Ahhh, the troubles of fashion.
Something I talk about a lot with my clients and my college students is what to wear / what not to wear. I find it interesting that this is something you can hear about all the time on the periphery (like any college career office worth its weight in salt will discuss dress code for interviews) but it is so personal that it is still a struggle to get dressed for those interviews.
A lot of what to wear is dependent on the industry you are meeting with for your next step. Those of us who are well used to interviewing know what works for us - what suit or outfit makes us feel powerful, confident and in control. For those who are just starting out or for whom interviewing is a panic-inducing process (for many more people than you would think), this is not too easy.
My rules of fashion for interviewing are simple and straightforward - or so I thought before I wrote these all down. Yikes.
Rules For Men:
For men, splurge on your shoes. All of my industries (education, publishing and, of course, financial services) the most important expense for men were their shoes - and the cobbler down by 55 Water Street had a lot of business repairing and restoring these shoes because they were mini-investments.
The suit is important too and should match the industry norms. So if it is financial services, it should be a conservative suit in a conservative color - keep the beige and white suits for other industries. Stay sharp with a nice tie in a great color - but not too colorful and nothing strange on the tie - it will not be a conversation starter. For other industries, it can be more relaxed - maybe the company is a tech one and no one wears suits, ever - but know that before you walk in. Also, it does not hurt to be in a suit unless of course you know the corporate culture is one totally against suits. Of course, your clothing options can range in prices from super expensive to Men's Warehouse reasonable - I think reasonable is the way to go unless you are a multi-million dollar investment banker in which case your suit will be in the thousands.
Always be well-groomed.
You should use a messenger bag or briefcase, if needed. Otherwise, it is not uncommon for men to come to an interview with just a folder and/or one of those leather folders holding a pad of paper and a nice pen. Please make it a nice pen.
Rules for Women
For women, there are so many fashion options and I think that is the hardest part about interviewing as a woman.
Shoes are just as important for women but they should be comfortable. Do not wear the 4 inch Jimmy Choos unless you wear them every day and I would caution against wearing them anyway because they look more weekend-ready and not office-ready. The shoes must be in great shape. One time, in college, I went on an interview and just grabbed the well-worn heels I had worn for a few years and I remember the interviewer (another woman), looking derisively at my shoes - I did not get offered the job.
Depending on the industry, either a conservative suit probably in a skirt option although pants are also acceptable and probably more comfortable. The only time you will probably wear pantyhose will be to an interview on a conservative firm - and some of the more conservative firms have a dress code policy that states rules regarding pantyhose, tights etc. It depends on the firm and I do think a lot of companies are more in the less conservative area than conservative. If you know someone at the firms you are interviewing with, it makes sense to ask them about the dress code (especially if they are other women). I know back in the day at Standard & Poor's open toed sandals and shoes were prohibited as well as shorts, tank tops, etc most for both men and women.
Also for women, be comfortable. Do not wear something ill-fitting either too big or too small. Mimic your industry but you can never go wrong with a nice suit either skirt or pants. If skirt, make sure the length is long enough to allow you to sit comfortably and that when you have to bend down to pick up your pocketbook and other stuff that it does not ride up too much in the back. Because, yes, although you think you will not have to bend, trust me you will. Use a 3 way mirror or have a friend, roommate or family member check this out for you.
Your pocketbook should also be conservative - I use My Best Friend is a Bag and it fits all of my required "stuff" with a zippered middle pocket and then has two side portions where I can put my laptop or iPad and folders, etc.
Try to carry a nice pen and one of those folders with a pad of paper in it (like those leather like portfolios that open up with pad of paper). Grooming should be matching to the company - if it is a creative company, you can have non-natural hair colors but if it is not creative, be careful with the hair colors.
For Both Men & Women
Do not dose yourself too much with your favorite scent but do make sure you smell pleasant.
Tattoos should be a talking point - when I was in college, anyone with a visible tattoo was instructed to cover them with makeup, dark stockings or more - I do not think this is as much as an issue anymore barring any tattoos on the face area - I do not think those are as accepted yet. But I could be wrong - let me know if you think otherwise re tattoos and/or piercings. I do think piercings (depending on the company) should be toned down - as in not too many in the face area besides ears. Another thing I am open to suggestions/discussion on.
Wow, this went on longer than I thought it would - I guess I did have lots of fashion tips. What do you think about my advice re fashion? What would you do differently for your first interviews? What is your go to fashion style for interviewing? Happy Hunting!
The most important interview tip is to be prepared. Preparation involves practicing your interviewing skills, knowing about the company, the industry and even as much as you can about the position you are interviewing to get.
It is best if you can practice your interviewing skills via mock interviews, with friends and family and / or with networking partners.
You have to know about the company make sure you set a Google alert to get all the latest news about the company. If it's a small or private company and there is not too much publicly available information make use of the company's own website, press releases and more to find out as much as you can about the company. While studying (yes I said the word studying - consider this a test and if you get the job, you passed) you should also be aware of industry news and events going on or impacting the industry.
When I taught Eco and finance in 2011-2012, I made my students read Michael Lewis' The Big Short as part of the in class discussion / work because I told them if they went on a finance related interview and could not speak to the financial crisis, the mortgage issue and the huge fallout from the breakdown in 2007-2009 that they would never find a job.
For knowing the job you are interviewing for, this could be tough. You might be brought in without knowing too much about the position and all companies have different naming conventions for jobs that can be similar but you just do not know. Go with the job listing, if it exists, but know if you are an interesting candidate, you might be interviewing for multiple positions at the same time. If you know the company and the industry you can get by without knowing everything about the job.
And this will allow you to be able to ask questions and to be ready to ask questions. Do not leave an interview without asking thoughtful and good questions. Do not ask filler questions try to really apply what the interviewer discussed with you to your questions.
What do you think of my advice for interviewing? I am including a link to Michael Lewis' book that I mentioned above - if you are interested in working in financial services, please read it because the information is still timely and can help you make discussion points during interviews. Happy hunting!
I thought I would just expand a bit about media training with some quick tips from me (with video, below).
Interviews today are frequently happening across all types of communication mediums. Almost everyone has used their iPhones for face-time calls and/or their computers for Skype calls. However, do you know the etiquette for doing these types of communications for job interviews?
The most important tips to remember are these:
1) Be present
Make sure there are no distractions for the video call - you will probably be at home so make sure you have made provisions for your pet/child(ren)/spouse/friend with benefits, whatever to be preferably in another part of the house or not at home. If you cannot do these calls at home (maybe you are on the road for your other job or what have you), try to be in a quiet place where you can focus on the call and not have a lot of activity going on around you.
2) Be presentable
Even though you are in another location, treat the interview as if it were being held in person. This means wearing the interview outfit (the complete outfit - do not skimp on the bottoms/pants because you never know if you will forget and stand up by accident) and being camera ready. What does camera ready mean? It means preparing as if it were to be in person - brush your hair, apply makeup if you wear any and just be ready to smile and charm, through technology.
3) Be charming
This can be tough - you want to be personable and come across as genuine and something about video technology makes it seem as though we are incapable of connecting sometimes. So keep your smile warm and genuine - attempt to make eye contact but understand this is difficult to truly achieve over video - you can look into the camera and towards the direction of your interviewer (or interviewerS if more than one). This should help make a connection across technology.
4) Follow all interview rules and tips
Make sure you are prepared, make sure you ask questions and if in doubt of what this means, check out my other blog posts under the category interview tips.
What do you think about my quick tips for media training? Are you ready for your video based interviews? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Hunting!
Mark Stuart wrote this awesome piece of advice using LinkedIn Pulse publishing and it really spoke to me. He talks about how GPA is not the most important indicator or the most interesting thing about candidates.
I always tell my University level students that it is okay to have other interests and passions and to hopefully be able to weave those interests/passions into their interviews. I often tell them that the GPA they have is not as important as being well-rounded and knowing what will make them motivated and happy. I feel that doing well in school is not really the same thing as doing well in life. It can definitely help prepare you for life and work and deadlines but it is not all it takes. In school, you have a "boss" but it is only for a semester or two - there is a requirement that you do the work, and you get a good grade. In real life, you have a boss or a team that is with you for years and years (hopefully) and that you need to be able to adjust and work with every day over a longer amount of time (post coming soon on what to do if your colleagues make you mad). And if you do not get along or fit in, you will not last.
So having other things to talk about is important and being able to take that next step. Mr Stuart says, "The main thing I looked for was cultural fit, and their attitude and approach to different scenarios." This is so important - the culture of the company along with encouraging diversity is the way to build effective teams.
Please do keep working hard in school but also make time for other pursuits that can be including in your elevator pitch about yourself and can help differentiate yourself enough to get the job for your next step. What do you think about this advice? What are you interested in that can be used to help you get your next step? Happy Hunting!
LinkedIn Pulse Doesn't Matter What Grades You Got in School
Don Goodman on Jobhunt.org has some good advice on connecting with the interviewer and how important that is to getting your next step. It is interesting to try to do this via other mediums as discussed in the Why we all need media training post I put up yesterday. For a traditional in person interview, it is much easier to identify and work with body language. Through the computer or video screen, it is much harder to do that but it can be taught to compensate for body language cues that are missed via a video connection. For in person interviews, which you should hopefully be having if you are a serious candidate for the position to the interviewing company, you can use these tips in the article about body language.
I have mentioned here a few times about the importance of telling a story around your accomplishments - it is engaging and less boring for everyone involved. This is a time when if you can use some humor, it is nice to have a nice laugh - but be careful with humor because it can fall flat and/or be controversial if you are not careful. Asking questions is so important and that goes hand in hand with knowing the interviewer and the company - try to have these questions already identified in advance of the interview but also be prepared to think on your feet and truly listen to the interviewer to come up with new ones that are relevant and come up during the session.
What do you think about the advice in this article? Do you have any tricks for connecting with the interviewer? Do you think it is important to build a connection? Let me know in the comments or via tweet or even through the chat function below. Happy Hunting!
Jobhunt.org Ace Job Interview
This is my first off the cuff post without using an article to discuss. I have been thinking more and more about how both my career and entrepreneurship endeavors have benefited from the fact that I am comfortable with public speaking and communicating through various media - such as the written word, audio and video. A lot of my comfort has come from the fact that I have been a professor for over 12 years and practice definitely helps make close to perfect. Shooting the promotional video for my class up at Wagner College for the Office for Lifelong Learning on Monday made it clear that I was pretty comfortable communicating my enthusiasm and passion for this project - in fact, the person who made the video said that after hearing me she wanted to register for the class, too!
Today's job market is a tough one - there are many people who are qualified and looking for their next step. Something to set yourself apart is the ability to speak/present - I can say with authority that all of my work experience with Corporate America was as successful as it was due to the fact that I could present. When a company I was working at needed training done for senior management at a conference, I was the one asked to do it. When a project in Singapore was struggling, I was the one on the plane. And that meant exposure, that meant more opportunities and that meant great things for my resume and my planning for my next step.
So, why do I think media training is important? Of course, the most important first step is your resume - it must be as close to perfect as possible to get you to the next hurdle to pass - those of the interviews. Your interview might be done over the phone with just audio - how do you convey your enthusiasm, interest and capabilities using just your voice? Or your interview might be done using Skype where you and the interviewer(s) can see each other - how do you use the video medium to connect? The worst type of interview is one that I have only recently heard of and it seems to be a weeding technique - the one sided video interview. You are given a teleprompter via your computer and you are taped by your webcam with a certain amount of time for each question and then the videos are sent straight to the company interviewing you - you may or may not get additional takes. How can you be prepared for something like that? When the video is going for this type of interview, there is no preview screen so you do not know how you are coming across or if there is spinach in your teeth.
Media training is something I am considering offering training on to help prepare my clients for their next step. This would help you practice your phone interview skills as well as prepare you on how to present yourself on screen - it is different being on video than being in the room. You have to sit a certain way, you have to try to make eye contact seem possible (though it is very hard to do so because you cannot always clearly see who is speaking to you) you have to speak clearly and not too quickly and most importantly, you have to not fidget or do any of the things you might do when nervous like bite your nails or tap your foot.
What do you thing about media training? Is this something you think job seekers of today need? What about for those of you considering being an entrepreneur - do you think being comfortable over various communication mediums is important? I am including the link to the video I made this Monday - what do you think? Am I equipped to provide media training? Happy Hunting!
I was asked to provide a quick review of Camtasia and thought using my blog would be the best way to share my thoughts on this software.
I am using the 30 day free trial through TechSmith's web site (see link below) but I am definitely going to purchase this software. I am a total newbie on creating video content but I am working on some initiatives that are requiring me to get up to speed quickly on producing, creating and sharing video content. I love the idea of sharing more though my company website and blog, too. It is always great to put a face and voice with the content we read and learn from on the web. As an educator, I am pretty skilled in speaking in front of crowds, large and small, and was interested in sharing this aspect of my personality with my clients, potential clients and, I guess, the world at large.
Using Camtasia was simple and painless. The software provides for much more advanced activities, such as creating a presentation with video and more audio and other add ons that I am going to be trying once I get my updated microphone equipment and other items I ordered based on the advice in the article included below on teaching online equipment.
Once I have my updated equipment, I will even do a quick tutorial video on how to use Camtasia as a newbie user and I think you will all be as amazed at the software as I am. If you own a small business and want to connect with your customers better or you have an amazing talent you want to share with the world or if you just enjoy creating videos/movies and sharing them, this software is really functional, easy to use and creates amazing results. Stay tuned for more detailed review next week! Happy Hunting!
Equipments Tools Videos for Teaching Online
TechSmith Free 30 Day Trial Camtasia
UPDATED with my first VLOG post - let me know in the comments what you think - the audio will be better moving forward once I get my new microphone...
Great article from CareerBuilder's Matthew Tarpey on how to answer 5 tough interview questions. Ah, yes, the interview questions everyone dreads...
Tell me about yourself? - I love the advice to have that 30-second elevator pitch about you. Do any of you have one at the ready? You know the one - imagine you are in the elevator with your company's CEO - what would you want to tell him / her? It also applies to the interview -what are the most important things about you that you think your potential future employer should know? Make it interesting, memorable and NOT a laundry list. Share your elevator pitches in the comments below, please.
Why should we hire you? - Really good question - you have to show you know the company and their needs with your answer here - this is the best way to differentiate yourself from the other people who just say "Well, because I am really good at being a XYZ employee and I can help your company grow" - this is too general. Have your research done, know as much about the job as you can possibly know and then walk in and answer this question as specifically as possible. "Well your division needs help launching three new products in this area and my background has proven expertise on this and ..." Well, you get the idea.
Why are you leaving your last company? - Please, bite your tongue on this question if you are even thinking of saying it is because your boss is a jerk or you hate your colleagues or anything that is negative! Yes, we know in real life, sometimes people hate their jobs and move on because of that reason but the interview with your perspective new employer is not the place to mention any of that! Save it for your therapist or your friends who act as therapists :). You are leaving because you are ready for a new challenge and a new opportunity or something else positive, please.
What are your salary expectations? - This is tricky, especially for women. We are notoriously bad at negotiating salary (on average - not all women, but for some of us, it is hard to ask for what we think we deserve). I was always taught by my mentors that the first person to mention a number loses but this is not always possible to avoid especially if you are asked point blank what salary you want. Salary is tricky because most people do not have the knowledge of how a company compensates their employees when they walk in to an interview. Be prepared, know your averages for the title and the responsibilities (there are reports you can find online on salaries based on location, title, etc). So know what your number is and when asked to share it, please do so. But have your research done so you can ask for a reasonable salary - do not underpay yourself but just as important do not overvalue the position because then you can lose out on a potential great opportunity.
The case study question - I once had an interview at McKinsey Consulting after I came back from Italy with my MBA and it was a disaster. If you are not prepared for the case study question or just the impossible question (e.g., how many grains of sand are there on a beach), you will not be able to complete this type of interview successfully. You must think on your feet, be able to do math calculations in your head and think outside of the box. Practice, practice, practice. The interest is definitely in HOW you answer and showing confidence, not arrogance. Just try to be unruffled with the question -to think it through and answer logically and creatively is the best advice ever.
Great article. What do you think on the article and my take on it? Share in the comments what your dreaded interview questions are or what your strategies are to answer them. Happy Hunting!
Career Builder How to Answer 5 Tough Interview Questions
Two articles about promoting yourself without making yourself sound like a jerk. In the age of the #humblebrag, nobody wants a whole slew of interview candidates to come in and pretend that they are not promoting themselves by dowplaying their successes. What is wanted is to have an applicant tell the story of their accomplishments while weaving in the real life struggles they may have experienced along the way.
The FastCompany article by Vivian Giang has excellent points and my favorite one is what I highlighted above - telling a story. Showing how your did great things in the context of life and your experiences. The term is "bragalogue", coined by Peggy Klaus, and it fits. Instead of saying, "I ran a $2mUSD project successfully" you can say, "As a Project Manager, I learned how to manage multiple people and timelines and learned that true success comes from being able to manage a team and encouraging each person to commit to the goals of the company..." or something to that effect.
Of course, it is best to have other people toot your horn for you and that is where effectively using LinkedIn comes into play - ask people to recommend you and endorse you as much as possible and do the same for others, too. Networking is never a one way street.
The INC article by John Jantsch has some great points in using promotional techniques for you. His main point is that to get self promotion right, promote others. He talks about how you can highlight a company or product you like and write a blog about it and then blog it @ the company or promote the things your network is promoting. These are all good points and I am working on a future blog post that talks more about using social media and blogs to promote yourself for your next step so these types of techniques can work on promoting YOU and not just something you are launching as a product or service.
What do you think about the self promotion advice? How to do you present your strengths and achievements in an interview? Have you ever "bragalogue'd"? Have you promoted other people and had that lead to self promotion? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Hunting!
Inc.com How to Promote Yourself Without Promoting Yourself
FastCompany How to Talk About Your Skills Without Sounding Like a Show-Off
CareerBuilder has a succinct write up of the top 10 things to not do in an interview. Some of them are common sense (hello, put your cell phone down during the interview - unless, maybe, someone is in labor - and that person better be your significant other). That being said, the list is quite helpful. It can be easy, while nervous on an interview, to break any one of these rules. This is why I think that practicing your interview skills is so important with mock interviews with friends or family members - or if you are lucky, with a mentor who has more career experience than you do. A mentor can be found anywhere, really - through your LinkedIn profile or there might be a former professor of yours that is available for a meeting every now and then to help you with your interviewing skills or in a pinch, a friend or sibling can help out just fine. I will have more blog posts about mentors coming in the future.
The most important takeaway to this list and my blog post is to never go in cold to an interview. Always have questions for the interviewer about the company and try to make those questions as specific as possible to the position you are interviewing for while also showing a broader knowledge about the company, the industry, the competitors and new advancements that are being discussed online or in the news. Leverage your LinkedIn network for advice and/or research purposes to see what else is going on either in the industry or at the company.
If you are well prepared, then avoiding these interview mistakes should be a breeze. Let me know in the comments what you think of these interview don't's. Have you ever done one? Has someone you interviewed done one? Happy Hunting!
CareerBuilder Top 10 Things Not To Do In An Interview
Great articles from Entrepreneur and Inc.com, links below. Entrepreneur talks about entering any interview as an equal partnership of business ideas and not as being lucky for the interview or that they are lucky to interview you.
A key quote from the article is, "Per the Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85% of the decision to hire you is based on your personal traits. Only 15% of the decision is based on your skills, experience or proof that what you do is better than other people who are competing for the position." This ties back into my previous blog post , link below, that your ability to present yourself well in the interview is super important - like eye contact and smiling at the interview.
So being confident is important and realizing that you are selling yourself to the company - more so than your abilities and skills, it comes down to culture. Can the hiring manager and the other employees see you as "fitting in" at a cubicle or office with them? I will have more to say and share about culture in the next few blog posts, so keep an eye out for those insights based on some research I had done for my DPS program.
Also, I wanted to include what Inc.com says about assessing Carly Fiorina's recent POTUS debate and compares it to actual interview steps and tips, including a great performance based interview template from LinkedIn (link below). Also important is knowing how to discuss your accomplishments and prepare, prepare and prepare.
Check out the links below and let me know in the comments what you think about the tips mentioned above. Happy Hunting!
The Most Successful Job Interview Tactic
4 Awesome Interview Tips From Carly Fiorina
Performance Based Interview
If you read this list of mistakes and recognize yourself in any of them - just take solace in the fact that you are not the only one. Everyone makes mistakes and has slips of the tongues in high pressure situations. The key is to learn from those mistakes and learn how to minimize them as much as possible. This article is great because after the list of cringe-worthy mistakes and issues there is a great list of how to's to improve and not make these types of mistakes again.
Career Builder Mistakes and Blunders to Avoid in Your Next Interview
You need a great resume and cover letter to score the interview. You need to be as great as possible during the interview. And then, after the interview, you must send a thank you note.
Yes, still. And no, not by snail mail but by email.
I am going to put on my professor hat now, so please skip this if you already know it -- but please keep your email address professional. I cannot tell you how many resumes I have edited where the email address was "Hotgirl123@xyz.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org" (all email handles are pseudonyms for real stupid email addresses for which I have had to correct/suggest new ones). Your email should be a personal one, not your current job's email (unless you are interviewing internally with your company) and you should have it contain your name and if your name is common some string of number or middle name combination so you can appear professional and put together. For most people reading this blog, this is a no brainer but it does not hurt to go over the basics, just in case.
Ok, professor hat is off now. The thank you email should be a combination of gratitude with specific references to some key points you and the interviewer discussed about the job or about your commonality or something - so to say "It was awesome meeting a fellow XYZ University alum" is a good way to stand out but also include "we discussed how the position needs a person with HTML coding ability, please check out this example of my coding I mentioned during the interview" is a great tie in to represent your ability and to tie back to the meeting discussion. I am just pulling these off the top of my head but each interview is different and each thank you note should be different, too.
With sending the note, I always email it and mention in the email that a hard copy was sent via mail, as well. It does not hurt to send it both ways as some interviewers might appreciate also receiving it via hard copy and if nothing else, it is another reminder to the interviewer that you exist and might be the best fit for the job.
Tell me in the comments you tips and tricks for the thank you note or what you think about mine. Happy Hunting.
Career Builder Article Crafting a Flawless Thank You
Whenever I teach a class, I try to bring in pieces of real world advice and experience to the students. I have often succeeded in this and I think it is why I have such great experiences as a Professor. I can relate to the students information from the text books (whether it be Marketing or Economics) and also on what might happen when they graduate and start their careers. One important piece I have tried to weave in to certain classes, where appropriate, is the mock interview. It is amazing to me that we expect students to know how to behave on an interview and especially now with our focus on smartphones and gadgets, to find a socially at ease person is hard - most of us are so used to hiding behind technology that being in an interview environment where you have to focus on the interviewer can be a challenge.
This article highlights the type of interviews you can find yourself in with some tips on how to handle it. There are other aspects to interviews like when an interviewer is rude just to see how you respond or the lunch interview where you have to balance how to eat and how to speak in a high pressure setting but those are not mentioned here - this is just the logistical overview of how many interviewees there are present (group interview with a few job candidates) or how many interviewers (you are facing a panel of interviewers) with tips on how to handle each situation. Overall, you have to be confident and able to speak to your strengths but ultimately, it is about fit -- can the people speaking to you picture you at a desk in their offices?
The most important thing you can do is continually work on your speaking skills and your ability to focus on the interview and be positive. The right opportunity will be the right fit of culture, opportunity and people. Try to enjoy the ride. Happy hunting.
Career Builder Article
Lisa Vento Nielsen