Monthly Archives: July 2014

Sink or Swim – Interview Advice From Shark Tank

maninwaterBeyond the bickering, goofy gadgets and celebrity sharks, there are true takeaways from that show that can help job hunting hopefuls. If you look a little closer, you’ll see that nervous entrepreneurs share similarities to job seekers.

The entrepreneurs who end up getting a deal aren’t just the people with the best products; they also have the best pitches. Sink your teeth into these pointers to maximize your personal pitch.

There are some entrepreneurs who just “get it.” They’ve obviously studied the show, and know what the sharks want to hear. You need to do the same for your interview. You can never be too prepared. Know where the interview location is (a trial run is always a good idea), how long it takes to get there, what you’re going to wear and the questions you plan on asking. Being prepared also helps calm your nerves. Jitters are ok, but the more thoroughly you prepare, the more confident you will become.

At a recent Shark Tank casting call in Iowa, one of the producers was interviewed by the local paper. What can a Shark Tank wanna-be do to get his attention?

“I’m always most impressed with entrepreneurs that know their stuff. The entrepreneurs who know their numbers, their market and have a vision for the company.”

This sounds a lot like what job candidates should know. Competition for jobs is fierce. You’re going against hundreds of other hopefuls. If you haven’t perfected your personal pitch, you’re in trouble.

As a potential employee, you should go beyond knowing surface level facts about the company you want to join. With so much public information available online, there’s no excuse not to. You should also be able to speak knowledgeably about the industry you’re in (or going into). This is especially true if you’re changing professions. Do online research, informational interviews, and check out professional associations. Just like the entrepreneurs, you need to be ready for any question that comes your way.

Do you think the entrepreneurs go out there and “wing it” when it comes time to present to the sharks? Absolutely not! They have practiced their pitch dozens of times. You can do the same before your big interview. Go over potential interview questions with a friend or family member. Mock interviews are a great way to get feedback on any nervous habits, including distracting verbal or physical habits.

Manners matter. You can be friendly, but remember – you’re there to make a great impression, not to make new friends. On Shark Tank, the sharks may laugh and joke, but they always get to the tough questions, including the basics about the inventor’s business. No matter how clever or creative the sales pitch was, if the entrepreneur can’t answer questions about their product’s sales, wholesale and retail costs, they’re out. And, as anyone who has ever watched the show knows, it never pays to be rude, defensive or arrogant. When you are presenting yourself at an interview, the same thing holds true. This is the time for your best behavior and A-game, no matter what oddball questions or behavior is thrown your way.

Imagine the moment an entrepreneur walks through the doors to meet the sharks for the first time. It’s a mixture of excitement and apprehension. At the same time, they know that it’s their only shot. Adopt the same mentality. This is your one chance to be in the spotlight and make your best impression. You need to remain confident and composed during the interview, from the second you walk in the door.

Think about what it takes to land a coveted spot on the show. You have to apply, pitch in front of the producers and then advance to the next round. You do all of that BEFORE you even get to appear on TV! In addition, many of these entrepreneurs have learned how to handle rejection. They’ve heard “no” many times before. They pick themselves up and keep persevering, often at huge costs. We’re not asking you to get a second mortgage or live in your car (like many of the hungry entrepreneurs have done); however, we can all learn from their drive and passion. They only need one “yes,” and so do you.

Even though the sharks are millionaires, they’re not going to just write a check to anyone. The same holds true for your future employer. Prove to them that you’re worth every penny by convincing them that you have the energy, knowledge, skills and experience to get the job done. What you say, the way you say it and how you present yourself in the interview can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.

Shark tank wanna-be entrepreneurs need to show that their invention or service is the next big thing. Job seekers need to show employers that THEY are the next big thing. With perseverance and attention to the points above, you should be well on your way to a successful interview.

Until next time, catch you in the tank!

P.S. Please share this post if you found it to be helpful.

* This guest post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.


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Tilcon Connecticut

logoTilconCTTilcon Connecticut is an award-winning, leading supplier of quality crushed stone, hot mix asphalt and ready mix concrete. They provide heavy and highway construction and paving services for state/local road, bridge and highway projects and have a barge transportation division that delivers stone.


In the last several decades, Tilcon Connecticut has seen several acquisitions and mergers:

  • 1923 –  Angelo Tomasso Inc., was founded
  • 1957 –  North Haven Asphalt Company, Tomasso of North Haven, Inc. founded
  • 1961 – Sherman Sand and Stone Co. (New Britain), Sherman-Tomasso Concrete Inc. founded
  • 1964 – Arborio & Sons (Farmington), and the formation of a new entity known as Arborio Tomasso, Inc.
  • 1965 – Construction of new concrete plant in Middletown, CT
  • 1969 – Purchase of Helming Brothers in Bristol, CT
  • 1970’s – Ashland Oil Resources Company purchased New Haven Trap Rock
  • 1970 – Construction of the Portland, CT Asphalt Plant
  • 1972 – Ashland Oil Resources Company purchased Angelo Tomasso Inc. to become NHTR Tomasso
  • 1975 – Purchased the Hamden, CT asphalt plant from Blakeslee Company
  • 1979 – Thomas Tilling Ltd. Purchased Ashland Oil in the North East. Tomasso became known as Tilcon Tomasso, a division of Tilcon Warren, Inc.
  • 1984 – Sold to British Tire and Rubber Co.
  • 1990 – Tilcon Tomasso became known as Tilcon Connecticut
  • 1996 – Sold to CRH of Dublin, Ireland – a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol CRH) – BALF Company in Newington was already owned by CRH in the nineties
  • 2000 – Tilcon purchased Soneco

Tilcon Connecticut Inc. continues to supply construction materials throughout the state by using today’s technology to produce quality Aggregates and Hot Mix Asphalt.

Paving Services
Heavy & Highway Construction
Barge Transportation
Rail Services

Crushed Stone
Hot Mix Asphalt
Ready Mix Concrete

hh-photo-1   img_Community Relations   img_Paving the Way to Safety

Projects include:
Crushed stone
Hot Mix Asphalt
Ready Mix Concrete
Paving Services
Heavy & Highway Construction
Barge Transportation Services

Barge Transportation

Constructing Leaders
At Tilcon Connecticut, we invest in the training needed to help our employees, future leaders and our business to be successful!

Interested in working for us?
We are looking for high performers with the desire to continually learn and embrace opportunities to develop new skills.  Our search is focused on individuals who demonstrate our core values of safety, quality and integrity.  Find out about our openings and more here: Careers at Tilcon

Contact Us:
P.O. Box 1357
642 Black Rock Ave.
New Britain, CT 06050

 About Oldcastle (our parent company)
Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

Follow Oldcastle Careers on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

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Samantha Streb, Staffing Administrative Manager

SAM_3680What do you do in your position?

I manage the administrative support/office management function of the staffing center.

What year did you start?



Where is your job located?

Rochester, NY

What do you like about working here?

I work with great people – not just in our office, but throughout the entire corporation.

What are the best parts of your job?

The people I work with and getting to help others.

Why do you think CRH is a good place to work?

CRH is a good place to work because they are always looking for ways to improve the business, and are open to suggestions from any level.

Sam, second from left, touring the new hockey arena at R.I.T.

How would your coworkers describe you?

Tall, lol.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Exercising, decorating, planning events and trying new restaurants.

If you would like, tell us about your family.

I have been married for almost 2 years to my husband Jay, who is an architect.

Just for fun, we want to know – what was your first job ever?

Camp Counselor for the Town of Greece.

Want to learn more about working for CRH Americas?

Visit us at CRH Americas Careers.

We are North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials.  In North America we adopted our parent company name to become CRH Americas, Inc. But, the strength, quality and legacy of our Oldcastle brand remains in our product groups, Oldcastle Infrastructure, Oldcastle APG and Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®, as well as our Oldcastle Building Solutions team.

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What Recruiters Really Look For When Checking Your References

careerladder By the time you’re asked for references, you’re probably feeling pretty good. You may even pat yourself on the back and say “I got this!” It IS a good sign when you’re asked to provide references, but don’t go changing your LinkedIn or Facebook profile to that new job title just yet. Here are a few guidelines and red flags to watch out for.

Think twice about listing peers
Pick a boss, manager or superior to be your reference. If you were a manager or in another supervisory role, avoid picking direct reports as references. Ideally, aim to have at least 2 of your 3 references be people you reported to directly.

Choose Wisely
Always pick people who will speak highly, yet honestly, about you.  An overly complimentary reference can be just as bad as a negative one. Experienced hiring managers can tell when references are exaggerating or giving them fluff answers instead of real facts and opinions about a person. No one is expecting you to be perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses.  The purpose of the reference checking process is to find out if you are who you say you are, if your resume reflects your true skills and if you would be a good fit for the organization.

Prep your references beforehand
It sounds really bad to a recruiter when they call someone who seems surprised to be contacted. Even worse, some references have even blurted out “I’m not sure why I was even asked to be a reference.” Oops. You can avoid this scenario by keeping your references in the loop and giving them a heads up that they’re going to get a call. Even better, provide them with a copy of your resume, tell them a little bit about the position you’re applying for and give them a few reminders about which skills you’re hoping they can emphasize. You don’t want them to sound scripted, but it can help to refresh their memory on your background, especially if you have not seen or worked with the person for awhile.

Don’t Hand In Your References Too Early
Wait until you’re asked! Our recruiters ask for the names of 3 past managers, even if we were already given a pre-prepared list.

We want to see how well a candidate stays connected to past management after they leave. Good employees have a network from past jobs and companies that they can rely on. Mediocre or weak candidates often leave companies on bad terms and don’t have the same network.” – Chris Garrie, VP of Recruiting

Leave References Off Your Resume
Use the space at the bottom of your resume for more important information. If you have them on there, recruiters are already evaluating who you listed. Everything you say, do or write during the application and interview process is a clue. Make sure these clues play to your advantage.

The Red Flags

  1. Weak references. These include personal friends, professors (if you have been out of college more than a few years), ministers/pastors, parents and in-laws. Yes, we have seen it all.
  2. What Your Reference Says Is Just As Important As What They Don’t. If your reference sounds rehearsed or like they are withholding information, our radar goes up.
  3. Suspicious Answers To The Hard Questions.  Long pauses and being too careful with responses or being too complimentary are very telling to a hiring manager.

“If the person on the other end of the line is not providing much information or seems frustrated, it’s a good sign that they aren’t interested in talking about the person, no matter what they are actually saying. People are cordial and upbeat when they’re doing a favor for someone they truly like. They are short and curt if they’re talking about someone they don’t.” – Rob Mischler, Staffing Manager

Reference checking is a way to find out what motivates someone, what type of employee they are and how likely they are to fit in, produce and stay at their potential new place of employment. While every hiring manager or recruiter has their own method for handling references, it’s better to err on the side of caution and make sure you pick the right references and prep them properly. Do this and you will increase the odds of landing that job!

Bonus tip: Encourage your references to respond to that initial call as soon as possible. We’re not expecting them to answer the call on the spot, but if we don’t hear back within a few days, that can be a bad sign.


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  5 Must-Ask Interview Questions

Interviewing is not a one-way street. Ask questions!

Good interviews involve a give and take. The conversation should not be one-sided. These questions will help you gather information to discover if the position is truly a good fit.

1)  Why is the position open?
It’s important to find out why an opening exists. Is it a new position? If not, it’s perfectly reasonable to inquire about the history behind the availability. Pay particular attention to the interviewer’s body language and what they say when they respond. Did they hesitate or seem guarded? You won’t always be told the entire or real reason for a previous person’s departure, but it’s still important to inquire.

2)  What do people enjoy most about working here?
This is a great question because it shows you already classify the company as a good place to work. It also makes the interviewer dig deeper to share employee opinions/perceptions, giving you a clue about the company culture. Remember, the future employer has to sell you on the position as well. It’s not a one-way street!

3)  What are the next steps in the process?
This question shows that you are interested, organized and ready to move forward with this company.

4)  Is there anything else you need to know about me that will assist in your decision to fill this role?
You can phrase this question in a number of ways, but the main goal here is to find out what else they may be looking for that you may not have addressed during the interview.

5)   Do you know when you will be making your decision?
In the best case scenario, you’ll find out a firm date or at least a general time frame for hiring.

Interviewers don’t expect to be the only ones asking the questions. Targeted, well-thought out questions not only show you’re engaged and interested, but they’re also very important in gathering the information you need to decide if this is the right job for you.

What questions do you ask in an interview? Let us know. We would love to find out and share with other job seekers.


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