Archive for July, 2010

Job Interviews Are Not a Form of Inprov

July 30, 2010

Today I have the privilege of inviting a guest blogger to share her insights about job interviews.  Meet  Dorie Hightower, a seasoned media and communications specialist, who has extensive experience with the federal government and the private sector. In her words:

I have a friend who is a media trainer who always says, “A media interview is not the time for original thought.”  What she means is that if you are going to talk to a reporter, be prepared for what you want to say and use the interviewer’s questions as a jumping off point for your messages.

Although a job interview may FEEL like you are doing improv, I am convinced that it is also not the time for original thought.  As all the books tell you, do your homework and find out as much as you can about the organization and the person you will be interviewing with.  Then make yourself a list of “talking points” about how your skills and background will benefit their organization.  Sometimes I’ve even kept the notes in front of me during the interview so I don’t forget to mention something–I also carry a portfolio of my work samples and illustrate some of my examples during the interview.

You can expect a number of fairly standard interview questions and my advice is to think about how you would answer these questions in advance.  You can find a number of these kinds of questions online or in jobhunting books.

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Why did you leave the previous job? (Make sure you frame this in postive terms–growth, challenges, new opportunities)
  • What are your three top talents/abilities?
  • What do you want to be doing in 5 years?
  • How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
  • What accomplishment/s are you most proud of? ‘

Then be prepared to answer the more unusual questions honestly, but in a way that will demonstrate a positive attribute about you.  (This is the improv part.) Recently, an interviewer commented on my suntan, and I used that as an opportunity to talk about my interest in bike riding, which I think demonstrates energy and and an adventurous nature, and could be tied back to my ability to do the job with enthusiasm and energy.
Remember also, that first impressions are key–that a person gets a sense of you from your greeting, handshake, and the first thing that comes out of your mouth.  So be prepared to smile, make eye contact, provide a firm handshake, and make it clear that you are happy to be there and excited about the job.  That first five seconds may make a huge difference in your future!

Thanks, Dorie, for sharing your observations and hints for a successful interview.  I think you’ve helped a lot of people today.


July 19, 2010

I interrupt this series on resume trends for an important news flash!  This blog was just selected as one of the top 100 career blogs by the nice people at  If you would like to see what other people are writing about in the field of career news, trends, obstacles, and tips, check out this list.  I’m truly complimented to be included among such talented writers and researchers.

A philosophy of work by Mark Twain

July 15, 2010

Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do – Mark Twain.

What do you think of this?  Like many of Twain’s statements, it makes us laugh.  I love to re-read Twain, and I can be amazed how – along with the humor – you can find a philosopher, an astute observer of life, and a biting social critic.

I invite you to think about this a bit further.  Did you grow up with people who felt this way?  Did your teachers feel this way?  Many of us have more familiarity with this philosophy than we like to admit.

You may have grown up when many segments of work were governed by what was called Theory X.  Behavioral theory tells us that in a Theory X organization, described perfectly by Mark Twain, was what we might expect when we became adults.  You’re not supposed to like work, you’re just supposed to do it.  Play is for those off hours when it’s okay to have fun.

Luckily, Theory Y came along with organizations who valued creativity and individual contributions.  In a Theory Y organization, you got to do what you like to do and are (presumably) good at doing.  This made the time fly and kept you smiling.

I would not suggest that when you go on a job interview, you ask the employer about Theory X and Theory Y.  They might not know which they are, it might make you look goofy and unwilling to work.  I think it is possible to ask what the atmosphere is like, how long people tend to stay on the job, and if the employees tend to get together outside of work occasionally.

Was Mark Twain wrong?  What has been your experience about work and play?