Category Archives: Hire me Already!

How do you dress for a phone interview?

How do you dress for a phone interview?

You think I’m kidding.

Just last week, I participated in two phone interviews. One was a preliminary screen with a big and growing SaaS company and the other with a content marketing team at a state university.

Just like a regular interview, I prepped by thoroughly reviewing the job posting and description and researching that division and organization. Plus, I gained some insight from friends in my network who worked at each place. I had fully prepared myself, except for one detail.

“What should I wear?” I asked myself, half kidding.

I hadn’t done a phone interview for a long time, and that was when the NCAA interviewed me for a blogging position. For that, I dressed TV Anchor style: suit coat, crisp shirt, solid tie, boxer shorts, bare feet. At the time, I liked suiting up for the call, but I also enjoyed my personal inside joke that I felt took the edge off.

I didn’t get that job.

Instead of giving me an edge, did my attire contribute to lack of seriousness that carried through my interview? To ensure that companies interview a range of candidates not tied to a particular area, phone interviews make for a dull tool in a recruitment process. I couldn’t see their facial expressions or body language, just like they couldn’t see mine. I had no idea whether my responses missed the mark or whether I droned on too long.

I’ve sat on the other end of a hiring call as well. My team at the time interviewed three candidates for a position, and not seeing them distilled the process into their answers and their voice. Maybe that equalizes the process, but from the hiring end I actually found it distracting without the candidate present. For me, on either side of the hiring, body language means so much. Great career counselors always harp on the visuals: dress, eye contact, body language, gesturing.

So as I prepared for the two interviews, I chose to dress up. For the first, I threw on a slightly wrinkled dress shirt, tie, sport coat, kakis, and nice (but scuffed) Clarks shoes. For the second, I had attended a leadership breakfast that morning, so I stayed dressed in my business attire.

Just today, the first employer sent an email starting with “Thank you for your interest… .” Damn. Rejected. I thought I nailed that one.

I haven’t yet heard back from the second employer.

So, did my lack of completeness in dressing for these phone interviews somehow hinder my performance? Might my sharp dress in the last phone interview have contributed to a more serious approach? That employer asked me to campus for an in-person interview.

Meta Moment: At this point, or maybe a few paragraphs up, I would have peppered in some data or referred to other authoritative sources to back up my anecdotal observations. A search fetched a few dated blog posts with cursory explanations like “There’s lots of evidence showing that how we dress affects how we work.” (No link to that plethora of evidence, by the way.) Perhaps, I’ve hit on some uncharted territory here.

So how about you? How did you dress for your last phone interview? How did it go? Do you think how you dress in this setting matters, even when the employer can’t see you?

Photo credit: CJS*64 Saturday Morning ! via photopin (license)


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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Hire me Already!


Career Networking Step #1

OK, I know the steps of networking. I’ve been too reticent in using them up to now. I’m sick of navel-gazing introspection and quiet desperation, so I’m going step-by-step.

Career Networking Step #1: Tell your friends and relatives that you’re looking for a job.

Maybe it’s my misguided sense of good ol’ American self-reliant, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps rugged individualism that has hindered my full-blown admission until now.

I’ve submitted, I’ve interviewed, I’ve second interviewed, I’ve anxiously waited, I’ve scoured job sources, I’ve met with career counselors, I’ve updated my LinkedIn page, I’ve revised and rewritten and customized my résumé. For months, I’ve been suffering this quiet desperation of being fully functional, willing, eager, and ready for employment, to no avail.

I’m tired of it.

So today, I stand up, raise my hand, and, like 9.1 million Americans or more, proclaim, “I need a job. I am a person of great skill and expertise, and your company or organization would be well-served by hiring me.”

I’ve been a helpful, capable, and knowledgeable resource for others seeking a career path.

It’s my turn to use my network.

Next: Career Networking Step #2: The person asks you, “What kind of job are you looking for?”

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Hire me Already!


10 Things About Me

Ten Things about Hugh Vandivier

1. I grew up on a farm in Franklin, Indiana, that my family has cash rented for more than a century. My brother and I are the fourth generation to run Midway Farm.

2. I went to Space Camp the second year it opened in Huntsville, Alabama, and I saw the third shuttle mission take off in Florida.

3. I am related to two Indiana governors: Ralph Gates, my mother’s uncle, and Roger D. Branigin, my father’s cousin.

4. My senior year at Wabash, I was student coach on for the swim team that placed 8th at NCAA Division III National Championships at Emory University.

5. I have visited Veere, my family’s ancestral home in the south of The Netherlands.

The port of Veere, a tiny village outside Middelburg in southern Holland.

6. At the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where I studied media management, I interviewed Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, covered the futures markets in Chicago, covered Capitol Hill, and attended the White House 25th anniversary ceremony honoring the astronauts who first landed on the moon. 

7. I have driven cross-country to Arizona twice and have visited Oahu twice.

8. I have an older sister and a younger brother who both live in Washington, DC. I visit quite often and have attended the Millennial Celebration on the Washington Mall on New Year’s Eve 1999 and the ceremony for the National WWII Memorial. This last trip in August, I visited the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I also have another older sister, who lives outside Sacramento, California, and a younger sister who lives in Jerusalem.

the new Me at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in August after the earthquake and hurricane!

9. I interviewed Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in 2002 and spoke at the opening of his library in January 2011. (The interview and my story about getting the interview.)

10. I am editing and writing a biography on my father’s cousin Norman, who was lost of the Battle of Midway in WWII. I am writing a proposal for a book on swimming. I’m also tinkering with a short story, a novel, and a screenplay.

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Hire me Already!


Facilitating the Network

For the past four years, I have stepped in to help the chapter of Phi Delta Theta at Wabash College. So far, it’s been challenging and rewarding.

Lately, I’m starting to see some positive results.

The house passed a new scholarship program, is working on a new house cleaning initiative, and is developing new community service projects. They’re currently the second cleanest house on campus, they hosted a reception for the Phi Delt Trustees, and they just won the intramural football trophy.

The biggest improvement has come with rush. The house added a larger pledge class this fall to bolster its membership. We’re also working on refocusing our pledgeship and adding in a career component.

One idea I’m employing is to connect start the pledges networking now, while they’re still in school and still exploring careers and majors. I asked them for their intended majors and minors and current career goals, and I matched them up where I could with alumni willing to give them some advice.

Before I hook them up, though, I developed a way for alumni to learn more about them and to supply content to the chapter blog. Rather than write a short bio, which can get kind of boring, I asked them to bullet 10 things about themselves. These could relate to accomplishments, ambitions, family, hobbies, anything. To set an example, I wrote one up about myself  to give them an example.

It’s in the next post.

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Better Practices, Hire me Already!


Happy Birthday

Each morning, when I log into Facebook, I always check which of my friends are celebrating birthdays. Then, I post a birthday message on each wall. I try to customize it, especially if it’s a close friend or relative. If I’m a casual acquaintance or a long distant classmate, I’ll still post a simple “Happy birthday.” I never just type “HB” BTW.

I know a lot of people who don’t do this, and there’s certainly no Facebook custom or edict from Emily Post’s Netiquette. They just don’t want to bother with it. Some people even disable their wall for the day so that people can’t post messages on their birthday. And, yes, many people over the last true celebratory milestone age of 25* would rather not face their birthday each year.

For some friends, especially those who have moved away, it’s my once-a-year reminder to check in and see how they’re doing.

This daily ritual of mine didn’t begin when a preponderance of warm greetings encountered me on the last occasion of my birth. I’d rather think that these posts just reinforced it. But I don’t do this for the “give to get” mentality.

It’s just a nice, simple thing to do.

*Turning 25 is significant only in the fact that you can officially rent a car with less hassle and your automobile insurance rates usually decrease.

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Better Practices, Hire me Already!


Does Indy Work for Me Anymore?

So here I sit in the empty rear of a well-lit coffee shop, reviewing my state of affairs. I desperately need a new job, a new car, a new apartment, a new regimen.

And I start thinking. Do I need a new city? Have I exhausted the capabilities of Indianapolis to function effectively as a career professional?

There’s a cool blog called I Choose Indy! that’s a great PR tool for how much the Circle City has to offer. But I’m starting to think that staying in my beloved hometown city might not be a simple matter of choice anymore.

I mean, I have an outstanding network of friends: movers and shakers, business owners, civic leaders, folks who make coffeeshops and restaurants and nonprofits hum.

So what’s my damn problem?

I never want to make too big a deal about interviewing Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., but it comes up occasionally. And my one big regret about the interview is that I never reached the opportunity to ask him the question:

“Do you feel that you had to leave Indianapolis to be successful as a writer?”

It nags me that my loyalty to this town might have somehow stunted my success as a writer. But I’m never quick to blame others or conditions for what’s up to me to decide, determine, and act upon.

So, I’m going out to Washington D.C. next week for a fortnight to see my family and meet my new niece. While I’m out there, I’m going to network and see what opportunities abound.

I’ve not given up on Indy just yet. But I’m definitely looking at options elsewhere.

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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Hire me Already!, My Town Indy Redux


Opportunities Seized

Over the past decade or so, the various positions I have held have provided me with outstanding opportunities to do some engaging and meaningful work:

Somebody actually paid me to do all of those things.

Through my volunteer work, I’ve also achieved some amazing accomplishments:

  • Helping raise $2,056,664 in contributions from half the solicitable role of 361 Phi Delt donors to build a new $4.2 million fraternity house at Wabash College for a chapter that has existed for more than 160 years.
  • Helping as a volunteer assistant varsity swim coach for four coaches at Wabash.
  • As a class agent, setting up a blog to keep classmates informed of class and campus happenings.
  • Managing the Facebook group and website for the Indianapolis Association of Wabash Men, a regional alumni association representing over 2,000 alumni.

Nobody paid me to do any of those things.

But they all add up to some solid experience, and I had a damn good time doing all of it when I look back.

I can’t wait to see what other things I can accomplish.

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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in Hire me Already!