5 steps to connecting with LinkedIn members

But first the proper ways to connect.

How do you connect with people on LinkedIn? Do you indiscriminately click the button that says “Send now”? Do you do take the time to add a note? Do you ask for an introduction to your desired contact? Or do you first send an email to your desired contact before sending an invite?

LinkedIn Flag

For many years I’ve been advising people to always add a note when connecting because…it’s the right thing to do. However, after talking with a valued connection, Bobbie Foedisch, I learned a great deal about connecting etiquette. Bobbie’s approach is to send an email, or even make a phone call, before sending an invite.

Currently employed or not, you should build up your network with connections who are like-minded and can be of mutual assistance. This is where you can leverage the “Connections of” feature.

“Connections of” is a nice feature because it provides a referral for the person you selected to connect with, either directly—similar to a cold call—or first asking for an introduction.

Connecting directly

For example, if you’re going for the direct connection, your invite message might read like this:

Hello Susan. You and I are both connected with Kathy (last name). She suggested that I connect with you, because you and I have a great deal in common, namely that we are in the business of helping people find employment. It would be great to connect. Bob” Note: you only have 300 characters to work with.

Asking for an introduction

Bobbie suggests that “Connections of” is a great resource for finding quality connections. However, she prefers to send an email to the mutual connection asking if they would introduce her to a desired LinkedIn member.

Note: email is Bobbie’s preferred means of asking for an introduction because it is more commonly used than LinkedIn Messaging. Great point.

Here is a sample introduction sent via email.

Hi Karen.

I see that you’re connected with the director of HR, Mark L Brown at (town).

I’m trying to fill a director of DPW position and would like to get some advice from Mark. I read on LinkedIn that they’re trying to fill an accountant position. I like the way he wrote the job description, pointing out their diverse environment.

Thank you in advance for introducing me to Mark. If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.

Andy Smith, Human Resources Generalist, 978.935.5555

PS. It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the playoffs.

Now let’s look at the five steps to finding people with whom to connect.

1. Search by people. Just click the magnifying glass in the Search field and then click People. In my case, I came up with a little over 2,05,000 first, second, and third degree connections.

Filter People by Kathy

2. Next, select 2nd in Connections for an obvious reason; you cannot connect with your first degrees, as you are already connected.

3. Now select the type of person you’re seeking in Keywords. I typed “Career” in the Keywords area in the Title field because I wanted LinkedIn to do a pretty general search for people in the career development/advisor/counselor/coach occupations. This brings my number of connections to just under 7,000.

4. You probably don’t want to look for career related people worldwide. Perhaps you’re focusing on people closer to home. I am, so I got to Locations and select Greater Boston Area. I’m at 823 second degree connections now. Note: sometimes you have to type in the location.

5. Here’s where you want to narrow your search to people who are mutually connected as first degrees with one of your valued connections. In the image below, you see the first person at the top of my list shares 17 degree connections with me. I will click on one of the circular photos below Kathy to see who I can mention as a reference in a cold invite.

2nd degree connection

5. The person I’ve chosen is one who can help facilitate an introduction to the person above. The reason I know this is because she and I have had numerous conversations, and we respect each other’s expertise. In other words, I trust her.

When I type her name into “Connections of,” I come up with approximately 50 LinkedIn users who are her first degree connections. I can choose to connect with these people, in addition to Kathy.

 


You might think how my friend, Bobbie Feodisch, goes about connecting people on LinkedIn as time consuming, but she has been successful using LinkedIn for social selling, and she teaches job seekers how to use LinkedIn. I, on the other hand, am less exact; I connect with like-minded people without reaching out to them beforehand. Whether you connect directly with a LinkedIn user or ask for an introduction, using “Connections of” can effectively facilitate the connection.

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4 ways for HR to hire a diverse workplace

As a human resources leader for a municipality, are you directed to hire people of diversity? Have you given it much thought? Further, how would you use LinkedIn to accomplish this? In this post, I’ll address the challenges human resources might face using LinkedIn to achieve the goal of creating a diverse workplace, and suggestions to make this possible.

Diversity2

But first it’s worth looking at the definition of “diversity” from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements variety; especially the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. Mirriam-Webster Dictionary 

Just who make up groups of diversity and why is it important to create a workplace of diversity? People of color, different religious belief, disability, gender affiliation, younger and older worker, nationality, ethnicity, and more. A diverse workplace is important for a number of reasons, most namely employment opportunities, unique ideas, and community.

The major problem

As someone in human resources, you know that the best way to fill a position is through referrals. Many times there are no qualified people who can fill positions, so you need to advertise said position.

What you get are a ton of resumes you have to sift through or send directly to the directors of the departments in your municipalities. You’re being reactive. Wouldn’t be better to be proactive by reaching out to people you find on LinkedIn? Wouldn’t you like to present a social media presence that attracts quality candidates? I’ll answer both of these questions.

1. Performing a direct search, but narrow with focus

People Search2

The first thing you must realize is that no job seeker will type anywhere on their profile, “I’m a person of diversity.” Or, “I have a disability.” Or, “I’m a woman of color.” You’re going to have to do some sleuthing to find people of diversity.

You should narrow your search by applying certain criteria. If you’re looking for someone in Information Technology Services; using the Filter people by feature (to right) will make your search more manageable. Here are three ways to do it.

1. For example, I searched for IT and came up with more than 18 million people. Where as using Filter people by feature to specify: 2nd degree, Greater Boston Area, and Information technology and Services. This produced 19 results. Much more manageable.

2. In the Filter people by area, you can also select people who are/have been on boards or possess strong volunteer experience.

3. Yet another way to narrow the search is by typing in the Search field the title sought and “nonprofit” or “town” and “city” next to the title. A search for “IT manager, town, city” produces 12 results.

2. Rely on your network

Providing you have a strong network that consist not only of other HR professionals, but also people in other industries; you have an opportunity to uncover some great talent. Perhaps you’re in pursuit of a director of finance. You should develop connections with many of the larger companies in your local area.

It’s plausible that a finance manager in a fortune 100 company would be a cultural fit in your municipality’s Finance department. There are regulations and laws that candidates would need to learn, but someone who is talented and a quick learner, can get up to speed.

The challenge: Good ole networking will take awhile, but if you can build up a network of people who are a possible fit for the positions you need to fill immediately or down the road; you’ll be in better shape.

3. Every employee must have a strong profile

Neal Schaffer, the author of The Business of Influence and other books that address using social media for business and marketing, says everyone in an organization must have a strong profile, as each employee is the face to the organization.

Your executive team should also be the digital face for your organization. When your management engage socially, you build trust with the community. You also send a strong and encouraging message to your employees that it’s OK for them to be active on social media, which undoubtedly will bring about greater employee advocacy for your organization.

Essentially each person working for a town or city should have a statement on their profile that they are engaged in a workplace that encourages and is open to diversity. Job seekers who desire working for organizations that encourage diversity in the workplace will be encouraged to see individual profiles that support this message.

Another benefit of an individual profile that demonstrates a diversity-friendly workplace will strengthen their town’s or city’s LinkedIn company page search engine optimization (SEO). This is assuming that the municipality has a LinkedIn company page. Below is an example of an employee’s profile supporting the goal of supporting people of diversity:

One of the nice things about working for The Town of (name) is the diversity of its employees. I enjoy working alongside people who are divers in age, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, and other diverse populations. In my role as municipal engineer, I…

4. Create a LinkedIn company page with a strong statement

The next step municipalities need to take is create a company page that delivers the message of supporting and hiring people of diversity. Below is a good start of a company page description:

(City Name) was first incorporated as a town in 1630, and later as a city in 1822. Although City Government played a major role in (city’s name) development, the real spirit lies in the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods of the City. Today, the City is governed by the Mayor and the City Council with the assistance of various departments, agencies and commissions.

The company descriptions claims to have “diverse and vibrant neighborhoods,” but we’d like to see stronger verbiage explicitly talking about how the city has a policy of hiring people of diversity.

Job descriptions on LinkedIn company pages need to deliver a strong message of support for a diverse workplace

If the city or town is hiring and posts its positions on LinkedIn’ company page, this would also be a great place to state their policy for hiring people of diversity. This should be stated at the beginning of the job descriptions. Below is a description for a Sr. Librarian position that fails to do this.

….library assistants working in the branch libraries whose duties involve the following: greeting and directing patrons, registration of borrowers, charging and discharging of books and other materials, maintaining the book and other materials collections, maintaining/troubleshooting equipment, typing/word processing and filing.

What if instead, the beginning of the job description were to read:

(Name of city) supports a diverse workplace and encourages people of different races, religions, ethnicity, age, and disability to apply for the following position?

This would make an immediate statement about the municipality’s policy of supporting diverse populations.


The final step is a link to the municipality’s website, which would repeat its policy of hiring people of diversity. This would send a strong message to people who are looking for a diverse workplace.

Photo: Flickr, mdennes

Job-seeker buddy groups: 6 pros, 2 cons

How do you react when you hear the word networkingDo you feel uncomfortable, roll your eyes, or even break out in a sweat? You’re not alone if the prospect of networking doesn’t make you jump for joy. Truth be known, most people don’t relish the idea of networking.

small-group-1024x576

Truth also be known, networking remains the most effective way to get referred for jobs that aren’t advertised. According to Jobvite.com, 40% of hires come from referrals, twice the number than the next option, the company’s website. So networking seems like a no-brainer.

I’m not here to say you shouldn’t network. I’m here to say try networking in a different way. Join a buddy group.

Pros of Buddy Groups

Smaller and more intimate

Buddy groups generally number six—some smaller, others larger. In a smaller group, members keep track of each other, making it easier for the members to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities that fit each other. This is not always possible with large networking groups, which consist of 20 to 80 people.

Large groups can also be intimidating, which leads me to my next benefit of buddy groups.

Ideal for introverts

Speaking as an introvert, I’m more comfortable in smaller group settings than large groups. The size of buddy groups makes it easier to know each member and develop deeper relationships, which is ideal for introverts.

This is not to say introverts will back away from large networking groups. If they attend larger groups, their goal is to talk to fewer people to have deeper conversations. Extraverts, on the other hand, enjoy “working the room.”

Members are held accountable

Buddy groups that gather on a regular basis  are more likely to hold their members accountable for their job-search actions. If, for example, a member says during a meeting, that he will schedule four coffee meetings the following week, he will be questioned about scheduling those meetings the next time the group meets.

Keeping track of job seekers at large networking groups is extremely difficult. Often job seekers will come an go to large networking groups. You might see some members sporadically.

Meetings can be mobile

cafe

Unlike large networking groups which are held at the same place, at the same time;  buddy groups can be held at different locations. Because buddy groups are usually held where its members prefer, there are more options. Perhaps the location is decided  based on each members’ hometown, or the members’ choice of cafe, as examples.

On the other hand, buddy group member might prefer holding their meetings at the same location for consistency.  I know of one buddy group that meets at the same restaurant before their large networking event.

Joining one requires an invitation

Buddy groups can be formed to include members who share similar interests and occupations. Software engineers, project managers, hardware engineers might create a skills share group, consisting of six to 10 people, who gather to work on a project.

Or the members of a buddy group might prefer a variety of occupations. As one job seeker said, “We would all be applying to the same jobs, and I think that would make it more competitive, when it should be supportive.”

Gets you out of the house

As inconsequential this may sound, getting out your house where you’ve been sitting in front of your computer for six hours a day, until it starts humming at you; it’s important for your state of mind.

This will be part of your routine. You’ll look forward to meeting with your buddies at a specific time, maybe a particular place–although as stated earlier, the location might change.

Read 6 tips for getting out of your house during your job search.

Some Cons of Buddy Groups

Although great in concept, buddy groups can have their drawbacks. After all, they are intimate groups that meet on a consistent basis. With consistency comes conflict.

Might become stagnant

One of buddy groups’ strengths, their consistent meetings, can be a weakness. Undoubtedly there will be times when the meeting is not as productive as the members would like.

I run a “job club” at an urban career center, and I will be the first to say that sometimes the meetings fall flat. Structure is important. But for structure to be successful, the activities must be of interest to the members of the group.

Members might not be the right fit

Like working in a team, some members don’t fit. This can happen with buddy groups, as well. A member or two might not pull their weight, dominate the conversations, be too negative.

I asked a member of a buddy group what the group would do in a case where a member is hurting the group. She said deadpan, “Ask them to leave.” It’s easier said than done, but it might come to this.


There are far more benefits than disadvantages of a buddy group. One I haven’t mentioned is the moral support job seekers gain from their buddy groups. I don’t encourage buddy groups be a platform for people to bemoan their situation, but there must be times when they can let out their frustrations.

8 outdated résumé rules you can break

The way résumés are written today is different than it was 10 years ago. Résumé writers and job seekers are breaking some résumé rules, and…that’s okay. Because what it comes down to is not how a résumé looks, it’s what it says. Let’s look at some outdated résumé rules.

Broken Rules

1. It’s okay to brag

If you want to call it that. There was a time, not too long ago, when touting your success was considered bragging. Now you need to separate yourself from other job candidates. It’s simply not okay to present a grocery list of duties; you need to show how well you performed those duties.

So, if you trained 12 employers on CRM software over the course of 9 months, precluding the need to hire a consultant. And if this saved the company $200,000, shout it out. It’s not wrong to tout your successes.

2. Font

Résumés used to be written in serif font, such as Times New Roman, but the trend now is sans serif, such as Arial and Calibri. Although it was believed that reading text on paper is easier if the content is written in Times New Roman, this belief has been thrown out the window. I must agree that reading a magazine that has sans serif font is a bit strange.

3. Bold words and phrases

How do you get words to standout, jump off the page, make an impact? You bold the text. Don’t bold all the text on you résumé, only a few words and phrases. I know it looks a little weird, but help the person reviewing your résumé to see what’s important. You get the idea.

4. No Address

Sorry, I’m not home. Résumé writers are suggesting to their clients that they preclude their home address. I am, too. The reason I advise my clients to leave their home address off their résumé is because 1) it’s not necessary 2) hiring authorities might rule you out of consideration because of location, and 3) it takes up space.

To the second point: I recall asking a recruiter friend of mine to take a quick glance at one of my client’s résumé. That’s exactly what he did; after looking at it for 2 seconds he told me the résumé was no good. Why? My client lived 50 miles from the company.

5. Headline

Go ahead and let loose; write a headline, like that on your LinkedIn profile, that briefly describes what you do and some of your areas of expertise. If you’re worried about space, it should only take two lines. I like to call this a Branding Headline in my Résumé Advanced and LinkedIn Profile workshops. Here’s one from one of my clients:

Sr. Director New Business Development
Major Account Management | Marketing | Sales Growth | Relationship Development

The Headline is a fairly new idea, but the most professional résumés have them under their contact information.

6. Point of view

Some people recoil when they see a résumé that is written in first person point of view. I’m guessing that 20 years ago we were told no personal pronouns like I, me, we , they, etc. on your résumé. Why? Just because. A better answer to this is that your name is written at the top. It’s assumed that you’re writing about yourself; therefore, no need for writing, “I.”

I’m of a different opinion on this matter. I think it’s fine if you want to use personal pronouns in your Performance Profile or Value Proposition. But to use them throughout, that goes a little too far. Thank goodness for the LinkedIn profile, which encourages personal pronouns.

Please read: 4 reasons why personal pronouns are acceptable on your résumé

7. Page length

Your résumé should be one-page long, no exceptions. Bunk. Two pages are fine. Even three pages depending on your level and/or the accomplishments you must tout (within your 10-15-year work history).

The problem with limiting your page number is 1) you can’t describe your greatness, unless you only have five-years of experience, and 2) you limit the keyword density required to pass the applicant tracking systems (ATS).  One-page résumés are old school.

8. Your résumés can include clichés

It pains me to say this, but if you want your résumé to pass the ATS scan, you may have to include some words résumé writers consider to be taboo. My clients will tell you that clichés, or fluff, is one of my pet peeves; however, it all begins with the employers. They are the ones that write horrid job posts loaded with fluff.


These are 8 résumé rules you can break. Actually I forgot to mention one I just broke in the previous sentence. Forget the rule that says you have to spell every number less than 10. No one said the résumé has to be grammatically correct—after all, we don’t begin each sentence with a subject. Do we?

Photo: Flickr, Jordi Calaveras

4 steps to take—at minimum—to ask for a favor on LinkedIn

Very recently I received an invitation from someone to be in their network. At first I was pleased to see “See more” below the person’s Headline. This was promising, as it means the person had taken the time to personalize the invite.

Being Polite

In some cases the personalized invites are flattering, telling me how much they enjoyed reading a post I had written. In other cases the requester tells me how we know each other; maybe he attended one of my workshops. In a few cases the person might elaborate on how we met, using all the 300 characters allotted for an invite.

At the end of the invite, the good ones write, “Please let me know if I can be of assistance.”

Almost never do I get a request in the first invite to have me review her LinkedIn profile, which begins with, “Can you review my profile?” That’s it. No flattery, no explaining how we know each other. But this one said exactly that.

What I did

The first thing I did was to click ignore without a second thought. No regret or guilt. After all, I do the same when there is no personalized invite, indicating no effort and plain laziness.

Then I shared on LinkedIn my experience with some of my valued connections. The post was not meant to be a complaint as much to as to be a learning moment. However, the conversation took off and and is still brewing.

The comments mostly support my thoughts on the rude way the individual asked me to review his profile. Some write I was being a bit harsh and should have understood some people don’t understand LinkedIn etiquette.

None say I was completely out of line with my action. As I said, the conversation is still brewing, so I’m bound to get “You’re being the LinkedIn police, Bob.” I hope it doesn’t come to this, but I firmly believe that one shouldn’t ask for a favor in their first invitation.

When should one ask for a favor, deliver the ask?

At minimum there are four steps you should take before delivering the “ask.” Whether you’re asking for services or trying to sell a product, you need to develop a relationship with the person from whom you need a favor.

1. The initial introduction: Most of us are on LinkedIn to help each other; this is our community. However, there is etiquette one must follow. First, a proper invite is required.

“Bob, I’ve followed your posts on LinkedIn and many of them resonate with me. I’d like to connect with you so I can have direct access to your articles. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.”

Your invitation is accepted and you are now first degree connections, so your next step is to thank your new connection for accepting you to their network. This is still not the time to make the “ask.”

2. Get noticed by your new connection. There should be at least one more correspondence or interaction, perhaps a comment on a shared idea or post. Even a like would count as an interaction; although not as significant as a comment. You are on your new connection’s radar.

3. You should comment on one or more shares from your new connection. It’s not hard to discover what your connection shares; simply go to their profile and click “See all activity” under the person’s Activities and Articles section.

4. You’re established. After the second or third interaction is your chance to make the “ask.” You still want to be diplomatic, not blunt, in your request. Send a direct message from your connection’s profile. Go ahead; don’t be afraid to hit the message button (seen below).
message button

“Hi Bob. I’ve enjoyed being in your network. I’ve learned more about what you do, and I’ve read your profile. On your profile you say you will briefly review your connections’ profile. Would you kindly review mine at your convenience. I appreciate your expertise. Again, let me know if I can help you.”

At this time your connection should be willing to do a favor for you. I know I would. The most important thing is feeling out your new connection to see if they’re open to doing a favor for you. These are the four minimum steps you should take before asking for a favor from a new connection.


Now got to the comment I shared with my connections. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP FIRST. Leave your comment there, good, bad, or ugly.

Photo: Flickr, Jon Fravel

 

Nailing the interview process, part 7: following up

Some job seekers believe the interview is over once they’ve shaken the interviewer’s hand and left the room. “That went well,” they think. “Now, it’s time to wait for the decision.”

Thank You

Perhaps it did go well, but perhaps one or two other candidates also had stellar interviews. Perhaps those other candidates followed up on their interviews with thoughtful thank-you notes.

So when is the interview really over? Not until you’ve sent a follow-up note.

If you don’t believe sending a follow-up note is important, you should know that:

– 22 percent of employers are less likely to hire you if you don’t send a follow-up note;
– 86 percent of employers will take your lack of a note to mean you don’t follow through on things;
– and 56 percent of employers will assume you aren’t that serious about the job.

If you’re wondering how to go about following up, start by considering to whom you’ll send your note and how you’ll send it.

Who Gets a Thank-You Note?

If you’re interviewed by five people, how many unique follow-up notes should you send? “Five” is the correct answer here. Take the time to write a unique follow-up to everyone with whom you interview.

How Do You Send Your Note?

You can send your follow-up note via email or hard copy. This depends on your preference and the industry. For example, someone in tech may prefer an email, whereas someone in marketing may prefer a thank-you card.

According to the article linked above, 89 percent of interviewers say it’s acceptable to send a thank-you note via email. My suggestion is to send two notes: an email immediately following the interview and a professional card a week later.

What Goes in Your Note?

1. Show Your Gratitude

Start by thanking the interviewers for the time they took to meet with you. After all, they’re busy folks, and they probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.

2. Reiterate You’re the Right Person for the Job

Explain again how your skills, experience, and accomplishments are relevant to the role and make you a good fit.

3. Cite Some Interesting Points Made During the Interview

Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.

4. Do Some Damage Control

How many candidates wish they could elaborate more on an answer or fix some mistake they made? Now’s your chance. Sure, your belated corrective action may be of little consequence, but what do you have to lose? Besides, interviewers understand you were under a great deal of pressure at the time.

5. Suggest a Solution to a Problem

During the course of the interview, you likely learned about a problem the company is facing. If you have a possible solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up note or in a more extensive proposal sent along with the note. One of my clients is convinced she landed a previous job because she sent a four-page proposal on how to solve a problem the company had mentioned during the course of the interview.

6. Assert You Want the Job

You told the interviewer(s) you want the job. Reiterate this sentiment by stating it in you follow-up note. This can be as simple as asking about next steps, which shows your enthusiasm for and sincere interest in the position.


You’ve made it this far in the process. You’ve:

  1. mentally prepared yourself;
  2. come to know yourself;
  3. done your research;
  4. practiced;
  5. made a good first impression;
  6. and answered the difficult questions.

It would be a shame to blow it now by not following up.

Photo: Flickr, Christie Spad

Nailing the interview process, part 6: answering tough interview questions

Addressing employers’ three areas of concern.

You’ve been invited in for a face-to-face interview. You feel this job is great for you. You like the variety of responsibilities and have heard great things about the company. You’ve done everything right so far – and now it’s time to answer some tough interview questions.

group-interview-2

In order to do this, however, you’ll have to rely on the extensive research you’ve done on the company and position.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the interviewer is looking for three criteria in their next employee: Can you do the job? Will you do the job? And will you fit in?

Given this framework, you should be able to predict some of the questions that will be asked in the interview. Let’s address the three criteria:

Can You Do the Job?

Many employers consider this factor the most important of the three. Do you have the skills, experience, education, and/or licenses to handle the responsibilities of the position? Can you hit the ground running?

Questions related to this criterion can be quite challenging. One question you’re likely to receive will be delivered in the form of a directive: “Tell us about yourself.” To answer this effectively, you’ll need to share your elevator pitch.

You may be asked a situational question like, “How would you develop a social media campaign for our company?” Answering this type of question requires knowledge of the needs of the company, as well as some role-relevant technical knowledge (in this case, the functions and uses of various social media platforms.)

Will You Do the Job?

This component speaks to your motivation and enthusiasm, two traits that are necessary to overcome obstacles on the job. Employers feel those who are motivated will be the highest achievers in the future.

You may get a situational question such as, “How would you approach a project that is a week behind schedule?” Here, the interviewer is interested in the steps you can take to get the project up to speed, not necessarily your success in finishing the project.

More difficult are the behavioral questions, which ask you to recount scenarios from previous roles. For example, a behavioral version of the previous example question would be, “Tell us about a time when your team was a week or more behind in finishing a project. What measures did you take to get the project up to speed? What was the result of your team’s actions?”

Here, the interviewer is looking for a story, so you should use the STAR formula: situation, task, action, and result. (More on this below.)

Will You Fit In?

In addition to your ability to do the job, employers also want to know if you will be a fit for the company culture. They want to know that you will work well with others, particularly your potential supervisor.

This is where emotional intelligence (EQ) becomes critical. Defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others,” EQ may account for as much as 75 percent of job success, according to some sources.

Savvy interviewers will use behavioral-based questions to determine your “cultural fit,” which ultimately depends on your EQ. Sometimes, interviewers will specifically look for certain soft skills commonly mentioned in job postings, such as written and oral communication, teamwork, social skills, creativity, and/or integrity.

You’ll need to prepare for questions that address these soft skills and others. The best way to do that is practice your stories for behavioral interview questions like “Tell us about a time when you won back the trust of a customer.”

To answer the question, you’d use the same STAR formula I mentioned earlier.

A Primer on STAR Answers

If you’re not totally sure how STAR answers work, let’s take a look at an example.

If an interviewer asked you to describe a time you needed to win back the trust of a customer, your STAR answer might look like this:

1. Situation

One of our longstanding customers had left us prior to my arrival at Company X. I had heard the customer was unhappy to the point where he decided he no longer needed our services.

2. Task

My vice president wanted me to persuade the customer to return. As the new manager of a group of five furnace technicians, it was my mission to win back this customer.

3. Action

To begin, I first had to understand what made our customer unhappy, so I asked one of my subordinates who was close to the situation. He told me it was because the person who previously worked on his furnace did shoddy work and wasn’t responsive.

Armed with this information, I called our customer to introduce myself as a new manager of the company and to ask him why he was unhappy with our service. At first he was justifiably angry, telling me he would never use us again. He revealed that his furnace was never cleaned and that it still smoked.

This was going to be a tough one, based on the tone in his voice. I listened to what he said and told him I really couldn’t blame him for being upset. I agreed with him that he wasn’t treated properly. I was going to make it right.

“Too late,” he told me. He was going to go with a competitor of ours. He hung up before I had the chance to talk with him further.

I decided to go unannounced to his house to introduce myself. I was met with, “Boy, you’re persistent.”

I apologized for coming without warning and asked him if I could look at his furnace. He didn’t seem to mind and told me to go to the basement through the back.

“But I ain’t paying for nothing,” he told me.

“Fair enough,” I told him. “We want to regain your trust, and if I can’t fix what’s broken, I wish you the best.”

I am still sharp with my technical skills, so I was sure I could fix his furnace and win back his business. I spent two hours fixing what was broken – namely, the exhaust pipe was full of soot, which required vacuuming. In addition, the oil pump had to be replaced. This was not news our customer wanted to hear, but he was happy I was honest with him, and he appreciated the work I had done. He also said the former technician didn’t catch these problems – or didn’t care.

When he asked what he owed me, I told him there was no charge. I just wanted to be assured that he’d stay with our company.

4. Result

The customer told me that I had regained his trust. He also said he appreciated my honesty and my concern that his furnace would be fixed right the first time. He returned to our company.


In the above story, you see how the job candidate proves his ability to provide customer service. Of course, the interviewer will ask more questions about customer service, and further questions will likely explore both positive and negative outcomes.

Remember that it’s not only the technical skills you have to focus on. You must also think about times you’ve demonstrated motivation, teamwork, and other soft skills.

Check back part seven, when we’ll be discussing how to follow up after an interview.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.