Activating the best of you!

Dear Readers,

Yup, automation technology is ever impacting everything! And now it is having an interesting impact on the job seeking process.

For the first time, I’ve heard about a robo interview. A client of mine is a recent college graduate and she’s seeking a position

in the environmental consulting field. She’s ecstatic that a company of key interest to her has requested her to interview.

And the good news is that they are way open and flexible on timing. As long as it’s completed within the week. You see, it does not involve

scheduling because she can do the interview at any time that suits her. She merely goes on to the designated interview site,

types in her special code number and voila, she is in interview mode. The screen has her log on and asks her to press the START

button. The questions appear on the screen with suggested times to answer. And the taping begins!

Yes, you are looking at a computer screen instead of another person. You really don’t  know what the questions will be. You are told the whole

interview should take no more than 45 minutes and there you go!

I asked my client how she felt about it. She said that it seems like it’s a good news/bad news situation. The good news she doesn’t have to leave home, she can do the interview at her convenience and isn’t worried about having an awkward interaction with a difficult person or even a panel of interviewers that can make you feel like you’re out numbered.

The bad news is that you don’t get any feedback at all. You are just taking into a screen and camera and you have no idea of the reaction that the ultimate assessors will make. You realize that you typically get all kinds of cues, both subtle and direct from an in person interview; even from a phone interview. There are no follow on questions, no nods of the head in either direction, no indications if you are going on too long.

So how does one best prepare for this new day of ROBO INTERVIEWS?

Here are three suggestions with the overall advice being to prepare as you would for any interview, with a few caveats:

  1. Prepare answers to the typical questions of why you are attracted to this organization and to this position. And what skills do you bring that demonstrate your abilities. Also be prepared to discuss your work style as a team player, as a leader and how you works in groups. But practice and TIME your responses. Anticipate that people do not have long attention spans. Typically do not plan to do a monologue for more than a couple of minutes
  2. Anticipate that they will ask if there’s anything else you want to add. And I think that if they haven’t already asked if you have questions, do come up with some to suggest you have researched and learned about the company. They could be questions about their biggest challenges, how they compare with their competitors (and mention their names to show that you know them.)
  3. Show Enthusiasm. Smile. Without getting live feedback it would be easy to get very serious and monotone. But don’t! Pretend it is a performance and you need to entertain them. Really. It will make a difference. Mention some knowledge you have about their industry. Look to see if they have been in the news. Maybe they have a new CEO or Executive Director. Talk about key ways you can add impact and value.                                                                                                                                                         Onward for your success in this new day of Robot Driven Interviewing!   Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

OK, I blew it. In college I was more into partying than studying. I was immature and had the wrong priorities.

I graduated with a GPA (grade point average) of 2.0 out of 4.0. That means I had a lot of Cs, some Ds and perhaps one B.

Fortunately, I was able to get a job in a very good company despite my poor academic  record. However, I had to take a junior position to get in, but once in the company I have had three promotions in three years! Proud of myself. But that darn low GPA is holding me back. I am now ready for graduate school and just know that my low GPA will not serve me for graduate school admission. Suggestions?

Regretting my past,


Dear Justin,

If I had a nickel for everyone I met who had regrets about their past I’d be a rich woman! No kidding. If the regrets were not about academic performance, they might be about the good boyfriend or girlfriend who got away, the drug or alcohol problem, a selfish attitude, painful words spoken, etc. In other words, almost every human being has regrets. We don’t come into this world whole and perfect. No one does.

That said, I think we all need to learn some self forgiveness. We need to recognize that at the time we made our decisions, given what we felt emotionally and knew intellectually, we did the best we could. Self forgiveness is the beginning of being ready to move forward. So first thing, Justin, tell yourself you were immature, you didn’t see the value of hard work in college, yet you changed your tune, got on the career track and prospered.  Congratulations!! You had another chance. In fact, you made another chance for yourself. You took a low level job, did well and earned advancement. In fact, your ambitions today are a strong testament to the maturity you gained along the way.

This is the kind of story many graduate school admissions people like to hear! You have a track record of upward achievement and growth!

Here’s my suggestion after you have forgiven yourself: Research the overall admissions criteria for the graduate schools you are interested in. Typically they look at several aspects of a candidate’s performance. That includes the college GPA, the GRE or Graduate Record Exam or if it is medical school or law school, certain tests for those fields. They also look at your employment history and recommendations. Seems to me that if you had three promotions, you probably have some very impressed managers who would support your application with fine recommendations and offer to be positive references.

The other thing to consider Justin, and I’ve seen this strategy used successfully: Take some additional classes at a  local college or online and work like crazy to earn As.

Show that you are now a focused academic and you are a strong candidate for graduate school.

Remember Justin, everyone has regrets. But one needs to forgive oneself and move forward in a self correcting, mature fashion.

Onward to going beyond your GPA!

Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

It’s now March, 2019 and my college graduation date is this June. Ugh. I now have to transition to the real world.

I need to get a J.O.B.! As a humanities major I really don’t know where or how to look for a professional job.

Any thoughts and direction are appreciated.



Dear Teri,

You are not alone! And it is terrific that you are thinking ahead and have a few months to do some preparation for entry into the ‘real world’. I’m glad you are now thinking about getting a real J.O.B. and wondering how to transfer your college experience into starting a career. I applaud you for getting a degree in the humanities as it probably has given you critical thinking skills, an understanding of the human condition, and some historical perspective. You have probably developed fine reading and writing skills that could well be transferred to a career position where they can build on your smarts! More and more employers are looking for disciplined good thinkers and communicators. Many companies like to train such individuals.

I want you to now think about how your skills and capabilities might be appreciated by an employer. Think about some of the papers you wrote, the discussions you had in class, the understandings you now have about the world; fairness, justice, ethics and other big ideas. Think about how those ideas might translate into you being a good employee. Also think about the communication skills you developed. You are probably good at analyzing and making some judgments and assessments. A mistake I’d like you to avoid is telling a potential employer that your goal is to learn and grow. That was your goal for college where you were paying them to learn and grow. But now you will be paid to help an employer to grow their organization or business. Please understand this paradigm change. Talk about what you have to give and contribute, NOT about what they can do to help you learn and grow. Focus on what YOU can GIVE at work. Yes, employers can and do invest in growing employees but that is AFTER the employees have shown that they can and will make contributions to them.

Here are three steps I’d like to recommend you take NOW:

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS: In the world of employment, employers need to make judgement about your characters, skills and suitability for a job. Typically, you are completely unknown to them when you apply for a position. Recommendations by your professors and any past employer can be very helpful to give credibility and assurance that you are an honest, good person with skills that can be valuable to their workplace. Now that you are still in college you have access to the professors who have known you and are familiar with your work. They are typically accustomed to writing recommendations. Select professors who you know and who have valued the quality of your work. Ask them if they would be comfortable in writing a generic recommendation about you that you can use in your job seeking efforts. If you know some positions you are focused on, you can let them know specifically the kinds of jobs you are applying to. You also might ask if they are comfortable with being contacted by potential employers for a deeper discussion about you.
  2. COLLEGE CAREER OFFICE: Almost all colleges have some kind of career center. GO THERE, NOW. Ask to meet with a counselor and pose the question that you posed to me in this note. Ask them about other humanities graduates who have landed professional first jobs. Ask specifically about local employers who have hired graduates from you school. If you are open to a regional or national job search, tell them that. Ask for any and all help they can provide. They often give help with developing a resume, targeting your job search and putting together a professional Linkedin profile. Also ask if there is an ALUMNI NETWORK that might be helpful for you to get involved with. Ask for specific alumni who you might be able to do INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS with. That is, meetings where you are finding out about their careers and how you can get involved in a career like theirs. You are asking for time to learn about their career to see if it might be a good fit for you. It is not a time or place to ask for a job.
  3. PREPARE YOUR ‘SALES’ MATERIALS and REACH OUT: I always tell my clients: READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS!!  That means you need to have your written materials prepared as well as your online profile completed. Please prepare your resume and Linkedin profile ASAP. Additionally, make a list of any and all of the people you know who are in professional positions. Contact each of them to let them know you will be graduating and that you are ready and excited to get a first job in the real world!! Send along your resume and a link to your Linkedin profile. Include  the letters of recommendation! Also think through how you want to position yourself to them. They will want to know what kind of job you are looking for. It is OK if you answer broadly like this:  “As a recent college graduate I am looking forward to getting a job in the world of work where I can contribute my analytical skills coupled with strong communication skills. I bring a proven track record of achievement per my GPA of 3.8 and a commitment to working hard and making a positive impact in whatever organization I join. I am highly trainable and get along well both as a proven team member and as a leader.”  Then, for any contact you will meet with, it is invaluable for you to research and show that you understand what the organization does and even better for you to pose some interesting questions, observations or understandings about their work.
  4.  Teri, success builds success. You should be proud of achieving your college degree! Reflect on the skills and insights you have learned, research to find out more about various careers and connect with people who will be pleased to have a hardworking, educated young graduate to add to their team.                                                                   Onward in launching your career with success, meaning and fulfillment,                                                                                                                                                                            Coach Joan