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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I’m not sure if it’s just me or people in general, but I tend to over analyze what’s said to me. Instead of reading between the lines I often read what’s not even there. I’ve deduced that this is because we often choose to hear what we want to hear regardless of how wrong it is. Instead of taking things at face value, the constant thought of “there must be more” or “there’s something they’re not saying” runs through my jumbled head.
Perhaps this is because, so often people say what you want to hear without realizing the consequences or repercussions of their words. This occurs all the time. Words are spoken without second thought to avoid inevitable letdowns or impending conflicts. How do we decipher between what’s being said and what is really meant? It’s commonly said that people should say what they mean and mean what they say, but that’s not often executed.
I wish it could all be so simple and words could be easy to understand, but the older I get the more I realize that it’s not always like that. Words aren’t just words. They’re much more. They can hide the truth or reveal it. Words are a powerful concoction with the ability to stir up human emotion unlike anything. Yet despite how many times you analyze what was said or might have been said or could have been said it gets to an exhaustive point of realization that words are anything but solid. At the end of the day they’re like emotions, they’re tangible. Regardless of what you heard or what was said all you can do is accept it and move on.
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Continually improving your networking skills is crucial for young professionals and recent graduates. It can be a bit nerve-racking to attend networking events and intimidating to speak with potential clients or employers, but it’s a major mistake to avoid these opportunities. Missing out on networking events due to nerves or fear is committing a huge disservice to yourself and all that you’ve accomplished thus far. Job hunting is difficult enough when you know people in whichever industry you’re interested in, but it’s near impossible for a recent grad to break into an industry without having any connections at all. We all know that word-of-mouth is received much better and more trusted than any kind of advertisement. Networking and building valuable relationships with people in your prospective field works in the same way. Leaving memorable and positive impressions on others are catalysts of success in finding job opportunities.
Attend any local networking events in your city. These events are intended to help professionals connect with others and to build clientele and new business ventures. This is the easiest way to get to know local businesses and to get your name out there. At these events, talk to people and distribute business cards. The more people you talk to the more likely you are to have someone remember you.
The way I think of an elevator speech is this: if you’re in an elevator with your dream employer and you only have 30 seconds to impress him/her what would you say? When put on the spot, very few people are able to divulge what makes them special, necessary and essential to any business so it’s helpful to already have a spiel prepared in case you are ever put on the spot.
It’s incredibly intimidating to be around professionals who have been in the industry for several years and it’s normal to want to take a backseat in conversations for fear of sounding stupid, but don’t. You have to start somewhere and in a sea of recent grads who often take the backseat, you need to stand out. Don’t be afraid of sounding inexperiences because truth-be-told, you are inexperienced but at least you’re not afraid to be noticed and heard.
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I’ve addressed talking to strangers before in a previous post. Mr. Kelley does not agree. He believes there’s no point in sparking conversations with people you’re never going to see again. In his opinion, why waste your time getting to know someone for a couple of minutes when you’re never going to use that information again once you walk away. I can definitely see his point and the rationalization behind it, but how would you get to know anyone new any other way? It’s important to talk to people, even if it’s just for the day, because you never know who you’re going to meet.
Communicating and holding genuine conversations with one another is something we should all take time to do. So much of our days are filled with work and facing a computer or TV screen that we forget that real people exist. All it takes is a single conversation to bring us back to reality. I noticed that whenever I have a bad day or am in a terrible mood I don’t want to deal with people or exert the effort in sustaining any kind of conversation with anyone, let alone strangers, but when I do and it’s a positive exchange it has the ability to change my entire day. That momentary lapse of negativity is all it took for it to disappear.
All it takes is one single conversation, with anyone, and your day could be better. And the possibility of that one person being someone who could turn into a friend, client or employer isn’t so rare and for me, that’s never a waste of time.
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