Interviewing Stress

Why do you hate to interview? Some people are so terrified at the thought of going to an interview, it literally makes them freeze with fear. Others forget the answers to their questions and the rare ones are calm as cucumbers. How do we prepare for the face-to-face meeting and make it fun?

First off, wear your most comfortable professional outfit. If you are comfortable, you won’t be fidgeting in your seat. Please make sure it is clean for goodness sake!

2nd, no extra jewelry, crazy colored nail polish, or wild eye shadows. Simple and professional. This speaks to all genders.

3rd, practice answering interviewing questions with a friend. Take it seriously. Try not to say “like” or “um”. When you get to the interview and you are answering the question, if you need more time, simply say something like, “that’s a great question, let me think of answer that will be relevant for you”.

Before you go to the interview, be sure to thoroughly check out the company’s website and social media presence. There you will be able to formulate questions when the interviewer asks you if you have any. It is always good to have one or two.

At the end, stand up and thank them. If protocol allows for a handshake, give a firm one. You can ask for a business card from them at this time if they have not provided one to you so you can send a thank you email.

Sending a thank you email. I like to remember a part of the interview that was funny or personal or meant something, and use that in my greeting such as, “I really like the way you spoke about how this role works hands on with the marketing team, I had some experience at my last position in marketing. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain that to me today. I look forward to our next meeting.” This makes the greeting more personal and shows you were engaged in the interview.

I hope these tips helped! Make it a great day!

Networking

Networking is about the other person first. Remember that. Its not about what you can get from them. Its about what you can do for them.

Why? When we network, we are creating professional relationships that teach us information about that persons job title, company, and company culture. We learn if they would be a future client or vendor of ours. We cultivate that relationship over time to make sure we have all the information we need to make informed decisions down the road.

When the time comes for help, we can then ask for help with a project, sale, or a job referral.

If you have worked with the individual before, never burn bridges. You never know when a situation will arise that this contact may help you. It could be a job interview. It could be a sale that will help you reach to your goal.

When reaching out to a new person that you don’t know. Make your you introduce yourself. Explain why you would like to connect with them. Don’t just use the canned text introduction. Make it personal. You just might be glad you did! Make it a great day!

Conversational Interviews

Recently, I commented on a post about making interviews a conversation rather than an interrogation and it got me thinking about this blog that I do. I am one of those strange people that love to interview when I am looking for a job. I do not like looking for a job, mind you. I would rather have one however, I love when the interviewer asks questions that I have not had before, and I really get to dig deep into my past and talk about the fun that I have had in my past career as an HR professional. Yes, I have had fun!

If you are an HR person like me, you are truly passionate about the subject of HR. Employee relations, training, and yes, even the icky stuff like FMLA, ADA, and worker’s compensation. Of course, we prefer things that make us happier like the employee relations stuff and training, but it all balances out if we have a good team and a great boss.

Let us get back to the interview process though. In the beginning when we are hiring for a position and we have the luxury of conducting a phone interview with the candidate, I personally like to ask two types of questions. The first few are housekeeping questions. Why are you looking? What kind of notice are you giving? How did you hear about us? What kind of salary are you looking for? This last one is tricky because people get shy about this one. I personally like to give a range so that there are clear expectations of where the salary is compared to where their budget lies. If they know what the range is, they can see if it fits within their needs. If not, then the interview can end right then and there. We do not waste each other’s time. The next set of questions pertain to the job itself and I always begin by saying the following sentence: “I have a bunch of questions and I hope to have a fun conversation with you. During the course of our conversation, you might answer questions I have not asked you yet, so bear with me while I take notes, lets have some fun!” Then we begin. This is when you start the conversation. The interview may start out slow but if you engage in something they say, the candidate may start to relax and show you bits and pieces of their personality or the true passion they have for the position they are applying for.

One of my favorite conversations was with a man that loved to garden. We were hiring for a groundskeeping role, and he was talking about how much he loved to garden. He went on about the tools he liked to use to edge the lawn and how he took pride in making the edge straight up the walkway to the front door. It was moving. I know that sounds silly, but he was so passionate about what he did for a living that I moved him on to the next round and he got the job. He has been with the company for 12 years now. He does not need to be promoted; he is not looking for a management position. He is content and happy living his best life making the garden, lawn, and grounds beautiful and being happy in the process. A true work/life balance.

I know that sometimes we focus on the gaps in employment. I even have some gaps. Life happens. Sometimes we take time to have kids, we get laid off and have a hard time finding a new job due to the economy, we have ill family members that need care. As an HR professional, I tend not to focus on these too hard. I will ask about them, I want someone that is serious about staying in a position because as we all know, turnover is expensive. We do not want to have to rehire someone over and over again.

It is time to have those fun conversations with your candidates, see what you can find out. Listen to the other jobs that they have worked and the other skills they gave obtained for the current position you are offering. Education in a field is great, but you cannot beat real-world work experience. When a candidate is comfortable, they will reveal more of themselves to you.

Being the Bigger Person

It is so hard to be the bigger person when you are on the receiving end of a rant. If the information you hear is negative and hurtful, it can cause us to want to get revenge. Sometimes we receive these hurtful messages in an email or text. What this really means is the sender was hiding behind their computer or phone. These are especially hard not to respond to. I will always remind you that perception is everything! People put their own spin on the tone of your message regardless of your intentions. The best thing to do is nothing at all.

Should we respond or should we walk away? Think about what you would say and if it would really make a difference. Would it make you feel better? Probably not.

Being the bigger person and ignoring the negativity is the best approach. It is non-confrontational and the more professional way to handle the situation. Should you document what was said? Absolutely. This way you have proof of the conversation as well as the beginnings of a time-line if things escalate later on. You will put it aside in case you need it.

The person that has ranted toward you and the rant itself, has now lost all of its power. By responding you would have only added fuel to the fire. Being the bigger person, you have silently taken that power away from them.

This skill is something you must practice frequently as we tend to react quickly to people and forget to stop and think before we respond. I encourage you all to walk away from conflict when you can. It’s just not worth the trouble.

Employment Application Dilemma

Dear Future Employer,

Why do you ask me if I have been terminated, laid off, or resigned and not include an “other” option? I know how important it is to find out so you won’t hire someone in your organization that will wreak havoc or cause problems, but there has to be a better solution or question that can be asked. How about another option for people to use?

Sometimes jobs are not a good fit for the employee.

Sometimes the employee is leaving a toxic manager or environment.

Sometimes employees are not a good fit for the organization.

Sometimes employees are asked to do things that are in opposition of their personal and business values and morals.

This is the tough one. What happens if an employee was asked to do something illegal and wouldn’t do it? Is that insubordination? It could be seen as such, but in my opinion it isn’t. There are toxic work environments and shady leaders out there and we must be mindful of them and the employees that work in them and for them.

Certain positions require the utmost ethical and moral behavior. When it is tested you must prevail with your ethics intact. The problem is, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you give in to the request of the leader, then you risk having it backfire on you and end up being thrown under the bus when shit goes sour. If you don’t give in to the request you end up getting terminated. This is where looking for a new job is difficult.

So, I ask you first….PLEASE stop asking people to do things that are not legal, moral, or ethical. Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Just don’t.

When we answer truthfully that we have been terminated on your form, don’t use this as a reason to not bring forward for an interview. Instead provide us with a drop down comment section to write something that will give us a chance to explain and ease your mind at the same time. This will provide you the ability to ask more questions when you interview us. Remember too, we may be under legal documents that prevent us from saying anything against our former employer (release documents). That doesn’t mean that we are bad employees. That doesn’t mean that we are trouble makers. It could mean the employer had something to hide and this was the easiest way to deal with it. If you read the information we provide and you deem it to be legitimate then you already have a glimpse of the person you are thinking of bringing into your organization and the higher standards they strive for. Don’t you all want an upstanding employee with high integrity? I surely do.

Think of it this way, can you imagine how hard it must be for them to have lost a job for doing the right thing? For following the law? For standing up?

So future employer, not only should you update your applications with legal items, you should update this termination question section too. Please do the right thing.

Signed, Everyone.

Making the Change

I haven’t written in a while due to the virus, a long, difficult job and some mental health struggles.

This has been a most challenging 15 months for me and many of you as well. I have made the decision to migrate. I’m moving closer to where I feel my life will be in alignment and my mental health will flourish.

A warm environment. A new job. A new home. As I travel down the highways of the states, I see many cars and trucks with all their belongings packed in trailers, and storage units on top of their vehicles. I am not the only one.

If this experience has taught us anything, it has shown us to be true to ourselves, be closer to family, to find companies that are worthy of our time, and not to let that work/life balance line blur just because we are working from home.

Working 14 hours a day and weekends is not healthy when you can’t do anything else. Now we are getting vaccinated. Now shops and other businesses are opening back up so we can start to resume life again. I just don’t want us to do this too soon to start another wave. I want this to go away!

Well, I am headed for a new place, just me and my bird. I’m excited to be on this journey and start blogging again. I hope you can join me.

Let me know if you are making a big “COVID” move, or know someone who has. I would love to hear their story!

Why do I feel guilty when I am on vacation?

We have all hear it, “Don’t log in”, “Don’t check your email”, “Try to relax”. Yeah, right.

How can I relax when even after I have set my “out of office” notification, the constant chiming of the email notifications brings me anxiety and guilt for not looking and not working?

Oh, I know I need a break. I know my brain and my body are exhausted. I also know that just like everyone else, I deserve time off now and again.

However, the thought of only being gone for three days and returning to three hundred emails is a tad overwhelming.

I am at home on “vacation” during COVID-19. My original plan was to have my first vacation after landing the new job poolside in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii with a flight of Mai Tai’s at the ready. So, I have turned the heat up, put on some Hawaiian music, and found a documentary about the ocean that I am playing in the background on mute.

It. Is. Totally. Not. The. Same. (sigh)

I will make some Mimosa’s to mock the Mai Tai flight, only because I do not have the ingredients for them, and I am not interested in going to the store in my COVID mask. Oh, did I tell you, this is only day one.

I think I will nap as my head and my body are reminding me that I promised to rest during this time and are counting on me to keep to my word. It is also raining outside (go figure), so I cannot exactly take out my lawn chair and sit in the sun.

Tomorrow is another vacation day. I will be more rested and ready to figure out some activities to keep me from opening that laptop that is staring at me from my makeshift home office desk.

Ding, ding, ding…there goes three more emails into my inbox.

I think it is time for another Mimosa.

A Million Tears

Normally I would write about something HR related but I can’t. I don’t have anything to say that at this point has not been already said. As a person with the great capacity to love on people, I find myself unable to comfort the fears of my friends, family, and neighbors during this time and it is in my nature to try and fix things.

This is a scary time. All of us are on edge. In the past few weeks, I have seen the good that can come from a tragedy such as this. However, it doesn’t mend the mind when you stop to take a well-deserved rest. It’s in that moment when you finally take the time for yourself that you start to think. You start going down that rabbit hole like Alice, but when you hit bottom there is no bottle to drink, no morsel to eat. All that is left is the fear.

That is when the tears come. I have never been afraid of crying as I feel it is a great release of stress and anxiety. So I encourage you to cry, scream, and hug yourself. Consider it mental health. My favorite place to cry is the shower. The hot water warms me to the bone and the water coming down on my face washes away the saltiness of my tears. The heat of the shower on my head lulls me into a state where if I am fast enough, I can fall asleep still warm in my core.

Rest, Sleep. These are also things we need. I am just as guilty as many of you working from home. That computer is so close, maybe, just one more email, one more report. No. Stop. Give yourself work hours. This is a very trying time and any sense of normal is better for you. Wake up in the morning and put your work clothes on. Take breaks, take a lunch time, and get some fresh air. End your day at the same time every day and if you can, cover up that laptop.

Have dinner with your family. If you are single, like I am, text or call a friend. Watch a TV show, read a book, color, paint, or just rest. Take off your work clothes and put on your workout gear. Go for a walk, exercise on your deck or in the yard. Go up and down the stairs a few times to get your heart rate up. Then, clean yourself up and put on those Jammies. This is your time.

Again, those tears may come. You have been watching the news everyday and hearing the same horrible news. Overload. That’s where I am now. Instead of the news, I now put in my favorite movie and do my dishes.

I speak to my friends and they are stressed too. More tears. Friends with children at home from school. They are trying to balance working at home and being a teacher. Some are not working, no paycheck, no money. Donate to a food bank if you can. Put food on your local Buy Nothing page. Offer what you can to others in a safe way, a safe distance. I won’t use the statement that keeps us a certain distance apart because I am overwhelmed with it. It’s the only thing you hear each day.

I write to you not just to remind you to take care of yourselves. I write today because this is me, taking care of me. Writing makes me happy and helping people does too.

I’m sending you all the love and light in my heart. Be safe, stay home, and we will get through this together.

I’ve Been Hired!

Some of you know that I have been in the job market for about seven months now and I am happy to announce that I have a new home!

I will be at the corporate headquarters of Merrill Gardens handling their Employee Relations!

I am very excited to be part of a team that loves where they work and who they work with.

A great culture and being happy in your job are just as important as having enough compensation to pay your bills and feed your family.

I will have the time to once again blog about HR and how we can make a difference to our team members, making them feel safe and valued in our organizations.

Hint: It starts during the recruiting process!

Sneaky….not so much!

I have been in the applicant pool for a few months now and you can’t fool me when you have this fancy HRIS system that sets up a “profile” for me to check my applications and I am required to put my birthday in it. Why do you need this information? You are not supposed to discriminate against me or anyone else on the basis of age among a long list of other items.

You Can’t Fool Me

As an HR professional in the market place, you can’t fool me with this tactic. I guess you feel like people are so desperate that they will give you the information so they have a chance to get in to your company.

When an applicant is applying to multiple organizations, the thought of having to first fill out a profile and then an application is daunting. In my opinion, you should be making the application process much simpler for people. They should have the ability to send you their resume, answer a few pertinent questions for your team and be able to receive text messages for the status of the application.

Remember to K.I.S.S.

Continue reading “Sneaky….not so much!”