Archive | December, 2011

Overcoming Difficult Questions

2 Dec

Interviews are crucial to getting a job.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how impressive your skills are if you can’t convey them to your potential employer. While it may not be possible to know exactly what is going to be asked, there are several questions that come up 85% of the time.

Tell me about yourself

This isn’t an opportunity to mention your dog, your kids or your amazing new car. Your interviewer doesn’t need to know you’ve been married for 35 years or that you have diabetes, more importantly, your interviewer doesn’t care.  What he/she does care about is whether or not your skills align with the position you’re applying for and what makes you special or valuable to their company.  Use this opportunity to highlight skills applicable to the position or things about yourself that aren’t mentioned in your resume or cover letter. This is when your elevator speech comes in handy.

 Strengths and Weaknesses

The strengths are the easy part.  Talk about what you know is unique to you and how their company can benefit from it.  Simply stating, “I’m a hard worker” is not going to cut it.  It’s boring and it’s been said dozens of times before you.  If you are a “hard worker” give an example that demonstrates this strength. Using personal experiences makes you  different because no one else has experienced those exact same things.  When discussing weaknesses, don’t focus too long on them but always come up with one.  Never say, “I don’t have any weaknesses” because that statement in itself makes it brazenly clear that being arrogant is your weakness.  When discussing weaknesses, it’s always possible to turn it into a positive.  Mention a weakness that you’ve had in the past, then tell them what you’ve done to improve. We’re all works in progress and we’re constantly bettering ourselves.  Let them know that you are actively working on overcoming your weakness and will continue to work on them.

Behavioral Questions

These are the questions that will force you to reflect on a past experience.  These questions are intended to see how you would behave in any given situation.  For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an unsatisfied customer and what was the outcome?”  The way you answer these questions could either land you the job or ruin your chances.  While it may seem difficult to offer a clear, succinct answer under pressure simply think about the situation they’re asking about, discuss the actions you took, and describe the result.  The purpose and importance of behavioral questions is to predict how you will act in the future based on how you’ve reacted in the past.

Do you have any questions for us

YES! You will always have questions for them.  Even if they’ve truly answered all of your questions think of something, anything to ask.  It’s best to come prepared with a list of questions written down and as you continue the interview check off which ones have been answered and ask the unanswered ones in the end.  Asking questions demonstrates interest. It shows that you want to work for this company. Consider questions regarding responsibilities of the position, the company’s mission statement, company expectations, etc. 








Interviewing Succesfully

1 Dec

You never get a second chance at a first impression. We’ve all heard this statement over and over. It reminds us that appearances are important, to always be on our guard, and to never forget that we are constantly being judged. Aside from a first date, this is never truer than during an interview. Résumés lead to interviews 31% of the time. Applications lead to interviews 25% of the time. And networking and contacts lead to interviews 44% of the time (2010 SHRM survey). Interviews land jobs 100% of the time! From the way you’re dressed to how you shake someone’s hand, it all plays a pivotal role in the interview process. Whether it’s conducted via phone or in person never forget that what you say is just as important as how you answer.

So, what’s the difference? The difference between how and what are very stark. How your answer is expressed through your intonation, your facial expression, and your body language. What you’re answering comes across through the vernacular chosen, the order in which your sentences are formed and what you choose to preface and end your statement with. When answering interview questions, it’s important to keep in mind not only the words but also the tone. Watch how you’re sitting as well as where your body is turned. All of this plays a key role in whether or not you’re getting the job. Communication and messages come through without our control. So why not take extra caution in what we are aware of?