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"Tell me about yourself?" Know how to answer this Question. It's one of the most frequently asked questions in an interview. Your response to this request will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Dealing with questions about salary history Currently underpaid? Learn how to handle awkward salary questions with grace. Do you have any questions? Never let an opportunity to pass, when the interviewer says "Any questions?" Encountering behaviour-based interviews How you have responded to certain situations in the past can give an employer a good idea of how you will respond to similar situations in the future. How you say something is as important as what you say Body language represents as much as 60% of our communication, so it's important to deliver your words very carefully. Interview cheat sheet Relax - a cheat sheet is not really cheating. It's a checklist to make sure you stay focused before, during and after the interview. Overcoming interview nerves If your performance at interviews suffers because of nerves, read these great tips on how to overcome them. Questions to ask the interviewer Be prepared when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions?” The dreaded “weakness” questions Use our smart strategies to answer this anticipated question. Tough interview questions Don’t let the tough questions stop you from performing well in the interview. Why should we hire you? This is a broad question that can take you down the wrong road unless you've done some thinking ahead of time. Think of yourself as the product.
Encountering behaviour-based interviews and questions
More and more employers are conducting a different type of interview than they did five or 10 years ago. Known as "behaviour-based interviews," these interviews are filled with behaviour-based questions designed to elicit patterns of accomplishments relevant to the employer's situation. They are specific and challenge interviewees to provide concrete examples of their achievements in different types of situations. Such interviews are based on the simple belief that how a job candidate has responded to certain types of situations in the past is a good predictor of how that person will behave in a similar future situation. Behaviour-based questions are likely to Give me an example of a time when you . . . Give me an example of how you . . . Tell me about how you . . . begin with some variation of:
This is an opportunity for you to sell your positives with an example or two. Briefly describe the situation, enthusiastically explain what you did (adding information as to why if you think this would not be evident), and indicate the outcome. Obviously you want to select examples that promote your skills and have a positive outcome. Even if the interviewer asks about a time when something negative happened, try to select an example where you were able to turn the situation around and something positive came out of it. For example, if asked, "Tell me about a time you made a bad decision." Try to identify an example where: Even though it wasn't the best decision, you were able to pull something positive out of the situation. Although it was a poor decision, you learned from it and in the next similar situation you made a good decision or know how you will handle it differently the next time a similar situation arises. It was bad decision but the negative outcome had only minor impact. In other words, try to pull something positive - either that you did or that you learned - out of even a negative experience you are asked to relate. As you prepare for your interview, consider situations where you: Demonstrated leadership Solved a problem Increased company profits Made a good decision/made a poor decision Handled change (not money, but changing events) Handled criticism Met a deadline/missed a deadline Worked as part of a team Add to this list other behavioural questions you think of that apply to the job for which you are applying. For example, if the job includes making presentations, expect questions about a speech where you achieved your goal or conversely about a time when your speech failed.
How you say something is as important as what you say
Summary Communication experts say that: Only 10% of our communication is represented by what we say 30% is represented by our sounds 60% is represented by our body language. Obviously what you say at an interview will go a long way to securing you the job. However, how you say things also plays an extremely critical role. In fact, some experts strongly contend that how you say things is more important. As a job seeker it’s your responsibility to ensure that you prepare for both. Below you’ll find five very useful tips on how you should be saying things at an interview. Follow these tips carefully and you’ll significantly improve your chances of winning that job. Good luck! Avoid saying anything that does not put you in a positive light: You’d be surprised how many people are critical of themselves at an interview. They’re just shooting themselves in the foot. Research shows that negative comments are: a) remembered more easily and b) b) attract follow up questions! The last thing anyone needs at an interview is follow-up questions on negative points. 1. 1. Don’t just talk about your skills and experience, try also to show how they can benefit your new employer: Try to think of ways your skills and knowledge will benefit the company. Putting yourself in the shoes of an employer really helps. Here’s a tip: All employers are very interested in: productivity improvements (efficiency), improved customer service, attention to detail and quality and flexibility. Here’s an example for you: "My extensive skills in Word and PowerPoint means that I will be able to complete many of my duties quicker and with less mistakes than they are currently being completed. This will release me to assist you in other areas." 2. Avoid timid or uncertain language: Because of cultural norms we tend to use slightly belittling language when asked to talk about our strengths. For example: We often use expressions such as: I feel I could, I think I could, Perhaps I would. All these statements weaken the statements that follow, so avoid them as much as possible. There’s a big difference between "I feel I could do a good job" and "I could do a good job." Use examples as much as possible: Wherever possible try to use examples of what you’ve done rather than just using descriptors. Examples are entertaining and remembered more easily! If for example, you’re asked to describe yourself, instead of saying things like: fair, honest and hardworking use examples such as: " If we’re busy at work I’m happy to stay back until the work is completed. I feel guilty about leaving things half done and going home. Also, if there’s a problem at work I’m the sort of person who prefers to gently bring it out in the open rather than turning a blind eye or sweeping it under the carpet. Experience had taught me that problems not dealt with quickly tend to get a lot worse." 4. How to be humble: If you feel that "I" statements are beyond you or that your intuition is telling you that you might be coming across as a little too bold there is a technique on getting your message across strongly but at the same time maintaining an acceptable level of humility. That technique involves using the third person. For example, instead of saying: "I’m a hard worker." You can say, "My boss always used to say how hard I worked. 3
Tell me about yourself
It's one of the most frequently asked questions in an interview: "Tell me about yourself?" Your response to this request will set the tone for the rest of the interview. For some, this is the most challenging question to answer, as they wonder what the interviewer really wants to know and what information they should include. The secret to successfully responding to this free-form request is to focus, script and practice. You cannot afford to wing this answer, as it will affect the rest of the interview. Begin to think about what you want the interviewer to know about you. Focus List five strengths you have that are pertinent to this job (experiences, traits, skills, etc.). What do you want the interviewer to know about you when you leave? Priya is strong in communications and connecting with people. She has a strong background and proven success with customer relationships. Her real strength is her follow-through. She prides herself on her reputation for meeting deadlines. Scripting Prepare a script that includes the information you want to convey. Begin by talking about past experiences and proven success: "I have been in the customer service industry for the past five years. My most recent experience has been handling incoming calls in the high tech industry. One reason I particularly enjoy this business, and the challenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to connect with people. In my last job, I formed some significant customer relationships resulting in a 30 percent increase in sales in a matter of months." Next, mention your strengths and abilities: "My real strength is my attention to detail. I pride myself on my reputation for following through and meeting deadlines. When I commit to doing something, I make sure it gets done, and on time." Conclude with a statement about your current situation: "What I am looking for now is a company that values customer relations, where I can join a strong team and have a positive impact on customer retention and sales." Practice Practice with your script until you feel confident about what you want to emphasis in your statement. Your script should help you stay on track, but you shouldn't memorize it -- you don't want to sound stiff and rehearsed. It should sound natural and conversational. Even if you are not asked this type of question to begin the interview, this preparation will help you focus on what you have to offer. You will also find that you can use the information in this exercise to assist you in answering other questions. The more you can talk about your product - you - the better chance you will have at selling it.
Do you have any questions?
At the conclusion of a job interview you may be asked, "Do you have any questions?" A common answer is, "No, I think you've covered everything very well." This is the wrong answer. You have passed up your opportunity to ask some critical questions could help you decide whether you want to work for this company. But, what questions are appropriate? When Maria was asked if she had any questions at the conclusion of her first interview, she began asking about sick time and vacation days and when she would be able to start taking them. The interviewer was taken aback. " Is this what this woman cares about? Time off? This doesn't sound like someone who will come in and get the work done," the interviewer thought to himself. Clearly, Marianne had asked inappropriate questions. Timing is key The first round of interviews is about discovery, learning about the job and the company, not the benefits or raises. Good questions to ask in the first round are about the job content, and the company's culture and future. David had prepared ahead of time and was ready when the manager asked if he had any questions. David asked, "What types of projects would be forthcoming over the next six months?" The manager was eager to tell David about prospects for future business and the plans for future growth. This discussion prompted more questions from David. The interview ended after a lively exchange and on a very upbeat note. David's questions were appropriate and timely. The interview should be an exchange of information: What does the company want, and what do you have to offer? But it is also important to discuss what the company has to offer, and what you want. It is essential to express an interest in the company and the work being done. By asking questions, you will demonstrate investigative skills, illustrate you are particular about the company you work for and that you are not going to take just any offer. It is also important to consider whom you are talking to. The human resources person is the one likely to know about job descriptions, qualities being sought and the morale or company culture. The hiring manager, your future boss, is the person to ask about the department, the team you will be working with and the job's challenges. What about the benefits? But what about those other questions about benefits, stock options and time off? As the interview process unfolds, there will be time to ask about the benefits and practical matters. Often the human resources department will provide you with a brochure or information packet. Obviously, you will need this information to assess an offer, but all in good time. What you should not ask in the first rounds of interviewing • Don't ask about salary, stock options, vacation, holiday schedule or benefits. • Don't ask questions that have already been answered in the interview, just for the sake of asking something. • Don't grill the interviewer. It's OK to ask about the person's background, but only as an interested party, not an interrogator. Questions you should ask in the first rounds of interviewing • May I see a copy of the job description? • Why has the job become available? • What qualities are you seeking in the person for this job? • What is the next step? • When will you make your selection? 5
Prepare five or six questions before the interview and take them with you. When the time comes for you to ask questions, take out your list. This will show good preparation on your part. This time is a valuable opportunity for you to get the information you need to help you make an informed decision.
Questions to ask the interviewer
Even if you don't ask any questions during an interview, many employers will ask you if you have any. How you respond will affect their evaluation of you. So be prepared to ask insightful questions about the organisation. Good topics to touch on include: the competitive environment in which the organisation operates executive management styles what obstacles the organisation anticipates in meeting its goals how the organisation's goals have changed over the past three to five years. Generally, it is most unwise to ask about pay or benefits or other similar areas. The
reason is that it tends to make you seem more interested in what the organisation can do for you. It is also not a good idea to simply have no questions at all. Doing so makes you appear passive rather than curious and interested. Quick Tip Q: I've been on several interviews lately, and invariably the interviewer invites me to ask questions about the position or the company. What kinds of questions would be most appropriate to show genuine interest? I know what not to ask, e.g. "How much am I gonna make at this place?" Still, I think it is possible that I have done less than my best in this regard. A: I would ask the following questions: 2. What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position? 3. How does the company expect these objectives to be met? 4. What obstacles are commonly encountered in reaching these objectives? 5. What is the desired time frame for reaching the objectives? 6. What resources are available from the company and what must be found elsewhere to reach the objectives?
Interview Cheat Sheet
Relax - a cheat sheet is not really cheating. It's a checklist to make sure you stay focused before, during and after the interview. Creating a cheat sheet will help you feel more prepared and confident. You shouldn't memorise what's on the sheet or check it off during the interview. You should use your cheat sheet to remind you of key facts. Here are some suggestions for what you should include on it. In the days before the interview Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side, make a bulleted list of what the employer is looking for based on the job posting. On the right side, make a bulleted list of the qualities you possess that fit those requirements. • • • • • Research the company, the industry and the competition: Prepare your 60-second personal statement: Your answer to the, "Tell me about yourself," question. Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions ("Tell me about a time when…" or "Give me an example of a time…"). List 10 questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry. Research salary data and determine your worth: Determine your salary needs based on your living expenses - what is your bottom line? Get permission from your references to use their names.
Before you go to the interview • Do you look professional? Check yourself in the mirror; part of your confidence will come from looking good. • Carry these items to the interview: Several copies of your resume on quality paper. A copy of your references. A pad of paper on which to take notes (notes are optional). • Directions to the interview site. Prepare answers to the 10 most common interview questions: 7. Tell me about yourself. 8. Why did you leave or are you leaving your last position? 9. What do you know about this company? 10. What are your goals? 11. What are your strengths and weaknesses? 12. Why do you want to work for this company? 13. What has been your most significant achievement? 14. How would your last boss and colleagues describe you? 15. Why should we hire you? 16. What are your salary expectations? Arrival Arrive early - enter the building 10 minutes before your appointment. Review your prepared stories and answers. Go to the restroom and check your appearance one last time. Announce yourself to the receptionist in a professional manner. Stand and greet your interviewer with a hearty, not a bone-crushing handshake. Smile and look into the interviewer's eyes.
Upon • • • • • •
During the Interview • Try to focus on the points you have prepared without sounding rehearsed or stiff. • Relax and enjoy the conversation. Learn what you can about the company. • Ask questions and listen; read between the lines. • At the conclusion, thank the interviewer and determine the next steps. • Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can send a follow-up letter. After the Interview 7
• • •
As soon as possible, write down what you are thinking and feeling. Later in the day, look at what you wrote and assess how you did. Write a follow-up or a thank-you letter reminding the interviewer of your qualities.
Overcoming interview nerves
Do you suffer from interview nerves? If you answered "yes" you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that you’re not alone. In fact, most people experience a degree of nervousness before and during an interview. Whilst some people can control their nerves and use the excess energy to their advantage others feel trapped and are unable to perform to their best. Moreover, some people completely undermine their chances of success due to out of control interview anxiety. If you feel that your performance at interviews suffers as a result of your anxiety you’ll be pleased to learn that there are things you can do that will help you lessen those debilitating nerves. Here are five practical tips, some of which you can begin applying immediately. Tip 1: Attend as many interviews as you can. The more you practice, the better you’ll become and the better you become, the less nervous you’ll be. The more interviews you attend, the less strange and foreign they’ll seem to you. Also, it is likely that you will have some idea of which areas you need to improve, which should make you better prepared for the next interview. Tip 2: Prepare, prepare and prepare. The more prepared you are for the interview the more likely it is that you’ll be able to answer the questions with a high level of authority. The better you can answer questions the more likely it is that your confidence will grow during the course of the interview. Of course, the opposite happens when you can’t answer a question properly. When you’re preparing make sure you cover all bases including the three very important questions: Can you do the job? Will you fit it in? Are you keen to do a good job? Tip 3: Avoid thinking that the job you’re going for is "The perfect job for me and if I don’t get it I’ll never be able to find a job like this one ever again!" These "all or nothing" attitudes are extreme and only serve to unnecessarily heighten anxiety levels. How do you know it’s the perfect job for you? Don’t forget that no one really knows what a job is like until they start it. It may seem great on paper but that doesn’t mean it is. And how do you know that there won’t be a better job for you tomorrow or next week or next month? Tip 4: Avoid trying to give the perfect answer – you’ll only add to your anxiety. If you think about it, the perfect answer is a virtual impossibility because what you may think is perfect, the interviewer may not. So why not settle for a good answer that covers the important points? Tip 5: Never belittle yourself. Too many people add to their nervousness levels by not believing that they’re good enough or that they’re as good as their competition. Rather than focusing on their strengths they focus on their weaknesses. It stands to reason that the less you believe in yourself the less confident you’ll be. Don’t think about the competition, after all there’s nothing you can do about it. Just focus on giving the best interview you can
17.Tell me about you! Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don't ramble. Use your resume summary as a base to start. 18.What do you know about our company? Do your homework before the interview! Spend some time online or at the library researching the company. Find out as much as you can, including products, size, income, reputation, image, management talent, people, skills, history and philosophy. Project an informed interest; let the interviewer tell you about the company. 19.Why do you want to work for us? Don't talk about what you want; first, talk about their needs: You would like to be part of a specific company project; you would like to solve a company problem; you can make a definite contribution to specific company goals. 20. What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can't? Relate past experiences that show you've had success in solving previous employer problem(s) that may be similar to those of the prospective employer. 21.What about the job offered do you find the most attractive? Least attractive? List three or more attractive factors and only one minor unattractive factor. 22.Why should we hire you? Because of your knowledge, experience, abilities and skills. 23.What do you look for in a job? An opportunity to use your skills, to perform and be recognised. 24.Please give me your definition of a .... (the position for which you are being interviewed). Keep it brief - give an actions- and results-oriented definition. 25.How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm? Not long at all - you expect only a brief period of adjustment to the learning curve. 26.How long would you stay with us? As long as we both feel I'm contributing, achieving, growing, etc.
Experience and management questions
5. You may be over-qualified for the position we have to offer. Strong companies need strong people. A growing, energetic company is rarely unable to use its people talents. Emphasise your interest in a long-term association, pointing out that the employer will get a faster return on investment because you have more experience than required. 6. What is your management style? (If you've never thought about this, it's high time you did.) "Open-door management" is best ... And you get the job done on time or inform your management. 7. Are you a good manager? Give an example. Why do you feel you have top managerial potential? Keep your answer achievement- and task-oriented; emphasise management skills planning, organising, controlling, interpersonal, etc.
What do you see as the most difficult task in Getting things planned and done on time within the budget.
9. What do your subordinates think of you? Be honest and positive ... they can check your responses easily. 10.What is your biggest weakness as a manager? Be honest and end on a positive note, e.g. "I don't enjoy reprimanding people, so I try to begin with something positive first."
If you are leaving a job
1. Why are you leaving your present job? Refine your answer based on your comfort level and honesty. Give a "group" answer if possible, e.g. our department was consolidated or eliminated. 2. How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits? Concerned but not panicked. 3. Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment. One in which people are treated as fairly as possible. 4. How would you evaluate your present firm? An excellent company that afforded me many fine experiences.
Quantifying your experience and accomplishments
It's hard to know what you'll be asked once you're in that room. Here are some sample questions and guidelines to how you should answer them. 1. How much Be specific. How many Be specific. money did did you with you supervise figures on more account your than last for? job?
Do you like working Be honest but positive.
In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least? Be honest but positive. In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments? Refer to the key accomplishments already identified on your resume.
Job search questions
Why haven't you found a new position before now? Finding a job is easy; finding the right job is more difficult. (You are being "selective.") Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If yes, what do you think held you there? Challenge, but it's gone now. What do you Be as positive as you can. think of your boss?
Would you describe a situation in which your work was criticised? Be as positive as you can. What other types of jobs or companies Keep your answer related to this company's field. are you considering?
Your work habits and style
1. If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Emphasise skills - don't be overly negative about your weaknesses; it's always safer to identify a lack of a skill as an area for improvement rather than a shortcoming. 2. Can you work under Yes, it's a way of life in business. How have you Improved it ... of course. changed the or pressures, nature line of deadlines, your etc.? job? Why?
Do you prefer staff Depends on the job and its challenges.
In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked? Keep it brief and don't brag. Don't you feel you might be better off in a different size company? Different type company? Depends on the job - elaborate slightly. How do you resolve conflict First you discuss the issues privately. on a project to team? make?
What was the most difficult decision you ever had Try to relate your response to the prospective employment situation.
Do you generally speak Depends on the circumstances.
What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended? Talk about books, sports or films to show that you have balance in your life. What is the toughest part of a Be honest; remember, not everyone can do everything. Are Yes. Give examples How would Balanced. you you describe a your job for you?
creative? own personality?
Are you Yes. Give examples.
What are your future goals? Avoid, "I would like the job you advertised." Instead, give long-range goals. What are your strong points? Present at least three and relate them to the company and job you are interviewing for.
9. What are your weak points? Don't say you have none. Try not to cite personal characteristics as weaknesses, but be ready to have one if the interviewer presses. Turn a negative into a positive answer: "I am sometimes intent on completing an assignment and get too deeply involved when we are late."
Your career goals
If you could start your career again, what would you do differently? Nothing ... I am happy today, so I don't want to change my past. What career options do you have at the moment? "I see three areas of interest..." Relate those to the position and industry. How would you describe the essence of success? According to your definition of success, how successful have you been so far? Think carefully about your answer and relate it to your career accomplishments.
Dealing with questions about salary history
Q: How do I respond to the salary history question when I am currently grossly underpaid for the work that I do, and I am trying to correct that as I interview for new jobs? A: Your best strategy is to keep them focused on what is an appropriate amount for you given your experience, skills and credentials today. This requires some homework, since you have to translate those intangibles into a dollar figure or a range of figures. In addition, be prepared to explain why you are seeking a significant jump in your salary and be ready to help the employer justify paying you this increased amount - those people do not want to feel as if they are overpaying you. You could try saying, "I chose to work at my last job for less than my market value for very specific reasons (e.g., gain experience, restart career, they had money problems). Now that I have benefited from experience, as I look for a new employer, I want to make sure that I am being paid fairly for my talents." As you follow this advice, do not forget that you have to be prepared to discuss your current salary, even though it ought to be irrelevant. If that information matters to the employer, they will either insist on talking about it, or they will learn it another way. Try to cover the issue quickly and steer the conversation back to its rightful place - what you ought to make, given the value of your talents in the market.
1. How much are you looking for? Answer with a question, i.e., "What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?" If they don't answer, then give a range of what you understand you are worth in the marketplace. 2. What do you know about our company? Do your homework before the interview! Spend some time online or at the library researching the company. Find out as much as you can, including products, size, income, reputation, image, management talent, people, skills, history and philosophy. Project an informed interest; let the interviewer tell you about the company. 3. How much do you expect, if we offer this position to you? Be careful; the market value of the job may be the key answer, e.g., "My understanding is that a job like the one you're describing may be in the range of $______." 4. What kind of salary Have a specific figure in mind ... don't be hesitant. are you worth?
The dreaded weakness question
What to avoid and how to impress interviewers It seems that these days most interviewers want to know what your weaknesses on the job are. This is not an easy question at the best of times, but in an interview situation when you’re trying your best to impress it can be extremely trying and, if you’re not careful dangerous. Unfortunately, most people fail to do themselves any favours when answering this question. Even worse, some job candidates talk themselves right out of a job. But don’t despair. There’s good news. Below you’ll find several user-friendly strategies that will help you turn the weakness question to your advantage. In fact, with a little bit of practice you can actually make yourself look good! Four things to always avoid: 27. Never say you don’t have any weaknesses. 28. Never say something that’s really going to hurt you. 29. Avoid transparent clichés like: "I work too hard." Too many people use them. 30. Never offer more than one weakness (unless specifically prompted) and be as brief as possible. Three strategies that work (choose the one that suits you best): 11. Talk about a skill that is unconnected to the job you’re going for, e.g., if you’re going for a job that does not require any knowledge in, say, Microsoft Powerpoint and Access, you can say: "Whilst I have good knowledge with Microsoft Word and Excel my knowledge with Powerpoint and Access is not up to scratch. (Notice how, in this example, you can air your strong points even though the question was about your weaknesses!). 12. Talk about something you’re in the process of learning, or wishing to learn, and make sure it’s not critical the job, e.g., "I have not entirely completed my studies in business. However, I have only x amount of time to go before I attain my qualifications. Once I finish I’m also intending to further my studies by enrolling in..." (Notice that what you’re really talking about here is the fact that you’re studying and are keen to keep on learning). 13. Talk about a past mistake and how you’ve learned from it, e.g., "I used to worry about not having the time to keep up to date with all the technical details in regards to the latest software changes. However, I’ve since learned that perfect knowledge in our industry is not a viable goal. And besides I am now accessing information on a need to know basis which I find to be a much more efficient way of using information." (Notice that you’re talking about a) learning from past mistakes and b) working more efficiently than you used to. These are both qualities that employers look for).
Why should we hire you?
This is another broad question that can take you down the wrong road unless you've done some thinking ahead of time. This question is purely about selling yourself. Think of yourself as the product. Why should the customer buy? The right track The answer to this question is, "Because I'm a good fit for the position." Getting warmer, but more details, please. You answer, "I have what it takes to solve problems and do the job." This is the best answer so far. Expand on this, and you've got it. Develop a sales statement The more detail you give, the better your answer will be. This is not a time to talk about what you want. Rather, it is a time to summarise your accomplishments and relate what makes you unique. Product inventory exercise The bottom line of this question is, "What can you do for this company?" Start by looking at the job description or posting. What is the employer stressing as requirements of the job? What will it take to get the job done? Make a list of those requirements. Next, do an inventory to determine what you have to offer as a fit for those requirements. Think of two or three key qualities you have to offer that match those the employer is seeking. Don't underestimate personal traits that make you unique; your energy, personality type, working style and people skills are all very relevant to any job. The sales pitch: You are the solution From the list of requirements, match what you have to offer and merge the two into a summary statement. This is your sales pitch. It should be no more than two minutes long and should stress the traits that make you unique and a good match for the job. Example "From our conversations, it sounds as if you're looking for someone to come in and take charge immediately. It also sounds like you are experiencing problems with some of your database systems. With my seven years of experience working with financial databases, I have saved companies thousands of dollars by streamlining systems. My high energy and quick learning style enable me to hit the ground and size up problems rapidly. My colleagues would tell you I'm a team player who maintains a positive attitude and outlook. I have the ability to stay focused in stressful situations and can be counted on when the going gets tough. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team." What makes you unique? Completing an exercise around this question will allow you to concentrate on your unique qualities. Like snowflakes, no two people are alike. Take some time to think about what sets you apart from others. • "Never miss deadlines." • "Bring order to chaos." • "Good sense of humor" • "Great attention to detail." Let the interviewer know that you have been listening to the problem and have what it takes to do the job - that you are the solution to the problem 16
Question and answer to the interview board. 31.Tell me about yourself. I am presently working with the T R Chadha & Co. CA Firm in Audit Division. My role there is to work as a team leader leading the team of 5 to 6 people consisting of Qualified, Semi-Qualified and Article in conducting Internal and statutory audit and other assignments of our various clients. I have to supervise, provide assistance and give the directions to the team as per the audit program and directions given to us by our seniors from time to time. We have to discuss the audit finding with our seniors and partners and then with the management to take corrective action on the basis of audit finding. My interest area is of Numerical Figures. 32.Why did you leave or are you leaving your last position? For better growth prospects. I have excellent numerical skill, analytical skill and grasping power which in my opinion would be better utilised in good organisation having the requirement of the requisite skill and help both The organisation and me in growing. 33.What do you know about this company? From the Internet, change in the govt policy affecting the company. 34.What are your goals? My goal is develop myself so that I can demonstrate my skill in handling more complex sitution in a efficient and effective way. 35.What are your strengths and weaknesses? Strength Excellent analytical ability: When I look at the numbers, My heart always says that with the help of these numbers. You can give much meaningful information, by analyzing past behavior and analogy and make required inferences through the unorganized data which will be of greater help in taking some crucial decisions and enlighten the hidden facts and finding what will be various impact of the outcome. Excellent with numbers. For Example: while making the various types of working like budget, projection report, Income-Tax required to be paid etc a lot of number skills being required. Adaptive with the changing with environment: In the business world nothing is static rather than change like the change in the business environment, govt policy, tax laws, other legislative change, change in the the Accountancy etc. Excellent grasping power to reach the grassroots of the problem easily and quickly and thereby solves problem quickly. For example while in an assignment relating to filing of Wealth-Tax Return of BSNL, I have given the assignment on 28th of Oct, two days before the due date. I have good knowledge what are the inforamtion to procure and proceed and we have finalised the Wealth-Tax Return of the BSNL on 31st Oct’ 04. Weaknesses.
14. I have not entirely completed my studies in Computer Assisted Audit Technique. However, I have only some period of time to go before I attain my qualifications. Once I finish I’m also intending to further my studies by enrolling in Treasury and Forex Management.
15. I am restless, I used to do the things very fast, but my colleauges feels nervous, for which I feel guilty. 16. I used to worry about not having the time to keep up to date with all the details in regards to the latest legislative and economic changes. However, I’ve since learned that knowledge of change in the various legislative and other field is desirable as it can have a critical effect in the functioning of the organisation and taking immediately corrective action.
36.Why do you want to work for this company? I have read and heard from a lot of sources about the company that 1. Company is an equal opportunity employer. 2. It takes care of its people and their need. 3. It has good working environment. 4. It does not take time to reward people for their performance. 37.What has been your most significant achievement? Completing the CA before the completion of the age of 21. Received the award from the Maharaja Agarsain Co-operation Society for excellece performace in Academics. 38.How would your last boss and colleagues describe you? They used to said me that you do the thing very fast and reach to the grassroots of the problem quickly and thereby its solution. God has given you the good grasping power. Sometimes they said that Haste may make Mistake and winners never make a mistake and be patient. 39.Why should we hire you? Because of my knowledge, experience, abilities and skills. 10. What are your salary expectations?
1. Prepare what you'll say beforehand When you haven't thoroughly prepared for salary discussions, you can't negotiate, you can only react. "It's important that you prepare not only the content of your negotiation request, but also practice your presentation aloud. Start by making a list of what you hope to gain from the negotiating process. Rather than limit yourself to financial matters, shoot for three types of benefits: rewards, such as a salary increase, bonus, pension or vacation package; risk-limiters, such as a hefty severance package or a time frame in which you can expect a promotion or performance review; and responsibilities, which give you more authority. 2. Seize control of the negotiating process. A New York bond trader provided her human resources and unit supervisors with a goal list, including broader job duties and a more flexible work schedule. She also asked for a modest salary instead of the purely performance-based pay she was used to. This put higher-ups in the position of reacting to her, rather than vice versa, and she received her requests. Likewise, a 48-year-old New Jersey real-estate executive was able to create his own position as chief financial officer at his new employer, a real-estate firm just four years old. A gambler at heart, he'd been seeking a leadership position at an entrepreneurial company where he'd have more authority and stock options, benefits that weren't available in his old job as a vice president with a large real-estate company. Listing his goals prompted him to request a severance package and an employment contract this time around. The new company was happy to oblige, since his compensation is tied to performance.
You can get the negotiating ball rolling in your favor by writing a brief letter or memo to your employer -- or target company once you've received a job offer -- before discussing compensation. In it, outline your key accomplishments and emphasize your past and potential contributions to the company, not what you need or want. That way, you're shaping a perception of your value. This is the time to advertise.
3. Set your price. The prime asset of any business is a productive work force. And the fact that an employer is willing to negotiate proves it values you. However, you should expect employers to try to purchase your talent and experience at a discount. That's what employment and compensation negotiations are: a simple "buy-and-sell" matter. And as the seller, you must set an asking price going in. It's wise to view your time, expertise and experience as expensive commodities so that you set a fair price. To reinforce this thinking, some executives even carry hundred-dollar bills in their wallets during interviews to help them feel valuable and confident. 4. Keep it business, never personal.
Even if you admire the person you're negotiating with, remember that it's a business transaction, not a personal exchange.
Separate the salary and employment issues you're discussing from how you feel about your boss or a hiring manager. Remember that the outcome of your discussion will affect your family's well-being. Some executives put a family picture in their shirt or suit pocket and touch it occasionally during meetings as a reminder to stay on track, no matter how persuasive the employer is. 5. Use positive language.
Never say "never" or "no" to an employer's offer. If the company is resisting your requests, use neutral-sounding words to describe your position by saying that you find the offer "disappointing," "unfortunate," "surprising" or "unacceptable."
You also might try asking an employer to reconsider its offer, or ask for additional time to consider the terms to keep the door open to favorable changes. The point is to avoid words that make you sound angry or unwilling to negotiate further. The process should continue until you arrive at a satisfactory agreement, unless you blow it prematurely. 6. Consider performance-based compensation. Requests for greater responsibility are almost always granted, since few people ask for this benefit. And in most cases, increased responsibilities eventually lead to an increase in pay. 7. Get written confirmation. Clear confirmation is a crucial element of negotiations that candidates usually forget. But getting something in writing provides closure and prevents any misunderstandings between you and an employer. Take charge of this process by writing a letter spelling out the details of the deal you've agreed to while they're fresh in your mind. For example, yours might read something like this: "Dear Bob, I look forward to our working together. For the sake of clarity, I set down the points of the agreement we reached yesterday. If I'm incorrect on any aspect, please let me know. If I don't hear from you, I'll assume we're in agreement. Sincerely, Jeff." By a legal doctrine known as "estoppel," your letter becomes the equivalent of a contract without invoking the expense or potentially adversarial tone of a lawyer. More important, it prevents misunderstandings that might result from poor memories, changed circumstances or, at times, bad faith on the part of an employer.
Seven Shorten Steps That Can
1. Create a system for organizing your job search. I developed several templates on my computer to track different elements of my search. They included a table for active companies, a table for interested companies
with no current openings and a table for rejections (several pages). I also kept lists of "companies contacted but no response" (many pages), "companies applied to but no longer interested," and "offers" (short but sweet). I printed these reports and stored them in a one-inch binder with additional sections for tracking networking contacts, recruiters, correspondence, job options (including written and revised descriptions of "my perfect job"), resumes, reference lists and letters. I also included a section for storing data sheets for each company I contacted. The data sheet included key names, phone numbers, contact dates and outcomes. Organizing and tracking everything I did may have consumed a lot of time, but the positives outweighed the negatives: • I gained a sense of control over my new job of marketing myself to employers. • I captured details that I might have lost given the stress I was under. • When fielding return calls from potential employers, I could immediately locate information about the company and know when and who I last communicated with. • All key information was available on one page, and the tables could be easily updated depending on new information I received about various jobs. 2. Revise your resume by forming a focus group. Take advantages of the resources and expertise available to you. For instance, ask professional coaches at the outplacement center, headhunters, friends and fellow job searchers for input about your resume. Most importantly, ask employers you contact for interviews what they like and find interesting about your resume. 3. Use multiple sources for job leads. I was advised that networking was the only viable source of leads to good jobs. However, I recommend using all available channels for leads. My three best offers came from a recruiter, a local newspaper ad and a networking contact. In fact, the sources of my leads were fairly evenly distributed among these three channels. 4. Have a daily action plan. Treat your job search as though it were a full-time job. I created a "to-do" list every night to accomplish the next day. Using these lists and my various charts, I quickly reviewed open items and action plans, then assigned a priority to each item. I rarely finished my lists, but as I checked things off at the end of the day, I regained a sense of control and developed a feeling of accomplishment about my search. By staying busy, I also never hit the wall of depression or despair that I had dreaded. Most of the time, I simply didn't have time to start worrying. 5. Pursue every job lead, even if it appears to have limited value. By doing this from the start, I was invited to interview and became involved in follow-up discussions and job-offer negotiations early on. Although the initial offers didn't meet my job or compensation needs, I could practice for the real thing. More importantly, I knew I had more options to fall back on than flipping burgers. My feeling of desperation left because the marketplace had validated the fact that I was employable. I knew my resume and interview demeanor was working and that perhaps I could be selective and actually find my dream job. If not, at least I would
be able to afford my son's college tuition, keep my house and still have retirement savings left. 6. Use all the resources offered by your outplacement company. If you receive outplacement assistance as part of your severance package, take it. Two acquaintances who also were laid off declined this option and opted to receive the equivalent funds in cash. One of them, a former senior executive, was unemployed for 18 months. During this time, he did manual labor to pay his bills. He ended up accepting a job that pays considerably less than his former six-figure income. The other accepted a position quickly and now is underemployed and unhappy with the job and pay. I received invaluable assistance, from re-writing my resume to negotiating multiple offers (to my surprise, this isn't fun) to executive-level coaching. This helped me beat the odds, and find a new job more quickly than the six-to-10-month norm for someone at my level. 7. Go for the big numbers. To be successful at job hunting, I had to do three things: know my product (me), see as many people as possible and ask everyone to buy. The critical step is securing interviews. I calculated that for every 10 contacts I made, I would receive five interviews. Of the five interviews, I planned on being called back for second interviews at three of the companies and I hoped one offer would result. I also tried to be realistic and assumed that only one in five offers would be acceptable. These statistics meant that I needed to contact 50 companies to receive one good offer. Just in case my assumptions were false, I upped my initial goal to 100 first contacts. My actual results were: • 80 companies contacted • 32 initial interviews • 20 subsequent interviews • eight offers • three final offers.
Use These To Regain Your Confidence Seven Tips
Rejection doesn't equal failure. A long job search brings numerous rejections, which can be depressing. Often, candidates are rejected by "a person who's miserable in their work and who gets real pleasure from making other people miserable," says Ms. Hamlin. "People like that can do real damage to someone engaged in a long-term effort." But rejection doesn't mean you'll ultimately fail at locating a new job. It just means that you haven't found the right opportunity yet.
That's because rejection is part of the process leading to success. Consider that many music executives passed on the Beatles because they didn't think the band was good enough. Keep in mind that every 'no' you encounter becomes meaningless once you get a 'yes.'
Many roads lead to the same goal. Job hunters often hit dead ends and give up before reaching their goals. But there's usually another option. Consider that if you were going to grandmother's house over the river and through the woods, but the road was closed for construction, you'd find an alternate route. Eventually, you'd arrive where you wanted, possibly a little late for dinner.
"It has to do with being adaptable," says Ms. Hamlin. "Some people get stuck in the idea that there's only one way to do things and they're just going to do it that way, no matter what's available." Elaine Ortiz of Brooklyn, N.Y., had to be adaptable to succeed at her dream of doing special-effects make-up for movies. She worked at a movie theater, designed makeup for amusement park attractions, assisted vendors at science fiction conventions and volunteered for student film-production crews. She also relocated from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Orlando, Fla., so she could take advantage of job opportunities there. By exploring every road that moved closer to her goal, Ms. Ortiz's persistence paid off with a job in her targeted field. 3. Close friends and family often are the least supportive. It's demoralizing when family and friends tell you during a prolonged job search that you don't know what you're doing. These unsupportive comrades are especially disturbing because they believe they're acting in your best interest. "The people who are closest to us -- who love us the most -- don't want to see us hurt," says Peggy Van Pelt, Ph.D., an outplacement consultant in Woodland Hills, Calif., and co-author of "Putting Your Talent to Work" (1996, Health Communications, Inc.). "Basically, they project on to us their fear that we're going to be hurt." Friends and family see your situation only from their perspective. They can't support your effort because they're unable to get past their fear that you'll fail. Therefore, you must remain focused on your objective. When you finally reach your goal, friends and family will be there with you.
Life is like a tennis match. Have you ever noticed that tennis players who throw their rackets, yell at umpires and deride themselves for missed shots often lose their matches? Afterward, these players admit they could have won the match if they hadn't lost their concentration.
You'll encounter many obstacles that can cause confusion and self-doubt during your search. Don't let this happen. Instead, remain confident in your ideas and abilities. Take control of the situation, rather than allowing it to take control of you. This will help you find creative ways to deal with any obstacles that block your path.
Fear is a normal emotion. If your job hunt is stalled, you may be repeating the same steps but expecting different results. The greatest potential for growth lies in unfamiliar territory. Consider alternative options that the fear of failure has prevented you from trying. Your next move is probably among them.
6. You may be standing in your way. At a recent career seminar, the speaker grew frustrated when a participant continuously countered every suggestion he gave. Another participant commented, "If she didn't want to change her situation, why did she bother coming?"
As arduous as a long-term job hunt can be, some people become so comfortable in a search mode that they're reluctant to break it. "A lot of people turn down work that they could do because they don't want to change the way their life has taken shape [while] looking for work," says Ms. Hamlin. If you don't want to change or end the cycle of looking for work, you won't, she says. To avoid this rut, conduct regular reality checks and brainstorming sessions with a supportive friend or members of a job club. When you meet with your support team, express apprehensions that arise as you approach different aspects of your search. Your team's support and advice will prevent you from subconsciously slowing your job hunt and prepare you for change. 7. Remain focused. In the retail industry, the key to success is location. During a job search, it's focusing on your goals and the steps you must take to reach them. The more focused your efforts, the more energy-efficient your search will be. Once again, going solo isn't a wise idea. A support team will help you stay focused and reenergize your spirits when you feel run down. The most important thing to understand about your current situation is that it's temporary. It's bound to change if you stay confident and focused on your objective and make decisive moves toward it. The tunnel you're traveling through may seem excruciatingly long but all tunnels, no matter how long, have openings at the end. Once you reach it, you'll see the light again.
Eight Tips That Can Help You Land a Job
Key 1: A resume that survives the sieve A human-resources director at a large medical center says she spends six seconds reviewing a resume. Six seconds! Granted, the directors says she receives up to 1,000 resumes for each advertised opening, but I have a chilling vision of her sitting glassy-eyed at her desk, highlighter poised as she stabs resume after resume. Soon, though, even this minor human element will be eliminated as companies optically scan resumes into computer databases, then search for candidates using "key words." To survive the resume sieve, I learned to salt my document with buzzwords that highlight my skills. I replaced soft phrases such as "I headed up a team," with the crisper, more descriptive "managed a national program." I did the same thing with my budget and operational strengths. A single phrase such as, "managed an $8 million budget, supervised a five-year construction project," is more impressive than the two paragraphs I used before. I use active verbs—supervised, managed, planned, controlled—and personalize my resume to match each position. Key 2: Membership in a helpful job club Don’t hesitate, as I did, to join one. You’d be surprised by how many competent, well-educated professional people participate. Don’t worry if you aren’t comfortable at your first meeting. I located groups through my local library and unemployment office, but found some to be too large and chaotic for my needs. It took some exploring to find one I liked. (Check the calendar of events in this issue for groups in your area.) After joining, become involved. Shy members were the first to drop out of our
group. It also took them longer to find jobs. By participating, you’ll boost your confidence. My group would analyze members’ practice interviews and recommend improvements. During one of these "review sessions," I told a group member that he looked up instead of directly at an interviewer. He explained that he looked away to gather his thoughts, but after my observation, his eye contact and interview performance improved. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My newly redesigned resume helped me land more interviews but not more offers, so I rehearsed with the group. During these roleplaying sessions, I always mentioned a prestigious Harvard Medical School job I’d held 25 years earlier. One group member thought I was bragging since the position was no longer in my field. He was right, and I stopped mentioning this detail, thanks to his observation. Key 3: A willingness to network -- a lot! Group members insist that networking pays off, and scolded me for not bringing resumes and business cards to my first meeting. Indeed, Alex says he would have found a new position sooner if he’d networked more from the outset. He carries a three-ring binder that includes names and telephone numbers of people in his industry. I, too, soon carried stacks of resumes and cards in my briefcase and wallet. Of course, I should have learned this lesson earlier, since the best networker I know lives with me. In the 25 years that I’ve known him, my husband has always carried a small black notebook of telephone numbers of everyone he’s ever met. This makes it easy for him to stay in touch with his network. In fact, when he was unemployed several years ago, he called them all to say he was looking, and within a month he found a job. Key 4: Friendships with other candidates; they know what you’re going through Become friendly with other unemployed people, while staying in contact with working colleagues. It’s good to have people besides personal friends to talk to about your job search. No matter how funny or compelling your interview stories seem, friends may grow tired of hearing them. You can add your new friends to your network, but don’t share everything with your unemployed buddies, especially not potential jobs they’re qualified for. Even Alex stopped me from naming a company I interviewed with. "There are sharks and bottom-feeders everywhere," he says. Key 5: Books and the information highway Local public libraries are gold mines of information for job seekers. My library is connected to an on-line database designed to aid job hunters in my region. It also carries listings of jobs in other cities on microfiche. I spent hours each week reviewing these sources and publications that carry job openings (including this one) for possible leads. Before each interview, I searched the library’s CD-ROM business publication database for articles or information about the company. I reviewed library books for tips on resume preparation and interviewing. I also had access to word-processing equipment for writing my resumes and cover letters.
Unemployment offices are other good resources. Those in my area offer online databases, job-hunting publications and information about state and federal job openings. Key 6: Tricks for avoiding gatekeepers Gatekeepers are employees who block job hunters from speaking or meeting with hiring managers. Unfortunately, they’re often HR personnel, who prefer to "hire the same personality types from the same schools or job areas," as they are, says a friendly HR director. His assessment rang true, especially after one HR director told me he preferred to hire managers from fast-food restaurants. This HR director works for an HMO, and I have yet to figure out the connection between hamburgers and health care, except that they both begin with the letter "H." Other gatekeepers I’ve encountered have been equally obnoxious: Quirk the Forgetful kept asking me, "Why are you here?" during my interview. At first, I reminded him that he’d invited me to interview. Finally, I told him it was because it was physically impossible for me to be anywhere else. I then asked Quirk for the name of the hiring manager and contacted this person to express my interest in the position. During our conversation, the hiring manager described his frustration with the HR department, and specifically with Quirk. Slumbering Silas actually fell asleep while I was answering the question, "Tell me about yourself." (It was after hearing this story that Alex urged me to prepare an elevator speech.) I woke Silas by tapping him with my resume and asking where I should go for my next interview. He was so embarrassed he immediately located the hiring official and asked him to see me. With a smile on her gnarled face, Salina the Serpent, a half-human, half-dragon receptionist, insisted her company didn’t interview people "off the streets." I felt like a piece of gum stuck to a shoe but showed her a letter from the company president inviting me to interview then asked to use the telephone to call the president directly. She slithered into the HR director’s office and solicited an interview for me within seconds. A group member who’d worked as a consultant to the president of a midsize computer firm tells a similar story. The president called to invite him to interview for a permanent job, but when he arrived, the HR director said the president would never place such a call and asked him to leave. The next day, the HR director called to apologize and ask him to return to meet with the president. When he arrived, the president’s secretary also insisted her boss didn’t call candidates. This time, the candidate waited. When the president was leaving for lunch he saw the consultant, asked him to interview and offered him a job. The advice from my HR friend? If you have to go through HR channels, learn in advance what types of candidates they prefer. "Talk to employees in the same position and find out where they went to school, or what jobs they held prior being hired," he says. "Find the pattern."
HR personnel will try to keep you from meeting hiring officials, he says. Try to learn the person’s name and arrange a meeting anyway. "If you can’t find someone who knows that individual, who can recommend you for an interview," he says. "The key is meeting face to face; a resume won’t get you a job." The friendly HR director, a former member of the job-search group, thought he would find a position quickly after losing his job. But even he was frustrated by HR gatekeepers. When he started networking with everyone except HR people, he landed a job within a few months. Now he’s accessible, friendly and helpful to job seekers. For example, when I identified myself as a member to his former job-search group, he immediately took my call and asked how he could help. Key 7: A realistic view of headhunters No members of any group I attended found a new position through an executive recruiter. Some were bitter about their experiences with headhunters. One unemployed executive says a recruiter told him about an opening for an MIS director at an Austin, Texas, bank. If the executive wanted the job, he’d have to fly there for an interview next week, the recruiter said. Thinking he had an interview, the candidate spent $1,500 on airline tickets and a new suit, then flew to Austin. "When I got there it was a different story," he says. "The person I was supposed to meet with asked me to come back the next day. When he couldn’t meet with me [then], I called the headhunter, who confessed he had learned about the opening from the guy who’d quit. The following day, the HR director told me the bank was considering major reorganization and trying to hold on to people they had." The executive had no choice but to leave his resume and return home. Group members advise contacting recruiters selectively. Only work with reputable firms that specialize in your field, and don’t count on an out-of-town interview until the prepaid airline tickets are in your hand. Key 8: Know when to storm the castle A month after my third interview for a position, I didn’t know whether I was still a candidate. At our last meeting, the director said he’d get back me in two weeks. Meanwhile, he said not to call since several personnel changes were needed before he could make a final decision. Alex had no patience with this. "Sandra, it’s time to storm the castle," he said. This meant calling the manager and emphasizing how much I wanted the job. "Ask for another interview," Alex suggested. "Aren’t there more things you’d like to say?" It was the nudge I needed. This was the final duel, and I wasn’t giving up without a fight. I called the director, not realizing how important this move would be. The director told me he hadn’t realized a month had passed. Two managers had left the organization, and he’d been waiting for a new supervisor to be hired to approve his selection. That very day, the director decided not to wait any longer. He offered me the job over the telephone. If I’d waited longer, though, a new supervisor might not have approved his choice. My war is over, so I’m passing the keys to you. Practice your elevator speech, cook plenty of spaghetti and don’t get thwarted by the gatekeeper when you try to storm the castle.
Nine For Job Seekers
1. Be on time. If you're late, no matter how valid your reason, you're making a statement about your ability to plan and prepare for the unexpected. You're also indirectly making a statement about your respect for the interviewer's time. It's better to build in an extra 15 minutes and walk around the building once or twice than to arrive late. 2. Be polite. According to Chris Lucy, an OfficeTeam area manager in Rochester, N.Y., a staffing firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., interviewers will often ask the receptionist, following the interview, how the candidate behaved when he came in the front door. Of course, you always should be polite. But you should be especially polite to the front-office staff, knowing they might be asked their impressions of you. Know that simple courtesies, if not extended, could cost you a job. A vice president of a well-known bank in Los Angeles, for example, decides against any applicant who calls him by his first name before being invited to do so. 3. Don't ramble. Be mindful of the amount of time allotted to the meeting. "If he indicated you'll have about 45 minutes, try to honor that," says Ms. Lucy, who's been advising candidates for 16 years. "Don't rattle on and on, but instead glance at your watch discreetly and stop talking if you need to." Additionally, don't interrupt the interviewer. "Try to look interested, even if you already know what the interviewer is telling you about the company," Ms. Lucy says. Such gaffes could offset the benefits of your impressive resume or professional appearance. 4. Be aware of your body language. A surprising number of candidates slouch, instead of sitting upright, says Ms. Lucy. Good posture projects energy and enthusiasm. Additionally, she says, "the inability to look directly into the interviewer's eyes probably will be interpreted as a lack of professionalism or -worse yet -- a lack of honesty. Crossed arms often suggest a lack of receptivity to new ideas." 5. Be honest. Up to 15% of executive candidates lie on job applications, according to Jude M. Werra & Associates, a consulting firm in Brookfield, Wis., that reviews executive applications. At some employers, the penalty for a discovered lie on an application is immediate dismissal. Is it worth the risk? If a lie is uncovered, even if the sanctions aren't so severe, your employer probably will have trouble trusting you. 6. Be assertive. While you may have reservations about calling to learn if a decision has been made, some organizations view such calls as a positive. "We like it when applicants follow up an interview with a phone call," says Jamie Columbus, president of Judy Columbus Inc., a residential real-estate and sales organization in Brighton, N.Y. "It shows initiative. We're biased in favor of assertive people who call for feedback following the meeting."
Show how much you want to work for a particular company or the depth of your passion for the industry or position you're seeking. If you're applying for a design position, for example, don't hesitate to bring a portfolio that gives a graphic description of your job history. "I love to see what applicants have done in other organizations," says Ms. Columbus. "Being able to see samples of their printed work or letters from their clients definitely influences our decisions. Having the visual proof of what they're talking about makes the whole process so much easier." 7. Be prepared. Ask questions on occasion instead of answering them continuously. Better yet, your answers should show that you've taken the time to learn about the company -- that you're not just looking for a job, you're looking for a job with this particular employer. "We expect job applicants to be familiar with our company before they show up for the interview," Ms. Columbus says. "We expect them to have visited our web site and to have read local press reports about us. We also appreciate those applicants who bring several copies of their resumes so we don't have to stop the interview to make copies for all the members of the team." Additionally, be prepared to perform. Ms. Columbus says she often asks candidates to complete such tasks as designing a sample brochure or creating a plan of action. "The way they fulfill the expectation and the speed with which they do it, along with the quality of their work, has enabled several people to get the jobs they now have," she says. 8. Be professional. Make sure your resume and cover letters are neat and clean. Check them for typos and an improper tone. "The first things we look for in a cover letter are accuracy, creativity and directness," says Ms. Columbus. 9. Send a thank-you note. You have a better chance of making a favorable impression. More than 76% of employers like receiving a post-interview thank-you note, but only 36% of applicants write them, according to a survey by Accountemps, a staffing firm in Menlo Park, Calif. A thank-you note need not be long or fancy. A simple handwritten or typed message on plain paper will suffice. Thank the interviewer for his time, offer to provide any additional material that may be required and say that you look forward to working for the company or enjoyed meeting him. "We appreciate thank-you notes sent to each member of the interview team. And it's great if they come the day after the interview, rather than two weeks later," says Ms. Columbus.
Advice on Polishing Rusty Interview Skills
Visualize the perfect job. It's important to search for a job that will use your talents as well as satisfy your financial needs. Consider your dream job. What would motivate you to get out of bed in the morning? Bob Swan, a former CFO of a Los Angeles film company, was dissatisfied with his job and general career direction. When his employer ceased operations and terminated
executives, he decided he wanted a job that required solving problems. With help from a career counselor, he assessed his talents and career direction. "I decided that I wanted to [lead] a new dynamic company," says Mr. Swan. Recently he became president of a start-up company and is also a CFO of a music publishing organization. It's amazing how effective you are when you have clearly defined goals. In interviews you'll be more relaxed and better able to listen and understand what's being offered. Most importantly, you'll know if the job is right for you. Research prospective employers. Mr. Braendel, now president of Career Dreams Inc., a company he founded that helps candidates with job-search, transitioning and interviewing skills, tells job seekers to do their homework and find out everything they can about companies they want to work for. "I wanted people who were interested in working for me and my company," he says. Review your resume. While you may think you know what's on your resume, stress can make you forget the most important information. Review your resume before each interview to feel more relaxed and prepared for questions about it. Prepare answers in advance. In addition to researching employers and knowing your resume cold, you should be ready to answer commonly asked interview questions. If you've prepared for them, there won't be many questions that surprise you. Caja Lucan, a video merchandiser for Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Distribution in Burbank, Calif., found that in two of her three interviews with the firm, she got the dreaded "Tell me about yourself," question. She figures she must have answered this and other questions well because she received an offer. Hone your listening skills. Listening skills are essential to being an effective interviewee. You need to know what prospective employers want to hear. Often, interviewers will tell you the skills they're looking for. Further, the interview is the time to find out if you really want to work for an employer. By listening carefully, you can decide if you want the job and what's required to get it. Put the interviewer at ease. Sometimes, interviewers are as nervous as you are. They're under pressure to make critical hiring decisions after only two or three meetings with candidates. Be friendly. Break the ice by finding an area of common interest to discuss without going on too long or getting too personal. "If they have a golf trophy on their shelf, I'll start talking about chip shots or golf swings to break the ice," says Mr. Swan. Be enthusiastic. Interviewing is tough. If you go in with a positive attitude, the interviewer can't help but be drawn in and feel good about you. Be honest. If you feel you have to lie about anything, then the job you're seeking isn't right for you. "There was one guy who was very nervous, and it wasn't just from being interviewed," says Ms. Crowder. "I could tell that he wasn't being truthful with his answers, and since the people I supervise have to deal with large sums of money, I recommended that he not be hired."
Believe in yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else. Think about yourself as a product that the prospective employer needs. Sell your expertise and experience. You'll put yourself in a much stronger position to get the job. Decide if you really want to work there. Accepting a job and then realizing you hate working for your new employer is a terrible feeling, especially if you planned on working there for a long time. "It's always hard when you're looking for work," says Mr. Swan. "You want a job, but you also want it to be the right job. During the interview, I look around...to see how I feel about the environment, if it suits me and if I'm comfortable." Be yourself. During a job search, you may feel depressed one day and on top of the world the next. This is natural. Try to leave your problems behind before the meeting begins. Don't burden the interviewer with your personal issues. If you follow these steps, you'll be less nervous and make a better impression on interviewers. After the meeting is over, keep smiling and shake the interviewer's hand. End your dialogue on a positive note. "The most critical aspect of an interview is to answer sincerely, be honest and make sure the job is what you want,"
Advice on Surviving Tricky Interviewers
Selling Yourself The interviewer begins the conversation by bluntly asking, "Why should I hire you?" Many job seekers become tongue-tied and make a poor impression when asked this question. Yet there's no better opportunity to establish your qualifications. Try being just as blunt as the interviewer when describing your most salient strengths and accomplishments. For example, Jerry Gross, a former corporatepurchasing manager at International Harvester (now Navistar International) in Chicago, took this approach while interviewing at Trace Corp. in New York City: "Bob, your ad stated that you're looking for a top-notch manager and negotiator who has a record of reducing material costs and building teams of dedicated personnel. Well, I established the research purchasing department at Harvester, hired and trained all the buyers and administrative personnel, and subsequently cut component costs by more than 5%. But I'm proudest of my negotiating abilities. I accompanied the president of Harvester at pricing meetings and contract negotiations when he met with the president of General Motors." The interview was easy from that point on, and Mr. Gross earned an offer. Who Are You? The interviewer starts the meeting with, "Tell me about yourself." This statement perplexes some candidates, but it offers another great opportunity to explain why you're the best fit for the job. Focus your response on how you can benefit the company, not on such autobiographical elements as where you grew up, your marital status or your hobbies and interests. Briefly summarize your background, then conclude with a strong statement outlining your most important strengths and accomplishments as they relate to the open position.
Here's how Debbie Tarper, a registered nurse at Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, Fla., responded to this query when applying for a sales position at TriState Hospital Supply Corp., a producer of surgical supplies in Clearwater, Fla.: "Mike, I received my bachelors degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and have 10 years' experience working in med-surg and the O.R. I have charge responsibilities, and I also scrub. I really enjoy nursing, but I'm changing careers because I want to double my income, and I know I can do this by selling medical supplies and equipment. I'd like you to know that I had a heart attack 10 years ago, and my recovery was so successful, I completed the New York Marathon five years later. Because of that, today I give motivational talks on a regular basis for the American Heart Association. I know I'd do a great job for you as a sales rep. I've used all your products and know their advantages and shortfalls. But most important, I find it really easy to communicate with people. I'm very convincing, and I have the energy level and perseverance to help you become the leading supplier in your open territory." Interviewers who begin a meeting with "Why should I hire you?" and "Tell me about yourself" are handing you a golden opportunity to state your qualifications and wrap up an offer. Instead of dreading these opening remarks, prepare for interviewers who begin this way. Tough Guy The interviewer is determined to make things difficult for you. Tricks they might try include frequently pointing out your weaknesses, constantly interrupting, trying to intimidate you with their knowledge of the field or continually disagreeing with your comments. These tactics are especially unnerving if you're being interviewed by two or more people simultaneously. In these settings, candidates often become so flustered or angry that they say things they later regret or forget to mention important information. Your best defense is to play along with the interviewer. Your secret weapon is knowing that the interviewer's antagonism is a game. He or she simply wants to see if you can maintain your composure. By acting politely, calmly and evenly, no matter how rudely the interviewer behaves, you'll demonstrate confidence and maturity, qualities all employers seek. Of course, the situation can get difficult. Some interviewers act badly to learn how aggressive or assertive you can be. They hope that you'll take offense at their demeaning behavior and object to it. Therefore, any information you can get in advance about the person you'll be meeting, as well as the personal characteristics the company is looking for, will help you know how to behave. Other strategies to arouse applicants include seating them in a wobbly or squeaky chair, next to a hot radiator, beside a breezy open window or with the sun in their eyes. Since no one wants to be interviewed under these conditions, explain to the interviewer what's annoying you, then continue the conversation while moving your chair to a different location or sitting in a different seat. These measures always gain an interviewer's respect. Using Silence
Some interviewers won't say anything after you've answered a question. They'll just stare at you. In response, most job hunters become anxious and either laugh or grope for things to say, and their remarks often backfire. A short period of silence is easy to manage. You've answered the interviewer's question, and now it's up to him or her to continue the conversation. Simply return the interviewer's gaze while slowly and silently counting to 20. If these 20 seconds seem like an unbearable amount of time and you feel pressured to break the silence, ask the interviewer a question about the position or company. Your question will be especially effective if it uncovers details about the available job. Kyle Harris, a construction project manager at Yale Properties in Sarasota, Fla., has built more than a dozen high-rise luxury condominiums in his career. He's used every conceivable type of building material and is proficient in the latest construction techniques. During an interview with a local general contractor, the interviewer sat quietly after Mr. Harris answered a question. But Mr. Harris was ready, and after several seconds, he added, "The Twilight Towers project you plan to begin this fall -- what are some of the key ways in which you'll be putting up the building?" When the interviewer explained that the company would use post-tension structures, Mr. Harris described his wealth of experience with that advanced construction method. Not only did Mr. Harris avoid the silence, but he used it as an opportunity to advance his qualifications. Rather than dreading difficult interview situations, prepare yourself to handle them effectively. While your competition will make a poor impression and lose points with interviewers, you'll cast yourself in a favorable light and be well on your way to winning an offer.
Are Hidden You in Interviews? Fears Hurting
Rooted in the Past Becoming overwhelmed with feelings during job interviews makes communicating with hiring managers difficult. But being swamped by present thoughts, concerns and emotions isn't the only problem, says Dr. Fiddelke. "The interview experience can trigger old thoughts, emotions and behavioral patterns that will totally disrupt the interaction," she says. "While we mentally meander through past associations, we may lose eye contact with the interviewer, [not hear] what's being said, stumble in mid sentence or lose the drift of the whole conversation." When Suzanne Gregory was being evaluated for a promotion at a large financial services company in New York, she was required to take a battery of tests, including analyzing a financial portfolio. Before the session, Ms. Gregory met with a female interviewer who had the same color hair and wore it in the same style as her mother. As a little girl, Ms. Gregory always became distracted when her mother told her to do something because she knew that pleasing her mother was nearly impossible.
When Ms. Gregory heard the interviewer giving her instructions about the test, she became disoriented, unconsciously responding to the woman as if she were her mother. Because she didn't pay attention to what she was told about the financial portfolio, she forgot salient points and couldn't assess it. When she realized what was happening, it was too late and she scored too poorly to earn the promotion. "The interviewer can remind us consciously or unconsciously of someone from our past who [didn't] accept and frightened us," Dr. Fiddelke says. "When this happens, we'll immediately respond to the interviewer as if he or she was this person." Feelings of fear stirred up by situations which occurred decades ago can lead you to act in ways that alienate an interviewer. Consider a candidate for a sales position who was interviewed by Griff Garrison, owner of Thermal Conversion Technology Inc., a Sarasota-based manufacturer of solar water heaters. Mr. Garrison's gravelly voice reminded the candidate of her father, who had been extremely critical of her. As a child, she felt she couldn't please her father, no matter what she did. She carried this feeling of defeat into the interview and responded to Mr. Garrison as if he were her parent. She sat stiffly in the chair, holding her head high and crossing her arms and legs, and answered his questions defensively. Her body language signaled a cold and unfriendly attitude, hiding her real openness and warmth toward others. Needless to say, she wasn't offered the job. "Our history or background will become our foreground, and we'll relate to the interviewer as we did to the person or unresolved situation from our past," says Dr. Fiddelke. "We'll behave as we did as a child many years ago. Our behavior will perplex the interviewer and potentially ruin all chances of being made an offer." Besides an interviewer's voice or hairstyle, other characteristics can remind you of a past experience and remove you from the present--for instance, facial features, such as a birthmark or dimple, items of clothing, scent, posture, style of speaking or mannerisms can all trigger memories. An object, such as a painting or clock, or a color scheme also can result in old memories surfacing. You're instantly reminded of another time and transported from reality by your subconscious thoughts and emotions. How to Remain Grounded When you become ungrounded, you can't relate as a mature, rational adult to the interviewer. You may not even realize this phenomenon until the interview is over or, worse, after it occurs several times. Regardless of what's causing the situation, the way to correct it is the same: You must stay in touch with the reality of the interview situation. None of us can escape becoming disconnected at certain times. However, by focusing on the present, you'll make it a habit to automatically "reground." The following techniques will help you remain focused during interviews: 1. Concentrate on your breathing. Breathe slowly and deeply. Keep your feet planted on the floor and feel the chair supporting you. This will calm you and lessen your fear. You can draw several deep breaths without distracting the interviewer. To gain time, ask a question that requires a lengthy response. 2. Look at the interviewer.
Scan the person's face and decide which feature you like the most. Then, without staring, mentally focus on that characteristic. This technique will help you to feel more positive about the interviewer and lower your anxiety. 3. Connect with your present surroundings. Mentally label items within your field of vision. For example, you might see and think to yourself, "red dress, brown desk, gold picture frame..." This activates the area of the brain that strengthens logical, linear thinking, enabling you to focus on the interviewer and be present in the conversation. 4. Think about what's happening. If you become extremely frightened or anxious, see in your mind's eye a replica of what's happening at the moment. Duplicating in your mind what you're looking at will tell your unconscious, "Be here now!" For example, if the interviewer is wearing an orange dress and sitting behind a desk, think: "I see a woman in an orange dress sitting behind her desk. A chair is to the left of the desk and a table is to the right." If you select only one grounding technique, it should be this one, since it's the strongest and includes elements of each of the others. By practicing these techniques before interviews, you'll learn to use them automatically and effortlessly. You won't have to apologize for losing track of your thoughts or otherwise interrupt the meeting. The interviewer won't know what you're doing, and eventually, it will become second nature to you. Being grounded during interviews will help you to present yourself in the best possible light and assess whether a job and company are right for you. But don't limit these techniques only to interviews. You can now prevent yourself from becoming ungrounded anywhere you go--at work, a social setting, community event, church or other place of worship. Your life will be easier and more satisfying as a result.
Are Way Your Out Search of Skills Date?
The Future Is Now Another recruiting soothsayer is John Sullivan, chief talent officer of Agilent Technologies, Inc., a diversified-technology company in Palo Alto, Calif., and who's also a human-resources professor on leave from San Francisco State University. He predicts the changes in the job market will have profound effects on employeremployee relationships. The days of dress for success for interviews are already gone, he says. In many industries, candidates wear what their prospective coworkers are wearing to work. The reason: Employers look less at the candidates' clothes than at what they have to offer. Additionally, he says, employers are making hiring decisions faster. More companies are making on-the-spot offers. Getting an offer the same day as an interview leads to some interesting decisions in terms of reference checks and drug testing. Some companies are eschewing them
altogether in favor of employee referrals, Dr. Sullivan says. Others are making offers contingent upon reference checks and drug tests, he says. Dr. Sullivan also foresees an increasingly flexible workplace. Among the trends he expects to pick up steam are hiring couples as a team, work at home and, for top talent, customized jobs. Whither Recruiting? Do these changes mean the end of executive recruiting? No, but it's changing, too. Fewer recruiters are involved in everyday mid-level manager searches. The recruiting business will focus more on identifying hard-to-find candidates -- those who are happily employed and not actively looking. "Advertising is passive. Recruiting is active," says Ron Proul, senior vice president of the Century Group, a financial-services recruiting organization in Inglewood, Calif. There's a difference between picking up the phone and calling a pre-screened candidate and conducting a web search, he says. Employers will always need the services of recruiters, but recruiters will have to move faster, he says. While the hiring process is going high tech, it's also getting more personal, says Mr. Fahey, who has his own view of the future of job search. "We'll get to a point where professionals monitor their careers like they monitor their stocks and news," he says. \In the not-too-distant future, he says, candidates will post portfolios on the Web that will include extensive work samples, references, resumes and pictures. Professionals will be able to check their e-mail and evaluate offers from recruiters who have reviewed their portfolios or web sites. Despite the impact of technology, personal interaction will continue to be central to the hiring process, says Bernadette Kenny, chief operating officer of Lee Hecht Harrison, a New York outplacement firm. Networking will become even more important to job seekers, she says. Talking to people you know and trust is one of the best ways to sort through the clutter of information about job opportunities and employers. "We need to feel connected and be in a position of reciprocal support," she says. The Internet is empowering candidates by helping them learn more about the business and culture of prospective employers quickly and easily, says Ms. Kenny. Given the abundance of opportunities, candidates are becoming more selective about whom they work for. Many job hunters are seeking a values connect with prospective employers, she says. They want to know whether their employer shares their moral, ethical and philosophical outlook. "Successful employers of the future understand this phenomenon and are trying to position themselves as employers of choice," Ms. Kenny says. Many of the expected and emerging changes in job hunting are positives for candidates. One negative is that some will be left far behind in the job market, says Ray Cech, president of Dunhill Executive Search of Los Angeles. These include job seekers who "aren't on the 'up' end of the seesaw in terms of high technology, training and knowledge," he says. These professionals will need to seek additional training or continuing education to become competitive.
Avoid Interviewing Mistakes
1. Focus on negative thoughts. You may be the best candidate for the job. But if negativity dominates your mind, no one will discover what you have to offer. You may look professional on the outside, but if on the inside you're bombarding your mind with cheap shots, you're set up to fail. To eliminate these threats to your candidacy, try these tactics: • The day before your interview, rehearse likely questions with a friend. Ask for a critique. If it's less than glowing, rehearse until you seem confident but not cocky. • An hour before your interview, study your resume. Review your accomplishments, experiences and competencies. • Half an hour before your interview, take several deep breaths. Tell yourself you've met tougher challenges. There always will be other interviews for other jobs. Confirm your ability to remain cool under fire. • Five minutes before the interview, recite a verse or some other piece from memory. It could be a Christmas carol, a corporate mission, the Pledge of Allegiance--anything that clears your mind and allows you to refocus on your objective. It's important to recognize the stress caused by the "foreign" setting of an interview, says Steve Conner, director of consulting services for Performance Concepts International Ltd., a training firm in Rochester, N.Y. Recognize your personal strengths, he says. Armed with self-knowledge, you can control more of the interview and become an active, rather than passive, participant. Take only life-affirming thoughts with you on interviews, says Linda CambareriFernandez, a New York City psychologist in private practice. Review your accomplishments and visualize yourself following the same pattern of success with the potential new job. 2. Sound like everyone else. Interviewers tend to ask the same questions. "Tell me about yourself" is a common one. You won't stand out from the crowd if you reiterate your resume. How can your responses help you make an impression? Outstanding candidates discuss what isn't on their documents. For example, this answer would distinguish you from others: "I'm a non-conforming conformist. I'll conform with the policies and procedures, regulations and rules established by the firm. But if I'm ever asked to do something I consider unethical, I won't conform." Dr. Cambareri-Fernandez says your unique style of speaking also sets you apart. While you want to stand out, you don't want to seem bizarre. She suggests mirroring others' behavior to make them feel comfortable. For example, you could match your rate of speaking to your interviewer's. 3. Say what first comes to mind. If you answer every question immediately on hearing it, you may create the impression that you're over-eager or you don't take enough time to assess a problem before offering a solution. Some questions require a pause before you respond. However, pausing before every question may make you appear overly cautious or even nervous. Some pauses refresh and some proclaim a dull wit. Think of the question-and-answer process as a
continuum. You can answer most questions quickly by thinking about your answer as the words leave the interviewer's mouth. Anticipate the second half of the question as you formulate the first part of your response. To keep the pace of your exchange flowing smoothly, try these tactics. • Listen closely. Often the kernel of your response is in the question. If your nervousness distracts you, you might miss the point. • Paraphrase to buy time. It's the ninth-grade English-class essay tactic: restate the question before answering. For example, if asked, "Why might others find it hard to work with you?" you could say, "I've never actually had anyone tell me it was hard to work with me. But if I had to identify my own faults, I'd say I can become very involved, perhaps too involved, with a project that interests me." • Ask a question. Seeking clarification buys time and you can fine-tune your answer. Of course, try to avoid, "Could you repeat that question?" 4. Ignore interview protocol. Interviewing has its own specific set of expectations and practices. Appearance is important, but savvy interviewers don't overplay it, says Rob White, director of materials for ITT Cannon, an electronics company in Santa Ana, Calif. In these days of business casual attire, other issues take precedence. Interviewers look for evidence of character and citizenship. Providing an anecdote, for instance, mentioning how you handled a delicate situation, can provide insight. Mr. White also pays attention to a candidate's body language and his ability to maintain appropriate eye contact. Further, he's impressed by candidates who call or write to thank him for the interview and inquire about the status of the hiring decision. Such actions, he feels, usually reveal the candidate's interest in the position. Ignoring this protocol is a surefire way to make sure you don't get the job.
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