Interview Mistakes to Avoid

March 24th, 2017

Your interview date is coming up, and you’re ready for almost anything. You have a travel plan and a back-up travel plan, and you know exactly how to show up on time, dressed for success. You know how to highlight your strengths, show some flexibility, demonstrate a relaxed sense of humor, and frame key elements of your experience in the form of stories and narratives. You know what to do. But do you also know what NOT to do? Here are a few simple, avoidable blunders that might send the wrong message. Watch your step and don’t fall into these traps.

Don’t blame others.

In the broadest sense, this one is easy. Of course you won’t badmouth your last boss or talk about how the company let you down. But there are suggestions of blame that are not so obvious. Any time the conversation turns toward anything the least bit negative—anything at all—stay on the alert. Edit your language carefully to make sure you aren’t inadvertently casting shade on anything or person who might be implicated in your struggles or setbacks. Not one negative thing in your past has been caused by anything other then your own fumbles. And since your own fumbles may not be to blame either, step out of this territory as quickly as you can. There’s a time for flexibility, nuance, and accepting the basic failings of human nature. A job interview is not one of those times.

Make a point of learning from your mistakes.

If you need to describe a time when you messed up, a missed deadline, a past job that didn’t work out, or a goal you once had that didn’t materialize, don’t just tell your story and call it a day. Tell your story and then shift gears to talk about what you learned. Explain how the experience led to growth and how you’ll handle the same situation if it ever happens again.

Don’t try to be all things for all occasions.

Your interviewer may ask you a question like: “Are you a leader or a follower?” or: “If you have to choose between meeting deadlines and producing quality work, which do you choose?” and if this happens, just answer the question. You don’t have to say you’re great at both. Don’t try to game the system. Provide the information that’s being asked of you. Tell the truth and answer in good faith. If your interviewer says “There are no wrong answers”, take her at her word. Show trust and respect and you’ll reap the same in return.

For more on how to shine during your interview and avoid the kinds of pitfalls that can hold you back, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing team at PSU.

Find a Candidate Who Fits Well with Your Company Culture

March 10th, 2017

As you search for a candidate who can handle the challenges of your open position, take the culture of your workplace into account as well. “Fitness”, or the level of alignment between the candidate and the role, can be the product of a complex and delicate equation. The right candidate isn’t just ready to handle the daily tasks that come across his or her desk; she’s also ready to handle the kinds of clients your company work with, the coworkers who sit to her left and right, and the unique style adopted by the company’s upper management.

Are these managers hands-on or hands-off? Are these clients easy-going or edgy and demanding? Are these coworkers collaborative or competitive? No matter what the answers may be, here are some tips that can help you spot a promising match.

First, know what you’re working with.

Before you can find a cultural fit, you’ll need to understand the psychological and social fabric of your workplace. Look around, conduct surveys, and gather data points before you begin the sourcing process for an open position. Collect some statements that seem reasonable and plausible, like: “This is a fast-paced environment”, “Employees here are reserved and can seem cold at first”, “Mistakes and risks are not only tolerated here, they’re encouraged.”

Evaluate your candidate sources.

If you’d like to find seasoned employees who are experienced, level-headed and worldy, don’t recruit on a college campus. If you’re looking for young, ambitious dreamers and experience levels don’t matter so much, that’s a different story. Go where your cultural matches live, play, and search for work.

Explain your cultural challenges and watch what happens.

During your interview process, explain some of the challenges your candidate will face here and watch how he or she reacts. You might say, “We prioritize deadlines over everything else”. Or you might say, “Some of our clients can seem rude and unreasonable at times”, or: “We wear multiple hats here, which means you might find yourself sweeping or taking out the trash sometimes,” or “Our culture is demanding and rigid.” Ask how your candidate feels about these things and when as responds, read between the lines.

Rely on behavioral questions.

If your workplace is deadline driven, as your candidate to describe the most difficult deadline challenge she’s ever faced. If your workplace is collaborative, ask your candidate about the last time he had to work together with a team. Again, read between the lines. You’ll learn more if you keep your questions open-ended and encourage your candidates to answer by telling a story.

For more on how to use your screening process to find cultural matches, not just skilled employees, turn to the professional Charlotte recruiting team at PSU.

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