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5 Tips to take the Jitters Out of an Interview

Interviews are stressful.  Whether this is your dream job you are interviewing for, a promotion, or your first job there are little things you can do to help ease the stress.  There are very few people in the world who don't get pre-interview jitters.  These jitters will be worse if you are not prepared for your interview.  Here are my 5 tips for helping to get you to the interview with a few less jitters.  

1. Don't be late

There is no valid excuse for being late to an interview.  You should plan on being there at least 10 to 15 minutes early.  You don't need to check in until 5 minutes before but at least be in the building 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.  This allows you to go to the washroom and check your hair, teeth, wash your hands and relax before you are called in.  

2. Do a Practice Run

If you aren't sure where you are going or where parking is or how long it will take then do a practice run.  Schedule your practice run around the same time as the interview if you can to get a feel for traffic flow and/or public transportation glitches.  Nothing worse then being on the subway and having an emergency stoppage.  Find that nearest taxi stand and get going.  

3. Prepare your Outfit the night before

Yes, layout your whole outfit.  Hopefully you have picked up your suit from the cleaners ahead of time.  This is also a good way to know if you have to leave earlier to pick up a new pair of nylons.  Are your shoes shined?  Yes people do still shine their shoes or at least get the dust and grime off of them.  Remember don't overdo the cologne or perfume, if possible just don't use any.  Cleanliness and hygiene is more important than your cologne.  

4. Prepare your Kit

Take a couple of extra hard copies of your resume with you.  They will ask you questions relating to your resume so this gives you the chance to reread it before your interview.  Kleenex, a couple of safety pins, a charged phone , breath mints, can come in handy in case of an emergency.  Don't forget to put in a hard copy of your references (that you have prepped ahead of time) just in case the interview goes really well and they want to move to the next stage.  

5. Find out how to pronounce the Interviewer's Name

In our multi-cultural Canada it's important to verify how to pronounce the person's name.  The last thing you want to do is walk in and say "Hi Mr/Mrs ........" and have them say "well my name is .........".  Ask your recruiter, phone the actual company and ask for their extension - hopefully if you pronounce it wrong they will correct it for you.  Write it down phonetically so you will remember the pronunciation.  

Being prepared for your interview will help to set the tone for the whole interview.  Let me know what little practices/rituals you do before an interview to help you start your interview off on the right foot.  

 


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Let's say right off the top - Technologies are boring. Can you make them more exciting? Probably not, but you can make them less boring. I have seen resumes with a page of technologies, each one listed on a different line. By the time I am halfway through them my brain is going "blah blah blah". How do you catch the employers eye and highlight your technical skills at the same time? Try these simple tips. 

Pertinent Technologies need to stand out

If the job description is asking for a certain technology then put it in your profile.  

"Over 14 years of Java development experience including 7+ years in design, development, implementation, testing, deployment and support of Java based web applications. Working knowledge of Object Oriented Design and Programming methodology. Able to learn new technologies and applications quickly."

Highlight them in each position.  

"Complete redesign of the web application suite to incorporate recommended design patterns (Front Controller, Synchronization Token, Business Delegate, DAO, Singleton, etc.), iterative preparation of project specifications and implementation, AJAX-based modification of data entry pages, estimates per clients’ requests."

Have a Technology Section on the first page of your resume. 

1.    Group your technologies by category, ie Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Scripting Languages, Databases, Tools, Hardware, Software, Methodologies, etc depending on your skills.  

2.    List the ones that are pertinent to the position you are applying for. If it is listed on the job description then it should be in your technology section.  

3.    List the technologies that are current.

4.    List the current versions of a technology especially as they are pertinent to the position you are applying for.

5.    Don't list old versions of technologies, ie Windows ME.  

6.    Don't list old technologies - there are very few jobs that use Fortran or Cobol, they don't need to be included in the technology section. 

Do you need a Technology/Tools section for each job.  

Try incorporating your technologies into the actual detail of the position. Use them with action words in your achievements. This way you don't need an actual list of Technologies/Tools for each position. It is much more interesting to read about how you used the technology then to just list them. A Technology/Tools section is just clutter, so often you are using the same tools in multiple jobs so you are just repeating the section over and over again. It ends up filling your 1 to 3 page optimum resume size up with "blah blah blah". 

Don't Lie

This applies to every section of your resume. Don't Lie. Don't exaggerate. Your technical skills should reflect your actual abilities. Trying to learn the skill as you go will almost always backfire. If your supervisor doesn't notice, your co-workers will and if you are in a position where you are supposed to be mentoring someone - watch out for the fireworks.  

It doesn't take long for an employer to find out that you don't have the experience in the technology you alluded to. Having to do a technical test is quite common nowadays, often followed by a technical interview where you will be quizzed by professionals on the required skills. If you don't have the skill all you are doing is wasting your time and theirs.  

Technologies are boring, but it is the way you use them that can be exciting. Updating 2000 desktops with the newest version of Windows without any glitches is what an employer wants to know. The employer wants to know how and when you have actually used your skills, not just see a tedious list of every technology you have ever worked with. Remember, resumes should be 2 to 3 pages telling the story of your professional life, not just a list of technologies and education. 


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Why didn't I get the job? What was I missing? What do I need to do for next time? These are all valid questions to ask the company you have been interviewing for.

There is nothing more difficult after being rejected for a job than to find the confidence to phone the interviewer and ask WHY? You were so excited, felt the interview went great, what happened? You were enthusiastic and really wanted to work for this company and this group. What happened? You won't ever find out if you don't pick up the phone and ask.

First thing you need to do is be honest with yourself.  

Would you have taken the job if it was offered?  

Were you as qualified as you thought?

Did you have as good an interview as you thought?

Was there anything you said, or did that might have produced a negative impact in the interview?

​If you answered all of these positively then there is no harm in trying to get some feedback.

Did you get the interview through a recruiter or directly with the company? If you worked through a recruiter, than your first phone call is to him/her.

Recruiters

You have a much better chance of getting constructive feedback from your Recruiter. They are like your agent and there is nothing they want more than for you to get the position. The recruiter also wants to fill this job in the future so they want to know exactly what the company is looking for so they will be asking the company what my Candidate was missing.

Keep in mind that a Company isn't going to want to tell you or the recruiter much more than "your candidate didn't have enough experience in ....". The interviewers are employees of the organization and they owe a fiduciary duty to their employer. This means they will be very careful about what they say. The last thing they want to worry about is a lawsuit because they said something about your personality or age or sex.

Wait a few days if calling the Company directly.

Don't call right away, wait a few days. Call the interviewer you seemed to have the best rapport with. Re-introduce yourself, be positive.  

I wanted to thank you personally for interviewing me. 

I love your Company and was wondering what I could do to improve my chances for the next time.  

Is there anything that I did that prevented me from getting the job?

Are there other positions coming up that would be more suited to my experience and skills?

If you want truthful constructive criticism, then you have to be willing to listen. And don't get defensive. The Interviewer doesn't want a confrontation and you aren't going to change their mind. Getting defensive will only reinforce the fact that they made the right decision and there go your chances for a future chance. Ask specific questions:

Were my answers too short?

Did I seem confident when I answered your questions?

Was I too relaxed or too stressed looking?

What could I do to come across more effectively in the future?

What was the one thing I did best?

What could I improve on?

If it was a skill or experience, then these are things you are going to have to improve with education or more time in a junior position. Cultivate a positive relationship with the Interviewer, let him/her know that you are going to work on their recommendations and would love a chance to keep in touch about future opportunities.  

Do Mock-up Interviews

Ask your recruiter or a career coach, or at least a friend to take the interview questions and do a mock-up interview with you. Treat it like a real interview. You want to be relaxed in an interview but also hungry. Being too relaxed in an interview can come across as arrogant, being too hungry can come across as too aggressive. Finding that happy medium is very difficult, especially if it is a job you really want. If you were trying out for a hockey team you would be out there shooting pucks every day. So why not practice for an interview?

Look at the positive

You got an interview, maybe even a 2nd and 3rd. Wow - you know how many people applied for these positions. Your resume got you in the door., that's the hardest part. Take the constructive criticism and wow them the next time!


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PitchBook and AngelList provide today’s headline reminders of the changing guard in global commerce.  New companies with sound management, scalable technology and great staff will become VC targets. Successful mentoring combined with VC runway cash lead to IPOs, in turn lead to growth based publicly traded companies. The secret recipe – people and the retention of your talent. The legacy corporate world’s decline is a function of attracting and retaining top talent. Top talent produces 13:1 units of productivity (superstar) or 3:1 units of productivity (star) output over average [see “Shifting the Performance Curve” – P=(SK+E)*C] talent. Legacy Corporations are still fixated on recruitment cost control using 20th century VMS strategy, resume evaluation by in-house recruiters, and inadvertent bias interviewing techniques.  The result is the retained workforce production often means to either 1:1 units of productivity (Average) or 0.5:1 units of productivity (Below Average) as the Superstars and Stars flee to companies that embrace them and their abilities. We will examine some of the specifics down the line.

IPO mania produced record exits for VCs in second quarter, PitchBook says

PUBLISHED THU, JUL 11 2019       Aditi Roy @ADITIROYCNBC

Venture capitalists have never seen returns like this. In the second quarter of 2019, the long-awaited market debuts of Uber, Pinterest and Slack, along with the surprising performance of enterprise IPOs Zoom and CrowdStrike, drove a record $138 billion in exit value for venture-backed companies, according to a report released on Thursday from PitchBook. The biggest prior period was the second quarter of 2012, when Facebook went public. IPOs made up almost 83% of total exit value in the period, also a new high, PitchBook said. Venture investors had been waiting for the public market floodgates to open for their biggest bets after an extended stretch of mega-funding rounds from hedge funds and investors like SoftBank kept companies private and liquidity locked up.

“AngelList Weekly" newsletters@angel.co - 32 fast-growing start-ups in San Francisco

The Bay Area is the center of the start-up universe. With higher salaries than most tech hubs, the greatest concentration of start-ups in the country, and the presence of most leading tech companies, San Francisco is one of the best places to build a career in tech. While job seekers shouldn't feel limited to only looking in The Bay Area, it's worth considering. We pulled together a list of the fastest-growing start-ups in San Francisco that are hiring now. We analyzed AngelList data to find which companies have added the most employees in 2019. From there, we selected the top start-ups that currently have open jobs and removed any company that didn't include the salaries/equity it's willing to offer.


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Reading the story from Staffing Industry Analysts today brought my morning smile. I thought I would extract the opening paragraph from Planet's "How to take an Interview" as the Do's and contrast with some of the actual Don'ts.

DO’S: Received from -- "Planet Interviewing Handbook"

“You have to sell yourself in an interview!”

You hear this directive all the time from people who are willing to give you free interviewing advice. However, the statement is virtually never followed up with instructions on exactly how you should be doing the selling. The purpose of this guide is to fill this gap by giving you concrete, specific actions that you can take to sell yourself. It is not the intent of this guide to turn you into a professional salesperson. Instead, it is meant to introduce you to only those basic selling skills that will be the most helpful to you and have the greatest positive impact as you interview for the next step in your career. So, don’t become stressed or discouraged if you don’t think you could succeed in sales. You are not trying to become a salesperson. You just want to be better at selling yourself than others interviewing for the same position. Before I get into the meat of the subject, let’s pause and think about the implications of the advice to sell yourself. In my opinion, the statement implies that:

1. You have to know your product thoroughly, and you are the product.

2. You have to prepare yourself for each interview in exactly the same way as a salesperson would, which is:

• You have to polish your interviewing skills.

• You have to plan for each interview just as salespeople plan for sales calls.

3. You have to think and act in the interview as a salesperson would, that is:

• You have to control the interview through the skilled use of questioning techniques. An interview is not simply an oral exam where you passively answer questions that test your knowledge.

• You have to close before you leave;

DON’TS:  Received from -- "Staffing Industry Analysts" e-news@staffingindustry.com

TAKING PHONE CALLS, BEING INTOXICATED AND OTHER JOB INTERVIEW DON’TS - July 11, 2019

From taking phone calls during job interviews to showing up under the influence of drugs, Express Employment Professionals surveyed business leaders and job seekers about the most inappropriate activities they have seen during job interviews. In one case, a candidate grabbed a doughnut without asking then proceeded to eat it during the interview; another job seeker arrived wearing bunny slippers.

Here’s what the business leaders said they have seen while interviewing candidates:

85% report a job candidate “showing up late.”

83% report a job candidate with “inappropriate clothing.”

49% report a job candidate with “inappropriate language.”

48% report a job candidate “eating or chewing gum.”

39% report a job candidate “responding to text messages.”

37% report a job candidate “answering a phone call.”

31% report a job candidate “bringing a child into the interview.”

31% report a job candidate “bringing a friend into the interview.”

26% report a job candidate “bringing a parent into the interview.”

24% report a job candidate being “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol.

“Aggressive pushback is usually the most shocking,” said Janis Petrini, an Express franchise owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In response to a question about job history, Petrini said one job candidate said it was “none of your business.” She saw another candidate “use his phone from the moment he sat at the desk until the moment he walked out of the door. He took several phone calls, a video chat and posted to his social media — and then proceeded to rush through the rest of the interview process.”

Mike Brady, franchise owner of the Jacksonville West office in Florida, said not only did an applicant take a phone call, the applicant “even held up a finger telling me to wait.”

Job candidates reported inappropriate behavior by their interviewers as well:

63% report an interviewer “showing up late.”

58% report having an interviewer with a “lack of preparation.”

51% report an interviewer “answering a phone call.”

39% report an interviewer “oversharing.”

30% report an interviewer “asking discriminatory questions.”

28% report an interviewer “wearing inappropriate clothing.”

An interview is an opportunity for a candidate to showcase his or her full potential, candidates who show they don’t care likely won’t get the job, Express CEO Bill Stoller said. But interviewers also need to be self-aware.

“In this tight labor market, the smallest thing could turn off a qualified candidate, and that’s not something you can afford,” Stoller said. The report was based on a survey of 310 business leaders and 212 job seekers.