Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do interviews make you nervous?

I’ll be posting a lot of info/tools to help you prepare for interviews, but if the thought of an interview gives you sweaty palms, think of it this way. Unless you desperately need a job immediately to put food on the table, it’s a mutual interview.

Sure, you want to make a good impression, sell your qualifications and show your eagerness and enthusiasm for the job. But it needs to be a good fit for you too: you’re also interviewing them to see if it’s the right place for you. You don’t want to get into a bad situation and hate your job. In my experience, having a good boss is a huge predictor of what kind of experience you will have. You can work for a great company with a great culture but if you work directly under a tyrant, life will be hard.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Questions Are Your Friends.

In networking, meeting new people, interviewing, or participating in meetings, the ability to ask good, thought-provoking questions is a skill that will serve you well. Say you meet a honcho at a company you dream of working for. Asking interesting questions instead of the standard ones people always ask will make you memorable.

So, how do you ask good questions?

Ask open ended questions. So instead of, Do you like xyz?, ask, What are your thoughts on xyz?

On that note, ask for people’s opinions. We all have them and many of us are happy to share. Example: What do you think it takes to be successful in [industry]?

If you’re at a networking event or social function and don’t know who people are, a good, safe, all-purpose starter is always: How do you spend most of your time? That way, whether the person is a high-powered executive or a SAHM, it’s worded so it doesn’t diminish their contributions. So what do you do? sounds like you’re only interested in what kind of job that person has, which may or may not be true. When you ask how people spend their time, they can also respond in a variety of ways, and if you happen to have a shared interest, you're more likely to find out about it this way.

In an interview, you’ll almost always be given the opportunity to ask questions, typically at the end. ALWAYS have questions for your interviewer. Not having any shows lack of interest or lack of preparation. Remember, don’t ask anything that can be easily answered on the company website.

If you need to make small talk, you can always ask someone where they're from, or read the news and bring up current events or an interesting article you read.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Basic Guide to Networking

Besides official networking events, at the core of networking is the informational interview. You can't realistically contact someone you barely know and ask for a job outright. Instead what you should do is simply ask for information. It sounds much more palatable to people and it’s much easier to get someone to just talk to you than to hand over a job.

You might have heard about those fabled MBA alumni networks that hook you up with a great job. Well, it’s part truth, part myth. Those who don’t get jobs through on-campus recruiting do their job search by contacting alums for informational interviews. If you make a good impression, the person just might pass you onto someone else or, best case scenario, if the company happens to be hiring, they’ll put your resume in the hands of a hiring decision maker.

Where to start?
Research your industry and develop a list of target companies. Then look for your contacts who work in those industries or companies.

Who do you know?
  • The obvious: friends, family, acquaintances and everyone they know. Ask around.
  • Old co-workers. It’s a small world in some industries.
  • Alumni from your schools – most colleges, grad schools, and even some high schools keep records of alumni including current industry and company info. Many people expect to have fellow alums contact them. Some schools keep lists of alums by industry who’ve agreed to make themselves available.
  • Contacts from social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Many alumni networks have groups on these sites.
  • Members of any industry/trade organizations you belong to. If you’re not a member, look into joining one. Many of these groups are also on LinkedIn.