Interviewing For Construction Jobs & Building Trades Jobs – Two Interviewing Styles

When interviewing for construction jobs or building trades jobs, there are basically two types of interviews: the screening interview and the hiring/selection interview. Both of these are styled differently and you need to be prepared for both.Screening Interviews Screening interviews are used to qualify you for selection before you meet with a construction hiring authority. Screeners will try to weed you out rather than get you hired. These construction interviews are normal for companies who receive hundreds or thousands of solicitations for a single construction job opportunity. Screening interviews are usually quick, efficient and low cost strategies that result in a short list of qualified candidates. They assist Operations Managers to save critical time by eliminating unqualified candidates.If invited to a face-to-face screening interview, it will usually be with a third-party construction recruiter or someone from human resources. Human resource interviewers are typically experienced and often are professionals skilled at construction interviewing and screening candidates. They may not understand the details of the job that you interview for, but they are effective at judging character, intelligence, and good fits for the company culture. They are also good at identifying potential “red flags” or problem areas with your work background and general qualifications.Your toughest task might be to get past the screeners to the Operation’s Managers. Be prepared to explain any discrepancies in your background (i.e. gaps in construction employment or construction education, frequent job changes, layoffs, etc.).Some examples of screening interviews include telephone interviews, computer interviews, video- conference interviews and the structured interview. The purpose of these interviews are to screen you and eliminate you from selection of for the various construction jobs you are interviewing for. The result of this process results in a short list of a few finalists since there may be several dozen candidates to weed out.Telephone InterviewsTelephone interviewing is the most common way to perform an initial screening interview. It helps both the construction interviewer and the candidate get a general sense of mutual interest in pursuing things beyond the first construction interview. It also saves time and money, and may be tape recorded for review by other interviewers.During a phone interview, your goal as a candidate should be to arrange a face-to-face meeting. If this is not possible, try to arrange another time to talk, or get the name/address of a suitable contact in the employer’s firm so that you can submit a construction resume.If you are caught off guard or unprepared with an incoming interview call, ask to meet in person, or reschedule the appointment for a more convenient time. Remember that the person calling is the one who establishes control. Therefore, it’s to your advantage to place the call at a more convenient time.Tips for phone interviews:
At the start of the conversation, make sure to write the person’s name down correctly. Ask for the correct spelling. Ask their phone number so that you can call them back if cut off.
Keep the following items handy: copy of your construction resume, list of employer questions, pen, paper, research material on the employer, and any other notes you might have. It may also be a good idea to have a glass of water nearby.
Dress up as though you are going to a face-to-face meeting. This usually will help to enhance your energy level and professional presence.
Always try to smile speaking on the phone. People can usually sense when you’re smiling or frowning.
Try to speak in a loud, clear voice considering that most phone reception reduces phone sound levels.
Ask several clever questions as if you were in a face-to-face meeting.
If you place the call, don’t let the long-distance phone charge shorten the construction jobs interview.
If confronted with a question you do not have a simple and effective answer for, state that the question may be better answered in person.
Thank the interviewer for his/her time, and follow up with a “thank you” letter. Computer InterviewsThese construction interviews are used to weed out top candidates from dozens or hundreds of candidates that may be applying for a specific job opening. Computer interviews involve answering a series of multiple-choice questions that will pre-qualify candidates for a potential job interview and/or request resume submission. Some interviews are handled through the telephone with push buttons, while others require accessing a web site to complete the construction job interview with a computer keyboard and mouse. Computer interviews are often timed. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to go in as an alias in order to get a sense of questions and timing before applying under your real name.Video-Phone and Video-ConferencingVideo-conferencing systems provide the transfer of audio and video between remote sites. More than half of the largest U.S. companies utilize video-conferencing as a means of convenient communication and as an alternative to more costly face-to-face meetings. Basically anyone in the world can perform video-conferencing with the use of a microphone, camera and compatible software. Video-conferencing is now available via the Internet. The continuous drop in cost makes it a popular resource for construction businesses as well as home use.Tips for video-conferences:
Video-conferencing has similar video and audio qualities to that of a home video camera. Be sure to choose an outfit that looks good on you. To avoid problematic imaging, wear solid colors (not stripes or plaids).
In order to become comfortable during video-conferencing, practice a mock construction job interview using your home video camera.
For the best reception, choose full-face (straight) camera angles instead of angled views. Seek professional help for make-up matters.
If given a choice, use full view or wide-angle shots rather than close up shots. Leave the close up shots to the professionals.
Keep in mind that there usually is a lag between the spoken and heard word. Smile and maintain eye contact as if you are in a face-to-face interview.
Avoid jerky motions because only fluid motions maintain video integrity. Structured InterviewsThis type of construction jobs interview is used to identify the best candidates by asking them the exact same questions. Employers attempt to create a common evaluation tool by providing an “apples-to-apples” comparison of construction candidates. Unfortunately, no two interviews are ever alike. Personal biases will affect the evaluation. Third-party recruiters or the employer’s Human Resource department usually handles these interviews.Construction Hiring or Selection InterviewsIn contrast to screening interviews, there are the more traditional construction hiring (or selection) interviews from Operation’s Managers, department heads and construction executives who may be your ultimate bosses. These construction managers understand the technical qualifications needed to fill their vacant construction positions and the team chemistry needed to keep their departments running smoothly. As interviewers, they are usually less prepared or skilled at construction interviewing.In fact, many spend only a few minutes looking over a construction resume before the construction interview and rarely prepare questions or strategies. Most do not like interviewing. They see it as an unfortunate, but necessary, task that takes away from job production. Employers feel that they must assume a position of control. If the situation is handled properly, they are usually more than willing to allow candidates to take the lead.Construction Hiring interviews are two-way streets where you also will be interviewing the construction employer for job suitability. Most of these construction interviews will take place in an office setting in one of several formats: one-on-one interviews, serial interviews, sequential interviews or panel interviews.One-on-one interviewsThis is the traditional interview where candidates meet with employers on a face-to-face, or one-on-one, basis. Each construction interview is somewhat unique and is loosely structured. Both parties typically walk away with a more natural sense of whether or not the fit is right.Serial interviewsCandidates are passed from one construction interviewer to another throughout the course of a day. No decision is made on your suitability until the final construction job interview has taken place and all interviewers have had a chance to discuss each other’s interview. If facing serial interviews, try to find out something about the next interviewer (and the issues important to him/her) before the meeting. Also remember that you only have one chance to make the right first impression so make sure you are energized and ready for the next interview before taking it on. If you are not, excuse yourself to go to the restroom for a break or try to reschedule the balance of the interviews for another time.Sequential interviewsSequential interviews are the traditional means of interviewing whereby a candidate will meet with one or several interviewers on a one-on-one basis over the course of several days, weeks or months. Each interview moves the candidate progressively towards greater detail in respect to the position, the construction company and ultimately an offer. Testing may be one of the sequential interviews, as well as meeting with the top brass or even a third-party consultant.Group or panel interviewsIn this situation, a candidate will go before a committee, sometimes as large as 10 people. This is usually done for efficient scheduling purposes in order to accommodate the management panel. Here candidates are evaluated on interpersonal skills, leadership, and their ability to think on their feet while dealing with issues in a stressful situation.If confronted with this type of construction interview, candidates should try to identify the leader and the immediate supervisor of the position being considered. Think of the board as a single individual and try not to be intimidated by the numbers. It may be difficult to exercise any degree of real control over the panel, but try to focus on one or two key members and control their reaction to you. However, it is important to make eye contact and communicate individually to each panelist.

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Times Are Still Tough For Small Business – What To Do Now?

So, it’s 2011. We’ve wiped the holidays from our eyes and gotten back to the business of the day-to-day challenges of work and life. When we look around us it seems that the general consensus is that things are, in fact, getting better. The stock market has regained much of its previous luster. New jobless claims are lessening. Economists have declared the recession over for months now, and it finally seems that there are some signs to reinforce that position. But, when you talk to the average small business owner they’ll tell you they are hardly out of the woods just yet. In fact, despite the success a lot of larger businesses are demonstrating with solid earnings reports and beating analyst expectations, many smaller businesses are still finding it necessary to make large cuts or even close shop altogether. So, why the dichotomy? What is it about getting out of this recession that has played so well into larger businesses hands and yet has continued to plague so many small businesses? Well, the answer lies in how these respective businesses function. Let’s start with larger businesses:Large businesses, especially those that are public, are concerned with one thing: profits. While this is a big contributor to the negative “faceless corporation” stereotype many attribute to big business, there are upsides. One upside is that it forces large business leaders to utilize the hierarchy they have in place to force the gears of the organization to become more efficient, and moreover to do so as quickly as possible to weather the storm. Sometimes this means layoffs or restructuring, but the end goal, and often the end result, is the same. Quick and decisive action, which can often be painful, but leads to faster recovery and better preparedness for improved economic times when they come.Compare this to the average small or medium-sized business. Many smaller businesses are run by founders or owners who are emotionally tied to the success of their business as well as to their employees. This makes the tough decisions of cuts, restructuring, or strategic realignment much harder. The general mindset in smaller firms is “if we keep doing what we do well, but do it harder/better/faster, we’ll pull through this.” While this may work for some, the sad truth is the nose to the grindstone approach is often not enough, especially in the midst difficult economic climates such as the one we have endured the past three years. Many have followed this philosophy to their own demise. Those that continue to exist are often still hampered by it.This is not to say that small businesses and their management should be ruthless and institute multiple levels of hierarchy to enforce change – quite the contrary. Small businesses’ greatest asset in the marketplace is the ability to get a unified message to every corner of the firm quickly and enact strategic change rapidly. Clearly, a 10 person firm can alter its strategic direction much faster than a 10,000 employee firm. Thus, small businesses are still left with some hard choices, but are also presented with some potentially large rewards.For those small businesses that still need to make cuts or restructure to reach or regain profitability, this is a great time to do so. Unemployment benefits are still very liberally given federally and by most states. Further, the job market is not too bad these days. So, those unfortunate employees who do get let go are far more likely to get a good job quickly now than a year or two ago.For those that don’t require cuts or restructuring, but need some strategic adjustments, this is a wonderful time as well. If the changes require financing or investment, this is a good time with low rates, capital freeing up, and optimism for the near future. Alternatively, if the changes are to be purely internal, most workforces are keenly aware of the difficult times everyone has been through, and there is more appreciation for having a solid paying job now than there has been in generations. As a result, difficult messaging, regardless of how bitter a pill it may be to some, will be better received now than nearly any other time.On top of all of this, is the fact that many small business owners and leaders are closely tied to their business and its employees. As such, it isn’t always clear to them what actions are needed and what ideas for change are coming from the head versus the heart. Consequently, small business consultants are of incredible value these days as the timing for change is very good, but the outlook is not necessarily that clear.Of course, there is always the possibility that things get worse economically. This is why, once again, there is no time like the present for small businesses to take action. Better or worse, getting new strategic messaging across, enacting needed changes, and making strong moves toward profitability is an opportunity that small businesses have now, but is not guaranteed in the future.

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A Brand Review, Anyone?

You’re counting the days. You’re doing things like taking stock, assessing your life, re-evaluating what you’ve accomplished in the last 12 months, and of course, you’re determined to make 2011 the best year ever. Yes/No?!Hurrah. So let me pose two questions: (1) Is taking an Unofficial Review of your Personal Brand on your To Do List in the last few days of December? (2) If you answered no, what’s the chance you’d consider taking a closer look at what you’ve accomplished this year with your brand?Let’s call this conducting an Unofficial Review of your Personal Brand, and see if you can squeeze it in before December 31. It’s bound to tell you where your brand stands. Look at it as an evaluation that will improve your brand’s rating for 2011. Does that sound like something you’d put on your To-Do List Yes/No?OK. Some more questions for you. See how you respond, if you relate to the following options, and how you’d rate your brand in 2010 in this Unofficial Review:1.) In the last 12 months, would you say your personal brand has been: (i) totally irresistible? (ii) awesome but that’s because you believe what your colleagues are telling you? (iii) in need of some serious tweaking?2.) In the past 12 months, have you had unresolved brand issues when it comes to: (i) creating your own power-packed brand? (ii) showing up so your audience can find you, see you and want to engage (ie. work) with you? (iii) not daring to have more fun with your brand?3.) In the past 12 months, have you been craving to find out how you: (i) really stack up in the marketplace? (ii) are going differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack? (iii) can truly create a hugely likable personal brand?4.) In the past 12 months, what’s your gut sense when it comes to your reputation? (i) it’s on the rise? (ii) it’s idling? (iii) it just might need a bit of kick start?If you could respond and relate to the questions (above), now let’s look at the next two steps in the Unofficial Brand Review that will help turn around your personal brand for 2011. Ready?Step 1º IMMERSION PROCESS Get clear on exactly what you want your personal brand to stand for next year. This is about getting a sense of your brand’s inner trajectory. Where do you want to go? Where do you want to land? What do you want to accomplish? Get immersed in your brand’s goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and expected outcomes. Next, make sure you have a process set up so you can evaluate your progress, month by month. (Otherwise, this process is rendered meaningless.)Step 2º REALTY CHECK OR, IN YOUR DREAMS… What message do you want your personal brand to send out to your audience next year? How do you want people to feel about your brand? What powerful clues are you going to embed in your brand that will captivate, engage and attract new audiences and keep them coming back for more? (As I said, this is in your dreams… and note, dreams do come true.)FYI The stronger your brand, the more powerful you are, and the better you can inspire, captivate and engage your audience.The good news After conducting your own Unofficial Brand Review, you’ll find your personal brand will emerge with a clarity and ability to make more meaningful emotional connections in a world with a low attention span. (That is seriously good news.)Remember Your brand is sending out thousands of snippets of dialogue, conversations and clues nonstop, whether you know it or not. Conducting your own Unofficial Brand Review is going to help you turn these around so you can create a more synergistic and congruent brand dialogue that will provoke and captivate your audience.On a final note, a few benefits from conducting your Unofficial Brand Review:• Your personal brand will land a clear spot in the psyche of your target market• Your personal brand will differentiate itself as a desirable client attraction magnet• Your personal brand will create immediate emotional connections with your audience• Your personal brand will create a more highly enhanced personal image• Your personal brand will give you a distinct competitive advantage (with competitors still scratching their heads)Last question Are you willing to add an Unofficial Review of your Personal Brand on your To Do List in the last few days of December Y/N? If you are, let me know what you’ve come up with and how your brand stands up for next year.Is that a deal Y/N?!

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