Monday, July 20, 2009

Telephone Interviews are as Easy as 1-2-3!

In a tight economy, smart organizations seize every opportunity to lower costs in the recruiting and hiring process. The telephone interview or phone screening is one great way employers are keep recruiting and hiring costs down.

Rapidly advancing telecommunication technology is enabling employers to add to the complexity of the telephone interview. For example, telephone interviews can now be one jobseeker with one interviewer or one job seeker with multiple interviewers on an interview panel.

With free conference call services or on-line meeting web technology, the interview panel can now be completely distributed. In other words, a jobseeker can converse with 4 or 5 interviewers who are all in different locations. Bottom line is that the telephone interview is here to stay and can be a very effective tool to screen job seekers.

What does that mean for the jobseeker? You must get comfortable with the telephone interview and know how to impress the recruiter through this medium. With the telephone interview, where neither interviewer nor jobseeker can see each other, both have to be aware of tone, clarity and energy. Mastering the interview is as easy as 1-2-3 if you understand this.

If I were to rank the three, I would probably put them in the following order:

1. Energy - Stay high energy from beginning to end of the telephone interview.
2. Tone - Try and limit sarcasm or negativity since you cannot "read" the interviewer.
3. Clarity - Listen carefully to the question. I have heard jobseekers go off on a tangent answering the wrong question. If the interview were face to face a quick gesture could abort the wrong answer.

Interviews are uncomfortable enough and the telephone interview adds another layer of complexity. Jobseekers should know that these three factors will enhance or destroy their candidacy.

For more tips on how to ace the phone interview, read 10 Ways to Ace the Phone Interview

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is your 30-Second Introduction a Conversation Starter or Killer?

So you are at a networking event and meeting new people. You walk up to someone you want to meet, reach out for a handshake and forgot what you wanted to say.

Is your 30-second introduction on the mark? Check out this article by Career Counselor, Markell Steele as she asks if your 30-second introduction is a conversation starter or killer.

Guest Post by Markell Steele.

How many times have you walked into a networking event and clammed up? Everyone around you is clustered into small groups talking, seemingly already well-acquainted. At some point, you lock eyes with another job seeker standing alone and know that an introduction is on the way. So, you each make your way towards one another. Then comes the question, “So, what type of job are you looking for?”

Ugh! What do you say? Usually the answer is something like, “Oh something in marketing or project management (or fill in the blank).”
The other person just nods and mutters “Oh.”

The conversation quickly ends. Then, you slink away feeling like you just missed an opportunity and wonder if there’s a better way to say what you really want to say about the job you want.Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to you (often).So, what happened? The person you were talking to still doesn’t know what type of job you want and can’t help you.

As a career counselor I have this type of exchange with job seekers all the time. Fortunately, I’m skilled at asking questions to draw out the real job target, but the average person won’t take the time to ask questions to figure out how they can help you.

Here’s a better approach - prepare a simple, yet powerful 30-second introduction that opens up the conversation rather than shuts it down.In your introduction focus on who you help, what problem you solve and what outcomes you achieve.

For example: Hi, my name is Jeff, and I’m a marketing professional specializing in creating and executing marketing campaigns. I manage the project from concept to implementation so my clients don’t have to worry about the details and can focus on their customers.Another example:Hi, my name is Christine, and I’m an executive assistant with experience supporting finance and legal executives. I handle the details for busy executives, so they can focus on the big picture.

Here’s my 30-second introduction:Hi, my name is Markell, and I’m a career counselor. I help frustrated job seekers find career direction, so they can get the job they want in less time with less frustration. By working with me, job seekers get clear about their next steps and how to achieve their career goals.

To get started, take inventory of you accomplishments to identify the common theme among them. Think about what you have been recognized for, those times when you’ve achieved your best, and made contributions to your department or company. Think about what makes someone successful in the job your want and come up with examples of work you’ve done in those areas.

Apply the framework: who you help, what problem you solve and what outcomes you achieve; to come up with your own 30-second introduction.

When I talk with my clients about how important networking is to exploring and connecting career opportunities, they cringe. Networking doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. By applying the above framework you’ll have your 30-second introduction down and can confidently network your way into a new job. How can you tweak your 30-second introduction to be a conversation starter?

Another relevant BullsEye article to read: Stop Muddling Through Your Job Search; Get Focused!

Markell Steele is a career counselor, owner of Futures in Motion, Inc. and author of Fast Track Your Career: Three Steps for Finding Work You Love. Contact Markell at