening with the people you’re connected to. I tend to look at what’s happening with my connections on various sites every other day or so, just to keep tabs with them.

For the most part, I don’t do anything with the updates – I just try to keep track of them. I usually send congratulations in response to big news and occasional follow-up questions, but I usually try to avoid too much follow-up (see #8 for why).

Tactic #7: Update Regularly
I also make an effort to update my own profile whenever there’s something significant to note. Whenever something happens that’s significant enough for me to wish to contact people professionally, I make sure to update any relevant social networking pages with a global update (so that everyone can see it and anyone who follows me or is connected is alerted to it).

Of course, there’s a fine line here – too much stuff can overburden the people connected to you. To mitigate that, I keep the update count down to the serious stuff – things that I would actually bother to contact others about, such as major project changes, changing jobs, the birth of a child, or another major event.

Tactic #8: Don’t Get Bogged Down
Ideally, you find yourself in a situation with a lot of connections, which means a lot of people are keeping tabs with what you’re doing. The danger in that is that it’s tempting to get involved in a lot of conversations – and that turns the social networking tool into an unproductive time suck.

My suggestion: avoid long conversations on the site. If you see something truly compelling, contact that person directly off the site. If it’s not compelling enough move on and don’t waste your time!

Tactic #9: Add Value
There is one other reason I add updates to such social sites, and that’s when they add direct value to the people following me. If I find a truly great resource or piece of information that many others in my field will find valuable, I add an update letting others know about it.

Why do this? Why share something of value so easily? If you share truly valuable things, people will come to ascribe value to you – and that will stick in their minds. Do it regularly enough with stuff that’s truly valuable and people will share valuable things with you – information, important news, and so on.

Tactic #10: Follow Up
Most of these tactics don’t require much time, and so it can be easy to just put up the profile, check in every once in a while, and not think about it.

If you just do that, however, you may miss out on opportunity. Thus, I’d suggest two methods for regular follow-up on your profile.

First, set the site as a default page in your browser. This way, checking the page becomes part of your normal routine. You can often integrate a number of pages into a single iGoogle start page – that’s the tactic I use.

Second, check your own profile regularly and make sure it’s updated. Don’t let it slag with out-of-date information. Check it once a month or so and make sure that correct, current, and relevant information is easily found by people searching for you.

Follow these ten tactics and you’ll be using online networking to great career advantage.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Networking (try it, you may like it)

 

Interview Questions That US Employers Are Not Allowed to Ask

Posted in Career Advice

I counsel a large number of foreign students as part of my career development activities. Over the years, I learned that questions regarding a job candidate’s personal information like nationality, religion, marital status etc are permissible and perfectly legal in countries other than the US. Consequently, I decided that it may be instructive for job candidates to learn what questions are acceptable and those that are not during a face-to-face interview for positions at US companies. 

Much of the information presented in the post was gleaned from an article written by Porcshe Moran of Yahoo Finance.

The following are examples of illegal questions that SHOULD NEVER be uttered by interviewers during a US job interview.

1. How old are you?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), protects individuals who are 40 or older from being discriminated against in the workplace in favor of younger employees. There is no federal protection in place to protect workers younger than 40 from age discrimination. To determine if you are legally eligible to perform a job, employers are allowed to ask if you are over the age of 18.

2. Are you married?

Questions about marital status are prohibited. Employers might be tempted to ask this question to find out if your relationship could have a negative impact on your work. For example, if you are married you might be more likely to leave the company if your spouse gets a job transferred to a different city. Even a question as seemingly innocent as "Do you wish to be addressed as Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?" is not allowed.

3. Are you a U.S. citizen?

Citizenship and immigration status cannot be used against a potential employee during the hiring process according to The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Employers must wait until after a job offer had been extended to require a worker to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Form and submit documentation that proves identity and employment authorization. It is lawful for an employer to ask an interviewee if they are authorized to work in the US.

4. Do you have any disabilities?

This question might seem necessary to determine if a job applicant can perform the required duties, but it is illegal to ask under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Employers cannot discount anyone from a job because of a physical or mental disability. In fact, the law requires that they accommodate disabilities unless they can prove it would cause significant difficulty or expense to do so. Employers also cannot ask you if you have had any past illnesses or operations.

5. Do you take drugs, smoke or drink?

Concerns about drug, alcohol or nicotine addictions are valid as they can impact an employee’s quality of work and the rates of a company’s health insurance coverage. However, an employer might find themselves in legal trouble if they don’t frame questions about these potential problems in a careful manner. They are allowed to ask if you have ever been disciplined for violating company policies about the use of alcohol and tobacco products. They can also ask directly if you use illegal drugs, but an employer can’t inquire about your use of prescription medications.

6. What religion do you practice?

Inquires about religious beliefs are a sensitive issue. An interviewer might be curious for scheduling reasons such as holidays that an employee might need off, or if the candidate will be unavailable to work on weekends because of religious obligations. It is illegal to intentionally discriminate against an employee or harass them based on their religious beliefs. Employers are required to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices in regards to things such as dress and grooming policy and flexible scheduling.

7. What is your race?

There is no situation in which questions about an employee’s race or skin color should be use to determine their eligibility for a job. This protection is granted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Employers are permitted to ask an employee to reveal their race on a voluntary basis for affirmative action purposes.

8. Are you pregnant?

Questions about family status tend to affect women the most, but they can also pertain to men in certain situations. Employers might have concerns about an employee taking time off work for pregnancy leave or not having child care arrangements during work hours.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients or customers.

It is, however, lawful for employers to ease their nerves about an employee’s availability or commitment to a position by asking about long-term career goals or the ability for an employee to work overtime and travel.

Click the link common interview questions for other examples of some questions that should not be asked.

The Bottom Line
It is important to know your rights as an employee. Unlawful questions are not acceptable on applications, during the interview process or in the workplace. Although improper questions by employers might be simple mistakes, they could also be intentional cases of discrimination. 

While it is good to know your “rights,” I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you may be asked these questions during a job interview. Whether or not you respond to the question(s) is up to you. However, if the personal questions that are asked make you uncomfortable, let the interviewer know as professionally as possible that he/she is treading in dangerous territory. After the interview is over, you may want to contact the company’s Human Resources department to report the incident so that future job candidates may avoid similar unpleasant and illegal experiences.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

 

The Job Search:Ten Tips for the Interview Follow-Up

Posted in BioJobBuzz

I came across this excellent article written by Carol Martin a professional career coach.  The tips that she provides are useful and have stood the test of time!  So read and learn!!!!

Not getting a follow-up call when promised is a very common occurrence. Candidates are sometimes sure that they aced the interview and are perfect for the position, in fact they are anticipating a call and an offer. But instead they get "nothing." No offer; no call. They never hear from the company. This is not only frustrating, but reflects poorly on the company. In fact it is rude. What can you do about this situation? Here are some tips on how to handle the follow up that may save you from some anxiety.

1. Try to find out about the decision-process before you leave the interview. Ask when you could expect to hear back. Take that date and then add a few days before you start to worry.

2. Always send a follow up addressing any concerns you may have picked up or any thoughts you had about the position since the interview. Think of this as one more chance to put yourself in front of them.

3. After you have waited for a reasonable period beyond the date they stated, call and inquire as to the status of the position and whether you are still in the running.

4. As a general rule, don’t call on Mondays – bad day to market anything. 5. If you leave a message inquiring about the status of the job, and no one calls you back after a couple of attempts – move on and forget about it. Don’t call back more than a couple of times. There is a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. 6. If you are told you are no longer under consideration, try asking for feedback (most of the time they won’t give you any, but still worth a try). Ask if there is any additional information that you can supply that will convince them that you are the right person for the job.

7. Don’t rely on one job interview. No matter what was said in the interview – continue your search. There have been too many bad examples of those who thought they were a shoe-in – only to get a reject letter.

8. Don’t take it personally! There are about a thousand reasons that could have affected your chances.

9. Accept the fact that not all companies are right for you. Just like blind dates – they are checking you out and you are checking them out. Sometimes it’s chemistry – and sometimes it wasn’t right for you – for whatever reason.

10.Try not to get discouraged by the rejects. It’s a numbers game and your turn will come if you hang in there.

Copyright (c) 2007 Carole Martin, The Interview Coach

Until Next Time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!

 

The Job Search: Appropriate Interviewing Behavior

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Congratulations! The resume that you spent many hours carefully crafting has resulted in a face-to-face interview at a Company that you are extremely interested in. After the adrenalin rush has worn off, you think “OMG, I have to put together a seminar, make travel arrangements and buy new clothes and shoes (well only if you are a woman)”. Although you may think that the hard part of your job search is over; think again….the fun is just beginning.

The fact that you been invited to a face-to-face interview means that you likely possess the knowledge and technical skills required to performed the job that was advertised. The true intent of a face-to-face interview is to determine whether a job candidate has the personality and so called “soft skills” to easily fit in with a company’s corporate culture. Corporate cultures and soft skill expectations vary widely from company to company. That said, it is important to remember that certain types of behavior are expected of ALL job candidates during a face-to-face interview. I discuss a few of these expected behaviors below.

First, regardless of the state of affairs in your personal or professional life, you must always be upbeat and positive. Every person you meet should be greeted with a smile and a comment that goes something like “It is a pleasure to meet you”. Nobody wants to talk with (or possibly work with) a chronically unhappy or negative person. True, there ought to be diversity in the workplace (unhappy people have rights too) but when it comes to a positive attitude it is a requirement in the corporate world. Second, always make eye contact with your interviewers. We are social creatures and not making eye contact may signal to the interviewer that you are either anti-social or lack basic interpersonal communication skills. Further, never interrupt an interviewer when they are asking you a question. Yes, everyone gets excited and wants to show the interviewer how smart they are, but cutting a person off in mid-sentence is not polite nor is it ever appreciated by the person who is talking. Always answer questions directly and honestly. Never exaggerate or stretch the truth (as appealing as it may seem in the moment)….it will likely come back to haunt you in future. Also, do not offer the interviewer more information than is necessary. For example, an interviewer may say “I see that you did your postdoctoral work with Dr. Doolittle at MIT”. An appropriate response to this statement could be something like “Yes, he/she was my supervisor during my 8 years in the lab. An inappropriate response may go something like “Yes I worked with Dr. Doolittle for 8 years and, I have to tell you, it was the worst 8 years of my life because Dr. Doolittle is nuts”. Although Dr Doolittle may actually be nuts, you do not know what the interviewer’s opinion of Dr. Doolittle is and, for all you know, they could be best friends. Which leads me to my next recommendation– never play the name game. What I mean by the name game is illustrated in the following example. An interviewer asks you, “BTW, did you ever work with Dr. Spock while you were working for Dr. Doolittle at MIT?” If you did in fact work with Dr. Spock, an appropriate response may be “Yes, I worked with Dr. Spock on several occasions.” It is never a good idea to share your actual experiences or true feelings (positive or negative) about a person with the interviewer. This is because you do not know what the relationship is between the interviewer and the person whose name was mentioned. In the example with Dr. Spock, it may be that Dr. Spock slept with the interviewer’s spouse (stranger things have happened) a few years ago and saying anything remotely positive about Dr. Spock, in this instance, is highly unlikely to garner you a job offer.

Frequently, candidates either go out to lunch or dinner with company employees who are hosting the interviewing visit. Just because you are no longer talking with these folks onsite, don’t think that you can relax, kick off your shoes and let your hair down. Contrary to popular belief, you are still being carefully scrutinized and evaluated for your social skills and how you might represent the company (if hired) in social situations. That said, follow the lead of your host(s). If he/she orders an alcoholic beverage, then it is perfectly acceptable for you to also order a drink. However, if you tend to “loosen up” after a few drinks (remember; loss lips sink ships) it may be wise to limit or not drink alcohol during the meal. Finally, and surprisingly perhaps most importantly, remember to turn off all electronic devices before you step in the building to begin your interview. In fact, you may want to leave your cell phone in your rental car or briefcase (turned off ) for the entire interview. A ringing cell phone during an interview is a definite “job killer”.

Until next time…..

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

 

The Job Search: How to Prepare for a Face-to-Face Job Interview

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Under ideal circumstances, job interviews can be very stressful and emotionally draining. After all, how you perform on a job interview will likely determine whether or not you get an offer for a position. Unfortunately, unless you are an experienced jobseeker, who has has participated in many job interviews, you will likely be taken by surprise at your next one.  To that end, the following tips, when adhered to, will likely help to reduce your stress level at your next job interview and possibly increase your chances of getting a job offer.

  • Allow yourself an ample amount of time to arrive on time at your interview; if, for some reason, you are running late (never a good thing) call ahead ASAP and let your host know that an "emergency" or "traffic problem" is responsible for your tardiness. In general, it is a good idea to arrive at an interview 10-15 min early or right on time. Arriving early allows you to relax, assess the interview space and collect your thoughts before the interview begins.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume with you. In my experience, most of the people who you meet will not have read or misplaced your CV. By bringing extra copies with you, your prospective employer is likely to think that you are organized, thoughtful and reliable.
  • Regardless of what is happening in your life, it is always a good idea to be personable, upbeat and “positive” on a job interview.  I recommend that you greet everyone (no matter what their standing is with the organization) with a smile and a comment that goes something like “It’s a pleasure to meet you”.  Nobody wants to talk (or possibly work with) a disgruntled or unhappy person.
  • Always make eye contact when talking with anyone. We are, by nature, social creatures and a lack of eye contact (or an inability to look directly at a person during a conversation) may cause the interviewer to think that you may lack the requisite interpersonal communication skills necessary for the job.
  • Don’t offer an interviewer more information than is necessary. Direct and concise answers are appropriate. Also, these types of responses show the interviewer that you can think quickly, clearly and decisively.  Don’t waste an interviewer’s time with rambling, unfocused answers or stories that are not relevant to the question that was asked. They are busy people and have other things that must be accomplished in additional to interviewing you.
  •  Answer all questions as honestly and forthrightly as possible.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t hmmm and haw simply say so!  However, I recommend that you soften the “I don’t know response” with verbiage that resembles: “Pause ….hmmm…..That is a very good question …..Pause….I don’t know the answer to that one!  Or you can say: Gee I don’t know the answer but perhaps you can give me your ideas on the topic?” Also, by pausing, you may sometimes be able to come up with an answer that originally eluded your when the question was first asked.
  • Never interrupt an interviewer when he/she is talking or in the middle of a thought. When appropriate, always allow the interviewer to control the flow and pace of the conversation. This signal to the interviewer that you can act professionally, are a team player and can be easily managed or supervised if you decide to join the organization.
  • When eating lunch or dinner with prospective co-workers always act professionally and don’t "let it all hang out."  This isn’t meant as a time for you to kick back and "level" with the guys and gals. This is a chance for current employees to assess your social skills and offer them  a glimpse of how you may represent the organization if hired. Everything you say or do will ultimately be reported or  find its way to the person who will be your immediate supervisor. Remember; although you are in a social setting, you are still being scrutinized for your professionalism. So, always act responsibly and professionally when dining with prospective co-workers or managers.
  •  Never drink alcoholic beverages at lunch (even if your host(s) does) and only at dinner when your host(s) orders a drink first. Also, if you cannot “hold your liquor”, I highly recommend that you don’t drink alcoholic beverages at any during your interview.
  •  Ask questions about the company when appropriate. Prospective employers love when job candidates ask questions about the company or their roles in the organization. This shows prospective employers that you have done your homework and are interested in possibly joining the company. Also, it gives you an opportunity to assess a company’s culture and whether or not you will be able to fit in if you decide to join the organization.
  • TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES, PAGERS, BLACKBERRY DEVICES and iPHONES when the interview begins and leave them off.  Nobody likes being interrupted during a conversation by a ringing cell phone, blackberry, or pager. If you are so important that you need to be electronically-connected at all times, then you probably don’t need the job that you are interviewing for!
  •  Never say anything derogatory or pejorative about anyone when interviewing. In case you haven’t noticed, the scientific community is a small one and chances are that one or more of people you meet will know some of the same people that you do!  Everyone loves to gossip so be careful about what you say and how you say it!
  • Interview to win! Receiving one or more job offers likely indicates that you are qualified for a job and your interviewing skills are good. Multiple interviews without offers signal that something may be wrong with your interviewing skills or technique. If this is the case, I urge you to seek a career coach who specializes in mock interview training.

Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. That said, the more job interviews that you go on, the more experienced you will become and the more job offers you will likely receive.  

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

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The Job Search: Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Life sciences employers ranging from academic institution to private sector companies are increasingly turning to telephone interviews as an initial means to screen prospective job candidates. While in many instances these interviews are perfunctory, they are conducted for two main reasons. First, the employer wants to verify that the information presented by the candidate in his/her curriculum vitae is correct and accurate. Second, and perhaps more importantly, to determine whether or not a candidate has sufficient oral communications skills that warrant the cost necessary to bring a candidate in for a face-to-face on site interview. 

The use of telephone interviews has become increasingly popular because of the escalating costs associated with bringing candidates in for onsite interviews and a growing number of foreign born applicants applying for life sciences jobs. Put simply, a prospective employer can easily determine an applicant’s command of the English language and his/her immigration status in a telephone interview. Both immigration status (permanent resident or citizenship) and outstanding command of the English language have become of paramount importance to most life sciences employers over the past five years or so. However, it is important to note, that individual employers place different emphasis on the qualifications and skills of applicants for different job opportunities within an organization.

Like it or not, you may find yourself in the position of having to participate in a telephone interview before a decision is made on whether or not you may be invited to visit for an onsite interview. To that end, Pete Kistler, CEO of Brand-Yourself.com, recently posted a great piece that describes how to best prepare for a phone interview. He offers seven easy-to-follow tips that are likely to increase the probability of a visit for an onsite interview.

1. Use a landline. You don’t want to risk having problems with cell phone service. It is irritating for employers to conduct interviews if the call breaks up frequently or is dropped completely. If you don’t have a land line at home, just make sure you are in an area with as much cell phone service as possible. Do what you can so the process runs as smooth as possible.

2. Keep your materials handy. In fact, lay everything out in front of you. This includes your resume, notes about your career objective (even if it isn’t included in your original cover letter it’s a good idea to have this out depending on the questions he will ask you), a pen and pad of paper for note-taking and anything else you think may be helpful during your interview. Because you won’t have to schlep into an office, you can have anything out in front of you to aid with your success.

3. Steer clear of distractions. Find a quiet place to interview and stay there! There shouldn’t be any noise in the background to distract you or your potential employer. However, it is understandable that this can be tricky if you have young children at home who need your attention. When you set up your interview appointment, try to schedule it for as precise a time or window as possible. That way, you are able to avoid possible distractions (ex.: your phone interview is between 4 and 4:30, so no one can have company over during that time, the kids are fed and occupied or a sitter will watch them, if need be.)

4. Speak slowly and clearly. When you speak to people face-to-face, you are able to understand what they are saying more clearly because you can see their mouth move. So in a way, you are reading their lips! Neither you nor your potential employer will be able to do this over the phone of course, so speak clearly and a little bit more slowly than you would if you were talking to this person in person. If you can’t hear him, drop hints that he isn’t speaking clearly or loud enough by politely asking him to repeat himself. If this makes you uncomfortable at all you can always blame it on your phone: “I’m really sorry, it’s hard to hear you, the volume on my phone just won’t go up!”

5. Remember – you can’t be seen. That means that anything you say cannot be interpreted by your body language. Beware of jokes or sarcastic remarks that would have been harmless had he seen your facial expression. Maintain your professionalism; stay on target with the interview topics and focus on the key information about you that will get you hired.

6. No eating, drinking or chewing gum! This is self-explanatory. But, we humans are creatures of habit and might pop a potato chip in our mouths at just the wrong moment. However, when I say no eating or drinking I mean during the phone interview. You should eat beforehand to get your brain going so you can focus.

7. Prepare questions ahead of time. Just like in a personal interview, prepare a few questions to ask your potential employer at the end of your phone interview. Some examples are:

“What is the start date for the opportunity?”

“What software/equipment would I be using?”

Remember – do not ask about salary or benefits until the employer has brought it up.

Fortunately, it can be less intimidating interviewing over the phone with these telephone interview tips and you may even feel more confident that you’ll do well. Great! As long as you are fully prepared and take the necessary precautions, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a successful phone interview.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

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