August 2009 » CHICAGO JOB MARKET
INTERVIEW PREPARATION BLOG

Archive for August, 2009

Take A Longer Term Approach To Technical Recruiting

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Recently three finalists at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nevada each won $50,000 scholarships from the Intel Foundation. These prizes were part of nearly $ 4 million in scholarships, tuition grants, scientific trips and equipment awarded at the world’s largest high school science competition.

Olivia Schwob, 16, of Boston won for her experiments that helped the roundworm (or nematode) Caenorhabditis elegans learn better. Previous work had shown that the GAP-43 protein is important in human learning. Ms. Schwob thought this protein might improve leaning in the lowly roundworm, so she introduced the GAP-43 gene into the worm’s DNA. Her work may help researchers to better understand learning disabilities in humans.

Li Boynton, 17, of Houston, won a top prize for developing a technique that uses the bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fescheri to detect environmental contaminants. Ms. Boynton exposed the bacterium to several pollutants, such as the herbicide atrazine, and correlated the extent of the bacterium’s glow to the level of contaminant exposure. Her analysis could yield a quick and cheap method for detecting pollutants in water.

Finally, Tara Adiseshan, 14, of Charlottesville, Va., who for her evolutionary relationships between several species of sweat bees and the species of nematodes that live in the bees, but do not harm them. She determined the genetic coding of a specific gene found in the bees and the nematodes. She then used these different DNA sequences to build family trees for both groups of organisms. Her analysis revealed that the bees and the nematodes had a tight-knit relationship throughout evolutionary history, diverging into new species at the same time.

Intel has to be applauded for investing a lot of money in the recognition and cultivation of these budding scientists, engineers, R&D professional and technical experts. The underlining reality is you don’t have to be a sports star or entertainment celebrity to gain notoriety. I just wish that more companies would pool at least some of their resources to help encourage our future technical talent. Instead of waiting for technical people to be available when your staffing needs arise, your employment process should be more future reaching including seeking out and assisting the bright stars in your community. Who knows, but the young person you assist could be a future Noble prize winner! I welcome your thoughts.

Toastmaster’s Techniques Can Help Your Interviews!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

One of the primary lessons I have learned in my 20+ years as an executive recruiter is succeeding during the interview is the most important part of landing a job. As a result, I have shared many interview tips to help improve your interviews and in turn increase your chances of landing your next job.

Several interview guidelines can be drawn from successful Toastmaster speakers. In “Here’s How To Work A Room”, Lin Grensing-Pophal shares many essentials that can be adopted to both interviewing and networking (to generate interviews). Included are:
1. Be a good listener. Listening is tough for many. However, if you can listen carefully to your interviewer, they will share the most important employment traits for their job. Then when you have a firm grasp of these employment essentials, you can better customize your interview responses to meet the interviewer’s needs.
2. Provide a strong greeting. Stick your hand out, firmly shake the interviewer’s (or anyone you meet during networking) hand, introduce yourself and smile. The premium is remembering to smile. Make it a very warm and sincere smile. Many people are reluctant to do this.
3. Practice. Many interview techniques can easily be practiced at home in the mirror or on videotape. The more you practice, the stronger and more natural your responses will be.

Once you feel comfortable with these interview techniques, practice them during the next networking event in your job field. Keep a journal of your progress including: a) what you did right and b) what you need to improve upon. This will help you master the interview process!

R&D Spending In Hard Times Has Big Payoffs!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I met with one of my clients the other day who used to be one of the top product development managers at ITW (Illinois Tool Works). His particular expertise is setting up and managing overseas operations in India and China. One thing he shared was downturns were the perfect time for spending on R&D (Research and Development). Instead, companies tend to cut back on science, engineering and technical projects during an economic downturn. A better approach would be to invest heavily in R&D during a tough period. Then you would be well positioned to move past your competitors when things turned around instead of trying to play catch up like everyone else does.

Be Very Decisive In the Interview Process

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Brett Favre’s comeback to the Minnesota Vikings last night sparked a wave of angst across the NFL. His waffling whether to retire or not is a classic case of what not to do during your interview process. For example if you get an offer, be very decisive because a lot of your future job growth will be based upon how quickly you make decisions.

I have experienced many examples in my 23 years of recruiting where a candidate sought employment at a company only to turn the job down. Then after further review of other employment options, they reconsidered, but the job was no longer available. Therefore, you need to do very thorough research on the company and yourself. In Mr. Favre’s case there were some extenuating circumstances (e.g. off-season surgery revealed a partially torn rotator cuff that had calcification around the tear). However, his history of retiring and then un-retiring is not a good model for job seekers. Remember to be very decisive when evaluating jobs.

Target Green During Interviews

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

When recruiting engineers, scientists and technical personnel, try and uncover any “green” initiatives. With all the money being spent by the Obama administration on the environment (green), a job candidate with green experience can be more profitable for you. Gear your interview questions towards the environment. This can not only help your company to become environmentally sound, but also improve your bottom line!

Add Green To Your Interviews!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

At the recently concluded AOM (Academy Of Management) convention in Chicago, the theme was “green”. Ten thousand management experts from around the world converged on Chicago from August 7th through the 11th to discuss ways to make businesses more environmentally sound (i.e. green).

All around you there are green initiatives. For example, one of president Obama’s main thrusts is green. As a result, to make yourself more marketable in your interviews, I recommend taking seminars on and reading up on green.

Share anything you have done that has been green during your job interviews. This will widen your scope and increase your chances that your interviewer will find a job position for you.

Unemployment Rate Fell to 9.4%

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Are you finding interviewing any easier? The reason I ask is the U.S. Labor Department announced some improved information today. They said that U.S. job losses tapered off last month while the unemployment rate surprisingly fell. Nonfarm payrolls declined by 247,000 in July, the Labor Department said, the smallest drop since last August and below the 275,000 decline expected by economists. The unemployment rate, calculated using a survey of households as opposed to companies, slid 0.1 percentage point to 9.4%. Payroll cuts slowed in a variety of industries including manufacturing and many services while the automobile sector posted a rare increase, as anticipated seasonal layoffs failed to materialize last month.

Stress Money Making In Your Interviews!

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

The University of Florida’s head football coach Urban Meyer just signed a six-year contract worth $4 million per year! This made him the highest paid coach in the SEC (Southeastern Conference). This was despite the university recently announcing $42 million is budget cuts and the layoffs of nine faculty members and 49 staff employees! Why is this important for interview preparation?

An implied lesson to you in interviewing is to put your best foot forward. Florida did not give Urban Meyer $4 million a year out of the goodness of their heart. Instead, he was rewarded for making the university a lot of money. The football program is a major moneymaker. Especially when you have won two national championships in the last three years as coach Meyer has.

What this means for your job interviews is that you need to stress how you have made money for your past employers and how you will continue to make money for this employer if they hire you. To do so you need to share quantitative examples of your accomplishments. Bring a nicely bound, ringed notebook that has letters of recommendations, pictures of new products you have developed and quantitative accomplishments. The key is even in this tough economy, candidates that can return major profits for their employers will be hired!

The 1 to 10 Rating Scale Interview Question

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Please go to to view my latest monthly technical recruiting tutorial. The focus is the 1 to 10 rating scale interview question.

What you want to do is ask your candidates to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 on each of your key job attributes. The interview scale ranges from 1, which is no job experience, to 5, which is average job experience, up to 10, which is mastery of that key job skill. For example, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how good of a C programmer are you?”

The benefit of the 1 to 10 rating scale interview question is it forces your candidates to more precisely identify for you what their actual job skills are.

Resumes Don’t Get You Hired, You Do!

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Please go to to view this month’s interview preparation video. The title is, “Resumes don’t get you hired, you do!” It will show you how to generate interviews by networking.

Many people waste a lot of time and money developing and sending out a resume, but did you know that most human resource personnel only spend ten to fifteen seconds reviewing your resume; only to screen you out of their job! That’s why I recommend networking to generate interviews.

There are two types of networking for a job. The first is telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job. This includes friends and family. The second is business networking. This includes joining associations in your job field and meeting key hiring managers.

A valuable tool to help you network is the 30-second elevator pitch. What you want to do in those thirty seconds is quickly convey three things:
1. Who you are.
2. What you are looking for.
3. Your 2-3 greatest strengths.

You want to practice this interview technique repeatedly in the mirror, in a tape recorder or on videotape. Then share it with everyone you know and meet. The key is you never know who may know about your next job.

Therefore, use networking and the 30-second elevator pitch to generate interviews. This beats having your resume put in the dead file by human resources.