Archive for the ‘Interviews’ category

How Should I Respond To A Weird Interview Question? (Video by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 8, 2011

How should you respond when an employer asks you a weird interview question?

Watch this 3-minute video for my answer…

Please comment below with your thoughts and/or to let me know if you liked this video.

P.S. You can also get a FREE 1-hour video course on how to get your dream job at http://www.PeteLeibman.com.

-Pete Leibman
-Author of “I Got My Dream Job And So Can You! 7 Steps To Creating Your Ideal Career After College” (due out through AMACOM in early 2012)
-Founder of Dream Job Academy
-Keynote Speaker for The Dream Job College Tour
-Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

How to Overcome Anxiety With Job Interviews (Video by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 26, 2011

Do you get really nervous in job interviews?

If so, this 2-minute video will help you overcome your anxiety in job interviews:

Thanks for checking out my blog!

P.S. Please comment below and let me know if you liked this video, and make sure you sign-up for my FREE e-newsletter at www.PeteLeibman.com so that you get future articles and videos from me on how to get your dream job and create your ideal career.

-Pete Leibman

-Author of “I Got My Dream Job And So Can You! 7 Steps To Creating Your Ideal Career After College” (due out through AMACOM in early 2012)

-Founder of Dream Job Academy

-Keynote Speaker for The Dream Job College Tour

-Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

Have You Made Any of These 7 Deadly Job Interview Sins? (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

April 26, 2011
  • You are not well-prepared.  The job is won or lost before the interview begins, based on your preparation.
  • You have not taken the steps necessary to control your anxiety.  It’s normal to be nervous in a job interview!  While some people will naturally get more nervous than others, you can control and reduce your anxiety by being well-prepared, practicing ahead of time, looking your best, showing up early, and so on.
  • You are not professional at all times.  I won’t list all the possible ways you could be unprofessional.  Let’s just say that you can blow your chances of getting hired in the first 3 seconds you meet someone.  Make sure you have confident body language, your breath is fresh and that you don’t have any body odor or smell like smoke.  Make sure you are nicely groomed.  Turn your cell phone off before the interview.  Don’t say anything that could damage your chances.  Don’t volunteer more information than is needed.  Never let your guard down.  And… don’t be weird!  Seriously.  One of my friends started her own business recently, and she told me of all sorts of bizarre ways that people showed up and acted in interviews.  She said it was amazing how hard it was to find someone who was “normal.”
  • You give the interviewer too much credit.  First of all, do not make the person interviewing you into some almighty king or queen.  When I interviewed with an NBA Team President as a college student, I talked to her like an equal, and she respected me for that.  Secondly, do not assume the interviewer knows what he is doing.  I conducted interviews for a previous employer and I had no training, and none of my colleagues did either!  This happens more often than you might think, and more often than any employer will publicly admit.  Lastly, do not assume the interviewer is familiar with your background.  I once interviewed with a senior executive when I was in the process of leaving my job in the NBA.  I showed up with a professional portfolio with the Wizards’ logo on it.  The interviewer said, “Oh, are you a big Wizards’ fan or something?”  I replied, “Well, yes, I work for the team.”  He said “Oh, wow, that must be very cool.”  The guy had clearly not even read my resume or cover letter at all!
  • You do not know how to sell yourself.  Don’t assume credentials will speak for themselves.  It is your responsibility to prove to the employer why you are the best person for the job.  Selling yourself is not bragging about how great you are.  The best ways to sell yourself are by asking great questions, by sharing stories and examples that demonstrate why you have the traits and skills needed for success in the position, and by closing the interview strong.  You can finish strong by asking for the job while recapping why you are the best candidate.
  • You are not likeable.  Another reason why interviews exist is because employers hire people they like.  The most qualified candidate is not always the person who gets the job.  Treat every person with respect.  If you are rude to the secretary, you are not getting hired.  Don’t badmouth anyone or be negative.  Don’t be a robot; include humor when appropriate.  You have to be enthusiastic and friendly during the entire interview process.  Note: if you have to fake enthusiasm, that’s a sign you should not be interviewing with the organization.  If you can’t get excited for 1 hour about the possibility of working for the employer, do you really think you will be excited working for the organization 40-50 hours a week?! 
  • You don’t bring your “a” game throughout the entire process.  The interview process begins the moment you come in contact with someone who could potentially refer you or hire you.  Treat every career conversation like an interview, because every career conversation is an interview.  Once you get into the formal interview process, bring your “A” game at all times.  I remember going through a series of 4 back-to-back interviews with a Fortune 100 company when I was in college.  I asked most of my questions in the first interview, and 1-2 more in the 2nd interview.  In the 3rd interview, I asked no questions at all, somehow thinking that the first 2 interviewers would tell the 3rd interviewer about all the brilliant questions I asked earlier.  The 3rdinterviewer even threw me a bone by telling me it would be good to ask some questions, and I replied by saying that I already asked my questions earlier in the day.  Big mistake!  Even if you ask the exact same questions with each person you meet, that’s better than asking none.  Treat each interview as if it is your only chance to make a great impression.  You want each person you meet (including secretaries) to be sold on hiring you because you never know who has the final say.  It only takes 1 person being adamant against hiring you for you to lose a job offer. 
  •  

    P.S. To receive a FREE, 25-page report on other Job Search and Career Success Secrets for Students and Young Professionals, visit my web site at www.PeteLeibman.com

    Sincerely,

    -Pete Leibman

    -Author of “I Got My Dream Job And So Can You” (due out through AMACOM in spring 2012)

    -President of Idealize Enterprises

    -Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

    Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

    www.PeteLeibman.com

    www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

    Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

    7.5 Dirty Little Secrets For Using References To Get Your Dream Job (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

    January 24, 2011

    In one of my favorite books of all-time, Influence by Robert Cialdini, PhD, the author talks about the principle of social proof, which states that people often look to the opinions of others to form their own conclusions. 

    This has strong applications for job searches, as hiring persons are definitely influenced by the opinions of others when thinking about who to hire.

    Here are 7.5 dirty little secrets for using references strategically in order to get your dream job:

    1. Use references who LOVE you.  Sounds obvious, right?  Well, I haven’t always done this, and you probably haven’t either.  When I was in high school, we learned from one of the colleges that rejected me that one of my letters of recommendation had been a red flag and a factor in the rejection.  (Don’t ask me how my Dad figured this out!)  Apparently, my history professor wrote a paltry, 2-sentence letter on my behalf.  We were surprised at his actions, but I should have known better.  I had asked him for a letter because he was a brilliant writer, and I thought he would write a really good letter; he had not been one of my biggest advocates.  Big mistake. 
    2. Use references who are reliable.  I once asked a former boss to serve as a reference.  This guy was a big fan of mine, so I figured he’d be a great reference.  However, the letter he gave me to submit had several typos and did not even include a standard header.  It looked terrible!  Luckily, I saw the letter before it went out.  I should not have been surprised.  He was one of the most disorganized people I knew.  Make sure your references have their act together.  If they aren’t normally reliable and thorough, they won’t suddenly become reliable and thorough when communicating with people on your behalf.  If your references look bad, you will look bad.  The opposite is also true…
    3.  Use references who look like and/or know the people you want to impress. For example, if you are applying for a marketing job where you will report to a Director of Marketing, it would be much more impressive if you have several recommendations from people they know or from other marketing executives.  A recommendation from your history professor won’t hold as much weight.  Now, if you are starting your career or making a career change, this is not always possible, but try to use people who know and/or look like the people you are trying to impress.  We are much more easily influenced by people we know or by people who look like we do.
    4. Tell your references what to say/write about you.  This might sound sneaky or conniving, but most people have absolutely no idea what to write or say in a testimonial or letter of recommendation.  As a result, most testimonials are the worthless, generic kind, like “John is a great guy.  I highly recommend him.”  Here’s a confession for you.  Most of the best testimonials I have ever gotten are testimonials I have written myself and gotten permission to attribute to another person (with their permission).  Many people actually thank me and tell me that even though they are more than happy to endorse me, they would have had no idea what to say.  Use your judgment on this one.  Some people are more comfortable with this than others.
    5. Tell your references what to say if/when asked about your weaknesses.  Last year, one of my former colleagues asked me to serve as a reference for him.  Given the work that I do, and since I am very thorough, I thought about how to respond if a hiring person asked me what my colleague’s greatest weakness was.  Guess what the FIRST question was that I was asked when his future boss called me?!  Luckily, I had a well-constructed comeback planned, which I conveniently sandwiched between a discussion of my colleague’s strengths.  (Thank you…I know I’m good!)  The chances of your references thinking about that in advance are close to zero.  It’s your responsibility to prep them on what to say when asked about your deficiencies.  If you don’t, they might step on a land-mine for you.
    6. Let your references know what to expect.  Ask if you can use them as a reference before doing so (many people don’t do this!), and give them a heads-up on how their testimonial will be used, who might contact them, and so on.
    7. Get testimonials from your references on social media sites.  Employers check these sites when considering you for a job, and social media sites rank high when someone “googles” you.  You can also “re-purpose” a testimonial posted on a social media site.  For example, by filming a video testimonial and posting it on You-Tube, or by getting a recommendation on LinkedIn, you can then take part or all of the testimonial and use it again somewhere else (i.e. as 1-2 sentences in a cover letter or as part of a 1-page testimonial sheet).

    7.5   Take care of your references.  When people put their reputation on the line by serving as recommendations, you owe it to them to make them look good.  You must also send a thank you note and try to return the favor by helping them somehow.   Also keep them posted on their progress; they want to know if they were involved in helping you get your dream job!

    In summary, one of the best ways to get your dream job is to influence the hiring decision-maker with strategic testimonials and references.  When you get the right people to brag on your behalf in the right way, you won’t have to do as much of the bragging yourself…

    Like this post or got something to add?  Please comment below!

    -Pete Leibman

    -President of Idealize Enterprises

    -Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

    Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

    Pete@IdealizeNow.com

    www.IdealizeNow.com

    www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

    Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

    Twitter: @peteleibman

    P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

    7 Questions Employers Have That They Won’t Ask You (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

    January 21, 2011

    When I had to hire my first employee for one of my businesses, 7 concerns swirled around my mind.  The person who eventually got the job was the one who addressed all of my concerns with how he presented himself to me.

    If you want to get your dream job, you need to understand what is going on in the minds of the people in a position to hire you.  No matter what organization you want to work for, and no matter what type of work you want to do, every employer and hiring person is secretly asking themselves 7 questions about EVERY job candidate and potential new hire. 

    Many hiring persons probably don’t even recognize that they are subconsciously asking themselves these questions, and none of them will blatantly ask you these 7 questions.  However, you still need to address them in every interaction you have with potential employers:

    1. How much can we trust you?  If an employer doesn’t think they can trust you, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who can be trusted.

    2. How hard are you willing to work? If employers think you are lazy or unmotivated, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone willing to work hard.

    3. Are you going to be a pain in the “neck?” If employers think you are going to be tough to manage or get along with, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who gets along well with others.

    4. Are you going to have one foot out the door from day 1?  If employers think you aren’t committed to their organization for the long-term, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who really wants to work for the selected employer.

    5. How much are we going to need to hold your hand?  If employers think it will take a lot of time and effort to get you up to speed, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who can contribute from the start.

    6. Are you going to embarrass us?  If employers think you won’t represent them well in-person and online, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  As social media and the Internet continue to evolve, this is becoming more and more important.  Position yourself as someone who is professional and responsible.

    7. Are you more than capable of delivering the results we need in this position?  If employers don’t think you can get the job done better than anyone else, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Note: if you satisfy the first 6 concerns, this concern is often eliminated, even if you don’t have a lot of relevant work experience. 

    The hiring process is like dating in many ways.  When you first meet someone, you size them up (subconsciously or consciously), and you make judgments about their personality, character, value, and how much you fit with each other. It’s the same with getting your dream job.  Overcome the 7 concerns every employer has about job candidates and new hires, and you will significantly increase your chances of getting your dream job!

    -Pete Leibman

    -President of Idealize Enterprises

    -Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

    Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

    Pete@IdealizeNow.com

    www.IdealizeNow.com

    www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

    Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

    Twitter: @peteleibman

    P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

    6 Major Mistakes People Make When Sending Thank You Notes and Cards (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

    January 14, 2011

    If you simply do what you say you will do, you will rise to the top of any company, organization, or industry.  If you go above and beyond what you say you will do, you will be absolutely unstoppable.

    One way to go above and beyond is by sending a personalized thank you note/card any time another person does something to help you.  Yes, this sounds basic, and I realize I’m not the first person to tell you this.  However, I guarantee you aren’t sending thank you notes as often as you should, and if you are sending thank you notes, they aren’t having the impact you hope they will. 

    Here are 6 major mistakes people make when sending thank you notes and cards:

    1. You don’t have your supplies handy.  At all times, make sure you have thank you notes, envelopes, and stamps in your office and/or home.  If they aren’t easily accessible, you’ll be much less likely to send them.
    2. You aren’t a speedy sender.  If someone gives you career advice over the phone, send your thank you note right after your call.  If someone meets with you for an informational interview or a job interview, send your note right after your meeting.  The longer you wait, the less likely you will send your note.
    3.  You don’t type AND write. Type a short email (or LinkedIn.com message) AND send a handwritten letter.  In today’s electronic world, people expect a thank you note to be sent rapidly via email, so send your electronic message within a few hours.   (I remember once being peeved that a friend had not emailed me to thank me for donating to a charity event she was participating in.  Luckily, I didn’t say anything about it.  She never emailed me to thank me, but her letter arrived in the mail a few days later.)  By sending the email, you acknowledge the person immediately.  The letter then arrives a few days later as an added appreciation of the other person.  By sending both, you also make sure you reach the other person, in case they miss one of your efforts somehow.
    4. You don’t look professional.  Make sure you use decent stationery, write legibly and in black or dark blue ink, and proofread before you send your letter.
    5. You don’t use a personalized P.S.  Use discretion here, but you want to make people smile and/or laugh in your letter somehow.  Here are a few examples:

    “P.S. Can’t wait to hear about your trip to the Caribbean!  You have to send me your pictures when you get back.” 

    Or…  “P.S. It will be no small feat, but I think my Jets are going to destroy your Patriots this weekend.”  (In case you missed it, that was a reference to the Rex Ryan “foot fetish scandal.”)

    6. You rely too heavily on automatic card-sending services.  Many of my friends use a card service like kodakgallery.com or sendoutcards.com.  Personally, I think their cards look cheap and/or impersonal.  (Sorry if any of you are reading this!)  The purpose of a card (genuine, personalized appreciation and acknowledgement) is defeated when someone sends a card that they clearly mass-produced online and mailed to everyone they know without any personalization other than changing the name of the person the card was addressed to.  Letters sent by mail should be handwritten (even if it’s just 1 sentence).  Or, if they are typed, they should include a message unique to each person (even if it’s just 1 sentence).

    2 Bonus tips for thank you notes after informational interviews or job interviews:

    1. Sell yourself: Include 1-2 sentences (no more than that) to reiterate why you want a certain job and why a certain employer should hire you. 
    2. Use 1-2 sentences (max) to address any mistake, confusion, or omission from your informational interview or job interview. 

     

    In summary, thank you notes are absolutely imperative.  When done right, they can build deeper relationships and help you advance your career.  Want proof? People often thank me for sending them a thank you note!  The greatest gift you can give someone is your genuine appreciation.  Start giving the gift of a great thank you note today.

     P.S. Please share your comments or thoughts as well!

    -Pete Leibman

    -President of Idealize Enterprises

    -Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

    Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

    Pete@IdealizeNow.com

    www.IdealizeNow.com

    www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

    Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

    Twitter: @peteleibman

    P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

    7 Secrets on How to Answer “The Weakness Question” Like a Pro (Written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

    January 7, 2011

    Everyone hates “the weakness question,” but you should LOVE it!

    Most job candidates butcher their chances of getting hired by how they answer this potentially deadly question.  When you know how to answer it confidently and competently, you can really differentiate yourself from the competition.

    Before we discuss the 7 secrets on how to answer this question, let’s discuss the 3 main reasons why employers ask this question.  

    First of all, they feel like they have to ask this; most interviewers are not very creative.  Secondly, they want to see how you respond under pressure; they know this is a question most people don’t really want to answer.  Lastly, they want to see if you will actually say something that gives them a reason to remove you from consideration.

    Here are 7 secrets for hitting a home-run when you are asked “the weakness question:”

    1. Start with some self-deprecating humor.  This is a great way to put everyone at ease before you respond with your real answer.  Find a playful, but professional and relevant way to poke fun at yourself first.
    2. Be calm, confident, and concise.  Answer this question in 30-60 seconds (max) and maintain good posture and eye contact while you answer.   The longer you talk, or the more you move around or squirm, the more likely you will say something verbally or with your body language that can hurt you.
    3. Sandwich your weakness.  Start by highlighting one of your main strength(s), then address a weakness, and then end with a quick reminder of your strength(s). 
    4. Discuss a weakness that is irrelevant.  Highlight a skill or knowledge base not relevant to the work you would be doing in this position. 
    5. Demonstrate how you are trying to improve.  Mention a step(s) you are taking to address the weakness.
    6. NEVER mention anything very relevant or alarming.  This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at what some people say under pressure when they have not thought about this question ahead of time.
    7. Gently flip this question back on the interviewer.  The best interviews are 2-way conversations that resemble a leisurely game of tennis, as the “ball” (i.e. questions and answers) gets hits back and forth. 

    Let’s pretend I was interviewing for a job in outside sales with an NBA team.  Here is an example of how this might play out.

    Interviewer: “Pete, what is your biggest weakness?”

    Me:

    “Well, my jump shot is not what it used to be.  (Smile.)  Seriously though, one of my biggest strengths is my strong communication and persuasion skills, as proven by 3-time #1 ranking in the sales department for the NBA’s Washington Wizards. 

    However, one area I am trying to improve is my knowledge of how major companies can leverage social media.  I have been reading ABC Book to learn more about that topic.  Having said that, my strong communication and persuasion skills are a main reason why I believe I could increase this department’s revenue from day 1.  I’m curious.  Since we’re talking about weaknesses, what do you think is your department’s greatest weakness?”

     

    -Pete Leibman

    -Career Expert, Author, Speaker, and Coach

    -Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

    Pete@IdealizeNow.com

    www.IdealizeNow.com

    www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

    Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

    Twitter: @peteleibman

    P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.