Interview With Jeff Garber, CEO of 360JobInterview.com

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Remember the good old days? You know, when you could walk straight from the graduation platform to a cushy job with a $5,000 hiring bonus?

That is so 1998, you might be saying. You’re right. Job seekers have replaced corporate minions in the rat race, sprinting like mad for rare openings. Candidates need to shine to even be considered.

What if you haven’t interviewed for a job in 10 years? Or you just graduated, and want to stand out? 360JobInterview.com knows your pain. The company’s 300+ HR professionals are intimate with layoffs, some even on the receiving end. Their jobs depend on helping you succeed in finding yours.

All you need to tap 360JobInterview.com’s resources is a webcam and Skype. Once you have the goods, you match yourself up with an HR interview coach in your field (choose from more than 55 job categories). You send your coach your resume and job description, then link up with him/her on a Skype videoconference. Your coach interviews you just like a real company gatekeeper would. After the interview, s/he gives you feedback on the interview.

Your in-depth, personalized training session should give you the ability to make a keen first impression during your real interview. If you need field-specific career coaching, resume writing, or follow-ups, the company offers that, too.

Business Pundit interviewed 360JobInterview.com CEO Jeff Garber for his take on the company, the experts, and the job-search process.

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BP: I noticed that your interview coaching sessions are one hour. How much can a customer accomplish in one hour?

A lot of ground can be covered in that 1hr. Before an interview session, we ask people to upload their resume and a job description. That way, the coach can really get a better understanding of the candidate.

During the hour session, probably 40-45 minutes is an actual interview. The other balance of time addresses observations, insights, and coaching. For instance, maybe you’re going for journalism, and the question was “can you tell me what makes your journalistic style unique?” If the response was flat, or really didn’t sizzle as far as highlighting your skill mix, the coach can point that out and help you work out an appropriate response. At the end of the session, we provide a written evaluation highlighting what was covered in that session.

In most HR situations, the average interview is about 20 minutes. Ours will be a lot longer and much more in-depth. Afterwards, we will tell candidates what close family members and friends don’t tell you. When you go into a mock interview with a friend, they don’t want to upset you, they don’t want to find the flaws, so they’ll say you know what, you’re doing great, that’s good. That’s not helpful in this (competitive) environment.

We can cover a lot of ground when it’s all about you.

BP: The client can also save his/her interview and look over it again and again, right?

Yes, that’s important for body language. Sometimes the person isn’t making eye contact, or their body language is off. It can be scary to look at yourself on video, but the coach can point out the fact that you’re not making good eye contact, or that you’re fidgeting too much and it looks you’re nervous. That’s why a webcam interview by far is much more important than a traditional telephone interview.

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BP: What demographic has been your best customer?

Sad to say, everyone. We have people who have lost their jobs after 5, 10, 15 years of being in market. We have people who are just graduating from school and having incredible difficulty getting an interview in fierce competition. Then there are folks who have to come out of retirement because their retirement funds have dwindled. It’s across the board.

For every job that’s available, there are between 300-500 applicants. Only a few of those get an interview. The interview is more key than ever before. You really have to set yourself apart in this market, and that’s not easy to do

BP: I’ve heard that most people getting laid off are average employees, the C-students of employees. Is that the case, in your opinion?

In my opinion, that’s not the case. The brightest and best as well as the mediocre are laid off. I think that would be an incorrect statement, that it’s just the mediocre who are laid off, because for instance you can look at a company like Google, voted the #1 place to work, they have access to the brightest and the best. This is the downturn, and they’re laying off people. You think they’re laying off people who are not the brightest and the best? I disagree with that statement. I think that everyone is affected, not just the ones that are so-so.

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BP: Can you tell me about a success story from your program?

I think the number one success stories are people walk away saying you know what, interviewing is scary to begin with, I have more confidence knowing that 1) I was proactive, doing something about it (by engaging services), 2) the information, coaching, and critiquing provided by the coaches was extremely helpful because they want you to succeed, and it takes a pro person to do that. Candidates walk away with confidence and thinking you know what, I can get this job, which is huge.

Also, this is the first time, probably since the Great Depression, that people are looking for jobs not to better themselves. Years ago, people made job changes because they wanted more salary, maybe a better work life, whatever the case may be. Now, people are actually looking for jobs because they need them. One of the things the coaches work with them on is it’s important for you not to come across as though you’re desperate for a job. No person likes to hire someone who is. Two, you may have been a high-level executive and now you’re going for middle management. You don’t want to come off as though this job is beneath you, because that will be perceived negatively as well.

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BP: Your career experts are mostly HR pros. In most companies, HR only provides a pre-screening interview, while hiring managers make the final decisions. How do your HR experts help clients ace interviews in their fields?

Usually the hiring manager and the HR person work hand-in-hand, but the HR person is very quick to ascertain who gets through the door and who doesn’t. Before you ever get through the door to a hiring manager, you have to go through the HR gatekeeper.

Also, sometimes a hiring manager has myopic view of things, and is just interviewing for a specific role or position. HR people interview five days a week, 6-7 hours a day. They really understand their company’s overall need. The hiring manager may be very specific to a certain department, but not look for the same skill mix an HR person would look for.

With downsizing, there is less headcount, so HR people are looking for talent that is very flexible and more of a team player, more versatile for working several positions, not just one. Because they understand one specific company’s environment, and what is needed, they’re able to provide a deeper interview across the board as far as analyzing what a candidate is, what their work ethics are, and how they can work with people.

BP: How do you find and keep your HR experts?

Brad Kaunitz, our senior recruiter for 360, he has done a phenomenal job placing ads with SHRM (probably the world’s largest HR organization). That provided a lot of leads. The people we ended up hiring—from major corporations like Dell, Time Warner, GM, AmEx, Marriott, VW, and Microsoft—were also wonderful for networking. We’ve been very flattered because our recruiters love the concept of what 360 can do, as well as the flexibility they have of working with clients.

Lots of these HR folks are victims of the economy, and they’ve been laid off themselves, so not only do they have compassion, they can speak firsthand about what type of anxiety is related to it. I think they bring even more compelling energy and drive to make things happen for candidates.

BP: Do you have any plans to evolve your business model if the economy gets better and demand goes back down?

Our business model isn’t based on the current situation, but the long term. Independent of that, the Secretary of the Treasury said that we may begin to pull towards the end of the year, but the last component that will come out is jobs.

I think it’s going be a long time until we get to the higher levels that we’re used to. More importantly, I think that the job market will never be the same. I think that our approach will probably change the landscape of how jobs are approached. I think that as you raise the bar for the candidates to be more savvy and better interviewers, there will always be a fresh supply of folks who feel the need to up their game as well. I don’t see that as being fad.

Our near-time goal is to be scalable, because we’ve had a lot of international interest. So we want to develop teams all around the world.

Jeff Garber is the CEO of 360JobInterview.com. Learn more about 360JobInterview.com at their website or blog.

  • Liz Ayers

    Hi Jeff and Dan,

    Here is my itinerary.I just hope I get there in time.
    Friday June 4th leaving Syracuse at 6:00 am on Jet Blue, arriving 10:52 Tampa. Departing Sunday 6:00 am. Arriving Syracuse at 11:24. All on Jet Blue. Sorry guys my frequent flyer miles did not work here. But the non refundable money is worth it to see Gloria. She is my BFF. But she was so special tonight to mention her jewelry…yikes. I think I know everything she ever bought and she offered some of it to me…wow did not expect that. So guys just get me there in time ok. She is so loved by me and Bobby, we go way back. Keep her going until I get there. Lots of love to Gloria and you kids who have taken such good care of her.
    Love Liz