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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?

Cosmo Advice

9 Oct

Passive aggression has always been a concept that eludes me.  I’ve attempted it and failed miserably.  The “aggression” part I got down but the “passive” part, not so much.   I never really understood why people bothered to come up with ways for you to know they’re upset with you without outright saying, “I’m mad at you for X, Y and Z.”  It seems immature and a complete waste of time.  I also wouldn’t blame the other person for not responding at all because if something was truly bothering or upsetting you, it should mean enough for you to bring it up as opposed to tiptoeing around the matter giving hints of dissatisfaction. 

What makes me bring this up is rather embarrassing.  I had some free time before work last week so I picked up a magazine, Cosmo (what can I say, I’m an intellectual) and flipped through it.  I came across this section titled Bitch It Out. The title pretty much sums up what it’s about: readers send in letters and pictures of things they want to complain about. One part stuck out:  “Every sat there rolling your eyes as a text-addicted friend spends a dinner date with her thumbs glued to her cell? The next time she picks up the phone while you’re supposed to be catching up, text her, ‘I might as well be out to eat by myself, LOL!’ It gets the message across in a nonconfrontational way.”

I found this irritating for two reasons. Reason one: Yes, what the texter (let’s call her A) was doing was extremely rude and should have put the phone down and had lunch with their friend (let’s call her B) and engaged in a real conversation, yet how does that justify what the B did in response?  In my opinion, B’s passive aggressive response to all the texting was way worse than what A was doing.  If it really bothered her so much, why would it have been so difficult to simply ask the friend to stop texting as opposed to committing the crime herself and texting her anger?  I’m sure the texter thought, “I have tasted my own medicine and it is bitter.”

Reason two: I acknowledge that Cosmopolitan magazine is not exactly award-winning literature, but the fact that they endorse this type of information and “advice” is appalling and awful.  I realize that much of what is found in this magazine shouldn’t really be taken to heart, but they could have at least attempted to give advice that wasn’t laughable. 

What you do and how you speak

26 Sep

I’ve oftentimes heard people say, “What you do isn’t who you are.”  To that I say,” Well it kinda is.”  I understand that your job doesn’t define you because you, as a person, could “do” many things, but from my experience I’ve found that what people do for a living says much more about them than they think.  One aspect in particular is their communication style.  I suppose this goes hand-in-hand with their learning style as well.  People within specific industries communicate a certain way, not just with others within those industries but with everyone.  This can be pretty frustrating when it comes to building, maintain and sustaining relationships with people different than you.

For example, I noticed people in sales are extremely personable.  They get into details, care about personalizing each conversation and they’re wonderful at bullshit.  On the other end of the spectrum are engineers, they’re matter-of-fact, to-the-point and would rather have facts than fluff.  Depending on who you’re asking, one style is definitely better than the other but the important thing is being able to tailor your style to those around you.  It’s not beneficial to or for anyone to simply choose one communication style and stick to it because you’re neglecting to consider the handfuls of people who aren’t the exact same as you are.  Being open to speaking and adapting to others will greatly increase your chances at being effective communicators .  

AT&T, you disappoint me

16 Sep

Good customer service is something we all expect.  Businesses can’t afford to have their customers treated poorly, but what happens when the customer service is fine but the company repeatedly screws up in other aspects?  I’ve been dealing with AT&T for a couple of years now and when I moved last October I need to move my service as well.  Since last October I have called them about a dozen times in regard to the same exact issue: billing.  They are consistently billing me random amounts.  One month I’ll have a $0 balance yet next month I’ll get a bill for two months.  I’ve spent hours on the phone with them trying to resolve this (one phone call in particular lasted over an hour) yet the next month or so I have the exact same problem all over again. 

I don’t like getting frustrated with the representative on the phone because I know I’m not speaking to same person every time, but I can’t help sounding a little out-of-control because I’ve called so many times about the same thing and time after time when I get off the phone the issue will seemingly be resolved, yet I know I’m going to need to make the exact same call again in about 30-50 days.  So how am I supposed to handle this? 

In one aspect, I think it’s best to speak to them calmly and keep in mind that it isn’t the unfortunate person I’m speaking to’s fault that I keep getting screwed up bills.  Also, I want this person on my side and doing everything possible to clear additional charges. Yet on the other hand, I’m so angry with AT&T for repeatedly screwing up on something so simple.  So to answer my own question, I usually start off incredibly frustrated but manage to calm down halfway through because I end up feeling bad for the poor soul who has the unfortunate job of cleaning up someone else’s mess.  What have you done in the past?  What has or hasn’t worked when dealing with continuous problems?

Who’s your support system?

11 Sep

We all need support.  Whether that comes in the form of friends or family, having people that support and listen to you is one of the most essential things we need in life.  They may not always say what you want to hear, but they know what needs to be said.  It may not be nice or sugar-coated, but if that’s what you’re looking for I’m sure there are a handful of other acquaintances that can easily tell you what you want to hear.  The older I get the more I realize the vital importance it is for us to surround ourselves with good people who genuinely have our best interest at heart.  They are the ones who know your flaws, imperfections and drawbacks, but love you know matter what.  They love you not in spite of or despite of any of these things.  They love you because of them.

My last post was about the importance of talking about your problems with others.  This is when your support system really matters.  Whether it’s relationship issues, work issues, or anything in between your support system will be the ones to point you in the right direction.  They give advice that may seem obvious to you, but you might not want to hear.  They’re also usually the only ones who have the audacity to tell you to pipe down when you’re making a big deal out of nothing.  They are the ones who you call over and over again with the same problem, knowing that they’ll always answer.  What they say may be a hard pill to swallow, but you do because you know they only want what’s best.

Talk it out

10 Sep

Sometimes you just need to vent.  I know there are people who are perfectly content keeping their issues to themselves, but I’ve never been one of those.  At times I wish I could just keep my problems to myself and just deal with it on my own, but most of the time I realize that talking things out and discussing  problems that bother me with other helps me in a million ways.  Opening up to friends or family gives you insight into your problems that you may not have had.  It’s cathartic.  Sometimes, the more you talk about it, the better you feel.  It may seem counterproductive to talk about your problems over and over, but sometimes that what you need to do to recognize what’s really wrong and that’s the key to finding a solution.

Keeping everything bottled up may seem like a good idea initially, but you can’t keep it in forever.  Problems will inevitably surface and by then it may be too late to look for a solution.  This is unfair to yourself and to those who may be involved.  Problems don’t simply go away because they aren’t acknowledged.  In the long run, it’s best to identify what the issues are, talk about it with those you trust and find a solution to improve the situation.