JOB ALERT: Senior Accountant, New Jersey

Senior Accountant

Parsippany, New Jersey

 My client, a northern New Jersey Certified Public Accounting firm is seeking qualified candidates for an excellent career as a Senior Accountant to be responsible for all aspects of client engagements including tax planning, compliance, financial statement compilations, reviews and audits. Salary will be commensurate with experience.  Business casual environment, medical benefits subsidized by firm, 401K with up to 4% match. Salary range is $55,000-$65,000.

Looking for a motivated self-starter who wants to advance quickly.

Responsibilities:

The individual will be working in all aspects of accounting, tax and audit. Will be working closely with the Managers and Partners on all projects.

Tax Compliance, planning and research

  • Work closely with partners, supervisors and other staff on audits, reviews, compilations and write-ups.
  • Apply knowledge of tax forms, basic tax concepts, computer applications and other source material to prepare tax returns, projections and other data in order to prepare U.S. individual, corporate and partnership tax returns.
  • Keep abreast of current and emerging technical developments. Develop specialized technical expertise. Prepare and present assignment deliverables to clients and ensure client satisfaction
  • Use technology to continually learn, share knowledge with team members, and enhance service delivery.
  • Some travel required to clients

 

Job Qualifications:

  • B.S. in Accounting
  • Minimum 4+ years of public accounting experience
  • CPA or working towards certification
  • Proficient in Excel, Word and QuickBooks
  • Comfortable with multi-tasking, being responsible for multiple assignments and meeting deadlines.
  • Experience with CCH Prosystem and Drake tax software a plus
  • Experience with complex tax returns, compliance and financial statements.

 

To apply please submit your resume as a Word Document to bh@hsstaffing.com.

5 Simple Steps to a Successful Phone Interview

Back in July I wrote an article about conducting a successful Skype interview. “Due to popular demand…” it’s time to consider the phone interview. And it’s not difficult. Just remember to do these five things and you should be successful.

(For the record, I am not concerned here with the telephone call where a recruiter simply confirms qualifications. This phone interview is to get the face-to-face interview.)

Get Dressed

If you are at work, obviously this is not an issue. But most phone interviews take place in the home and your first instinct is to feel relaxed. Don’t! You don’t want to feel relaxed, you want to feel comfortable and professional. So forget about the PJs and pretend it’s Casual Friday. “Clothes make the man” is true in this case…for women too!

It’s all about attitude. You have to sound professional. In a Skype interview, not to mention a face-to-face interview, the interviewers can see your body language. In a phone interview all the interviewers have to rely upon to judge your sincerity and level of interest is your tone of voice. If you don’t feel professional you will not sound profession. So, get dressed!

Get a Mirror

On the same lines, in order to sound professional and interested, and certainly not negative, use a time-honored old salesman’s trick: keep a mirror on your desk. Look at it and every time you say something, smile. Human beings cannot sound negative when we are smiling. We just can’t do it. But we can sound sarcastic. So be careful. (And, of course, don’t smile if you are discussing something sad or negative!)

Resume

You will be nervous. You never want to contradict something in your resume. So have it in front of you. Refer to it. You can’t do that in a face-to-face interview, but you can over the phone.

Listen

If they are interviewing you they want to hire you. Employers have the bad habit of talking too much. They will invariably tell you what they want to hear. If you are not listening (take notes!) you won’t know what they want you to say. So listen.

Questions

In a phone interview you will not have a lot of time to ask questions. If you can only ask one, ask, Who succeeds at your company? That shows that you want to make certain you are a cultural fit and that you don’t want to waste their time or yours. A second question to ask is, What did the last person who had the position do that you want to see continued and what would you like to see done differently? That’s the mature, professional way to ask, Why is the position available?

And remember to stay focused on the prize: You don’t want a job offer you want a face-to-face interview. These require two different game plans.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

How to Reenter the Job Market

If President-elect Trump honors his commitments to repeal Obamacare and the tens of thousands of regulations passed by President Obama (at an annual cost of billions for businesses) the result should be the creation of a massive number of new jobs. Of course, this will not happen until Mr. Trump takes office and, even then, it will take time.

The sign that people believe him will be an increase in the civilian labor force participation rate which, as everyone now knows, is a far more important statistic than the unemployment rate, and which has not been this low since 1977/78. In other words, people who gave up looking for work will want to, once again, find employment. They will become confident that the economy is finally going to turn around.

The downside is that this means a lot of competition. Accordingly, if you are one of these individuals, here are some steps you should take now to get a leg up on your fellow job seekers.

Obtain what you lack

The most important thing you can do is get what you need. How do you know what you need? Look at job postings for positions in which you are interested. Note the qualifications. If most jobs require something you do not have, get it! Obviously you cannot get a college degree in three months, but you can learn new skills and become current in your profession. There are legitimate on-line courses available including: www.coursera.org, www.edx.org and www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses. Get educated! And if you need a specific certification, find a trade school. It does not matter if they are accredited. You need an education, not a piece of paper to hang on the wall.

Get noticed

Start writing posts on LinkedIn. The fact that you are reading this proves my point. But also utilize such services as Help a Reporter Out and BlogTalkRadio to build your brand. Put differently, what you are trying to do is to get recognized for your expertise so employers will come after you. If you happen to be in New York City on Wednesday, November 30, you can attend my talk on Building a Brand to Attract Employers at the Science, Industry and Business Library. Failing that, you can watch a video of a previous presentation I made on the same topic. It’s only slightly dated. If you follow my advice, with a little luck, not only will employers notice you, but you will be able to include “Media Citations” on your resume, as proof of your being a “recognized expert” in your field.

Prepare an employer-focused resume

Start working on a new resume. It’s not difficult to fill the unemployment gap which I am certain is of concern to you. Under “Work Experience” create a subsection, “Employment-Related Activities.” Include any courses you have taken, short-term work you undertook and, perhaps most importantly, your volunteer activities. You want to show that you have not been idle, that you are not the type of person who can sit around all day and watch television.

Most importantly, don’t start your resume with a professional summary where you engage in self-praise. No employer cares what you think about yourself. Employers want to be reassured that you can meet their needs, that you can solve their problems. Simply begin with a section titled “Selected Accomplishments.” List half a dozen bullet points highlighting relatively recent career successes. That’s what employers care about.

Network

Resume networking. Reach out to old friends and colleagues, even if you have lost touch. You have nothing about which to be embarrassed. Let everyone know that you are back on the job market. While the hope is that there will be plenty of jobs advertised, the competition for them will be great. As always, the simple truth is that the best jobs, and the majority of jobs, are not and will not be advertised. You will only find out about them through networking.

Don’t fall for scams

Once the job market picks up, those persons claiming to be job search experts will start coming out of the woodwork. Don’t fall for them! There are no shortcuts and if something sounds questionable, it probably is. If they tell you that they can get you on the television networks, make certain they are not talking about a mention in a silly press release that is picked up by the network affiliates and placed on their websites. You will be making a fool of yourself. The same is true if you engage the services of someone who tells you to eliminate the gap in your resume by creating a group on LinkedIn and presenting yourself as a “Founder.” You’ll just look silly.

Similarly, be cautious of so-called “professional resume writers.” Don’t pay for a fancy resume written by someone who simply fills in a template. Ask to see three examples of their resumes. If they begin with self-praise, don’t waste your money. Similarly, there is absolutely no need to hire someone to create your LinkedIn profile. Just cut and paste your resume. You don’t want any discrepancies between the two. And, of course, if you have it, add multimedia files. In any case, keep in mind how recruiters actually use LinkedIn.

Watch out for career counselors

If you feel the need for outside assistance, shop around. First, only hire a career counselor who has actually hired people. You don’t want an academic; you want a practitioner! In other words, you want someone who has “been there and done that,” not someone who has just read about it. Second, request a 15-minute free consultation. Take five minutes to explain to them your situation and then let them talk for the remaining 10. If everything they say is boilerplate, move on! If they have nothing negative to say, no real criticism, move on! Most importantly, do not pay an hourly rate. Only pay a flat fee and the service should continue, ideally, until you get your next job. Someone who charges an hourly rate is looking for a long-term relationship with you so that they can milk you for as much money as they can. You don’t want a relationship, you want a job! And since I just happen to be a career counselor myself I can say with complete authority, we are very boring people! You can find far more interesting souls with whom to have a relationship.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

The Future of Hiring?

Years ago a fellow member of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce asked me what I thought of video resumes. I told him they were a total waste and that it was difficult enough to get an employer to spend more than five seconds reading a resume; there was no way they would spend five minutes watching a video. Then he showed me the technology behind the startup with which he was involved and I got hooked. I was wrong then; I don’t think I am wrong now.

I suffer from vertigo. It ain’t fun! Let’s just say you don’t want to be standing behind me when I am about to step on the Down escalator and leave it at that. So when I was reading this month’s issue of Inc. magazine, and got to Amy Webb’s article, “Virtually Convincing,” she had me at her first sentence, “I don’t like heights.”

Ms. Webb then went on the explain how using a virtual reality device triggered her vertigo. For that to happen, a VR device has to convince your brain that what you are seeing is “real.” And that got me thinking about recruiting, especially when she went on to write about how VR is being used to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.

If VR is real, maybe it can shorten recruiting time big time. Imagine this scenario:

You are applying for a job which involves interaction with people. In a normal setting, you convince the recruiter that you are a great people person. But let’s say that they handed you a VR device and you had to spend 30 minutes interacting with the rude and obnoxious. They could see for themselves if you are a “great people person.”

This is not so farfetched. Plenty of times people who are hired for a skill are tested. You say you can code? Code! Here’s a computer. Go to it! You say you can type 100 words per minute. Here’s a test. Type! You say you know QuickBooks… Well, you get the idea. But those are “hard skills.” VR will allow for the testing of “soft skills,” people skills.

We do it today. “Sell me this pen,” is the classic example. But the interviewer has to have a conversation with the candidate and, what’s worse, sit there hearing a story about how the pen has saved the lives of countless orphans carrying boxes of puppies across busy streets. With VR, the interviewer will only have to look at the recording, and maybe not even that.

No doubt something akin to voice recognition software will be deployed to score the candidate’s tone of voice. It exists today. When you are speaking to the computer and anger is detected, you get transferred to a customer service rep. Similarly, frustration will be noted in the candidate’s voice and will be a disqualifier. Did you remain calm, cool and collected? Congrats! You get to meet with a real live human being who will now look at you and your resume.

Think of the time this will save when everyone has a VR device or access to one. Want to apply for a job? No form to fill out. Take the VR exercise. If the employer (or their computer) likes what they see, they’ll send you the form and ask for your resume. The employer saves time. The candidate saves time. What’s not to love?

And since the VR can be programmed with any scenario, it could be used literally for any position in a company. Need a new CEO who can deal with angry stock holders? Put her in an annual meeting. Need a new president who can deal with hostile media? Put him in a press conference. Need a new purchasing agent who can negotiate with vendors? Need a new director who can motivate? But wait, there’s more!

Not only will time be saved, but also money and, more importantly, safety will improve. Let’s say the position involves building something. No need to waste supplies. The candidate can virtually “build” whatever it is. And there won’t be any safety issues because you can’t cut your real thumb off with a virtual knife, or smash it with a virtual hammer. And if virtual property is destroyed, it will magically reappear whole and intact when the program is rebooted. No waste. No danger. No OSHA!

Think about it. This may not be all that crazy.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

The Key to Team Building: Being Able to Spot Intelligent People

First, whenever you are told you cannot even begin speaking without signing an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), you know you are in for an interesting conversation.

This recently happened to me. Someone, I can’t tell you who, apparently has been reading my posts on LinkedIn (definitely needs to get a life!), and invited me to apply for a position in a something, I can’t say what, devoted to helping people, I can’t say who or why, by showing that I know how to spot intelligent people. I can say that it is not for the purpose of team building, nor is it for any illegal, immoral or unethical purpose.

In order to be accepted to this whatever, I had to explain in an interview (nothing is in writing except the NDA) how I would spot an intelligent man or woman in a professional setting. (They emphasized the word “professional” which I took to mean a conference or networking event, and not a purely social occasion.) Since there is nothing in the NDA forbidding sharing responses, I’ve decided to share mine as it may help employers build teams, not to mention job applicants.

Given the nature of the challenge, I began by dismissing any appearance of insult. I made it clear that finding and eliminating “stupid” people would not result in the intelligent remaining. The answer was not the process of elimination. Just because someone in not “intelligent,” does not mean they are not “smart.” I’ve always liked the line, The difference between smart people and intelligent people is that smart people know how to get out of difficult situations that intelligent people don’t get into in the first place! But clever comments aside, “smart” is learned. You can be “book smart;” you can be “street smart;” and you can be both. But “smart” relates to knowledge. It is taught. “Intelligence,” on the other hand, relates to intellect and either you are born with it or you are not.

I took the challenge to mean that the test was purely visual and auditory based on the word “spot.” (By the way, they made it clear that they were not interested in social media so Facebook foolishness, etc. were irrelevancies. Put differently, there would be no opportunity for research.) I also assumed, and explained, that I was proceeding on the assumption that the intelligent people would be in the minority, perhaps even a minority of one for each gender, making them easy to “spot.” (Remember Sesame Street? “One of these things is not like the other…”) After explaining my approach, I suggested the following:

Let’s start with men so I can be vilified for being a misandrist before the feminists start piling on!

No intelligent man wears cologne or scented aftershave. If you are planning to meet with people, you don’t want to literally turn their stomachs because of what they consider to be an unpleasant odor. If you smell, no one is going to want to be around you.

Next comes what I referred to as the “absent minded professor.” This is the highly intelligent person who looks disheveled. But there is “messy” and there is “messy.” A man with his shirt tails sticking out from his trousers is different from a man who is wearing a suit that has survived a number of presidencies and looks it. The first is probably sloppy, not a trait of the intelligent, while the latter has more important things on his mind than buying new clothes. (It still fits; there are no holes; why spend the time and money?)

On the other hand, there is “well-dressed” and there is “well-dressed.” It’s one thing to wear a nice looking $300 suit and quite another to wear a $3,000 suit. Problem is, wealth has nothing to do with intelligence so for men, the brands they wear say nothing about their intelligence.

In other words, simply by looking at appearances, you really can’t spot an intelligent man.

The way to spot an intelligent man is by his behavior. Intelligent men do not “hit” on women in professional settings. Think of the last networking event you attended. Did you notice the attractive woman surrounded by four or five men? Trust me, those guys were not Mensa members! (Well, maybe they were, but you get my point!)

Next, intelligent men, attending conferences, always have a question to ask the panelists or speakers. They do not ask questions which put people on the defensive; they know how to word a question so as to initiate conversation not argument, and certainly never to cause embarrassment. (Basically, they don’t ask for justifications, dispute facts, or make accusations, they pose questions along the lines of, “I was interested to hear you say… because I always thought…” or “When you said…I was reminded of what…wrote in her book…”)

Perhaps more importantly, conversations with them are one-sided. They always listen more than they speak.

So much for men.

Women, in some ways, are easier. So let me go from misandrist to misogynist.

First, just like men, intelligent women do not wear perfume, the brands of their clothes means nothing, they don’t “hit” on men in professional settings, they have proper questions to ask panelists and speakers, and they listen more than they speak. In other words, as with men, so with women, behavior is key. But when it comes to clothing, you can easily spot intelligent women:

Intelligent women do not wear high heels. They are bad for the feet; bad for the legs; and bad for the back. (How “high” is “high?” I would say above two inches.) They may make women appear attractive in the western (as opposed to, let’s say, Asian/Indian) sense, but intelligent women don’t put looking good above their health. Also, no intelligent woman would place herself in harm’s way. You never know, especially today, when you are going to have to do a lot of walking, or maybe some running.

(I am reminded of the time when the boss asked to meet with a few of us at the main entrance to our facility. There were four of us, two men and two women. He said, “Let’s walk.” After about 20 minutes one of the women complained that her feet were “killing” her. She was wearing high heels. Not pleased, but considerate, the boss turned around and we started to walk back, albeit it slowly. To her credit, she never wore heels again to work.)

Intelligent women do not wear clothing that highlights their physical attributes. They want people, men and women, concentrating on their intellect and nothing else. (Similarly, intelligent women wear little if any makeup.)

That, dear readers, is basically what I said in my application to join the thing I can’t tell you about. What I can tell you is that I was accepted on the spot (by the two interviewers, one man and one woman) and then rejected them for reasons I can’t tell you about.

But the lesson is this: If you are building a team try to arrange for a professional gathering. Invite candidates to a reception to meet with staff and clients. Smell for perfume, etc., see what they wear, and, obviously, pay attention to how they behave. With whom do they spend most of their time? Executives? Senior management? Board members? Staff? Clients? Who do they ignore? There’s no right or wrong here (except maybe regarding those who they ignore which can indicate feelings of superiority); it all depends on the position for which they are being considered. But most importantly, listen. What questions are they asking? You can learn more about a person from what they say, or don’t say, than anything else. We can’t learn if we are talking. Want to hire intelligent people? Find those who speak little but say a lot.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

Confidentiality and Your Job Search

“Looking for new opportunities.” That is what I tell attendees at my speaking events and my career counseling clients to write, front and center, right after their names, on their LinkedIn profiles so that the world will know that they are looking for a new job. Of course, there is always one exception: You don’t do that if you don’t want your current employer to know that you are looking!

Seems pretty obvious but one person just called me, desperate for help, panicking, because she was just fired by her boss. She had seen her LinkedIn profile, saw the “Looking for…” statement, and found a replacement.

We all make mistakes, but there are “mistakes” and there are “mistakes” and this definitely falls under the heading of a “mistake.”

What makes this ironic is that this morning I decided to go for a walk. It was chilly, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I thought it would be refreshing. I did not know it would also be entertaining.

As I was walking I heard a commotion. Being a nice Jewish boy I will not repeat verbatim what the wife was (justifiably) saying to her husband, but suffice it to say I will never understand why people do not delete the call logs, voice mail messages, and text messages from their phones especially if they are of a “sensitive” nature. Hubby got caught.

In my book there is no excuse for cheating. Period. End of sentence. So hubby will get what he deserves (hopefully within the bounds of federal and state law…). But looking for a new employer is, of course, totally different than looking for a new life partner (in place of or in addition to the one you currently have). It is not immoral. It is not indecent. It is, in fact, quite common. You just don’t want to broadcast it.

I don’t know which is more accurate: Is conducting a confidential job search a “zero sum game” or “Catch 22?” In the first place, the more people who know about your search the less confidentiality you have. But the fewer people who know about your job search, the less effectiveness you have. In the second place, if you don’t tell people about your search they can’t help you, but if you tell people about your search eventually your boss may find out about it. I guess they are both equally accurate.

So now comes the big question: How do you conduct a confidential job search when you are employed and can’t afford for your boss to find out? The word is “discreet.”

If you are looking to change careers, in other words, to enter a new industry, your problem may not be that serious. After all, you are not going to be networking with people who are likely to know your boss. And if, by chance, she finds out about it, all you have to say that you are interested in the industry, find it fascinating, and want to learn more about it. Of course, if she says she knows you are handing out resumes, then my advice is to come clean. Maybe an honest conversation will result in your finding a solution, if possible, to the reason(s) why you are looking for a new career. In any case, adding “liar” to “disloyal” is never a good idea.

Of course when looking for a new job in the same industry, the odds are better (or worse depending on your point of view) that the boss will hear about it. The answer, again, is to always be discreet and make certain that when you are letting it be known that you are looking for a new job that you always say and write that you are applying “in confidence.” If someone were to tell your boss that you are looking to leave, and she fires you, and you can prove who told her, you might (I’m not an attorney) have grounds for a law suit against the person who violated your confidence. But there is good news:

A funny thing usually happens when you tell someone that you want to talk to them “in confidence” or “confidentially.” They are complimented. You are telling them that you trust them. Most people like that feeling. It means they have a good reputation. If they violate that trust, you will be able to destroy their reputation. They won’t want that. So don’t worry.

But the bottom line is, if you are employed and looking for a change, there is no way to conduct a totally confidential job search. Be prepared! As with everything else in life, and as hubby found out, you have to be willing to be held accountable for your actions.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

How to Overcome an Interview Error

It’s called being human. It happens to everyone. You are asked a question and blow the answer.

Now there is one answer that is always useful. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out!” No one is expected to know everything. According to Einstein, a clock that is moving runs slower than a clock that is at rest. Similarly, a rod is shorter when moving than when at rest. I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. (I think it’s because the clock or rod are pushing up against gravity, but my Ph.D. is in International Relations, so what do I know? And what if the clock is digital – something that did not exist in Einstein’s day?) But if Einstein says it, it’s good enough for me.

Of course, I would never be interviewing for a job where I would have to explain the Special or General Theory of Relativity (and, I admit, I am not certain which one is relevant here, although I think it’s the Special). But what if you are interviewing for a job for which, heaven forbid, you are actually qualified?

That happened to me years ago. I was asked a very simple question. “How are your communication skills?” What’s easier to answer than a question where you can engage in self-praise and brag?

As I began to answer the question I heard myself saying what I was about to say and I could not stop myself. I actually said,

“I write good…” Luckily, I knew I had a big problem which I had to fix in a nanosecond, if not sooner.

Humor is never a good idea in a job interview. I guarantee the joke will bomb or someone will be offended. I was once asked, in an interview, to tell a joke. I chose this one (compliments of Buddy Hackett):

A duck walks into a pharmacy. The druggist asks him, “How can I help you?” “I need Chapstick.” “Will that be cash or charge?” “Put it on my bill!”

OK, it’s a terrible pun. But offensive? No. Yet, for some reason that no one could understand, one woman in the room did not react with a chuckle or a moan of feigned disgust, but almost with disdain.

But there is one type of humor that you may get away with: Self-deprecating. When you make fun of yourself, people should laugh with you, not at you. It’s also a sign that you have no ego issues.

So how did I get out of my grammatical conundrum?

“I write good…and speak even betterer.”

Everyone laughed and no one was the wiser. (And, yes, I got the job.)

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

%d bloggers like this: