How To Succeed In A Group Interview

Posted on: June 12th, 2012 by
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Be in the foreground, not the background

The first question that you need to understand: Why would a hiring organization do a group interview when it’s more productive, from your view, to interview one-on-one?

Response – There are several answers, all of them favoring the company.  They can:

  • Squeeze more candidates into a shorter period of time
  • Have all of the decision-makers see and hear the same thing at the same time
  • Discuss each candidate and consider the pro’s and con’s and debate their concerns
  • See how candidates handle a pressure situation with bosses and peers in a group

From the candidate’s perspective there are some pluses and minuses to group interviews:

  • You get to see the group interact within themselves and who plays what role
  • You only have to “psych yourself up” once, rather than time after time
  • The skills are different for interviewing a group versus individuals
  • The preparation is the same but the dynamics are more group process oriented


Here are some guidelines to help you with group interviews.  They may not be exhaustive, but may provide some insights for you to work on:

  • If you know you will have a group interview, see if you can get a list of the group members and their functions.  You’ll work the group differently if they are all finance or marketing or operations people than if it’s a mixed group.
  • Find out the levels of each member of the group.  Are they all “bosses”?  Is there a mix of peer functions?  Are internal customers parts of the group?  How about potential subordinates?  How you handle questions will be reflected on the audience.
  • If you can’t get a list beforehand, either ask for business cards or ask each participant to introduce themselves along with their function.  If done correctly, the upper level managers will see you as a smart, experienced candidate.  Either set up their business cards on the table before you in the order they are sitting or write their names and function as they introduce themselves.
  • KEY APPROACH #1: Do your research about the company, their products, supply chain, customers, pricing, competitors, issues of the industry, and so on.  Your knowledge will show through in your responses and impress the decision-makers.  You’ll probably know more than many in the room, so be careful you don’t become a “show off”.  But if you can relate your responses to the business, you’re doing well.
  • KEY APPROACH #2: Respond to the questions as if you’re making a presentation to a client group as a consultant.  Your purpose is to inform and market yourself to a group that will make a decision after all the others have completed their interview.  If you come across professionally, giving information and sharing experiences as if you were a product or brand, your peer candidates will pale by comparison.
  • Lastly, like any good sales person, give concluding remarks to “close the deal”.  Tell the group you’re highly interested in the position and hope to become a member of their team.


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The Real Reason You Didn’t Get The Job

Posted on: June 5th, 2012 by
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Don't let this get you down!

You passed the telephone screen with flying colors and you nailed the interviews.  You’re pretty sure you’ll be offered the job.  Then you get a call saying that they chose another candidate, but “thank you very much for your interest”.

WHAT HAPPENED???  Did you do or say something wrong?  First of all, calm down.  You may have been the perfect candidate, but not gotten the job.  Why?  Here are a few of the reasons that have nothing to do with you, except you were a pawn.


You were duped – It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  The organization has a problem and wants to seek out people who have solved it somewhere else.  They bring in candidates and interview them to find potential solutions.  No one is ever hired.

Someone else was more connected – The hiring managers brother-in-law is a candidate, so a screen is set up to hide the favoritism for the offer.  You happen to be the foil.

Someone else was better prepared – Another candidate did more research and really understood the issues:  Financials, competitors, industry, strategic direction, products, supply chain, customer issues and so on, much better than you.

An internal candidate was always in the wings – The hiring manager always heavily favored an internal candidate.  The organization wanted to see whom else was out there.  You had a very slim opportunity to demonstrate performance against the insider.

The computer can’t read, only add – In larger organizations, the computer does the initial screen.  It counts key words and decides who gets to move forward based on how many times certain key words show up.  It cannot tell about quality, only quantity.

You were seen as over or under qualified – A decision was made that you were over or under qualified for the job.  You’ll never know who or why, nor will you have the opportunity to state your case.  Longer term you could have been superior, but you’ll never know.

For some reason you’re the wrong fit – The organization has a working outline as to who will best fit, and you didn’t match their model:  Another mystery of the marketplace.

You could never have matched the real qualifications – The organization was told they could only hire a certain type person, based on criteria unrelated to the job. You’ll never know what or why.

The answer? – You can only do your best to present your results in the most favorable light based on what you know.  Sometimes you can ask penetrating questions about the criteria.  You may get some good information, then decide whether to pursue the job, or not.
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Don’t Wait Until You Hit The Wall, Career-Wise!

Posted on: May 29th, 2012 by
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Don't let this be you!


From a career perspective, there are different reasons people “hit the wall”, meaning their careers come to a sudden stop.  A few of them are:

  • Stuck-in-place:  There appears to be no upward opportunities for you
  • Underutilized:  Your going stale, in place, and can’t use your talents
  • Hostile environment:  Someone doesn’t like you, with more influence than you
  • Termination:  Either voluntary or involuntary
  • Downsizing:  The company is in a slump and you may take the hit
  • Reorganization:  There’s been a change of direction and your redundant
  • Spin-off/Take-over/Merger:  While in flux, your competing for your own job
  • And so on…


If you’re moving toward the wall, for whatever reason, here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Never allow yourself to actually “hit the wall”.  It may be too late to fully recover
  2. Always take pre-emptive action.  Find a solution before you become the problem.
  3. Talk to your boss or a decision maker if possible about your situation, for a discussion of potential solutions
  4. Begin to put our resume together.  Collect data about the results you’ve produced.
  5. Give some thought about how to differentiate yourself from your peers
  6. Talk to a professional coach (at no charge) about the marketplace, your background and experiences, and some steps you can take for the better
  7. Prepare a job search strategy, both internal and external, so you are prepared for any eventuality
  8. With some help, quietly “test” the marketplace.  Find out what’s your probability of success and the potential time-line to connect with a more fruitful position and career


And lastly, when you know you’re about to hit the wall, initiate your contingency strategy immediately.  You don’t want to be the last one out the door because you weren’t prepared.

Hitting the wall is painful and avoidable.  At the very least, set up your basic foundation of information, documentation and contingencies.  Get some help if you need it.  You’ll be very happy you did.


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You Have About 25,000 Days To Make A Difference!

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012 by
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From birth to age 70, you have about 25,000+ days to do whatever you plan to do.

If you’re age 18 and graduating from high school, you have 17,000 days until age 65.

If you’re a college graduate and 44 years old, you are mid-way through your career and have about 8,000 days left to make your mark.  What are you planning to do about it over the 8,000+ mornings you have left to start a new day?

Do these sound like strange numbers and questions?  Not if you want to make a difference!


When you think about it, being halfway through your career is a real milestone.  You’ve spent time going to school, achieved diplomas or degrees, started a career, and moved through initial jobs into some kind of mid-way point.  The next few decisions will be critical to where you go from there.  They will determine whether you achieve your goals or not.

If you’re older than age 21 but not yet to 44, you have time to reconsider where you are versus where you want to be.  The next step needs to be validated and designed carefully.

If you’re between 44 but not yet 55, you still have time to accelerate your career to the highest level attainable.  You should be near your ultimate career goal by the time you’re in your early 50’s.  You’re at your peak performance and near the top of your game.

If you’re over 55, you’re on cruise control as you help those under you gain the experiences they will need.  That is, unless fate has intervened and stops your progress.

No matter where you are, you’ll need a plan to determine where you want to be, and by when.  Assess what you need to do to arrive at your destination at the time you desire.  Put together the strategies to accomplish your goals.  Build a Career Map.

Most times, plans and strategies work out differently in reality than they look on paper.  So you need contingency plans or alternatives that will get you back on track or come closer to your goal.

Whatever your situation, consider talking with a professional coach.  They can help you plan your strategies at the beginning of your career, modify your strategies toward the middle, or help you optimize what you want to achieve toward the end of your career.

The future has always been in your hands.  Make each day count


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Posted on: May 14th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

Networking can work for or against you, depending upon how you manage the process.  Too little or a timid approach will yield little help.  Overuse or pushy networking will reduce the number of people willing to help.  Either way, you lose potential opportunities to connect.  Here are 8 guidelines to help you connect with the right people in the right way:

  1. Develop your list – The people who know you best will be your greatest supporters and understand your abilities.  Make a list of at least 100, going back in time, with everyone you know, have worked with, grew up with, went to school or socialized as neighbors.
  2. Prioritize by category and potential – Create categories within the list (family, friends, work associates, neighbors, school, and so on.  Select each individual within each category and prioritize them by potential (high, moderate and low) of those who can assist your efforts the most, either by contact within industries, by level or connections.
  3. Develop your approach – Identify the best approach for each individual:  Email, letter, telephone, or through someone else.  Your objective is to find the most effective way to connect with each individual based on your relationship.
  4. Seek informational meetings – The easiest way to connect is to say, “I’m in the process of testing the marketplace and I’d like to talk about your industry and which of the various companies are growing”.  Always do your research so you are knowledgeable about the industry and companies.
  5. Anticipate warm engagement or rejection – Some of your contacts will embrace you and your search while others will not respond energetically.  Expect both responses, but don’t let rejection affect your journey.  Sometimes the people who you don’t hear from immediately will pop up later with information about an open position.
  6. Prepare your “pitch” – Stay true to your request for information about their industry or company.  Don’t ask them directly for a job.  They will ask you why you are testing the marketplace.  Have your rationale ready, what you’re looking for and why.
  7. Ask for referrals – Toward the end of your discussion, ask who might be a good connection for you to approach.  Hopefully there will be 3 or 4 names mentioned.  See if it’s OK to use your contact’s name or if they would mind making a phone call to them, or send your resume on to them with a quick note.
  8. Keep them in the loop – When you make connections with referrals, keep your original contact in the loop with feedback as to your success or not.  In this way if there is a follow-up necessary, your contact might be receptive to become more involved.

If you’re not making at least 5 contacts a day your networking results will come up short.

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