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Before You Interview, Learn and Practice Ed’s “Zip a Lip” Theory

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

My best advice to clients about to interview for a job is to treat the interview like an IRS audit.

When the Internal Revenue Service thinks you are cheating on your annual tax return, and they ask you a question during an audit, it is a real good idea to answer the field auditor’s question and shut up.

The same strategy works during job interviews. When the interviewer asks you a job-related question, answer the question and shut up. Use my “Zip-a-Lip” Theory and you will more likely stay out of trouble and get an offer when all is said and done.

Always remember that is it much easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

Too many clients answer a question and then feel compelled to explain or justify their answer. This is almost always a bad idea. You have perhaps heard the expression “better to remain silent than remove all doubt”. A job interview is no time to be the life of the party or a chatty Cathy.

Once I asked a potential hire a job-related question and about 30 seconds into his answer he drifted into a discussion of his sled dog experience in Alaska. Something he had said triggered a word association in his mind, and caused him to veer off track. I let him yak on and it was about 8 minutes before he shut up. He did not get a job offer.

When asked a question, answer the question and invoke Ed’s Zip-a-Lip Theory. If the interviewer wants more information, force him or her to ask a more specific question, then answer the question and again use my Zip-a-Lip Theory.

Few potential hires realize that by adopting this strategy, you actually gain significant positive points doing so.

The fact of the matter is that when you answer a question and remain silent when it is appropriate to do so, the smarter, the more intelligent and more accomplished you appear to the interviewer.

Again, it is only when you keep talking that you reveal too much of yourself, and run the risk of saying something out of turn that could create a seed of doubt. Creating a seed of doubt is something you simply cannot afford to do when interviewing. It causes the interviewer to start checking out something about you that could lead to a negative reaction.

When you remain silent you do not have to look sullen. You can smile without talking the interviewer to death.

Using my Zip-a-Lip Theory also moves the interview along, and saves time for all concerned. Be short and succinct in your answers and you will appear to be better organized, more in control of yourself, and excited about the opportunity in question.

Online Hiring Threatens to Do Away With Traditional Hard Copy Resumes – Is It Really True? (Part 1 of a 4-Part Series)

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

The presentation of this story in my Wednesday daily newspaper is dramatic.

A smaller headline in color above the main headline says “Digital Job Searches Gain Ground”.

The main headline says “Straight to the Waste Basket” and shows a picture up top of a resume folded like a paper airplane headed presumably for a wastebasket (if you are wondering, wastebasket is one word, not two).

Is it really true? Well, I guess that depends on who you are talking to and what advice you choose to believe.

The story—and I use the word story rather than article because I believe most of the story is make believe—makes some observations and assumptions that are without substance in fact.

“Instead of reading your resume,” says Daine Stafford of The Kansas City Star, “an employer might ask you to fill out an online form or take an online test that measures how well you fit the job, based on responses from successful workers.”

That is an observation and at least the first part of it is correct, that more and more employers are asking for an email version of a resume rather than the traditional hard copy (printed) version we have used in recent decades.

Stafford says “Google, for example, uses a screening program to measure applicants’ attitudes, behaviors, personality and biographical details. Answers are scrunched in a formula that creates a score, indicating how well the candidate is likely to fare on the job.”

Fair enough, Google probably does so if Stafford says so.

I have often wondered what a screening question like “Which would you rather be: 1) a monkey, 2) a bear, 3) a tiger, or 4) a kangaroo?” actually tells human resources about a person’s personality that they could not better find out by interviewing them.

If you get the impression that interviewers are personnel types who are lazy in the hiring process, you might be right. Anything to get them to the point where they have nothing to do but push paper around, and look important and arrogant in the process (like I have mine, screw you).

Stafford continues: “It’s all electronic,” said Michael Doyle, a 60-year-old job seeker from Prairie Village, Kan. (sic), who recently landed a job through personal contacts. In nine months, Doyle said, he’s spoken to exactly two interviewers as a result of online postings.”

My guess is that Doyle may have submitted an email version of his resume to dozens, if not hundreds, of online destinations.

I could have told Doyle that probably 60% of all hiring is contacts, knowing people in the workplace or knowing people who know people in the workplace. Yes, it helps to have qualifications, but it helps more to have qualifications and know someone who wants to help you.

Reading about Doyle’s experience might lead me to conclude that online posting is not the best method to proceed here given the results. No wonder hiring is so screwed up.

From this and another example, Stafford then draws the conclusion that the applicants “discovered that resumes have gone digital.”

She goes on to say “In some cases, resumes have disappeared from the hiring process completely. Some employers don’t even want them in digitized format. They prefer customized online forms, tailor-made to cull the applicant field.”

Again, anything to make it easier on personnel types, we certainly would not want to put them out for even a minute of their precious time.

From the input of experiences of two applicants this conclusion comes bursting forth as implied truth that a new paradigm has taken place in the America business of hiring.