Mistakes We Make in Job Interviews Infographic

by Pete Ferguson

I love Infographics! I subscribe to receive emails with several a day and I’m constantly surfing the Internet for new examples of how to breakdown complex information into a graphic representation.

This topic of job interviews is a great one. One of my largest pet peeves when I’m the interviewer is when I ask the applicant what they know of the company I work for – which is the World’s Largest Online Commerce with two of the most visited websites in the world – and they don’t know about and they’ve never used our services. You don’t get hired for your great personality alone … you need to do your research!

You should spend 10-20 hours researching the company, seeing who you may know who already works there through LinkedIn, etc. and use their products before showing up for the first time and trying to convince them you are a good fit.

For those who regularly screen and interview, consider a tip I read in HR Management magazine and have applicants post a 2-minute video online explaining why they are the best candidate and 2-3 questions specific to the position. What used to take hours to sift through resumes and hold initial interviews or phone screenings will be a very entertaining 20-30 minutes max.

My favorite was when we were hiring for a training expert with experience in video production and web design. Many applicants contacted our recruiter saying they hadn’t uploaded a video to the Internet before and did he know of a site where they could do that? This shortened the list very quickly as I consider publishing a video to YouTube easy enough for even me to accomplish with one thumb press on my iPhone.

Of the videos we did receive, one guy was using a headset and the webcam for his current employer’s computer, sitting in his current cubicle with coworkers walking behind him. That one was a great laugh and that was all it was.

Unfortunately, not a single applicant did anything creative, mostly just talking heads reading a monotone script or “winging it” with bad lighting and sound. I was amazed no one was willing to go out on a limb a bit and put together something entertaining to show their creative side.

It is pretty much a given that your LinkedIn, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and other accounts will be reviewed. So don’t post anything your father or mother would be shocked to see or read. [My dad reviews my posts regularly and provides wise feedback and input.]

Last week I was conducting a phone screening interview with a candidate and so I pulled up her profile while I was talking on the phone to compare against her resume and I saw that she had stated that she was voted #1 Mom by her three daughters. I have three daughters, and that made an immediate connection that softened me up through the applicant’s nervousness. So I asked her about it, she laughed and asked if that was appropriate to put on her page. I thought it was! She then slowed down and became a lot more humanistic instead of robotic.

Painting your humanistic side is good. However, I don’t recommend using your favorite bar or beach photo for your LinkedIn profile (seen it many times), and the old saying of “what happens in ______ (Vegas or company party, or wherever) stays in _______” didn’t account for smartphones, Google searches, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

And now to the promised infographic:


Your Resume Is Your “Match.com” Ad

Finding a job is like dating. You have your one liners. You hang out where others who are looking for jobs hang out.

Your initial goal is to score a first date (interview). Eventually, when the time is right, you both want a long-term legally-binding commitment.

by Pete Ferguson

I’m always intrigued by the job hunting process.

Currently I’m in a search process to fill a vacancy left when one of my employees was recruited by another internal department. And I can’t help but think of the similarities between dating and landing a job.

Like dating, I’ve reviewed everyone I know, I’ve asked others who they know. I’ve reached out to my networks, and to cover all bases, I’ve had an ad placed in the help wanted (employment dating) sections of online services.

Then comes the decision making process of who the recruiter and I want to meet. A fat stack of resumes flood in. Half of them do little to nothing to demonstrate the potential candidate is capable of reading a job description because correlations are not evident. It’s like when your parents set you up with someone who was short, blonde, and hates sports when you like tall, brunette sports fanatics.

I’ve conducted probably hundreds of interviews around the world. And in a vast majority of them, I know within the first 90 seconds if the person is a fit. And many times out of pity I’ve pushed through the questions and stretched out the interview to a respectable time.

I blame it on the quality of the resumes. If I received five resumes that matched the job description verbatim, I’d interview all five and probably have a heck of a decision to make. But it is VERY rare that I can think of a situation where a resume received matched what we posted as the job description.

With the ease of submitting online, the majority of the strategy is to go for a “Hail Mary” shotgun approach and applicants apply for as many jobs as possible in hopes that luck will win out.

Tips that will get you a “first date” interview:

  • NEVER send out a standard resume. Each time you find a job description you are interested in, you need to customize your resume and include specific examples of why you are the best candidate for the position.
  • You wouldn’t send your eulogy to a potential first date. Don’t send a 5-page resume either. Make a one page summary of your skills and how they relate to the job description. Think movie poster. In a few seconds, you have to grab the reader and intrigue them enough to want to know more. This is called a FUNCTIONAL RESUME. When you interview, you can bring the five pager to leave after a successful interview.
  • ALWAYS customize your resume to match a job description. List your skills in the order the JD lists the job requirements. Make it easy on the recruiter! (Yes, this means you will not be applying for many positions, but it does mean you will be focused on the ones you do).
  • Only use want ads/online postings as 10% of your strategy. After you identify several companies you want to work for, tap your networks, search LinkedIn, find a connection and then set up a lunch or coffee date. Waiting to post your resume online is like showing up at the bridal shower and hoping to win over the bride. You need to be in charge of the search instead of waiting for them to call you back.
  • Tease, then deliver. After a phone screening, email a bit more on how you can deliver specific to the questions received. After a first interview, send a writing sample, or an article you found interesting on a topic related to the job opening. Keep the information flowing, then you are not calling repeatedly to ask if they’ve made a decision, you are calling to follow up on if they received your info.

Learn: Get a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top of each write “problem” then “action,” and “result.” Fill in the paper with how you have addressed a problem, taken action, and a measurable result (increased productivity by __% – saved the company $XX). If you can get 25-30 of these, you will have a great library to customize a resume within minutes.

Act: If you are looking to “date” future employers, now is the time to be proactive and research which companies you would like to work for. Don’t go for sloppy seconds that end up in the Want Ads, find the beauty queen/football jock and create a strategy to introduce yourself.

Share: If you are gainfully employed, don’t be stingy. Allow others who are looking for positions in your company access to you. Be sure you are active in at least one industry network and local less formal networks.


Forbes.com – Job Hunting in a Social Media World

How to Craft The Perfect Modern Resume