Friday, December 11, 2015

The three question job interview

A very close  friend of mine is currently looking for a new position. He and I talk frequently and he shared his most recent interview experience with me. I found his story very interesting and I am sharing his adventures with you as a way to help in your job search. For the sake of this blog, I will call him Bob. Here is Bob's most recent adventure in job hunting:

Recently, Bob got invited in for a job interview at a local company. Bob was very excited because this company was close to home, paid well, and was in a growing industry. Bob spent several hours  preparing for the interview. He researched the company, knew about their history, their leadership, their market, and their products.
He even did some research on the person that would be conducting the interview. Through the magic of LinkedIn, he found out how long his interviewer had been at this company, where he went to school, and was able to see a picture of this individual. Bob felt like if he knew some background information about who he would be interviewing with it would make him more comfortable - I agree.
The day of the interview, Bob drove himself to his potential new employer. He arrived an hour early, surveyed what was in the local vicinity and parked in the lot and began to ask himself questions. Bob had taken a list of 50 possible interview questions with him. For the next 45 minutes, he asked himself questions, and formulated solid answers. Also, by arriving early, he gave himself time to relax, and NO chance of being late or rushed. (Great strategy Bob!)
After several hours of preparation, Bob was dismayed that his interviewer only set aside 30 minutes for the interview. He told Bob at the greeting that in 30 minutes he would need to join a conference call.

The interviewer then proceeded to ask Bob three questions:

-What do you know about us?

-Tell me about yourself?

-How well do you know Excel?

And that was it.

Three questions.

Bob had prepared for so much more!

Bob was disappointed and confused but realized three important things;

1.) The interviewer was most likely just checking to see if Bob could walk and talk. (most phone interviews will take care of that requirement)

2.) This company may be just a bit unorganized and dysfunctional. (Red flag)

3.) This company was not really concerned about the time and efforts of the candidates. (Red Flag)

At the end of the day, Bob would still be interested in a second interview if offered, but his first interview provided a look into a company culture that may not be the best fit for Bob, but more time spent with his potential company may paint a clearer picture.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Free Job Interview Worshop

On Tuesday, December 8th, from 6-7pm, Interview Tutor will be offering a Free Job Interview Workshop titled “Job Interview Skills 101”. This workshop will focus on job interview skills for job seekers with limited to moderate interview experience. Topics will include: Basic skills, how to prepare, and how to encourage feedback and follow-up. There will also be several case studies for review and discussion.

This workshop will be held in the training room of Clearly CoWorking, 474 Grove Street in Worcester. Seating is limited, and advanced registration is required. To register, call 508.365.0077 or email

Interview Tutor is a professional career services firm that specializes in Job Interview Prep Services. To learn more visit us at:
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Follow up and tactics

A very close  friend of mine is currently looking for a new position. He and I talk frequently and he shared his most recent interview experience with me. I found his story very interesting and I am sharing his adventures with you as a way to help in your job search. For the sake of this blog, I will call him Bob. Here is Bob's most recent adventure in job hunting:

Bob saw a job posting that he had interest and curiosity in. He sent his resume and cover letter in as requested. Three days passed with no acknowledgement of receipt. (this is common and can lead to extreme frustration for the job-seeker) So, Bob took it upon himself to call the company and follow up. This is a key point. Don't assume anything, call and verify.
So, after finding the company's phone number, Bob called and asked to speak to someone regarding the position. This particular company is a mid-sized company and getting to the HR director was quite easy. Bob then asked a key question to the HR director: "Has your Staff Accountant position been filled?"  The HR director answered, "No", it has not been filled yet." You should note that he did not ask: "Did you receive my resume?"
Good Points

Now Bob has some key information. He NOW asked, "OK, I had sent my resume in a few days ago, can you tell me if it was received?" After a brief search, the HR administrator replied, "Yes, we did, but we assumed you were over skilled for this position." The  next question from the HR director was "What are your salary requirements?" This question at this point of the interview process is a trap. So, Bob wisely reversed the question, and did not answer. Bob's reply was, "That is a great question. Why do you ask me that now?"

The HR director replied that they had assumed that you would require more salary than this position offers. She also disclosed the salary range for the open position. She had tipped her hand first and Bob was now in the position of power. Typically, in salary negotiations, he who speaks first looses.
In a very wise tactical move, Bob was able to determine that this HR Director thought that Bob was overqualified and would require a much higher salary than this position would offer. Actually, Bob was pleasantly surprised by the salary for the position, and was then able to tell the HR director, "No, this salary range is not a deal breaker, and I would like to move forward with the interview process."
Two days later Bob was invited in for an interview. I will be talking with Bob to share his interview experience with you as well.

So, some key points to take away from Bob's story:
1.) Follow up with a phone call to the company after 3 days. Often times HR folks get flooded with resumes, make assumptions about candidates, AND they don't acknowledge receipt of resumes.
2.) Know the right questions to ask once you are talking to the HR director. Make the questions about them, not you. For example: "Did you fill the position yet?" or "What skill are you looking for to fill this position?" 
3.) When salary comes up this early in the process, proceed with care. Bob did a masterful job of not speaking about money first. Bob knew that his goal was to get invited in for an interview, not to talk about salary. Only after learning much more about the position, and the company should Bob engage in salary negotiations.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Are you ready?

You have an upcoming job interview. Your resume was impressive and the phone interview went well. You now are invited to meet with a real hiring manager - face to face. You are probably very excited and nervous.

You begin to think ahead about being offered the position. You start daydreaming about your new job. You envision yourself at your new company. You can almost feel your new desk. You start thinking about how you are going to allocate all of your new found income. It is all so exciting!

But wait.
Before you get ahead of yourself, you should really focus on preparation.

Are you ready?

Are you truly prepared? This interview could be responsible for the best position you have ever held! Or, it could turn out to be a disaster and haunt you for years! You will always wonder; What if? What if I was better prepared?
Some aspects of the interview process are well within your control and influence. Other things you can not control or influence.  I submit to you the following advice: Focus on what you can control and influence.
Here are 3 things that you CAN control and influence during your upcoming job interview:

1.) Your appearance. Look and act like a true professional. When in doubt about how to dress, dress up. You can't make a million bucks if you don't look like a million bucks. If you are not sure of how  you should dress, ask someone with some interview experience.

2.) Your attitude/passion. If you don't bring some passion and swagger to your interview, most likely you are at the wrong company interviewing for the wrong job. And, most likely, you will be exposed. So, ask yourself; Is this really how I want to spend my time?

3.) Your level of preparation. Are you truly prepared? Some job seekers don't even know what they don't know! Do you know all you can about the company? Their products? Their market? Their competitors? Are you really ready for the types of questions that may get asked of you? Do you know how to sell yourself? Do you know how to follow-up at the end of your interview? Do you know how to become the one candidate they can't live without?
A mock interview with an experienced hiring manager will truly test your level of preparation. Not questions that your roommate or partner ask, but a real life experience with open and honest feedback. Why risk such an opportunity? Why not be truly prepared?
If you can focus on the three aspects mentioned above during your next job interview you will greatly enhance your odds of a second interview or better yet-a job offer. These are skills that can be learned and improved upon. Good luck!
Our firm provide mock interviews with an experienced hiring manager. We also provide open and honest feedback to ensure that you are truly prepared. We score clients on over 30 individual aspects of an interview from your hand shake to your closing remarks and follow up.
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Professional Career Preparation

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Actors rehearse. Football players rehearse. Golfers rehearse. Great musicians rehearse.
Ask any talented professional listed above and they will tell you that they rehearse. A lot. Some for several hours a day, often in grueling conditions. Also, most of these professional take rehearsal very seriously. Most of these folks practice for hours in preparation for just one potential opportunity.
What if your favorite band no longer rehearsed? Imagine  that this band was coming to town. You paid dearly for tickets-months in advance. All the while, they were not rehearsing. Then, the night of the concert, they just showed up, got dressed and walked out onto the stage. They hadn't rehearsed and it was painfully obvious. How would you feel?
Rehearsal = Rock Stars
As a hiring manager, I can tell you I have been disappointed in the past by candidates who looked great, were educated, experienced, and had impressive resumes. It became clear after two or three basic questions, that they did not rehearse. That lack of rehearsal cost them a second interview and sometimes an opportunity. It was clear, they just got dressed and showed up.
Some will argue that raw talent is more important than rehearsal, but for those of us who were not gifted with such raw talent, we must rehearse. Most candidates fail to rehearse for their upcoming interview. They too think they can just get dressed and show up. But, that's great news for you as rehearsal can become the great equalizer. A skilled interviewer can trump the accomplishments of those who don't invest in rehearsal.
If we know that rehearsal can make us better, less nervous, and more confident, then it seems perfectly logical to rehearse our job interviews. A mock interview can provide an invaluable rehearsal and critical feedback.
Did you rehearse before your last job interview?
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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sometimes, you don't know what you don't know...

I know, that title is confusing. But, what I am trying to say, is that many job seeker suffer from over confidence. Sometimes, you don't even know what you don't know. It's no fault of yours for not knowing. Many times, through experience you learn things. Other times through formal education or reading you learn. Learning how to interview can be hard and expensive (in the sense of the jobs that you don't get).
The entire interview process is cluttered with unknowns. Rarely do you get any honest feedback from a job interview. So if you have a fatal flaw in your interview style, you could go through your entire professional life wondering why you get offered so few opportunities.

Tower Power
Case in point; my most recent client has 3 college degrees. He has 5 years of professional experience. He is likeable, well spoken, and hard-working. His cover letter is well written. His resume is nicely put together and his LinkedIn page is far better than most. BUT, after over 20 interviews within the last 12 months, he has not been offered a permanent opportunity!

So, why is this candidate not getting hired? On paper, he looked great!

After the mock interview, it became clear.  He did not know some very important things:

1.) You must craft your "You Statement" and be ready to deliver it.
2.) You must sell to the position.
3.) You must research the company.
As evidenced by this client, if you don't do these three things with passion, you will consistently be overlooked, regardless of your qualifications, education, and experience. Once again, this client, like many, truly didn't know these things. Hence the true value of a mock interview with open and honest feedback.


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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Help! How do I address my age during my job interview?

I recently had a conversation with a job seeker that is 63 years old. He has no trouble getting interviews, but he has gone 6 months without a solid job offer!  He thinks the problem may be his age. He is concerned that he is being eliminated from consideration because he is an older candidate.

He asked me, "How do I address my age?"

Here is my recommended strategy: Be pro-active, and don't let the hiring manager make assumptions about things they can't ask you about.

Here are four things that the hiring manager's is thinking while he interviews an older candidate:

-How old are you?
-How is your health?
-How much longer do you want to be in the workforce?
-Do you understand and use technology effectively?
So, the hiring manager is thinking these thoughts, but he can't ask. So, I recommend you address these concerns up-front and honestly, before you let him or her form their own opinions.If you address each one of these, your odds improve significantly.

Better with age

For example, you could say something like this; "You may be wondering how old I am and just how long I plan to stay in the work force, that's a legitimate concern. Well, I'm 63 years old, I have over 40 years of experience, and plan to stay in the workforce as long as I can. I enjoy the challenges of working and have no intent of retiring soon. I am in good health and stay active. Also,  I embrace and use recent technologies."
Stress your experience. There is NO substitute for experience.
Plus, here are four qualities that most older job candidates posses that you should be aware of and weave into your job interview:
1. You have true people skills. You can communicate effectively face-to-face, most youngsters really  struggle with this.
2. You have decades of experience. This can't be taught in college.
3. You have wisdom. In all of your time in the workforce, you have forgotten more than most know.
4. You have a track record (hopefully a successful one), not just a degree and potential.


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