Tag Archives: Job Search

Research the Employer Before the Interview

When you don’t research the employer before the interview, your superficial research downgrades your answers to every question, disappoints prospective employers and shortchanges you. Take the time, leave your comfort zone, and learn everything you can.

As John headed back to his car after a grueling interview, he was elated. Always optimistic, he usually thought it had gone very well. The panel of interviewers seemed to like his responses to their questions, and he had a good feeling about his chances.

Finally, it was coming together for John. He was proud of the fact that he had taught himself the ins and outs of the plant manager role with a small town manufacturer before it was sold a year ago. Now he felt ready for a big break, bringing his skills and knowledge to a national firm. This position brought a higher salary, opportunities for promotion and improved benefits, just in time for the baby coming in a couple of months.

Thorough Research Before the Job Interview is essential

Research Before Interviews

Back inside, Sherman was puzzled. Something was lacking in John’s answers. John undoubtedly had solved some challenging problems with a shoestring budget. But it was harder to visualize him working in the department. His stories placed him in an environment entirely unlike this one. No more walking into the president’s office and demanding immediate approval for new equipment. If he was hired, could John adjust?

John is oblivious. The very idea that his limited knowledge of even basic differences between his former employer and this new one could undermine his credibility would never occur to him.

For that reason, John didn’t sell himself as effectively as he might have.

Good research distinguishes you from less prepared candidates

The first time I was asked what I had done to prepare for an interview, I was startled by the question. During my academic career, that would never be asked. The truth was, I had done very little to learn about the organization. It simply never occurred to me that I was expected to research the employer before the interview! Frankly, that sounded like a lot of unnecessary work.

The power of thorough, in-depth research to distinguish you from the other applicants, and to overcome biases cannot be overstated. There would have been concerns about John’s suitability just from looking at his resume, but careful preparation of responses that were designed to suit the actual workplace of the prospective employer would have reassured the interview panel.

Possibly even if John did know that he needed to adapt his answers for this specific company, he might have dismissed the idea of spending that much time in preparation for one interview. So the payoff needs to be high. Continue reading

Prepare for “How did you prepare for this interview” Job Interview Question

Kill the interview or boost your hiring prospects right here and now. Interviewers can tell when you haven’t prepared. That’s deadly for positions above entry-level.

It’s typically asked right after “Tell Me About Yourself”. Last post, I talked about how powerfully you can impact the interviewer’s perception of you as a candidate. With this question, the prospective employer continues to size you up.

Read on to deepen your understanding of the “how did you prepare for this interview” job interview question.

A Most Revealing Question: How Did You Prepare for this Interview?

Did you take this interview seriously? Do you prepare at all for important assignments? What does it look like when you really prepare?

Many applicants, particularly above the entry-level positions, have rehearsed answers for other questions. You might take this one lightly, guessing (wrongly) that there wouldn’t be much payoff if you you thoroughly “prepare for this interview”.

What Does The Employer Want/Need to Hear?

They want to know what you’ve learned about the company, even if they don’t specifically say that. Show them your findings that aren’t available just by looking at the company’s website or the first page of Google. The amount of effort you put in and the savvy that you demonstrate by your research approach convey much. Continue reading

Prepare for 50 Job Interview Questions

Prepare for 50 Job Interview Questions

Prepare for 50 Job Interview Questions

Prepare for 50 job interview questions that are commonly asked, instead of “winging  it” and hoping for the best. Doing the hard work of preparing well-crafted responses for the most likely questions,  makes sure that the you and the employer exchange the information that each needs to make the decision that is right for both. 

To see all 50 questions, I invite you to check out the Slideshare presentation below. While you are there, take a look at the first of a series of 50 presentations that will explore in-depth how to be ready to deliver a great answer.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog before you go, to make sure you don’t miss a one!

Check out the 50 Job Interview Questions presentations on Slideshare!

 

I hope you like the format and enjoy the visuals They may even help you remember the questions and your answers.

Need Help to Prepare for 50 Job Interview Questions? Watch this space.

Knowing the questions you can expect is just the start. To really handle them well takes lots of thought and careful preparation.

Over the next few months, I’ll add individual presentations with guidance for each of the 50 questions. Here are the first:

1. Prepare for the “Tell me about yourself” Job Interview Question

2. Prepare for the “How did you prepare for this interview” Job Interview Question

 

Use the Subscribe button at the right to make sure you don’t miss any of these valuable presentations!

Now a short note on how the slideshare presentations were created, using a new app for the iPad.

Create Stunning Presentations easily with the Haiku Deck app for iPad

I decided to put this together after using Haiku Deck to create several other presentations and enjoying the distinctive approach that the app brings to presentations. It’s a new (to me)  app for the iPad that makes creating visually appealing presentations a joy rather than a drudgery. Forget about looking all over the internet for relevant photographs. Just choose from one of a hundred or so that  they suggest to you, based on your key word. And you don’t need to concern yourself with permission to use the photos. Haiku have taken care of that.

if you don’t have an iPad, a web version is now available.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici  / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prepare for the Difficult Person Job Interview Question

I never met a man I didn’t like. Will Rogers

Inquiring employers want to know. How do you handle difficult people in the workplace? You can’t get away with a nice story about an annoying boss and now you work together in uninterrupted harmony.

handle the difficult person

Can You Handle this Difficult Person?

Forget about claiming that you have never met a difficult person unless your name is Will Rogers. The interviewer knows exactly what difficult person you will encounter your first week.

Last post, I laid down some background on why some people find you difficult and that other guy really grates on you. Given your temperament, entirely predictable. Now we can build on that foundation to accomplish two objectives.

First. we want to effectively relate to difficult people. Second, we want to communicate those skills to a prospective employer in a way that reassures them.

That is one of my consistent themes in this blog and my other material. I don’t just want to convince the employer that I can handle difficult people by offering one isolated, contrived story.

I want to be effective because I have learned how to respond to difficult people in a way that prevents any conflict from sabotaging my success and the organizations interests.

Then as I continue to do so mindfully, I accumulate a repertoire of relevant stories that I can tell very naturally.

Continue reading

Job seekers must fully address employer concerns

Sanjit P., a banker from India, Paul M. a newly unemployed tool and die machinist, and Andrea S., a former accounting clerk, may not appear to have much in common. But all three are frustrated job seekers looking for employment in Southern Ontario and all face difficulties in the job market for what is essentially the same reason. Too often, prospective employer concerns about hiring them are significant barriers that never are addressed.

Address Employer Concerns

As I have mentioned in a previous post, all these worthy job applicants see is a total lack of response.

Morning after discouraging morning, they send cover letters and resumes to posted employment opportunities.

Evening after discouraging evening they wonder what they need to do differently.

In each of these (fictitious) stories of typical job seekers, one significant piece of information stands out to an employer like a red flashing light and sends the application to the trash.

Know the Precise Employer Concern

Sanjit worked as a banker for 15 years but it is hard to tell from his application exactly what his responsibilities might have been and he is applying for a much more junior position than a banker with an MBA and 15 years of Canadian experience would consider. The employer concerns are that he will not accept the work environment and more junior duties that go with entry-level employment opportunities and that he will need significant training to get up to speed in the job. He will not be able to “hit the ground running”. Continue reading

Document your Advanced Microsoft Word Skills

I frequently see resumes from job applicants claiming Advanced Microsoft Word skills. When such a high level of proficiency seems highly improbably given their previous work experience and education, I am very skeptical. When I have doubts and the answer is important to me, I ask questions. I want to know what specific things you can do on the job tomorrow.

Document Your Advanced Word Skills

Advanced Word Skills – Really?

Many job postings ask for advanced skills beyond what is essential, but that doesn’t really matter. When you are asked in a job interview some sort of vague question about your Microsoft Office skills, you still need to nail it convincingly.

That is the reason I created the checklists that are now available in the MS Office Skills Checklists section. By making sure that you know exactly what advanced skills are, you can avoid an awkward conversation that doesn’t answer the question. You don’t want either error. You don’t want to be embarrassed when you learn that you actually don’t have any advanced skills. Pretending you have skills that you don’t makes for an entertaining movie, but I think the thrill of the experience falls short of that in real life. Continue reading

Prospective employers want you to communicate your qualifications clearly

If you submit 10, 20 or more job applications every week without response, you are not alone and it’s your job to figure out why.

Are you treating the job search as a numbers game, like telemarketing? If I just send more applications, sooner or later it is inevitable that I will rise to the top of the pile. Or do you believe those who say “nobody gets hired from online job postings”. If that was true, how long would employers continue to accept online submissions? Not very long.

magnifying glass

Communicate Your Skills Clearly

Not every opening that is posted online is filled from online applicants but some are. If you aren’t among the winning pllicants, it may have something to do with how you are applying, but you may be perplexed as to what to change.

Do you understand the hiring process from the perspective of an employer that receives thousands of applications? Often its a junior staff member who reduces the pile to a manageable number. It’s easier than you think. Just discard applications that don’t mention the key words related to the required qualifications. Then calls are made to conduct an initial screening interview or to schedule an interview. So what if that prospective employer called the top 20 applicants but your phone didn’t ring? And what if that happened 50 times every week? Continue reading

Consider blogging your way out of a career rut

Establishing a blog related to your career can cure a lot of ills. Feeling stuck in a rut is just one. It has never been easier and the benefits have never been clearer.

12 benefits from a career-related blog:

  1. Blogging  gives you, not your employer or anyone else, total control over the heart of career management, your personal brand.
  2. Here’s your chance to broadcast the experience and wisdom you have accumulated in your professional career. You can answer those questions that no one ever asks or provide the advice to a newcomer that you wish someone would tell them. Continue reading

Word Cloud: for effective interview strategies

 

Used Wordle for Job Search

Used Wordle for Job Search

Your  job interview vocabulary may matter much more than you expect. I’ve seen first-hand how powerfully the words you use in a job interview affect the impression you convey to the interviewer. significantly more than I believed. Recently I was privileged to participate in a series of mock interviews. The impact of vocabulary was especially noticeable in their responses to behavioral questions. One interviewee omitted entirely any reference to the specifics of the detailed job description that she was provided.

I was astonished, given that several similar positions were listed prominently on her resume. During subsequent interviews, I observed specific vocabulary more closely. Applicants responding to behavioral questions using the same vocabulary as those included in the job description clearly gained credibility by doing so. Very simply, you just believed as you listened to their words that they were already in the position. The incremental impact was especially strong for interviewees who had previously worked in a different field, but made the effort to prepare.  On reflection, it became clear to me that effective interview strategies pay close attention to the vocabulary of the job description. It sounds very simple, but I think it is commonly overlooked. Continue reading

Do you work in your career or on it?

In his best-selling book “E-myth”, Michael Gerber offers advice to Sarah, an entrepreneur who is overwhelmed by the challenges of operating her small business. During one conversation, he advises her to work “on her business, not just in her business”. Sarah was told by everyone that she was so good at baking pies, she really must open a pie shop. Now she absolutely hates baking pies. Gerber says “she took the work she loved and turned it into a job.

While Sarah’s story and Gerber’s book are clearly oriented toward owners of small businesses, I’m sure Sarah’s lament resonates with employees. If you love golf and are good at it, the idea that you “should” be a golf coach can sound quite reasonable. If the photos that you post on Flickr.com are well received, others may express surprise that you don’t become a photographer. (neither of these describe me) However, the skills and temperament needed in addition to the technical competencies for success as a professional photographer, golf coach or baker of pies are not at all trivial to acquire, even if you work for someone else as an employee.

Those demands may explain why more employees don’t venture into self-employment. The need to market yourself constantly to ensure a continuous stream of income is one of those demands that many avoid.
However, it turns out that the demands of sustaining continuous employment are converging with those of entrepreneurship. In today’s employment marketplace, you need to “think like a CEO of your own career”, as William Bridges wrote 15 years ago in “Creating You & Co.”

Some of us find ourselves thrust unexpectedly into a situation where we need to market ourselves in ways that we never anticipated. We are suddenly on the job market and very much unprepared, with a very long list of “should haves”. But you can’t “should have”. It is harder to expand that list of accomplishments that is so essential for your resume when you don’t work there anymore. You need to do that before you leave.

Gerber says that when sometimes after an entrepreneur experiences significant initial growth, then scales back. In his words, a “business that got small again is a business reduced to the level of its owner’s personal resistance to change, to its owners Comfort Zone, in which the owner waits and works, works and waits, hoping for something positive to happen.” In the same way, we can continue to work “in” our career/job, hoping for a positive outcome. Working “on” our career means proactive initiatives that take us out of our Comfort Zone.