Archive for the ‘Job Interviewing’ Category

The Essential Cure for Exaggeration

February 8, 2015

First, I love Brian Williams.  I believe in him.  I watch his newscast whenever possible.

And I hurt for him in these difficult days.

He exaggerated in his narrative and he has been found out.

Has it happened to you?

  • When asked about an extracurricular activity in school, have you enhanced your role?
  • Have you stretched your importance on a work team?
  • Have you minimized your role in an losing campaign?

I think there are two steps you can take while seeking redemption:  you can take on a large dose of humility and you can correct the mistake immediately.  If you are job-hunting, stop right now.  Get out that resume and read it again.  Check it for total truth.  You might feel better and more confident that you don’t have to conceal a truth any longer.

It’s also a potentially great interview question. Have you ever stretched the truth about your performance on a job?  

I think the answer might be – Yes!  I was advised to stretch my role in a reorganization in order to keep my job.  I was so uncomfortable with that process that I vowed never to do it again.  And I haven’t.

Would anyone asking that question believe a no?  I don’t think so.  There’s something appealing and refreshing about a candidate who tells the truth about him/herself while showing emotional growth.

Why are you in this job?

October 27, 2014

See this lovely young woman baking biscuits over a coal fire?  No, she is not a Vermeer figure come to life.  Her name is Rhianna and she is a historical reenacter at the Beamish Museum in Northumbria, UK.  I visited the Beamish recently.  Imagine – it’s a cold, windy, sometimes-rainy day, you step into Rhianna’s kingdom, you smell the warmth and scent of a coal fire along with fresh biscuits. And you get a friendly greeting.

We got into a conversation.  I asked if she is studying history or acting – just how did she get this job?  And what appealed to her?  (And yes, these are nosy questions, which I justified by saying that I’m a career counselor and am always on the lookout for a good story.)

Rhianna said she is very shy and sought a job that forced her to interact with people, so here she is, explaining about biscuits, flour, copper polishing, and coal fires. all day long.

Yes, she is less shy than she used to be.

Rhianna, congratulations on making such a courageous and productive choice!  I loved our chat and indeed, all of the nice people in Beamish, who explain life and work in different times.

Beamish 2

Resume Review – a reminder

September 29, 2014

As the fall job search season gets underway, I know you are re-thinking your interview outfit.  Switching from linen to wool, light colors to darker, is part of your challenge.

Another challenge is to make sure your resume is as current as can be.  If you have not seriously updated your new elements  document in a few years, this neglect will be obvious to all who read it.

What to do?  Get some help!  You really need such elements as hyperlinks and evidence of your involvement in social media (your choice which venue to use).

And please allow me to propose (humbly) that you check out my e-publication, Reflections on Resumes: Taking a Second Look. You can learn about little tips and tricks that will give you the confidence that you are as current as can be,  and that you are displaying your accomplishments to best advantage.  You can be reading this small guide on your computer, tablet, or e-reader within a minute or so.

I’m Career Counselor Anne Headley and I approve this message!

The Interview Outfit: what’s that new accessory?

September 26, 2014

This morning, while entering data into my fitbit app, I got to wondering about the impact of wearing a fitbit bracelet on a job interview.

The fitbit is that almost-ubiquitous plain bracelet that you see in all kinds of basic colors.  My doctor has one.  My hairdresser has one. My swimming buddy has one. I have one!  There’s a pedometer and a heartrate monitor tucked inside the bracelet, logging one’s fitness level as well as sleep effectiveness.

So I picture the interview.  If the interviewer is noting your grooming, your outfit, shoes, watch, and shoes, why wouldn’t he or she notice this bracelet?  And what conclusions might one draw?

  • She’s commited to fitness – good for her!
  • Perhaps she’s a goal-setter.
  • She has embraced technology.
  • Interesting – I’ll ask her about it.  I’ve been thinking of getting one.

These are points in the applicant’s favor.

And those assumptions are at least partly true.  Committed to fitness?  Well, when wearing the bracelet, I’m on the lookout for ways to attain that daily goal and to log a few minutes into the more active category.  And yes, I had to install an app and then use it.  Techie, right?

Anyway, I think fitness apparel is a great way to support the traits you have already submitted on your resume.  It is a fantastic conversation starter, and also a great way to combat age discrimination.

What has been your experience with wearing a fitbit or comparable activity monitor?

What have you been doing this summer?

July 29, 2014

The question is not just for kids.

It’s not only a written exercise for the first day of school.

It’s for you – for your upcoming job interview.

Reading, volunteering on stream clean-up in your neighborhood, making sandwiches for the shelter.  Canning peaches.  Brushing up on your Spanish.

Looking for a job.

How do you phrase it?

Not –  I’ve been on a number of job interviews.

Rather – I’ve been speaking with some fascinating people about work possibilities, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.  

Then, of course, you’ll have to be ready to share what you have learned.

Now let’s try it – What have you been doing this summer?

The job search must go on …

July 24, 2014

Job hunters – how on earth do you do it?

Planes are being shot down or just plain disappearing.  War, terrorist threats, and nasty politics are all around.  Fresh summer fruits are being recalled and discarded because of a threat of listeria.

And you are asked to get dressed professionally, go forth, and sell yourself, while tv news, the morning paper, and your favorite news websites, are screaming unending disaster.

I wonder if any job seeker is being asked questions about coping in the summer of 2014. Such questions might sound like this:

  • Thank you for coming in this morning.  Did you hear the latest news?
  • Did you hear about the food recall in our major supermarkets?
  • You didn’t have any overseas travel plans this summer, did you?

If this happens to you, how will you respond?   I know what I hope I would say.

It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the troubles of today.  But I try to focus on what I can do, and that includes sharing my skills and experience.

I am indebted to (experienced writer and new blogger) Paul Roberts Abernathy for an excellent take on the need to summon forth optimism in these troubled times.  If you would like a shot of perspective that is expressed far better than I can say, I suggest you follow the link.  Thanks, Paul, and welcome to wordpress blogdom.

New Interview Question – Be Ready!

July 1, 2014

Someone I know had a job interview recently, and he felt confident and prepared.  He prepared for all kinds of questions, focusing on his skills and experience.

When I asked if there had been any unexpected questions – well, yes, there had been.

Have you ever been treated badly as a customer?

He responded with a story about slow service in a retail establishment.   He connected his brief story with a message about how hard he works to address customer needs.  Sounds good to me.

It seems to me that the only way you could blow this question is if you went blank and said it had never happened (no one would believe you!).  Or if you got involved in a rambling narrative, blaming everyone in sight.

As with most interview questions, answer it briefly and thoughtfully, and bring it back to the job requirements.

Another Graduation Gift

June 10, 2014

Someone asked me recently what skills or knowledge might be the most useful for today’s graduate.  And I’ve been thinking, starting with what do I wish I had known?  Here is my reflection for you new grads.

Grade point average?  Interesting for a while, but then you grow up.

Volunteer activity?  Sure, it says something good about you, but is it related to the job?

Hard work?  Yes! I hope your interview stories are filled with challenges you have overcome.

Examples might sound like this:

I started my beginning Spanish class with a bad attitude.  I have been told that no one in our family can do languages.  But I liked the teacher and I agreed with the goal of being a better world citizen.  So I bought a Spanish  CD and started listening. Yes, it was hard.  Yes, I probably sounded foolish.  I made friends with a girl from Central America who was learning English.  We agreed to have lunch together and just name things we were eating.  And it helped!  I’ll never be a world-class language specialist, but now I know what it takes to learn something new.  It starts with shedding a bad attitude.  It continues with being resourceful.  And it ends with success.  That B in Spanish is something I really earned, and I will get better.  I’m not stopping.

I wanted to take an advanced art history class because I had heard great things about the professor.  But first, there was this pesky requirement of a basic art class.  And yes, you occasionally had to draw something.  I can’t draw!  Really!  I took the course, and as predicted, got a really low grade on the first assignment (drawing a tree on campus).  Kindergarteners could have done better than I did.  So I made an appointment, went to see the teacher, and told him that my drawing did not look like it, but I had really, really worked.  I just didn’t know how to do better.  I told him why I was taking the class, that I would do well in every aspect except the sketchy stuff.  He smiled and listened.  He told me to focus on some little aspect and capture a few details.  I really did not think much had been accomplished, but my grades got better. I’m still not an artist, but what I learned was to ask for help.  People are glad to offer a suggestion, and they do take note of your effort.  

And here is one further suggestion:  If you are declaring yourself a hard worker, how about mentioning something that is ongoing?

Although my classes have ended, I am committed to maintaining and enhancing my computer skills.  I recently found a free online course in Microsoft Office, which will keep my skills current and competitive. (Try checking out the free offering at

Wow! While your classmates are lounging at the beach in recovery mode, you have been upgrading your skills!

Hard work triumphs over privilege, opportunity, or special talent in success on many jobs.  So graduates, as you prepare for your job search, think about your challenges and how you continue to address them to achieve a measure of success.





Other Duties As Assigned…what would you do?

March 23, 2014

How far would you go to fill a need on your job?  What if you were asked to do something …. really bizarre?  Read on:

I know a woman, a federal employee, whose job is pretty structured – she’s on a small team that deals with supplies going out into the field and coming back in.  Straightforward, you might say.

She is in a small office of a very large agency – so large that it has all kinds of volunteer happenings going on all the time in addition to work.  There are art shows, jewelry shows, a singing group, a fund-raising charity group, sports leagues, and so on.  When this woman used to have more free time, she sang with a group, which she enjoyed very much.  Now she puts her volunteer time into organizing and presenting fun, family-oriented activities.  The other day, on a week-end, she joined a team putting on a bowling tournament.  You won’t believe what happened.

This group begins each event with the singing of the National Anthem.  And the bowling alley where the event is held has always had a recording, which they willingly play.  So imagine the consternation when the bowling alley people admitted that they no longer have that recording.

One of the volunteers jokingly (she thought) told my friend that she would just have to sing it.  My friend laughed and walked away, only to hear a voice on the loud speaker saying, “Please  rise for the singing of the National Anthem” and they were holding out the microphone to her.

Other duties as assigned?  You bet.

She took a deep breath, remembered to start low, and started singing.  She expected others to join in, but they did not. She got through it and was surrounded for the rest of the morning with high fives, hugs, compliments and congratulations.

I think the group was  lucky to have this woman with a beautiful, strong voice and a willing heart.  I know she is set for life with an interview story about her dedication to her workplace.

What would you do?

Resolution Update #3 – what about your goals?

February 13, 2014

If goals are fun, why wouldn’t you want to pursue them?  I like fun, although yes, it does take a bit of energy.  I’m vowing to say yes to things I might ordinarily be inclined to sleep through.  But fun beckons, or at least the possibility of fun.  So yes, I’d love to go to the theater with a friend, or meet a relative for dinner even when it requires a bit of effort.  It just might be rewarding.

What is fun for you that might lead you into a more rewarding career path?  Have you pursued that kind of fun so far this year?

Did you know that some kinds of fun can make your resume more interesting?  I’m talking about volunteer activities, community involvement, or a special niche activity in your current job.

There’s quite a fine little ebook available on polishing up your resume that (I happen to know) addresses taking the threads of your very interesting life and weaving them into a unique document that can help you stand apart from the crowd.  I know, because I wrote it.  Check out Reflections on Resumes at your nearest online bookstore.

Have fun this year, let it show on your resume, and let other readers know what is working for you.