Monday, 25 June 2012 01:20

Two Easy Ways to Prepare for an Interview

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 You sent your resume to countless companies. After weeks of waiting, you finally get a call. Now, it’s up to you to dazzle the interviewer and get hired.

It’s no secret that preparation is crucial to acing an interview. Yet it’s funny how people neglect preparation and wonder why they don’t get hired.

Getting an interview is the easy part. Impressing and making an interviewer believe you’re the best person for the job is the hard part. But don’t fret—you can make the hard part easy. How? The answer is properly preparing for an interview.

Preparing for an interview takes time. You need to put in the time and effort to make sure everything goes  right for you on your big day.

drinking-beer-interviewWhen you think about how to deliver strong answers to questions in an interview, beer doesn’t usually come to mind (well, having one maybe, but...). So for a bit of respite from the standard sources of interview advice, I turned to one of my favorite sources for inspiration.

Here’s what I realized is true for both a job applicant walking into an interview and for a beer:

job-interview-answersOne of the scariest parts of losing a job is the potential stigma attached to it. There’s a fear that you’ll never know when, in a future job interview, the interviewer will ask you the question, “Have you ever been fired?” or even, “Where are you working right now?” With the tumultuous job market over the past few years, a lot of people have been laid off. In fact, if I had to guess, I would estimate that at least one in four Americans in the job market today has experienced a layoff or been asked to resign. If you’ve ever involuntarily lost your job, you are definitely not alone.

 

So, how do you answer the interview question, “Have you ever been fired?”

 

saturday night live logoYou may have already received plenty of advice on how to provide answers to interview questions, the right way. However, you still need to know what it looks like when you step in it, so you don’t make a fatal interview mistake.

The question is, where can I find examples of good, bad, and ugly answers? Below you will find examples, sourced from quotes by original cast members of Saturday Night Live, and a few other contemporary comedians.

job-interview-answers-2Having strong answers for interview questions depends on a number of factors. One of the key factors that is sometimes overlooked is authenticity. Do your responses give the interviewer a good sense of who you are and what you are about?

Job seekers sometimes forget about this concept of authenticity. Instead, they provide overplayed and generic answers that they think the interviewer wants to hear. These are answers like, "I’m a hard worker," "I’m a team player,” or "I have great attention to detail."

Such cookie-cutter answers are better than saying nothing, but every interviewer has heard these responses a number of times. Consequently, the interviewer doesn’t learn much about what makes this job applicant different from the next one. The interviewer also doesn’t know whether the interviewer is a hard worker or is just saying something that seems like a good interview answer. As a result, the interviewer is likely to dismiss this applicant.

So, what do you do if you really are a hard worker? You have a couple of options.

First, you can give examples to prove it. For example: "I work harder than other people. In college, I always took six classes, and never settled for a grade less than an A-" or "Being an architecture student, the norm was to do one or two all-nighters per week. I know how to work hard."

Alternatively, you can use less overplayed language that explains what makes you a hard worker. For instance: "I am someone who will dive headfirst into difficult problems and who only stops working when the problem has been solved." Or, as another example: "At this point in my life, my work comes first. I will put in whatever hours are needed to get the job done."

As you prepare answers for various job interview questions, think about how your responses can be less cookie-cutter. Focus on examples from your past that demonstrate your abilities, and come up with language that you feel comfortable with, that authentically represents you.

Monday, 28 May 2012 09:45

Show Me the Numbers

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What should your resume, your cover letter, your interview answers and your elevator pitch have in common?

Numbers.  Numbers are one way to prove that you are the real deal. And, they can seriously change your job search. Let me explain.  

Here are some typical examples of phrases that individuals use in job searches, and where a few numbers would make a difference:

"Improved company sales"
Was that by $500 or five million dollars? By 2% or 20%?

"Revitalized school, resulting in improved academic performance"
Did student academic achievement improve by 1/10th of a grade level or two full grade levels? Did graduation rates improve by one student or 100?

"Implemented stroke recovery best practices, expediting rehabilitation"
Did the stroke sufferers recover a day faster or a month faster? Did they return to 60% of pre-stroke functioning or 90% of pre-stroke functioning?

As you can tell, adding numbers makes your arguments a lot more persuasive. You move from being vague to being specific. More importantly, you move from seeming like a big talker to a big doer, someone who produces results.

If you are like many people, you're saying,
1.    "Numbers don't really apply to me," and
2.    "Even where they do apply, I don't know the exact numbers and I don't want to say something that would be dishonest."

Let's dispel each of these.

Thursday, 17 May 2012 18:06

10 Tips to Better Answers for an Interview

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Below are ten tips to having more effective answers to interview questions. While these tips are pretty simple, making mistakes on simple things could mean missing out on the job offer.

Tip 1 -  Make sure you know how to pronounce the name of the company. Search for YouTube videos or double-check with the security guard or receptionist to make sure you say it right in an interview.

Thursday, 17 May 2012 18:02

Advice for an Interview

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Sun Tzu and the Art of Interviewing: Advice for an interview from history’s greatest strategist.

When you’re seeking advice for interview, there are various experts you can reach out to, especially to learn interview strategy and tactics.  It seems only fitting to see how history’s possibly best-known strategist could help today’s job seekers ace their next interview. Over 2,200 years ago, Chinese military adviser Sun Tzu wrote his treatise, The Art of War. Whether or not the current version also includes the work of other generals is a point of contention, but the strategic advice it provides has demonstrated its value time and time again.  Below you will find some quotes from this work and its applications to the job hunt.

Thursday, 17 May 2012 17:54

How to Ace the Interview as an Older Worker

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For older workers, finding a job in the current economy can be especially challenging. You are very unlikely to hear an interviewer mention issues related to age aloud. Discrimination against older workers is technically illegal. Still, that’s not to say it isn’t done.

If you are in this population and want to ace your next interview, there are several issues you will have to address. You will need to demonstrate that you are a hard worker, stay current on industry trends, and fit in with the culture of modern organizations.  

In this article, we’ll discuss the various tactics that you can proactively take.

Monday, 14 May 2012 10:30

Job Interview Answers: 5 Common Mistakes

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Before you walk into your next interview, I thought it’d be helpful to share with you some common mistakes people make when providing job interview answers.

Mistake 1. Length

The perfect interview answer should last between 20 seconds and two minutes. That means that you should basically never answer a question with a simple yes or no. You need to share the critical details and should provide a thorough answer to appropriate questions. However, you don’t want to tell your life’s story. When you feel like you’ve shared the highlights, cut yourself off. If you feel compelled to share more, you can offer, “If you’d like, I can also describe...” Don’t be surprised if the interviewer turns you down. Too long an answer, and the interviewer will just tune you out.

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