Saturday, February 5, 2011


I love interviewing a candidate where I don't say ONE word after my initial question...which makes it more like a confessional than an interview. I start by asking..."So Alice, why did you leave your last job?" And let the games begin. As I sit and stare in amazement, 10 minutes have passed before she comes up for air. What's funny is that after 30 seconds, you sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to me. These soliloquies will get you a firm handshake, a nice smile and an, "I'll do what I can..."

When you come in to meet with me, I always have an agenda. There are certain facts that I need to obtain for my clients and certain questions I need to ask so as to formulate a "profile" of what it is you're looking for in your next job. Everything else you add, is really unnecessary and a waste of both of our times. I'm not trying to be rude because I like to chat as much as the next yenta, but with so few hours in the day, and so much to do, I need to get to the point. And your interview with me is DEFINITELY a window into how you'll interact with my clients. If you ramble, don't answer my questions or don't let me get a word in edgewise, chances are you will do the same thing to my clients which means I won't present you for a job! Wasting my time, while annoying and often frustrating, is one thing; wasting my CLIENT'S time, pisses them off and in turn infuriates me.

When you are interviewing with one of my clients you should be prepared with the following:

1. Why you left all of your former positions. These answers should be succinct and should in no way incriminate anyone you've worked for. "My boss is a BASTARD" is NEVER acceptable. I once had a candidate tell my client that she left her last boss because she was a paranoid schizophrenic. TMI my friend, TMI!!! Ready for a change, laid off, or professional instability within the company are all acceptable reasons for putting yourself out there.

2. Your strengths. Talking about your strengths might seem like an easy thing to do, but your answer should be relevant to the job you're applying for. Bench pressing 350lbs is only impressive to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jillian from The Biggest Loser. My financial clients could give a shit. They also don't care if everyone in the office LOVED you...I remember in college, if the only thing positive someone could say about you was that you were nice, then they really didn't have anything positive to say. Amazing attention to detail; saying "yes" and then figuring out how to do something; leaving no stone unturned; being the "go to "person for all tech questions...those are all GREAT answers!

3. Your weaknesses. Chocolate, tabloids and Taye Diggs, while funny are not the answers they are looking for. Ideally, no one wants to admit their weaknesses, regardless of how many you may or may not have, but most of my clients want you to be truthful. Because once you answer the question, they are hoping that you will explain how you overcame said weakness. Here's an example: I have a hard time saying "No" when someone asks me for help. This causes me to work more hours than necessary, and can leave me frustrated and lethargic. So what I've started doing is prioritizing the requests and only taking on "x"/week. Therefore, if someone needs something, but it's not for a few days, I don't have to say no, but instead tell them that it won't be tended to until set date and will be ready when they need it. Weakness admitted and resolved :)

4. Where do you see yourself in 5/10 this answer may seem obvious to some (ie - with a reputable company, like this, advancing myself both personally and professionally). But I had one candidate, whom I LOVE and have placed multiple times, lose herself in the moment and say, "Raising my daughter in the South of France." While it might sound chic and fabulous to your friends, to a potential employer, it means you don't plan on dying at the company and therefore they have no interest in hiring you.

5. Do you have any questions for me. It is important to go into an interview with a few preconceived questions regarding the company and the position in general. And by a few, I mean no more than three. The rest of your questions should come from the actual interview. If you try and memorize your questions, you might miss if one of them gets answered. So ulitmately, formulate your questions as you go along and don't be afraid to ask them during the interview as opposed to at the end. A majority of my clients love when the interview is conversational as opposed to a Q and A session.

Interviews should not be used for the following:

1. Bad mouthing your boss/co-worker/spouse/boyfriend/children/the receptionist
2. Confessing how much you hate working for a living and that all you really want to do is star on the "Real Housewives of Staten Island."
3. Hormonal outbursts. That's right...I've had candidates cry right there in HR...please don't forget to take your prozac before you interview. While some may be sympathetic, tears automatically disqualify you from just about ANY job you interview for.
4. Making connections. When you interview for a specific job, don't think it's a stepping stone for something else. If a recruiter even gets the slightest scent of ladder climbing...don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out!
5.The opportunity to sell/pitch anything other than yourself. Personal websites, girl scout cookies for your daughter, or sponsoring your son for his local read-a-thon, are big NO NOs.

Ultimately, if you prepare in advance, take the time to do your research, and know what you bring to the table, there is no reason why you shouldn't ace EVERY single interview you go on.

Be confident; not cocky.
Spit out your gum.
Have great eye contact.
And wipe those sweaty palms before ANY handshake.

Good night and happy job hunting,

The Job Yenta

No comments:

Post a Comment