When I was in my job search I remember “preparing” for an interview like this: Go to google, type in “how to prepare for a job search interview,” and then reading a dozen articles that pretty much said the same thing. I would try to learn a little something from each one, and then hurry off to my interview.
Let me save you time, money, and help you not lose the interview (which could easily cost you thousands, or tens of thousands): BUY THIS BOOK.
Thea talks about everything you need to know to prepare for your interviews. The best time to read this book is right now… even if you don’t have an interview scheduled.
Because the best interviewee will have prepared. And Thea walks you through the steps to prepare. Instead of researching online and finding bits and pieces, and spending too much time looking for the right, or even good, advice, just buy this book and go through each page with a highlighter. Have a notepad, or your computer, ready, so you can go through the exercises she presents.
I’ve interviewed enough people to know that there is a huge difference between an interviewee (or what recruiters call, a candidate) who has prepared and one who hasn’t. The difference is almost tangible.
As I was reading the book, of course I thought “this will help anyone who is getting ready for an interview,” but I had another thought: This book provides hope, and gives a vision, to someone who is in a job search. If you aren’t getting interviews you are hopeless (I know this from personal experience). This book helps you now that when it happens, you’ll be ready!
As I mentioned in the earlier announcement, I have been doing a lot of courses for Pluralsight, and as far as I know, I’m not doing any more courses for them. This freed up a significant amount of time. Oh, what to do with all that time?
Well, I decided to go back to the JibberJobber Video Library and see what we should do to update it. Instead of making a few tweaks here, a few changes there, we decided to do a complete overhaul of both the user experience (UX) and the content. Here’s what you need to know about the new video library, which was released in the wee hours last night:
A New Name:
Instead of the JibberJobber Video Library, we are calling this (some version of) the Insider Information Videos. Why? Because of who the video content is from… see the next section
Instead of just me (Jason Alba) doing courses, which is what I started out with many years ago, I am interviewing people involved in the hiring process. Right now I’m focusing my energy on HR, hiring managers, and recruiters. I love coaches and resume writers, but the feedback I’ve gotten is pointing me in this direction: find out how hiring is done by the people who are in the hiring trenches.
What does a recruiter really think about your resume? Ask a an insider (the recruiter)! What policies affect hiring? Ask an insider (the HR professional). What really influences a a decision-maker in an interview? Ask an insider (the hiring manager)! There are other insiders I’ll interview… watch for new content over the next year.
The good news is that information from these people should supplement, and complement, what coaches are telling their clients/candidates.
The LinkedIn content needs to be updated. I’ll review the content for the other stuff, and update it if I can improve it.
“Interface” is a jargony, kind of boring word. But this is a critical point. Instead of a menu where you drill down to find what you are looking for, we approached this from a “what are the best ways to sift through tons of video content?” There are three main ways to find answers to your questions, or the right videos for you to watch:
Categories, such as: HR Interviews, Recruiter Interviews, Fortune 500 Interviews, etc.
Tags, such as: interviewing, negotiation, informational interviews, etc.
Search, which is way cooler than you might think. Why? Because not only are we searching on the names and descriptions of the videos, we are actually transcribing every video, put it into a closed-caption format, and when you search on a word or phrase, we’ll show you exactly where, in every transcribed video, we mention that word. So, in an interview, if we talk about salary negotiation five times, you’ll be able to jump to each of those five mentions easily.
That means that finding the right information in dozens, and eventually hundreds of hours of content, will be really, really easy!
For the last many years, the pricing to buy videos was simple: pay $50 and get one of the courses, like LinkedIn, Informational Interviews, etc. You could even bundle one year of JibberJobber with some videos and get a discount.
We’re switching over to a Netflix/Hulu-like model: pay one low monthly fee and get access to everything.
But wait, it gets better! You could pay for video access for one year and get a discount, or, the best offer we have is for you is to upgrade for one year on JibberJobber and the video library, and you’ll get 50% off on both. Here’s what that looks like:
One year: $99 (save $20)
Bundle one year + one year of JibberJobber Premium: $120 (save $60 on the video library upgrade and $60 on the JibberJobber upgrade, for a total of $120 savings).
Are you an outplacement firm, resume writer, or career coach? Reach out to me for information on bulk pricing: Jason@JibberJobber.com.
What’s more, this is just the beginning. Over the next months, and years, I will work on adding more content and enhancing the video system, FOR YOU. Over the next few days I’ll be cleaning up the library and getting all of the videos categorized correctly… so it will undergo a transformation. But it’s ready for you to go into now. Just login, mouse over Tools, and click JibberJobber Videos (right under Pluralsight Videos).
For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a ginormous project… and one of the fruits of that project is to bring closed captioning to my videos. I went through a learning curve, then the in-the-trenches work of getting my video transcribed and formatted for closed captioning… and then figuring out how to get all that in the right format so that video players will be able to take the transcription and put the words in the right place.
This was not a quick project. But I love what it has produced.
Check out this two year old interview I did with senior technical recruiter Robert Merrill… it was a fun interview, and going through it word-by-word reminded me of how many awesome nuggets of wisdom Robert shared with us… all of which are still relevant to today’s job search.
To see the captions, simply click the cc button, between the volume control and the HD option. Listen to this, read this, and tell me this isn’t a GREAT interview!
As a manager and business owner, I am always looking for people to be on my team, even when I don’t have a position open. I’m always watching for someone with something special… customer service, ambition, etc.
I think there are thousands of people in my position who are continually watching and looking. That means that we are always being interviewed. Let me emphasize ALWAYS. You are interviewed (aka, watched) when you walk in a room, when you look at your phone too many times, when you say something nice or rude to anyone, when you show that you are engaged or disengaged in a conversation… always.
This morning I was reading how Afterburner hires. Afterburner is a cool consulting company that hires veterans who become business consultants… Jim Murphy shared this part of the hiring process (read the article here):
When he does hire, the first step in the interviewing process is to take the candidate out for a fancy restaurant dinner, the kind a client CEO might host. The interviewee is escorted to the bar to swap military stories with the interviewers. While the Afterburner people are limited to two drinks, the candidate can have as many as he or she wants. At dinner the interviewers watch how the candidate behaves, which fork he or she uses. Murphy says he wants people with the business poise to sit with C-suite clients.
I wonder how many people at that interview think that, while swapping military stories, they are being watched on how many drinks they order. Or on which fork he or she uses. I’m sure they are watched on every little detail of how they interact at that dinner.
This interview might seem casual, but it’s a tool to see how you would act with a company owner, as if you were the consultant. Would you embarrass the company?
This is one example of how we are being watched. An interview isn’t just about what we say, how smart we are, how we say it… it’s about a lot more than that. When I “interview” people informally, I am immediately wondering these two things (among others):
– would they represent my company well?
– would they ruin, or add to, my culture?
So what do we do with this information?
Act nicely. Act professionally. Realize that what we do or say might be the thing that gets us the job… or adds a few more months to our job search.
You are in an interview. You’ve successfully made it past the “tell us about yourself” chat. You hit it out of the park on a few other questions. And then, some variation of this question:
“Tell us about your greatest weaknesses?”
The normal advice is take a strength, frame it as a weakness, and then bring it back to a strength again. Like this:
“Well, I’ve been known to work too hard on my projects to ensure they come in on-time and on-budget. I can’t stand to miss a deadline that I’ve committed to, especially if it would impact the company revenue. The good news is that I’ve never missed a deadline!”
Bam! Out of the park, right?
Let me suggest a much better, more appropriate response to that question:
“That is the dumbest question you can ask me. I know you are fishing for some reason I might fit here, and we both know that everyone is supposed to do the strength-weakness-strength response. But seriously, that is just tacky. How about if we spend time on what I would do in the first 90 days at this job to fit in and make a difference? I’d much rather talk about that.
Okay, I’m sure you aren’t going to respond that way (at least, not out loud). However, if you do, feel free to say “well, Jason Alba, of JibberJobber, said to say this….”
But seriously, here’s the deal: the interview is not a time for you to sit there and answer 15 dumb top interview questions that the interviewer just printed out.
It might take some practice, but you can actually have a bigger influence on the interview. Or, maybe we should call it the conversation.
I know that sounds presumptuous, and it kind of is. But you will melt in with the other wall-flowers if all you do is answer the ill-prepared questions, and not have a real conversation, which is two-way.
How do you do this?
Find someone you can do mock interviews with. This might be an interview coach, or someone at a free resource like a church or state-based job center. Maybe you do it with your mentor, or someone in your industry who is in a lot of interviews. Practice with others, practice on camera (and watch how you did), practice in front of the mirror.
Have YOUR OWN questions ready, and bring them up at the appropriate times.
I’m not suggesting you disrespect the interviewer, and hijack the questions. But you might be able to figure out a way to drive the interview, be way more memorable, give the right impression, and even get information about the role or decision-making process that other interviewees don’t get.
Or, you can just do the cliche strength-weakness-strength thing, like everyone else.
In my job search I went to a weekly meeting where they would ask if we did certain things (or, hit certain metrics) for the previous week. One of the metrics was to have 2 “interviews” each day.
I thought this was kind of ridiculous, because I really didn’t have that much control over whether I was going to get a chance to have and interview or not. But then, they explained that it could be an “informational interview,” which is something that I did have control over.
Over the years I’ve thought about the types of interviews that a job seeker could have. Here are the three interviews that every job seeker should know about:
The Formal Job Interview
This is the one that everyone thinks of… a company has an opening, they bring you in, and ask you questions that they just pulled off of google. Whether this is effective or not is questionable, but it’s part of the process. Sometimes they are checking to see if you are competent, other times they want to meet you in person so they can judge whether you will fit into their organization or not. Much has been written about succeeding in a formal job interview.
The Informational Interview
This is one of my favorite topics, and a super high-value activity that every job seeker should incorporate into their strategy. The basic idea is that you ask for 20 to 30 minutes of someone’s time so you can have a conversation with them. You don’t ask for an “informational interview,” and you don’t give them your resume or ask about openings at their company. The information interview is really networking on steroids… it is very purposeful and tactical, and by doing them correctly, you should see great strides in your job search results. That is, if you do enough informational interviews well, you should start to see more formal job interviews, and learn about real leads, and get introductions to hiring managers who have openings that are right for you. Sound unreasonable? I dare you to make informational interviews the bulk of your time.
You can learn how to do effective informational interviews in this course, which you can access for FREE (see how here).
The Informal Interview
The informal interview is what happens every minute of your waking hours. When you walk in a room, I interview (aka, judge) you. When you talk to me, I interview (aka, judge) you. When we are at a restaurant together, I watch how you treat the server. If you treat the server with respect and dignity, I make a mental note of that. If you treat the server with disrespect, I judge you and think that you’ll treat others on my team or at my company with disrespect. When you follow-up with me, I judge you. If you don’t follow-up with me, I judge you.
See how I changed from “I interview you” to “I judge you”? I did that on purpose.
I’m not hiring anyone right now. But I’m always looking for people to be on my team.
Does that make sense? I don’t have any openings, but if the right person comes along, with the right skills and the right attitude and the right work ethic, I might find a way to get them on my team. I will move budgets around to get the right person “on the bus,” as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about… whether this happened or not, it’s highly believable (sorry for the insinuation of potty language, but it’s in context):
Karma – the guy who pushed past me on the tube and then suggested I go F myself just arrived for his interview…with me…
The thing is, you don’t have to be so blatantly rude, or off your game, for me to make a decision about you, and whether I want you on my team or not. It really could be something as simple as being at a network meeting or conference, and judging the quality of your question to the presenter. Or how you spend your time. Or what you chose to wear.
I don’t want to sound that shallow, but this is reality. People are constantly judging us. Some wonder “would I hire this person?” Others wonder “Would I want to work with this person on my team?”
Here’s the clincher: some of the people “interviewing” us are not in a hiring capacity at all. That church lady who offers to help us… she’ll wonder if she could make an introduction for us, to her friend. If she judges us to be in a bad place (or rude, or not good enough, etc.), then she might not make the introduction.
So there you go: three interviews that every job seeker should know about. Now, what are you doing about any of these three?
Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, shared 6 Secrets of the New Interview from his book, The New Interview (an instruction book), on this blog post.
Here are his six, with my commentary:
1. Insiders have the best shot at the job. They also have the best shot at recommending outsiders for the job. Are you networking with people at your target companies so that you could be recommended by an insider? This, my friends, is what I would call working the hidden job market. How do you keep track of all of your networking touch points, and follow-up conversations? Using JibberJobber, of course.
2. The real matchmaking is done before the interview. Nick says “a headhunter never sends a candidate to an interview unless the headhunter already knows the candidate can do the job.” How do you keep track of which recruiters know what about you? Use JibberJobber to keep a profile on your recruiters, and when you send them what information, and who you have referred them to.
3. The interview is an invitation to do the job. Nick says the interview is not an interrogation (even thought it might feel like one, since the stakes for you are so high!). In JibberJobber there’s a section called Interview Prep, to help you prepare for your interviews.
4. The employer wants to hire you, and he will help you win the interview. Combine the idea of interviewing well and having insiders network you in and refer you, and you’ll be ahead more than if you didn’t do those two things! As noted above, JibberJobber helps with both.
5. The boss wants one thing from you: He wants you to solve a problem. Same as #4 – can you, in the interview, prove you can solve the problem? And, do you have insiders that influence the boss vouching for you? JibberJobber helps organize and track this.
6. You will win the job by doing it. That is, not talking about it, but somehow assuring them that you know how to do the job, without any doubt. This, I think, comes down to your personal brand, and how well you have communicated your abilities and success to your contacts. You can use JibberJobber to keep track of which contacts need to know what about you, and whether you have told them the right stories or not.
In Nick’s post he shares a link to the interview flow chart… this is a complex process, and I can see how JibberJobber could add value to almost every step in the flowchart.
I remember going to an interview, after a two day training for job seekers, and thinking “did the interviewer prepare in any way for this interview?” It was horrible. It was embarrassing (for the interviewer). It was a waste of time.
I remember the interviewer reading questions from a printout (thanks Google, five minutes before our interview!), and not really listening to the answers. No eye contact, just reading the next question, then the next question.
An interview is not a checklist task to just get through the questions… it should be an engaging time to figure out if the person can do the job and will fit nicely into the culture of the company/team. But somehow we haven’t figured this out very well.
We let things… discrimination and stereotyping… get in the way of the job search interview. Sometimes how a person looks, or what they where, or how charming their smile is, will trump how anyone responds. I’ve seen this in real life.
Jon proposes that the format of a programmer’s interview is scrapped, and they are tested with real situations to solve… kind of like puzzles, from the work environment. I read Jon’s proposal and think “wow, that sounds intense….!” But here’s the line that really caught me:
“Now, this does require one huge prerequisite: every candidate must have a side project that they wrote, all by themselves, to serve as their calling card.”
A side project… their calling card. In the creative world this might be considered your portfolio.
Whatever you call it, I totally agree with Jon. What can you point to that you have done/accomplished/figured out?
This becomes part of your personal brand messaging. Swap spots at the interview table for a minute and image that you have 10 final resumes in front of you… and they all look kind of the same. They all have similar education, similar years of experience, similar titles at similarly impressive companies… they all look great, but none really stand out.
The one who has had a side project, and talks about it. Perhaps there is a website or blog where you can learn more about this person or their side project. Where the other 9 resumes are just names on resumes, with nothing else to distinguish them, this person’s resume stands out because you read a few blog posts, and saw pictures, and got caught up in the stories. You read about their project and realized that they have skills and experience that didn’t quite come across in the resume.
You learned about their portfolio because they had one.
Jon has a lot of great points, but this one stuck out the most.
What’s in your portfolio? What are your side projects that you can point to?
You know, when you are in a job interview, the question the interviewer asks might not really be the question they want you to answer. Or, to put it another way, they might ask a question just to see if you have… issues.
Here’s a great youtube video where Ford Myers addresses the why’s and how to answer specific questions in a job search interview:
On LinkedIn there is an article proposing the ultimate interview question. I don’t agree with the author.
Spoiler alert: he says the ultimate interview question is “What did you learn last week?” The author makes a case for this being the ultimate question… but I’m guessing he is someone who really values learning and curiousity… both great things. My experience, though, is that most interviewers aren’t even close to ready to ask that question, much less understand great answers to the question.
If I were to interview someone right now, I would ask questions about their skillset (we are a technical company and I need to know you have the breadth/depth of skills for the job) and experience and results (if it’s a sales role, I need to know you’ve been a rainmaker). My series of questions, and their answers and attitudes, will hopefully help me understand if this person has integrity, will fit into my culture, and of course able to do the job.
But none of the questions I ask would be the ultimate interview question. Most of these questions will sound run-of-the-mill and boring.
The ultimate interview question, I think, will be the one that the job seeker asks.
You see, I’ve got my list of questions I’m going to ask the final 10, or 5, or 2 candidates… and after a while all the answers will sound the same. Once I get it down to the best of my list, you will all be admirable. Each of you will have your own strengths, and some weaknesses, but overall, any of you might be the right hire.
If you really want to knock my socks off, and show me that you CARE, and WANT this job, then don’t wait for me to ask the ultimate interview question. You should bring your own question. Show me that you’ve done your research. Show me that you understand my company, customers, competition, challenges, etc. Show me, with your question(s), that you are a smart thinker, and anxious to attack some problems.
I want to hire someone who is, as my college programming professor said, “high speed, low drag.” That means they aren’t going to sit around waiting for me to give them direction. Show me that you are ready to take initiative, and you don’t need me to hand feed you your tasks.
Having laid that foundation, what are some great questions you could ask in an interview? I’m not sure there is one question that will show all of those things… it will depend on the company, industry, culture, and how the interview is going (and how interested/engaged the interviewers are)… but what are some ideas of questions you might ask to position yourself as the right person to hire?