How to Get Hired on Your First Interview

June 18, 2012

Why is it that some people who have the skills, the intellect, the right education and a positive attitude can’t get hired after a year’s worth of interviews, while others with none of the above (and often as dumb as dirt!) get a job offer from every interview they’ve ever had?

When we talk to people who do the hiring, they say some people will get called back to two or three interviews whereas others have the job four minutes into the first interview! When we delve deeper into this, the interviewers cite reasons like “They seemed teachable,” “It felt like they were a fit for our culture,” “It felt like they would stay with us” and “They seemed committed.” What we do not hear from them is “Great resume!” and “Impressive education.”

If you’re a young person trying to find a job, it may be tough to accept that where you went to school and all the extracurricular activities that robbed you of quality party time might be irrelevant. And if you’re young and don’t have professional work experience (all that time spent working for your friend’s crazy mom doesn’t count), this news can make you feel not only like you’re unable to repay your student loans but – even worse – you’ve been ripped off! No one told you that organizations don’t hire experience and education; they actually hire people.

On the surface, that sounds discouraging, but you can turn it in your favor. We’ve learned that certain actions, attitudes and behaviors can help you get hired on your first interview, regardless of your experience, education or inspired thought. Here’s a short list:

  • Make sure the interviewer does most of the talking. Ask questions that are personal to the interviewer. For example, “What is your opinion on what this company looks for from employees long term? What do you think is the most important outcome of this position? How do you think this position helps the bottom line? Do you think I can really make a difference?” Do not ask questions like “How soon after I start can I take vacation days?” or “Do you guys recycle?”
  • Be confident but not overconfident. If you’re under 30 years old, the school system built your self-esteem stronger than that of previous generations. People 40 and older can perceive you as cocky or arrogant because of your strong belief in your abilities. So be calm and be confident, but let them know you weren’t convinced you were The Solution the minute you walked in the door. Instead, ask questions that indicate you’re discovering how qualified you are by what they’ve told you. Say something like “Based on what you just told me, it sounds like I might be a very good fit.” Do not say “Let me tell you how I’m qualified for the job.” And never say “I’m totally smart and, like, I’m supergood at stuff I don’t know anything about.”
  • If your interviewers want to talk the whole time, let them, and don’t interrupt. Focus on how they feel and give verbal cues like “Yes,” “Right,” “I agree” and “That’s true.”  And say “wow” at anything that seems interesting (or almost interesting). People like to feel heard. They want to be listened to. So if they say something that they’re clearly hot about, respond with “Wow, tell me more about that.” They will hit a whole new gear, and they’ll instantly see you as someone who shares their interests. The longer you listen, the more they like you if you follow these tips.
  • When you get the chance to talk, be very clear and focused. Be prepared to explain your value. Explain how your education and work experience enhance your natural traits – for example, “I’m very good at getting things done right the first time. My degree in history helps me look deep into the problem’s past to see how the issue started so I can move into the solution phase.” They like to know you’re not just using trial and error. They want to hear you’re applying something that you know. “And my job for two summers at the grocery store taught me to make sure the product count was right the first time so I would not have to do it over.” If you can make a history degree and stocking shelves at midnight look like assets, you can make any experience look good! The point is to use whatever you have to show your experience. (Although if you’ve spent the past two years on Mom and Dad’s couch smoking weed and playing Xbox, you might want to leave out what you’ve learned … which you’ve probably forgotten anyway!)
  • Look like you’re employable.
    • A mohawk is out; a faux hawk is passable. One makes you look like an unemployed serial killer, and the other just makes it seems like you have a pointy head.
    • Make sure your clothes are not old, worn out or superwrinkled. No one wants to hire a hobo.
    • Shave! I know it’s very cool to look like you just woke up, and you may be very proud of what little hair you’ve managed to grow, but employers comment on this all the time. When you get the job, this might not matter, but in the interview it does!
    • Women: don’t dress like it’s prom night. Six-inch heels may be very “in,” but interviewers over 40 won’t think you’re there for business. They’ll think you’re in the world’s oldest business. (That’s prostitution.) Fashion is a strange thing; each generation dislikes much of what the next generation wears. They expect you to dress your age but be practical – flats, not flops. Or choose heels that don’t imply you have a performance later that night that involves a pole.
    • The secret weapon: Throw your generation under the bus. Most people believe that if you’re under 30 you lack a solid work ethic and you won’t work hard enough. It’s the No. 1 complaint, true or perceived. To combat this preconception, say “Unlike a lot of people my age, I’m willing to work hard and stay late sometimes to get the job done.” Your potential employer now sees you as a young person he or she can count on. For bonus points, add that you will show up on time consistently.

You may think these tactics seem a bit manipulative, and many would agree with you. But when the job market is tough, you have to make a decision. Do you want to see how you compete in the world based on your own merit, or would you like to get hired quickly for a job that you want?

Many people have used these tips with great success. You can ask your parents’ opinion, but I think you already know what they will say!

Additional Resources:
Generational Differences Keynotes
How to Get Hired as a Teen
Work Ethics for Young Employees
Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews

Tsunamis, Unrest in the Middle East and Economic Recovery: The Value of Worry

April 8, 2011

With a current world picture that includes tsunamis, unrest in the Middle East and a struggling economic recovery, it might be tempting to say that the Mayans were right and we’re approaching the end in 2012. Maybe the Mayans were just good at math, which we all know can be helpful but won’t necessarily get you a date. (We tend to remember Olympic champions but rarely sing the praises of a mathlete.) Just because an ancient civilization did not outlive its own calendar doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for us.

Stress and WorryWe like to think that these unstable conditions around the world are new and shocking events never before seen. But the truth is that the Japanese invented the word tsunami, which means clearly this is not their first rodeo. (I’ve actually seen a Japanese rodeo, and it definitely appeared to be their first.)
Likewise, rebelling against governments is absolutely nothing new; it’s the foundation of the United States. Those of us who think our economy is really bad have never ridden the chicken bus in Mexico. (You know, that bus you’re on when you realize all the native riders are holding farm animals … and somehow you get the idea their economy is a little different from yours.)

The reason a series of unfavorable current events can intrigue us so much is simply this: We like bad news. As a culture, Americans tend to fan the flames of panic. From the post-earthquake and -tsunami videos, you might conclude that the Japanese don’t seem to be panicking. Don’t be fooled; they’re panicking – their panic just looks different from ours. Their panic does not give the appearance that Godzilla has come to town. That image of panic is one that the Japanese created for us, an American film audience that enjoys that stuff. We feed off it.

But sometimes we also let it bog us down. No matter how bad things get, circumstances do not create the quality of our life. We do. How we think and feel about what goes on and the belief systems that we hold create what we think of the future.

Worry is not the symptom of a problematic life. It is, in fact, the problem. Worry that does not create an action pretty quickly is useless. As you may have heard before, action creates opportunity. Fear creates action that we probably should have thought through a little better first.

We are concerned about a younger generation that doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency; they don’t seem to be worried about the things we think should cause them worry. But maybe these young people are proof of the latest evolution of the human condition. Maybe we’re evolving to the point we’ve finally realized that chronic dread is just not helpful enough. It’s like a 50-year-old person dealing with a technology problem. He’ll see it as an all-day problem, whereas the 25-year-old is just looking for one of many solutions that he actually knows exist. It’s easy to say that this new generation may lack the efficiency of the previous generation; after all, we worked hard to make sure they didn’t have to work as hard as we did. But the truth is, as usual, we all have a lot to learn from each other.

Concern (which is nothing more than worry conveyed with a more effective expression on your face) is important because it drives us to make plans and prepare ourselves for the future. For example, seeing a glass as half empty can help a lot of us to consistently keep our glass full. But critical thinking is not the same as a fatalistic outlook.

My ultimate point is to stop worrying so much about things we can’t do anything about and to take specific action on the things we can actually influence. To that end, here are six things we can do to be more effective about how we think.

  1. Quit talking so much about how bad everything is, because ultimately you’re using your charismatic influence to lower the performance of the people around you.
  2. Watch television news a little less and the History Channel a little more. (Don’t take this to mean that you should stay up until 4 a.m. watching Hitler documentaries.)
  3. Focus on making the people around you feel valuable, because people who feel valued make fewer mistakes, are more loyal to you and have a better outlook on life. It’s why corporations and associations spend money on motivational speakers.
  4. Adopt modern business practices. Communication has changed, and social media is having a dramatic effect on everything from brand awareness to customer service to generating big revenue. Social media is simply word of mouth on steroids; it’s the natural progression of technology-aided communication. First came tribal drums, then smoke signals, then the telegraph (although I think there may have been a few things in between smoke signals and the telegraph), then the telephone, then the computer/Internet, and now social media.
  5. Remember that, when dealing with younger people, you need to let them know that “now” means now. With their
    With their lack of a sense of urgency, they sometimes don’t understand that “now” means “Stop what you’re doing and focus on this other thing pronto!”
  6. Use all the effort that you put into worrying about the future into creating your own future.

The value of worry is that, in small, well-applied doses, it motivates us. The problem is we are not a culture known for our love of moderation!
Whatever hitches and hiccups we might experience right now, we are probably not the first ones to face them, nor are we the first ones to solve them. Frankly, it doesn’t take genius to succeed. Throughout history, we humans have achieved through persistence and resilience. In fact, our research shows that when a high percentage of top performers were asked about how their brilliance created success, they simply said that (1) they were not as smart as they were relentless, and (2) a more intelligent person would have quit long before they did.

Motivational Speaker – Author – Consultant –  Garrison Wynn

Dr. Phil is Not a lot of Help

January 25, 2008

I can’t do another post related to Brittney Spears. It’s just not who I want to be in the blogging world. I don’t want to criticize Oprah either, like Rosie O’Donnell did recently I discuss success or what stops us from it; that’s pretty much my focus. But I must say (briefly I hope) that Dr. Phil is an entertainer, not who you would seek to solve your problems. His expertise is in preparing people for court (he has a company in Dallas with a mach courtroom set up that coach’s people how to respond to attorneys, judges and jury’s). That’s how he met Oprah and became Dr. Phil.  He helped her when the beef people (sounds like a science fiction movie) were suing her for saying bad things about hamburgers. The bottom line is that when we start to mix show business with people who need real mental health expertise we become a culture of idiots (no offense to people with really low IQ’s). Oprah is a Journalist and experienced TV host; so as well meaning as she is, it does not equate to psychotherapy. It does not mean she is not helpful it just means a lot of people need more than Oprah to solve their problems.  Dr. Phil does actually have a degree in Psychology so he must know something, but his goal is to do a good TV show and get ratings that will allow him to stay on the air. And most metal health professionals strongly disagree with his advice. Some say he is a hypocrite (he talks to people about reducing calories while his head alone must way 100 pounds) but mostly he is doing what ever he can to get ratings, which in fact is what he is paid to do.  So, the success lesson is to lower our expectations of those on TV trying to give us advice. It may be helpful but you probably need to seek those who solve problems without an audience.


Hollywood’s Most Influential Infants?

December 16, 2007

Have we lost our minds? This is news? We have decided that the infant children of famous people are influential? The ugly truth: If you ask people about Shiloh, they will not mention the famous Civil War battle, they will instantly think of the offspring (not be confused with multiple adopted children) of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Brangelina). Let’s be very clear, infants are not influential! The media is influential, and “we the people” are priority challenged. If I was the leader of an evil foreign power and saw news coverage of influential celebrity babies, I would be thinking “Attack America now”! Influence is based on communication and positioning; if we believe that you can have that at 3 months old, we are the most easily influenced culture in history. Some may argue that the future of our nation is indeed in the hands if spoiled babies. I think our youth will grow up and be ok; as long as we don’t decide they are influentially news worthy while they are still in diapers.


Programs on influence

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