Interview Advice

Interview advice for the professional woman, including what to wear for interview attire, from skirt suits to high heels. Please be sure to check out our Guide to Interview Suits!

How to Thank Your References

Steve's 80's Party, originally uploaded to Flickr by Bob. B. Brown.Reader C has a great question about thank yous to your references…

I’m anxiously awaiting a few job offers–and am wondering if a $100 gift card to a delicious local restaurant is an appropriate thank you for each of my references? (The potential offers are for healthcare-related opportunities–hospital positions and consulting gigs.) What have you done in the past?

I first misread this question as how to thank your interviewers. (No gift cards to interviewers!) I think this is a cute idea, but one that could be tweaked to make it even better:

Instead of gift cards, take your references to lunch. Ask their career advice, what they think your strong suits are heading into any new job (and, just for your ears, what they think your weaknesses might be!). Ask them how they got to where they are, what they might have done differently given the clarity of hindsight. And then… stay in touch with them. Tell them how you’re doing, ask them to lunch once a year or so and see how they’re doing. [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: Negotiating a Great Salary

salary negotiationReader A, a CPAA with 12 years of experience, writes with some great questions…

How does one negotiate a good compensation package? I have only ever worked for local firms. The salary data online seems to reflect “big 4″ or equivalent pay scales. I have talked to a few headhunters and they all seem to think I should be making more than I am. What do I do when a prospective employer asks point blank what I am making now? I don’t want to lowball myself.

This is a particularly apt question in light of this post on the Bucks blog, calling attention to another blog posting wherein the author admitted to “bumping” her current salary up $5,000 when her interviewer asked what she was paid, and then asking for another $5,000 when they offered her the job with a “matched” salary.  Long story short:  it’s illegal to lie about your salary in job interviews! So… don’t try that tactic.

Pictured:  Fossil – Weekender Checkbook Clutch (Bright Orange), available at Zappos for $48 in orange, black, camel, espresso, green, and fun florals. Love the colorful insides and all the pockets.

Our recommendation would be twofold.  First, let’s say that you’re at Company X.  if you can get TWO job offers from Company Y and Company Z, you can sometimes play them against each other — we would probably avoid naming names, at least unless pressed, and see if company Y will increase your salary to match what company Z is offering.  Don’t leave Company X out of the mix, either, unless you’re looking for a new job because you hate your old one — rather than quitting outright, talk to the Powers that Be at Company X and say, “Company Y has offered me $__ to jump ship!”  And see if Company X will match it… and then go forward from there.

A second recommendation would be to really look at what your lower-salary job is actually giving you.  Do you get four weeks vacation?  How are your health insurance benefits?  Are there other perks, like discounts to a local gym, or on-site daycare?  We would factor that into the discussion, once the interviewer raises the issue.  For example: “I currently make $__ in dollars, but there are a number of perks that I’ve enjoyed for years and that you don’t offer.  To be honest, I would probably put a pricetag of $5K on those perks.”  Be totally honest — and KNOW what perks the interviewer does and does not offer.  In fact, this discussion might be a good time to assess those intangible perks.

This great article from CBS MoneyWatch also suggests classics like asking for a signing bonus, a performance bonus, stock options, or asking for more perks.

Readers, what are your best tips for salary negotiation?  Any great victory stories to share?

How Not to Gain Weight Over the Summer Recruiting Season

healthy office eatingSummer is nearly upon us!  As law school, business school, and college  interns flood the workforce, calendars fill with networking lunches, team building meetings, and “get to know your coworkers” cocktail parties —  all with lots of food (and alcohol).  Reader A is particularly worried about the summer associate life in BigLaw:

I’m about to start a job as a summer associate at a Big Law firm. I’ve been told to expect daily lunches out, and been warned about the corresponding weight gain that usually happens. I’m particularly sensitive about not wanting to be the High Maintenance Associate–if I’m daily asking for “dressing on the side,” will I come off as obnoxious? Any tips for navigating the summer? Thanks.

This is a great question, because the summer can be a really difficult time for both those being recruited and those doing the recruiting.  We’ve talked about business lunch etiquette before, and we’ve also talked about trying to diet while working a corporate gig — but now let’s talk maintenance.  (Pictured:  Salad Lunch, originally uploaded to Flickr by 427.) Some tips: [Read more...]

Should Your Interviewer Get a Thank-You Note or eThanks?

email-or-letter-thank-you-to-job-interviewerShould you thank an interviewer with an email or a card? We’ve wondered about this for a while as well, so reader J’s question strikes us as particularly interesting…

After an interview, everyone knows that it is good manners to send a perfunctory “Thank You” note. However, is it still recommended that the “Thank You” note be a hand-written note sent through snail mail or is it equally appropriate to send a “Thank You” after an interview via email? I am old-fashioned and still send a hand-written note on nice Crane & Co. stationary, however, an email “thank you” would certainly get there faster. I am not sure what is considered appropriate these days!? Any thoughts??

First, we would say that the thank-you note should be far from perfunctory — it reinforces what you spoke about in the interview, why you’re qualified for the job, and allows you to clarify anything that you worry came across poorly.  (Pictured:  Orange notecards, 25 thermographed notecards for $152 at Fine Stationery.)

That said, we’re sort of torn on how to send your interviewer their thank-you note. [Read more...]

How to Put Your Best Self Forward During a Skype Interview or Conference Call

Skype interview tipsOur first thought when we got this request was, “garsh, these times we live in!” followed by, “of course, we will all be doing these very soon”…

Help! I am a 1L interviewing for summer associate position and the firm has decided to do a skype interview. I am terrified I will look washed out/ too made up/ etc on camera. Any tips for hair/makeup? Also, my career service office recommended wearing a nice blouse, but I feel a suit would be more appropriate.

Wow. Ok. We’ve only used Skype a few times (on our Mac laptop, primarily) to talk to a bestie who lives in London.  From our limited experiences with Skype, we would have to say:  it does not seem to be the most flattering. You don’t know where to look, because you want to see the screen and see what they’re doing, but you should be looking at the camera, and nothing is eye level, and it’s all very weird.  (Pictured:  nick skype, originally uploaded to Flickr by nedrichards.)

Some tips: [Read more...]

Polls on hose, and thoughts on other interview accessories

What Kind of Hose Should You Wear to an #Interview? | CorporetteToday’s reader mail comes with a ton more of questions about interviewing…

I’m a 3L and have an interview next week with a panel of district court judges for a judicial clerkship. I have a few questions with regards to my upcoming interview:

1.) I (and the interview) are in the Midwest, so it’s cold and snowy outside. I am planning on wearing a black skirt suit and am wondering if it’s appropriate to wear black tights with my suit? Or would pantyhose (off-black) be more professional?

2.) What do I do about a coat? Is it ok to wear a wool coat over my suit? I’m not sure if there will be anywhere to hang it or leave it once I get to the courthouse. Or should I just leave it in the car and just suck it up during the walk to the courthouse from my car?

3.) What about a purse? All I’m planning on bringing with me are copies of my resume, writing sample, etc. so I don’t necessarily need a large bag, but I don’t know if it’s unprofessional to bring my purse and carry the paperwork in a leather portfolio.

Good luck on the interview!  We’ll go through all of your questions… [Read more...]