Blaine and Associates

Blaine and Associates

Monday, January 23, 2012

Top 5 List for a Great Interview

5 Things I Look for in a Great Job Interview

Here is what separates a good candidate from a great one.

In my career I have reviewed thousands of resumes and conducted hundreds of employment interviews for both The Trademark Company and other businesses for which I have worked. In doing so, I got to see the good, the bad, and the downright ugly in terms of resumes, interviewing skills, and the like. For other CEOs looking to hire, here's what I think makes a great candidate stand out from the good ones.

1. Attention to detail

How many times have you heard this one, right? Pay attention to detail. Let me say it again: PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL!

There’s a great story at the end of the movie Coming to America with Eddie Murphy. It goes something like this:

A man goes into a restaurant. He's having a bowl of soup and he says to the waiter, “Waiter come taste the soup.” The waiter says, “Is something wrong with the soup?” He says “Taste the soup.” The waiter says again, “Is there something wrong with the soup? Is the soup too hot?” The man says again, “Will you taste the soup?“ “What's wrong, is the soup too cold?" Replies the waiter. “Will you just taste the soup?!” “All right, I'll taste the soup,” says the waiter, “where's the spoon??” “Aha. Aha! ...”

At this point you may be asking yourself, “So what does this have to do with identifying a great candidate?”

Not less than two months ago I received a wonderful e-mail from an applicant seeking to work for The Trademark Company. The e-mail was personally crafted. The note struck a wonderful tone emphasizing capability and a willingness to learn more about what we do here. Most importantly, the candidate emphasized attention to detail. I was sold. I was ready to open up the resume and see what they had to offer. And then, “Aha. Aha! ...”

The applicant had failed to attach a resume. In the blink of an eye, all of the time spent preparing for this submission--researching me, the company, and the job’s requirements--vanished into thin air. Poof!

Some CEOs may have overlooked this and just asked for the resume. But you can’t say you have an eye for detail and then fail to deliver on the point. Everything job candidates do, from cover letter to resume and beyond, must prove that point. Otherwise they are just wasting your time. I passed on that candidate.

2. Proofread

My contracts professor in law school told this one to the class one day. Although he was an otherwise socially challenged individual, this story has always stayed with me.

It seems that at some juncture he was involved in delivering a speech on some topic that involved a “public option.” He had written and prepared the speech but had left the PowerPoint slide presentation to one of his assistants.

Well, as he began delivering his speech–a seemingly dry speech–he could not understand why a wave of chuckles and murmurs would, from time to time, arise from the audience. It was not until he neared the end of his presentation that he glanced up at the screen projecting the bullet points of his speech behind him. And right there, right in that moment, he understood with perfect clarity why his speech had evoked the unexpected reaction from the crowd.

If you omit the letter “L” from the word “public,” it won’t be flagged by spell check. It will, however, be picked up by anyone else reading the slides as you deliver your speech on the “pubic option.”

This could very well be you at your next sales presentation: pissed and embarrassed because you overlooked your employee's failure to proofread his resume during the hiring process. So, check the candidate's resume and cover letter for misspellings that spell check might have missed. In so doing you will make sure that you hire someone that's thorough and doesn't rely on spell check to do their job.

3. Preparedness

One of the first things I always do after an interviewee leaves is to ask every single person who came into contact with them what they thought. Why you might ask? You never know what little windows into your prospective employee this may provide.

Once I asked one of our receptionists what she thought of a particular interviewee. I was very surprised to hear what she had to say. She said she thought the interviewee was pleasant but did have some trouble when she first arrived: It seems that the prospective employee had no idea who she was interviewing with, so the receptionist had to call around the office for 10 minutes until she could figure out who to notify that their appointment had arrived.
I thought this displayed a lack of preparedness on the interviewee’s part, especially as she was interviewing for a job that had primary scheduling responsibilities for me and would require her to know and keep track of all of our most important customers.

In another case, after a 45-minute interview the interviewee stood and said, “Mark, thanks for the second interview.” Big problem: My name is actually Matt. Nevertheless, I shrugged it off--perhaps I had misheard the applicant, or maybe he had simply had a momentary lapse. However, when I walked him to the door he proudly reiterated my name, “Mark, again thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.” Every fiber in my being yearned to reply, “Well, if I meet this Mark fellow, I’ll be sure to have him call you.” I did not. I also did not call him back.

A candidate should know everything about you that they can find out and engage you on a level that you will enjoy and that moves you one step closer to offering them the job.

4. Phone and e-mail correspondence

Another thing that also gets overlooked is professionalism in e-mail and phone communications. I pay attention to the candidate's e-mail address and how they answer their personal phone.

Sure we all have private lives, but we all have to be professional in dealing with employers--and, most importantly, prospective employers. So if a candidate's e-mail address is "" or “,” think twice about hiring him. Gmail, Yahoo and other companies have a great price point for new e-mail addresses: free. There's no excuse for not having a professional-looking e-mail address.

For me, an interview starts when I call you to set up the interview. Recently I called an applicant, and they must have been at a the reunion tour of Van Halen--because when the candidate answered, all I could hear was “Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love” blasting through my phone. I mean, it was so loud I could actually see people in my office starting to bob their heads to the tunes.
After a few attempts shouting into the phone--“Is [Name Omitted] there?”--finally the music departed and I was able to hear once again. The heads stopped bobbing in my office and the person on the other end said, “Speaking.” Ahhhh. Well, I know they love music...and that they lack judgement.

5. Honesty is overrated

Yes, you want your potential employee to answer questions truthfully, but answering too truthfully may also show a lack of judgment. For instance, I often ask the hypothetical question, "If you were hired and six months after you were hired another opportunity presented itself, would you go on an interview for that opportunity?" You would be surprised at how many people say they would. Wrong answer!

Let’s take one of my more infamous examples. Once I was asking a prospective employee to explain an 18-month gap in his employment history. To this day I remember his response verbatim. It went like this: "Man, the whole work thing ... ya' know ... like, wow." I was left mouth agape and speechless. Needless to say: He did not get the job.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Accounting and CSR Positions!


Excellent entry level position with one of the premiere international hospitality firms. Duties include heavy data entry, invoice and PO reconciliation, customer service and filing. Excellent MS Word and Excel skills, extreme attention to detail and fast 10-key input. This is a temp-to-perm position.


Big 4 accountant needed for major investment banking house. We are looking for a key place with SEC filing experience who comes from a large firm. Excellent opportunity with a stable company that offers outstanding benefits, a bonus program and a positive working environment. Duties include day-to-day accounting, monthly financial statements, and other detailed accounting projects. BA in Accounting or Finance and three to five years experience in an accounting role a must.


Legal support and records management company in need of a CSR who has worked with Wincopy subpoena prep software to answer busy phones, prepare legal documents and execute heavy data entry. Must have strong communication skills, minimum 204 years similar experience, preferably with a legal support company.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Job Listing!


Entry level position at one of the most prestigious advertising firms in the country. Duties include expense report audits, vendor inquires, estimates, client reports and budget analysis. Four year degree required, as well as excellent MS Office and customer service skills. Room for advancement, this is a one of a kind opportunity in the industry!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


What will make this year your best ever? What changes do you have to make to do it? We took a poll from our employees, clients, applicants and friends. Here is our list of the best ways to change your personal and professional lives for the better!

1. Follow your "BLISS" - We all have things that make us happy (love, money, health). We all have things that make us miserable (love, lack of money, poor health). Lets make a pack to do what makes us blissful, whether in good health or bad, loss of money and too much of it or too little love or too much. I say we take advantage of this 80 degree weather and get walking, hiking or just sitting outside at the Coffee Bean and being blissful in this weather.

2. Disconnect and Reconnect - Get OFF THE INTERNET - I start my day at 4:15 AM and it is with my BackBerry in hand reading my emails. I love and dread this time. What 4:15 AM does for me is give me the 30 minutes I need to respond to requests and delete what is not necessary or a time waster. I get to start my day contacting applicants and employers and meeting face-to-face with both. I do not open my emails until I have contacted at least 25 people in the morning. Get off the Internet and get back to making human contact. You have a better chance of getting a new job if you can speak to the hiring source. Disconnect and reconnect!

3. Take Small Steps - What do you want to do this year? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to gain? What do you want to change? Who do you want to be by the end of 2012? WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN! Look at them every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed. Everyday take one new step to get you to that goal. Of course, one of mine is to lose weight this year. I wrote down my goal weight and every morning before I can open my mouth to eat, I read my goal, I look at a picture of myself that I would like to look like again - it is not one from 1980 either! I take a small step everyday - more exercise, more water, less sugar, etc. I read my goals again at night before I go to bed and I log what small steps I took to achieve that goal that day. If you don't know what you want, you can't get it. Write down what you want and each day write down the small stepS you took to get there.

4. Embrace Gratitude - What are you grateful for - family, friends, country, religion? I am grateful for all of these, and yet on many a day, I seem ungrateful for anything. This economy has beat me up pretty bad.....until I read a story about a missing child, see a homeless mother begging for money, or simply atch the news - I have so much to be thankful for and this year I am going to be grateful, show more gratitude to the things I take so for granted. Spend a reflective moment each day embracing your gratitude.

5. Get Your Body Moving - We all think better, stand taller and move faster when we are in shape. Make it a point to get some form of exercise in everyday. Walk at lunch. Park further away than you normally do. Squeeze you stomach in 20 times a day for 15 second intervals. Squeeze your old bottom in at the same time. Just move - it will make you work better and sleep better.

6. Quit or Get a New Job - What are you passionate about? Why not pursue that for your career this year? My brother has always been a cook, a very good one at that. He has worked in every hotel and high-end restaurant in Los Angeles. His real passion is simply fast food, but with a twist. He is opening his own "whole-in-the-wall" food stand this year - hot dogs, hamburgers, great chips and fries. It took him 20 years to get here but this is the year he is making the move. Make your move - whether it is from the corner office to a window or from a desk job to a park and rec position - do what you love and you will be truly happy.