Testify Tuesday: Hello?!

Wow!  It’s been over a year since I promised to talk about the Barefoot Interview: Week in Review July 2015 https://apeachnthedistrict.com/2015/07/19/week-in-review/

I dropped the ball on that one, but here I am with quite a bit more wisdom and frankly more time so I think you’ll appreciate this advice more.

Talented writers and even more talented marketers have learned to play Google’s SEO game, so when you type in a request your wish is magically granted.  I had a friend who thought Google’s amazing ability to meet our needs was more than magic, she thought it was sinister. She, an elementary school teacher, was convinced of government involvement in her everyday searches.  Simply because every time she typed something into the search bar it appeared that “Google” knew what she was thinking before she could finish typing it. Now nobody likes that obnoxious know-it-all friend (she constantly reminded me), so I suffered in silence and refrained from being that girl. I would simply look at her lovingly every time she jumped in horror, daring not to reveal it was her “cookies” that were tracking her every move, fearing she may never purchase Oreos for me again.

The story above may elicit a smile out of those who have a fundamental understanding of technology and confusion from those who do not.  Same goes for the breadth of articles online dictating how you should conduct yourself during multiple interview scenarios.  One size does not fit all because one job does not fit all. People are different, hiring managers’ styles are different, business cultures are different, and what people bring to the table quite frankly is different. In teaching students about career and workforce readiness, the only thing that I knew for sure was that they needed to be clean, neat and on time. 

For the particulars, I made sure to bring in professionals from a variety of fields to get an understanding of what a desirable candidate looked like to them, performed like for them and more importantly how that candidate would “fit” their environments.  Education settings are experimental and the real world is not, so when you are preparing for an interview you will not have the person in front of you, however, you can and should still do your research.

We have established that the computer cannot read your mind and neither can people. So if you need a job or information let someone other than Google know this information.

  • Use and improve your network. If you’ve been employed for an extended time and suddenly find yourself needing work establishing a new network may be key to your survival (the same may be true for recent graduates).
  • Take inventory and determine is your current network:
    • comfortably stagnant
    • of the junk food variety (gossip, good time, etc.)
    • in need of an oil change and a tune-up

Do not lament these realities, get to work! I would surmise that a tree rejoices over pruning although it may be temporarily uncomfortable, it understands the necessity and its purpose.  How can I make this assertion?  That tree still blooms the following season.

Don’t suffocate your future trying to resuscitate a dead thing.

 So you’ve tidied up your network, you’ve pressed a few palms and you’ve landed some interviews.  You’re feeling pretty good about yourself, the phone rings, you reach for your calendar (you’re old school you still write things down) and the hiring manager wants to schedule the dreaded PHONE INTERVIEW!!!
Tar and feather me now!  I fear very little and phone interviews were once chief among them.  I rely heavily on body language to gauge the flow of an interview.  If you’ve gotten to this point in this post, I think it’s clear that I’m verbose 🙂 I’m a storyteller and it used to never fail, I would get roped into some story.  When I got off the phone I kicked myself thinking they were sitting there looking at each other like WTH with me on mute.  I would be so embarrassed and angry with myself.

Phone interviews are tough but listen, the reason I was melting into a chocolate mess on the floor afterward was because I was cocky and unprepared!  Did you get that?!  I did not prepare!  I talk on the phone a lot, I excelled at my job, I skimmed their website and the job description; I should have been good…WRONG!  I was sabotaging myself.

I am begging you to not be like I started out, PREPARE!  Here’s another thing, I’ve come across but haven’t read.  If there are multiple people on the call, it’s likely one of those people didn’t review your resume.  They are going to say something that lets you know they didn’t review it or understand what you did in one of your previous jobs.  Even if they are a jerk to you don’t be a jerk back (even if you think you are being a covert jerk).  You want something from them, not vice versa.  The phone interview is YOUR time to shine, it’s their first introduction to you and you don’t want them to think, “Wow, this person is a smartass!”  Consider your audience.  You may wonder why an intern is on the phone being condescending, but the job description list responsibilities including the management of interns.  How you handle this intern during the phone interview will tell the hiring manager a great deal more about your genuine management style than any response you could package.  Furthermore, if the intern is not playing a role in the interview (i.e. behavioral questions, etc.) be on the lookout during the second interview to determine if the culture is combative, this may not be the organization for you.  Yet, you need to get in the door to make that observation, you cannot make an observation over the phone unless you are a Superhero and quite frankly if a Superhero needs a job that says a hell of a lot about the current job market!

I started this post disparaging the plethora of articles available, well there is one from the Ladders that is great, more specifically the S.T.A.R.s process I found within.  Using this process finally helped me become thoroughly prepared for the phone interview.  Now the phone screen is a whole other deal.  I will not even start on these, but if you cannot speak when they call tell them and if you are a seasoned professional this is where they weed you out because they always seem to ask for salary requirements.  I’m always tempted to tell them I require a salary 🙂

I have a few unconventional thoughts to add to the phone interview pot.  All the literature is going to tell you to dress professionally, but I think you should dress confidently.  What does that mean? Unless you’re on Skype or they are stalking you, they will be unable to see what you have on. I’m not talking about any foolishness like being in the buff or anything like that take this seriously, this is your career, your finances, and your future.  For example, I have this cute little yellow dress and it was raining outside at the time of one of my interviews. It was gloomy outside and I decided to wear a bright yellow dress since the sun was slacking on its job.  The dress, which would never be appropriate for a corporate interview, made me feel pretty and confident. Bonnets, scarves, rollers, and bed head do not make for great confidence boosters. I will not be convinced that walking around looking disheveled makes one feel top notch if you say that it does you’re a liar you just need to get it together. However, some unconventional hairstyles do make you feel confident. Conservative environments may look unfavorably on those hairstyles however they may bring the best out of you, so while you’re home on the telephone talking to the recruiter wear your hair like you want, because when you get called in for the second interview and guaranteed you will get called in for the second interview if you know your stuff and you’re confident; wear your hair as you like because you must adhere to status quo during interview number 2.

The keys are preparedness and confidence.  There is no excuse for not being prepared, yet you can find ways to feel confident that may not involve a three piece suit or pantyhose.  Get up early, make some phone calls to prepare your voice, but try to avoid gossip and drama (your friends will understand), shower, brush your teeth, brew some tea, and instead of staring at the phone waiting for them to call meditate or repeat affirmations.  


Your Future Career is Calling…



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