Tag Archives: How Others See You

It’s Your Likeability Factor That Moves You Forward in the Hiring Process

Someone once asked me at one of my seminars if “impression management” meant she had to somehow morph her personality into someone or something she wasn’t in order to get a job offer. I was careful to not use the word “personality” in that part of the program because impression management isn’t about personality transplants; it’s about adjusting the level of your likeability factor to continue forward in the hiring process. It’s turning the volume up–or down–on certain aspects of your persona to guide or shape a desired outcome, which may be a second interview, winning a contract, or getting someone’s vote.

While I use the informal term likeability factor in my seminars, books, blog, articles, and keynotes, it is nonetheless a strategy to enhance the prospects of receiving a job offer. Who goes into a job interview unwilling to promote their accomplishments, expertise, and character? Only the perpetually unemployed. Behavioral approaches that indirectly influence hiring recommendations are called impression management. If you’ve ever shown up for a job interview wearing your best business attire, you have engaged in impression management. If you’ve been conscious about your vocabulary during a job interview or first date, you too have applied impression management. If you’ve turned on the charm to avoid getting a speeding ticket, you’ve used impression management. Your attempt to influence a decision or individual in your favor through visual, verbal, and written communication can be thought of as building rapport. You’re trying to raise your likeability factor, and we’ve all done it.

There are many variables in play before, during, and after the interview, not the least of which are nonverbal and self-promotion behaviors of candidates. These behaviors, as well as the nature of the position to be filled, shape the direction of the interview and how hiring managers perceive the candidates. Because the impressions people make influence how others perceive, evaluate, and treat them, individuals often adapt their behavior to create certain impressions in the minds of others. Conveying a favorable impression increases the chances that a candidate will achieve a preferred outcome, which may be a second interview, a job offer, a promotion, etc.

If the idea of impression management sounds like it smacks of behavioral manipulation, you’re right. In fact, psychologists claim that public self-presentation is almost always overtly manipulative because the intent is to maximize projected benefits and minimize expected penalties. But it’s nothing sinister at all. You are managing your impression by simply observing others and mirroring their communication style and demeanor in an attempt to connect with them on a relational level that makes you memorable.

It’s not difficult to embrace that different people have different approaches to processing information, developing ideas, and communicating them to others. Candidates fluent in the language of impression management have the ability to adapt to the communication style of the person they are trying to impress, rather than remain within rigid confines of their “comfort zone.” Communication may be taking place, but the message being sent must be received by others in the same context and the same frame of reference.

Given equal technical or professional expertise among remaining short-list candidates, hiring managers often ask: “Which candidate would I and my team prefer to work with?” So long as many hiring managers rely to varying degrees on gut instinct and personal chemistry when making a hiring decision, people will have to stretch (or contract!) themselves accordingly to remain viable candidates in the hiring process.

During interviews, someone who is typically sociable can appear to be reticent and withdrawn; another individual who normally is quiet and restrained can seem outgoing and present. Which candidate will have the advantage? In both situations, the candidates could be mirroring the hiring manager’s demeanor (body language, energy, vocabulary, etc.) or reflecting the tone of the social setting. The key to enhancing your chances of receiving a job offer is to be fully engaged in the interview environment and with the participants present. That engagement may require dialing your impression management fluency up (stretching) or down (contracting) a couple of notches with each person you are interacting with.

The language of impression management isn’t all verbal; it’s also partly visual, and both work hand in hand to create that favorable impression that helps get that second interview—or avoid getting that speeding ticket.

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Do Hiring Managers bypass Introverts for Extroverts?

A Huffington Post article entitled “13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People” (http://tinyurl.com/psczejd) listed these characteristics:

  1. They ask questions
  2. They put away their phones
  3. They are genuine
  4. They don’t pass judgment
  5. They don’t seek attention
  6. They are consistent
  7. They use positive body language
  8. They leave a strong first impression
  9. They greet people by name
  10. They smile
  11. They know when to open up
  12. They know who to touch
  13. They balance passion and fun

Most of these habits could be found in extroverts; some align with introvert personalities. Clearly all of these habits are highly prized by many if not most hiring managers. In fact, personality factors appear to account for 20 to 30% of the variance in work performance according to occupational psychological research.

I was once part of a team charged with hiring a couple of applications engineers who would be providing phone/email/on-site customer support. One particular candidate was not shy about expressing his preference to support customers solely through email. “I’m not a people person” he told us. He had an impressive résumé but his introversion was expressed not only with his words, but by his attitude, his body language, and manner of dress. We passed on hiring him.

In an academic paper (2005) entitled, “Predictors of Objective and Subjective Career Success: A Meta-Analysis,” the researchers/authors suggested that the breadth and quality of one’s external social network may influence the type of career experience an individual enjoys. Research on the “boundaryless career” suggests that the presence of strong external networks are indeed related to career success (there’s also an organization contribution component). Generally speaking, extroverts are more likely than introverts to have strong external networks. The authors state that while career success is partly due to merit and job competency, another variable is obtaining organizational “sponsorship” that often reflects a more political explanation for career success. Other authors cited in the research report that individuals have to be similar to gatekeepers (managers), display a positive outlook, differentiate themselves from others, and engage in self-promotion in order to move ahead in their careers.

Not exactly the domain of introverts.

Susan Cain gave a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts) whereby the presentation tagline read, “In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.” Cain states that many successful achievers (in the corporate world) who are self-proclaimed introverts have learned to manage themselves as they extend themselves out of their comfort zone.

Well, that’s why “likeability” that I so often write about is also known as “impression management” and is most prevalent in the hiring process. Even extroverts have to gauge the strength and direction of their interactions, depending on the perceived reward (a job offer, a marriage proposal, a contract negotiation). As long as many if not most hiring managers continue to rely to varying degrees on intuition, gut instinct, and personal chemistry when making a hiring decision, people will have to stretch (or contract!!) themselves as necessary and as the situation dictates to remain viable candidates in the eyes of the hiring manager.

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On the Job: Avoid Seeking Affirmation and Acknowledgement of your Expertise

We all have some form of insecurity that is usually overcome with age and wisdom (the flip side of insecurity is confidence and that comes gradually and with experience for most people). Confident people are more likely to achieve success, enjoy fulfilling and meaningful relationships with others, command the respect of others, and understand that validation is something that is internal to themselves.

Insecure people on the other hand, usually encounter difficulties in many areas of their lives as they devote much time and effort with obtaining the approval of others for everything they do in their lives. Such a quest is often the root cause of many other problems as they pursue validation through external sources (accolades, attention-getting behavior, possessions). On the job, such behavior can limit career advancement potential.

A former co-worker of mine is an absolutely brilliant professional. However, he had a somewhat irritating need for constant affirmation of his problem-solving abilities, semi-witty emails, and conference-call and hallway-conversation comebacks. His “addiction” for others to acknowledge his expertise or his humor (matter of opinion) spoke to his insecurities about his own capabilities.

People on the team were getting tired of hearing “Hey, how’d you like my email reply to….” Or “How’d you like the way I fixed that problem with…” Eventually, team members started telling him in sarcastic tones, “Yes, Michael…you are great…” or “Yes, Michael…that was soooo funny…”

The sad part was that the sarcasm from others never affected his behavior. He never got the message that his remarks were over the top. Finally, I had to approach Michael’s manager and tell him that Michael’s need for constant affirmation of his technical prowess and sort-of humor is beginning to grate on people in the work area. Michael’s manager had a talk with him, and while the behavior hasn’t been eliminated, it has been reduced to manageable levels. Unfortunately, this insecurity will be an issue that will prevent his promotion to higher levels within the organization.

Here are some tips on how to address this issue if it’s a problem:

  • Learn how to handle criticism. Be open to suggestions for improvement without disagreeing or arguing.
  • Learn to be comfortable with who you are regardless of whether others like it (excluding outrageous behavior).
  • Learn to tolerate or even enjoy periods of silence during the day. Practice using more of your time listening to others rather than talking (especially about yourself), and don’t feel you have to interject your own opinion on every issue. Sometimes talking less says so much more about you than flapping your gums on every single major, minor, and inconsequential issue.
  • Understand where the acceptable level of on-the-job humor is and stay a few notches below it. Insecure people are constantly joking or trying to be witty conversationalists in every dialogue with others. Much of the time, their humor borders on the juvenile.
  • Confident people don’t have to talk about how good they are; they let their work speak for them. Insecure people need to be self-promoting all the time to over-compensate for their self-doubt.
  • If you are in a leadership or managerial role, be a facilitator of the success of others. Insecure people in positions of power often transfer their lack of confidence into an overbearing managerial style, thereby lowering morale and productivity of subordinates. We’ve all had bosses like that.

There are two times when a self-acknowledgement of your accomplishments and expertise works to your advantage: (1) when asking for a raise and/or promotion; and (2) during annual performance reviews. At most any other time, it speaks more to a lack of self-confidence than abilities.

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Avoid Becoming a “Cubicle Crawler” at Your New Job

We’ve all seen them in the workplace… the co-workers who just have to flit from one cubicle to another to have their audience for whatever it is they need to interrupt you and others for, because what they have to say is always more important than any work you may be involved with. You unknowingly may be one or have been the victim of one.

Such on-the-job social butterflies rarely consider their sudden presence at your cube as an “interruption”—unless you specifically tell them that it is.

I am a morning person, and when I worked as a manager, I needed the quiet of early morning hours to write, edit, or plan out meetings and “to do” lists for myself and my team.  I do my best work from early in the morning to about 2pm, and then I hit the doldrums.

Early in my career when cube crawlers interrupted my work, that’s time I didn’t get back, which sometimes forced me to work through lunch, work late, or take work home. I later learned the only way to prevent such occurrences is to politely nip it in the bud early before it becomes a habit. Once it’s a habit with such people, it becomes part of their—and your—routine.

Most people realize intuitively the opportunities for socializing during work hours: getting coffee at the community pot, in the lunchroom getting a snack or having lunch, at the networked printer or copier—wherever people naturally gather in “common” areas. Your cubicle/office should not be one of those places on a regular basis.

Once you allow a so-called cubicle crawler to establish a presence, don’t be surprised if it turns into an infestation. Other cubicle crawlers have this uncanny knack for discovering new feeding grounds and pretty soon you have a crowd gathering.

It’s not as though these folks don’t have work to do; it’s just that their daily need for social interaction early in the morning (or any other time during the day) seems to outweigh your need for arriving at work early—to get work done. While such inconsiderate behavior may be oblivious to the offending party, others may notice it for what it is. Your submitting to these interruptions could be perceived as willful cooperation by others, so the best approach is to tactfully explain your reasons for coming to work early or for just not being open to interruptions when you are at work in your cubicle or office.

If you think you may have such tendencies, please respect the work habits of others; their presence at work is not for your indulgence. If you are being bothered by such behavior, the sooner you initiate the request to stop the interruptions, the quicker the situation becomes a non-issue for everyone involved.

My first experience with a cube crawler was a former supervisor of mine when I worked in the oil business. He walked the hallways with a mouthful of chewing tobacco and spit cup in one hand, looking for an opportunity to park himself in someone’s office and become an unwelcome addition to the existing office furniture. His topic of conversation typically focused on off-color subjects. I discovered that the quickest way to have him to leave my office was to ask a geology- or geophysics-related question, or to spread out my geologic maps on the work table and show him what I’d been working on. You could almost feel the breeze from the wake he created while exiting my office. Too bad he rarely took his spit cup with him on the way out. Eventually, everyone in the group developed coping mechanisms to keep this supervisor out of their offices.

My last experience was with a hiring consultant who was the first one in the office every morning at 6 am; my mistake was being the second person in the office right after him. You’d think this person would know better or have caught on early through my polite hints that I was busy from the moment I sat down at my desk. But no, he barely gave me time to turn on the computer and check email before he was at my cube with “Whatcha got goin’ on today?”

If I simply acknowledged him without turning around at my desk, he would stand there looking out the office window and tell me what the weather was going to do for the next few days, putting the Weather Channel forecasts to shame.  I either had to tell him I was too busy to chat or eventually he would get the message himself that I was in fact focusing on my work.

He got the nickname “coffee room troll” because as soon as anyone walked in the small coffee room near his cube, he was out of it in a flash trying to chat up another victim who only wanted some caffeine to kick-start his or her morning in solitude. He did cause some concern once when he would note when people arrived at work. He would corner them in the coffee room or hallway and say, “Looks like you got a late start this morning…you didn’t get your first cup of coffee until 8:35 when you usually get it at 8:17…” or “Are you keeping banker’s hours? You didn’t flip on the lights until 6:45 when you usually turn them on at 6:37…” That kind of attention was enough to warrant a conversation with upper management about that type of behavior. Soon after, his contract was terminated on the spot.

For the first few weeks, you’ll be under the microscope to see how well you fit into the team dynamic and the office or corporate culture. Focus on the criteria that helps you strengthen your personal brand and your place on the team.

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What American Idol Can Teach You About Job Interviews and Networking

I’ve seen so many parallels between how people audition on American Idol for a chance to continue their quest toward fame and fortune for a trip to Hollywood, and how people approach interviewing for a job. On American Idol, the people who are really talented rise above those less gifted, but even among the very talented, there are significant differences.

You can almost spot the “Top 10” contestants by how they handle the audition. The ones who find the most favor in the eyes of the judges understand what the judges are looking for. They are looking for not only “the look” and great vocal chops, but how a contestant gets lost in the moment of the audition. Or, better, yet: how that contestant is on his or her game when they deliver what the judges are looking for.

Do the beggars and pleaders ever make it through to the Hollywood round? Rarely, if ever. If they do, they usually are gone by the end of Hollywood week. They just don’t understand the nature of the audition. They are controlled by the emotion of the moment—perhaps overwhelmed by the celebrity status of the judges—but then they rely on the beneficence of the judges, hoping they will respond to their tearful pleas to get them to the next round. They have allowed their immediate surroundings, the presence of the judges, or other external factors to exert more control of the audition instead of being in control of it themselves. Such behavior quickly and clearly labels these hopefuls as amateurs, and usually disqualifies them for further consideration in the competition.

Your job interview is your audition. When your game is on, you focus on what the hiring manager wants and needs, and you own the audition—the interview—and the space in which you find yourself, rather than feel sucked into it like a semihelpless victim.

Beware of Feckless Schmoozing Disguised as Networking

I empathize with the American Idol judges when contestants subject them to the tearful drama for some special consideration after a poor audition because I have experienced it in the hiring process and with individuals who abuse the idea of networking. There’s nothing worse than getting an email or phone call from a former colleague—perhaps someone I hardly knew to say “hello” to in the halls—who wants to meet with me over lunch for undisclosed reasons. Being reluctant to offend, I used to agree with a modicum of enthusiasm because I knew what was coming: feckless schmoozing, or an outright plea for a job, or a good lead to one—or all three. So now, I don’t accept the invitation unless I first know why. If the person is favor shopping, it’s OK to tell me up front; but to disguise it will always result in losing my respect and assistance in the future.

I call this approach “noxious networking” because it always leaves a bad smell behind. It’s a sign of desperation, whereby professional decorum takes flight before I’ve ordered an appetizer. Such people are interested only in what they can get out of the relationship, and not in how they may be able to help others. It’s a surefire way to ruin a potentially great networking contact.

Networking works best when it’s about building and maintaining mutual relationships—with a focus on the word, mutual. Those relationships are best nurtured well before you need to use them; otherwise, it is simply a selfish, selfabsorbed, oneway strategy others will detect quickly, and you’ve likely just burned what could have been a key contact for your job or career search.

Nurturing professional networks requires time and energy. You want to ensure you are creating mutual professional relationships with someone you feel you can help and who can help you. Sometimes, the perceived benefits of such contacts are greater than the actual ones.

Be Honest with Network Leads

Back in the mid1990s, the division manager to whom I reported wanted to bring in several of his friends and former employees to interview for a vacant technical writer position that was available on my team. We reviewed the résumés of the three individuals who had extensive experience in the aerospace industry with writing and illustrating technical specifications. They were actually more engineering draftsmen than technical writers, but the boss insisted we interview them. Members of my team knew before the interviews that none of them qualified as microprocessor technical writers and editors, and we would very likely pass on recommending them for hire. All the candidates worked in DOS-based environments and didn’t have any experience with the Windowsbased applications we used.

The interviews lasted about four hours and, as expected, we didn’t recommend any of the candidates for hire. The division manager thought he was helping his friends and former coworkers by scheduling interviews with my team, but the ultimate effect for these folks was just another disappointment that was becoming evident in their faces as the interviews wore on. My team felt uncomfortable going through the interview motions knowing we wouldn’t be making job offers, and I disliked being put in that position with people’s livelihood.

Just as it’s wrong to pass no-talents through to the next level in American Idol, so is granting interviews to candidates you have no intention of hiring.

Are You a Job Applicant or a Job Supplicant?

The overt nature of begging and pleading for a job smacks of misdirected energies as well. The very term “applicant” has synonyms such as “aspirant,” “contender,” and “claimant” that imply some degree of intent, concerted effort, or purpose. People apply for vacant positions, or they fill out job applications. The individual who must resort to pleading is known as a “supplicant,” which has as synonyms, “requester” and “petitioner.” People who resort to supplication when seeking a job either are not considered seriously for the position or may have to work harder to earn the respect of co-workers, if they are hired.

So, if supplication is your preferred approach, just remember how so few American Idol pleaders have heard one of the American Idol judges say…

“You’re Going to Hollywood!”

Shortsightedness is often the reason American Idol hopefuls fail in their auditions. Many of the finalists put “being the next American Idol” ahead of the love of music and making music for the enjoyment of others as so many first-round wanna-be’s confidently proclaim to the viewing audience and the judges. Sometimes in the hiring process, shortsightedness comes across in candidates embracing the “I need a job” mindset rather than seeing themselves as the hiring manager’s problem solver. It’s a matter of focus that makes all the difference in the approach to an audition/job interview.

A Final Word

Whether you are seeking a job within your industry or are considering a complete career change, heed the advice from American Idol finalists:

  1.  Play to your strengths and know your limitations
  2.  Maintain an approachable, likeable personal style
  3.  Show some personality
  4.  Understand what the judges are looking for and need
  5.  Above all, it’s talent

As with American Idol finalists, the person who outperforms the competition, who brings to the open position the skills, knowledge, and expertise the hiring manager needs for the position—and promotes that expertise throughout the hiring process—is ultimately the person who carries the day.

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Align Your Expertise with What Hiring Managers are Looking For

As I’ve said repeatedly on this blog, hiring managers are more interested in what you accomplished than what your duties and responsibilities were in your career. Too many folks still confuse task completion with accomplishments; a task completion is part of your duties and responsibilities. An accomplishment yields results that impact the higher strategic vision or objective of the organization beyond the normal day-to-day duties and responsibilities.

The graphic below summarizes how hiring managers view expertise in a job candidate, and how candidates can express that expertise to better align with what hiring managers are looking for. Such methods help promote your professional brand in the job marketplace.

Common ground graphic

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Job Seekers: When Are You Going to See the Bigger Picture of Your Expertise?

When are job seekers going to stop seeing their expertise as merely the bait for the next job? When will people start looking at how their expertise contributes to something far bigger than their own self interests?

In my Career and Job Strategy Workshops, I show participants how position their expertise beyond the nose on their face. I still see far too many résumés full of bullet lists containing “duties and responsibilities” that only tell me what you did (or had a part in doing)–what I as a hiring manager what to know specifically is what was it that you accomplished in the normal performance of your “duties and responsibilities”? How did what you did contribute to the higher strategic objective of the organization? Did it generate revenue? Did it reduce costs? Did it avoid costs? Did it result in some kind of efficiency improvement?

Figure 1 graphically represents how core competencies are created–by a series of related duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, most candidate résumés are loaded with duties and responsibilities. When you have more than a few related core competencies, they contribute to a “functional expertise” and that’s what hiring managers want to see (accomplishments speak to functional expertise too).

functional expertise 1

FIGURE 1. Show hiring managers your core competencies, not just your duties and responsibilities, which do not separate you from the competition who also have duties and responsibilities. (© 2014 Donn LeVie Jr. from The Career and Job Strategy Workshop)

Candidates need to realize that a company is on the road to having a competitive advantage in the marketplace when they hire people who know how to showcase their core competencies and NOT just everyday duties and responsibilities. Companies that enjoy market dominance tend to employ people who know how to showcase their talent through related areas of functional expertise, as Figure 2 shows.

FIGURE 2. How core competencies contribute to a company's competitive advantage and how functional expertise contributes to a company's market dominance.

FIGURE 2. How core competencies contribute to a company’s competitive advantage and how functional expertise contributes to a company’s market dominance. (© 2014 Donn LeVie Jr. From the Career and Job Strategy Workshop)

Demonstrate to hiring managers that you understand the business, the issues, and the challenges by listing achievements/ accomplishments, core competencies, and functional expertise on your résumé–more than likely, you’ll be on that hiring manager’s short list for a job offer.
 

 

 

 

 

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Stupid Job Interview Responses: Why Unemployment is Still a Problem for Many of the Unemployed

From time to time, a magazine article, blog, or website reveals the idiotic responses and actions from applicants before, during, and after job interviews. Here’s a collection that–hopefully–needs no further elaboration on the stupidity of the job applicants–unless they were interviewing for an available “village idiot” position. Is it any wonder why most hiring managers dread screening résumés and conducting interviews? You have your work cut out for you…

Took the edge off…with a drink.

“I swear this is true: Someone threw his beer can in the outside trash can before coming into the reception area.” Anonymous HR professional

Hey: TMI, people.

“A guy once talked during the interview about how an affair cost him a previous job.” Anonymous HR professional

Read the directions wrong.

“We ask prospective job applicants at our business to fill out a questionnaire. For the line ‘Choose one word to summarize your strongest professional attribute,’ one woman wrote, ‘I’m very good at following instructions.'” Anonymous HR professional

Grossed out the interviewer.

“Someone once blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her.” Anonymous HR professional

Misunderstood the work.

“An individual applied for a customer-service job, and when asked what he might not like about the job, he said, ‘Dealing with people.'” Source: Robert Half Technology

Brought a sidekick. Who wasn’t patient.

“Once an applicant’s friend came in and asked, ‘How much longer?'” Anonymous HR professiona

Didn’t bother with research.

“It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.” HR professional in New York City

Listed all experiences…relevant or not.

“I had somebody list their prison time as a job. And an exotic dancer who called herself a ‘customer service representative.'” Sharlyn Lauby, human resources consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Came hungry.

“I had someone eat all the candy from the candy bowl while trying to answer questions.” Anonymous HR professional

Called in an understudy.

“The candidate sent his sister to interview in his place.” Source: Robert Half Technology

Gave more than a handshake.

“Someone applying for a job hugged me at the end of the interview.” Anonymous HR professional

Ordered in lunch.

“Applicant delivered prepaid Chinese food, including a fortune cookie with his name and phone.” Anonymous HR professional

Spammed a prospective employer.

“Applicant put up posters of himself in the company parking lot.” Anonymous HR professional

Wore the wrong outfit.

“The candidate arrived in a catsuit.” Source: Robert Half Technology

Got too creative.

“Applicant announced his candidacy with a singing telegram.” Anonymous HR professional

Thought he was larger than life.

“Applicant rented a billboard, which the hiring manager could see from his office, listing his qualifications.” Anonymous HR professional

Shared his “happy” hours.

“Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was ‘drinking time.'” Anonymous HR professional

Tried to justify the crime.

“Candidate explained an arrest by stating, ‘We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig.'” Anonymous HR professional

Forgot to proofread the cover letter.

“Advertising is a tough business. Which may be why one prospective adman wrote a cover letter boasting, ‘I am getting to my goal, slowly but surly.'” Anonymous HR professional

Was just weird.

“A job applicant came in for an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.” Source: Robert Half Technology

Cared about his appearance too much.

“A guy who forgot dark socks to wear with his suit colored in his ankles with a black felt-tip marker.” Source: Washingtonian.com

Cared about his hygiene too much.

“I once had a person clip her fingernails while we were speaking.” Source: Washingtonian.com

Had other business to conduct.

“I was interviewing someone who took a cell-phone call and asked me to leave my office while they talked.” Source: Washingtonian.com

Has a problem with authority.

“The candidate told the interviewer he was fired from his last job for beating up his boss.” Source: Careerbuilder.com

He was a fugitive.

“The candidate said that by crossing the Maryland state line he was in violation of his probation but felt the interview was worth risking possible jail time.”  Source: Washingtonian.com

Something didn’t add up.

“An applicant said she was a ‘people person,’ not a ‘numbers person,’ in her interview for an accounting position.” Source: Careerbuilder.com

Got a little too comfortable.

“A candidate complained that she was hot. She then said ‘Excuse me’ and removed her socks. After placing them on the desk, she continued as if everything was normal.”

 

(All of these examples came from Reader’s Digest online at http://www.rd.com)

 

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Cultivate an Attitude of Being in Business for Yourself

Truly successful individuals always understand that no matter where the paycheck comes from, they really do work for themselves. Besides the skills, knowledge, and experience they bring to any job, project, or task, it is also the sense of project ownership, sense of project urgency, personal integrity, and helping others succeed that makes them “self-employed.”

Contractors and consultants know what being self-employed is all about but sometimes people in hourly or salaried positions lose sight of the fact that they are in a sense “self-employed” as well. No one keeps anyone on the payroll out of the goodness of their hearts; it is the daily application of both hard and soft skills that keep the paychecks coming on a regular basis.

And what happens if you lose your job even though you have been working diligently to the best of your abilities? You were looking for a job when you found this last one, right? In the high-tech world and other fast-paced environments, job turnover is a common occurrence and folks accept it as a way of life. “Reductions in force” (RIFs, as Human Resources calls them) happen for a variety of reasons, many of which are not tied to the overall economy.

Cultivating an attitude of being in business for yourself provides several advantages. It insulates you against negative self-talk by reinforcing a positive you-are-in-control self-image. Rejection feels less and less about you personally and is really more about external factors, many of which you have no control over. There is more empowerment in the feeling that “I work for ME” that propels you out the door each morning. That empowerment pushes you to become the individual who has the unique expertise that will be recognized by the right people, particularly if you know what challenges they are faced with, and how you can help them meet those issues head on.

Embracing an attitude of being in business for yourself alters how you approach every aspect of your job—from your interactions with others, to how you see the value you provide to the organization. As we’ve all experienced, sooner or later we move on to other departments within a company or to a different company altogether. When you jettison the “job” mentality for the being-in-business-for-yourself attitude, don’t be amazed at the opportunities that will come your way.

It’s one way to make yourself  “fireproof.”

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Don’t Underestimate the “Likeability Factor” of Job Interviews

Likeabillity graphicIn a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, researchers discovered a strong correlation between initial impressions of interviewers and their evaluations of candidate responses to structured interview questions. The initial impressions corresponded with candidate extroversion and verbal skills, with job qualifications being equal.[1] In other words, favorable first impressions created by candidates during the rapport-building stage of job interviews (that is, small talk) influenced interviewers’ subsequent evaluations.

All skills, knowledge, and experience being equal among candidates, most hiring managers will hire the candidate that makes a memorable impression on a professional and personal level. In other words, if you present yourself as a likeable person during the interview, people tend to be more interested in what you have to offer.

However, if you do not connect on a personal level—regardless of your skill set—it will be more difficult to get an offer from a hiring manager. Strong interpersonal skills, excellent verbal communication skills, and a friendly personality help set the stage for your receptivity by the hiring manager. At the same, those who hint at being a high-maintenance employee are often the ones who upset an established, positive working team dynamic. Creating rapport and a positive connection is what opens doors for others to see and hear to what you have to offer. If there is no connection, it is likely your job hunt will continue.


[1] Barrick, et al. (2012) “Candidate characteristics driving initial impressions during rapport building: implications for employment interview validity”. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 82 No. 2 pp. 330-352.

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