What to Wear for Interview – The Employable’s Top Tips

Reposted from: The Employable, The Online Community by the Employable for the Employable

Over the past while we’ve given our fair share of tips for interviews – from how to answer the most common questions through to how you should focus on your body language. However there is another element that’s pretty important too – what you should wear. Whilst for some people it may seem pretty much common sense, for many others, figuring out what to wear can be a real headache. In a bid to help, we’ve put together our basic tips for “What to Wear for Interview.”

First Impressions Count
Don’t underestimate the impact of the first impression. As soon as the interviewers cast their eyes on you, they are already forming an opinion of you, before you have even said a word. If your appearance is not what they would expect, then you could be already at a disadvantage.

Err on the side of caution
In an interview it’s always better to dress smarter than normal if you are at all in doubt. It’s to be expected that candidates attending interview will dress pretty conservatively and doing so will never be a bad thing. If you dress too casually, it actually can convey the impression to the employer that you don’t really care.

The small things can be the big things
If you’re a woman, choose the accessories you wear for interview carefully. Leave the ridiculously large earrings, over-sized rings and masses of jangling bangles and bracelets behind. Wearing them will just be a distraction to the interviewer. Yes, they make you stand out, but for all the wrong reasons. Wear more simple and classic accessories and leave the rest at home. If you’re a man, you don’t get off lightly here either. Even if your favourite tie is the Donald Duck one that your Auntie Mabel bought you last Christmas, it shouldn’t be worn at interview. And those novelty socks won’t do you any favours either. Plainer and more traditionally conservative ties and socks will give a much better impression to the interviewer.

The sit-down test
When getting ready for interview, it pretty much goes without saying that you will have checked out how you look in the mirror. However standing preening and posing is not really how an interviewer is going to see you, is it? During an interview you’re going to be sitting down, and things won’t look quite the same. If you’re a woman, that skirt may seem much shorter than you’d like once you’re seated and if you’re a man, perhaps the shirt that gapes open reveals a little more about you than you’d hoped for. Have a seat and check out your chosen outfit and if it’s not working, choose something else.

The practicals
Man or woman, the clothes you wear at interview have to be clean and freshly ironed. Creased clothes are never a good look. Also, in terms of what exactly to wear, the standard interview attire of suit, shirt and tie for men usually does the trick, provided it is clean, fits properly, and is not too outlandish in colour! For women, a jacket with trousers or skirt works well, again provided it is in a fairly neutral colour ( black, navy, grey etc), the skirt isn’t too short, trousers are of a normal length (leave the cropped ones at home!) and that any blouse or top worn underneath is not too low cut and revealing.

Showing some flair
For job interviews in the more creative sectors, it is understandable that you may want to differentiate yourself, and show a little of your creative and artistic flair with your interview attire. However it’s still best to dress in a more formal way and perhaps add a little twist through a coloured accessory you wear if you’re a woman or a less formal shirt if you’re a man. Even the most relaxed workplaces would still expect someone attending interview to have put in some effort, so casuals are a no go.

We hope these tips help you out next time you are planning your interview attire. We’d love to hear your thoughts too though. Do let us know any of your interview fashion tips via the comments section below.

4 Tips For Introverts Ongoing To Networking Events

Reposted from: Things Career Related, A Practical Look at the Job Search

Recently I was given a ticket to a guest-speaker event for a group of young professionals in my community. This, I thought, would be great because I’d be seeing Erik Qualman speak about social media–Erik wrote Socialnomics and is a great speaker. I thought I would be able to sit comfortably and listen to an expert on social networking speak.

When I arrived at the event I discovered it was to be preceded by a networking hour and that I was woefully underdressed. I promptly entered the building, went to the men’s room, and exited the building. I needed air. It took me a few minutes to collect myself and prepare for an unfamiliar group of well-dressed people I’d be meeting (or hiding from). I was starting to feel like I was in a dream where I was in one of my workshops dressed in my underwear only. But I promptly re-entered the building and (luckily) spotted someone I knew.

An article titled Networking for Introverts brings to mind some great points, namely: 1) network on your own terms, 2) create a comfortable environment for yourself, 3) leverage your skills as an introvert. All of these suggestions were negated the moment I entered the large hall.

I have four tips to add to Karl Stark’s and Bill Stewart’s article, all of which advise that introverts prepare for a networking event, not simply go with eyes closed–I’m proof of this. Here are my four tips.

  1. Know what’s on the agenda. In retrospect the first thing I should have asked when accepting the ticket to this event was what kind of event it was going to be. Instead I gratefully accepted the ticket  from a benefactor failing to ask a very important question, ”What is the agenda  for the night?” If she told me there would be some networking involved, I would have been better prepared. To an introvert this is essential.
  2. Ask if there’s a dress code. Not all networking events are created equal.  Had I known there was going to be a networking session before the speaker went on, I would have dressed better. Imagine my surprise when most of the men were wearing suites and the women wearing dresses. There’s nothing more distracting than knowing you’re under dressed for a networking event.
  3. Go with business cards. I have business cards for work as well as personal business cards, none of which were on my person. Had I known what was going to precede the speaking event, I would have brought a set of business cards. There is nothing worse than someone handing you his/her business card and having to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my cards with me.”
  4. Mentally prepare for the event. Related to #1, introverts have to develop a “Just do it” attitude. We need to prep ourselves to get outside our comfort zone, which includes preparing for small talk, not relying on seeing a room full of familiar faces. Preparing for a networking event might begin hours before the event, or, for some, days beforehand. This also means fighting the excuses not to attend, like not being dressed for the occasion.

The evening turned out to be great fun for me. I spoke to people who were no more prepared than me and others who were there to work the room. When I re-entered at the beginning of the event, I knew there was no turning back; and I’m glad I didn’t. One thing I wish I had done that evening was stay for the food, which looked awesome.

10 Traits of the Best Interviewer Ever

Reposted from: Things Career Related, A Practical Look at the Job Search

As I read articles on the five traits employers look for in the ideal job candidate and others like it, I think about what traits the  ideal  interviewer would demonstrate in the hiring process. Interviewer/s typically hold all the cards in the hiring processes, but who’s to say the interviewer shouldn’t claim some responsibility for the success of hiring the most qualified person for the job?

According to an article from CareerBuilder.com, a whopping 69% of employers say they hire people who aren’t qualified to do the job or aren’t a fit. Furthermore, employers are losing humongous sums of money because of their poor hiring decisions, as much as %25,000-$50,000 per bad hire. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t bode well for employers’ hiring strategies and, more specifically, how they interview and choose the wrong candidates.

Interviewing people for a position isn’t the easiest thing to do, nor is it the most pleasurable part of a job according to most hiring managers I’ve asked. I didn’t particularly like it myself, but it was a necessity. Who is the best interviewer ever? He or she has the following 7 characteristics:

  1. She’s prepared from the beginning. The success of an interview depends a great deal on whether the interviewer has taken the time to prepare for the big event. This means identifying the skills and experience she seeks in the candidates, as well as recognizing the weaknesses she wants to avoid. She prepares answers in advanced and doesn’t rush around asking people in the office what interview questions she should ask five minutes prior to the interview.
  2. Doesn’t care that the candidates are nervous. Some jobseekers don’t interview well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t excel at the duties of the job. It’s a totally different matter if they’re not prepared for the interview or commit all of the faux pas described in the hundreds of published books and online articles.
  3. Asks the candidates relevant questions. These would include questions that were well thought out, not ones that the interviewer read from a book, or questions that were devised three years ago by Human Resources that meet requirements for previous HMs.
  4. Asks tough questions that get to the core of the candidates. Most employers would agree that besides the questions that determine someone’s technical abilities, behavioral-based/motivation-based questions are the best at predicting how the candidates will perform in the future, based on past behaviors and their motivation to overcome obstacles.
  5. Interviews candidates for a job that exists. This isn’t necessarily the interviewer’s fault; the company may advertise an opening unsure of necessarily funding, only to tell the candidates they aren’t going forward with the position. Or the company plans to go with an inside candidate and is holding the interview for appearance sake. This is a waste of time for everyone involved and a letdown for expectant candidates. This is plain wrong.
  6. Interviews candidates for the correct position. The best interviewer ever doesn’t interview candidates for a position that has different requirements and skills than advertised in the job posting. Many of my customers have told me they prepared for the ideal job only to find out the requirements were beyond their reach, making them obviously unfit for the position. A big waste of time.
  7.  Doesn’t ask illegal questions. “How old are you?” one of my customers was asked during a phone interview. Other illegal questions include: what country are you from? Do you have any children? Are you taking medication? The best interviewer ever will refrain from asking questions about race, color, sex, religion, national origin, birthplace, age, disability, and marital/family status, etc.
  8. He doesn’t make a decision based on appearance. I once worked for someone who hired very young, attractive woman; and the running joke was that he was a “dirty old man.” This makes one wonder if many qualified people were passed over because they didn’t meet his appearance standards. The best interviewer ever will disregard appearance and focus on technical and personality fit, ultimately hiring people who are right for the job, not better suited for modeling.
  9. She provides feedback if a rejected candidate asks. This is a tough one because a few candidates might cry foul play or press the best interviewer ever for more details. However, many of my jobseekers simply want to know how they can do better at the next interview, nothing more. I applaud an interviewer who will provide critique on how a candidate answered certain questions, what skills they lacked, or if they wouldn’t be a personality fit for the company (there is such thing).

As mentioned earlier, making great hiring decisions is not as easy as people would think, ergo the 69% of hiring managers who make wrong hiring decisions at one point or more in their career. But if said interviewers consider their goal of hiring the best candidate, they must think not only of themselves but rather consider how best to get the necessary information from the people they’re considering hiring.

Oh, lastly, 10. He sends a rejection letter. A little bit of courtesy will go a long way.

Stupid Things That Job Candidates Do

By: Julie Roehm

Reposted from: iMedia Connection, Connecting the Marketing Community

Those of you who are old enough might remember the quote from the movie “Top Gun” in which Goose says to Maverick, “We regret to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.” I couldn’t help but think about that line as I was writing this article:

“We regret to inform you that you are not hired — because you are stupid.”

The genesis of this article came from a piece I wrote a few months ago on “Stupid (but common) resume mistakes.” For that piece, I tapped my super-savvy professional network for anecdotes and advice and quoted them throughout the article. (You need only go to my Facebook and LinkedIn pages to join this conversation or future ones.) The resulting article was well received. So, as a follow-up, let’s focus less on the resume itself and more on the other reasons people don’t get hired.

Some of these reasons are specific to digital, some are common-sense faux pas you should avoid, and some are just plain — stupid. But almost all of them are really entertaining. Let’s get started.

Common sense faux pas

The list of common-sense faux pas is a long one. You would be surprised by what people do and how the littlest things can completely derail an interview or even the chance at an interview.

A former colleague of mine, Andrew Goldberg, listed his top job applicant offenses as showing up late, smelling like cigarettes, having typos on a resume, and sending sloppy emails (including ones with lowercase letters or that use using “u” to mean “you”). Other really basic courtesies that should have been taught at home seem to be easily overlooked when one is nervous. I recommend always including a “thank you” and “hello” wrapped in a smile. On the other hand, using inappropriate language, as Sal Tofano mentioned, is not very smart. Chewing gum in an interview is another “duh” offense, and it was listed by no fewer than three people in my networks.

In addition to the gum faux pas, David Greenwald cited these other interviewee pet peeves:

  • Not looking at the interviewer directly when speaking
  • Reading your slides or resume to the hiring manager
  • Not taking notes or not even having a note pad and pen
  • Staring out the window when the interviewer is speaking
  • Clicking or twirling a pen
  • Unpolished shoes
  • Dirty chewed-up finger nails

And finally, the three most offensive common-sense blunders were offered by the following folks:

  • Jim Holbrook: mistreating the receptionist
  • Leo Pieri: using a referral you don’t even know
  • Andrew Goldberg: checking a phone during an interview

To these, I say: Come on people — really?!

Do you want this job — or just any job?

The overriding theme here is simple: Do your homework! And at least pretend that you want the job you are interviewing for and not just wasting the interviewer’s time.

Understandably, not every job you interview for is your dream job. But in my experience, at least 30 percent of every job is what you make of it. There will always be barriers and limitations, but there are likely far fewer than you imagine once you get in. Thus, the biggest disservice you can do to yourself and to the employer is to be short-sighted.

Wes Nichols made the point well when he said, “I dislike when people talk about their career as a series of ‘gigs’ — that telegraphs a short-term, putting-food-on-the-table orientation rather than passion about their career or employer.”

Here are a few more anecdotes regarding the need to do your homework:

Tad Smith said his biggest reason for not giving people a job is that they make it obvious that they don’t understand the business for which they’re interviewing, let alone the job itself.

Dan Gershenson emphasizes this point in noting his frustration with cover letters that begin, “Dear Sir or Madam, I am applying for…” Gershenson said, “Really? Thanks for showing me you didn’t research me at all and I am one of 200 people you’re sending the same letter to. So — why should I treat you with any more respect than what you’ve shown me? Do your homework on the decision maker(s), the company, etc., and craft a customized cover letter. If the person isn’t worth your time to do that, frankly, you shouldn’t be worth their time either.”

Look in the mirror

Want a mint? No? Mind if I stick one up my nose?

OK, that’s a little crude, but you get the point. The idea that people would go into interviews without having brushed their teeth recently, had a breath mint, brushed the dog hair off of their suits, or — God forbid — not bothered to actually brush their hair is beyond understanding. But, as usual, I never cease to be amazed.

In my network outreach, both Randy Simonian and Andrew Goldberg noted that bad breath stays with them a lot longer than what the person says. And Sal Tofano suggested that people should not “show up for the interview as if they were going to a garage sale.” Good idea.

Don’t be a digital idiot

In this day and age, it is important to know that there are no secrets. What you put in the digital world is accessible by anyone nearly anywhere. So, this old mantra applies: Don’t write it if it is not something you wouldn’t want to see splashed across the front page of The New York Times. Sal Tofano agreed and noted that he has reconsidered the employment of people who have spoken negatively about past employers and colleagues on social media sites.

That said, there are far worse digital behaviors. Eileen Campbell said that she “just got a LinkedIn request from a guy who uses a framed picture of himself on a museum wall complete with adoring visitors gazing lovingly at him as his profile pic. Who knew egos had legs?” And while this is clearly tacky, the worse offense — digital or otherwise — is confusing genders. In this case, Campbell’s egomaniac also addressed her as “Dear Mr. Campbell.”

Did I mention that there were worse digital behaviors? The worst I read came from my former agency pro, Dede Solley, who said that she interviewed a candidate for a social position and regretfully accepted his LinkedIn request. “To this date, he is still stalking me online,” she said. “I even changed companies. Week to week, he’s always on the list of people that viewed my profile.” Yuck!

Remember: Your digital shadow is huge, and even if you don’t make direct contact, there are plenty of tracking systems to alert people when you are tracking — or stalking — them. Learn when enough is enough.

You have two ears and one mouth

I was reminded about this bit of interview advice once, as I tend to be a “talker.” I was told to listen twice as much as I spoke, as that is the ratio of my ears to my mouth. It has worked like a charm, every time. My friend Pat Ruta agreed. He noted that people who don’t listen consequently don’t know what questions to ask.

I’m a big girl (or boy) now

Jim Holbrook’s anecdote about immaturity is almost unbelievable. After an interview, a candidate’s mom — yep, mom — called HR to follow up. Similarly, Dede Solley told this story: “Last week, a colleague of mine interviewed someone who brought his dad to the interview with him and requested a lounge where his dad could hang out during the interview. Nuts!”

You can’t make this stuff up. Although I don’t think it should have to be stated, I will go ahead and do it anyway: Leave your parents at home during the interview process.

Don’t be a cliché

Be yourself instead. This means that you have done your homework (per the earlier discussion) but that you also know yourself and are hopefully interviewing for jobs that are well suited to you, your strengths, and your personality.

My friend Ted Wright has run a successful company for several years and interviews people regularly. He is a bit edgy, but his larger point is a good one. He says the biggest reason not to hire someone is because the interview candidates are not being themselves. “Some jobs call for flip-flops, a deep knowledge of Zydeco, and the ability to use the word ‘fuck’ in all possible variations,” he said. “Some require you to know how horribly tacky it is to wear a button-down shirt with a suit. And in some, you have to be able to play basketball very well. ‘Stop thinking, let things happen, be the ball.'”

I personally believe that being yourself means leaving out the clichés. David Greenwald’s favorite too-oft-used cliché is when an interviewee says he or she would be good in a sales role because that person “gets along really well with people” or is a “team player.” Furthermore, if an interviewer inquires about your greatest weakness, don’t tell them that it’s “working too hard” or “caring too much,” advised Greenwald. Gag.

Don’t get ahead of yourself

Interviewing 101 and Negotiations 101 have a lot in common. Both teach that it is best to hear points of views fully from all sides and to decisively make your case before making demands. Unfortunately, too many people seem to forget this when they are interviewing and jump the gun by making requests or demands in the very first interview.

Karyn Saunders, a friend and professional recruiter, provided me with a list of don’ts along these lines. “Asking about compensation in the first interview — a big no no,” she said. Her other questions to avoid during interviews include:

  • If hired, can I have a week off at Christmas? It is tradition to spend it with my family overseas.
  • What are the hours like?

Karen Koerner Arnold also said that asking detailed questions about benefits too early in the interview process feels pushy and can give the interviewer the impression that you do not have a true interest in the company and position. “I want to hire a candidate who wants this job, not just a job,” she said.

Perhaps the most off-putting comments you can make are those that reveal your inner diva. Mark Wildman sarcastically noted that he loves immediate discussions during interviews about a person’s need for an office and its size requirements.

Foot-in-mouth disease

Is the unemployment rate 8.1 percent or 1.8 percent? I ask because, after hearing from my social network, job interviewees are making it sound like there is an abundance of jobs and they simply have their pick. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the scenario these days. Kieran Jason Hackett, a senior executive, recalled an interview in which the interviewee said, “I really see this position as a great way to set me up for my real dream.” Umm — so, you’re really interested in this job and company, huh?

But the award for the most “oh no he di’in’t” (insert finger wag) story came from Adina Smith. She recalled that, in the middle of an interview, a male candidate said, “I’m not good at reporting to women. Am I going to have to report to you?” To which Smith replied, “You would have, but no, you don’t need to worry about that anymore.” You go, girl!

Don’t be a creep

Always remember that you are not invisible. People do the most amazing things in public and while entertaining — great fodder for YouTube. But it can be the kiss of death in an interview.

Two examples emerged from my social networks that exemplify this point. First, Floyd Hayes tells of an interview in which a young man came in looking for an internship at Hayes’ company. “The thing is, there was a large mirror behind me, and this young man was so vain he kept checking himself out in the mirror,” Hayes said. This gets a five out of 10 on the “ick” scale. But this next story gets a solid 9-plus.

Josh Kavanaugh tells of a time when his firm did a panel interview with a male candidate who “brazenly and inappropriately stared at one of the female interviewers the entire time — no eye contact was made with anyone including her the entire time.” Eww.

The topic of why people don’t get hired is one that gives and gives. And while at least most anecdotes are somewhat humorous, they can be also highly disturbing. Truthfully, none of the tips in this article are revolutionary or new. But they still seem to be violated with great frequency.

Julie Roehm is senior vice president marketing and “chief storyteller” at SAP.

Can a Stranger Read Your Resume?

Found this great advice in a newsletter from TheLadders today.

Can a stranger read your resume?

Print out your resume. Take the top third and rip it off. Hand it to somebody you don’t know.

Can they tell you, without asking you any additional questions, what you want to do next?

For too many of my subscribers, the answer is no. The reason is that you’re trying to do the wrong thing with the top third of your resume. You’re trying to tell people about your character and your abilities and your many, many different skills and your flexibility and too many things!

You know what the person who is reading your resume is trying to find out?

“Does this gal, or guy, want this job that I have to fill?”

Obviously, given that you’ve spent the time to create a resume and send it to them, they know you want a job. But do you want this particular job?

Is it something that you’ve done before? If so, did you like it? If so, do you want to do it again?

Because you spend all of your time with yourself, it seems so very obvious that you want the type of job that you’re looking for.

But strangers don’t know that. And, chances are, you’ll most likely be hired by a stranger.

So it’s important that you make it easy for people who don’t know you.

Show them, at the very top of your resume, what job you want.

If they can’t tell, by reading the top-third of your resume, what you want to do next, then you’re never going to get to the next step.

No Thank You Could Mean NO Job

No Thank You Could Mean No Job

Re-posted from: Career Advice.blogspot.com

It’s one of the simplest things you can do. Your mother told you to always say it. By expressing it — or not — you can change a person’s mood and perception of you in an instant. Who knew two words could be so powerful?

Writing a thank-you letter after an interview doesn’t just showcase a candidate’s manners – it can also make or break their chances of landing a job. Nearly 15 percent of hiring managers say they would not hire someone who failed to send a thank-you letter after the interview. Thirty-two percent say they would still consider the candidate, but would think less of him or her, according to CareerBuilder.com’s “How to Get in the Front Door” survey.

Although most hiring managers expect to receive a thank-you note, format preferences differ. One-in-four hiring managers prefer to receive a thank-you note in e-mail form only; 19 percent want the e-mail followed up with a hard copy; 21 percent want a typed hard copy only and 23 percent prefer just a handwritten note.

No matter which format you choose, it’s crucial to act quickly when sending a thank-you letter to your interviewer. Twenty-six percent of hiring managers expect to have the letter in-hand two days after the interview, and 36 percent expect to have it within three to five days. Sending the letter quickly reinforces your enthusiasm for the job, and helps keep you top-of-mind for the interviewer.

Here are some tips to make the most of your thank-you letter.

Stick to three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, thank the interviewer for the opportunity. Use the second to sell yourself by reminding the hiring manager of your qualifications. In the third paragraph, reiterate your interest in the position.

Fill in the blanks.
Thank-you notes are a great way to add in key information you forgot in the interview, clarify any points or try to ease any reservations the interviewer might have expressed.

Proofread carefully.
Double-check to be sure your note is free from typos and grammatical errors. Don’t rely solely on your spell-checker.

Be specific. Don’t send out a generic correspondence. Instead, tailor your note to the specific job and the relationship you have established with the hiring manager.