This article first appeared on Apploi.com on October 22, 2013.
I’m learning how to hire. My business is growing and recently I needed to hire a new customer service rep.
So I got a book on interviews and read some articles online.
Every HR expert seems to have their own strongly-held-to opinion about the best questions to ask, and what to look for in candidates.
So I listed out all of these “must-ask” questions that I read about. After the third interview, I realized that the questions I ask aren’t as important as simply knowing these three things about someone.
If I knew these three things, then I’d be comfortable hiring them, no matter how many years experience they have or what question I remembered to ask them.
When going into a job interview, make it your number 1 goal to be sure your interviewer knows these three things, even if they don’t ask directly.<!–more->
Can You Be Trained To Do the Job?
I am building a new process for handling clients. My new customer service rep will be part of developing that new process. So I can’t just ask her, “Can you do this?”
What I need to know is if she can learn my way of doing things using my software.
The best answer I received about this was from the 2nd candidate who told me a story of her last job where she observed how chaotic the boss was. Then after a few weeks, she built a system to help keep him, and the business, more organized.
I’d rather hire that experience, than someone who simply knows how to handle an angry customer (which is also important, but can also be trained). I needed someone trainable and flexible.
Do I Even Like You?
One of the must-ask questions I read about was, “If you had a superpower, what would it be? Why?”
I asked all of my candidates. Many of them wanted to be invisible. Not a fan!
One laughed at my questions (good sign!) and then asked me the question back (ask a good sign).
I told her I would fly. She said, “That’s a good one. I think I would teleport. I like to travel but don’t like waiting for visas”
This one conversation stood out to me because it wasn’t a one-word answer. There was some humor and character. She showed personality and I like that.
If I were to hire her, I’d have to get along with her. I’d also rely on her to give me feedback I might not want to hear.
What Really Motivates You?
Anyone can BS a job interview. I know. I’ve done it many times!
But what happens six months, 12 months, later. Are you still has peppy as you seemed that first day?
In my recent interviews, I was looking for candidates who could show me that they liked what they did and had every intention of keep up that energy for a long time. Sure, I’m just offering them a job. They don’t have to live and die for it. But some amount of interest would be nice!
One candidate’s passion for building desktop computers, alone, was a red flag. He spends his free time at a very individual task. Even as an introvert myself, I still like to be with people, friends or family.
Whereas another candidate showed most excitement when talking about interesting conversations he’s had with random people during his vacation holidays.
I’d go for the person excited about conversations for my customer service job!
Can You Answer These Before the Interview
Keeping these three questions in mind and trying to answer them during a job interview is going to help you land meaningful work.
But if you can answer these questions BEFORE you sit down for an interview, you’re one step ahead. Not only will you land more interviews, but your interviewer will be more at ease with you.
The trick is to make sure your LinkedIn Profile, Facebook timeline and other social networks answer these questions.
Twitter is considered the most popular real-time open network. This means that as items are published, they are immediately available for viewing. And you don’t need to “follow,” “connect,” or “request” to see them, making everything posted on Twitter open for you to read.
For job seekers, this is great news because it allows you non-hierarchical access to huge amounts of job information, including postings directly from employers and recruiters.
In order to cut through the fire hose of information and find relevant jobs in your area, use this technique:
Before we get started, I would like to apologize to Derek Weeks for the quality of the video. This was my first time recording a Skype conversation, so the video and audio aren’t great. Actually, by the end the voices don’t quite sync up. (Yes, I am a cheapskate and used the free trial version of Call Record, and yes, I did eventually pay the $20 for a license.)
But for my readers, don’t let that fool you. The information Derek reveals is POWERFUL.
Derek Weeks is a hiring manager as well as a LinkedIn power user for over 5 years.
Over 750 REAL connections; he doesn’t play the numbers game
Over 40 REAL recommendations
Career success though connections made on LinkedIn
Member of elite group of LinkedIn users
From the video, you will learn the importance of having a simple, clear and short profile summary. A company gives your entire profile about 90 seconds — the first 30 seconds are spent reading your profile. If the profile isn’t compelling, the hiring manager doesn’t even bother with the rest of it.
He discusses a hugely powerful technique that will allow you to get in touch with your target company’s customer base so that you can add real value to your conversations during an interview. Imagine being able to say, “Well, I’ve had several conversations with your customers and they love your product features….”
He tells how he averted disaster by finding the dirty laundry on a company that wanted to hire him — thus avoiding a potentially career-killing move. This illustrates how important it is to find out if your target company is actually a fit for you.
Certainly LinkedIn is a great tool to have at your job-search disposal. But not all industries are evenly represented there, and so it may not be for you. In some cases, using LinkedIn for some jobs can be a waste of time. In other cases, having a profile is essential.
It’s up to you to decide.
According to research done by Dan Zarrella, the most connected profession on LinkedIn is recruiters. Therefore, if you work (or want to work) in an industry that doesn’t rely on recruiters, you may not have strong results. However, if you know recruiters often specialize in your field, your chances of getting that unexpected phone call about an opportunity are higher.
Other research by Zoomsphere.com indicates that information technology, financial services, and retail are the top industries represented by users (apart from college students). LinkedIn’s own research puts manufacturing at No. 3 and medical (not the same as healthcare) as No. 4. If you work in one of these well-represented fields, you may have a good chance of making valuable connections.
Conduct your own research and determine if all the hype about LinkedIn applies to you.
Someone once told me that a corporation was a nasty thing to fall in love with….because it will NEVER love you back. The rules of loyalty in the work force are changing. No one can deny that.
However, knowing this doesn’t change the pain of getting laid off or let go. It hurts. It can wound.
Each of us reacts in one of two ways, either by getting pissed off and hating the company we used to love, or by blaming ourselves in what can be called a state of numbness.
These wounds deserve every bit of healing that we have. However, because our financial situation may depend on sweeping the pain aside and getting another job as quickly as possible, we might need a strategy of getting past this stage.
The Cure or the Healing
For those of you who can’t afford to wait a month to regroup, lick the wounds and find your emotional footing again, I offer these simple speed coping tips.
Stop the story: stop replying the day you got the pink slip. Stop repeating the story that is pissing you off. Instead replace it with what you need to do right now?
Since the beginning of work, people have gotten jobs from their friends and family. Networking has always been the best way to get “in” with an opportunity.
Do you remember the movie The Graduate? In a scene during a dinner party, the main character is accosted by his father’s business friend. This gregarious older gentleman puts his arm around the younger main character and says, “Plastics, my boy!” In the movie, the main character was offered a job from his father’s best friend.
Yet people have so much anxiety about mixing their so-called professional network with their personal network. But if you think about it, not only will friends be more likely to refer you into jobs, but you’ve probably also made some of your best friends at jobs! How can you possibly draw this line?
You and I have both heard the typical line from career counselors, “use power verbs in your résumé .” Right? They’ve even given us lists and lists of verbs to begin sentences:
Managed team of 10 engineers in highly competitive RFP process
Resolved difficult customer service issue for high stakes sale
Safeguarded company position through advanced marketing strategy
The problem with all of these verbs is that online, verbs are not as powerful as nouns.
Thanks to search engines, and by extension, résumé-crawling software that HR departments use to pre-filter candidates, using the right nouns can either get you a job or keep you in the unemployment line.
The New Rules of Résumé Language
I’m not suggesting that you pack in as many nouns related to your field as possible. Keep it real, and just change the focus from verbs to nouns.
Careful. If you take this too far, your online résumé might look like this:
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools to help you redefine yourself and move your career in a new direction. Taking your career in a new direction is a bold move that requires framing your proven skills for a whole new purpose. Identify your transferable skills, and then consider the following three ideas for using LinkedIn to advance your career change.
Use the profile headline to reveal what you do
When setting up a LinkedIn profile, many people wonder what to put in their headline and job title if they’re looking to make a career change. The good news is that you are who you say you are online. You don’t need a company to tell you that you are now an accountant and no longer a program manager. If you say it, it’s true.