Career Coach Office Hours: May 3 2022 |

Career Coach Office Hours: May 3 2022 |

I answered questions about #jobsearch #hiringstaff #management #leadership #workplace issues. Join me at 1 PM Eastern on Tuesdays and Fridays and put your question into chat. You can also message me on Linkedin before the show and I will answer it, too. #careercoachofficehours #careercoaching #careercoach #jobsearchtips #jobsearchadvice #interviews #hiring #managingpeople #leadershipskills #linkedinlive #linkedinlivestreams

[05:06] What are the best interview questions that are tricky and require presence of mind to answer them?

So I presume this is one for an HR professional or a hiring manager who wants to show that they really are on the ball? But you’re not. The reality is the questions that are tricky, and it will require presence of mind are ones that are going to require someone to demonstrate their knowledge that fits the requirements that you have. Everything else, excuse my language, is bullshit. So don’t waste your time trying to come up with the “can you top this” question? It’s stupid. Instead, focus on figuring out what will allow you to determine that this person is qualified to do your job, period. That’s all you need to do. Everything else is you trying to be the show off. And you don’t need to do that; you need to fill a job with someone qualified.

[06:15] Why do you think that a cover letter is an important part of the recruiting process?

So it doesn’t have to be that way, but it is. And the reason it is, is because it’s an opportunity to present your credentials in a way that’s packaged succinctly and demonstrate your fit for a particular role. Thus, like I’m talking about with the ATS, anything that you do, that’s going to demonstrate your fit succinctly serves you and serves the audience. Thus, I encourage you to write great cover letters tailored to confirm the data that matters to the reader. For example, if they’re looking for someone with eight years of project management, and a list of other skills, and they demonstrate functionality, you want to have a cover letter that demonstrates all those attributes for you. Because as you listen to the interview that I did, you know, resumes and cover letters really should confirm what it is that you have in the way of experience that relates to what a firm looks for with recency. So it’s recent experience. And it’s easy for the systems to read. And that’s what a cover letter should really do. It should show that kind of fit.

[08:00] How long should job applications be kept?

Well, I’m going to start by saying, job applications can be kept forever, because they’re automated. So automate it; have them as part of your system, so that they’re searchable in the future. And, in this way, useful information can be kept. Are you talking about paper? No one keeps paper. You have resumes that go into your system. Applications that may be used . . . may be filled out online, when someone applies. Keep those in your system and use them for search for future positions. Don’t delete them. That’s that’s goofy. You’ve got data that’s useful to you for filling subsequent positions. Use it that way so that in this way, it’s a resource for you it’s not an annoyance.

[08:59] What does it mean to “turn the tables” in an interview?

So, when you think of an interview, an employer has power, and they’re putting a certain amount of pressure on job applicants to perform. And in doing so, there’s a power differential that gets displayed in the course of the interview by them, so that, in this way, they’ve got control. So, turning the tables is exactly that. You now have power or you’ve leveled the power between you and the interviewer. In the way I teach people how to interview in The Ultimate Job Interview Framework course I have through my website, right off the bat, we take the power differential where they’re up high, and you’re down below, and we level it so that in this way, it’s two peers talking to one another rather than superior-subordinate. Because when they’re up high, it’s because they have all the information, and you have what you’ve read or you think that they’re looking for, and that puts you in a disadvantage. So I personally believe you do it right away. But turning the tables? Well, some people would believe that it’s you exerting pressure, you exerting authority and command. Nonsense. Why are you doing that? If you’re a junior person, it doesn’t work. They don’t buy into it, that you’ve got power and authority. What they buy into is they’re trying to fill a position. They’re trying to see if you’re a decent human being, and you know what you claim to know. Turning the tables on them, which I believe comes out of card games in the Wild West. But I digress. Turning the tables on them is nonsense. It really is. Don’t waste your time with such crap. Focus in on showing them that you can help them. They have a problem, you can solve it. You want to be able to demonstrate that to them.


[14:03] How do prospective employers have any clue what a person’s “ability” or “talent” is, when even current employers only care about the employee’s recent performance?

Well, I’m not sure that they really care about your talent. I think what they care about is your ability to help them with a problem they have. Talent? I don’t know how you define talent, so I can’t really speak to that. Talent I kind of think of is like when I was in school, and teachers would tell my mother, “he shows a lot of potential.” Okay, you’ve got talent, how you apply that talent. In theory, that’s what the interview was designed to glean. What do you know what your abilities are? What have you done that would possibly help us with our problems? And your talents really will be demonstrated over the course of time once you’re on board. Your skills will be demonstrated that way as well. So I’m not sure there’s a very simple answer to your question. But number one over the course of interviews, number two, over the course of your performance.

[15:33] Would you accept a job with your dream company or organization, even if it is entry-level or junior, when you probably can get a higher paid or more senior job elsewhere?

So I interpret this as being a question from a less experienced professional. Senior people would never ask this sort of thing because they know they’re not qualified to do the entry level job anymore. They can direct those people, but they can’t do it. So let’s say you’re a five year person, and you have the opportunity to get an entry level person position at your dream company. I wouldn’t do it and it’s not purely about the money. It’s about the nature of the work. You’ve out outperform the entry level job. Your mind is going to turn to mush over not too long a period of time. You will get bored and disinterested, and thus, not be able to perform at quite the level you should. And that’s going to have an adverse impact upon how you’re seen in that organization. Because you took something a couple levels down from yourself that you shouldn’t have. So, no, I would never encourage someone to take a major step backward or even a minor step backward because you’re going to get bored. That’s the fact of it.

[17:11] Can a bad accent stop me from getting a job?

I know what people want me to say–“Oh, no, not at all. Your ability has to come through so that in this way, organizations will see your talent and want to . . .” bull. The more senior you are, the more oral communications are important. That’s the fact of it. The more senior you are, the more your ability to communicate with others is going to become important. And if you don’t speak well enough to be understood, and this has nothing to do with your comprehension; it’s about other people’s ability to understand you that I’m bringing up. So if you can’t be understood, you’re not going to get promoted. You’re not going to advance in organizations. The senior leadership has an expectation that they can speak to someone and understand the answer they’re getting back. That’s a pretty reasonable request. So, yes, it will hold you back. How do you remedy that? Well, I always encourage people go to Toastmasters. Practice speaking. You can find Toastmasters all over the world., I believe is the website. In the US, I know you can enter a zip code and find chapters that meet and when they meet near you. There are meetings all over the world. There are a lot of great opportunities to speak their extemporaneously as well as doing short prepared speeches. Anytime you have an opportunity to speak to a group in a supportive environment, where you can learn how to speak better, it serves you. They have people who will evaluate what you say, will support you with getting better. It will really help you a lot. So when I see a question like this, I want you to go to Toastmasters. Start practicing there, it will really help you. 

[19:35] Does HR hire employees based on their appearance?

HR doesn’t hire employees. Let’s go to that first of all. They don’t hire employees. What they do is they evaluate and assess people as to whether they have basic skills that a hiring manager is looking for. So they may say, “Have you done this? Have you worked with that,” superficially verifying your ability to fill the job that they’re trying to fill. So, first of all, they don’t hire people. When firms hire, do they do it based upon experience? Well, yes, and no. Let me explain. They don’t normally hire someone because they fit a role. They fit the skills that are needed to perform that role well, because if you fail, the person you’re working for is going to fail too. And they’re going to miss out on a promotion, or career advancement. So they want you to succeed, which requires that you have certain knowledge. Now, can appearance be a tiebreaker? You bet it is. A good looking man, a good looking woman, often, this is the tiebreaker for people when they’re making choices. But, number one, HR does not hire employees. Number two, usually, and there are always exceptions to everything, usually, a manager is able to keep their hormones in check. And I want to be clear that’s manager male or female hormones in check, so that they’re making a decision based upon whether or not a person can do the job. And then, if they have three people, two people, five people, that they find are acceptable, appearance may be a tiebreaker.  

[21:57] Why is it important for someone to continuously revise their resume and cover letter?

So continuously– it’s an interesting choice of words. With continuously, you don’t do it every day, you don’t do it every week or every month. But over the course of your time with a firm, you may make significant progress or have significant successes that you want to highlight in a resume. And thus, when you know the, there’s a knock at the door with an opportunity–ready for this one, (Knock, Knock, Knock) knock at the door with an opportunity, you want to be ready to respond to it, deliver a resume to the corporate, third party recruiter to the hiring manager, because hiring managers at some organizations do their own outreach. So you want to be able to respond quickly, like while they’re on the phone so they have the resume, to talk with you on the phone or on Zoom. So that this way, they have a copy of the resume, they’re not waiting for it. So, that’s why you do it. The person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest, or work the hardest. Great qualities to have but not the way they get ahead. They get ahead by being alert to opportunity. Sometimes they’re internal to the organization. And keeping your resume and cover letter up to date, and LinkedIn profile, by the way, up to date, serves you professionally. After all, if there’s a position in another group that you find out about, you want to interview for it, you want to submit your resume internally, right? Same thing externally. So keep them up to date every other month, sit down and ask yourself, What successes have I had that I would include in my resume. If you’ve had successes that you wouldn’t include, keep them in a separate doc. Why? Simple. You know, with tailored resumes, those successes may merit inclusion in your resume for a certain type of position and you might not include it there now in your base resume, but you’d want to include it for a particular job that you’re submitting it for. So keep a running list in a Google Doc or some other place that has your successes in it so that in this way, it’s easy for you to tailor your resume. For those of you who know coding, it’s kind of like object oriented programming, where you’re including a specific object in the resume to add it in on a later occasion.

[25:29] You have an appointment for a job interview. You have set 1.5 hours aside before you have to be home with a 15 minute drive back? The interviewer is 45 minutes late. When is the best time to bring up when you have to leave the interview?

I would do it right away. And you have the opportunity of doing it when you need to leave and schedule. When they come in 45 minutes late after you would do your opening question to me, I talked about leveling the power differential between you and them, I would say, “and by the way, I had an hour and a half blocked out. I know you got occupied with something else. I’m not being critical in any way but I need to leave at such and such time, I have to be back for another appointment. If you need to, we can schedule a time for me to return. But I need to leave at that specific time. So, again, I would do it at the beginning of the interview. So they have a sense of what the timeline is for questions. and in this way. It’s not a problem for them. And it’s not a problem for you.

Does it make more sense for startup founders to use the services of freelancers in the beginning phases of a startup rather than hiring employees right away?

Yes. Yes. It’s more cost effective. To answer this with a US centric answer, it’s much more cost effective to do that. Why do I say that? Easy. You’re only paying like . . . it’s like piece goods back in the day where people were paid per piece they sewed, they’re paid for specific work, a specific task that’s being done. They’re not being paid a salary. They finish the task, they are paid, you and they move on. Period. So as you start up, it’s very cost effective to do that. So by all means, by a for hire freelancers, where, if you’re looking for freelancers, go to or and you can find freelancers there for any number of tasks.

[28:38] How do you get a reference when you’re new to the job market?

So we’re not talking about someone who is looking for their first job. Let’s assume we’re talking about someone with a year or two of experience so it’s your only job. What do you do? Answer. Former colleagues, people who’ve left the firm who know your work can become your references, so that in this way, they are able to attest to your capabilities and provide a reference for you. It can be a former manager, that’s always preferable. It can be a former peer. That second best. If people ask you if you have a manager we could speak to. ‘No manager of mine has left yet. So I don’t want to give you my current boss because frankly, I’m not looking to get let go. They’re not aware that I’m looking. I haven’t been fired. I was approached about this job and I’m interested, but I’m not prepared to put my job on the line here without having an offer that I find acceptable. So respectfully this is my best reference. By the way, you can also use former users if you’re in a situation where users can evaluate your work. But former people who can attest to your abilities and capabilities become your best choice.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2300 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

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I do a livestream on LinkedIn, YouTube (on the account) and on Facebook (on the Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter page) Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me via messaging on LinkedIn or in chat during the approximately 30 minute show.

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