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Job Candidates Should Brush Up on Interview Skills

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It seems some job candidates need a refresher course when it comes to proper etiquette for job interviews. With a more competitive job market, job-seekers must make a good impression in order to continue in the selection process. But the pressure to be the best sometimes hurts the job candidate's opportunities.

A CareerBuilder survey, which questioned at least 2,700 hiring managers, discloses some of the craziest and shocking circumstances managers have witnessed during interviews:

— "Candidate wore a business suit with flip-flops."

— "Candidate asked if the interviewer wanted to meet for a drink after." — "Candidate had applied for an accounting job, yet said he was 'bad at managing money.'"

— "Candidate ate food in the employee break room after the interview."

— "Candidate recited poetry."

— "Candidate applying for a customer service job said, 'I don't really like working with people.'"

— "Candidate had to go immediately to get his dog that had gotten loose in the parking lot."

— "Candidate looked at the ceiling during the entire interview."

— "Candidate used 'Dungeons and Dragons' as an example of teamwork."

— "Candidate filed fingernails."

Managers also reveal the common mistakes made by job applicants: dressing inappropriately, seeming disinterested, referring to a previous or current employer in a negative manner, appearing arrogant, picking up a call or answering a text on their cell phone, lacking specific answers and not asking good questions.

"With heightened competition for open positions in today's economy, it's important for candidates to put their best foot forward in an interview," says Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder's vice president of human resources. "You want to stand out for the right reasons. Even though the job search process can be frustrating, candidates should stay positive, focus on their strengths and be prepared on how to best sell their skill set."

It might be a good idea to come up with questions and read about the company and its objectives before your interview.

Be sure to dress appropriately and be confident. Show an interest and give the manager your full attention during the interview. You want to present yourself in the best possible light.

For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

MARCH MADNESS AT WORK

Good news for all those employees who enjoy watching college basketball. The topic of March Madness doesn't have to be forbidden from the workplace. Instead, activities surrounding March Madness may boost morale at the office. March Madness activities could include viewing highlights from the games, watching the games after work or participating in friendly competitions, such as pools.

OfficeTeam, a staffing service, questioned more than 1,000 managers on whether March Madness affected their company's office morale or productivity. Most of the managers (41 percent) think that the basketball games provide a positive impact on worker morale, and only 11 percent of respondents view the games as negatively affecting working habits. Fifty-six percent of managers see March Madness as having no influence on productivity, while 22 percent view the games as a positive influence on company efficiency.

The March Madness games can help workers bond and may lead to more office communication.

"The NCAA basketball tournament is a common topic of conversation at the office as employees may share college allegiances," says Robert Hosking, OfficeTeam executive director. "As long as everyone remains a good sport, rooting for a favorite team should not affect morale or productivity."

Hosking suggests that managers plan an informal lunch or dinner at a sports bar to watch the game. It could serve as a good opportunity to learn more about your co-workers.

"There's no question the excitement generated by major sporting events can be a distraction at work," says Hosking. "However, it can be a healthy diversion if employers encourage team-building activities tied to the games."

For more information, visit www.officeteam.com.

To find out more about Amy Winter and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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