Gent Hints – Interviewing for an Internal Position

My current home of employment is quite unique. The opportunity for growth and advancement is wonderfully plentiful. Management offers a fantastic support system to aid and assist with an individual’s learning and development. However, the opportunity for advancement is not absent its share of challenge and adversity; wrought with anxiety and apprehension. The arduous road to career advancement can wind through a series of internal interviews that sometimes result in reward, and other circumstances with disappointment. Often, but not entirely, the outcome is predicated by the preparation and performance of the candidate. Interviewing for an internal position can present a myriad of unaccounted for pitfalls that a candidate fails to properly address.

My position in management has afforded me the opportunity to interview a robust quantity of candidates – both internally and externally. The knowledge that I have gleaned from my experiences has allowed for not only personal, professional growth; but I can confidently dispense guidance to candidates seeking career advancement. Today, I wanted to extend a small offering of wisdom to those individuals that hold a desire to advance within their present employer and must navigate the interview process to accomplish that objective. So, let’s explore what a candidate should and should not do when interviewing for an internal position at their job.

Do’s and Don’ts When Interviewing for an Internal Position

  1. Don’t arrive at the interview too relaxed. Sometimes a candidate can become a victim of comfort and familiarity. A candidate may enter an interview composed of peers or coworkers. Being haphazardly at ease with one’s surroundings can possibly dull a candidate’s sharpness and awareness. A candidate should be cognizant of body language and communication – keep it decidedly professional and formal.
  2. Do Approach an internal interview as if you were an external candidate, but bolstered insider knowledge. Dress professionally for the interview. Bring a resume. And don’t take for granted that the interviewer has predetermined knowledge of how you perform at work – now is the time to sell yourself and highlight noteworthy achievements along with championing your work ethic.
  3. Do the necessary research before applying for the position. A candidate that lacks basic knowledge of the desired position reflects very poorly on the candidate’s interview preparation. Network with colleagues that are currently in that department or on the team. Scheduling an appointment with the hiring manager prior to the interview can provide crucial insight and detail of tremendous benefit.
  4. Don’t torch professional bridges in the office. In the circumstance that you are striving to advance internally, your reputation can certainly travel with you as you apply for positions. Trust – managers speak with other managers. External candidates can be an unknown commodity. However, in the case of an internal candidate, expect the hiring manager to do a little research on their potential new hire.
  5. Don’t end the interview with a wave and goodbye. A prepared candidate should always ask meaningful questions regarding job expectations, challenges that the candidate may face, challenges currently faced by the team/department/company, opportunity for growth & development, and  – well you get the idea. Salary, benefits, and shift assignment are all valid questions to ask, but a candidate should arrive armed with inquiries that project depth and thoughtfulness.
  6. Do express gratitude after the interview. Some people may label this act as a dated practice, but a handwritten thank you note can be the finishing touch that separates two candidates that are running neck & neck for a position. Be aware of certain points during the interview that resonate with the interviewer or panel; craft your thank you card accordingly and take that moment to briefly pitch yourself as an asset, express enthusiasm for position, and offer gratitude for the time & consideration you’ve been granted.

This blog is about sharing knowledge. And I am certain the points above is not an exhaustive list of what to do and not to do. Therefore, please feel free to lend some advice in the comment section. I am sure someone will readily welcome a pointer or two or three.

Gent Hints – The Office – Preparing Your Job Narrative

jobsRest assured, the cognizant gentleman fully comprehends that preparing for a job interview entails more than rudimentary touch-up of one’s resume. A gentleman needs a narrative that coincides with what your potential employer is looking for in a potential worker. Therefore, diligent preparation is paramount. Your job interview should convey a story  – your personal story. It should be a story that will compel a company to look to you as its newest, welcome addition that furthers their mission. In that interview, your presence must have a purpose. Otherwise – why are you even there? Here are a few suggestions that will help you craft a narrative that will leave an employer thoroughly impressed, and hopefully, ending with you being hired.

  • Let’s start with your resume because it is something that should not be dismissed. To be sure, correct spelling and grammar is important, however, a gentleman should have his employment history and job duties memorized. Reading off your resume verbatim will not only negate your much-needed eye contact, but it will also bore your audience and make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. If needed, quick glances should be okay, but one’s work history should be etched into your memory by now.
  • Familiarize oneself with not only the history of your potential employer, but also commit its mission and vision statement to memory. You have visited their About Page correct? If at all possible, educate yourself regarding company culture, as much as possible. Example: If the environment focuses on the team concept, but your strength is independent work, that may be a hard sale.
  • Peruse your targeted job description, focus your attention on the abilities and characteristics that the employer desires in an employee. Do you possess any of these qualities? You may not want to use the exact same words to describe yourself in your interview, so consult a thesaurus and craft your pitch as close as possible without blatant plagiarism.
  • Bear in mind, it is not enough to tout your abilities with artful adjectives. One requires concrete examples that fully and clearly illustrate your capabilities that extend beyond the well-thought words on your resume. A gentleman should enter an interview with at least 3-5 real life situations that challenged him in a fashion that showcased his problem-solving skills. I suggest you practice and commit them to memory.
  • It would be helpful if these real life situations were written down and studied. Currently employed? Even better; the challenges you face and resolve should be dutifully documented for upward job movement in your future. A mock interview with a friend can ensure that your dialogue comes across effortlessly. Preparation, preparation, and more preparation.
  • However, you don’t want to rattle off information like a robot. You want to be thoughtful in your responses. Take your time and answer questions in a measured, natural manner.
  • A gentleman should also enter an interview with examples that illustrate his initiative and how he goes beyond what is expected of him. You have to convey that you have the necessary drive to exceed expectations and not just settle for the status quo. You want to present yourself as a much-needed asset that the employer would be foolish to bypass.
  • A gentleman should enter an interview with both short and long-term goals. How do your goals align with the job description and company goals? Be prepared to answer these questions.
  • Be prepared to ask meaningful questions; questions that go beyond the requisite query regarding hours, pay, and yes – office aesthetics. Once I seriously had someone ask for a comfortable seat with good lighting preferably with a window – this was for an entry-level position. Bold, but not a good look. Company growth, opportunity for personal growth, company direction, job expectations not spelled out in the job description – these are questions that expand your conversation and demonstrate thought and character. Sure, pay and work hours count, but it shouldn’t be the first – and only – thing you address.
  • So, you may be asking: But I just applied for this job, and I don’t have sufficient enough time to prepare, what do I do? Well, try to employ as many of these points as you can, but don’t let that fact deter you from building a foundation for that next job interview.

Gent Hints – PreShave Oil – Olive Oil

Olive OilFor those select gentlemen that require the usage of a razor with some regularity, the mastery of wielding a sharpened blade against one’s skin is a delicate operation. The operation can be a perfectly executed, boring routine; or plans could go seriously awry and leave said gentleman bleeding profusely over his bathroom sink. Trust, on one occasion, I nicked my scalp pretty good in the shower, and the subsequent gore required a Band-Aid on the back of my head like Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction. So, any sound advice that can be procured from varying sources to prevent a duplication of the events that day is much appreciated. And so, today’s wise counsel is courtesy of gentleman reader Henry Minton.

On a previous Gent Hint, Mr. Hinton was kind enough to point out that even with the beneficial, redeeming qualities of pre-shave oil; replenishing one’s stock could be relatively expensive. As an alternative, Mr. Minton suggested grape seed oil as a less costly option. Now, I had the sincerest intentions to try grape seed oil as pre-shave oil, but I discovered a hidden stash of olive oil tucked away in a bathroom cabinet, most likely courtesy of my wife. Anyway, I substituted the olive oil for grape seed oil, all with the hopes of attaining the same results as with a more expensive, brand name pre-shave oil.

Well, I am here to report that olive oil could be one the best skin care products absent from your shaving essentials. Yes, it provides an excellent protective, lubricated barrier between your razor blade and skin. Yes, it is loaded with skin-friendly antioxidants such as vitamin E to combat wrinkles, aging, and inflammation. Yes, it functions as a great moisturizer, perfect for dry or extra-dry skin. And finally, yes, it is far less expensive than many popular brands on the market – especially when accounting for the quantity contained in a standard bottle. If you don’t have a bottle of olive oil stocked in your bathroom, I humbly recommend a visit to your local supermarket to procure a bottle.

Gent Hints – PreShave Oil – Head Shaving

Zirh PrepareToday, I would like to share with the audience an amazing discovery. Actually, it perhaps is not that amazing at all. It was a bit of grooming commonsense that apparently wasn’t common to me at all. Revealed during a perusal through Men’s Health Magazine, I was awakened to the practice of rubbing pre-shave oil into the scalp before shaving. Now gentlemen, in all seriousness, I cannot begin fathom why I never employed the services of pre-shave oil for my head shaving endeavors. I would like to think that the remainder of the civilized, grooming world has long been up to speed with such a ritual. And so, the first opportunity I had to shave, I readily employed the advice as dispensed by Men’s Health – and what a difference it made. The finished product – my freshly shaven bald head – was smoother with far less irritation than past adventures in shaving. Shame on me for not utilizing this tactic long ago. Well, if you are reading this, none of us (assuming you are a fellow bald gentleman) have an excuse going forward with our shaving regimens. The pre-shave oil in concert with your shaving cream will provide a comfortable glide across your scalp, absent the nicks and burn. Happy shaving gents!

Gent Hints – Leather Glove Maintenance

LexolWith winter just around the corner, and in preparation of potential arctic temperatures, it would behoove the gentleman to ready himself accordingly. As part of that readiness plan, equipping oneself with the necessary wintry accoutrements is a given. High on that list of accoutrements would be leather gloves. For all intents and purposes, leather in its most basic design is skin, albeit animal skin (rawhide), but skin nonetheless. During the manufacturing process, the rawhide is treated with varying tanning methods that grant pliability, suppleness, and durability. As time slowly progresses, if left untreated, leather will gradually become stripped of its natural oils. It is important that these essential oils are replenished to maintain the leather’s integrity. The loss of essential oils is probably most troublesome in the winter, as the air progressively becomes cold and dry.

So, given the brutal weather ahead, combined with laborious tasks such as shoveling snow, your leather gloves are primed to take a beating. To keep your gloves well-maintained and appropriately conditioned, I would humbly suggest investing in a bottle of Lexol. Readily available at a cobbler, a discount retail store, or even an automotive store; Lexol is a leather cleaner and conditioner all at the same time. Simply don your leather gloves, dispense what is required to bring life to your leather, and rub your hands together until the results are satisfactory. Adopted as routine maintenance, a gentleman can easily extend the life of leather gloves, beating back the inevitability of cracking and drying under cold, harsh conditions. It is a small attention to detail that will certainly go a long way. Stay stylish and keep warm gentlemen.

Gent Hints – The Interview Timepiece

Longines HeritageIt is a rite of professional passage for any gentleman seeking employment. It is the rite of passage that calls upon the gentlemen to extol the merits of his expertise and character while being analyzed and examined for final judgement. It is the job interview. Whether or not you earn the position will hinge on a myriad of factors. Today, we’re talking about a small factor, but nonetheless, an important factor. During that crucial, pivotal job interview; credibility is an asset that is absolutely paramount during the hiring exercise. From your resume to your professional references, the totality of your presentation must articulate trustworthiness and a seriousness befitting of a future employee. So, let’s assume that the resume and credentials are all in place. Check, check, and double-check. The job is yours to claim, but one misstep can ruin a sure thing. And it can begin with a misstep with a small accessory – your watch.

That being stated, I must implore the aspiring job seeker to leave the gaudy timepiece at home. This is a job interview and not a dance club. Potential employers will not be impressed by your obnoxiously over-sized timepiece. You know the one we are speaking about. It’s the one with the abundance of diamonds – real or imitation. It’s the one whose width is greater than your wrist. All attention should be directed solely on you and your credentials. Not that monstrosity on your wrist. Go dark and go discreet. Stainless steel. Leather strap. Black or dark brown. Your sartorial mission on this interview is to be understated – not overstated. Keep the accessories quiet and allow your credentials to speak the loudest. Afterwards, if you want to show out a little, go right ahead, but in moderation. But we’ll talk about that another day.

Gent Hints – Neck Maintenance

Drake's Madder NecktieRitual: a detailed method of established procedure that is faithfully or regularly followed.

 Now, with respect to a gentleman’s wardrobe, maintaining a set of rituals can be greatly beneficial, especially with regards to preventative maintenance. Nothing can subtract years off the life expectancy of a particular item in your closet more than neglect and ambivalence. A gentleman must adhere to a rigid, set rule of practices that ensure proper upkeep and preservation, or he may witness a wardrobe that prematurely succumbs to irreversible disrepair. Today, we are focusing on the necktie. In the following paragraph, you will find a tried and true method that will definitely extend your necktie’s longevity. Every evening after work, I follow the same ritual as I remove my necktie. Trust, it works.

Now, neckties are delicate creatures to begin with, and the continual knotting process can administer a brutal toll on its fabric. Therefore, it is paramount that a gentleman develops the habit of rolling his necktie after he has finished wearing it. First, it is wise to loosen your necktie and carefully reverse the knotting to return it to its untied form. Next, and this is the important part, start at the narrow end and tightly roll along its length. Given that I have enough neckties to endure until the following week, I usually leave my neckties coiled until I unroll them, smooth out the remaining wrinkles, and either hang or place in my dresser drawer. The timetable is up to you. Nevertheless, the key is rolling your necktie nice and tight to hammer out those wrinkles. And never, and we mean never, leave your necktie knotted when you’re not wearing it. You’ve been warned.

Gent Hints – Remix The Double-Breasted Jacket

Denzel Washington - GQ - Nathaniel Goldberg

Denzel Washington – GQ – Nathaniel Goldberg

For the gentleman that desires to suit himself within an armor of elegance, he cannot go wrong by employing the dutiful services of a double-breasted blazer. Aided by an unexpected resurgence in popularity, the venerable classic enjoyed a modest level of ubiquity in the world of menswear last year. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a certain connotation that arrives with the double-breasted blazer – only men of a certain age wear them. And by certain age, I am speaking of an age that effectively qualifies them for a discounted breakfast at Denny’s. For a younger gentleman, the thoughtful utilization of said blazer can incorrectly represent a forced look. Therefore, how can one deftly remove the whispers of stuffiness without sacrificing the old-school charm that makes it unique in the first place? Well, try some of these tactics and reinterpret your classic with a contemporary makeover.

  • Sometimes a double-breasted blazer is the unhappy recipient of bad reviews because of fit. Meaning it fits like a tent. Streamline the body by having it tailored to your measurements. Don’t sacrifice comfort because you are attempting to recreate the advertisements in your favorite menswear magazine. No bunching. No tugging at the buttons. And for goodness sakes, make sure the jacket is long enough to cover your rear.
  • Button options: Your are either 4 or 6 buttons. If you are wearing a 4 button, fasten the top right button; or button the middle right button if you are rocking a 6 button jacket. The 4 button is a little more aggressive between the two. So, if you are looking to make a statement; I would definitely rock with the 4 button version.
  • Move away from the standard hues for your dress shirt. Yes, we are talking that conservative pair of white or blue. Incorporate some unexpected color and jettison the conservative baggage that can weigh you down.
  • And truthfully, the same advice can be applied to the color of the jacket itself. Blue doesn’t just have to be blue. And gray doesn’t just have to be gray. Each color possess varying temperatures and tone; explore and see what designers are offering.
  • As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to relegate yourself to blue or gray. Nowadays, a gentleman has options aplenty in the color department.
  • And further more…a little pattern never hurt a gentleman either. I hear that checks are pretty popular too. And that includes both your dress shirt and jacket.
  • Don’t forget to accessorize. And the cheapest accessory in your arsenal will most likely be a pocket square. And we’re not speaking of your solid white cotton handkerchief. We’re trying to move out of the conservative shadow remember? Instead, try a pocket square in the same vein as these beauties. Skip the neat fold; stuff that bad boy in your breast pocket and keep it moving.

Standard Recommendations – The Mesh Laundry Bag & Drying Rack

Laundry AssistantsIt is an inevitability that every individual will painfully experience in their lifetime. Naively you will ready your soiled garments for a routine wash, rinse, and spin inside your trusted high-efficiency washing machine; completely oblivious to the dangers that await your modest load of hosiery that have tagged along for the adventure. Immediately following the completion of the cleaning phase, it is now time to sufficiently remove the resulting dampness from your load. Into the dryer they go. And when that is complete, you will readily retrieve your shirts, khakis, jeans, hell – even your underwear.

They all make it out fine. But not your socks. Yes, 10 socks enter, only 7 make it out alive. The laundry room, call it the Bermuda Triangle of Hosiery, because you can be damn sure you’ll lose some of your favorite socks. Therefore, may I suggest a possible resolution? It involves two items that can be procured at a Target, a Wal-Mart, or whatever store that tickles your fancy. May I present to you: the mesh laundry bag and the drying rack.

The solution is simple. Toss your socks into the small mesh laundry bag and zip it up securely. Toss that bad boy into the washing machine and remove it when the cycle is complete. Now, instead of throwing those clean socks into the dryer, unfold your drying rack and have them dry naturally in the open air. Boom! Every sock is accounted for. You no longer have to lose a beautiful pair of striped wool socks because one vanished – never to be seen again. Neither item takes up much space, and both are inexpensive to buy. Trust, it is a worthwhile investment. Unless of course you like wearing mismatched socks. I didn’t think so.

Gent Hints- Fun in the Details

Neumok GreenSure, as burgeoning gentlemen of style, we are instructed to carefully adopt a safe, conservative aesthetic to lay the framework for a future wardrobe draped in sophistication. And that is most certainly understandable; learn the basic rules first, and then smartly implement the necessary modifications that best characterize your individuality. Suffice it to say, I am at that stage of personal expression that sometimes eschews the convention from which my style was erected upon. Hence the spinach green wingtip lace-ups. And the mossy socks sprinkled with sunny yellow polka dots. And the cobalt blue shoelaces. So, even those gentlemen with a predilection for tradition, shaking up your style every now and again should be welcomed. Style shouldn’t be too stiff; style should be fun. Here are a few pointers to help you achieve that goal.

  • Don’t divorce yourself from the basics. Yes, my shoes may be green, but for all intents and purposes, they remain true to the natural aesthetic of a classic brogue wingtip. Embrace tradition, but remix it a little.
  • Color, color, and yes – color. Now, I cannot fully endorse wearing blinding amounts of it, but adding a smidgen here or there can be very beneficial.
  • Have fun with the details. Begin injecting life into your presentation by way of using accessories – socks, neckties, pocket squares, belts, shoelaces, tie bars, etc.
  • Of course, a polka dot suit (sorry Mr. Wade) is far too garish. Save the polka dots, paisley, and other unconventional patterns for small venues like the accessories mentioned above.
  • Confidence. If you are going to rock a pocket square adorned with cute little butterflies, a gentleman better have a copious amount of confidence oozing from his pores.
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