Interview checklist

Interview help

Ready to go on that interview?  Here’s some interview help to get you comfortable.

Sitting through a job interview is never easy. Often times you’re nervous, trying your best to impress, and thinking on your toes when it comes to those ever-daunting situational questions. One important thing to keep in mind about interviewing is that you’re undoubtedly going to be given the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions. When done correctly, the questions you ask will help confirm that you’re qualified as a viable candidate for the position you desire. This is your opportunity to find out if the company is an organization you would really like to work for, and see yourself building a career. Below are eleven potential questions you should consider asking in your next interview, as well as why each is important.

1. What does a typical day look like?
When you ask this question, it shows that you’re interested in knowing what the working environment is like and what is expected of you. Feel free to take notes during this portion of the interview. It will further demonstrate your interest in the position!

2. What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
Asking this question will provide you with some insight regarding what you will be
working on first. This is important information to know to help ensure you’re
comfortable in your new position, and feel confident that you can handle the job
responsibilities at hand.

3. Can I see examples of a project I will be working on?
This is your opportunity to find out what a typical project looks like and consists of. It also provides you with some basic understanding of the responsibilities you’ll have in your new job position.

4. What does your ideal candidate look like as far as skill set and experience is concerned?
The answer to this question will give you a good idea as to whether or not you have what it takes to fulfill the job requirements and responsibilities. The answer you receive will also let you know whether your personality matches what the employer is looking for in a candidate.

5. What is the culture like at this company and how would you say upper management
contributes to the culture?
Company culture is important and should be valued by all employers. This question will help you feel out the vibe of the company and determine whether or not you would enjoy working there on a daily basis.

6. Does your company offer developmental resources to its employees?
In-house mentoring and development programs are a great way for an employer to help its employees achieve their work-related goals. By asking this question, you’ll get a good understanding about how the management feels about helping its employees.

7. What would my biggest challenges be if I were to be hired for this position?
It’s important to understand the main challenges you would face as the holder of the
particular job. For instance, if you’re told that dealing with unhappy customers would be something you’d be expected to handle, knowing you have the patience and skill set necessary to deal with unhappy/dissatisfied customers is important.

8. Is the job I’m applying for a new position or one that’s been held by others in the past?
It’s important to know whether the job in question is a new position or one that’s been recently created. If it is a newly created job, you may be given the chance to ‘set the bar’ so to speak concerning goals, responsibilities, etc.

9. What does the training process look like for this position?
The answer you receive for this question will give you a good idea as to whether or not training is valued at this company. Is training completed in 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? How is the training conducted and who is in charge? It is important that you feel capable of taking on new tasks through proper training.

10. What is the performance review process like and how often will I be reviewed?
It’s important to know how and when your performance will be reviewed. Asking this question will let you know what standards are used to review employees. It will also help you plan for your review from the day you begin your new job.

11. How long have you been working for this company and how did you arrive here?
Asking this question will help you connect with the interviewer and give you insight into why people choose to work for the company you’re interviewing with.

Remember, interviews are just conversations between two or more people looking for resolution to a problem (in this case the problem is a job opening).  They want to hire someone and you want a new job.  You answer their questions and they answer yours.  So bring a pad with the question YOU want to ask so you don’t get nervous and forget!

Need Help with Interviewing? Give me a call.

Resume updates and interviews

Is your candidate of choice turning you down?

Or another way to look at it is “do your managers have the interview skills they need to hire the right people?”.

I’ve written blogs and coached many people on what to do during a job interview, helped them through the self-doubt and sweaty palms stage.  I’ve coached them on how to answer questions and what questions they should ask the interviewer.  My clients are ready to strut their stuff, show what they are made of, get it done and get hired.

But, are the managers ready for the interview process?

I’ve got to say a big “NO”.  Some of my clients come back with horror stories detailing the ineffectiveness of the interviewers.  WHAT?  Say it ain’t so…  Are there really companies that have managers who don’t know how to interview job candidates?

Have you caught the sarcasm yet?

Yes, indeed and I’m here to tell you that you (insert your company name) have a problem.  It is easily solvable if you realize it, but sometimes “you don’t know what you don’t know”.  You need to coach on how to conduct the best interview possible. How to put someone at ease, how to ask questions, and not just which ones are legal and which are not.  Teach them to listen and hear what isn’t being said.  Have them learn to watch body language and really pay attention.

An interview is a conversation between two or more people.  You want to hire someone and they want a job.  You EACH want to find out as much as possible in that very limited amount of time.  Each side has choices and a lot of it comes together during the interview process.

That’s the point, isn’t it?

Step one, smile at the candidate and make them feel comfortable.  Start with some light conversation.  You’ll get more valuable information that way.  Intimidation doesn’t work at all.

Step two, understand the details of the job.  Not everything is written on a posted job description and the candidate might ask for more information.  You need to fully understand what the daily routine actually is so you can explain it in enough detail so the candidate leaves with a better picture of expectations.

Step three, don’t dominate the conversation.  Ask open ended questions: who, what, where, why, how… and listen to the answers.  Ask them to expand on things that show their strengths that could be a fit for the job and your organization.  Hiring people where the strengths and values match the company is more important than hearing about weaknesses.

“But I always ask about weaknesses”, you say.

And I say “why?”.   A candidate will give you the mildest weakness they can think of and who cares any way.  How about ask them about their challenges or where they want to grow?  Aren’t you more interested in what they can do?  Stop thinking about the inconsequential things they can’t.  For example, my weakness is patience.  It’s something I’ve been working on for years.  Would that prevent me from getting a job?  Probably not.  When you ask negative questions it just makes the potential hire nervous.

Step four, ask them if they have any other questions or something they didn’t get to cover.  Always thank them for coming in.  Tell them about the process and how long it might take.  Then, and this is incredibly important, get back to them.  It’s unprofessional to interview someone and then never touch base again.  It can be an email, phone call or even snail mail…  Always let them know the final disposition.  Don’t leave them hanging.

Finally, enjoy it.  You’re meeting someone new and having a conversation, don’t make it drudgery.  Be proud of the company you’re working for, share your experience and enthusiasm.  If you’re open, honest, and comfortable, the candidate will be too.

Go hire someone awesome!


Job Interview

Tips to Rock a Job Interview

Does going on an interview terrify you?

You have sweaty palms, your shirt is sticking to you so there is no way you could take your jacket off, and you just keep thinking “am I good enough, will they like me?”

How would it feel to be able to calmly shake the interviewer’s hand without wiping yours on your pants or skirt first?   How would it feel to be able to have a two-way conversation with the interviewer and hold your own, not feeling intimidated or unprepared?

Here is some practical advice to build your confidence in advance of the meeting so that you’re comfortable and feel like you are on an even playing field.

Let’s first remember that you must have done something right since you were called for an interview.  That means your resume hit the points listed in the job description and you are qualified.  Kudos to you! You’ve made it over the first hurdle.

Now it’s preparation time.

That means you research the company, get comfortable with why you applied in the first place.  You work on your story – the story that will sell yourself.  How do you stand out?  What makes you qualified for this job, over all other applicants?  You need to sell YOU.

And while you’re thinking about how to sell yourself, think about your communication skills.  Make sure you look people in the eyes while speaking.  If that isn’t a strong suit, role-play with your family or friends, you can even practice in front of a mirror.   Ensure you can effectively speak about your accomplishments that show how and where you would fit into the organization.  Again, if that makes you uncomfortable, practice, practice and more practice.  And smile.  Smiles light up your face and engage others.  Be comfortable with yourself and the interviewer will be comfortable with you too.

Back to your research on the company, why should they hire you if you’re not interested in the organization? Businesses hire people to fill a need.  During the interview ask about the main issues the company would like to solve.  Remark on something you’ve read on their website, or an article that was posted about them. Show them you’ve invested some time and effort.

Lastly, remember you’re interviewing them too.  Ask them about the actual job functions since posted job descriptions are usually generic.  Inquire as to why the opening exists?  If it was due to a lateral or promotion, good.  That means they are utilizing their internal people.  They need to sell you on working for them as much as you need to sell yourself.  And don’t ever forget that it’s just a conversation. So, be the awesome, uniquely qualified individual they can’t do without.

One more thing, don’t forget to follow up.  After every interview, follow up with an influence letter. Here you will briefly thank the person you interviewed with, recap the conversation, explain what excites you about the role and share why you would be a good fit.

Now go rock that interview!

Motorcycles taking a risk

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

I saw that on a tee shirt recently and started thinking about those three words… All or nothing.  It’s a statement, a commitment, or maybe it’s an ideal.  To me it means “give your all, all the time”.  Be passionate, enthusiastic, really jump into the fray. It’s not a half measure, it’s not half assed, and it’s certainly not waiting around to see what might happen before making a decision.

All or nothing.

If you’re giving your all will you succeed?  Maybe.  There are no guarantees, but if you don’t you certainly won’t get where you want to go.  If you’re giving your all and you realize you aren’t getting where you want to be, an adjustment might be in order.  You don’t give less or give up.  You change course.  You don’t change your commitment or your “can do” attitude, but maybe you need to rethink what success means.

The point is that you map out the steps needed and time required in order to march toward that prize.  If you want it bad enough and the goal is realistic you’ll have the “all or nothing” attitude required to make it.

But maybe “all or nothing” has absolutely zero to do with success or failure.  Maybe its just a lifestyle, a way of living everyday, it’s the way you think.  You perform each task as if it’s the only thing of import.  You give your full attention to completing each and everything you do.  Always.  You devote your full attention to your friends and family, you listen, you commit, you care.

Maybe it means success with attitude.

If you really put yourself out there you’re bound to be successful because failure isn’t an option.  You’re confident with yourself, with your expertise, with your knowledge.  Not that you won’t have a misstep or fail at something, but failing and failure are two completely different things.


noun: failure
lack of success. “an economic policy that is doomed to failure”
Synonyms: lack of success, nonfulfillment, defeat, collapse, foundering

to fall short or to be unsuccessful

No one is perfect, which means mistakes will happen, you’ll make an error in judgment or screw up a report.  It’s what you do afterwards that makes all the difference.  Do you admit defeat and become a failure or do you learn from whatever that failed attempt was, grab a hold of that attitude and move onto the next thing?  Remember, we’re all about the “ALL” in all or nothing.

My last thought on “all or nothing” is a play on the Nike ads.  Just freaking do it, and do it with all you’ve got!

A coach coaching a client

Bad Coaches

Uh oh, I think I hired a bad Coach

Kudos for taking the initiative to work with a coach on your career aspirations, relationship, encore career, leadership, or whatever issue you may have.  That’s a huge step in the right direction and not an easy nor cheap endeavor.  I’m sure you did some research on coaches as well as read a bit on their websites or wherever else they have information, then you made a decision and hired someone.  Now you’re into the first session or maybe number 2 or 3 of a multi-session package and the alarm bells are beginning to sound in your head.

Ding, ding, ding…

You’re now getting the sense that this person to whom you’ve entrusted with your problem (as well as some hard earned cash) isn’t all you thought they should be.  They aren’t listening to you at all, plus seem to have their own agenda to fulfill.  Now you’re thinking “I hired a bad coach and what am I going to do about it?”

First of all, your coach should always follow your lead.  Yes, they dig, push, hold you accountable, and may make you uncomfortable upon occasion, but a coach should listen to what you say, read between the lines, listen for what you’re not saying, pay attention to your hesitancy and ask empowering questions to get you to think differently.  They should NEVER have an agenda of their own.

You’re not broken.

A bad coach tries to fix you.  A good coach knows you’re not broken.  They know how to work in partnership with a client to achieve positive results based on the clients needs, not their own.  A good coach will work hard to challenge you, inspire you and get to know you on a personal level.  A bad coach may use intimidation, or negativity to force you to follow their doctrine.  That should absolutely never happen in a good coaching relationship.

You may know pretty quickly that the coach you hired isn’t right for you, that they don’t have your best interest at heart, or that you just don’t have the rapport with each other that you would have hoped.  You may leave the session more discouraged than when you walked in or  dread having the session entirely.

Now what?

Don’t be discouraged or worried about ending the coach-client relationship.  And don’t wait to do so hoping it will get better.  It won’t.  If you have concerns, act on them immediately.  Tell your coach that you want to terminate the relationship and would like a refund on the unused sessions.   If the coach is ethical you’ll get a refund, if not… you won’t.

Finding another coach.

I’m not going to tell you that only coaches that are certified are good, but at least you know they had to pass tests and coach a coach to prove they understood the coaching concepts.  You can also check to see if they are a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation), it’s the ethical body for coaches.  Ask them how they coach or what tools they use.  Ask them how and why they got into coaching.

Now go out and find a coach to work as your partner.

Resume writing

Tailoring Your Resume

Why you must tailor your resume.

We’ve all heard the 6 seconds bit… that’s how long it takes someone to say yay or nay to your resume.  Read it or trash it.  That’s if they even get to your resume.  What if they don’t get past your cover letter?

If you’re looking for a job and you’re currently out of work, then looking for a job IS your job!  If you’re currently employed and searching for a different, better, whatever new job, then it’s your homework after work or on weekends.  It’s still important and you should never skimp on your effort.  That means you change your cover letter and resume for EACH and EVERY job before you apply!

Catch that?

There is no standard resume or cover letter that you mass mail to every potential employer.  None.  You read the job description and move your information around so that it highlights the stuff they’re looking for.  You have lots of skills and strengths, but only put the ones that matter to THAT job at the top of your resume.  You want them to see that you have what they want.

Your summary paragraph should tell them something about you and what you’re bringing to the open job.  Why you want that type of position and what makes you unique.  If your summary doesn’t change for each new position you’re not selling yourself to them.  What you’re doing is selling yourself short!

Your job experience company, title and dates don’t change, but your actual work experience might.  Move the important stuff you did around so it’s seen first, especially if it’s something listed in the job description.

Always list your certifications, especially if it’s something that would matter to the job. Awards too.  They want to know how good you are and that you have what they want.  So, show them your stuff.

Next, your cover letter needs to reflect who you are.  If you can tell a short story about how you made a difference in a previous role that’s similar to the one your applying to… all the better.  Make your cover letter shine, tell them why you’re applying, what job you’re applying for, how you can help them and always, always ask for an interview.

If you really want a new job you need to work at it.  Save each new resume and cover letter with the name of the company so you remember exactly what you sent them.  That way when you get an interview you know which resume to bring with you or to update with the latest information.

Good luck with the job hunting!

Community service

Community Service

Community service. What does that mean to you? 

To some it means “uh oh, they got caught, received probation, and now have hours of service”.  To others, it’s a prerequisite of graduating from school.  To me and many people I associate with, it’s a giving back to our community.

I want to talk about the voluntary type, the giving back type, the “I want to help others” type.

The intention of community service is to volunteer your skills or expertise to aid someone else.  It can be an organization, nonprofit, or pro bono work for individuals.  Whichever route you choose it’s the donation of time that makes it a giving back to the community.  You’re not expecting a monetary or bartered payment.  It’s free.

Why volunteer?

I do it because I can.  I have a bit of free time and the desire to help others in need of assistance.  With my Information Technology background as well as my current Coaching business I have two broad skills I can use.  I can assist in basic computer skills, career coaching or helping with interview skills and resumes, or building self-confidence.  The list goes on and on.  Those are what I can bring to the table.  Everyone has something to offer, it’s up to you to figure out where you can make a difference.

The benefits are many. 

The obvious one is that it makes YOU feel good about contributing to the well-being of your community.  But what about the community at large or the people in which it serves?  Think about the houses you can help build or the park you could lend a hand to create or clean up.  You might be helping an entire neighborhood.  Or if it’s more tangible such as one on one interactions, you get an immediate result.  You can see the difference you’re making in someone’s life by just listening and being supportive.  Young or old, everyone needs to know that they matter.  That others care and are willing to lend a hand.  That’s the incredibly rewarding experience.

I truly enjoy meeting people and offering them my skills and strengths so as to better themselves.  Then, maybe if they are in a similar position they will remember the helping hand they received and do the same.

It takes a village and I will always be one of the villagers.

How about YOU?

Intentions, decisions


Three birds are sitting in a tree and one decides to fly off.  Now how many birds are in the tree?


The bird that thought about leaving changed her mind.  I never said the bird flew off, I said decided to fly off.

That’s the thing about intentions, it’s not a done deal…  You haven’t committed.  We all do it.  We say we’re thinking about this or that and then forget about it until someone asks about it.  We say we’re going to work out more, get another job or lose weight.  But what are you actually doing about it?  Did you join a gym, update your resume or start a diet?  If not, then you haven’t really committed have you?  You only INTENDED to do something.  Intention implies little more than what you have in mind to do.  Which means, you haven’t done a single thing until you follow through.

Thoughts are not actions.

Actions are actions, actions are commitments.  Now that begs the next question.  How committed are you to a course of action?  If you intend to get a better job what would you have to do?  Thinking about it without a follow up action helps you not one whit!  Thinking about it and then writing a plan or figuring out your strengths and skillset is an action.  Intending to update your resume is great, but until you do so you can’t apply for another job.

See where I’m heading?

While intentions can make great conversation they are just filled with hot air.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Actually nothing at all.  They are merely wishes or wishful thinking.  Nothing concrete until you turn it into something.

So what is your latest intention and how do you want to make it a reality?

Sign up for a free 30-minute consultation if you want to discuss making your intentions something a bit more concrete.


Graduations and jobs

Your First Job

You’re in college, majoring in whatever…  You start to panic about graduation and thinking about what happens after school is over.  You realize that graduation means you have to begin looking for that first all important job.


You start mumbling to yourself “What do I want to do?  What do I like?  Why the heck did I take that last art history class and how will that help me land a job?”

Many people either take the first job a family member or friend offers them, whether or not it’s aligned with their desires or get a job doing what they like at that time.    If it’s the latter, it means that your first real job is something that makes you happy.  You like animals so think it’s a great idea to be a cashier at a pet store or an admin with a veterinarian.  Or maybe you like animals but also want to give back to the community, so you apply to a charitable organization that saves animals.

You get the picture.

Fast forward five years… Now what?  You’re still in that same low level job and you’re not making any money.  You still like animals but hate that there’s no growth and no real opportunity for advancement.  When you made that initial job decision it was based on a short term idea when you were young and idealistic.  You didn’t think it all the way through or map out a longer term goal or vision for your future.

Now you’re asking “what should I have done?”.  Let’s take the animal example and add a twist.  You still like animals but you majored in finance, have amazing math skills, and enjoy working with numbers. That would be a strength.  Don’t most businesses need a finance person?  Wouldn’t a Pet Store, Veterinarian, or Zoo need a finance person?

See where I’m going with this?

Figure out your strengths, likes and dislikes, as well as your passions.  Then align those strengths with careers, businesses, etc.  That’s how you find a job that will give you fulfillment, one that you can be enthusiastic about, one that may keep you happy for many years.

Don’t jump at the first job that someone offers you because you’re scared or worried.  Take a job because it will get you excited to make a difference, because it’s a role you can sink your teeth into, because you really, really want it!

Do a little soul searching, then do a bit of internet searching.  See what matches up for you and go after it with gusto.  Friends and family mean well but only you know your own values, aspirations, and desires.  Look for the job that matches up with who you are now and who and where you want to be in the future.

That isn’t to say that your career is static or that your dreams can’t change.  Obviously, they do and can, but your first job should at least get you on the right path for your short term goals and just may be the stepping stone for your long term vision.

Email me if you need some help or know someone that has a friend or son/daughter graduating college with no idea what to do next.


Elevator speech

What’s your elevator speech?

Do you have an elevator pitch?

I see the deer in the headlights look on your face and the “HUH?” coming out of your mouth.  Let me explain what it is and why you need one.

An elevator speech is a very short 30 second version of who you are and what you are all about.  It’s called an elevator speech because you only have the time it takes to get from the lobby to the floor selected to introduce yourself.  It’s short, meaningful, interesting, and all about YOU.  It’s how you respond when someone asks “what do you do?”.  It’s the summary that goes on your LinkedIn profile and it goes on your resume too.  It’s your personal brand.

And yes, you need one!

It should be true and compelling.  You need to figure out the point you’re trying to make, then tailor it to be concise and clear.  The person to which you’re speaking needs to be able to get your point or career without much thought.  It needs to be easily understood by people that DON’T know you.

You will use the summary you create over and over again.  You might need to adapt it for an interview or on your resume to more closely match something on a job description. The key message about you doesn’t change, just a few points to match the job application.

Practice your elevator speech in the mirror, get comfortable with saying it out loud so it comes naturally.  Make eye contact, be enthusiastic in your delivery, speak with authority and passion about who you are and where you want to go.  Make a believer out of everyone you meet.  They may even remember you when an opening comes up in their place of business!

As inspiration, here’s mine:  I actually have 35 years of IT as my background, but switched careers a few years ago, I’m now a certified coach.  I do workshops for organizations or work with individual clients to help them reach whatever professional or personal goals they want to achieve.  Together we figure out what’s holding them back from success, fulfillment, and growth.  It’s just awesome when they get that aha moment and begin to think differently!  I help my clients thrive and I love what I do.

I’m passionate when I deliver that message and I do it often.  It’s always that message but sometimes reworded depending on how it comes into the conversation.

At this point you’re nodding your head and saying “hmmm, what’s my elevator speech?”.

Get cracking and write it now.

It could land you the job you didn’t even know about!