7/21/2014

Some Basic Tips on Job Interviews - Part III







I have learned in email that two people who took my advice in my first two posts (Some Basic Tips on Job Interviews and Some Basic Tips on Job Interviews Part II) were able to get employed in the field from which they had been laid off. I was extremely gratified to learn this. Basically, I gave some "old school" ideas on how to get employed even in a tough economy. I'm not saying it will help you. But, I feel there are people who can take the approach I talked about to gain employment. As I said, in the previous two posts, I was an assistant superintendent of a regional industrial controls company for five years prior to my going into the federal service. My main purpose, in that position, was to hire people. So, if someone I hired turned out to be a dud, they knew who to blame. I was not fond of the job for that reason alone. I did the interviews and made the final hiring decisions on all white collar and blue collar positions. Today, I'm going to talk more about the interview process. I'll also give you an inkling what that interviewer may be thinking when you are in that interview room.

During my five years of hiring people, I went through thousands of resumes and job applications. I learned one thing in those five years; the flashier the resume, the least likely that person would fit the criteria of what I was looking for to fill that position. It just seemed that way for some reason. Now, that was not always the case, of course. But, here is something to remember...keep it simple. I didn't have time to go through a five to ten page resume. There were literally dozens (if not hundreds) of people applying for a particular job. Now, our HR department was outstanding. But, on some highly technical positions, they were of no use to me. I had to go through the resumes myself. Just remember this when you start to send out another resume.

If you came through the door and saw someone else in the interview room, other than me, that was a good sign for the job applicant. I doubt they knew it. The reason for that is because I had a strong belief this person was someone that could help us. Rather than reschedule them for another appointment with HR, I had the HR department head present. As bad as you want a job, a job interviewer wants to hire you even worse...as long as you fit his or her criteria. You see, that job interviewer has a job to do also. He has to get the right personnel in place to fill positions for the company. Believe it or not, he is a bit nervous also. Just not for the same reason you are, the job applicant. The job interviewer is always being evaluated on how well he or she is doing their job. So, they have to get it right. If they screw up and hire the wrong type of person, that is money spent on someone that has gone down the drain. I was told they (the company I worked for) didn't expect me to be perfect on each hire. But, just don't make a habit of hiring the wrong people on a consistent basis. If that happened, I would quickly go from a job interviewer to a job interviewee. Lots of pressure in this type of position.

Now, some more "don'ts" when you go into the job interview room. My secretary would let me know when people would call to inquire about the job or jobs we had available. Most of the time the calls were about if I was male or female. They would then ask for my name. I never had a problem with that. One thing for the ladies; while I am a great admirer of the female form, showing lots of leg or cleavage didn't work for me in the interview. Sure, that works with some men who really don't care about their job. They don't usually last very long. Don't smoke in the interview room. Now, it may be that the interviewer is a smoker. I do believe it is now a federal law prohibiting that during any job interview process. I could be wrong about that. So, correct me if I am wrong. Anyway, even if the interviewer offers you a cigarette (and you are a smoker) turn it down. Today it could be their way of testing if you are a smoker. Like it or not, smokers are discriminated against. I'm not taking a position on that either way. But, it was done back when I was interviewing. I suspect it is being done today also. Don't appear meek and timid. Speak with a strong, clear voice to the interviewer. Sometimes I had to ask people several times to speak up!

Don't make any sexual innuendos during the interview. My secretary was what one would call "hot" using today's nomenclature. Several men who came into the interview room would make note of that with some rather crude language. They were usually toast from that point on in the interview. I would not tolerate sexual harassment, nor would anyone else in the company. The following I never had to experience since it was before my time. Don't bring your cell phone into the interview room. If you forgot to turn it down or off, you have just mortally wounded yourself. Don't smile all the time like you are a cheshire cat during the interview. Sure, it's good to convey you are nice and friendly. But, smiling like you are happy you are unemployed or underemployed makes one wonder.

Do bring paper (preferably a small notebook) and pen. If the interviewer gives specific information about the job and what he expects, it would do you well to remember them in a second interview. It also shows how much the job means to you. Do use proper language. Avoid, hmmmmm...well, aaah.....like man....you see what I'm saying? No, I don't see what you are saying! Do arrive on time for the interview. A good rule of thumb is to always be there 10-15 minutes early. Whenever I was scheduled for a job interview, I would arrive 15 minutes early in case I had to fill out any paperwork. If the interviewer says something you didn't understand, do ask him or her to clarify what they just said. For example, I asked a man applying for a high-level security job if he had an arrest record. I remember he looked confused and then said, "Yes, I do!" Clearly, he didn't understand me. Finally, do sit still in your chair. Turning and twisting in the chair is distracting to the interviewer. This happened more often than you would believe. Frequently I would ask if they were alright, if they needed another chair. Most would just stammer to say, "No,I am ok." One more do...at the end of the interview, most interviewers ask you if you have any questions. DO ask questions at that time. Even if you make crap up, ask questions!

During the interview, you are being evaluated. I bet you already knew that. The interviewer is trying to determine if you will fit in with the company. It is up to you to make him think you are qualified for the job. You literally and figuratively need to put your best foot forward during the interview. The interviewer is on the spot. He needs to fill positions quickly as feasible. Jobs not filled hurt company productivity. Unfilled positions also hurt the bottom line. So, the interviewer is under pressure just as you are. As I stated previously, it is just a different type of pressure. You both are under the gun in that interview. You need a job. The interviewer needs to fill that job. He's thinking that he has X number of days to fill the position. If he can't, the company will find someone who will. So, remember that when you go into the interview room. You need to think you are not alone when it comes to pressure during the course of an interview.

Job interviews are always stressful.  There is no hiding that fact.  It is just something you have to accept.  But, by reading all three parts of this job interview series, it will help you possibly get the job you want.

7/18/2014

Some Basic Tips on Job Interviews - Part II

 

 

More Questions in the Interview

After looking over my first post on the job interview I realized there were some things I wish I had added. As I related in that first post, I was in charge of hiring for five years at a regional industrial controls company that was spread throughout the southeastern part of the United States. I'm going to toss out a few more things to prepare for before you go into that interview room. Plus, some "old school " ideas on finding a job in today's terrible economic/employment meltdown.

Another question(s) that I always asked was one that I dreaded myself when I was interviewing for a job. "What are your weaknesses " is a question I always asked. I didn't do it because I wanted to see the interviewee sweat. I knew they were already nervous. But, I asked them this for one basic reason; I wanted to see if they were honest. Now, other people may say they had different reasons. Mine was I wanted to see them admit they had weaknesses. Hell, we all have weaknesses. Anyone who says they don't is a liar or an egomaniac. If the interviewee says he "can't think of any" or "he/she doesn't have any," that told me a lot about that person. That wasn't a deciding factor in my hiring them. But, it certainly did not put them in a good light. Some people gave great answers. One I remember is a young woman telling me her biggest weakness is that she was impatient . She said she had trouble with people who weren't as demanding in doing their job as quickly and as well as she did. That may sound like BS to you. But, it was the kind of thing that told me this lady could think on her feet under pressure. I didn't hire her for that particular job. But, I remembered her and hired her about two months later for another job. Of course, "what are your strengths " is another that would catch people by surprise. Most people didn't have much trouble answering this question. Everyone seems to know what they are good at doing. Sometimes, I didn't even bother to ask this particular question because of that fact.

Another question I had was one concerning problem solving. Problem solving is always a good indicator of what kind of employee this person might be. I asked the interviewee, "Over the course of your career, you certainly have had conflicts with either your boss or a co-worker. How did you resolve that conflict?" Now, there is no way the interviewee could convince me they had never had conflict with someone if they have been in the workforce for at least five years. If they told me they never had conflicts, it told me they were being dishonest or couldn't answer the question. Most of the time, it was the latter of the two. You see, one of the most important qualities a potential employee must have is his ability to get along with other people. You want to know if they have social skills that will enable them to resolve any future conflicts in the work environment. It also tells me if that person can work with others, including his boss. This is an area you need to be prepared to answer. Most employers still ask this question during the interview.

There are some things you need to stress during the interview if the interviewer doesn't bring them up. Always make sure you let your potential employer know you have had great attendance and have been punctual throughout your working career. If you do not have those qualities, I suggest you keep quiet about it. If you are asked about your attendance with other employers, you need to be able to explain why your attendance was poor. This is very, very important to employers. Showing up for work, showing up on time is considered part of your job description in every job in America. If you don't show up to do your job, you aren't of much value to the employer. In most cases, this is cause for termination. Something else; say for example if the interviewer asks "Did you have good evaluations with your last employer? " Don't answer this or any other question with a simple "yes" or "no." If you say no, you must certainly are going to have to explain that one. Even if your answer is yes , be prepared to tell why your evaluations were so highly rated. Better yet, bring some copies of your evaluations with you and present them. If your evaluations are poor, do not criticize your former employer. That reflects badly on you as well. It also makes the interviewer consider you would do the same to his company.
 
Now, some more don'ts I left out in the previous hub on this subject. Don't use slang or profane language when in the interview room. There is a time and place for everything. This isn't the time to use four letter words in front of someone you just met. As I stated in the previous hub, know something about the employer. That is vital. Just as vital is asking questions about the job. Just don't sit there and not bother to ask questions about the job. I guarantee the interviewer is waiting on you to ask questions. Don't act like you already know everything about everything. Egomaniacs have a tough time getting a job. If they get one, they don't usually keep it for long. One final thing; when the interview is over, don't just shake the interviewer's hand and walk out the door. Make sure you thank the interviewer for his time. Let him or her know you greatly appreciate them taking the time to interview you for the job. That speaks volumes about how much you want the job. Also, remember the interviewer is human just like you are. He has been in the same position you are sitting in that interview chair. Everyone has, at one time or another, been looking for work. Just because you unemployed or underemployed, doesn't make you less a person than that interviewer or anyone else.

Finally, I stated at the outset of this hub I was going to talk about some "old school " ways of looking for a job. Now, I encourage you to continue to doing all you do now insofar as companies as Monster.com and others of that nature. Use every conduit available to you, including the classifieds in the Sunday paper. But, what most people are not aware, even if a company doesn't advertise they have jobs available, that does not mean they don't have open positions. I don't think I am going out on a limb by saying that 80% of companies that say they are not hiring still have positions that need to be filled. Now, there are a number of reasons they don't advertise those positions. It may be they are in a financial crunch. It may be that someone has asked human resources to save a particular job for a relative. It may be they are waiting for better economic times. Regardless of the circumstances, that company is hurting by not filling that position. During the late 70s, I got laid off from a job I had in the chemical processing industry. This was during the Carter recession days. There weren't even minimum wage jobs available most of the time.

What I did was go to every company in that chemical processing field and ask to fill out an application. Invariably they told me they were not hiring. I would still push the matter. They would usually let you fill out an application if you push them on it. After I filled out the application, I would ask if I could speak to a supervisor over the type of work I do. 90% of the time, that isn't going to happen. So, I asked if I could speak to someone in human resources about potential future job opportunities. I would estimate the chances of that happening at about 50%. It really depends on the receptionist or whoever greets you when you walk into a company. Human resource personnel are more apt to talk to you. After about the 8th company (which had not advertised about any jobs, remember), I got an interview for a job that paid almost as much as the one I had lost. Two days later, I was hired. It wasn't as good a job as the one I had lost. But, I had a job when most couldn't get minimum wage jobs at McDonalds. It's a bit nerve wracking to walk into a company that doesn't advertise any jobs being available. But, if you are truly wanting work, you'll do whatever you have to do. These are truly times that try men's (and women's) soul. You have to get out of your comfort zone in regard to seeking employment. Be brave, be confident and be tenacious . You will find that job you seek. Always think that way. I wish you all the very best.

7/14/2014

Some Basic Tips on Job Interviews

The Ubiquitous Job Interview

 



Before I went to work for the federal government, I was in the private sector for about 15 years. The last five years I worked as an assistant superintendent for an industrial controls company. We had offices throughout the southeast. From Houston, Texas to Charlotte, North Carolina we were spread out pretty much in the industrial controls industry. As the assistant super, I did the hiring for our company. It was not a job I wanted. But, it was thrust upon me. So, I did the best I could. Usually, the Human Resources Department would send me three candidates for each position we had available. That didn't mean I was forced to hire any of the three sent to me. Quite often when I wasn't satisfied with the three sent to me, I would personally go over the resumes myself to find someone I thought was more qualified. But, that was rare. We had a good HR department.

After listening to a number of people lately who have had no luck being hired, I was amazed at how little people knew about the job interview process. Most are common sense. But, a lot of people just don't know basic concepts of getting themselves hired. You can have an MBA, but if you can't articulate yourself in the interview, you won't get that letter or phone call for a second interview. Below are some of the basic things I looked for when I interviewed job applicants.

Be prepared to talk about yourself. I knew a little by what was in the resume and job application. But, that doesn't give a good description of yourself. It amazed me how people acted when I would ask someone to tell me about themselves. Many would hem and haw, stutter and just get all nervous about the idea of telling me what they were all about. The company is going to spend thousands of dollars on you. At least give a brief, accurate summary about yourself.

Make sure you are dressed up for the interview. Some may tell you this isn't as important as it once was in the interview. Nonsense. If you come in dressed like you slept in your clothes, I didn't give the interviewee another thought. I would just thank them for their time. I never promised I would get in touch. I did not believe in giving false hope. Dress yourself for the occasion.

Be prepared to talk about your qualifications. Too many people think what they have in the resume/application is enough. That just tells me you fit the qualifications on paper. It doesn't tell me you can do the job. I could tell within two minutes if someone was qualified to do the job. I knew that because I had done the same job myself. Always assume the interviewer knows EVERYTHING about the job. Don't go in thinking you can BS your way through. While that may work sometime, it doesn't work most of the time. Know the job you are applying for during the interview. If you are applying for a job you know little or nothing about, you are wasting your and the interviewers time.

One of the toughest questions you ask a job applicant; why should I hire you over all the people that have applied for this job. This is where people really show if they are prepared for the interview. Many people couldn't give an adequate answer. I'll give you a clue to the answer I was expecting. I always looked for the job applicant to tell what he could bring to the job. I needed him or her to tell me how his or her qualifications could help the company productivity. I wanted to hear that you wanted to begin and end your career with the company (even if you viewed it as a stepping stone). I didn't want to hear "Because I'm more qualified than all the rest." If you say that, I'm going to ask how you can be more qualified when you have not seen any of the other job applications. End of interview usually and they didn't know it.

One more thing on this "to do" list; Know something about the company before you enter the interview room. I always asked what they knew about the company. Conservatively, I would say 60% did not know one iota of information about the company other than that they were hiring. Now, some things not to do:

Don't come into the interview chewing gum. Amazing how often that happened.
Don't look away from the interviewer when he is talking to you.
Don't pick at your teeth for crying out loud!!! Yes, this really happened a lot.
Don't pick at your nose for crying out loud!!! Ditto
Don't be nervous. I know that is easy to say. But, you have to act like you are self-confident.
Don't ask the interviewer if he knows so and so. Trying to get personal won't garner you any points.
Don't ask how much the job pays at the very beginning of the interview. You will make it appear the only reason you are applying is because of the salary. Time and place for that during the interview is at the end. If the interviewer doesn't mention salary at the end, ask him how much the job paid.
Don't look at your watch or the clock on the wall. Are you in a hurry to be somewhere else?

Finally, don't come into the interview DRUNK. That happened three times. Most likely, they drank because they were nervous. The interviews lasted about 10 seconds each. If I smelled alcohol, the interview was over.

These are just some basic tips and common sense I was able to convey to some people who were having a tough time during their job interviews in my area. I was amazed how many said they did the "don'ts" and did not do the "do's" in this post.   I hope this will help someone out there in this tough job market (despite what our fearless leaders in D.C. are telling us).

7/11/2014

Worst States for Retirees






People have a lot to contemplate when preparing for retirement.  One, of course, is financial planning.  The old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is never more appropriate than in your retirement years.  If you wait until you in your 40s, time is of the essence to get something done quickly about retirement.  By most accounts, waiting until after you are 40 is usually too late to plan for retirement.  As stated, there are many aspects to retirement.  Medical issues, hobbies and traveling are three that come to mind.  However, this is another that comes to the forefront;  where are you going to live?  Most retirees will live in the home they have usually paid off by the time they retire.  Still others decide they want to live somewhere else, away from children and start anew in a new locale.  But, here in the United States, there are states that retirees might want to avoid before moving there.  Of course, most people think of Florida when they want to retire. It is considered by most as the best state to retire.  Overall, the tax benefits of living in Florida fuel tax, property tax and sales tax makes it a dream location in addition to the beaches and the entertainment value for retirees.  But, there are states that are a nightmare for retirees.  Tax-wise, entertainment, medical facilities are on a scale so bad that one would have to consider the sanity of a retiree going there for their retirement years.  Topretirements.com has a top ten list of states that are the worst for retirees.  We will look at three of those states, staring with #3 on the list.

#3 - Wisconsin. - American's Dairyland is well-known for its scenic farmland and the best cheese in the world.  You might want to live there, you might want to work there.  But, you don't want to retire there. They have the 4th highest property taxes in the US.  Retirement income is taxable. Relatively high marginal income tax rate of 7.75 in the highest bracket (over $225,000).  So, if you think that tax bracket won't break you, then head to Wisconsin.  Oh, it gets really, really cold there also.

#2 - Illinois - The land of Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie State is known for Black-eyed Susans, and purple corn flowers.  It's also known as the home state (at least in the lower 48) of President Obama.  To quote Forrest Gump, "And that's all I have to say about that."  Unfortunately, Illinois is also known for having the second highest property taxes. Has an estate tax and the 5th highest gas tax.  That is not conducive for retirement living by any definition.

#1 - New Jersey - The Garden State is not really geared toward the retiree.  I think Tony Soprano, notwithstanding, this state is well-known for its affiliation with the criminal element of society.  Retirees don't want to wake up to news about gangland killings and the like.  That is not nearly as prevalent as it was in the 80s, of course.  But, this is not a choice state to consider retirement.  Other reasons are the highest property taxes in the nation. Taxes on pensions. Highest estate taxes in the nation with an exclusion beginning at $675,000. One of the highest marginal tax rates at 8.97% on incomes over $500,000. One of the highest cost of living (46 out of 51).  Like I said, New Jersey is not geared to attract the retiree.  You can go to other casinos beside those in Atlantic City. 

There are seven other states to avoid.  You can look at those at your leisure with the link above.  Realistically, none of the top 3 states are places where most retirees would consider anyway. 

Note:  Those of you who are truly interested in all aspects of retirement, you can visit my new retirement blog HERE
Overall, TopRetirements.com lists Florida’s total state/local tax burden as one of the lowest of any state, giving it a ranking of 47th in the entire country.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_12011273_tax-benefits-retiring-florida.html
Overall, TopRetirements.com lists Florida’s total state/local tax burden as one of the lowest of any state, giving it a ranking of 47th in the entire country

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_12011273_tax-benefits-retiring-florida.html
Overall, TopRetirements.com lists Florida’s total state/local tax burden as one of the lowest of any state, giving it a ranking of 47th in the entire country

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_12011273_tax-benefits-retiring-florida.html

7/07/2014

The Tylenol Murders







I remember this sad chapter in history as if it were yesterday.  People were stunned, confused and amazed how something like poisoning Tylenol could happen so easily.  You see, before the Tylenol Murders in 1982, there was very little in the way of safety protection to ensure over the counter (OTC) drugs could not be tampered with by some devious individual.  For those of you who were too young to remember, let's do a quick refresher.   The Tylenol Murders occurred in Chicago in September and October of 1982.  These intentional poisoning deaths were due to the victims taking  Tylenol branded acetaminophen capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide.  Seven people died from taking the cyanide laced Tylenol. The first to die was twelve-year-old Mary Kellerman of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, died after taking a capsule of Extra-Strength Tylenol. Adam Janus of Arlington Heights, Illinois, died in the hospital shortly after. Adam's brother Stanley of Lisle, Illinois, and wife Theresa died after gathering to mourn his death, having taken pills from the same bottle. 

Tylenol started being taken down from all shelves throughout the country.  In fact, people stopped taking any OTC pain reliever for fear of taking poison.  Sabotage during production of Tylenol was ruled out.  What was speculated is that  the suspect was believed to have entered various supermarkets and drug stores over a period of several weeks, grabbed several bottles of Tylenol capsules from the shelves, removed them from the stores and took them to another location. Once there, the suspect opened the bottles, took the capsules out, added the cyanide, then put the now-laced capsules back in the bottles and returned to the stores to place the bottles back on the shelves.  Only three bottles were caught with poison before they were bought by customers.

To this date, no arrests have been made.  The case of the Tylenol Murders remains unsolved, much to the chagrin of the FBI and Chicago Law Enforcement authorities.  Suspects have been wide and varied, including Unibomber Ted Kaczynski.  The investigation is still underway.  But, with no new leads, it is safe to say this case is a cold case file for now.  Hopefully, someone will eventually have to pay for the deaths of seven innocent people.  Like the Zodiac Killer, there is the possibility the killer has died of old age. 


The Tylenol Murders claimed seven lives in September and October of 1982 and the perpetrator of the crimes has never been caught. There have been several suspects and several theories about who committed the crime and how but nothing concrete was ever brought forward, nothing solid enough to get a conviction, at least. - See more at: http://www.listsworld.com/the-10-most-famous-unsolved-murders-in-the-world/#sthash.DkeoEmlV.dpuf
The Tylenol Murders claimed seven lives in September and October of 1982 and the perpetrator of the crimes has never been caught. There have been several suspects and several theories about who committed the crime and how but nothing concrete was ever brought forward, nothing solid enough to get a conviction, at least. - See more at: http://www.listsworld.com/the-10-most-famous-unsolved-murders-in-the-world/#sthash.DkeoEmlV.dpuf
The Tylenol Murders claimed seven lives in September and October of 1982 and the perpetrator of the crimes has never been caught. There have been several suspects and several theories about who committed the crime and how but nothing concrete was ever brought forward, nothing solid enough to get a conviction, at least. - See more at: http://www.listsworld.com/the-10-most-famous-unsolved-murders-in-the-world/#sthash.DkeoEmlV.dpuf
The Tylenol Murders claimed seven lives in September and October of 1982 and the perpetrator of the crimes has never been caught. There have been several suspects and several theories about who committed the crime and how but nothing concrete was ever brought forward, nothing solid enough to get a conviction, at least. - See more at: http://www.listsworld.com/the-10-most-famous-unsolved-murders-in-the-world/#sthash.DkeoEmlV.dpuf

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