Monthly Archives: February 2017

Building Rapport—Key to a Great Interview

Interviewing can be an intimidating experience that renders many job seekers tongue-tied. However, new research shows that applicants who make small talk or find a commonality with the interviewer during the first few minutes of the meeting are more successful than those who don’t.

shutterstock_359878688The researchers conducted 163 mock interviews and rated the candidates on how well they did in two areas: building rapport during the initial three minutes of conversation, and their responses to 12 questions about the job. The results showed that those who had initially built a degree of trust with the interviewer scored higher overall than those who had answered the questions equally well but had not created that initial rapport.

The researchers concluded that candidates should find common ground with an interviewer as soon as possible: The moments between the initial handshake and the beginning of the interview can be the sweet spot during which that rapport is established.

But how to do this if you’re not a natural? One of the ways job seekers can work on this skill is to practice outside of interviews, says the study’s lead researcher. Chatting with a barista while ordering coffee or a sales clerk when shopping are great ways to learn how to build a connection quickly. Another way to prepare for those initial moments when achieving rapport is so important is to conduct research about the organization or interviewer and ask a question that gets things rolling immediately.


  1. What are some topics you can bring up to start an informal conversation prior to the beginning of a formal interview?
  2. How do you think the ability to chat informally can positively affect not just your performance in interviews, but your career?
  3. Why do you think some firms help their employees learn to build rapport by having them work with comedians?

Lose These Lousy Work Habits… Culture Fit Crucial for New-Hires… Four Job Applicant Must-Haves

Lose These Lousy Work Habits

shutterstock_457206865Everyone has bad habits, but some can stifle career growth. Prudent employees will make sure to eliminate the following negative workplace behaviors:

  • Chronic lateness. Flat tires, traffic, or oversleeping can happen to anyone, but when they happen too often, offenders will just look undisciplined or worse, as though they don’t care about their job.
  • Procrastination. Waiting until the last minute to turn in work jeopardizes colleagues who may be depending on that work to complete their own tasks. Procrastinators earn themselves a reputation for being unreliable.
  • Lying. Owning up to mistakes and taking responsibility for them is far better than being terminated when the lie is discovered.
  • Negativity. A worker who is always griping about projects or coworkers will be considered difficult to work with.
  • Anger. Temper tantrums have no place in the workplace—no one wants to work with a hothead.
  • Poor writing skills. Weak writing—bad grammar, spelling, or unedited prose—makes the author appear less intelligent and careless. Organizations cannot afford to be associated with sloppiness.
  • Laziness. Coworkers and managers will know which employee repeatedly shirks work or pushes it to someone else, resulting in doubt about the individual’s commitment to the organization.

From The Job Network

Culture Fit Crucial for New-Hires

More and more employers are screening candidates in odd ways to assess whether they will fit into the organization from day one.

Some companies ask current employees to act as “cultural ambassadors” to gauge how well a candidate will successfully enter ashutterstock_379260601 department. Shoe e-tailer Zappos gives long-term workers veto power over job candidates. The company veterans can ask a potential future colleague to answer questions such as “If you were to write your biography, what would the title be?” to demonstrate how quickly a candidate thinks as well as how the individual will fit into the corporate culture.

HR personnel often rate cultural fit above referrals, grades, or coursework, according to a recent survey by the career website Beyond.  However, because “culture fit” is vague, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warns that such an unspecific criterion could put organizations at risk of violating hiring regulations. Some companies agree. Facebook, for example, does not use culture fit as a reason to not hire someone precisely because it can be a “bias trap.”

From The Wall Street Journal

Four Job Applicant Must-Haves

shutterstock_538186522When interviewing for a new position, savvy job seekers will demonstrate that they possess the following qualities today’s employers demand:

  1. IQ – intelligence and critical thinking. Employers need workers who can solve problems, strategize, and see the big picture. A high GPA may get a candidate in the door. However, only by using those smarts on the job will the new-hire stay
  1. EQ – emotional intelligence. Reading others’ emotions, listening well, and building relationships are key ways to wow a recruiter and future employers. Being ready with thoughtful questions helps demonstrate this ability, especially during an interview.
  1. PQ – passion quotient. Excitement about a firm’s ethos and goals helps show how an interviewee or new-hire will add value to an organization.
  1. IMQ – improvisation quotient. Flexibility, thinking outside the box, and curiosity are important qualities employers look for in job candidates. Because today’s marketplace changes quickly, employees who adapt and cope well with stressful situations are highly valued.

From Los Angeles Times

To Social or Not to Social? That is the Question

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A millennial computer scientist writing in in The New York Times advises more people to quit social media before it hurts their careers. Cal Newport offers several reasons for his opinion.

First, he points out that keeping social media accounts current and relevant can take an inordinate amount of time, whether that means reposting a viral article or coming up with a clever new hashtag. Becoming part of this never-ending cycle of posting and reposting takes time away from the real way to grow a career—by achieving excellence, Newport says.

Next he shoots down the argument that social media networks are a necessary part of today’s workplace because they can give rise to new opportunities. Newport argues that becoming an expert at what you do leads to opportunities, not networking relentlessly.

Finally, Newport points to the addictive nature of social media as the root of distraction, which takes away from producing good work.

Not long after Newport’s column ran, the director of digital communications and social media at the job site Monster wrote a response advocating social media as a necessary tool for careers. Patrick Gillooly notes that the platforms themselves have created millions of jobs in the emerging field of social media management. Moreover, he says that employers want to see job applicants’ social media sites, and therefore they can be an excellent way to extend an individual’s résumé. What’s more important, Gillooly adds, is that being invisible on social media could raise a red flag to a future employer.

Gillooly says social platforms provide a great way to learn about a field. Ignoring what’s being said on social media is to be excluded from relevant discussions. However, he advises using social platforms “thoughtfully and deliberately.”

Discussion

  1. What can you do now to take Gillooly’s advice and build a meaningful social media presence that will help advance your career?
  1. How can you heed Newport’s advice and create work product that is your best advertisement of your skills and readiness for the workplace?
  1. In which ways can you prevent social media from becoming a “black hole” for your time?