Cracking the On-site Interview Part II: Master the Interview Basics

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By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde

This blog is part of a 3-part series on Cracking the On-site Interview. This first part examined “the why” behind when you feel perfectly qualified for a role and extremely confident about your interview performance, but didn’t land the role. Part II introduces the best tips for mastering the interview basics.

After reading Part I: I’m Perfectly Qualified – Why didn’t I Get the Job?, you are probably wondering where is the good news? Or, if there is any good news at all. I am here to tell you that THERE IS! The good news is that even a seasoned professional can improve their interview skills and strategy, and in doing so can set them apart from candidates who are similar and maybe even start to advance them into the category of top-tier candidates, which the company may have initially preferred over them. The best interviewer in the world won’t be able to get every job (perhaps because of some of the reasons mentioned in Part I, but all other factors aside, interviewing better is going to increase your chances of getting a job. It’s a simple fact.

So, let’s address the Interview Basics. These are the givens if you are applying for a professional position:

– Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early (no more or less)
– Wear a full suit or professional dress (not an option, you must do this, even if the environment is casual)
– Bring 3 printed copies of your resume
– Carry your resumes and notepad in a professional binder
– Bring a professional pen (if you are applying for a professional position, a nice pen and binder (as opposed to a notebook and cheap pen) will make you look like a professional on a job interview and not a college student applying for an internship)
– Come prepared with questions (intelligent questions, don’t ask what time lunch is)
– Send a follow up thank you email (within 24 hours, preferably 12 hours)

Yes, these are the baby steps. After all, you have to walk before you can run. This is your interview bible, so to speak. If you aren’t doing these things, you need to slow down and master interview basics before you start working on higher level strategy. Once you’ve mastered these interview basics, you will be ready to take your interview skills to the next level. (Stay tuned for Part III!)

Quit this One Habit to Improve your Customer’s Experience

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There is the idea of “moments of truth” in service. This concept basically represents every time we interact with a customer that we have a moment to impress, do our best, or make the interaction either positive or negative.

In a restaurant, when your hostess or waiter doesn’t bring you your menu for 10 minutes, it is a negative thing – not a good moment of truth. When the waitress finally arrives at your table, s/he explains that s/he had just arrived and all the servers are transitioning shifts and juggling tables. Thanks, I think. This is an excuse. The words offer me no value, and it actually makes me feel even more frustrated. All I wanted was an apology and a chance to order. The comments made nothing better. I really don’t care about why.

Over years of study and real world application, “Burkhard leaders” have learned that making an excuse at any time in service with a customer, peer, boss, vendor or friend never adds value or improves the mistake. An excuse always makes things worse. No one wants to hear you give an excuse. We just want it fixed and done right. The excuse drags out the negative moment and in fact, adds another negative moment of truth. Instead, when you offer me a solution to fix whatever broke, you could win me over forever!

No excuses

Apply this thinking to your own world at work or in your home life. All day long someone makes an excuse on why you did not get a response to the email, why they did not attend your important meeting, or finish the project. Giving any excuse simply makes it worse, right? When your son does not clean up his room or do his assigned chore. Which is worse: the missed work or what he has to say about why it’s not done? Johnny came over and we got distracted. Or, I got my homework done instead. We don’t need all that from a teenager! If he understood “No Excuses”, he would simply go up stairs and clean his room and tell you when it was done. Nothing extra, nothing more. No excuses.

No Excuses is a core value of our companies. No Excuses is about how we act and react in moments of providing service. At the Outside-In® Companies, we try very hard when we make a mistake. Yes, we make them too! Our playbook is to fix what broke. Apologize. But never, ever make an excuse. When we do it well (offering a fix instead of an excuse), there is no drama to discuss, no flames to fan. It is simply matter of fact. Fixed. Done. Over. I like to think this is about running head first into the problem. Get it over with. But for goodness sakes, don’t try and over-explain the why.

Win over your customer by quitting the habit of making excuses. No Excuses means no drama. No Excuses means action. No Excuses means taking one on the chin and not feeling like you have to explain yourself away. All we want as customers is what we asked for. Nothing more.

Cracking the On-site Interview Part I: I’m Perfectly Qualified – Why didn’t I Get the Job?

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By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde

This blog is part of a 3-part series on Cracking the On-site Interview. This first part examines “the why” behind when you feel perfectly qualified for a role and extremely confident about your interview performance, but didn’t land the role.

We have all had this experience before. You arrive ten to fifteen minutes early to interview for a job that you are very qualified for. As a seasoned professional, you are wearing your best suit and toting several copies of your resume, a professional binder to write in, and a semi-professional pen to write with. (please, spend two or three dollars on a nice pen and leave the BIC® Round Stic® at home). After quickly building rapport with your hiring manager, you proceed to nail the interview. You are able to answer all of the questions asked of you, and you are met with visible approval and head-nodding.

Because you came prepared for your interview, you know that when it is over, you need to ask exceptional, insightful questions, and you do. As the interview concludes, the hiring manager shakes your hand firmly, thanks you for your time, and says that you will hear from them “soon”. But, you have done your homework, and you know that your work is not yet finished. Not until you send a thank you note to your interviewer. Later that evening when you get home, you take a half hour of your time and compose an insightful thank you note, which thanks your interviewer for his or her time and incorporates some personalization from the interview to reiterate why you are interested and qualified for the role.

Then, what happens? NOTHING! Three days go by, so you send a follow up email to your interviewer and you are met with no response. Finally, a week goes by, and you get the dreaded email that you have seen all too many times. “We regret to inform you that at this time we have elected to move forward with other candidates who are better suited for this opportunity…” What happened?? You were perfectly qualified for the role, you nailed the interview, you did EVERYTHING right! And yet you are right back where you started, with a resume in your hand and nothing but pending applications to sleep on.

BUT WHY? HOW CAN THIS BE? Let’s break it down. Hopefully these notes make you feel at least a little better. Or at least more confident that you didn’t do anything wrong. When you feel perfectly qualified for a role and extremely confident about your interview performance, but didn’t land the role – any of the following could be the reasons why.

First let me share that no matter how qualified you are, there can always be someone “more” qualified. Even if you have worked in a comparable position for the last ten years, there may always be someone else who has similar experience but a higher degree. Or more relevant industry experience. Or a certification that you don’t have.

Second, even if you are the most qualified candidate and you interview well, that is sadly no guarantee of getting the position. The employer’s bureaucracy may dictate that an internal applicant gets the position. Sometimes the position was created to replace an employee who decided to leave but that person changes their mind and decides to stay. So the position goes away. Sometimes the company has a bad quarter and goes on a budget freeze. Again, the position just goes away. Perhaps, the budget doesn’t freeze, but it is tight, and they elect to go with a candidate who has less experience, and ergo requires a lower salary. Or, the hiring manager already knows another applicant and they decide to go with someone they already know and trust. The point is, there are literally dozens and dozens of reasons why an interview can go well and you still end up without an offer. And many of the reasons may be out of your control.

So is there any hope for me? Stay tuned for Part II of this 3-part blog series on cracking the on-site interview.

Top 10 Career Transition Questions: #3 Is being on LinkedIn an imperative?

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Blog post by Career Transition Coach, Mary Schaefer

This blog is part of a series addressing some of the most compelling questions for those that are beginning a career search. During the last 6 years, we have been asked hundreds of questions related to career transition and best practices. Here we are distilling those queries down to the 10 most critical need to know responses. Here is #3 of 10, discussing the virtual networking and using social media in your career search.

How strong is my social media presence on virtual networking groups like LinkedIn and do I have a plan for how to use these tools to support my search?

It’s a new world for some of us when it comes to having an online presence. There is boundless content out there to help guide you to create a strong LinkedIn profile, for instance. Why do you need this at all? If you are a job seeker, 77% of all job openings are posted on LinkedIn and 48% of recruiters post jobs solely on LinkedIn, according to information gathered by


For those in career management mode, you can use LinkedIn as a more formal means to compile your accomplishments, training and certifications. No matter whether you are transitioning in your career or managing it, LinkedIn is essential to gather contacts, including those you know, and those for which you could have a mutually beneficial acquaintanceship.

There are many social media outlets. According to social branding consultant, William Arruda, LinkedIn is quickly becoming a hub of professional communications, and it’s the accepted social media resource for serious business. When potential employers, prospective clients or new business collaborators go to look for you you want to be on LinkedIn with a robust presence.

Outside-In® Companies Partner with Medical Society of Delaware

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This summer, Outside-In® Companies Placers, CBI Group and Barton Career Advisors became a new Affinity Partner to the Medical Society of Delaware. The Medical Society’s Physician Relations team assists practices with all aspects of practice management support. With physicians’ offices and hospital organizations growing at such a rapid pace and rising competition for the best people, MSD saw a partnership with Outside-In® as a great opportunity to serve their members’ medical staffing needs. Outside-In® Companies will assist MSD members with recruitment, staffing and outplacement services.

“The Medical Society of Delaware is thrilled to partner with an organization of Outside-In® Companies’ reputation and stature. The Outside-In® team has a strong record in health care staffing in the area and are known for providing their clients – and our members – top-notch service. This is yet another example of the quality programs, products and services available to the Delaware physicians through their state medical association,” said Mark Meister, MSD’s Executive Director.

Outside-In® Companies Founder and President, Chris Burkhard comments, “We have been helping Delaware’s medical community for more than 40 years since the founding of The Placers. We are excited to bring all our expertise to bear formally as we provide cost effective talent solutions to the association.”

For a full listing of the Medical Society of Delaware’s Affinity partners, please click here.

Do your recruiters use the “Recruitment Bulldozer” method?

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Outside-In® Chronicles: Originally published with the title Look out for the Recruitment Bulldozer! four years ago this month. Are you a recruiter that bulldozes candidates? Is your company running over candidates to fill jobs? Here’s a suggestion for a more Outside-In® way to recruit. But first, let’s explain what we mean by bulldozing!

Over the years, I have coached many talent acquisition professionals. One of the soundbites that I’m typically heard saying is, “don’t bulldoze!” What do I mean? Recruiters are tasked with presenting our company, knowing what the hiring manager is looking for and understanding technical terms to have knowledgeable discussions with prospects. Once we are prepped for an interview, we get so excited to share what we know, that we tend to pitch the job. This usually sounds something like, “Hi John, I am Chris Burkhard from CBI Group and I am recruiting today for underwater basket weavers.”

The challenge with the job pitch approach is that it doesn’t leave a good next step. If the person is not interested or does not have the right skills, we need to quickly transition to asking for referrals or help with networking. The problem is that with this approach, the majority of recruiters never talk to that person again. We keep plowing ahead for the talent we need for the requisition in front of us. We just keep running callers over to find what we want.Bulldozer Front RetroAfter I say, “Don’t bulldoze” and I have the recruiter’s attention, I suggest a more Outside-In® way to recruit. I certainly did not invent this approach but I have refined it over the years to be more customer centered.

How? Flip the conversation around and focus your conversation on the caller. Find out what matters to the job seeker. What are they trying to accomplish in their career? Focusing on them typically sounds a little different. “John, I help talented underwater basket weavers achieve their next career objective. Could we spend a little time finding out about you and what you might be interested in?” This approach requires a lot of time, energy and curiosity. But isn’t finding out what the person wants helpful to determine if your current opening is a fit right? If not for this req, then perhaps you can be honest and talk in bigger terms — about where your company is going and how the future might involve them.

The focus shifts to building a relationship with the talent. To building potential pipeline. This makes tomorrows’ recruitment easier and this is where good recruiting takes shape. It means you truly know your talent in the marketplace and particular people come to mind when open requisitions fit their career goals and objectives.

It may seem so much easier to take the Bulldozer path. I hear it over and over again, “I do not have the time and I have jobs to fill.” But I think the typical recruiter has it all wrong. None of us should have the time to do it wrong the first time. Recruiting talent and getting to know prospective candidates is what recruiters should and must do to differentiate. No more bulldozing please!