Category Archives: Courtesy

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


Sending a thank-you message after an interview is important because it helps keep you fresh in the hiring manager’s mind and demonstrates that you understand good business etiquette. First, know that you can’t go wrong with sending an email – particularly if you’ve been using that method to correspond with your interviewer prior to your meeting. Sending an email allows you to follow up quickly and reiterate your interest in the position, while also providing additional materials (such as writing samples) requested during the interview.

Using email is especially important if you know the company is looking to hire someone quickly. By the time a handwritten note arrives via traditional mail, they may have already made their decision. Additionally, remember that some people don’t check their office mail regularly, or may be out of the office on business or vacation travel where they don’t have access to incoming mail.

A handwritten note or card can help you stand out from the crowd and is appropriate when you know the employer doesn’t intend to make a hiring decision in the days immediately following the interview. This type of communication may also be more appropriate if you’re applying to work at a very formal company or for a high-ranking position.

If you go this route, aim to send it out the same day you interview to ensure it arrives in a timely fashion. Find a quiet spot immediately following your meeting while the details are still fresh in your mind to write the note and drop it in the nearest mailbox.

No matter which format you choose, start off the message by thanking the interviewer again for his or her time and for giving you the opportunity to come in.

Next you want to express your excitement and interest in the company, incorporating details that you heard in the interview. For example, if the hiring manager told you that the team you’d be working with is highly collaborative, you can say something like “I was excited to hear this team enjoys collaboration, since I value working in an environment where colleagues can share ideas and solicit feedback on a regular basis.”

Finally, reiterate why your skills and experience are a good fit for the position. You can reference what you heard in the interview as well as what’s in the job description. For instance, if you know they want to bring someone on to bring consistency and strategy to their social media networks, the follow-up message is a good time to remind them of your experience in doing just that.

For additional reading on how to write a follow-up message after an interview, check out these articles from  ForbesMonster and Fast Company.

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Interview

How to Accept and Decline Job Offers

Young workgroup

You’ve made it to the end of your job search and you’ve managed to receive at least one offer. Perhaps you’ve even received two or more offers, giving you the opportunity to negotiate and truly make a decision about what is best for you and your future.

So many people mistakenly think that this is the end of the line. You do the deep reflection required to understand what you want, what kind of environment you need in order to thrive, and you make it happen for yourself. You get the offer and you can just sit back and put things in cruise control, right?

Eh, not so much. The problem with this whole thought process is the fact that it assumes receiving the offer means the hard work is done. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In all reality, receiving an offer or offers is just the beginning of the truly hard process of making a final decision. Sometimes, you will have learned during the interview process that a particular employer simply isn’t for you. Other times you’ll simply have multiple offers on the table and you’ll use your ideal job description to determine what fits best. And then you have to make the final call.

Eventually you’ll have to accept an offer, which is an incredibly exciting event in your life and career. However, what most people forget at this point is that the offers you’re turning down came from somewhere. Those employers are waiting to hear back from you, and it would be incredibly unprofessional to leave them hanging. Not to mention the incredible damage it would do to your personal brand.

So, after you make the decision about which offer to accept and which offer(s) to leave behind,it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to maintain the relationships all around. By taking this approach, you can build your personal brand in the eyes of the professionals rather than burning bridges that would be incredibly hard to rebuild.

With that context, let’s dive in.

Deciding to Accept or Decline

You should be accepting for one of two reasons:
  1. You received an initial offer that met all of your needs with a company and in a role that meets the criteria you laid out in your ideal job description.
  2. You effectively negotiated for the terms you needed from the offer.
You should be declining for one of three reasons:
  1. You received an offer after learning during the interview process that the organization was not the right place for you.
  2. You received an offer that had too many aspects that didn’t meet your ideal job description.
  3. You attempted to negotiate for the terms you needed from the offer and were either unsuccessful, or the organization was not open to negotiations.

How To Accept an Offer

Based on these terms, let’s cover how to accept an offer first. At a high level, you want to accept the offer both verbally and on paper. It is also a good idea to inform each of the individuals you have interacted with during the interview process in addition to signing and submitting your formal offer letter.

At the most basic level, you will want to sign the offer letter that contains the most up to date terms of employment based on any negotiations you may have done. Do not sign an offer that does not include the up to date information that reflects your negotiations. If you did not negotiate, you can sign the offer letter you first received.

In addition, you should call your main point of contact to tell them you have accepted your offer and that they can expect it in the mail. When you speak to them, say something like the following:

“Hi, [name], this is [your name] and I am calling to formally accept my offer to join [organization name]. I have signed and mailed/emailed my offer letter and you can expect to receive it within the week. Is there anything else I need to do to help you move the process along at this point?”

They will give a response that reflects their excitement and desire to have you join the team. Hopefully they will give you plenty of detail to appropriately set your expectations, but you cannot rely on that. If they don’t give you any details, then you should ask:

“What can I expect from the overall onboarding process, and when should I expect to hear from you next?”

Now you have accepted the offer (congratulations!), you’ve told the person who needs to know, and you know what to expect next. The next thing to do is to inform anyone else who has played a part in your hiring process at the organization. If any particular professionals have played a particularly large role by helping answer your questions, negotiate your offer, or recommending you to the job in the first place, I would recommend giving them a call and sending a thank you note.

Let them know that you have accepted and that you appreciate their help along the way. In your thank you letter, include something like the following:

“Dear [Name],

I am excited to tell you that I have accepted my offer to join [organization name] as a [role name]. Without your help during the recruitment and hiring process, I would not have had such a great experience or learned so much about the company.

Thank you very much for your guidance and support, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

All the best,

[Your Name]”

Your phone call should express similar thoughts. Always be sure to personalize the conversation based on your experience and relationship with the individual. Anyone that played more of a minor role in your hiring process deserves an email informing them that you’ve accepted as well. The basic elements of your email should include:

  1. Thanking them for their help during the process
  2. Informing them that you have accepted your offer
  3. Stating your excitement to join the organization
  4. Asking for any advice or next steps you should take to prepare to join the organization

You can use the script above, or you can create a custom email template that includes each of the elements above. Always be sure to edit and proofread. Once you accept your offer, it’s the beginning of your career, which means it’s time to continue building your personal brand and professional relationships.

How To Decline an Offer

While accepting an offer will be a great feeling, declining an offer can be a bit less fun. However, declining an offer is an excellent opportunity to build your personal brand and maintain relationships with the people in the organization. There are two different ways that you will want to handle declining an offer:

  1. When the job, organization, industry, culture, or other aspect is simply not a good fit for you
  2. When you have decided to take a competing offer that simply beat out the one you have chosen to decline.
Declining Because It’s Not a Good Fit

In the first case, there is nothing the organization could have done to make you want to take the offer. In the second case, the organization’s offer has simply been beat by another employer that represented a better fit for you. In either case, you always want to maintain the relationship, so giving them the courtesy of formally declining the offer is extremely important.

You should decline the offer as soon as you have accepted another offer or made a definitive decision not to accept. While the conversation may be a bit uncomfortable, it’s inconsiderate and poor business etiquette to delay after making the decision. When you’re ready to formally decline, call your main point of contact and send an email to each of your other points of contact in the organization.

One question that often comes up at this point: why would you spend so much time to simply decline an offer? The answer lies in The Five Principles of Networking Success. You can build your brand and prove your integrity by giving the simple courtesy of correspondence. Based on this approach the next question is: what do you say when you call or email?

Something like this will do just fine:

“Hi, [name], this is [your name] calling in response to the job offer I was excited to receive from your organization. I am calling to let you know that I have decided to not to accept the offer because [and then insert your reason for declining].”

Your reason will be personal and unique, but here is an example:

“I have decided to accept a competing offer that I feel best fits my current professional and personal goals.”


“I do not believe that I am a good cultural fit for the organization.”

You will know the reason better than anyone, so be sure to be honest but professional. That means you should not say “I did not think the offer was any good.” OR “I’m not excited about your organization.” In your emails to the professionals other than your main point of contact, be sure to include the following points:

  1. Thank them for their time and help.
  2. Tell them that you are declining the offer.
  3. Give them your reasoning for declining.
  4. Tell them you would appreciate the opportunity to stay connected.
  5. Tell them to let you know if you can ever do anything to help them reach their goals.
Declining Because of a Non-Negotiable Offer

The second case in which you will decide to decline an offer is because the organization said the offer is non-negotiable. In this case, you should make your reasoning clear when you decline by saying:

“I am sorry to say that I have two specific concerns related to the offer you have kindly extended me to join your organization. Due to the fact that the offer is non-negotiable I will have to decline at this time.”

In this case you would state this reasoning only to your main point of contact. In the majority of cases they will simply accept your reasoning and move on. In rare cases, your final decision (either verbal or written) may trigger a decision to negotiate with you.

In case you are given the opportunity to obtain what you want from the offer, you should be prepared to conduct the negotiation. However, if you receive a call or email to negotiate, reschedule for a time when you are able to have your minimum requirements in front of you and you are able to prepare appropriately for the discussion. When you email the secondary contacts you’ve made in the organization, you should simply state that you have declined the offer and then include the same main points we covered previously.

Wrapping Up

With that, you’re fully prepared to accept and decline job offers in a way that is professional, builds your brand, and maintains the relationships in a positive way. Your job, no matter how little desire you have to accept an offer, is to make the company or employer feel that their time was well spent in considering you for the position.


Because that day five years down the road when you realize you need one of those connections or it’s time to sell something to that organization, you don’t want their one memory to be “that time you snuffed them after they gave you a generous offer.” Right?

cross posted from Living for Monday

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Self-Improvement, Tool Box

12 Most Self-Absorbed Ways to Destroy Your Credibility


We have all been inundated with articles, books and blog-posts about ways in which we can improve our leadership style, wield our influence and build up our credibility. We have all been trained, or have read that it takes years to build a reputation and one simple, sometimes seemingly insignificant (at least to us) act to ruin it. We are all guilty of losing our focus occasionally and we may act insensitively now and then.

So, let’s talk about some ways that we trip ourselves up…

1. Disrespecting people’s time

There is an old adage, “time is money.” Time is also some of the necessary capital for building relationships, personal as well as business. In our fast-paced society, most people feel over-burdened by the things they feel they must get done and not having enough time.

Starting and ending meetings late, showing up late for appointments, lunches and dinners may be tolerated initially. But, eventually it leads people to question your sincerity, ability to organize (and lead), accomplish important tasks, manage your time, lead effectively, and eventually your integrity about all that you do. Abusing someone’s time says blatantly, “I don’t respect or value you.”

2. Inauthentic listening

A second clear signal that you do not value the people around you is not really paying attention when they are speaking to you. It is one thing to take notes about the discussion or topic, but a completely different issue when fiddling with your smart phone, failing to make eye-contact, and finally giving inappropriate answers to questions you have only half-heard. If you wish to add insult to injury, you can ask that they repeat everything they have just said, now that they have your attention.

Here are some posts that will help you communicate better:

 3. Failing to act

When your teammates are putting together a project, wander off to do something more important and certainly less labor-intensive. It won’t be long before you are known as the guy (or girl) who “doesn’t do chairs.”

Only good leaders spend time in the trenches, helping with the less-glamorous jobs alongside the people they hope to lead.

4. Micromanaging everyone except yourself

Be sure to tell others exactly how to do the jobs you’ve assigned them, nit-pick their mistakes and check on them frequently to keep them accountable. However, when your work is being evaluated, and found to be less than the best you are capable of producing, blow it off as nit-picking, and assure your critics that is “good enough for government work.”

5. Ignoring promises and agreements

If you must make a promise or a commitment to the people around you, don’t make plans to follow through on them. People will shortly figure out that you are unreliable and will begin to treat you accordingly. How do you do this? See #6.

6. Making excuses

Always have your favorite excuses at the ready. Need a few to add to your arsenal?

  • I forgot
  • I thought it was another time, place, _____________.
  • I didn’t know you wanted it done by today.
  • It’s almost finished, but I didn’t bring it with me
  • Old-school classic: The dog ate it.
  • I have it all in my head and I can just scribble it down for you if you really need it now.

 7. Failing to support people

When your colleagues are trying to explain or present a program or idea that you have championed privately together, and it appears that things are not going well, distance yourself. Let them sweat and hang all alone. You are okay with this because you followed step # 5.

Don’t step up to defend the “good” idea. Act as though you have no idea why they are wandering down that particular rabbit trail. It will only take doing this 1 or 2 times before your colleagues see you for what you are… a fraud.

8. Making sure the spotlight, focus and high-beams are always on you

Turn any conversation into a discussion about your personal achievement and your “awesomeness.” Be sure to explain what you have done is so much more important, and why everyone should care. For the most mileage, be sure you start with a humble beginning to your story.

9. Casting blame

When a project that you care about doesn’t fly, be certain to explain to everyone and anyone who will listen why it isn’t really your fault. If you are speaking to higher-ups, blame your “subordinates” for not pulling their weight. If you are speaking with team members or subordinates, explain why the organization, “the system”, “the man” is holding you back and keeping good ideas out of the pipeline. Above all else, be sure to raise yourself and your involvement to the highest level and standards in your explanation (#8).

10. Overplaying your relationship card

Only contact your friends when you need something — a favor, money, a recommendation, etc. Here’s how:

  • Start with your inauthentic listening skills (#2), asking about people in their lives that you can scarcely remember and projects they have been working on, in which you have no interest
  • Move on to something about getting together more often; it’s been too long, yada, yada, yada…
  • Then, Bang! Ask for what you came for. Present the real goal of the contact and conversation.
  • But I should caution you that this will probably only work once or twice.

 11. Abandoning projects

First of all, only champion projects that involve the labor and talents of other people. If somehow things get shifted around, and you find yourself having to do most of the heavy lifting yourself, let go. Explain why it’s all falling apart (#9), that you have given it a lot of thought (perhaps throw in sleepless nights), and have decided not to pursue this anymore. Don’t get hung up on the fact that other people have already put in hard work.

12. Not accepting criticism

Never allow other people to criticize or correct you. If you must listen, use your inauthentic listening skills (#2) and simply ignore what they say. If you must speak, see #6, #9 and #11.

Failing any of those techniques, make a joke of it, which would actually be #13, but we only get 12. Don’t let what anybody thinks about you, your work or your work ethic change how you work or how you feel about yourself.
I could use the old adage here, “never let them see you sweat,” but you don’t sweat, because you don’t care.

We have discussed some of the most selfish and self-centered ways to crush your credibility with other people. These are all habits which we can easily fall into. If you want to be respected, remain credible and valued, you should avoid them at all costs. If don’t avoid them, clean up the mess and do damage control as soon as possible.

We all know people who do these things all the time. What methods do you use to keep your ego in check?

cross posted form

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Interview, Self-Improvement, Skill

I get annoyed with other people and their communication habits when they …

Complete this sentence: “I get annoyed with other people and their communication habits when they …”

1. Interrupt me.

2. Finish my sentences.

3. Fail to look at me.

4. Chew gum loudly.

5. Type on the computer while we’re on the phone.

6. Mumble on a voicemail message.

7. Lack clarity in project directions.

8. Write their “out of office” message with spelling errors.

9. Complain, criticize, complain, criticize…

10. Say their phone number so fast on a voice mail that I can’t get it after replaying it seven times.

11. Ask me how I am and their facial expression clearly reveals they aren’t listening and don’t truly care.

12. Keep repeating information and making conversations and correspondence painfully long.

13. Inject nervous giggles or laughter into conversations that simply aren’t funny.

14. Forget to say their name in a voice mail message.

15. Try to impress me by “topping” whatever I say.

16. Get distracted with their gadgets and technology in meetings, conversations, and networking events.

17. Talk too fast or too slow.

18. Give wimpy handshakes.

19. Send a three-page email when one paragraph would suffice.

20. Plan lengthy meetings with no agenda, and then order food.

21. Speak louder to people with accents.

22. Deliver presentations in a monotone voice.

23. Eat while on the phone.

24. Call people out (in social media) in public instead of sending a private message.

25. Forget to update their voice mail to let people know they are on vacation for two weeks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Skill

How to Follow Up on a Job Interview (Without Being Annoying)

You just interviewed for a job and you haven’t heard anything. Sometimes this is a sign of bad news, and sometimes it isn’t. You want to follow up and find out what’s going on, but you don’t want to be annoying. Here’s how to handle this situation effectively.

A friend of mine is currently in this position, and asked me how I’d word a follow-up email. When I tried to come up with something, I realized I hadn’t written one in many years and my skills were a bit rusty. So, I asked the internet for some help and got some good advice. Most agreed on a very simple process.

Send a Thank-you Note Immediately After the Interview

How to Follow Up on a Job Interview (Without Being Annoying)

Most people suggest sending a thank you note right away, via snail mail, as it takes a few days to arrive and serves as a positive reminder to get back to you. My sister, Ali, had a few good suggestions for its content:

I almost always will send snail mail to thank them for their time and let them know how nice it was to meet them. I say (if I believe it to be to true) what a nice environment they created for the interview/audition. And I say simply at the end, “I hope to see you again soon.”

It’s pretty simple, but very effective. The problem with calling or writing to ask for more information is that you’re essentially reminding them that they forgot to do something. Although it is legitimate to send this reminder, there’s a decent chance they’ll be annoyed that they have to deal with you (if they didn’t like you) or at least feel bad for ignoring you (if they did). A thank you note is simply a polite and positive reminder that you exist. It will help your interviewer(s) want to get back to you.

Send a Short, Polite Email to Check In

How to Follow Up on a Job Interview (Without Being Annoying)When you’ve finished your interview, you’ll often be told when you can expect to hear back. If not, that’s a question you should ask before the conversation is over. If that amount of time passes and you haven’t heard anything, it’s reasonable to call or write to check in. An email is less-intrusive and won’t put your interviewer on the spot, so it is generally a better way to ask the question. David Hill suggests that email contain two things:

I usually confine it to email and make it a quick note – thank them again for the interview and ask if there’s been an update/any movement on the position. If they respond, you can usually get a feel for whether you’re annoying the shit out of them.

Deanna Parkton suggests asking the interviewer if they need any additional qualifications or information so your message has an additional, helpful purposes as well.

Regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to keep it short. Here’s an example:


I just wanted to follow up in regards to my interview on [date — or "last week"]. Do you have an update, or do you need any further information from me? Please let me know when you have a free moment.

Thank you,
[Your Name]

Of course, this might be a bit formal. You’ll want to make the note sound like you and be as formal or casual as is appropriate for the situation. Either way, the content is pretty straightforward and only takes a few seconds to put together.

It can be a little nerve-wracking to ask for an update when you were supposed to hear back, as it feels like you’re asking for bad news, but that isn’t always the case. If you get bad news, there will be other job opportunities, but sometimes you’ll find out that the company needed an extra day because another interview was postponed or they simply haven’t had time to get back to everyone. You never know, and that’s why you ask.

Cross posted from Lifehacker

Photos by pjcross (Shutterstock), woodlywonderworks, and Elena Elisseeva (Shutterstock).

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Interview, Skill

How to Write a Thank-You Note That Matters

I work with some of the nation’s top marketing communications professionals. Every day. So you might think I receive a constant stream of well-crafted, even artful follow-up correspondence. Or maybe just thank-you notes that feature correct spelling.

If only that were true.

It is scary how few people take the time to say “thank you.” The notes I do receive often have typos and grammatical mistakes, even though they’re sent by professionals in a line of work where perfect copy ought to be second nature. This doesn’t build my confidence in them, and it doesn’t do much to help build the type of relationship they intended.

There’s no faster way to create a positive impression than with a handwritten note or card. For your employees. For partners. For customers. Keep some simple, professional correspondence cards handy. Then push away the keyboard and write one or two sentences — by hand.

A masterful thank you is so rare in this digital age that it speaks volumes about the sender. Rarer still is a handwritten note from a business owner or executive. When the sender is a busy executive, handwritten notes are so remarkable that they easily earn awe and admiration.

It’s perhaps a reflection on the state of working professionals right now that one of the nicest, most memorable thank you notes I’ve received recently was from a college student. It was emailed, but it still stood out.

My son attends the University of Southern California. One of his fraternity brothers, Stephen, is interested in a marketing career, so my son introduced him to me. I looked at Stephen’s resume and offered some suggestions. Stephen is interested in speechwriting, so I introduced him to someone who is experienced in that area.

In return, I received a lovely voicemail message and a thoughtful thank-you note that covered:

The thank you:

  • A stated desire to stay in touch with me
  • A brief reminder of his tremendous experience
  • Appreciation for the introduction I made for him
  • A compliment about my son—always the quickest way to a mother’s heart

I know Stephen is still in college, but this young man is smart and savvy. You can bet I’ll be happy to give him my attention any time –no matter how busy I am. Working professionals can learn from Stephen’s example.

Want to knock some socks off today? Write a meaningful thank you email or, better, send a handwritten note.

René Shimada Siegel is Founder and President of High Tech Connect, a specialized consultant placement firm for marketing and communications experts. The company represents more than 1,000 select consultants around the world for more than 400 clients, ranging from technology, consumer and medical industry giants to high-growth firms and startups.


Leave a comment

Filed under Attitude, Courtesy, Self-Improvement, Skill, Tool Box

Body Language Can Speak Volumes

Often times when preparing for an interview, we get so caught up in finding the right words to say that we forget about what we don’t say actually can make a difference as well.  Your body can speak volumes about you without you even saying a word.  It is one of those things that can be overlooked, but it is just as important when trying to make a good impression.

Some of the given gestures include good eye contact, smiling, and good posture but many people don’t know why.  Having good eye contact….natural eye contact, can convey that you are self confident and sure about what it is that you are saying, smiling gives the impression that you are a happy, vibrant person, and good posture just shows that you’re interested, alert, and paying attention.  Careful not to sit too erect though or the confidence that you made sure to display will be diminished and you may be seen as nervous.

It’s all about balance.  Your words and gestures need to be on one accord.  Facial expressions should match your tone of voice; pleasant expressions should accompany pleasant words.  Here is an illustration of how it all comes together: It’s hard to appear as the best candidate for an early AM, customer facing position if your eyes have grocery bags beneath them or are blood shot red.  The first thing to come to mind would be, “This is not a morning person, and therefore not the one for the job”.   The remedy for this would be to get a good night’s rest beforehand and maybe invest in some Clear Eyes to get the red out.  You still may not be a morning person, but at least you would look the part.

Another important point to remember is to appear engaged and receptive.  This can be achieved by subtle acknowledgements during the conversation, such as a nod, or an “I see”, and by keeping your body open….cross nothing!  This is especially important for men.  Crossing your arms or legs gives the impression that you’re guarding something and are not receptive to what’s being said.  The same goes for women, but if it must be done, crossing your legs at the ankle is the only acceptable form.

Thirdly, be mindful of not just what you’re saying, but how you say it.  Don’t speak too fast or too slow, too loud or too soft.  Watch the inflection at the end of your sentences.    Lifting your voice at the end of a statement makes it sounds like a question or even worse, like you are unsure about what you’ve just said.  Lowering your voice too low can make it difficult to hear.   Practice eliminating excess words such as, “like”, “you know”, “um”, “stuff” and “whatever”.  Using these words in excess can cause you to be seen as immature rather than professional in the eyes of an employer.

Keeping these things in mind will help you in your pursuit of employment.  These tips may not get the job for you, but at least they won’t be the reason why you didn’t.

Christien C. Amour

Data and Reporting Specialist

Leave a comment

Filed under Attitude, Courtesy, Self-Improvement, Skill, Tool Box

Responding to an Inappropriate Interview Question

By now most people know they’re not supposed to ask questions about age, race, religion and whether a woman is planning to have children.  But beyond the illegal questions I’ve found clients sometimes confronted with the occasional inappropriate question.

These usually occur when the employer is a smaller one or a family-owned business.  In other words, larger, more structured companies typically operate in a more standardized setting.  But less structured interviews, particularly if they involve a lunch or supper meeting, can occasionally stray into question about public issues of the day.  I don’t necessarily think the employer is trying to catch the candidate as much as the inquiry is simply born of ignorance.

Politics and pop culture can be dangerous topics if not handled properly.  Imagine sitting there during the height of the Iraq War and being asked your view on President Bush and our nation’s strategy?  Or President Obama and healthcare?

On the one hand you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with my ability to do my job?”  And you’d be correct.  Yet, how should you handle that inquiry without appearing rattled, confrontational or evasive?  How can you convey that, well, it’s none of that person’s business without somewhat alienating the interviewer?

A simple technique I’ve found effective is to use a verbal cushion to acknowledge the question, but to then turn things around and ask the employer their thoughts on the subject.

For example, “I’m not sure there’s any easy answer on the war.  There are certainly passionate opinions on both sides.  I’m curious, Mr. Employer, what you think about it.”  And if the interviewer doesn’t respond, change the subject.  If they do respond while giving their opinion, at least you know whether what you might have said would have matched your with your potential employer.

If the employer responds, then further asks you your opinion, I think you’re within your rights to respectfully refuse to answer.  Try, “While we both know it’s a hot topic, I hope you’ll appreciate my desire to separate my personal views and interests from my work objectives.”  Be careful not to impugn the employer’s motives for asking or verbally slap their wrist too harshly.

Awkward, inappropriate or even illegal questions can easy rattle many candidates.  How calmly you respond under such circumstances could help separate you from your competition.

Learn more about us at

Randy Wooden

The Wooden Group

As founder and president of The Wooden Group, Randy brings over 25 years of experience in a number of human resource areas including outplacement, career coaching, executive recruiting, in-house staffing and training. Additionally, Randy has served as a college adjunct instructor, teaching classes on interviewing and the overall job hunting process.

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Interview, Unexpected

There Is No Such Thing As Being Overdressed For An Interview!

It is imperative that one dress appropriately for a job interview.   First impressions can last a lifetime so making the right one can make all the difference in how a future employer perceives your  attitude and work ethic.  If one takes the time to properly groom and dress, then it should be inferred that their time spent on the job will also be spent diligently.

What to wear for men:

-Suit (solid color – navy or dark gray)

-Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)


-Tie without bold designs or loud colors

-Dark socks

-Conservative leather shoes

-Little or no jewelry

-Neat, professional hairstyle

-Limited aftershave

-Neatly trimmed nails

-Fresh Breath

-Portfolio or briefcase

What to wear for women:

-Suit (navy, black or dark grey) – The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably

-Coordinated blouse

-Conservative shoes

-Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets) – No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry

-Professional hairstyle

-Neutral pantyhose

-Light make-up and perfume

-Neatly manicured clean nails

-Fresh Breath

-Portfolio or briefcase

Things to avoid During an Interview

(you would be amazed at how often interviewees arrive for an interview with the following items):

Revealing Clothing, Too Much Jewelry,  Flip Flops or Sneakers, Visible Underwear, baggy clothes, Poor Footwear, Hats, anything Denim, Stained Clothing, Excessive Jewelry (no nose, tongue, or eyebrow rings), Baggy Pants w/out a belt to hold in place at WAISTLINE, Midriff, Mesh, Halter, Tank Tops, or Spaghetti Straps, Remnants of a Late Night Out, Graphic T-Shirts and cover large or offensive tattoos.  Do not bring in portable electronics (ipods), turn your cell phone off, do not chew gum or suck on a mint, do not carry large bags or backpacks into the interview.

Dressing for success is crucial to landing a job.  Even if the job you are interviewing for requires a uniform or casual clothing, be sure to dress your best and follow the above guidelines.  There is no such thing as being overdressed for a job interview!

Fredrina Pinkney

Employment Retention Specialist

Leave a comment

Filed under Courtesy, Fashion, Grooming, Self-Improvement

Do Your References Know That They Are Your References?

It is imperative when you are job searching that you alert your references, personal and professional, and tell them that you need their support. Remind them that you are job searching, tell them why you chose them, and make sure their contact information is updated. Although we are now deeply immersed in a world of texts, emails and social media, a phone call is still a very accepted means of communication. So do yourself a favor and call your references and thank them in advance for helping you to land a job and prepare them to be an effective spokesperson for you.

Tanika Hawkins

Career Connections Coordinator

Prosperity Center


Filed under Courtesy, Network, References