Monday, April 16, 2007

Hausfrau's Interview Tips

Recently, I wrote a post highlighting some do's and don'ts with regard to resume writing. I would be quite irresponsible if I didn't also give some advice concerning telephone interviews. On the surface, a telephone interview is easier than a formal face-to-face meeting with a hiring manager. You need not shower for a telephone interview, and you may do the interview from the comfort of your favorite chair. That's where the simplicity ends.

Telephone screens are difficult for the candidate for one huge reason--the candidate can't see the face of the interviewer. Most people who do face-to-face interviews with me have a vague idea of how the interview is going because of the expressions on my face. Let's put it this way: when I was a kid, my mother once slapped me in the face when I was walking past her down the hall. When I started crying and told her I hadn't said anything, she told me, "You didn't need to. It was the look on your face that I was slapping off." This explains why I suck at poker.

When a face-to-face interview is going well, I am like the candidate's long-lost cousin. When it isn't going well, I first start to squint my eyes with my mouth slightly open (hopefully not drooling) and then I start to really take my time writing notes and thinking of questions to ask. This is because I have made my decision within the first 30 seconds of meeting the candidate and I am trying to fill some time instead of having them leave after 4 minutes.

Because a telephone interview can be tricky, I do try to make the person comfortable by engaging them in more chit-chat than I normally would in a face-to-face. This is important because there is a greater risk of something unexpected happening like a crying baby, a ringing doorbell or a barking dog. I don't want candidates freaking out over things they can't control. That said, there are a few things that I want to make sure candidates are/aren't doing during the telephone interview.

1. Please don't open up a can of soda and take a huge gulp before answering a question. It's gross and all I can do is imagine how soon the belch will arrive. Then I will get the idea in my head that it isn't a soda, but that it is actually a beer. Then I will be bitter that you are drinking a beer and I'm not. By that time, I will have forgotten what the question was because I will be too busy trying to figure out what kind of beer you drink.

2. Did you know that chewing gum sounds MUCH LOUDER over the phone? Especially when it makes those neat little snapping noises.

3. Turn down the television. Hearing the Magnum PI theme music will only irritate me that I am having to work while you get to be home watching WGN.

4. Stop typing on your keyboard! How in the hell can you concentrate on the questions I'm asking you? Am I that boring? Are you trying to find the answer to, "So tell me about the profitability of your branch in 2006" on Google?

5. Can you please address your nicotine habit AFTER our discussion? Don't you realize I can hear the lighter ignite, and the exhaling?

6. Don't go near a flushing toilet in your house when we are talking on the phone. I will think it is you and will end the call immediately. Only my friends may pee when we talk on the phone.

7. Be on your toes and don't let your guard down for one minute. By being too comfortable in your own home to do a telephone inteview, you run the risk of saying something stupid. And I will be there to hear it. If it's really good, I will write it in quotes and email it to my colleagues. Some recent gems include:

"Well, my boss was a Jew. But he was cool. You know, *laugh* for a Jew." (When asked about his sales goals for his office)

"Damn, I can't remember." (when asked about her financials)

"If you guys end up hiring me, I've got a referral for you. She's really young and pretty. Who couldn't use a pretty blond?"

"Well, I didn't put down that I worked at XYZ Company on my resume because it is a real shit hole."

Call me a Pollyanna, but I would like to think that none of those things would have been said in a face-to-face interview.

I hope this advice will help you to succeed on your next telephone interview!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hausfrau Update

First off--HAPPY EASTER!!!

It's been awhile since I have blogged. Work and life have severely restricted my time and ability to write and read some of my favorite blogs. It hasn't all been bad though. I think everyone needs an occasional break. Since we are having a very laid-back Easter with just the four of us, I have time to write!

The last few weeks have been full of working on the house and doing yard work. One of the projects was to "create a laundry room." I was quite spoiled in Cincinnati with the craziest laundry room in the world. It was about 20 feet in length and 7 or 8 feet wide with a bathroom. The house we bought here literally had a closet for a laundry room. There was no place to fold clothes and our washer and dryer were too large to be in the closet with the doors closed so we removed the doors. Here is what it looked like when we moved in:

To the left of where our dog is standing in the picture is a door that leads to a formal living room. The formal living room has been used ONCE since we have lived here and it already has another entrance, so I suggested that we wall up the back entrance and that would create room for counters and overhead cabinets. After some healthy debate (I won), this is the end results of our work:

The counter is where the doorway used to be. I am thrilled that I now have a place to fold clothes as opposed to previously weighing the options of finding a surface in the house with the least amount of dog hair. It's the little things, people!

Now we are anxiously awaiting to work outside. We have so much to do, but we tend to be impatient. It's going to be a long summer.

It hasn't been all work though. Last Sunday was my birthday and I was lucky enough to have one of my oldest friends fly in from Kentucky to spend it with me. We spent Friday getting pedicures and exploring Bethlehem. We went to Philadelphia on Saturday and met up with my friend Lisa for a day of shopping and exploring. We went to my usual favorites like Daffy's and discovered some cool new places like Smak Parlour which has all handmade clothes. We ate dinner at a fantastic restaurant named Fork. However, we made our most important discovery, which was Brown Betty Dessert Parlour which has THE BEST CUPCAKES IN ALL THE LAND!!!! I tried Lori's Pineapple Poundcake Cupcake and made a pig of myself with my chocolate cupcake. The cakes and cookies on display were absolutely incredible. I hope this place is around for a long time. Sunday morning Lori and I walked over to Jones, which is a fantastic place to have brunch. Their monkey bread is out of this world. So are the mimosas!

When I came home on Sunday afternoon, Herr surprised me with some great gifts. First of all, he gave me this dvd. He also got me the Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins cd which is great because I haven't been able to get their music out of my head since I heard it a few weeks ago for the first time. Jenny Lewis has the kind of voice that I always thought I had when I sing in the shower. Trust me, I don't.

The next few weeks are going to busy and extremely fun. My best friend June is coming to visit this Friday. By herself. It is going to be fun, but very strange to not have a house full of five children under the age of five. The following weekend my friends Jen and Joe are coming from Maine, at which point we will have a house full alcoholic beverages and seven kids. The week after that we are going to stay in some cabins at Cook Forest in Clarion County, PA. This has always been an annual weekend with our friends, but we stopped going after Ella's first birthday. We are so excited to come back and join our friends. Before you know it, it will be summer!