Anyone Getting Asked What Animal They’d Be?


“If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?”

Even though I know the purpose behind this question, I cringe every time I hear it. For starters, it’s old, tired and used so often as an example of a bizarre question that I wonder if anyone out there actually asks it any more. If you’ve been on the receiving end of this question recently, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Okay, so the point of the question; I mean, what purpose does it serve? Fair enough. That’s a good starting place for any potential question coming your way – know what’s behind the question; the purpose it serves. This type of question was often included in an interview to see how a candidate thinks on their feet when given something unexpected.

These days many people prepare for their upcoming interviews by enlisting the help of a Job Coach, Employment Counsellor, Career Counsellor etc. These people typically help by readying the applicant to succeed by having mock interviews. They anticipate questions that employer’s may ask, then coach their clients on how best to go about answering those same questions.

As an employer, it makes sense that in evaluating the applicants they interview, they want to see a person think and respond as themselves, not someone who is just regurgitating what they’ve memorized or been told what to say. To safeguard against this possibility, they may throw in the odd question that no one could reasonably be expected to ask. For decades now, some interviews have used the animal question or some version of it such as, “What fruit would you be?”, “What colour would you be?” or “What superhero would you be?” and of course “Why?”

Some think it is imperative to choose an animal that has qualities that relate to the job being applied to. A commissioned Salesperson choosing an aggressive animal, someone being expected to make a long-term commitment choosing a dog because of its loyalty etc. As for colour, fruit, superhero etc., it’s the same idea – pick one that you can relate to the desired qualities of the job you are applying to.

Me? I’ve found very few employer’s are using these as much anymore. Their questions are limited by the time set aside for interviews, and the information they need is better obtained asking directly relevant questions.

When I’m conducting mock interviews with those I serve, the closest I come to this is my last question which is simply, “Impress me.” I find it serves the purpose of being unexpected and as I observe their reaction I can see it has the desired impact of having them pause to think. It then gives them the latitude to tell me whatever they feel would best sway my opinion of them in their favour. Think of it like being asked what your greatest accomplishment has been, what you’re proud of, what I would truly find remarkable or something to note about you as we draw this interview to a close. In other words, it’s a chance to make a last impression on me the interviewer. And yes, relate it in your own way to the job you’re applying for now.

The animal question specifically though? I cringe. The way to answer this is easy. Answer quickly instead of stalling for time and stay away from anything questionable such as a weasel, snake or rat. Even if you like these personally, stereotypes don’t endear them to a lot of interviewers. Or be contrary and provocative if you wish and take your chances.

The thing about this question is its comparatively weak and has questionable benefit to anyone contemplating whom to hire. If you nail all the other 8 questions asked and bomb the animal question, you’ll likely still impress. Conversely, answer the animal question well but fail to impress when asked the more relevant questions and all you’ve got is the knowledge of what you’ll choose to be if/when you get asked to choose your next life form. How likely is that to happen?

There are all kinds of versions of the bizarre, unexpected question. “If you were a brick on the wall, which would you be and why?” is another. These also get asked if the interview suspects your answers sound too rehearsed, too practiced, anticipated and the answers simply robotic. So yes, they serve a purpose beyond just playing head games with poor unfortunate interviewees. Most interviewers respect their own time – and yours by the way – far too much to add unnecessary questions.

So I wonder, as an applicant in an interview, when was the last time you got asked such a weird question? Could be this question and others like it are out-dated and not worthy of being delved into much anymore, or perhaps they are confined to certain types of jobs.

Do they ask potential Brokers and Financiers what currency they’d choose to be and why? Has Richard Branson ever been asked to choose between being a Snail or an Aardvark and explain his rationale for making such a choice? I doubt it.

I ponder if Donald was ever asked, “If you could be a playing card, which one would you be and why?” Maybe he answered belligerently that he’d be a Jack of course because they are the ‘trump’ card? Ooh, a groaner!

 

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Motivational Interviewing: Establishing A Tone Of Trust


One thing I’m extremely thankful for is that I’ve never lost the respect for everyone I meet and that each person who comes to me for help is unique. Every person has their own unique back story, and even if I were to think it sounds remarkably like others I’ve heard, I know I’ve never heard this back story from the person telling it to me now. Remembering to listen with full attention to the person before me is critical if I’m going to create a trusting climate where they feel safe enough to open up and tell me the important things that lay deeper than the surface stuff.

A poor Employment Counsellor – and yes poor examples exist in my field just as there are in any group of people – will neglect to fully listen. One of the most attractive traps one can fall into is to hear only enough from the person you’re helping to figuratively lump them in with others with similar stories. When doing this, your active listening stops, and your mind starts perusing your ready-made solutions that worked in the past, and you pull out solution number 4 and present it as the panacea to solve all this person’s troubles. “I have the perfect answer for you! Just follow the steps of my plan here and you’ll reach the end goal. I’m so happy to have helped!”

That’s just not going to work. What’s more, the person before you is intelligent enough to know you’ve tuned them out and you’re not really engaged with their unique situation. In short, they feel you don’t really understand because you didn’t hear them out; and they’re right.

A situation like this was shared with me just yesterday when a colleague consulted with me about someone she was working with. The fellow has a degree in Economics and some Employment Counsellor in another agency advised him to go after one of the job postings she had for a Restaurant Server. He felt shut down, unheard, misread and told her as much; she branded him a problem client.

Listening sounds like one of the easiest things to do; our ears pick up sounds without us having to turn hearing on and off, so we assume what we hear is 100% of what the person is saying when in fact we don’t. There are techniques like paraphrasing and saying things like, “Tell me more about that” which are designed to both acknowledge for the person that they were heard, and communicate a genuine want to hear more about something. Eye contact is critical too. I mean, how do you feel yourself when someone you’re speaking to breaks that eye contact and looks to your right or left as if something more interesting just happened behind you. You feel that connection is broken.

Have you ever considered your eye contact is one of the strongest ways to forge a bond? All those poets and authors who talked about seeing someone’s soul through their eyes; they were on to something there and they understood. If you want to make a subtle change that requires little effort but at the same time make a huge impact on those you counsel, work on maintaining eye contact. Don’t go for the beady-eyed, burn-through-your-skull kind of freakish look; that only scares others into thinking you’re getting kind of scary.

Direct eye contact that communicates enthusiasm for what this person has to share is what you’re after. From time to time in the conversation you’ll want to speak in a quiet voice that communicates concern and strong interest, such as when they relate something unpleasant. When they share something lighter or amusing, it’s okay to reflect warmth, smile, laugh along with them and that’s the moment to take that look away. Humour is essential to break tension, offer a break between heavy topics, and release some tension.

Of course what all this is really doing is continuing to build a trusting climate between you and this person before you. It is a huge mistake I think to start your meeting off with a statement that says, “We’ve only got 60 minutes to do your résumé so let’s dive right in – where did you work last and why aren’t you there now?” This kind of opening does set the tone that this is a business meeting with a clear goal, but it also communicates your time is more valuable than they are. All you’re going to get now is dates, past jobs and education. All the nuances of why they moved, what they found pleasing, what they want to avoid, where they feel most comfortable or most vulnerable; you’ve shut that down with your opening salvo.

The unfortunate message they receive is that whatever you’re doing in 60 minutes trumps your time with them now. Whether it’s your lunch or morning break, another client squeezed in to your schedule etc. they don’t really care, but they only have time now to do a token resume. The ironic thing? 60 minutes might be the same time you’d need to do a superior job that meets their needs and gets the document finished had you started by thanking them for the opportunity of meeting them and inviting them to share openly and honestly throughout your meeting. Some open-ended questions might set the tone of trust.

Challenge yourself; perhaps today – listen like you’ve never heard the story you’re hearing now; because you haven’t.

“Apply For A Job I Don’t Truly Want?”


There are the jobs we’d love to do; the one’s that get us really excited at the prospect of being offered the opportunity as the preferred candidate. Then there are the jobs which we are qualified to do, but don’t really turn us on to the same degree; they might be a little to far away for our liking, not quite pay what we want, or perhaps aren’t in the size of the organization we’d like. So should we apply for both kinds of job with the same commitment?

From an employer’s point of view, the answer is probably a big, “No!” After all, it hardly seems fair to them if some of the job applicants applying for the job opening aren’t truly invested in the application. If they ended up being offered the job only to then turn it down, that would be a lot of time, energy and yes money invested in the hiring process only to have to go back to other applicants.

From your point of view as a job seeker, the answer is less obvious. On the one hand, we all only have so much time and energy. Your time is no less valuable than an employer’s, and so you could argue that your focus should be clearly and only on jobs you really want; jobs you’d happily take if offered.

However, there are compelling reasons to apply for jobs that you’re not on fire for. Suppose for example you’ve got a criminal record. It’s from 8 or 9 years ago – maybe even further back in your past – but it’s still sitting there should a criminal reference check be done. In such a situation, you probably dread the inevitable question in an interview that could scuttle your chances at getting hired. In fact, you’ve probably already lost out on jobs for this very reason, so you’ve got good cause to feel anxious; for no matter how qualified or well you present yourself, that conviction always seems to get you in the end.

To help yourself, you’ve sought out help from someone at a local employment centre and you’ve had a mock interview or two to practice your answer. Your dilemma is wondering if the first time you try out your new response to the question should be at your dream job. After all, if practice makes perfect, a mock interview palls in comparison to a real interview with a real employer where a real job is on the line.

In such a situation, yes, you might be wise to consider applying for a job which you’re qualified to do, but doesn’t hit all the required boxes to qualify as your dream job. If as you’d hoped, the response you give is well received and results in a favourable outcome, this will bolster your confidence in future interviews, because you have proof that you can get past this previously impossible barrier. The same would apply if you’ve been terminated, you have no employment history whatsoever, you’ve got a large gap in your résumé, you’re feeling old etc. There are all kinds of situations where you might feel vulnerable, easily exposed and as a result, don’t present well in an interview. For these situations and more, going through a live interview to practice and testing out new approaches could be excellent advice.

The interesting part is that sometimes you might get offered a job and as much as you don’t believe it’s possible now, you do actually accept the job. After all, hey, it’s a job! Taking this position will be something current on your résumé, you’ll get new references should you do well, your past criminal record might diminish in importance if you prove you can work as expected. Put in enough time to repay the employer for their confidence in hiring you and you then apply for your dream jobs, knowing you’ve got some income at present and your sights can rise on a better fit.

Of course you could turn down the job if offered to you just as well. Hey, it happens. I don’t suggest you apply and interview for 76 jobs you have zero interest in which is an extreme waste of your time; you only need perhaps one interview with an employer to try an answer to get past your dreaded question. There’s no substitute for the real thing.

Experience in all its many forms is a good thing. Be they good or bad, every experience is a learning opportunity. Some people will tell you that jobs they took out of necessity and came to dislike or even dread were in some ways good for them. They may have learned to avoid certain kinds of work or work environments, to steer clear of certain kinds of supervisors, or to restrict their job search to a certain distance. The experience of going to interviews is no different as you learn what answers work for you and which don’t.

Now lest you be alarmed I’m recommending job seekers everywhere to flood employers with applications for jobs they have no interest in at all, I’m not saying this. What I am saying is that in certain situations, and on an individual basis, there are  times when it’s sound advice to hone your interview skills in a real interview; not for your dream job where you’ll feel the extra pressure, but first perhaps in a job with less on the line, so you can prepare yourself for that job of jobs!

The Importance Of Shifting The Agenda


I was really looking forward to our one-on-one resume appointment; after all, she’d been smiling and engaged all through the group presentation just a few days before. Adding to that positive first impression, she’d called ahead to advise me of a slight conflict with another appointment and respectfully asked to make a small change in our appointment time. (This kind of respect for other people’s schedules goes a long way). Finally, she’d also mentioned that she had, on her own, taken efforts to use the ideas I’d shared with the group; full marks on initiative and personal accountability!

So as I say, I was really looking forward to our meeting.

It started off well enough as she was on time, nicely dressed and there of course was the nice smile I’d remembered. As requested, she’d come prepared with a job she was interested in applying for too; a part-time Receptionist position with a local funeral home as it turned out. While she didn’t have a résumé and we were starting from scratch, she had obviously put pen to paper and with this data, it would be quicker to take what she’d put down and re-work and re-word things to fit the posting.

Ah, this was going to be a nice time together…probably just an hour I’d imagined.

After we had reviewed the job requirements from the posting, highlighting each one to make sure we’d note these somewhere on the résumé, I remarked that her last employment was some 7 years ago. “Why the gap?” I wondered to myself; so I asked.

“I took time off to start and raise a family…and I got a divorce.” Everything had been normal until she mentioned the word, ‘divorce’. In a seconds she was fighting for tears, looking expectedly around for a tissue, and not seeing the box behind her, was wiping away the tears from her eyes and apologizing profusely.

Instantly I realized the résumé could and would have to wait. This kind of thing happens more often than people might think. Years of working with people have taught me a number of things, and one is that for someone to break down so quickly at the mere mention of divorce suggested to me it was fresh, the rawness still very new, and yes, there was the distinct possibility she’d been on the receiving end of some kind of abuse.

As it turned out, it was a case of past abuse, for when asked if she had someone she might talk to about her experience, she mentioned she was seeing a Counsellor provided through a local women’s shelter. The mere mention of the shelter told me enough, as I wasn’t the right person nor was this the right time to have a counselling session. Still, it costs nothing to give someone your full attention and pause, assuring them that its okay to express their feelings.

I wondered if this woman was ready to work. I mean, it’s extremely probable that she’s going to be asked about the 7 year employment gap on her résumé in an interview, and would she share to them what she shared with me, and would this repeat itself anew?

When I very gently asked if she was ready to work, she said that she had original been thinking about volunteering to get going again, but the part-time job appealed to her as she hoped it would be through the day so she could still take care of and see her 3 children. “How silly of me though! I think I should just forget the job and look at volunteering somewhere.”

This could be a classic response of someone who was told things like, “No one will ever hire you” or, “You’ll never make it without me” etc., so it was really important to point out a couple of things to boost her fragile self-esteem. First of all, she was still sitting with me and wanted to do a résumé, which while she had broken down, she hadn’t gathered up  her things and bolted for the door. So it was important to her. Secondly, she had the skills required for the posting; and if granted an interview, she’d feel good knowing the résumé worked. If she got a job through the interview, it would bring added stress – but good stress, and if she didn’t get the job, she’d be no worse off for the experience.

Well we finished that resume together, and near the end, I again pointed out some positives. The smile was back on the face for the world to see, and she genuinely liked how we had marketed herself on the résumé which made her happy.

When you work with people in this field, it’s key to remember that the agenda you have all nicely laid out shouldn’t be so rigid that its importance outweighs the people sitting before you. While not a formal counselling session, this had been more than a résumé appointment.

This interaction highlights the difference between working solely with a résumé expert and a resume expert who works in the context of serving people first and foremost. Total cost for the 1 1/2 hour resume/listening/support/self-esteem repairing session? Zip.

For the record, I share not to get any praise or accolade. I share to highlight and remind us who work with people that establishing and nurturing a trusting relationship will take you places while remaining detached will have you wondering why your resumes don’t turn into jobs.

Job Interviews And Memory Triggers


For many people the job interview is a highly stressful event that they’d rather bypass altogether if they could. A common fear I hear over and over again is the fear of not being able to recall a memorized answer; the ‘blanking out’ problem. Read on dear reader; I can help with this.

First of all, put aside the idea of having to memorize all the answers you plan on using in the interview. It’s way too much pressure on yourself – on any of us – to memorize 10 or 12 solid answers. It’s also probable that you’ll be asked at least some questions which differ from those you practiced anyhow, and so you’d have to think up something on the spot in the end.

Let’s make a fresh start on preparing for future interviews. Get yourself a pen., paper and a job posting you’re interested in. Those that take the time to get these 3 things and follow my instructions will benefit much more than those who just sit and read on. You do want to benefit as much as you can don’t you and succeed in interviews where you’ve run into problems in the past? Great.

So you’re back? Great.

Now look at that job posting. On the paper, print one of the key job expectations; what the employer will be expecting you to do. Now underline whatever you’ve put down as a kind of heading. Now take a moment and think back in both your paid and unpaid work and recall an experience where you did something exactly like that. So if you put down, “provide excellent customer service” as your heading, you would put beneath it a brief recollection of a time in your past when you provided a single customer with your very best customer service.

As you write down your example, it is critical to be as specific as you can rather than just a general example. So rather than saying, “I provided great customer service when I worked in retail”, say “I remember working at the ABC Shoe Store and a woman came in and was very upset. She’d been to 7 stores in the mall but no one had helped her get her shoes. She had very odd-shaped feet and needed extra wide shoes. I  listened to her then measured her feet and brought her two pair to try on. She ended up buying both pair and was delighted as it had been an exhausting day for her.”

Now, you can imagine trying to recall that story word for word and then realizing that this is only one answer of many you might need would be hard to do. If this is your approach up to now, I agree the interview would  be a scary thing to avoid!

Here’s the next and critical step: find a trigger word or phrase. Look at the example you put down and read it again. As you read it, ask yourself if you find one word or phrase that will in the future trigger the whole story and make it easier for you to recall when you need it. In my example above, perhaps my trigger word is, “Bunions”. (This is a sometimes painful growth on the feet and something the woman had in the shoe store).

So now beside the heading which I’ve underlined, I’m going to write my trigger word and I encourage you to do the same. My example looks like this:

Excellent customer service: Bunions

This process is now to be repeated for each of the key responsibilities the employer has put into their job posting. If you have 5 or 6 key responsibilities in the ad or job posting before you, you’ll have 5 or 6 headings on the paper eventually and one story under each heading that demonstrates your past experience . You’ll also add a trigger word or short phrase that will help you recall each story.

It may not make sense to anyone but you, but if you take just the headings and trigger words for each, your list could might look like this:

excellent customer service: bunions

resolve problems: goldfish

organization: pick up sticks

confidentiality: Zumba class

flexibility: ice storm

Now anytime you try to learn something new, there’s a good chance it seems odd and requires some effort to master. This method I’m sharing with you is no different, but it is highly successful – and so are the people who use it.

The key now is not to memorize the great answers you have but to recall the trigger words you’ve attached to each core or key responsibility the employer is looking for. I think you’d agree that the interviewer is probably going to ask you questions about the things that are important to the job you are interviewing for rather than questions unrelated to the job you are applying to. So in this way, you and I can predict with great certainty the questions we’ll be asked.

By having a trigger word ready, it becomes easier for your brain to take the trigger word and access the right story from your memories and bring it foremost in your mind when you need it most. This way, you blank out less and perform better.

All the best!

 

Don’t Be Surprised At An Interview


As an Employment Counsellor, I often work with people who are looking for employment. My job also entails meeting people in a drop-in resource centre who I’m not working with on a one-to-one basis but rather on a spontaneous one. In both cases, I often catch up with people after they’ve had a job interview and it always intrigues me when people tell me how surprised they were with some of the questions they got asked.

Now sure they might get an interviewer who threw out some odd question to test their ability to think on their feet. You know, “If you could choose the sense you’d lose which one would it be and why?” or “What’s your second favourite colour and why it isn’t number one?”

These seemingly bizarre questions have their purpose, but honestly, I wouldn’t put much time aside in preparation for a job interview in trying to anticipate such questions. These questions are intentionally meant to catch you off guard and get you to think on the spot. Therefore, think on the spot as they are asked but never lose sight of the job you are interviewing for and try to connect your answer back to the role you’re interviewing for and the company you’ll be working for.

However, let’s focus on what you can likely predict with some degree of confidence in the job interview so that you aren’t surprised. Shame on you actually if you are surprised at what you could have reasonably predicted would have been asked of you

Let’s look at a posting shall we so we can see how to predict with great success the kind of questions asked.

Wanted: Customer Service Representative

Qualifications:

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution experience
  • Experience using POS systems
  • Teamwork
  • Good with people, 1-2 years’ experience
  • Shift work required including weekends, holidays and evenings

Okay so play along here whether you’re looking for this kind of job or not; the job isn’t important but the process is critical and applies no matter what job or career you’re out to get. For now, you’re out for a Customer Service job in a retail store setting.

Here’s what we can get from this job posting:

  • Always refer to the job you are applying for –whether in writing or verbally as a Customer Service Representative position. Don’t error and call this a Sales job, Salesperson or any other title. Call it what the employer calls it.
  • Same goes for the people the company sells to. These are customers as the first bullet states not clients, so always call the end-users and the people you’ll sell to as customers.
  • The second bullet mentions both problem solving and conflict resolution so this must be a fairly common issue and in both ways they’ve phrased it, they want solutions from the people they hire, not just people who can pass on the problems to the Supervisor.
  • Don’t know what ‘POS’ means in bullet 3? Look it up on a search engine like Bing or Google. It means, “Point of Sale’; in other words a cash register or computer terminal where customers check out. If there’s some words in your job posting you don’t get, look them up!
  • Teamwork is a required skill in the job; you’ll be working with other Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s), your Supervisor(s) and you will be expected to work cooperatively in order to be productive and hit sales targets.
  • The second last bullet says you need 1-2 years’ experience and you must be good with people. The 1-2 years simply interpreted means they want you to have some basic experience in the past doing this kind of work but they want you to be open to their training and be trainable, not set in your ways and hard to change. You’d best have some enthusiasm for connecting with people around you too – show some personality in other words.
  • The last bullet is about flexibility and being willing to work what some people won’t; right up front you know weekends and holidays are involved so don’t apply if you want a Monday to Friday 9-5 job.

Okay, so in this scenario, you should expect to be asked questions that focus on the above. These questions might start off, “Describe your experience with…”, “Tell me about a time when you…” or “What do you enjoy…”

The questions you get asked in this hypothetical interview would likely focus on problem solving, customer service, teamwork, previous experience, people skills and flexibility. To prepare properly, it would be best to think back on jobs you’ve had in the past – both paid and unpaid – and come up with examples you could give that would prove you’ve dealt with these things. For each of the items beginning this paragraph, have a story or two ready to share.

Now to you personally and the job you are after. Do the same exercise but use the job posting you’ve got before you. What skills and qualifications are they looking for? What stories or examples do you have from your past that demonstrates your personal experience, proving to the interviewer you’ve got what they are looking for?

Be prepared to tell them who you are, why you want to work with them and do a little research on the company itself so you know who they are.

When you can anticipate the questions ahead of time, you’ll be more confident when they ask them in the interview.

 

 

Obesity And Job Searching


Anyone who has accepted an offer of my help, or who has indeed sought out my personal advice will tell you that I will show little hesitation to point out what I perceive as barriers to employment. While this is helpful in getting an issue out for discussion that needs to be addressed, I’m also quick with suggestions, ideas and have a willingness to look at ways to address the barriers. In other words, it’s one thing to say to someone, “Here’s your problem…” and another to say, “Here’s an issue and I have a few strategies for overcoming the problem.”

Now this being said, I am going to launch into a subject that many will find uncomfortable and I may either get some backlash on for even raising at all, or I might get a message or two of support for having the courage to raise the issue. Either way; avoiding a conversation or talking about the issue doesn’t change the fact that the barrier to employment exists in the first place.

So what am I leading up to? The issue of obesity for those seeking employment who like all job applicants are evaluated and judged by interviewers and company representatives among other things on their appearance; that all important first impression.

You know it’s one thing to critique a person’s resume or cover letter; both examples of an external product. It’s far easier for someone to hear that their resume needs a complete overhaul because it is extremely bad than it is for the same person to have someone else point out their excessive body weight. Likewise, it is also more comfortable for the Coach or Counsellor to point out problems with applications than it is to have a frank discussion about physical appearance and being overweight. It does not serve the job seeker however to avoid topics which the Coach or Counsellor find uncomfortable. I have found over time that when trust is built between me as an Employment Counsellor and those I work with, they appreciate my honesty and they appreciate too the suggestions I give on how to tackle the subject in an interview.

We must be honest and agree that prejudice is all around us. We have our own biases and prejudices and we all size up those we interact with. It is no different to acknowledge that we ourselves are going to be sized up and evaluated when we meet others. Some of our meetings are going to be first with a Receptionist followed by an interviewer or perhaps a panel of interviewers. While you can perhaps hide a tattoo or manage to skirt an issue with your previous employer, you cannot hide your physical presence when you are overweight.

Some jobs of course require a person to be in excellent physical condition. If the posting itself indicates there’s a lot of heavy lifting and the job is physically demanding, not only are you wrong for the job, but quite frankly the job is wrong for you. You could seriously harm yourself through over-exertion and ultimately have to quit because your health is endangered. In such a situation, a company official has to take your physical health into consideration and you may be disqualified in part or in whole for being out of shape and obese; this isn’t discrimination.

On the other hand, if the job doesn’t involve physical exertion and you have the skills and experience, being rejected based on your weight is discrimination. They may not say it outright, but you could probably read into their body language and cues that you’ve been rejected before they actually tell you you’re not what they are looking for.

To combat this barrier here’s a few ideas. First get a medical checkup and have a serious conversation with your doctor about your weight and decide for yourself if losing weight is what you want to do. It may not only be good for your employment prospects but also good for your heart and your health.

The most immediate thing you can do is to ensure your clothing matches your size. Getting the right size clothing often costs more than a standard cut but the end result is a better look. You’ll want to look comfortable in your clothing too during an interview, and the right sizes can keep you from fidgeting with tucking in a shirt or trying to keep your stomach tight etc. And of course the right size clothing can help you avoid over-sweating and snowballing your anxiety.

Arrive early, visit the restrooms and take stock of your appearance. This is the best place to change into your interview attire – especially if it’s a very hot day. Freshen up with hygiene products and be as discreet as you can as another visitor could be your interviewer.

If you feel upon the first few minutes of the interview that things are going badly, be prepared to gamble the opportunity by talking about your goals to lose weight, your plan to make it happen and refocus back on your actual qualifications. In fact, you could even praise the interviewer for not making the mistake like other interviewers who have held open prejudices about your weight. How can they now do anything but agree with you?

Being overweight is not a comfortable topic but you should be open to the discussion.