ALC Consulting

July 30, 2009

Taking a Break

Filed under: LIfe Balance — Anne Cloward @ 9:25 pm
Tags: , ,

Sometimes I get too serious for my own good. I get weighed down with all the negative stuff that comes over the Internet and the airways and I start believing it. That is when I need to pull back.

The temperature in Portland this week has been hot, very hot. We reached 107 degrees yesterday, and 105 on Monday. So, even though the air conditioning has been on, I have taken advantage of the pool. You know, you can have a very nice business meeting just treading water. I talked with an associate for two hours while hanging out in the pool.

And to counteract so much of the bad vibes, I have been enjoying this video posted on YouTube.

There is such much happy energy here. Check it out and just enjoy yourself.


July 29, 2009

You Said What?!

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 6:10 am

I did not want you to miss this one. It arrived in my inbox this morning. I want to give full credit to the author.

You Said What?!

43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

By Rachel Zupek, writer

Bottom of Form

“I’m not wanted in this state.”
“How many young women work here?”
“I didn’t steal it; I just borrowed it.”
“You touch somebody and they call it sexual harassment!”

“I’ve never heard such a stupid question.”

Believe it or not, the above statements weren’t overheard in bars or random conversations — they were said in job interviews.

Maybe you were nervous, you thought the employer would appreciate your honesty, or maybe you just have no boundaries. Whatever the reason, you can be certain that you shouldn’t tell an interviewer that it’s probably best if he doesn’t do a background check on you. (And yes, the hiring manager remembered you said that.)

We asked hiring managers to share the craziest things they’ve heard from applicants in an interview. Some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, others are jaw-dropping — the majority are both. They will relieve anyone who has ever said something unfortunate at a job interview — and simply amuse the rest of you.

Hiring managers shared these 43 memorable interview responses:

Why did you leave your last job?
“I have a problem with authority.” – Carrie Rocha, chief operating officer, HousingLink

Tell us about a problem you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it
“The resolution was we were both fired.” – Jason Shindler, CEO, Curvine Web Solutions

What kind of computer software have you used?
“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.” – Greg Szymanski, director of human resources, Geonerco Management Inc.

What are your hobbies and interests?
“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.'” – Petri R.J. Darby, president, darbyDarnit Public Relations

Why should we hire you?
“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group

Do you have any questions?
“Cross-dressing isn’t a problem is it?” – Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates

“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?” – Megan Garnett, Articulate Leadership Team, Articulate Communications Inc.

“What do you want me to do if I cannot walk to work if it’s raining? Can you pick me up?” – Christine Pechstein, career coach

“I was a chamber of commerce executive once hiring a secretary. [The candidate asked] ‘What does a chamber of commerce do?'” – Mary Kurek, Mary Kurek Inc. Visibility Consulting

“Can we wrap this up fairly quickly?  I have someplace I have to go.” – Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing, Clare Computer Solutions

“What is your company’s policy on Monday absences?” – Campbell

“If this doesn’t work out can I call you to go out sometime?” – Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching

“How big do the bonuses really get once you make associate? I hear it’s some serious cash.” – Bolzan

“[The candidate asked,] ‘Can my dad call you to talk about the job and the training program?  He is really upset I’m not going to medical school and wants someone to explain the Wall Street path to him.’ The dad did call. Then that dad’s friends called and I ended up doing a conference call with a group of concerned parents … long story.” – Bolzan

“If I get an offer, how long do I have before I have to take the drug test?” – Bolzan

“When you do background checks on candidates, do things like public drunkenness arrests come up?” – Bolzan

“Can I get a tour of the breast pumping room?  I heard you have a great one here and while I don’t plan on having children for at least 10 or 12 years, I will definitely breast-feed and would want to use that room.”- Bolzan

“So, how much do they pay you for doing these interviews?” – Jodi R.R. Smith, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Why are you leaving your current job?
“Because I (expletive) my pants every time I enter the building.” – Abbe Mortimore, human resources manager, True Textiles Inc.

“I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes.” – Smith

Why are you looking for a job?
“Cigarettes are getting more expensive, so I need another job.” – Pechstein

“My parents told me I need to get a job so that is why I’m here.” – McGowan

Why do you want to work for us?
“Just for the benefits.” – Jennifer Juergens, JJ Communications

“My old boss didn’t like me, so one day, I just left and never came back. And here I am!” – Matt Cowall, communications manager, Appia Communications

“I saw the job posted on Twitter and thought, why not?” – Rebecca Gertsmark Oren, communications director at The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

What are your assets? (as in strengths)
“Well, I do own a bike.” – Pam Venné, principal, The Venné Group

What are your weaknesses?
“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein

“I had a job candidate tell me that she often oversleeps and has trouble getting out of bed in the morning.” – Linda Yaffe,
certified executive coach

“I am an alcoholic and do not deserve this job.” – Deb Bailey, owner, Power Women Magazine & Radio Show

“I’m really not a big learner. You know … some people love learning and are always picking up new things, but that’s just not me. I’d much rather work at a place where the job is pretty stagnant and doesn’t change a lot.” – Michaele Charles, Voice Communications

When have you demonstrated leadership skills?
“Well my best example would be in the world of online video gaming. I pretty much run the show; it takes a lot to do that.”  – Rachel Croce

Is there anything else I should know about you?
“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.” — Venné

When can you start?
“I need to check with my mom on that one.” – Bolzan

Use three adjectives to describe yourself
“I hate questions like this.” – Katrina Meistering

Tell of a time you made a mistake and how you dealt with it
“I stole some equipment from my old job, and I had to pay for its replacement.” – Meistering

Have you submitted your two weeks’ notice to your current employer?
“What is two weeks’ notice?  I’ve never quit a job before, I’ve always been fired.” – Meistering

Random responses
“One guy [said] ‘it would probably be best’ if I didn’t run a background check on him. Of course, I did, and learned all about his long, sordid past of law-breaking. Our client actually offered him a job as a staff accountant, but quickly retracted the offer when I had to tell them all about his recent arrest for a meth lab in his basement.” – Charles

“[A] guy said he did not have a mailing address, as he was living in a gypsy camp at the airport.” – Sandra L. Flippo, SPHR

“I went into the lobby to pick up a candidate. As he stood up, his trousers fell to the floor! [He said] ‘Oh, my gosh — they told me I needed a suit for the interview. I’ve got no money — so I borrowed this thing. It’s too big!'” – Beth Ross, executive and career coach

“Wow — I’m not used to wearing dress shoes! My feet are killing me. Can I show you these bloody blisters?” – Bolzan

“May I have a cup of coffee?  I think I may still be a little drunk from last night.” – Smith

(During a telephone call to schedule the interview) “Can we meet next month?  I am currently incarcerated.” – Smith

“[A candidate] was asked whether he could advocate impartially on behalf of the various universities he would be representing since he had attended one of them. He responded, ‘Well, I don’t like to poop where I eat, but I thought my education sucked, so I certainly wouldn’t put that school above the others.'” – Darby

July 20, 2009

Slip Sliding Away

Filed under: job search — Anne Cloward @ 11:39 am
Tags: ,

Back to old S and G again. Paul once said that the thought some of his earlier lyrics were a bit pretentious, but I do like the chorus of this one.

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination,
the more you slip sliding away

When you are job searching, one of the easiest things to do is to slide into a very self destructive pattern for your days. You, in no particular order:

  • Get up when you feel like it.
  • Stay in your PJs.

  • Don’t eat breakfast.
  • Sit down at the computer.

First of all, there is the news to catch up on. If you are a guy, and you did not get to watch the games over the weekend, you have to catch up on all the scores and the play by plays. Then there is your email at five different addresses, and a game or two. Then you mosey on over to a job board or two and see if anyone is hiring for a job that matches your old title. And of course the black hole of Facebook is suddenly in front of you and after playing a few games and taking some quizzes and commenting on the postings from all of your old friends in high school, you look at the clock.

  • Eat something, since it’s noon.
  • Get dressed in your ratty old clothes since no one is going to see you anyway.
  • Make a few phone calls to see if anyone is hiring, except that no one answers.
  • Apply for a job online that you really don’t want.
  • Go outside for some physical activity just to break the monotony.
  • Go check emails again.
  • Surf the web since you are so bored. Watch old comedy shows. Track down useless information.
  • Knock off since it is four and you have spent seven straight hours on the computer.

This is your coach speaking here. As a career coach, I can tell you that you will spend your days like this and keep slip sliding away. I know how easy it is to go there. I have lived in parts of the country where it snows since I started college and moved from Phoenix. I know how easily it is to just slide down that slope.

Next: How to get going and moving.

July 16, 2009

The Ultimate Group Interview

Filed under: Group Interviews,Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 9:35 pm

All of these people get to interview this one candidate:

Whose résumé has been scrutinized to death and whose every public utterance for the past 20 years has been reviewed and reprinted. And she has kept her cool through all the hearings this week.

Go Sonia!

July 15, 2009

Now for Something Completely Different!

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 4:02 pm

After all this serious stuff, let’s have some fun. I have collected some cartoons on interviewing to share with everyone.


And watch”

Walk Out of Your Job Interview in a Blaze of Glory

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 3:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

From an article by Scott Ginsberg

Interview questions that stump employers in any job interview.

Picture this: The job interview is (almost) over.

You’ve answered all their questions.
You’ve jumped through all their hoops.
You’ve taken all their tests, assessments and personality profiles.

Meanwhile, your brain hurts from over thinking. Your butt is numb from over sitting. And by now, you’ve managed to sweat right through that crisp, new white shirt you bought just for today.

“Just hire me already!” You think.

Not so fast. There’s still one thing left to do:

Walk out of that interview in a blaze of glory.

Today I’m going to teach you a job-hunting strategy that will instantly make you more approachable; hireable; employable; promotable; buyable; bookable; unforgettable; and, most importantly, call-back-able.

And all of it hinges on your ability to respond effectively to one of the most common (yet one of the most under leveraged) interview questions:

“So, do you have any questions for me?”

Prospective employers almost always ask this one – especially at the end of the interview. And most job-hunting books, interviewing resources and career coaches will advise you to respond with intelligent, creative questions such as:

  • Why is this position vacant?
  • Do you promote from within?
  • Do you have a formal training program?
  • What are the future goals of the company?
  • How will I know that I have met your goals?
  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • How would you describe your company’s culture?
  • How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
  • What is the average work week of the person who will fill this job?
  • Will I be hearing from you or should I contact you?

Those are great questions. They’re smart, focused and goal-oriented.

There’s only one problem: Everybody else asks them, too.

And that instantly eliminates the probability of standing out.

Here’s the reality

The less boring and normal you are – and the more rules to which you are the exception – the more hireable you will become.

So, try this: Next time your interviewer asks, “So, do you have any questions for me?” I triple-dog-dare you to answer with one of the following responses :

  • Do you see any gaps in my qualifications that I need to fill?
  • Are there any reasons I’m not fully qualified for this position?
  • Is there anything I’ ve said today that might hurt my chances of being hired here?
  • Now that you’ve had a chance to meet and interview me, what reservations would you have in putting me in this position?
  • What have accidentally I said or done during today’s interview that’s inconsistent with your perfect candidate for this job?

Here’s why this strategy works:

You put the interviewer on the spot. After all, you’re not the only one being interviewed here. So, turning the tables in this manner helps you maintain power because – contrary to popular conditioning – the listener controls.

You prove counterintuitive thinking. I don’t care if you’re applying to work the night clean up shift at Reggie’s Roadkill Cafe – employers love people who think this way. Not just someone who “is” unexpected – but someone who actually thinks unexpectedly.

You demonstrate openness to feedback. My great friend, Joe Rotskoff, HR manager at Crescent Plumbing Supply in St. Louis, was the person who first educated me on this interview approach. “The secret is twofold,” Rotskoff said. “First, you display openness to how others experience you. Second, you show a dedication to improving self-awareness. And that’s exactly the type of employee companies seek to hire in this tough economy.”

You exhibit dedication to personal improvement. Which makes you an employee who adds value to the net worth of her human capital – and, therefore, the net worth of the company’s assets – every day. Wow.

You close the sale. Job interviews are sales calls. Period. You’re selling the company on you, your skills and your long-term potential as a valued asset to the team. So, when you ask closer questions like these, you’re essentially “asking for the sale.” And you’re doing so in a professional, tactful, confident manner. How could they not say yes to you?

Now, here’s the worst thing that could happen

Let’s say you ask one of these questions. And let’s say the prospective employer (unfortunately) responds with an answer that indicates you’ve done something wrong. Or missed the mark. Or come up short in regards to the position.

Fantastic! You’ve just received specific feedback that you can leverage to add value to yourself and become more hireable in the future.

So, if this is the case for you, here’s my suggestion: Physically write down his response to your questions, right then and there. This demonstrates active listening and further reinforces your openness to feedback.

Then, when you write your thank-you note to the interviewer later that evening, be sure to:

1. Thank him again for the helpful feedback on your performance

2. Explain what your commitment plan is for remedying that inadequacy in the future. Hey, he might even change his mind after that!

But here’s the best thing that could happen

Picture this: The interviewer’s jaw hits the floor, his pen falls to the ground, and he stares at you like you just told him that his company was going to be featured on the front page of The
Wall Street Journal.

Then, once he mops up the puddle of drool on your job application, he racks his brain trying to come up with an answer to your powerful question.

But he can’t find one.

Because there isn’t one.

Because you, my unemployed friend, are pretty amazing.

And you deserve this job a hundred times more than every other candidate who walked in the door before you.

That’s what happens when you stick yourself out there. That’s what happens when you’re approachable.

You walk out of that job interview in a blaze of glory.

And then, come Monday morning, you walk back into that same building. But this time, you’re not there for an interview – you’re there to see how spectacular the view is from your new office.

Good luck.

July 14, 2009

Wrapping up Interview Questions

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 2:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

There is one crucial question that you do need to be prepared for:

Do you have any questions for me?

You had better have some questions. It’s your last time to impress everyone with your qualifications for the job.

Some good questions are:

  1. Are there any other qualities you are looking for in a candidate that we haven’t covered?
  2. Are there any more questions you have about my qualifications for this position?

    (This gives you a chance to once more restate your ability to do the job.)

  3. Where are you in the hiring process and when you plan to make a decision.

DO NOT ask about salary, hours, benefits or vacations. This is totally inappropriate at this stage.

Here are the last of the wacky questions

  1. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?

    (Are you asking me for a date?)

  2. What is your favorite memory from childhood?

    (You are not my shrink and you had better not send me a bill for a therapy session!)

  3. What is your greatest fear?

    That I would have to go through these questions again with you, for any reason!

  4. What are your lifelong dreams?

    Not to be answering questions like this all day.

  5. How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?

    Since that has been the case many times, it comes with the territory.

  6. Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?


  7. If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?

    Jump up, drop to the floor and start a tantrum! Come on, it’s only a lunch.

And the last question is (drum roll, please!)

How do I rate as an interviewer?

Now just wait a cottonpicking minute here. If I tell you the truth, that you suck, then you won’t hire me. If I lie and say you were great, I lose all respect for myself and you.

This is a no win situation.

But be prepared. They can often slip that one in.

One last item.

Go to The Portland Examiner and start reading Susan Tait’s Unemployment columns. Today’s was especially good concerning this topic.

Or follow this link.

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