Improvise, Adapt, Overcome – Sensory Part 5

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I’ve never really been a fan of war movies or Clint Eastwood (I know that’s almost un-American), however his 1986 Heartbreak Ridge became one of my all-time favorites and not just because both my father and older brother are Marines. I’m something of a student of human nature and the dynamics of Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) and his ragtag band of Marine misfits (Oxymoron isn’t it) is remarkable. Why you ask, because of three words; improvise, adapt, overcome.

This group of United States Marines weren’t the smartest, strongest, most skilled or highly motivated group of young men, but these three words made them the most successful group of soldiers in their unit; improvise, adapt, overcome.

You may be out there looking for your new career. You’ve been through an uncountable number of interviews with little to no success and your beginning to wonder, “Is it me?”. No it’s not and yes it is. So many of us go out thinking, “I’ve got this.” When in actuality we are not nearly as prepared as we think we are.

The best thing you can do is to take an inventory; in other words Check Yourself before you Wreck Yourself

The days of walking into an interview, introducing yourself and handing in a resume are LONG since gone.

You have to:

  • Prepare.
  • Know your audience.
  • Understand their business.
  • Demonstrate your ability to communicate.
  • Show them you understand their company culture.
  • Impress them with thoughtful and relevant questions.
  • Put their minds at ease regarding the chance they are taking on you.
  • Exhibit your exceptional customer service skills through appropriate follow up and follow through.

Yes it sounds like a lot; however getting a job is a full-time job and anything less than your best effort will yield less than the best results. Interviewing is hard. Pardon me for a moment while I channel my mom, “If it wasn’t hard to get, is it really worth having?” I don’t normally quote her but, in this instance mom was right on.

If you have doubts regarding your interviewing skills, how to research the company you’re interviewing with, and any other interview tips and tricks; ask an expert. There are tons of great resources like A Better Interview . Ask a friend working in the field you are trying to get into. Ask your preferred employers for an informational interview to find out more about their business. Exceptional rewards take exceptional efforts. You can do this and you can be successful, it’s all up to you and what you are willing to put into it.

For more information on interviewing, resume writing and career changes, check back often. I look forward to reading your comments and hearing your feedback and suggestions for future series.

Touching and Tasting in an Interview, WHAT? Sensory Part 4

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Do you remember that “Friends” Friends episode where Rachel finally got the dream job interview and at the end mistook her interviewers intentions of opening the door for her as him coming in for a kiss? This is a great example of how touching should NEVER be part of your interview.

I know we all have funny stories about absolutely embarrassing things we’ve done in an interview, ALL of us. However for the sake of today lets keep them narrowed down to just two areas.

I started on touch, so let me finish with that before moving on. There is only one, and I mean,ONE instance where touching should be involved in an interview; yup you guessed it, the hand shake.

This is an underestimated gesture in the interview process; yet so important. It demonstrates confidence, articulation, enthusiasm and so much more. A firm hand shake (no don’t make them wince) accompanied by a smile, a confident look in the eye and a clear introduction made with genuine enthusiasm can positively influence the most stoic of interviewers.

Seems easy enough, but like the friend I spoke about last week in my article on “Sound ” sometimes just shaking hands, smiling and speaking with confidence can be very difficult. The answer, PRACTICE.

Now on to Taste, how did that interview taste to you? I know what you’re thinking, you can’t taste an interview. Well actually you can.

Did you?

  • Bring in your coffee?
  • Walk in chewing a piece of gum?
  • Chewing on a mint?
  • Bring in your big gulp?
  • Bring in your water bottle?

As you can see bringing your taste with you to an interview can leave a bad taste with the interviewer. Quick story; a young man (let’s call him Sam) walks into his interview. He is greeted by the receptionist, she politely asks, “Would you like some coffee or tea?” Sam answers, “Yes I would love some tea, thank you.” The horror in the receptionist’s eye was obvious, she had asked out of politeness, and now she has to go and find some tea, which she does not have. Answer politeness with politeness and just say, ”No thank you.”

Too much can go wrong in an interview where there is liquid involved.

    You could:

  • Spill it.
  • Slur it.
  • Dribble it on your pristine outfit (this has happened to me more than once but I’m clumsier than most).
  • Cough and spit it at the interviewer.
  • Sneeze and spit it at the interviewer.

I think you’re getting the idea. Remember the point of the interview is to be a clean slate they can envision actually in the job. If you do any of the above what are they going to visualize? I’ll tell you, they’ll visualize you doing the same to a customer, client or partner. Not a good visual, right? Not to start the relationship certainly.

You have to take into account all aspects if the interview and how you touch and taste are just as important as how you’re seen, sound and smell.

Tune in on “Friday” for the grand finale of your interview as a sensory experience.

Is Interviewing a Sensory Experience – Part 1 of 5

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How much time do you spend getting ready for an interview? When I ask my students this question, the normal answer is a tirade upon how long it took for them to pick out an outfit (the winner thus far is two weeks), picking the right hair style and make up, and coordinating shoes and lip gloss. For my male students, it’s the Shakespearian, “To iron or not to iron” conundrum.

What many people fail to realize is that an interview, believe it or not, is a smorgasbord of sensory experiences. The interview encompasses all of your senses and after taking a minute to review them, you may be surprised how missing just one can cost you the job.

This is the first part of a series regarding the five senses of an interview.

Let’s take these one at a time…

Sight – This, of course, is the most obvious; it takes into consideration… your clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up, hair, etc. It also takes into consideration your walk, your smile, your cell phone, your watch, eye contact, etc. One of the things that novice and professional job candidates alike fail to recognize is that sight encompasses ALOT!

  • Are you talking on your cell phone when you walk in the door? BAD
  • Do you keep checking your cell phone or watch? BAD
  • Are you standing up straight and presenting a professional confident demeanor? GOOD
  • Do you look people in the eye when you introduce yourself and shake their hand? GOOD
  • When you are sitting waiting for the interview to begin, are you sitting up straight? GOOD

When I’m working with students to hone in on their soft skills, especially their interview skills, I tell them the purpose of the interview is to make sure that the hiring manager can actually visualize them doing the job. You never know what kind of prejudices the employer may have, so you want to present a clean, professional slate that they can see fitting into their culture. If you have tattoos, facial piercings, stiletto heels, low cut tops, high cut skirts, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair…what does that say about you and the image their organization is trying to present? Yes you may look great, for Friday night, but not for Monday morning.

Remember to think of the job you want and dress for it: not too much, not too little, but just right. Give yourself the best foot forward to get the job, and then let YOU shine through. An interview is not the time to make a social political statement; it’s the time to show the employer you are the best fit in skills, culture, and professionalism.

  • When in doubt, look in the mirror. If you think your skirt may be too short or your top too low…it probably is. Change it.
  • If you’re wondering, “Iron or not to iron,” throw it in the dryer till it’s flat.
  • Is your make up Friday night fresh or Monday morning professional? Fix it.
  • Can you hear your shoes or jewelry coming down the hall? Change them.
  • If you are expecting a call that’s so important you have to take your cell in with you…Reschedule the interview.
  • Take a look in the mirror, and ask one simple question: “Would I hire me?”

Take a deep breath, walk into the office, smile, introduce yourself with confidence, look them in the eye, and let them know you are the best person for the job.

Check back on Tuesday, August 13th where I’ll discuss how it’s not your nose but theirs that matters.