No — I Won’t Supply My References Before The First Interview
I agree. I think this practice runs the risk of companies contacting references without the candidate preparing them for what to emphasize (always within their ability to ethically do so!), or even giving notice. References are job search treasure, and must be cherished and protected. It also has the potential to be a sneaky way for companies to gather other names of people to solicit for employment. And depending on how long you’ve been employed, you may want to customize the reference list you give depending on the interview and the directions taken while you were there.
And I’m only semi-cynical in predicting this, but at some point I can see health testing, even DNA testing… all as a condition of being considered for employment. DNA testing brings to mind this cartoon:
Job Search Humor Cartoon
And yes, I have this gene. (Some would doubtless opine a deplorable excess thereof…)
4 Behavioral Interview Questions That Reveal What a Job Candidate Is Really Like
Insights from the interviewer’s playbook. Good stuff. Related:
5 Non-traditional Interview Questions That Can Help You Select the Best Candidate
With respect to the fourth question specifically: while the question itself is quite legitimate and can lead to great insights, I believe the implicit assumption that if the candidate can’t think of anything then the candidate is assumed to be the one with the problem, is not legitimate. I call BS. There are, sadly, some very bad people in management out there (recall the “conventional wisdom” that people leave managers, not companies) – to de facto assume that problems always reside with the employee, and never with the person’s manager (or the company in general), is naïve. And another question, which I think is actually a very good one, so prepare:
How You Answer This Interview Question Reveals Your True Character
Anyone can “song and dance” their way through an interview and shine. This is a “penetrating” question and gets to a person’s character. I like it; one can train for skill, one can inspire and motivate for attitude… but one cannot implant ethics, integrity, or basic character (at best one can get someone to stick to the “letter of the law” out of fear of punishment, but GOOD behavior and GOOD character – that’s inherent in a person). And it’s actually a good question to ask of a hiring manager too!!
How A Story Database Will Make You More Persuasive
Written for sales, but also vital for job seekers. Stories ENGAGE not just factually, but EMOTIONALLY. The trick is to get in front of someone – a human! – who is willing to have a conversation and listen to your stories… and also have the perception to jump to what your background and stories could do for them.
The tech that hiring managers are using to screen all of your social media posts
I wonder… this could be a good software for someone to purchase, and then have people pay to screen their SM presence. And I have to wonder – I don’t have a FB account. Does that affect me positively, or negatively? I do find this to be a “catch-22”: too much SM presence, and that’s bad, too much of the “wrong” content, that’s bad, not enough or even if you’re not on SM altogether, that’s bad too. In my first essay on this, I came up with a quote which I think very much applies to vetting people through their SM presence:
“Hiring managers and human resources people search the internet for indications about a candidate’s personality, character, opinions, and human failings – and then are shocked and horrified to discover candidates have personalities, characters, opinions, and human failings.”
Consulting Firms: Strike back & stir the pot
Always good stuff from Nick Corcodilos!
Networking Tips for Awkward People
Good overview thoughts. Especially if, like many technically-oriented people, you tend to not be comfortable in social settings.
7 Toxic Traits Of A Bad Employer
I’ve said this before: if you have time, search on LinkedIn for people who used to work at the company, and see if they’ll answer some questions. Also, if you are a member of related professional societies, ask around. Companies develop reputations. And if you know some good recruiters in the space, they also can be a good place to get off-the-record scuttlebutt. (One recruiter I know told me about a company they’d FIRED as a client because of all the negative feedback about the company they’d received from potential candidates – one of whom actually said “I’d rather be homeless than work for that place.”)
9 Scary Reasons Overqualified Job Seekers are Rejected
Which only highlights the value of networking in and having conversations with decision-makers. Get to someone who can see beyond the scariness of someone “overqualified” to what you could do for them. And at the risk of shameless self-promotion, consider changing the rules of the game entirely with these thoughts:
The “O” Word 2
Don’t Overshare: What Not to Say During a Job Interview
It used to be, with people building careers at one company over decades, that friendships formed with so much time spent with the same people for so long. (Aside: growing up, my parents would often hold dinner parties; guests were, very regularly, co-workers from either – sometimes both – of my parents’ places of work… even in my next-generation case, some of my still-close friends come from former employers). In interviews “back then”, personal details would come out in anticipation of that long-term relationship. That’s done and in-the-past these days. Today, always ask yourself if the details you are about to share really are their business (and, potentially, could be things held against you for employment purposes, or as potential “leverage” against you should you join).
The most important trait for a successful job search
An absolutely key ingredient.
I am a senior-level Mechanical Engineer with, primarily, a background in plastics where I started my career. I am seeking a full-time engineering role, ideally in medical devices or defense, from Burlington MA to Concord NH, as a:
For those interested, you can see some target companies on my blog:
And please do look at my portfolio of things I’ve done, and topical (i.e., engineering / manufacturing) essays I’ve written:
And lastly, I do urge you to “Pay it forward” yourself. I don’t NEED to post articles, job leads, etc. I WANT to do it because it’s a way to help people. Character matters. As I said in my essay:
The Hairs-Breadth Challenge
“Life is about helping people; if you aren’t elevating others, you’re diminishing yourself.”
10 CV Mistakes That Put Employers Off Your Candidates
It never hurts to keep fundamentals in mind.
9 Killer Questions Candidates Ought to Ask the Interviewer
All good; I would like to stress #6. At one job I had, the person who led the interview process, who called to extend the offer, and to whom I thought I reported – was NOT my actual direct supervisor / manager. And even after I attempted to engage the thought-he-was-my-boss person to firm up a six month plan with priorities, it was NOT made clear to whom I actually reported for a good couple of weeks.
What Parking Says About Your Character
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, this has the potential to be indicative of character and I do see the argument. On the other hand, this has the feeling of “reading tea leaves”; i.e., if they WANT to find something wrong (or good) about you, they can. IMHO, ultimately, this is much too subjective and open to interpretation. But do be aware that you are potentially being watched and evaluated even before you go in… and potentially as you drive in. You never know that the person you cut off (or worse, flip off!) might be the hiring manager coming back from lunch!
How to get to love networking
It doesn’t HAVE to be scary.
Employer Unfairly Blacklisted An Employee. Here’s What Happened…
The problem is that it’s almost never this obvious (or contestable). One recruiter I know well, who has placed me in multiple interviews over the years, said that MOST of this happens at HR society meetings. He described several as nothing more than verbal sessions of “Don’t hire X, Y, or Z.” This is a problem! And I disagree with J.T.’s observation that most companies understand it’s partially both employer and employee… from both my readings AND from experience, the potential employer gives full weight to the other employer, and very little credence to the candidate’s side of things.
I Would Never Have Taken This Job If I’d Known About The Hours
60 seems to be the new 40, hours-at-work-wise. And 70 is the new 100, salary-wise. IMHO this is not sustainable. And I find it interesting that the “conventional wisdom” is NOT to ask about typical work hours… for fear of branding yourself as a 9-to-5 type, but Liz recommends asking specifically. Let me be clear: no professional objects to crisis OT – it’s part of the territory. But if you need to work 60 hours a week to get your regular job done… something is very, very wrong.
How to make age less of a factor in your job search
Read the comments; some very penetrating insights, comments, and questions about / objections to the article.
Avoid This Salary Negotiation Mistake
Not only some straight advice, but a bunch of video snippets too. Related to salary:
Doing the Salary “Dance” in Job Interviews
The value of employee loyalty revealed
The irony is… loyalty needs to go – MUST GO! – both ways, and IMHO must be shown TO the rank-and-file before people reciprocate.
5 Steps to Take When Using LinkedIn to Network for a Job
Some great advice on using this tool.
Answering Tough Interview Questions: What Kind of Tree Would You Be?
If someone actually asked me this question, depending on how much I wanted the job, I’d counter with:
Don’t Make These Body Language Mistakes!
While body language IS important, the more obsessed over it you become, the less you will be perceived as genuine.
I am a senior-level Mechanical Engineer with, primarily, a background in plastics where I started my career. I am seeking a FT engineering role, ideally in medical devices or defense, from Burlington MA to Concord NH, as a:
For those interested, you can see some target companies on my blog:
And please do look at my portfolio of things I’ve done, and topical essays I’ve written (including two that were republished by the Society of Plastics Engineers!):
Given my accomplishments, i.e., proven examples of saving money, developing new products and processes… what could I do for you?
Based on our conversation thus far, what do you think I will like most about this job?
This is inspired by a question I saw from Lavie Margolin. It’s a test of how well the hiring manager has “read” you. And by using the word will it’s also a subtle way to prompt the hiring manager to envision you in the position. An optional flip of this is:
And what do you think I will like least about this job?
No job is 100% fantastic all the time, and this is a good way to probe how the boss – and possibly co-workers – views the lesser aspects of the job, in particular in light of their understanding of you. Forewarned is forearmed. The advantage to this question is the opportunity to glean a clue about how they see you and the job, and the possible mismatches in their vision of how you might fit. The danger in asking this is that it brings dislike and your candidacy to mind in the same time frame, something to avoid and which I discussed here (thanks to Neil Patrick of 40pluscareerguru for republishing that essay).
In one sentence, can you tell me the top thing you’d want me to accomplish in the first six months?
This is a different take on the standard question “What would you expect me to accomplish in six months?”. It requires the hiring manager to focus on and articulate what is truly important to them. If you can squeeze this into the conversation early on, it will tell you how to target your conversation focus in a SPARTACUS approach (again, thanks Neil).
What were the characteristics of the best hire you’ve ever made?
Another way to “get inside” the head of the hiring manager to understand what they value in a person. If asked early in a conversation, you can use this to subtly highlight things that will draw an analogy between you and that “best hire”. Note, however, you should not ask the reverse one – once you bring negative traits to mind in the context of hiring, you run a strong risk of the hiring manager starting to try to pin those on you (even just unconsciously).
What do you like most about managing this group? (And the obvious reverse, what do you like least about managing this group?)
This can give some good insights into the group’s dynamics, and how the boss views their role as supervisor, coordinator, and leader.
What’s the most fun you’ve had at work in the last month?
This is for both hiring managers and co-workers. Work is not always fun – that’s why it’s called work. But if a person has to really, really stop and think about the last time they enjoyed their job, that’s a warning sign. And if the hiring manager also has to really scrape through their memory for the last time they enjoyed their job, that’s a huge red flag that they’re not happy – and you know what rolls downhill.
© 2015, David Hunt, PE
My deep thanks to Linda McNamee for inviting her onto her show on Burlington Cable Access TV, “Something to talk about”.
Here I am, talking about networking and the job search.