5 Things You Should Never Say to a Hiring Manager

An employment interview is stressful. You need to say the right things to convince the hiring manager you’re the perfect person for the job. But you also need to be sure your nervousness doesn’t get the best of you and cause you to say something you’ll regret. Saying the wrong thing can cost you the opportunity, no matter how skilled or experienced you are.

Here are examples of what not to say to a hiring manager:

No-no No. 1: “My current boss is a jerk!” or “I left the company because it was a rotten place to work.”

Never badmouth a current or former employer. Even if you have had legitimate issues with a colleague, boss or company, don’t air the dirty laundry in front of the person with whom you interview. Complaining about others will just make you appear bitter and resentful and could cause the hiring manager to wonder about your attitude if you were to be hired at his or her firm. Stick to neutral comments such as, “I am looking for a different work environment” or “My career goals have changed” if you’re pressed for details about your desire for a new position.

No-no No. 2: “How much vacation time do I get?” or “What’s the bonus structure like?”

Questions like these tell a prospective employer one thing: You’re more concerned about the perks of the position than the job itself. It’s OK to ask these questions if you have been through several interviews and the hiring manager has expressed serious interest in hiring you. At that point, these types of inquiries allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not you truly want the job. But until then, focus your efforts on what you can offer the company, not what it can offer you.

No-no No. 3: “How much longer will this interview take? I have another appointment soon,” or “Do you mind if I make a quick phone call?”

An important part of the interview is, of course, treating the hiring manager with respect. Asking questions like these makes you seem rude, as if the interview were something of an inconvenience for you. Instead, take pains to show how interested you are in the opportunity. Arrive to the interview on time — or better yet, a few minutes early. Remain attentive throughout the meeting by taking notes and maintaining the right posture: Look the interviewer in the eye; nod when you agree with or understand a point he or she is making; and avoid crossing your arms, tapping your feet or displaying other signs of impatience. If you do have another appointment after the interview, leave a large enough window in case the meeting runs long or let the interviewer know ahead of time.

No-no No. 4: “I don’t want to have to work late,” or “I’d rather not learn PowerPoint.”

You don’t want an interviewer to view you as inflexible, which is exactly how he or she will if you make statements like these. Keep an open mind about a position that interests you, even if some aspects of it don’t seem ideal. Other factors — such as a higher-than-expected salary or the possibly to advance quickly — could outweigh the need to work overtime on occasion, for example. At the same time, don’t overlook absolute deal-breakers. If you do not want to travel for work, no matter the circumstance, let the employer know the opportunity is not right for you as soon as you realize that.

No-no No. 5: “Fortunately, my bad habits haven’t caught up with me,” or “I am one party animal.”

While you want the hiring manager to be able to get a sense of your personality, you don’t want him or her to know everything about you. When the hiring manager says, “Tell me about yourself,” use discretion and avoid the urge to overshare.

As a Robert Half survey indicated, strong people skills are among the most valuable qualities a job candidate can display when competing against another person with similar skills and experience. The first chance you get to show your strength in this area is during the interview, so think twice before you speak when meeting with an employer.

Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, with a global network of more than 360 offices. For more information about our professional services, please visitroberthalf.com.


The secret to boosting your salary in a downturn

Given the current economic climate and turbulent job market, increasing your salary may seem like a pipe dream right now. In reality, it is possible to significantly enhance your career prospects by taking matters into your own hands. The secret lies in committing to your personal development through independent professional study.

Making the decision to ‘go back to school’ as an adult says a lot about you as a person and as an employee. Gaining targeted professional qualifications is a clear indicator that you are ambitious, motivated and dedicated to your particular line of work. A well structured course provides a framework for your existing knowledge while introducing you to additional skills that will boost your current ability. All of these factors combine to make you more capable and confident in the workplace, which in turn will increase your chance of securing that elusive pay rise.

Evidence suggests that professional study has a positive impact on employability and earning power. Research conducted by the University of Sheffield and published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2010 showed that vocational qualifications make a marked difference to employees’ earnings, ranging from 5 to 23 per cent. A further study by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows that people with level 3 vocational qualifications and above are less likely to be unemployed than those with similar academic credentials.

If you already have a busy work, family and social life then you may well find it hard to attend daily or weekly classes. This is where distance learning offers an attractive alternative. With distance learning you receive all your course materials digitally or through the post, and tutorial support is delivered by phone, email or over the internet. As a result you benefit from all the help you need at the time and place that suits you best.

Most distance learning providers also offer access to an online learning platform where you can take part in live we classes and chat with other students on the same course, so you get all the advantage of a traditional class from the comfort of your own home.

One of the main benefits of distance learning is that you’re not tied to specific start and finish dates. Instead, you progress at your own pace, spending as much or as little time as you like on your studies each week. You can even take a break and pick up where you left off further down the line. As a result, the duration of the course is down to you. With hard work it’s possible to gain a range of highly respected qualifications in anything from three months to two years.

Nowadays, it’s possible to find distance learning options for most subjects and course types so check out all the options before committing yourself to the classroom.

With these facts at your fingertips you are armed with all the knowledge you need to start developing your own professional skills and start creating a positive impression in the workplace that your boss can’t possibly ignore!

“Um, What Company is this Again?” Candidates’ Most Cringe-Worthy Interview Mistakes


Employers know as well as job seekers do that it’s still tough out there, and it seems they would be kind to overlook job seekers’ most innocent of mistakes, like spilling coffee on the boss’s suit, or letting it slip that “snugglebear” was one’s childhood nickname, or calling the hiring manager “Dad” in a moment of flustered introductions (No? Never happened to you?).

In a labor market where a single open position may receive resumes from hundreds of applicants, however, there are certain mistakes employers won’t — or shouldn’t — brush off. But which mistakes are blips — and which are total blunders? You be the judge, as CareerBuilder’s latest survey, conducted by Harris Interactive© among more than 3,000 employers, takes a closer look at candidates’ biggest interview mistakes – straight from the HR employees and hiring managers who experienced them.

What are the most harmful interview mistakes, according to hiring managers?

It’s hard to believe candidates would risk pulling out the iPhone during an interview to answer a text about Friday night plans, but it does happen. The mistakes below are surefire ways for candidates not to get the job, according to the majority of employers surveyed:

  • Answering a cell phone or texting: 77 percent
  • Appearing disinterested: 75 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately: 72 percent
  • Appearing arrogant: 72 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers: 67 percent
  • Chewing gum: 63 percent
In addition to these egregious errors, we recently walked into offices across the nation to ask hiring managers what would make them count a candidate out immediately.

Employers’ most memorable interview experiences

There are your run-of-the-mill “Don’ts” for interviews — and then there are some that are a bit more unusual. While, as we’ve said before, strange interview tactics can be a smart move, the tactics must show how a candidate will contribute to a company or display their strengths somehow. Do any of the tactics below pass that test for you?

  • Candidate brought a “how to interview book” with him to the interview.
  • Candidate asked, “What company is this again?”
  • Candidate put the interviewer on hold during a phone interview. When she came back on the line, she told the interviewer she had a date set up for Friday.
  • When a candidate interviewing for a security position wasn’t hired on the spot, he graffitied the building.
  • Candidate wore a Boy Scout uniform and never told interviewers why.
  • Candidate was arrested by federal authorities during the interview when a background check revealed the person had an outstanding warrant.
  • Candidate talked about promptness as one of her strengths after showing up ten minutes late.
  • On the way to the interview, candidate passed, cut-off, and flipped middle finger to driver who happened to be the interviewer.
  • Candidate referred to himself in the third person.
  • Candidate took off shoes during interview.
  • Candidate asked for a sip of the interviewer’s coffee.
  • A mature candidate told the interviewer she wasn’t sure if the job offered was worth “starting the car for.”

 Take a moment to reassess

It’s important for job seekers to keep in mind that with so many others applying to the position they want, every misstep can matter — and they need to be presentable, prepared, and courteous to those interviewing them, above all else. While many of the examples above show a lack of these qualities, it’s also important for hiring managers to remember to put themselves in candidates’ shoes for a moment (as seen above, possibly even literally), to reassess the situation.

What would your advice be to candidates on what NOT to do if they hope to ace the interview?

10 Sites HR Professionals Should Read

1. HR World : HR World is a leading resource and community for HR professionals. The site provides in-depth content that HR professionals at small, medium and large companies need to make key decisions, including choosing the right HR services and software for their business

2. Evil HR Lady : According to the blog “ Need to fire someone? Come to HR. Need to explain to someone why, even after working their rear end off all year, that their annual increase is 2.7%? Come to HR. Need to come up with new mountains of paperwork? Come to HR. So, come join me on the Evil Side.”

3. HR Thoughts : If you are a Human Resource professional, developing leader or someone interested in transforming the way we communicate, interact and connect with others, HR Thought is for you. Partly professional, partly personal and 100% authentic. Guaranteed.

4. Your HR Guy : Lance Haun,who runs the blog, is a Human Resources Generalist practicing in the field for the past five years. His professional interests include recruitment, team building, training and development, employee relations and restraining himself from beating the crap out of bad managers and employees.

5. Guerilla HR : A blog built to help you, the business people, better manage your teams and careers by providing information that will help you achieve the results you need by capitalizing on a better relationship with Human Resources, Personnel Management, Human Capital Management, or whatever it is called in your world.
6. Cheezhead : Joel Cheesman is one of the most widely-read bloggers on emerging recruitment issues in the world. He was the recipient of Recruiting.com’s Best Technology Recruitment Blog for 2005 and received Best Recruiting Blog in 2007.

7. HR Daily Advisor : A site that many human resources professionals call the most unique and useful HR site on the Web. You will find plenty of information catering to your professional needs.

8. The HR Capitalist : A blog run by Kris Dunn, the VP of People for DAXKO, a software company focused on serving the best membership-driven organizations in America. He shares some of the best tips in the HR world and coming from someone who has spent over a decade in HR, he is a person whose advice you want to listen to.

9. Know HR : KnowHR is a product of iFractal LLC, which provides organizational communication consulting to some of the leading companies in the world.

10. HR Lawyer’s Blog : A blog run by Christopher J. McKinney who is board certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His practice is dedicated to civil litigation matters, with a particular emphasis on cases involving state and federal employment laws.

The 7 Questions You Need To Ask Before Hiring Anybody

Staffing is always a difficult nut to crack: Having too many people adds unnecessary costs and nicks your profits; too few and crucial things like customer service start to suffer. You want that magic number of sufficient, competent employees. For any owner, it’s a balancing act.

job interview

Here are the questions to consider:

1. What are your goals? Your investors are likely to be focused on short-term profits or conserving cash. Your customers are pushing for speedy, capable service. You have to walk the tightrope between the two.

2. What is your positioning? If you’re the price leader, your job is to cut costs wherever possible. Think like Walmart. If you’re more interested in customer service, then you must hire and train people to deliver top-notch service. Zappos.com should be your model.

3. How can you track your personnel needs? At Blinds.com, we use a personnel predictor that’s built into our phone system. It matches historical customer service trends on a day-to-day and hourly basis versus what we think we’ll need. We factor in an acceptable level of Average Speed to Answer and an acceptable Lost-Call rate. The software calculates how many people we’ll need based upon the service level we want to offer. Your business may not require such a system—but you should have some kind of a system.

4. How hard are your employees willing to work? Again, it’s not a simple question. People like overtime pay, at least in the short term, so it can be an effective way to temporarily meet increased demand. But people eventually burn out. And there’s ample evidence that people perform better when they work less. When your people work constantly, with no real break, they don’t have time for training, so they never get better at their jobs.

5. How do you pay people? I think it’s smart to make payroll as much as a variable cost as possible, so you can hire more people, but pay on performance—in other words, when they sell, provide service, etc. Your payroll costs never get (too much) higher than revenue dictates.

6. Are you willing to share the profits? If profit-sharing is a part of people’s bonuses, they’ll perform more efficiently. They understand that the more people you hire, the smaller their share of the profit pie. So they’ll work harder (read “smarter”) to prove their worth. At my company, at the end of the year we take a percentage of profits and divide it up equally among all the employees. The more we make, the more everyone gets, but the system incentivizes employees to make the most with the fewest number of people.

7. How long does it take to train and on-board people? If people aren’t moving through your training program and becoming productive quickly, put more resources into training to shorten that time. The more complex your business, the more likely it is that you’ll need to hire ahead of anticipated demand. If, on the other hand, you can outsource your peak calls, then you simply need to have that reservoir ready when demand dictates.

To hire or not to hire is not just one question: It’s at least seven—and probably even more. What questions do you consider before you decide to staff up?

Read more: http://www.inc.com/jay-steinfeld/7-questions-you-must-ask-before-you-hire-anyone.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+inc%2Fheadlines+%28Inc.com+Headlines%29#ixzz1pXwz0Dxu

The Management Secrets Of Kim Jong Il

The death of North Korean Dear Leader, Eternal President and Lodestar of the 21st Century Kim Jong Il gives us a moment to assess the man – sorry, demigod – not just as a brutal, murderous, deranged dictator but also as a manager.

Let us not forget that he lead a complex enterprise for 17 years and even managed to “flourish” (at least by his definition), as he told his people every day. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned here.

Do whatever it takes to get the best talent. In 1978, Kim ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, the actress Choi Eun-hee, in order to build up North Korea’s film industry. They made seven films before escaping to the West in 1986. We all know how hard it is to keep good people, don’t we?

Communication is overratedHe only made one broadcast to his nation. In 1992, during a military parade in Pyongyang, he said into a microphone at the grandstand: “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!” Even so, North Koreans wept on the streets like Elvis fans when they heard of his death. And speaking of Elvis…

Have your own style. Only Donald Trump has a more distinctive (and funnier) hair style than Kim’s fabulous pompadour. As so often happens when someone dies, I suspect Kim’s passing will make people wistful and even nostalgic about him. To stay ahead of the curve go out now and order a gray leisure suit and glasses bigger than your face. You’ll thank me later.

Be a renaissance man. While in college, which he finished in just three years, Kim wrote at least 1,500 books. Even after becoming North Korea’s CEO he always made time for the arts, composing six operas and directing movies. He also invented a product described as “double bread with meat” and created factories to produce them. (Jealous rivals tried to smear this last accomplishment by saying this invention looked an awful lot like the hamburger.) Nor was he just another nerd: According to his biography, the only time he ever played golf, he had a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one.

Work your way up from the bottom. Despite being the son of the nation’s leader, Kim earned his place at the top. While in middle school he worked in a factory and was said to be quite the whizz at repairing trucks and electric motors. Even though he joined the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea in 1964, it wasn’t until 10 years later that he was anointed as successor to his father.

Embrace new technology. North Korea is believed to have as many as 1,000 hackers targeting other nations.

Keep an eye on the details. Kim had female staff inspect each grain of rice on his dinner table to make sure it adhered to standards of length, weight and color.

Customer service matters. Kim forced waitresses at restaurants frequented by foreigners in Pyongyang to have cosmetic surgery in order to appear more “western.”

Play office politics for keeps. Do I really have to spell this out?

Work hard? Party hard. Despite famines caused mostly by economic mismanagement that have killed two million North Koreans, Kim had live lobsters airlifted daily to his train when traveling. He reportedly drank nearly $700,000 worth of cognac a year. It’s a wonder he made it to 69. If that was his real age.
Read more: http://www.inc.com/constantine-von-hoffman/mangement-secrets-of-kim-jong-il.html#ixzz1pXj1CgfX

Does Your Career Strategy Make Sense? – Bill Radin

Does Your Career Strategy Make Sense?
By Bill Radin

Would you dump your life savings—every single dollar—into a single NASDAQ stock? Probably not. It’s far too risky to put all your eggs in one investment basket.

And yet, you’d be surprised how many people manage their careers with a single-stock mindset. They toil away, year after year, investing their talents in a narrow field of interest.

Until recently, this approach made a lot of sense. Conventional wisdom dictates that if you do one thing really well, you’ll never be out of a job.

A New and Versatile Breed
But times have changed, and so have strategies. While it’s still true that a solid career is built on a foundation of position-specific expertise, it’s become increasingly important to maintain a balanced portfolio.

When employers look for talent, they typically settle for people with the proficiency to perform certain tasks. But what they really want—especially in today’s hyper-competitive market—is an adaptable breed of cat, whose broad-based set of skills crosses over into a variety of disciplines.

Want proof? Poke your head into any meeting room in which star performers are present. You’re likely to hear a sales manager exploring the potential of XML technology; or an engineer debating the virtues of a strategic alliance; or a CFO pondering the benefits of a co-branding opportunity.

In other words, as organizations flatten, more is expected from each individual contributor. Which means that versatility is not only fashionable, it’s become a key ingredient in modern-day career progression.

Jack of All Trades?
Now, I’m not suggesting you spread yourself so thin as to master nothing at all. But in order to reach top-percentile status in today’s rugged job market, you’ll need an expanded arsenal of skills to deploy.

To round out your resume, look for areas of weakness (or “blind spots”), and try to develop them into strengths. For example, if you’re a design engineer and you want to improve your company’s product or advance its market position, here are some issues to consider:

• Customer profile. Learn all about your customers, and what they need in order to succeed. Where are they positioned within their market genealogy? Are they end-users or OEMs? VARs or integrators? Businesses or consumers? And how would new customers benefit from your design?

• Channel characteristics. How are your products brought to market? Through a direct or indirect sales force, or via a company Web site or e-commerce supply-chain? Which of these channels is most effective, and which is in decline? And are there new ways to reach customers and facilitate sales?

• Alliances, partnerships and branding. Think of all the ways your products can be used with other products. Now ask yourself: How can a commercial relationship be formed? Should an alliance be interlocking or merely commissionable? And by which method can your company express its brand identity—by print advertising, electronic media or viral marketing.

By gaining knowledge in areas that were formerly considered the domain of “somebody else,” you’ll increase your overall market value. The more you can offer a multiple spectrum of knowledge—rather than a single color of skill—the less likely you’ll be to paint yourself into a corner.

As the new economy has forced a leaner, more accountable business model, take the time to invest in your career like you would a mutual fund. Over the long haul, you’ll be happy with the dividends a balanced portfolio pays.