Interview Advice Archives - The Recruiting Blog

Interview Advice

Phone Interviews Automate Technical Recruiting!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

phone interviewsToday’s executive recruiting tip is phone screen first. You can quickly gain a lot of valuable candidate information from a properly structured phone interview. This can save your interviewing process a lot of time and money!

With proper structured phone interviews your team of both: a) internal management recruiters and b) outside executive recruitment firms will save your company many thousands of dollars in interviewing and recruitment fees. This is the case because, in many cases, you will avoid flying in the wrong person for a face-to-face interview! Especially with engineers, scientists, technical, manufacturing, IT and R&D candidates, a lot of their relevant information that is critical to your job opening’s success is quantitative. As a result, you can easily train your team, including R&D recruiters, IT recruiters, engineering recruiters, technical recruiters, manufacturing recruiters and scientific recruiters, to carefully structure questions that will elicit the optimum amount of information over the phone.

Please go to to view and learn many valuable tips we have provided for designing questions that will produce the optimal amount of information in the shortest possible time. This includes open-ended questions, which a lot of psychological, human resource and recruiting research shows will yield the most advantageous employment information from your job candidates.

After concluding properly structured phone interviews, you can then make an executive recruiting decision to either: a) continue to fly this candidate out for a face-to-face interview at your company’s facility b) reject this candidate or c) put them on “the back burner”. In any case, if properly developed, this phone screening process will not interfere with or add a lot of cost to your executive recruitment efforts. Instead, it will strongly augment your recruiting process including providing a lot more information to help you make a more informed hiring decision! Furthermore, this added step would save many precious hours of your top executives’ time by not interviewing erroneous job candidates. So remember to phone screen first!

What is your opinion of phone interviewing first?

Improve Interviewing With Open-Ended Questions

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

interviewingMany companies have problems recruiting R&D, engineering, scientific, IT and technical talent. As I have shared previously, there is a lot of psychological, human resource and recruiting research available demonstrating that the use of open-ended questions tends to elicit more information during interviewing. Especially when applied towards gaining more useful employment information from job candidates. One important application of open-ended questions is the magical interview question, “Why did you leave?” You want to ask and restate this question throughout the interviewing process. This will help you to gain more insight into a job candidate’s mindset.

For example, if you are interviewing someone who repeatedly left their last two jobs due to a lack of overtime and your job requires a lot of overtime, then this candidate is probably not a good fit for your staffing requirements. Therefore, it is important to uncover this during the interview and not after you hired them!

interviewingIn fact, I train all of my R&D recruiters, engineering recruiters, scientific recruiters, IT recruiters and technical recruiters on the repeated use of open-ended questions including, “Why did you leave?” One technique we use to ensure that our executive recruiting staff amply applies open-ended questions like this is to engage in videotaped mock interview sessions. Research shows that if interviewers see themselves on videotape, especially watching proper and improper applications of interview questions, they are more likely to quickly overcome their mistakes and adopt the appropriate way of interviewing. The only equipment you need for mock interviews is an inexpensive video camera and a tripod. With the cost of such video equipment being so low, there is no reason not to do so. It will ensure that your technical recruitment staff will elicit more information from job candidates using open-ended questions like this.

Therefore, remember to ask open-ended questions like, “Why did you leave?” throughout your interview process. For more information and a short video on this subject, please go to and click on #5 below.

Interview Question To Improve R&D Recruiting

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

During our 25 years of existence, our technical recruitment firm has uncovered many secrets to uncovering more useful information from candidates. The normal tendency of candidates is to only provide a modicum of general information. However, to gain more and better information it is important that you both: a) ask the right types interview questions and b) word those interview questions correctly. To that end, one useful technical recruiting question is: What do you do?” Please go to and click on #3 (below) for our video on this key R&D recruiting aid.

Psychological, employment and executive recruiting research all show that open-ended questions tend to elicit a lot more useful information. One of the best open-ended interview questions is, “what do you do?” Please use this question in conjunction with other valuable interview questions such as the 1 to 10 rating scale that I shared at

In fact, Strategic Search Corporation has trained all of our R&D recruiters, engineering recruiters, scientific recruiters, IT recruiters and technical recruiters on the proper use of open-ended questions such as “what do you do?” This includes asking, restating and reusing this question throughout the interview. This prevents candidates from only sharing rehearsed answers.

The benefit of this open-ended interview question is it will help you gain more useful employment information from your job candidates during the interview process. So remember to train your internal management recruiters and external executive recruiting staff on periodically asking and restating, “what do you do?” during interviews to each and every job candidate in your executive recruitment process.

What is your opinion?


Friday, July 5th, 2013

According to today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, 195,000 jobs were created in June, which is a sign of solid improvements in the labor market. Added to last month’s BLS figures, 370,000 new jobs have been created during the last two months! Furthermore, anecdotally, I have noticed that many of our clients have significantly ramped up hiring in the last few months (especially technical positions such as engineers and IT professionals). Unfortunately, few candidates are prepared for this hiring surge.

As a result, we recommend that many candidates, who have given up looking, may want to now sharpen up their job-hunting and interviewing skills. Research shows that one can exponentially improve their interview performance by first practicing on videotape. Like any other skill this can be improved with repeated practice. Furthermore, there are some distinct interview preparation behaviors that can be isolated for job hunting improvement. To assist job seekers, we have developed a comprehensive system of interview preparation strategies; please go to to view.There are many valuable tips in this interview preparation strategy, but a few that standout are: 1) numbers, numbers, numbers, which means to include a lot of quantitative information (e.g. dollar savings or patents) in your presentation 2) sell, sell, sell, which means that every chance you have you need to sell yourself as a solution to the employer’s needs and 3) arrive at least 15 minutes early for the interview.

Many books, tools and tapes exist for interview preparation. Unfortunately, most focus on a set number of interview questions. Instead, the most important theme of the Real Benefit Exercise is to practice on videotape. This is the case because research shows that you are the best judge of your performance. Therefore, by seeing yourself on videotape, you can see what you did right and what you did wrong. This will allow you to quickly correct your mistakes.

I’ll live on WGN Radio Saturday, December 29th between 12:30 and 1 p.m. CST discussing a new outplacement model to help the multitudes of displaced workers.

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

If you get a chance, I’ll be live on WGN Radio on Saturday, December 29th from 12:30 to 1 p.m. CST (720 on the AM dial) discussing a new, lower-cost alternative (10% of the cost) to outplacement for displaced workers, called World2Work™

You can also listen in to this broadcast live on the Internet at and then click on “Click here to listen live” towards the top of the page.

Lastly, please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Here is a tip that can help you with your job search CandidateTips 6-9-09-Interviewing Tip #1 A-MPEG-4 Improved NTSC for CD

Three Pronged Approach To Landing a Job

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Recently, I have been bombarded by requests by friends, family and clients to help them find a job. Unfortunately, there is no secret to landing a job especially with this terrible economy with the real unemployment (including those who are involuntarily working part time because they cannot find a full time job and those that have given up looking) at about 16% or 1 in 6 workers! However, I do recommend being very diligent and using a three-pronged approach including:

  1. Developing a quantitatively laced resume.
  2. Selectively using recruiters
  3. Networking, which is the most important of the three!

Let’s take these from least important to most important. First, having a resume is a necessary evil. Most companies (especially human resources) require it. Therefore, you should mold your resume into a quantitative one. Please go to and review my 1st Commandment of Interviewing. The key is the mantra: numbers, numbers, numbers. As a rule of thumb, when you put some wording in your resume, ask yourself the questions: a) “so what?” or b) “what does this mean to an employer?” or c) “what is the benefit of this to an employer?” Then add one of the following (or some variation) sales bridges to what you say:

  1. The benefit of (whatever you wish to say) was (e.g. a 40% increase in sales or $560,000 profit etc.).
  2. That was important because (tell the benefit in quantitative terms).
  3. The result of (whatever you mentioned) was (mold the result into dollars or profit or percentage change).

You should not lie on any of these “numbers”, but you can error on the high side. Remember that your resume is an advertisement about you! It is not an encyclopedia of your entire life. It is only meant to quickly share your highlights. For example, if you think you saved your employer somewhere between $10,000 and $45,000 with a new computer control system you selected, then say, “the result of the new computer control system was about $45,000.” Once again, the key is to seed your resume with: numbers, numbers, numbers! Also, try and keep it concise (e.g. no more than two pages). However, do not spend too much time, effort or money on developing a resume, because as my 2nd Commandment of Interviewing says, “Resumes don’t get you hired, you do!”

Second is the selection and use of recruiters. I recommend using recruiters who place both full time and temporary positions. To access full time recruiters, I recommend getting a copy of The Directory of Executive and Professional Recruiters. Please go to to learn more. It is available at most libraries. It divides recruiters into two main categories: a) retained and b) contingency. Retained recruiters, like myself, work mainly for the company to find talent. Contingency recruiters only receive their fee when they place someone. It also further divides each group into their specialty areas.

I also recommend using temporary (also called contract or staffing) agencies. This is an often-overlooked tool. Please review my 9th Commandment of Interviewing for more details. The key is one of the trends today is towards temp-to-perm conversions. This means companies hiring you on a temporary basis, trying you out and then hiring you full time after you have proven yourself. Unfortunately, many people think temporary positions are beneath them. However, if you overlook this avenue you may loose out on a tremendous job! Please go to to view and select several temporary agencies.

I recommend selecting 1-2 retained recruiters, 4-6 contingency recruiters and 4-6 temporary or staffing agencies within your areas of expertise. The reasons are: a) contingency recruiters and temporary or staffing agencies will probably work harder for you since they will only get paid if they place you b) temporary or staffing agencies may know of a few good assignments that will lead to full time work c) temporary agencies can probably find you more immediate income (and you can continue your job search with a pay check coming in) and d) it helps to also add a few retained recruiters because they have access to higher level jobs. There is no magic formula to selecting recruiters. Instead, you should follow several steps:

  1. Review The Directory of Executive and Professional Recruiters find: a) 5-6 retained recruiters and b) 10-15 contingency recruiters in your specialty areas.
  2. Review the database of temporary or staffing agencies and find 5-10 that seem to meet your needs.
  3. Develop a list of questions to ask these recruiters (e.g. how many searches have you done in the last two years in my area of expertise).
  4. Call these recruiters and narrow it down to: a) 1-2 retained recruiters b) 4-6 contingency recruiters and c) 2-4 temporary or staffing agencies that you feel comfortable with. Some may ask you for an exclusive. I would tell them they have an exclusive, but do not sign anything. You do not want to narrow your possibilities!
  5. DO NOT RELY UPON ANY OF THEM! They will all help to some extent, but your main way to help yourself is networking (below).

The third and most important part of my recommendations is networking. There are two types of networking: a) the old fashioned form of meeting people and b) e-networking. Please refer to my 2nd and 3rd Commandments of Interviewing for more information. However, one of the cornerstones of any networking approach is developing a 20-30 second elevator pitch. During this pitch you want to quickly convey three things:

  1. Who you are?
  2. What you are looking for (be specific)?
  3. Your 2-3 greatest strengths.

To develop this pitch, I recommend following these three steps:

  1. Write down on paper your most pertinent information.
  2. Work and rework this information until you have a very concise document that fits into 2-3 paragraphs.
  3. Practice pitching this document aloud to yourself into either: a) a tape recorder or b) the mirror at least 50 times until you feel it is very concise, “rolls off your tongue” and conveys everything you wish to convey. Also time yourself and do not take any longer than 30 seconds to complete your pitch!

Once you have a pitch that you feel comfortable with, you want to practice it on everyone you meet and know. Also, use the written version of this on social media sites like LinkedIn. Join appropriate business groups and meet people. When you meet someone new, don’t forget to share your 30-second elevator pitch because you don’t know who might know about your next job.


Remember, there is no secret to landing a job especially in this terrible work environment. You have to be very diligent. However, remember that networking is the key and as part of that, you need to develop a very strong, 30-second elevator pitch. I hope this helps.




Fed Chairman Says Economy And Jobs Picture Bleak!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Fed Chairman Bernanke delivered a bleak assessment of the U.S. economy to lawmakers on Tuesday, citing a slowdown in economic activity this year and a stubbornly high rate of unemployment. Bernanke provided no new direct clues as to whether the central bank would take fresh steps to support the fragile economic recovery. “The U.S. economy has continued to recover, but economic activity appears to have decelerated somewhat during the first half of this year,” Mr. Bernanke said in testimony prepared for his semiannual appearance before the committee.

As a result, job seekers need to be a lot more diligent in their pursuits. To assist you, please go to to view my 12 commandments of Interviewing.

How To Avoid Hiring The Wrong Person

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

What Is The Cost Of Hiring The Wrong Person? You don’t want to find out. Instead, I recommend taking an investigative approach to interviewing.

For some ideas, please go to my 9th Commandment Of Recruiting video. at and click on 9th (below) to view the video. The caveat is some technical positions are becoming scarcer due to increased demand. As a result, I recommend becoming even more thorough in your interviewing process to separate the wheat from the chaff. Include four investigative checks: a) criminal records b) civil records (e.g. bankruptcies) c) educational verification and d) detailed reference checks. This is the case because past behavior is the greatest predictor of future performance. As a result, you need to dig deep to uncover hidden problems and find the best possible candidates for your needs.

Special Event: Saturday, August 20th

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

I would like to invite you to an extraordinary event that can benefit you and your colleagues in several ways. On Saturday, August 20th starting at 10 a.m. I have arranged a special symposium showcasing two experts well versed in applying SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to job hunting and recruiting.

You may recall that I am an executive recruiter on the cutting-edge of applying state-of-the-art techniques like SEO to recruiting, including running the largest SEO group in the Chicago area with over 530 members. Please go to to learn more about our group and to view some photos from one of our recent events.

The first segment, will target job seekers and be entitled, “I Want To Be Found: Using SEO to Enhance Your Job Search.

Employers and recruiters are increasingly relying on online search as a way to uncover and attract qualified candidates. But how can job seekers ensure that they will be found? What SEO techniques can enhance one’s prospects? Expert Gordon Dymowski will discuss these topics and more including optimizing online channels to create a “communications hub” to make oneself a lot more “visible” during online searches, resulting in a higher frequency of contacts and more job interviews!

Mr. Dymowski has over ten years experience in non-profit/cause-related advocacy and marketing, building communities one cause at a time through a strategic, creative approach to social media (and other online channels) and interpersonal engagement, allowing non-profits and small businesses to outperform their competitors through engaging their constituency. His past employers include, Harvard School of Public Health, Salvation Army, the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and Zocalo Group. Gordon continues to indulge his passion for community building, co-organizing the Chicago Net Tuesday group (which enables social benefit organizations to leverage the tools of the social web) and coordinating marketing efforts for the Chicago Red Cross’ Mission. He also blogs on a variety of subjects ranging from comics and popular culture to non-profits, and is a frequent contributor to the Chicago Now Job Stalker blog. Gordon has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the Loyola Graduate School of Education. Please go to to learn more about Mr. Dymowski.

The second segment will be devoted to applying SEO to recruiting and is entitled, “Candidate Sourcing Makeover – SEO Style.
Job seekers are changing the way they look for job opportunities, which means that employers need to change the way they locate good people. It’s not surprising that candidates use search engines to find jobs. Unfortunately, less than 2% of the time they’ll locate a targeted company’s career website and job postings. Attendees will learn: 1) why candidates are not currently finding their company’s career websites and job postings and 2) how to leverage SEO to make their organizations more “visible”, which will attract many more qualified candidates.

Leading this discussion, Nicole Bodem, Director of Search Marketing at Bernard Hodes, will be flying in from her offices in Minneapolis to speak to our group. Her areas of focus are SEO strategy, implementation and candidate traffic growth. Prior to joining Bernard Hodes, she held positions at Arbita, a recruitment-advertising agency as well as Jobs2web, where she was responsible for defining the SEO methodology used on their recruiting platform. She has lectured at many search industry events including Search Engine Strategies (SES). She also regularly leads webinars and writes about SEO as it relates to the recruiting space on her blog. Please go to to learn more about Nicole.

The seminar will be hosted by TechNexus in their 15th floor conference room at 200 S. Wacker, Chicago, Illinois 60606, on Saturday, August 20th from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Please go to to learn more about this unique venue.

Though this event is closed to my SEO group, seating is limited and RSVP is required, I would be happy to squeeze you into this unique event if you contact me directly.

Despite A Spike To 9%, Recruiting Picking Up Steam!

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Today’s unemployment rate of 9% came despite gains of 244,000 non-farm jobs in April. After falling 1% over the past 4 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a .2% jump to 9%. However, many sectors showed job gains including manufacturing (+29,000 jobs), health care (+37,000 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+46,000), retail (+57,000) and mining (+11,000). The culprit may be the throngs of unemployed workers who, had previously given up looking and were thus not counted by the BLS figures, have started to search for work again. As a result, companies, which have not considered hiring in almost two years, have started to aggressively recruit again!

Despite the jump to 9% I have noticed many of our clients starting to hire again. Unfortunately, many recently hired or promoted managers lack the recruiting acumen necessary to successfully complete an effective staffing assignment. As a result, many hiring mistakes will be made in the upcoming months. That is one reason for an enormous, recent spike in our consulting assignments to advise companies on their recruiting practices. One useful tool is our 12 Commandments of Recruiting. Please go to to view. These can be very helpful for novices to increase their recruiting efficiencies.