Tips & Tricks

 Tips for Employees (Candidates)

What do I do if there is more than one interviewer present at the interview?

Answer:  Typically they will show you where to sit, and they will introduce themselves by name and title. They should provide you with their business cards. If not, it’s appropriate to ask them for their cards. They should explain how the interview will work and what to expect. They should also let you if you can ask questions during or after the interview. If not, it’s OK to ask them that question. It’s important to answer their questions by addressing each interviewer with eye contact. In other words don’t focus on one interviewer throughout the interview, even if it’s just one interviewer asking the questions. Most importantly be relaxed and at ease, while being respectful.

What should I do if my interviewer asks me join him or her for lunch or a meal before, during or after the interview?

Answer:  I made the mistake early in my career of using poor etiquette skills when I was invited to lunch by two company executives. We ordered hamburger sandwiches. When the sandwiches arrived I quickly picked up the entire hamburger and started to devour it. I realized my error when I noticed both executives cut their sandwiches in half.

It’s possible the interviewer wants to have a meal, but more likely it’s an opportunity for him or her to ‘interview’ you in a social setting. They want to see how you respond in a less intimidating setting, or what your etiquette and social skills are. Realize that you are on ‘stage’ and should be at your best behavior. This is a great opportunity to display your manners. If you not quite sure what to do, let your interviewer take the lead. Some other suggestions include 1) avoid alcoholic drinks, 2) eat at an appropriate speed, 3) don’t order something that you might be wearing, 3) only order something with minimum or moderate expense, and 4) no dessert unless your interviewer orders first.

What’s the best thing to do when I arrive at my interview?”

Answer:  There are a number of things you can do when you arrive at your interview. Make sure you are early. Its better that you should wait, rather than have your interviewer wait. See what you can learn about the company based on reading material, or wall décor; awards, slogans, mottos, company values, etc. A valuable source of information is the gatekeeper (receptionist, secretary, or administrative assistant). If the environment allows it, strike up a friendly conversation with that person. And remember, it’s better to be a good listener, rather than a good talker. You can learn much more by listening than by talking. And by all means, be respectful towards the gatekeeper. You never know, she or he might be a relative of the decision maker or interviewer, and that exchange with the gatekeeper may make or break you.

When the interview is completed, is there anything special I should do or ask as I am leaving”

Answer:  Most likely the interviewer will tell you what to expect next. If not, it’s perfectly OK to ask that question. Ask your interviewer if there is anything additional he or she may want or need from you that would help them. Make sure you take any materials that were offered to you; business cards, company information, handouts, etc. Thank them for the time they ‘invested’ (not spent) with you, let them now you look forward to hearing from them, and concisely reiterate your sincere interest in the opportunity that you hope will be offered. Provide a firm handshake and good eye contact when you thank them. When you leave make sure you say ‘thank you’ to the gatekeeper. Then within 24 hours send a short email or personal note (not more than a paragraph) again thanking them for meeting with you and your sincere interest in the opportunity. 

Is there anything else I can do to learn more about the company I interviewed with or will interview with?

Answer:  If there is a company cafeteria, and you’re able to purchase a lunch or snack, do so. Position yourself at a table where you might hear company employees talking, and you might learn a lot about that company. You might be able to position yourself to where you can hear three of four conversations, and selectively hear about company morale or attitude.

Tips for Employers

How do you find a qualified candidate quickly?

Answer:  In the world of recruiting, establishing a network of contacts is invaluable for finding viable candidates. One frequently over-looked opportunity for establishing a pipeline of candidates is from businesses and companies in your area that are downsizing, going out of business, or relocating to a different part of the country. Often times those companies part with outstanding team members who then become available on the market. They would like to retain those valuable team members, but for various reasons, situations don’t allow it. Those companies want to help their former employees and if you contact their HR or personnel departments and let them know about the opportunity available at your company, they are happy to help both you and their former employee. It creates a win-win-win situation for the out-of-work employee, their former company, and of course your company.

On a resume or application, what is the most important piece of information that can be overlooked?

Answer:  Obviously it’s all important, otherwise it shouldn’t be there. But something of importance that typically can be over looked is a break of time in the employment history sequence.
It begs the question of why there is a period of time of unemployment between jobs. Why is that and what was the candidate doing during that period of time? Is there a reason they weren’t gainfully employed? The answers to these questions can be very enlightening, both in terms of concern and pleasant surprise.

When you’re interviewing a number of candidates is there a tip to help remember who was who when all you have are application and resumes?

Answer:  There was a time when you had your handy Polaroid camera and you could take a picture and staple it to the application. That was a different era, and if anyone has a Polaroid camera they don’t know where it is.

Yes, it is challenging when you are doing round-robin interviews and keeping up with the candidates coming through the pipeline for that day or week is a challenge. Typically the really outstanding candidates and those on the other end of the spectrum are more easily remembered. However even then it can be a bit of a challenge.

Though pictures are no longer permissible, unless a candidate ‘attaches’ one to his or her resume, there is a simple method that’s helpful. Every candidate has something about them that reminds you of someone or something else; maybe it’s a relative, a friend, a peer, or supervisor, or maybe it’s someone in the public sector (actor, ball player, politician, etc.). It makes no difference how obscure the connection is, if that helps you remember that person then you have solved your conundrum with a little creativity.

If you’re interviewing a candidate, and it’s not going well, what positive can you take from that interview?

Answer:  Well the obvious positive take-away is to review your screening process to help reduce that possibility from occurring in the future. However an unqualified candidate can still appear. A couple of good take-aways include 1) learning about that candidate’s company, and 2) getting referrals. Find out who does what with the unqualified candidate’s company and ask who that candidate would recommend and why. Then at the appropriate time, contact that referral (without outing the source of the referral) and see where the conversation goes.

Can you interview a candidate, without really interviewing them?

Answer:  A typical interview is a rather formal setting, however interviews can happen in informal settings and a lot can be learned. Informal interviews can happen in social situations including breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I like to occasionally invite a candidate to lunch with the twist being that the candidate drives me to lunch. I find you can learn a lot about a candidate by the way they drive, how they interact with others, and their social etiquette.A formal interview can provide a glimpse of the veneer, however the informal setting give you a more clear view of the subsurface.

Tips for Start-up business

What is the best way to get your start-up business up and running?

Answer:  When you work for someone else, punch a time clock, are salaried, or hourly, you work an approximate or set number of hours per week. However when you are trying to start your own business, then the clock has no hours. You do what it takes to get the job done, and the job usually doesn’t get done because there is always so much more that you want to do, but don’t have the time.

The best way to get your business up and running and from the red to the black is to talk to anybody, and everybody who will listen to what you have to say about your product, service, or idea. Always have a business card available. If you don’t have a business card, then basically you’re not ready to conduct business. When you are starting a business, you can’t afford to pass on any opportunity. There should be no ‘off’ position on your doing-business switch.

What’s the best way to learn how to start my business?

Answer:  Find someone who is doing what you want to do, and ask them how they got their start.  It’s as simple as that. Now, not everyone will be willing to talk with you, especially if they think you will be competition. So if you’re unable to do it locally, then research someone outside of your area. Most people like to talk about themselves, or their business, so if they see you as someone who will not be a competitor, or if they are very secure with their business or position in life, they would be happy to share their ‘success’ or ‘hard road’ story.

What is the best one-word piece of advice you can give me regarding starting a business?

Answer:  The one word answer is ‘perseverance’. If your plan is solid, and the numbers show a sustainable business is attainable, then the only piece left is perseverance. Don’t quit, and don’t give up. Forge ahead with determination. And remember, the road isn’t very crowded when you go the extra mile.

How do I know if my business is sustainable or not?

Answer:  When you are developing your business plan and you have a profit range, go on the conservative side. The reverse holds true for expense; lean towards the liberal side of expense. If the business looks sustainable with those two paradigms, then absolutely pass it by your accountant. It’s imperative to have an accountant whose expertise you trust and value. You may not hear the answer you want, however you will hear the answer you need.

I’ve heard it takes money to make money. How do I determine how much money to put into my start up business?

Answer:  If you’ve got the money and you want to put into your business, then why not. If you don’t have it, then you’ll want to put in only what you’re willing to lose if it comes to that. Some new business owners rely on OPM (other people’s money). Take a look at each aspect of your business and break it down line by line. Take it as a personal challenge to see where and how you can save or limit your expense, and you’ll be surprised how your expenses can be minimized without sacrificing quality.