Category Archives: Do’s & Don’ts

ONE MORE FROM HB – “Interview Questions That Stand the Test of Time And Your Best Responses”


Just when you thought I said all I had to say, I share this – now get out there!

IN THE QUEST to find great employees to build their companies, hiring managers are continuously looking for perfect questions to ask that will predict whether someone will be a superstar or a comet of doom to the organization. Although there is a multimillion dollar industry built around predictive tests and as many interviewing theories as there are hiring managers, there is still an almost ubiquitous comfort around some old standbys regardless of their actual predictive validity that virtually guarantees you will encounter them sooner or later. So, here are five questions you will likely be asked and the best answers for them:

What are your greatest strengths?

Many interviewers feel that candidates are accurately able to identify and articulate their strengths and that the interviewer can then determine whether the candidate’s strengths are a good match for the requirements of the position. The reality is you have a lot of strengths that you can draw upon in any given situation. The best answer here is the strength (that you actually possess of course) that best corresponds to the need of the position. For example, if you are both a skilled communicator and meticulously good at follow through, and you are interviewing as research scientist, guess which strength you should mention?

What are your weaknesses?

Although many experts question the predictive validity of this question, interviewers still tend to feel that it provides valuable information. Although unlikely to be answered one hundred percent candidly, it does actually serve you in the long run to be honest about this. For example, if you are not a good micro-manager, it’s a good idea to admit it. It will either go in your favor, or save you from getting a job you’d hate.

Where do you want to be in five years?

Traditionally, the purpose of this question is to make sure candidates have just the right amount of motivation. If you are applying for an entry level position and state that you want to own the company in five years, you’ll reveal yourself to be potentially delusional. On the other hand, if you are applying as a senior manager, it may not be in the company’s best interest to invest in you if you are planning on launching a start up in two years.

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

This question is usually asked near the conclusion of the interview and while it’s impossible to literally answer this question, considering you likely don’t know a thing about the other candidates, you should have a sense by now whether you are in fact a good fit or not. Revisit the needs of the organization and why you are uniquely suited to solve their problems.

And yes, you will soon be asked this question, too!

Why did you leave your last position?

Another potential hot issue here, depending on the reason. If you moved, or were part of a massive restructure, this is fairly simple to explain, but quitting without having another job, or being released can be potential red flags for future employers. Avoid the cardinal sin of speaking ill of your former employer, but make it clear you are a valuable employee. “We mutually agreed to part ways,” or “I decided it was time to find a position with a company whose values more closely reflect my own”, are about the safest ways to communicate a less than amicable parting.

So in conclusion, be prepared for the old standbys with answers that clearly and concisely reflect the great catch that you are!


How to Prepare For Jobs of the Future: By Jennifer Kushell


I am thrilled to share this piece from JENNIFER KUSHELL, author of the New York Times Bestseller, “Secrets of the Young & Successful.”  Called the “Career Doctor” by Cosmopolitan and a “guru” by US News & World Report, Jennifer has worked with tens of thousands of young people around the globe for more than 15 years.  She is co-founder and president of – Your Success Network – a network of emerging adults in 110 counties that arms people with the tools they need to discover their passions, launch their careers, and build powerful online identities that they can be proud to share with the world.

The article:

With the world changing as fast as it is – industries rising, evolving and crashing; technology leading to more efficient, effective ways of doing everything; globalization interconnecting us all; and a whole new generation emerging and entering the workforce – how do we best ensure young people are prepared for the world of work from here forward? Keep in mind that along with the jobs being phased out, countless more jobs don’t even exist yet.

In order to create employment for those who are graduating, it’s important for us to review a system that has become antiquated. Even more critical, however, is to note that our current models of education, career planning and job searching are not just in need of a facelift – we need a major paradigm shift in how we think about training our emerging workforce and the skills they need to have to be relevant, let alone have a chance at being wildly successful.

But we do not need to wait for this shift in order to start teaching the new rules of success every day, in every forum, and every possible platform and channel available to us. It can be done in simple conversations or formalized programs – everyone can play a role in training our young people; they are, after all, our kids, cousins, neighbors, friends, colleagues and employees. The bottom line is that we can all ensure this emerging generation is primed for success, and it’s in our best interest to do so. Our future depends on it.

The following 10 skills are most vital to young people entering the workforce:

Ambition changes the opportunity outlooks for a young person dramatically. Employers are increasingly looking to hire for attitude and train for skill, so cultivating ambition and an eagerness to learn and do well are really Step 1 toward a solid future. Young people who are hungry, interested and engaged are infinitely more employable, and when they have a passion for achievement, there are no limits to what they can do. Rather than just hire warm bodies, companies would much rather choose people who show promise and a solid foundation.

Understanding what it means to add value to a company or organization is a fundamental question that should be answered by anyone looking for work, along with appreciating why that’s an important question in the first place. Employment is an earned privilege, not a right – even with a fancy diploma in hand there are no promises or guarantees. People are typically the biggest expense in any organization, and those who add most value have the best job security. Those who don’t usually don’t stay employed for very long. In a corporate world that is looking more than ever before at operating lean, it’s no longer possible to hide and not contribute to a company’s financial well-being.

The vast majority of young people struggle with explaining what they want to do, what work-related activities interest them, what transferable skills they have, and which industries or positions might best suit them. As a result, when they set out to market themselves, or interview with potential employers, they offer little useful information, and instead rely on those doing the hiring to find the right fit and figure it out. Recruiters are not career counselors – selling oneself in the job market is the responsibility of the seeker! Relying on our institutions or parents to “place” young people in jobs is a practice fraught with problems, and enabling entitlement or minimizing the importance of self-sufficiency – or the fortitude to secure meaningful work – are only a few of the drawbacks. Teaching people to pitch themselves effectively early in their working lives enables them to find employment on their own over a lifetime.

The basis of any solid employment marketing campaign (job search) is the actual skill base a worker presents to potential employers. At the most fundamental level, soft skills like interpersonal communication, the ability to speak and write correctly and present ideas clearly, are the areas most often cited when employers discuss the downside of hiring young people. Dressing appropriately (highly subjective these days) is also considered a critical part of communication. So despite the constant “communication” through technology that has dominated young lives, they are at a massive disadvantage because in person those soft skills are not present.

Besides being a good person to work with and around, bringing some substantive expertise to the table cannot be urged enough. It doesn’t matter what the topic, as long as it’s valuable in the marketplace (remember the “Adding Value” piece above?). Ideally, expertise is transferable to other applications and industries too – and it’s important to note that attending specialty schools and formal training programs are not the only ways to acquire expertise. It can and should be cultivated constantly, with young people maximizing every opportunity to read, learn, volunteer, train, practice or work.

Every industry relies on its own lexicon of terminology to operate and communicate. Often these are technical concepts, processes or acronyms that sound foreign to people new to a field. Teaching young people to learn the language of a given workplace, industry or role is directly related to how smart they will sound and how well they will function in an environment, and dramatically improve their chance of securing jobs because companies will first choose someone who needs less time to be brought up to speed.

When young people are supported in pursuing fields that are of true interest, they are more likely to want to learn more and become well-versed in those areas. Intellectual curiosity leads to better educated and more informed workers, who can quickly cultivate themselves into real talent with a little help. The more inspired and motivated they are, and the more space they are given to explore, create and innovate, the more their potential becomes unlimited. This is an important consideration given that school curriculum often focuses on a core set of skills, and other programs such as art, music or other non-academics are eliminated.

The concept of context is a vital one to address with young people, from 4 key perspectives:

1) The working world operates by a different set of rules than most homes and schools. Training young people to acclimate to the adult world of work requires a dramatic shift in routines and expectations from a lifetime of studying and attending classes.

2) Different workplaces have different expectations about dress, attendance, communication, metrics for success and even use of personal technologies. Expectations that aren’t clearly understood are difficult to meet and that sets everyone up for failure.

3) It is a big problem that most young graduates don’t understand how business fundamentally works and is organized. For example, what is the difference between marketing and sales, or operations? What signs would signal that a company or industry is hiring, or worth studying or pursuing jobs in? How does one company fare in a market of other competitors (who happen to be other potential employers too)? What do industries look like?

4) How do we all fit into the bigger context of the world economy as global citizens? With a billion young people entering the workforce, there’s a lot of competition, but also plenty of untapped opportunity.

All of these conversations, if nothing else, break young people from the idea that they’re the center of the universe. Or, conversely, that their world is small, restricted and their options are limited.

Students, unemployed people and those in jobs they hate are all missing opportunities to improve their circumstances and marketability by building experience, which can be acquired in countless ways. In many cases, they can do so simply by volunteering time to local organizations, businesses, campaigns and community events. The more relevant to the skills or the industries someone wants to use at work, the better. With countless organizations struggling to survive and grow, but desperate for help they cannot afford, volunteering or interning can be the perfect opportunity for people to gain practical experience and connections, and to seed future opportunities. Even if the opportunities are unpaid, by staying active and engaged makes the unemployed infinitely more marketable.

Teaching young people to be solution-driven (rather than easily deterred by failure) makes them more valuable, competitive and self-sufficient. When people are resourceful, they will always entertain new ideas, approaches and possibilities. Entrepreneurship education and experience is an excellent way to drive this home and make young people more resourceful, as are hackathons, leadership activities and organizations. Cultivating resourcefulness as a skill prepares young people for jobs that may not yet exist; in fact, the more resourceful they are, the more likely the next generation will be to create their own jobs – and companies that will create jobs for others.


Can LinkedIn + You = A Career?

All of you who met with me should have heard my story of how my friend who is the head of HR at Warner Brothers stressed the importance of having a strong LinkedIn presence and the story shared here from today’s WSJ makes this point better than I ever could.
Read, implement, try and succeed!

Ignoring LinkedIn Is Hurting Your Career

With its refreshed app and some tricks, it’s time to make the uncoolest professional network part of your social-media routine

At Social Media High, Facebook is the all-star quarterback, Twitter is the school paper’s editor in chief and Snapchat is the mysterious, Harley-riding transfer student. That makes LinkedIn the nerd who skips prom for the mathlympics.

Yet, like in every great John Hughes movie, the underdog actually belongs in the in-crowd.

Admit it. Your most frequent interaction with the world’s uncoolest network is deleting those “Join my network” emails. You’re not alone: 61% of LinkedIn users visit the site no more than every few weeks, according to Pew Research Center.

I was the same, avoiding LinkedIn’s baffling design and incessant nagging. But a few weeks ago, when I decided to give it a real varsity tryout, I realized LinkedIn deserves a place on my phone’s home screen. I now check it a couple of times a week to find out what’s happening in my industry. Use it right and you’ll get ideas on how to improve your business, find new leads—and maybe land a job you didn’t even know you wanted.

What’s changed? LinkedIn has drastically improved its iOS and Android apps over the past few months, with even more iPhone app changes arriving just this week. With some tricks and assistance from LinkedIn pros, I’ve been able to zero in on the most important features within the overwhelming service. Don’t get me wrong: Parts of it are still inexcusably terrible. But what other social network allows you to connect with people in a professional way?  Continue reading Can LinkedIn + You = A Career?

So, you can be the new Coen Brothers…

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting Andric L. Queen-Booker, Class of 2012 – a wonderfully talented and smart young man – and he mentioned that he enjoyed the HBO series, Togetherness, and was a big fan of the Duplass brothers.  As am I.  And my wife.  This is a win-win as it means she enjoys watching a show I enjoying watching, and when you’re in your 4th decade together, and TV wasteland time is limited, that’s a HUGE deal.

When I asked Andric why he liked the brothers, and Togetherness, he said: “It’s real. Truthful.”

So it is.  HBO worth paying for.

Imagine my surprise when the LA Weekly (a paper like the New Times for all my AZ friends) published today – did a wonderful story on the Duplass brothers that is perfectly timed to share with you.

Read this.

I did, twice.  And their story has ME pumped to do more, my way, now.

Go out there and be the STORYTELLER (actor, producer, director, writer, executive, agent, human being) that you want to be!

How the Duplass Brothers Changed Hollywood by Refusing to Change at All

MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016 AT 6:30 A.M.

by Gwynedd Stuart

It’s an irresistibly warm weekday in late January, and Jay and Mark Duplass are in their office at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood preparing to write the third season of their HBO series, Togetherness. I note the timing because it happens to be Sundance week, and they’re here rather than there (I note the weather because, goddamn, we’re lucky) — and it’s the rare year they don’t have a pony to show. Last year, Sean S. Baker’s iPhone-filmed, Hollywood-set dramedy Tangerine, which the Duplasses executive produced, was one of the festival’s most talked-about films. They also executive produced Melissa Rauch’s The Bronze, another 2015 Sundance selection.

And all of 11 years ago, their first full-length feature, the low-budget relationship drama–slash–road-trip comedy The Puffy Chair, was among the festival’s breakout hits, winning the Audience Choice Award and making their mutual inclusion in conversations about young filmmakers-to-watch almost instantaneous. They were among a handful of auteurs whose work was being lumped together to constitute what was called the “mumblecore” movement. Major record labels were fixating on all things indie rock, and major film studios were fixating on quiet, quirky dramas being made for $15,000 rather than $15 million.

After the 2005 fest, Mark and his now-wife, director-actress Katie Aselton, packed up and moved from New York to L.A.; Jay headed West that December. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s safe to say these were good decisions. Continue reading So, you can be the new Coen Brothers…

Don’t Hit Send On Your Script Unless…

…you have ALL your i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  What’s that?  Of course you will!  No one in their right mind would submit work that wasn’t ready to be shown to a buyer, agent, producer, actor, executive, or a highly competitive screenplay contest – right?
You’d be surprised how often this happens AND it has happened to me when I have been in a hurry to meet a deadline after I procrastinated one day too many and it was deliver or die day for my screenplay.
So, in the hope you avoid my mistakes, I give you:

7 Things to Do Before You Submit Your Screenplay to Anyone

By Ken Miyamoto

October 27, 2015

Whether it’s submitting it to competitions, production companies, agents, managers, studios, or talent, screenwriters need to go through a checklist to prepare their scripts for submission.

This is the first time the powers that be will be seeing your script. This is the first and only impression that you can make with them. If the script is not up to their standards and doesn’t adhere to the various submission directives that there may be on their end, you’ve lost them before you ever had them.

So here’s a To Do list for all screenwriters (otherwise known as a “Make Sure” List), offering habits to get into before submitting scripts. And we’ll toss in some tricks of the trade as well.

  1. Make sure you have permission to submit your script.

This is primarily for submitting to agents, managers, production companies, studios, and talent. You cannot send unsolicited material to these powers that be. Hollywood is so afraid of being sued these days. Because of that, they simply won’t and can’t accept screenplays, television scripts, and treatments. Most of the big agencies won’t even accept query letters or emails that showcase loglines or a short synopsis. So make sure you have permission to send a script in the first place. All too often, you’ll be asked to fill out a release form, releasing them from any litigation regarding concepts that may be similar to yours that they eventually produce. Continue reading Don’t Hit Send On Your Script Unless…

Who & What You “Do…”

Imagine if a RESUME with this JOB LISTING came across your desk:

Clerk, Circle K: stocked shelves, ran the cash register, cleaned the restrooms.                        

You very well might, if you needed a clerk for your new business, consider this candidate for a job.   However, what if this JOB LISTING was presented instead:

Customer Service Representative, Circle K: As the first point of contact with our customers, I represented our mission – be the best and most convenient place to shop – to everyone who walked through the door. Each shift I worked, I helped ensure our store environment was clean and safe, and our inventory was orderly and up-to-date. I made sure purchases for my customers were completed in a fast and friendly manner. During my employment tenure, I received the company’s in-store customer service award 4 times.

Wow-wow-wow!   What a difference!  

With an applicant’s “job experience” presented like this – equally truthful and direct but with a very positive and complete presentation and description of the services performed, or “spin” if you will – a word I want you to learn to love and embrace – you might see this “clerk” you need to hire as an –

  • assistant manager
  • sales rep
  • receptionist at a talent agency
  • indy or major studio or network entry level employee

Now, I wish I could take credit for this simply brilliant illustration, but this pearl of resume wisdom came from Susan Dodd, a fellow ASU Alum from my Class of ’76.  In preparation for our first round of coffee sessions, I reached out to my dear friend and asked the overly modest Susan to tell you a little about herself, and she kindly shared:

After 27 years , Susan retired from Intel Corporation as the IT Director of Sourcing & Services Solutions. Her career was devoted to working with her customers to simplify work processes and automate work flows where it made sound business sense. In addition, she was the Senior Sponsor for the “Women at Intel” Diversity Organization.

Susan graduated from ASU with a Masters in Business Administration, and undergraduate degrees in Theatre and Broadcasting/Communications.

What Susan doesn’t say, is how whip smart she is and always was, how kind and generous and loyal a friend it has been my honor to know, and how without her insanely strong management skills and detailed note taking (when we were barely 18), I would have never made the A grades I did at ASU.

I turned to Susan on the subject of resumes as I knew she had a rich business background and had hired and interviewed and mentored many job seekers in her long and successful career, and as I suspected, Susan did not disappoint.  

From Susan’s mind to yours, I give you, The Resume:

Resumes are merely a tool to direct potential employees to information about you that will help you stand out and be selected for a job over all other applicants. While it includes work history, the intent is not to communicate just work history (remember: most job applications require job history data – dates & duties – so if your resume is merely relaying this same information you are wasting an opportunity). A resume should compliment a job application.

Look on line for formats and find one that you think will best enable you to highlight who you are. It is not a one size fits all.
Continue reading Who & What You “Do…”

First Job Advice from Millennials

I’m old. Apparently, re the following article from Fortune, possibly too old to offer twenty-plus-year-olds advice that is applicable to the world you live in today.

Though this piece is clearly not directed at recent film, TV and media grads, there are ideas herein worth considering (which is why I am sharing old as I am).

What this article does well is to point out many simple and (to me) fairly obvious ways of using the new tools available in todays social and digital employment marketplace to get noticed, stay noticed, and make an impression that could lead to a job.

A job the millennials offering advice to you got from, wait for it, someone older than them. Maybe even as old as me.


Fortune interviewed millennials who graduated from college after the advent of Facebook and Twitter to get truthful advice on how recent graduates can navigate today’s job market.

Maybe it’s because we’re taught to find an older mentor. Or maybe it’s because people who are gray around the temples simply look wiser. Whatever the reason, when you’re fresh out of college, it’s tempting to seek career advice from the most accomplished people in the field you’re hoping to break into. But in reality, those execs chalked up most of their accomplishments in an entirely different economic, technological and professional landscape.

So Fortune talked to more recent college graduates — millennials who entered the workforce in the years after the economic crash and the invention of Twitter — about what they wish they’d known about getting a toehold in their career when they were 22. Continue reading First Job Advice from Millennials

Making a Good First Impression

Dear Lord, you are thinking this Howard guy sounds just like my parents. Yeah, yeah, yeah, if you want to get a job, don’t show up for an interview dressed like you’re going to a party, a pool, the Verde River, or any spot where cutoffs and a t-shirt are just fine as long as they don’t look like you slept in them for a week.

Oh, yeah, and have some idea what the job requires and who you are meeting.

I know you know all this, but what I have found surprising it that I can still actually meet someone looking for work and know from the get-go that they haven’t made the slightest effort to make a good first impression, to make me want to remember meeting them, knowing full well other candidates want that job.

I simply want to encourage you to avoid this mistake.

Now, there are MANY sites on the topic of “Making a Good First Impression” – far more than I ever imagined – and I advise you to read others than the one I have selected here as an example if you have the time and inclination.

But at least consider the following…


By Peter Economy / The Leadership Guy @bizzwriter

  1. Be mindful of how you appear to others

From head to toe, you want to be sure that you are portraying the image that presents you in the best possible light. Prepare yourself well ahead of time and put your best self forward–clothing, hair, accessories. This will make you feel your best and ultimately leave a great first impression. Continue reading Making a Good First Impression