The one thing older candidates should focus on in job interviews

I am an addict. When my copies of Inc. and Fast Company magazines arrive every month, I stop everything I am doing and read them, cover to cover. I’ve literally read every word in them this century. I always get valuable insights. This month’s issue of Inc. was no different. In his article, “You’re Never Too Old to Start a Business,” Gary Vaynerchuk made me rethink the advice I have given in the past to older workers.

Don’t get me wrong, I take nothing back that I have written or said. But Mr. Vaynerchuk came up with something that I readily admit I had not considered.

I always tell older candidates to focus on the one thing younger candidates don’t have: experience. But thanks to Vaynerchuk I would spin it differently:

Imagine the scenario: You have the interview. You are addressing the interviewer’s concerns about you. You have made it clear that you don’t want her job and that you are looking for something long-term. And you have been talking about all the great things you have done. You mention your network. You emphasize that you can “hit the ground running” as your only learning curve is to learn the “company way.” But now you add something new:

There’s one other thing that I want you to consider. When you hire me you hire someone who has had to deal with adversity. I know how to handle a crisis. I no longer panic. I passed that stage a long time ago. I can calmly analyze a bad situation and keep it from becoming a disaster. I keep things in their proper perspective. I know what to do and what not to do. I know what to say and not to say. I don’t make matters worse.

And then, shut up!

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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 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

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. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

The 3 Rules for Interviewing

After posting my video on interviewing strategies, a number of individuals reached out to me with questions about “the rules for interviewing.” They were obsessing over what is permissible and what is not permissible during an interview.

The result, in all cases, was that they were hesitant to answer questions fully. They had read articles – contradictory, of course – advising never to say this or do that in an interview. They had so much information and conflicting advice that, for all intents and purposes, they could not function. The obvious result: No job offers.

So their question to me was, What are the rules for interviewing?

There are three. There are only three. And that’s it. Everything else depends on the circumstances. So here they are:

Rule Number One: Dress professionally. That means conservatively with no perfume, cologne or scented aftershave.

Rule Number Two: Be punctual. That means arriving no more than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled interview unless the weather is really bad or they tell you in advance that you will have to complete an application.

Rule Number Three: Tell the truth. That means… Well, frankly, if you don’t know what that means you have bigger problems than interviewing!

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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 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

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. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

7 Things Worth Considering about Job Interviews

The key to a successful job interview is knowing how to research (prepare); understanding the difference between the screening interviews (phone and Skype) and the face-to-face interview; how to follow-up; responding to an offer; and, of course, the questions to ask and answer. It all comes down to differentiation. You have to differentiate yourself from your competition. Problem is, you don’t know who your competition is. So what’s the solution?

If you know, great! If not, isn’t it worth 47 minutes of your time to find out what you may need to know?

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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 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

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. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

The First Questions all Candidates and Employers Should Ask in Job Interviews

When the time comes, and candidates are asked in a job interview if they have any questions, this is when they can take control of the interview. And they want it to be a positive experience. There is one great question every candidate should lead off with which will guarantee positivity. By definition, it has to result in the interviewer(s) praising them. They will have no choice. So what is this question?

Why did you invite me in for an interview?

Of course, you can rephrase it – What about my resume appealed to you? – but the result will be the same. They will let you know what they felt were your strengths and now you know what to reinforce and, more importantly, what to emphasize. They probably missed something else that is great about you. So let them know what it is.

And then there is the question every interviewer should ask. Regardless of the job for which a candidate is applying, every employee of every company has tasks to perform. For every task employees must prepare. Employers need to know that candidates know how to prepare well for whatever situations they will face. Of course, an employer can usually tell how well a candidate prepares for meetings by the quality of their answers, and more importantly, their questions during the interview. But sometimes nervousness can interfere with an otherwise top-notch candidate’s performance. So there is one question which is likely to put the candidate at ease and provide the interviewer(s) with the information they need. So what is the question – the FIRST question – interviewers should ask?

What did you do to… – or, if you prefer – How did you…. prepare for this interview?

Either way, you will get the information you need to make an informed decision.

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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 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

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. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

How to Answer Interviewer Questions with an Ulterior Motive

The classic example is, “What are your weaknesses?” What the interviewer is really asking is, “Why shouldn’t I hire you?”

But let’s forget about the classics. A career counseling client just asked me how to respond to two questions she was recently asked, the first at a job fair and the second at an actual interview.

How is your job search going?

No, you can’t say what you want to say. “None of your business!” is not a proper response.

What’s behind the question? What are they really asking? Here are the possibilities:

Nothing at all. The person is just being friendly. So you have to provide a substantive answer, without saying anything concrete. Why?

They may not be friendly. Maybe they want to know if they can get you cheap. If you say things are going poorly you are weakening your bargaining position.

On the other hand, if you say they are going well, maybe they will think you will cost too much or maybe, since things are going well for you, being friendly, they may choose the person who is having a tough time – assuming that you are both equally qualified for the position.

And, naturally, this could all just be paranoia and you are overthinking. It was just an innocent question. So how do you respond?

I think there is a turnaround. I feel like there are more jobs but, on the other hand, it appears that more people are reentering the job market, so there is greater competition. What are you seeing?

First, you have shown that you know about the latest job creation/unemployment stats. Second, you have properly analyzed them without getting into politics. And, third, you have turned it around by turning the question into a conversation. You have answered without providing any real personal information. You have nothing about which to worry.

Where else are you applying?

You are in an interview. It is going well. And then out the blue comes the “Where else are you applying?” question is asked. Why?

Again, this is none of their business. Except that it actually is THEIR business. They are hoping to find out from you about their competition. You have nothing to gain from answering the question. If there are a lot of places, you can come across as desperate and unfocused and unwanted. If there are only a few, they might think they can get you cheap because of your limited choices.

But I doubt the question has anything to do with you. As stated, it has to do with their competition. They are using you for an exercise in legal corporate espionage.

So what’s the answer?

Confidentiality is very important for me. Just as I will not talk about you with other prospective employers, I won’t talk to you about them. I would not be comfortable doing so.

If they object, you know you don’t want to work for them and, in all likelihood, the job isn’t real. (It does happen!) In any event, you have shown that you are ethical so you can leave with your head high.

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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 350,000 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 co-chairs their Entrepreneurship Council, 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 One Job Women Should Not Take

I was at a networking event. As I was walking around I saw a couple deep in conversation. As I passed them I heard the man say, “She should not work there. No woman should take that job.” For obvious reasons, I was curious.

I introduced myself, explained my curiosity, and asked, “What job shouldn’t women take?”

(By the way, they introduced themselves to me and it turned out they were married.)

The husband explained that he was talking about their daughter and it was not so much the job as the company.

What was the problem with the company?

He told me that when his daughter returned from her job interview she had said that she liked the job, the people seemed nice, but there were only half a dozen employees and they were all men. She’d be the only female working there.

They asked me my opinion.

I told them that I agreed that she should turn them down. It was clearly a startup so, possibly, another woman would be hired in a relatively short period of time. But, I told them about two male career counseling clients who I had, who had accepted jobs at similar companies where they were the only males on staff. They hated it and left after a few months.

It is very difficult to be the only one of your gender in the office. I know because I’ve had it happen to me, sort of. All of the employees in my physical office were women but there were plenty of men in the company. When the door to the office suite was closed, and I was alone with the ladies, all of whom were very nice, I would go nuts having to listen to their conversations. Usually, I would shut the door to my office solving one problem but causing another. They would be insulted.

It’s funny/ironic: Being the only person of a specific religion or nationality is not a problem. Even being the only person with a disability or health-related disorder is not a problem. But being the only person with or without a Y chromosome can be a totally different story.

I am certain there are cases where things work out very well for that lonely representative of their gender, but I don’t know of any. In fact, I know of one non-profit that had only one male employee and, because they were worried about losing him, when a position became available they specifically looked for a male candidate. And, no, that’s not discrimination, it’s diversification.

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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 330,000 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 co-chairs their Entrepreneurship Council, 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 Best Way to Deal with the Issues You Hope Interviewers will Not Bring Up

We all have them: Things which we wish we had not done. Things we hope the interviewer does not know about. Things we pray our references will not mention.

The good news is that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, interviewers don’t know and if they did know they would not care. Human beings have the bad habit of magnifying their problems out of all proportion. Other people’s problems are simple; ours are monumental. It’s the old joke, “If you break your leg it’s a pity; if I break mine it’s a catastrophe!” (I said it was “old;” I didn’t say it was “funny!”)

This is a serious issue. Not because coming up with a reasonable explanation is difficult. It’s not. The problem is obsession. We obsess over it. Instead of practicing the answers to questions that may actually be asked, or, more importantly, practicing the questions we are going to ask, we obsess over the “what if”s which, as noted, probably won’t happen. And that usually results in a bad night’s sleep prior to the interview, which is never a prescription for success!

The best way to deal with these issues, the ones you hope will not come up in the job interview, is to practice the old saying, “Never cross a bridge until you come to it.” If the subject does come up, just like with any difficult question of a personal-professional nature, the rule is simple:

Tell the truth and keep it short. The more you talk the more your credibility will suffer. If you like game theory, it’s a zero sum game between length of answer and depth of credibility. In scores of cases, I have never had a career counseling client, panicking over how to explain an unfortunate occurrence, leave without having a short, honest explanation. I can remember once when a client took an hour to explain to me what happened. I did not interrupt him. He just kept talking. And when he was finished, I told him what to say. I literally gave him a 10-second explanation which was totally truthful and completely credible, which turned the issue into a non-issue. You see, when you remove all the extraneous details, the story usually is very simple. But, because he was so emotionally attached to the situation, because he knew too much, he could not eliminate the irrelevancies. Everything, for him, was of equal importance. He could not differentiate. And that inability is what could have cost him a job offer.

So to summarize: focus onwhat is likely to happen, and have short, honest and simple answers to the difficult questions. It really is not all that hard to do. Oh, and have a good night’s sleep!