Friday, January 28, 2011

Mastering the Phone Interview in Your Job Hunt

Ah, the phone interview. More and more you're probably getting requests for a preliminary phone interview before you actually meet someone in a face to face interview - which are happening less and less.

While phone interviews can be slightly less nerve-racking than looking a real person in the eye, a lot of tension can still arise as you're sitting and waiting for that phone to ring. All in all, though, they aren't all that different from the usual job interview.

Here's some quick tips to keep in mind for when that calls come through and it's time to answer.

1. Ready, Set, Talk
It's a little obvious, sure, but set some time aside for the interview. Typically, they're about 30 minutes or so. Make sure you're in a quiet, private space, and there aren't going to be any distractions around.

2. It Takes Less Effort to Smile Than It Does To Bomb an Interview
Even though no one is there to see you, make sure you answer the phone with a smile and you keep it on your face as much as you can throughout the call. Smiling with make you seem more pleasant, whether you realize it or not.

3. Do Your Homework
Like any interview, take the time to do some research about the company you're interviewing with before the call. The golden rule is at the least (the very least, mind you) a half an hour of solid research and reading to get an idea of what the company is about for each interview. It'll help you with the inevitable questions that will come at the end.

4. Watch Your Mouth
No, not that rule; that's too obvious. We're talking about smoking, chewing gum, mints, biting nails, eating - all are unacceptable phone interview behaviors. However, it is a good habit to have a glass of water on hand in case your throat gets a little parched.

5. It's Not That Often You Get To Use Crib Notes in an Interview
But in a phone interview, you have that opportunity. After you've done your research, write down some questions and other talking points that you want to bring up. You can even use your computer and have their company website up, along with any marketing materials or social media resources they might have on the Internet. It's not good to rely on resources you have in front of you or read from a script, but it could be helpful to have a couple of things at the ready.

6. Remember How You're Parents Always Told You to Say 'Thank You'...
Yeah, that was good advice. Even though it's a phone interview and you said it at the end of the call, (or at least you should have) after the interview, write a quick e-mail or thank you note to whomever you interviewed with.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More than Meets the Eye in Terms of New Unemployment Numbers

Though the numbers from last week's unemployment report looked hopeful, there's a far less positive side to what they actually mean. Sure, the number of people seeking unemployment decreased, and logic would seem to indicate this means more people are getting jobs. However, further examination shows that more people simply gave up looking for a job, giving into the hopelessness of finding work.

What's more is that the number of those considered to be "long-term unemployed," or those seeking work for longer than six and a half months, is at 6.4 million -- on the brink of tripling that figure's previous high recorded back in 1948.

While some of those who have dropped out of the applicant pool could be baby-boomers reluctantly embracing retirement or individuals seeking a temporary break from the struggle of looking for work, the numbers do not reflect the picture portrayed initially when the report was released. And though there are positives to be gained, it is still important to remember that many are still struggling.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No One is Going to Remember a List; People Remember People

Why Telling Stories About Your Accomplishments and Skills is So Much More Effective in Winning Over an Interviewer

People don't remember numbers or excessive facts, but they do remember a good story. So it makes sense that if you're telling and using stories in your job search and interviews, people are going to remember you too. Pioneered by Robert J. Gerberg, senior consultant at SET, a personal marketing firm working with executives, professionals and managers seeking $100,000 or more, the technique is something SET teaches clients to use. And according to Gerberg, job seekers who tell good stories get real results.

"The idea is to create stories demonstrating the benefits you bring," Gerberg said. Based on findings from more than 5,000 successful client job searches, Gerberg added simply listing skills and experience isn't enough in today's job market. "You must add interest beyond your credentials," he said.

Why is using action-driven stories so beneficial in job interviews? Here are five crucial reasons SET found:
  1. They are remembered. People forget the skills and strengths you mention just an hour after an interview ends, but days later, they still remember stories about how you used those strengths
  2. They give you a lot of credibility. Anyone can claim they have certain skills and strengths, but when you can back them up with stories of how you used them to contribute, your credibility increases tenfold.
  3. You're not 'overselling.' To prepare hard-hitting stories, people need to be specific about the challenges they faced, the precise actions they took to get things done and the outcome. As a result, you are very accurate – neither overstating nor understating your role.
  4. It creates a mental picture of how you will contribute. Employers get a firm grasp of the way you operate and how your approach would work for them. It's easier for them to envision you addressing their problems and challenges in the same way you solved similar situations for past employers.
  5. You reshape the job to fit you. When you come prepared with seven or eight stories, chances are one or more will be about a strength they haven't specified for the job. You can bring up any of the skills or strengths they haven't asked about, tell your story and persuade them to add it to their criteria. This stacks the odds in your favor because no other candidates will think to do it.

With more than 12 years industry experience, SET is the premiere personal marketing firm for professionals and executives. Visit for free videos on the job market; new resume styles producing real results; interviewing tips; and ways for accessing leads and contacts on the Internet.

For additional information, check out Robert J. Gerberg Jr.’s LinkedIN, follow on Twitter, friend on Facebook, watch our videos or read additional blogs.