Thursday, October 31, 2013

Resume Writing 101

More often than not, your resume is the first impression that you'll make on a potential employee. Here's how to present yourself clearly and professionally.

It is worth remembering that each recruiter's idea of a 'perfect' resume will be slightly different. Nonetheless, your resume will in most cases, be the first impression an employer has of you. Indeed a strong resume can occasionally itself secure you a job, especially if you are applying for temporary work. At worst, a poorly constructed resume can give a potential employer a negative impression of you as a candidate and bar you from securing that all important interview.

Taking a little time on design, construction and wording and using the following guidelines to write and submit your resume, will ensure you promote yourself to your best advantage.

Resume structure

Start with your personal details. Full name and contact details including all useable telephone numbers. Avoid superfluous details such as religious affiliation, children's names etc... Educational history and professional qualifications should follow, including name of institutions and dates attended in reverse order - university before school results. List GPA and any certifications attained. (These details will matter more if you have recently entered the job market, than if for example you left full time education 20 years ago).

Include computer skills and (genuine) foreign language skills and any other recent training/development that is relevant to the role applied for.  The most widely accepted style of employment record is the chronological resume. Career history is presented in reverse date order starting with most recent. Achievements and responsibilities are listed against each role. More emphasis/information should be put on more recent jobs.  A functional resume can sometimes be more appropriate, for example if you have held a number of unrelated jobs. This presentation emphasises key skills which can be grouped together under suitable headings. Career progression and the nature of jobs held can be unclear with this type of resume.  Leave hobbies and interests to last - keep this section short. References can simply be 'Available on Request'. Current salary details should not be included. A good cover letter should always accompany your resume.  Your resume and cover letter should combine to create a picture of you and your career-to-date and illustrate why you are different from the competition! With this successfully achieved (and a bit of luck!) you will secure yourself a place on a shortlist.

General Tips

  • Your resume should be laser-printed in black ink using a plain type face, on good quality white/cream paper.
  • Decorative borders are not necessary, nor are photographs of yourself.
  • If applying by mail, your resume and cover letter should be submitted in a suitable quality envelope, clearly addressed, with a first class stamp. If applying by email, time should be taken designing and formatting to ensure your details read clearly. Send a copy to yourself to check before submitting it for a role.
  • Your resume should ideally cover no more than two pages and never more than three. Aim to ensure the content is clear, structured, concise and relevant. Using bullet points rather than full sentences can help minimize word usage.
  • A basic resume may need tailoring with each job application to best suit the requirements of the role applied for.
  • The completed resume needs to be checked carefully for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes - which always leave a poor impression - and to ensure that it makes sense. Ask an 'independent' party to review the whole document before it is put into use.
  • Remember when writing and structuring your resume that it is essentially a marketing document for you and that a potential employer will use the details provided to form interview questions. It should be clear and easy to read. Gaps in career history should be explained and falsehoods and inaccuracies avoided at all costs.
  • There is no reason to include your reasons for leaving each job on your resume but be prepared to answer these questions in your interview.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Cover Letter

  • Keep it succinct
  • Tailor each letter to suit the job
  • Proof read very carefully!

The covering letter attached to your resume is your means of self introduction. It is a chance to capture the attention of the reader and demonstrate the qualities that set you apart from other applicants.

Covering letters are generally used when responding to positions advertised through the print media or the Internet and as a unique selling tool when you want to approach a prospective employer directly. They are basically an advert for your resume and as such need to grab the reader's attention and make them want to read on. This is usually done by highlighting your "Unique Selling Points" - ie. the qualities that set you apart. It should be written so that the reader cannot possibly pass it over without opening the resume document itself.

Your covering letter should complement your resume by highlighting the most relevant aspects relating to the position. Make a draft, then when you are satisfied that it reads well and will get the reader interested, get a second opinion by asking a friend to review it. If you are not sure of the qualities or competencies required, try to work out what they are likely to be or consider a similar position you have seen in operation elsewhere.

Cover letter checklist


One A4 page, well spaced.


Be sure to make your letter clear and concise. Use strong verbs which demonstrate action and accomplishments, such as "organize" and "supervise".

Name, Title and Address

Find out the details of the contact person (including all spelling) in the organization and address your letter accordingly. Don't forget to include your address, phone number and email.


This includes an introduction and identification of the position. For example, commence with the reference number, followed by your reason for applying and a summary of your unique skills/qualifications.


Identify your skills, experience and attributes that match what the employer wants. Look for keywords in the advertisement and address the main elements. For example the advertisement might say: "This position requires an outgoing person with demonstrated capacity to work in a team". The keywords here are "outgoing", "demonstrated" and "team". Show you meet these essential criteria to increase your chances of an interview.


Essentially you need to draw attention to you and away from others, but not by misspelling the company's name! Proofing is so important; you may even benefit from someone else double checking your cover letter for you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do You Have a Great Resume?

Writing a resume can be a daunting prospect. This is a document that a potential employer uses to make their first judgment about you - so you'll want to ensure these judgments are positive.
For instance, your interests can say a lot about you. One candidate who recently applied for an IT support role stated that "suffering the net" was an interest! Now that could have been a humorous reflection on the speed of their modem but as you can imagine not everyone saw it that way.

Whilst we encourage candidates to state very clearly what their career aspirations are, writing "I'd rather have no money and sleep on the street than do xxx job" is going a tad far (and yes, we have received this comment on applications).

Of course we suggest improvements to our candidates' resumes if required, but often resumes are sent directly to employers. If they include inappropriate comments you are unlikely to be offered an interview. So, here are our tips to ensure you present a competent and professional resume.

Tips for writing great resumes

Most companies prefer resumes submitted electronically, so create your resume in a common program such as MS Word so it can be open and read by recipients easily.

First, include such basic information as your name, address, telephone numbers and email address. Make sure the e-mail address you use appears professional. is not appropriate.
Next list your education (secondary and tertiary) and qualifications.

Reference your career objective back to the job applied for to give an indication of what you want (avoid beginning this with 'all I've ever wanted to be is a…').

Then list your work experience in chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Include employer names, positions held and primary responsibilities. Also, where appropriate, include an indication of salary level achieved and reasons for leaving each position.

Do not leave gaps in your resume. If you took a year out, carried out an interim assignment, or traveled for six months, say so. If you do include gaps, potential employers can suspect the worst. Stating the years, rather than the months you started or finished a role can also send off alarm bells. Writing "2011 - 2013" could be interpreted as employment from December 2011 to January 2013 unless you say otherwise.

If you have your own website profiling your work, include the URL, but do not simply submit the URL address instead of a resume.

When formatting your resume, ensure there is plenty of white space. Don't place too much information on one page or use graphics and flowery or small fonts that are difficult to read as they distract from the content.

It is also important to include details of two references, such as former employees. If you are a graduate with no work history, include details of a former lecturer.

Finally, don't forget to spell check your resume. Remember, it is the first impression your potential employer will have of you, so take the time to get it right. If possible, ask someone to proof read your resume to check for any spelling, layout or typing errors.

Attach your resume to an email, rather than pasting the text into your email program. Pasting text into an email program sometimes causes text to appear on the recipient's screen in a distorted or muddled mess, making it very difficult to read.

Unless otherwise stated, you do not need to attach copies of certificates relating to educational and/or professional qualifications (including recent academic transcripts) or references from previous employers. You should instead bring these to a job interview.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Give Yourself the Best Chance at a Job Interview



Do some research into the organization concerned. Some good sources include:
  • Campus careers service
  • Internet
  • Library
  • Professional body
  • Recruitment consultancy
  • Family and friends
Prepare a list of questions you want to ask about the organization and the position - think ahead! Such questions might include:
  • Do you have a detailed job description?
  • Why is the position available?
  • What training and induction will be given?
  • What prospects are there for personal and professional development?
  • What are the company plans for the future?
  • What attributes would you hope that I would bring to the job?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
Look professional, act professionally and dress professionally. You will never have a second chance at making a good first impression. Dress conservatively rather than casually or radically, for example, a dark suit and tie, or a skirt and jacket as a general rule.
Needless to say, your presentation at an interview is extremely important. Not all of us are naturally stylish, so please be prepared to get advice on how to look your best, maybe splash out on a new corporate look that may just give you an edge on the day. As a rule, you should expect the environment to be conservative and corporate and dress accordingly.
You have put too much effort into selling yourself and getting to this point - it would be a shame to undo that by creating a less than positive visual impression.

The interview

  • Be respectful but not intimidated
  • Be ready to answer questions that might be difficult
  • Be ready to let them know what you are looking for
First impressions are critical. Research has shown that an interviewer has made an impression within the first eight seconds of meeting the person. The remainder of the interview is spent confirming this opinion, or turning this opinion around.
To be on the safe side, bring a spare copy of your resume to the interview. Arrive at least ten minutes early as interviewers are unimpressed by lateness and will rarely accept excuses from prospective employees.

During the Interview
Body language and other forms of non-verbal communication are important elements in the way an interviewee performs. Appearing relaxed and trying to act naturally is easier said than done but good appearance is mostly a matter of assuming a position that you are comfortable with. Sit up straight, lean forward slightly and always maintain good eye contact with the interviewer or panel. Looking disinterested will limit your options. Never smoke during an interview, even if invited.
Treat the interview as a two way discussion and answer questions honestly, directly and keep to the point. Everyone present will be focusing their attention on you, so clouding your answer with jargon or evading the issue will be more obvious than you think. If you are not certain about a particular question, do not be afraid to ask if it can be rephrased. Listen, never interrupt and answer only what is asked.

There are common questions which arise in most job interviews, and while you should be prepared, try not to rehearse answers that are too precise. A better approach is to work on broad subject areas that are likely to come up during the interview. Some of these areas include:

General Background
Often the first question is a request for a summary of your background. People applying for their first job should focus on extra curricular activities, education, and qualifications. It is quite acceptable to repeat major points you have outlined in your resume or letter of application.

A specific question often asked is "Why do you think you are qualified for this position?" Qualifications, in this context, mean all qualifications which could make you suitable for the position including educational, employment-related and personal. In most cases, this may be the question that will win or lose you the job, so your answer needs to be clear and memorable.


Here is where your research pays off. Your answer should include details about relevant employment, community or educational experience and a discussion of the nature of the industry, the organization and the position itself.

Reasons for applying

If you are applying for your first, or one of your first jobs, your answer should describe what you find appealing about the position, how you prepared yourself for a career in the organization and how you believe your present job equips you for the position in question.

Career Objectives

Be ready to discuss your long-term aspirations. Your best approach is one that indicates you have thought about your career in these terms and have taken some action towards realizing your ambitions.

Crisis Management

In some organizations, employers give candidates questions designed to test their ability in situations or crises. You should try to find out the most common type of dilemma for employees in the job you are seeking and formulate an intelligent response.

Towards the end of the interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions of your own. Try to prepare at least one or two intelligent questions before the interview. Be confident when asking your questions and use them to score additional points in your favor. For instance, you could ask about the company's plans for the future and the sort of support the organization might provide if you wanted further training.

At the end of your interview, smile and thank the people involved for their time. While decisions and job offers are usually made some time after the interview(s), should an offer of employment be made at the conclusion of any interview you attend, ask whether the offer will be confirmed in writing. Also, it is not unreasonable to request a short period of time to consider the offer before formally accepting.

Sample interview questions
  • What job would you like if you had a completely free choice?
  • Why are you seeking a position with our company?
  • Why do you want to be a *****
  • How do you cope with pressure situations? Be ready to give an example.
  • Have you come across a situation like this? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
  • What are your greatest achievements to date?
  • What objectives did you set yourself at the beginning of your career or study?
  • Have you achieved those objectives?
  • What interests you most/least about this job?
  • Describe your own personality.
  • Describe a situation where you have... (This is the style of questioning used in competency based interviewing, asking for examples of previous situations is fairly commonplace so have some relevant examples at the ready.)
  • What salary are you looking for? (Do your homework beforehand!)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Common Interview Questions

 Tell me about yourself.
- Will you relocate?
- What motivates you?
- What are your short-term goals?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What can you do for us?
- How do you work under pressure?
- What salary are you worth?
- What are your three most important accomplishments thus far in your career?
- What is your greatest strength? Weakness?
- Give an example of your creativity.
- Give an example of your analytical skills.
- Give an example of your administrative skills.
- Give an example of some of your leadership skills.
- How do you interact with your subordinates?
- How do you motivate people?
- How did you get along with your last boss?
- What do you know about our company?
- In what way do you feel you can make the biggest contribution to this firm?
- Why are you leaving your present company?
- How do you think you would fit in with our firm?
- Why are you changing fields?
- What direct supervisory experience have you had?
- What did you like best about your last (or present) job?
- Is your present (or past) income commensurate with your abilities?
- What are your general feelings about psychological assessment?
- What are your thoughts regarding promotion for yourself? For your subordinates?
- How would you describe the "ideal" boss?
- How do you define cooperation?
- How do you spend your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?
- What would you do to improve our firm? And how?
- Could you have done more in your last (or present) job?
- What suggestions have you offered former employers that were actually adopted?
- How do you define success?
- What is the most difficult assignment you have completed?
- What is the most rewarding assignment you have completed?
- Give an example of your innovative abilities.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

50 Interview Question you Should have an Answer for

The following is a list of typical questions, which may be asked.

1.What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives, when and why did you establish these goals, and how are you prepared to achieve them?
2.What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, do you have for the next ten years?
3.What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
4.What do you really want to do in life?
5.What are your long-range career objectives?
6.How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
7.What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
8.What do you expect to be earning in five years?
9.Why did you choose the career for which you are preparing?
10.Which is more important to you, the money or the type of job?

11.What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
12.How would you describe yourself?
13.How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?
14.What motivates you to put forth the greatest effort?
15.How has your education prepared you for a career?
16.Why should I hire you?
17.What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful?
18.How do you determine or evaluate success?
19.What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?
20.In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?

21.What qualities should a successful manager possess?
22.Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and subordinates.
23.What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
24.Describe your most rewarding college experience.
25.If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
26.Why did you select your college or university?
27.What led you to choose your field or major study?
28.What academic subjects did you like best? Least?
29.Do you enjoy doing independent research?
30.If you could do so, would you plan your academic study differently?

31.What changes would you make in your college or university?
32.Do you think that your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement?
33.What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
34.Do you have plans for continued study? Graduate students: Why did you pursue an advanced degree?
35.In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
36.How do you work under pressure?
37.In what part-time or summer job have you been most interested? Why?
38.How would you describe the ideal job for you following graduation?
39.Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?
40.What do you know about our company?

41.What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
42.Are you seeking employment in a company of a certain size? Why?
43.What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?
44.Do you have a geographic preference?
45.Will you relocate? Does relocation bother you?
46.Are you willing to travel?
47.Are you willing to spend at least six months as a trainee?
48.Why do you think you might like to live in the community in which our company is located?
49.What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
50.What have you learned from your mistakes?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Keep Your Boss in the Loop and on Your Side

Getting, and keeping, the boss on board is one of the unsung arts of management. Without support from those higher up, your unit loses access to the resources necessary for success. Did you ever try to improve your working relationship (not private relationship) with your manager? Do you know how to negotiate with the person you report to? How did you usually present problems or opportunities to your boss, and was that very effective?

Without a strong relationship with your manager, misunderstandings and lack of communication can divert time and attention from customers and competition. If you neglect this relationship,
your goals and priorities may be at odds with those of your manager, leading to frustration and discontent for one or both parties.

A weak relationship between you and your manager can have negative consequences for the broader organization as well:

    1) Without a commitment to shared goals and objectives by you and your manager, bottom-line results for the organization as a whole may suffer; 2) Communication breakdowns can lead to misunderstandings and poor morale, resulting in less than effective performance; 3) … …
Fortunately, despite differences in style and philosophy between you and your manager or your boss, there are strategies that you can use to increase your effectiveness and make your work life easier.
1. Find out what is important to your boss and make it important to you. If your boss is fanatic when it comes to deadlines, then do your best to get everything in ahead of schedule.

 2. Make note of anything that you and your boss have in common. From non-work related points of interest like pets, golf and ,jogging, to professional ideals. In general conversation, find an opportunity to make your boss aware of your similar interest.
3. Agree with your boss, more often than not, without compromising your own values. This way, when the two of you do disagree, your boss won't view it as "disagreeing" but rather, a "different outlook."
4. Look for opportunities to "make something happen". For example, there are always projects and assignments that others don't have "time" to do. Find one that you can do and volunteer to Do It! Your boss will appreciate it and remember it in the future.
5. Do not throw the racial or the gender card when your boss picks on you for not doing what you were told to do.
6. Be as supportive as you can in controversial situations, even if you really don't like your boss' behavior. This puts you in a position to be honest with your boss without seeming confrontational.
7. Respect your boss' time; do not stand at his or her desk chattering away when clearly they are busy.
8. Make your boss look good. Realize that their success is your success.
9. Help your boss. Every boss has that one project that they never have time for and it stresses them out. This is where you come in. Find out what project it is and complete on your spare time, such as a day off. Since your boss hadn’t completed it, it is probably a somewhat insignificant project so it won’t take much time for you to complete it and your boss will love you for doing that.
Working as partners, you and your manager can make significant contributions to achieving results beyond your work group.

So, work with your boss more effectively toward mutually agreed-upon goals that are in the best interests of you, your manager, and the organization.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Interview Basics

Peparing for your interview

  • Get well prepared for the interview

  • Be ready to answer questions about yourself and your career

  • Show your interest in the interviewing company

  • Try to make the best impression

  • Making the best impression

  • Arrive on time or a few minutes early, late arrival for a job interview is never excusable

  • Fill out any application neatly and completely

  • Keep your personal resume and give it to the person who will actually do the interview

  • Greet the interviewer by name if you are sure of the pronunciation

  • Shake hands firmly

  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting, sit upright in your chair

  • Look alert and interested at all times, be a good listener as well as a good talker, smile

  • Look a prospective employer in the eye while you talk to him/her

  • Give detailed answers to questions and use examples whenever possible

  • Communicate your good points to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner

  • Never lie, answer questions truthfully, frankly and as to the point as possible

  • Make only positive remarks about your present or former employers or companies

  • Wait until the second interview to inquire about SALARY, HOLIDAYS, BONUSES

  • Know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary range

  • Act as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing

  • Never close the door on opportunity

  • Ask for the position if you are interested in it

  • Ask for the next interview of the situation demands

  • Make sure the interviewer understands why you are interested in the job and the company, what you can offer, and that you can do the job

  • Make sure the interviewer knows your personal contact details and has informed you of the next step, for example second interview or follow-up phone call

  • Contact the company yourself if you have not heard anything from them within 3 days

  • Things to avoid

  • Poor personal appearance and failure to look interviewer in the eye

  • Being overbearing - aggressive - conceited "superiority complex" - "know - it - all"

  • Inability to express thoughts clearly - poor diction or grammar

  • Lack of planning for career - no purpose or goals

  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm-passive and indifferent

  • Lack of confidence, nervousness, and making excuses for weak factors in record

  • Over-emphasis on money and a persistent attitude of "What can you do for me?"

  • Failure to ask good questions about the job and company

  • Lack of preparation for interview - failure to get information about the company

  • Monday, October 21, 2013

    Our Very Best Interview Tips

    Great interviews arise from careful groundwork. You can ace your next interview if you:

    1) Enter into a state of relaxed concentration. This is the state from which great basketball players or Olympic skaters operate. You'll need to quiet the negative self chatter in your head through meditation or visualization prior to sitting down in the meeting. You'll focus on the present moment and will be less apt to experience lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation.

    2) Act spontaneous, but be well prepared. Be your authentic self, professional yet real. Engage in true conversation with your interviewer, resting on the preparation you did prior to coming to the meeting. Conduct several trial runs with another person simulating the interview before it actually occurs. It's the same as anticipating the questions you'll be asked on a final exam.

    3) Set goals for the interview. It is your job to leave the meeting feeling secure that the interviewer knows as much as he or she possibly can about your skills, abilities, experience and achievements. If you sense there are misconceptions, clear them up before leaving. If the interviewer doesn't get around to asking you important questions, pose them yourself (diplomatically) and answer them. Don't leave the meeting without getting your own questions answered so that you have a clear idea of what you would be getting yourself into. If possible, try to get further interviews, especially with other key players.

    4) Know the question behind the question. Ultimately, every question boils down to, "Why should we hire you?" Be sure you answer that completely. If there is a question about your meeting deadlines, consider whether the interviewer is probing delicately about your personal life, careful not to ask you whether your family responsibilities will interfere with your work. Find away to address fears if you sense they are present.

    5) Follow up with an effective "thank you" letter. Don't write this letter lightly. It is another opportunity to market yourself. Find some areas discussed in the meeting and expand upon them in your letter. Writing a letter after a meeting is a very minimum. Standing out among the other candidates will occur if you thoughtfully consider this follow up letter as an additional interview in which you get to do all the talking. Propose useful ideas that demonstrate your added value to the team.

    6) Consider the interviewer's agenda. Much is on the shoulders of the interviewer. He or she has the responsibility of hiring the right candidate. Your ability to do the job will need to be justified. "Are there additional pluses here?" "Will this person fit the culture of this organization?" These as well as other questions will be heavily on the interviewer's mind. Find ways to demonstrate your qualities above and beyond just doing the job.

    7) Expect to answer the question, "Tell me about yourself." This is a pet question of prepared and even unprepared interviewers. Everything you include should answer the question, "Why should we hire you?" Carefully prepare your answer to include examples of achievements from your work life that closely match the elements of the job before you. Obviously, you'll want to know as much about the job description as you can before you respond to the question.

    8) Watch those nonverbal clues. Experts estimate that words express only 30% to 35% of what people actually communicate; facial expressions and body movements and actions convey the rest. Make and keep eye contact. Walk and sit with a confident air. Lean toward an interviewer to show interest and enthusiasm. Speak with a well-modulated voice that supports appropriate excitement for the opportunity before you.

    9) Be smart about money questions. Don't fall into the trap of telling the interviewer your financial expectations. You may be asking for too little or too much money and in each case ruin your chances of being offered the job. Instead, ask what salary range the job falls in. Attempt to postpone a money discussion until you have a better understanding of the scope of responsibilities of the job.

    10) Don't hang out your dirty laundry. Be careful not to bare your soul and tell tales that are inappropriate or beyond the scope of the interview. State your previous experience in the most positive terms. Even if you disagreed with a former employer, express your enthusiasm for earlier situations as much as you can. Whenever you speak negatively about another person or situation in which you were directly involved, you run the risk (early in the relationship) of appearing like a troubled person who may have difficulty working with others.

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    Got an Interview Coming? You Need to Read This!

    MOST of us will be subjected to the traditional interview. Few of us will have relished the prospect and many of us are left with regrets about what we said, didn’t, or could not, say. And yet there are few occasions when a good performance has such a significant impact on our careers and lives.
    I remember in painful detail the public service interview where I was subjected to a 45-minute quiz on modern history, economics and social policy. And how I found unplumbed depths of despair in my search to find new ways of saying “I don't know”. Where my body physically moved in the chair towards the door even as my mind said “Keep going, there cannot be that much time left”. I also remember interviews where I got first place and the sheer pleasure that gave me.

    The first lesson about interviews is: it’s not personal. Interview results may be as much about the interview board, the organization or the current political state of play in the recruiting organization as it is about yourself. It is only by sitting extensively on interview boards over the years that I have realized how precarious the difference is between success and failure at interview.

    Nevertheless, let me share with you the insights I have gained about how to increase the odds in your favor at interview. But please remember it is not personal. The job that you do not get may be the job that you should not have got. And you will not know for sure until much later.

    Firstly good preparation is key. The return on your time invested can make this the best-paid work of your life. Find out all you can about the job and the employing organization. There is no substitute for talking to people who know the job and the organization. Ask them what they like and do not like about the company. Ask them about current issues of concern. And finally ask for a referral to somebody else to talk to. Next prepare by anticipating the questions you will be asked. How do you do this? By briefing yourself on the company. And by pretending you are interviewing yourself. Never prepare topics, only questions. Do your research as described above to find the answers to the questions you will be asked.

    Having developed a framework of questions, answers should have only three bullet points. Be ruthless. Good answers last between 30 seconds and two minutes. You have time only for a maximum of three points but probably less. So do not clutter your preparation with too much information. Become familiar with your questions and answers. Shuffle them around so that you can deal with any sequence of questions. Next vocalize your answers. I recommend that you beg, bribe or threaten your nearest and dearest to become the interviewer and to formally ask you the questions. Ask for feedback regarding clarity. But you will know yourself when you are hitting the mark. And do not be afraid to go back and repeat the question and answer until a groove or neural pathway is established in your brain.

    Remember there is a difference between understanding something and being able to articulate it. And the latter is what the interviewer will experience. Some hints for during the inter-view. As you are so well prepared you may be tempted to jump in with your well rehearsed answers. I recommend what I call a thinking pause. Especially when you know exactly what your response is going to be, pause for about five seconds. This can seem to be quite a long time but it is not. It is the adrenaline in your body which makes it appear to be an eternity. To the interviewer it appears as if you are a thoughtful person who is considering their response to a challenging question. The interviewer will be impressed.

    Remember to smile lightly. People hire people whom they like and we liked to be smiled at, appropriately. Do not say anything that does not prove that you are the candidate for the job. So use questions about hobbies, sports, interests to make your case. Do not be afraid to ask for the question to be reformulated if you do not understand it. This is better than guessing and having to be re-directed by the interviewer having lost several minutes. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. The former is more attractive to an interviewer. Look at the person asking the question most of the time. But take an occasional sweeping glance at the other board members for courtesy reasons and to check if they are giving any indications of how you are doing.

    Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Nail that Interview: Interview preparation is a job in itself and worth doing well

    WHAT are they looking for? How should I behave? What will work? For the prospective interviewee these and similar questions tumble through the mind as the interview looms.

    First and foremost interviewers like candidates who make their life easier. Preparation helps enormously. The interviewer likes a candidate to treat the interview process with respect. It also helps if the candidate is their natural self. Don’t try to put on an act. Good interviewers are trained to get beyond the image and you will be probed on any assertions you make.

    Interviewers like candidates to dress neatly This means not wearing anything that might distract the interviewer. Dress like your interviewer - business attire in a business situation.

    Most interviewers allocate marks to candidates based on suitability for the job. Questions are asked to ascertain how the candidate matches the criteria. Make sure that you listen carefully to the question and answer succinctly and to the point.

    Rapport is important. Interviewers do not like to feel uncomfortable so make it easy for them to like you. Smile and treat each question as raising the most interesting possibilities.

    With rapport, everyone is comfortable and communication channels are wide open. While interviewers like candidates to answer questions by speaking freely about the issue raised they also like to feel in control of the interview. The cardinal mistake for candidates is to talk too much. Not alone does this lose points on the particular question; it also gives a message that the candidate is not focused or decisive.

    Remember to answer the question succinctly and stop. If the interviewer wants more you will be invited to elaborate. The interviewer will thank you for giving her back control of the interview.
    Another mistake that candidates make is to use the word “we” too often. There is no “we” in interviewing. By all means prove that you are a team player by giving specific examples. The interviewer expects to hear about your explicit achievements. The team is not being interviewed.
    In a competency- based interview, the interviewer will ask for examples of things you have done.
    For example, when you have solved a difficult interpersonal problem or handled conflict. You need to tell the story in as few words as possible. A long rambling introduction will again lose points.
    Remember the interviewer has to cover a set number of areas.

    While you are introducing your example you are not clocking up credits. You may, however, be stressing the interviewer who will be concerned about getting through the agenda.

    Interviewers like energetic, enthusiastic candidates. Energy is a meta quality. By this I mean that it will probably not appear in any of the official requirements for the job. Nevertheless, interviewers, sometimes subconsciously, are looking for energy in answers that translate into energy on the job.
    Now that you have nice rapport, short crisp enthusiastic replies, and have put yourself - not the team - in the foreground, how can you go wrong? Difficult but possible. The easiest way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is to insult the interviewer or come across as arrogant or cocky.

    Treat all questions with respect. If the interviewer thought the questions were stupid or inappropriate, they would not have been asked. An interviewer wants to feel in control. An arrogant candidate can provoke an inappropriate response in the interviewer.

    Interviewers, even those who are well trained, sometimes ask ambiguous questions. For example, one question that is often asked in interviews is “What are your goals?”

    This is ambiguous; people generally have several types of goals-personal, recreational, professional. Feel free to ask “What do you mean? Do you want to know what my professional goals are or what I want out of life?” The interviewer can then choose what he wants to hear.

    Interviewers often ask the candidate whether they have any questions. This is a good time to ask a question about what it would be like to work for this company. It is also an opportunity to show that you have done your homework.

    An example is “I know that you have a re-fund of educational fees program, will I have an opportunity to further my professional development? At the end of the inter-view, consider making a last brief and well-rehearsed summary of your suitability for the post. People remember best the first and last parts of interviews, so use this to your advantage.

    With good focused preparation, natural conversational style, and committed attitude few interviewers will be able to resist you. Happy job hunting.

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    The Job Interview is not the Time or Place to Highlight your Humbleness

    Job candidates need to put aside their modesty and sell their best qualities at the interview stage. In many cases, our reticence to boast is leaving us at a disadvantage compared to candidates from cultures which encourage overt self-confidence.

    While certain employment sectors are tightening at present, openings are on the increase for sales people. Those roles require the candidate to be confident. Polite, yes, but primarily confident. It is possible to be both at once.

    Former Dreamfedjob editors, Carla Sanchez recently launched Competitive Resources LLC, a recruitment company offering candidates career advice, training on interview techniques and resume preparation. The company also prepares employers for the interview process, human resource training for managers who may not have a designated HR department.

    “It is a positive human trait to be modest,” says Carla Sanchez. “However, the more confident you are, the more you will shine in an interview. Many people are afraid to come across as boastful. I say go in and give it your best shot, that is where you will shine. You will see far greater confidence in young people coming from abroad. Is it the way they are taught in schools?

    Certainly, career development is poor in schools. “Most people don’t boast about themselves enough. We are too modest. In an interview, you must be able to sell your past experiences. We can sometimes take for granted a skill that was required for one role, and fail to see it as a transferable skill for a new role. That is partly down to confidence, but also down to preparation for interview.

    “The job seeking process is just like sales. The resume is the sales brochure. The market place is the jobs market. The interview is the sales meeting, and closing the sale is getting the job offer. The thing you are selling in this instance, of course, is yourself.” In fact, the most successful sales people will tell you that you continue selling yourself throughout your career. People are buying products, but their decision to reach for their wallet is hugely influenced by their short term relationship with the seller. In most cases, the latter is the more significant purchasing engine.

    As well as nurturing confidence, Competitive Resources LLC also prepares the job candidate for some of the more difficult leading questions they might face. For example: How did you change the aspects which you did not like in your previous job? The response to that question is very important to the employer. In broad terms, it will show whether you are a whiner or somebody who will fit in with another orgaization. If you can change the things which annoy you, then that shows initiative. It probably also shows that you are willing to compromise and be part of a team.

    “With training, you can acquire skills for any new job,” says Carla Sanchez. “But your attitude cannot be corrected very easily, and that sense of a good cultural fit is very important to the employer at the interview stage. Your rResume will get you in the door for an interview. After that, you have to know how to present and sell yourself.

    “The nature of my service is to prepare individuals to launch themselves on the jobs market.
    If somebody cannot get an interview, there is something wrong with their resume. If somebody is constantly getting to interview, but not getting the jobs, then that needs a different type of personal preparation. Our service is tailor made for the individual.” This kind of customized job search preparation could be vital, given the leading nature of some of the most frequent interview questions.

    For example: How would you structure this job? What was wrong with your last company? What aspect of your current job do you like the most? Give me an example of your management style? What is the most difficult part of being a supervisor? What salary are you worth? At the end of most interviews, the panel will ask you if you have any questions for them. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about the position. Where does the position fit into the overall organization? What would my priorities be? What does the company consider the five most important duties of the role? To whom would I be reporting? Of course, this is not a one-size-fits-all Q+A. Nonetheless, preparation makes you more relaxed and definitely boosts your confidence. It may help also to know that you are not the only one who is nervous. That is the second of Competitive Resources Ltd’s key services, preparing the employer for interview.

    Many small companies do not have a designated HR manager, so the interviewer may often be as nervous as the interviewee. Carla Sanchez and her staff will develop the employer’s interview skills to ensure that they gain maximum insight into the interviewee in what is, after all, a quite short space of time. She will also ensure that the interviewer does’t step on any legislative landlines.

    Examples of discriminatory questions include: I see you are married. How would your spouse feel about the amount of traveling you would have to do if offered the job? Would you have any difficulty in working for a boss younger than you? You have a foreign sounding surname. Are you an Irish citizen? This job involves some physical activity. How would your disability limit you?
    The danger in some of these questions may seem obvious, but all of them are based upon real life examples. It just goes to show how important it is to prepare.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Do You Really Know How to Communicate?

    Recently I heard someone say, "Communication is easy." I disagree. Talking is easy; communication, which means an exchange or communion with another, requires greater skill. An exchange that is a communion demands that we listen and speak skillfully, not just talk mindlessly. And interacting with fearful, angry, or frustrated people can be even more difficult, because we're less skillful when caught up in such emotions. Yet don't despair or resign yourself to a lifetime of miscommunication at work or home! Good communicators can be honed as well as born. Here are a few tips to get you started.

    • Don't take another person's reaction or anger personally, even if they lash out at you in what seems a personal manner. Another person's mood or response is more likely about fear or frustration than it is about you as an individual. Take a deep breath and count to 10, and see it as a way of letting the other person vent before he is able to communicate what's really on his mind.

    • You don't have to have all the answers. It's OK to say, "I don't know." If you want to find out, say so, then follow up to share your findings. Or you may decide to work on the problem together to find the answer.

    • Respond (facts and feelings); don't react (feelings) -- e.g., "Tell me more about your concern" or "I understand your frustration" instead of "Hey, 'm just doing my job" or "It's not my job" (which is sure to cause more irritation). Share responsibility for any communication in which you're a participant, and realize that sometimes, maybe often, your own personal reactions may be causing your frustrations about communicating with others.

    • Understand that people want to feel heard more than they care about whether you agree with them. It's strange how many people complain about others not hearing them, yet they don't listen to others either! You can show that you're listening by giving someone your complete attention and saying things like:
      1. "Tell me more about your concern."
      2. "What is it about XXX that concerns you?"
      3. "I'm interested in what you've just said. Can you share a little bit about what lead you to that belief?"
      4. "What would have to happen for you to be more comfortable with XXX?"

    • Remember that what someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different! Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Repeat back or summarize to ensure that you understand. Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you correctly?" If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"

    • Acknowledge inconvenience or frustration and offer a timeline, particularly if you need someone else's cooperation or your activities will affect them. For example, if you'll be updating someone's desktop computer system and need access to her office, you might say, "I know it's frustrating to have someone in your space at a time that might not be convenient for you, and I appreciate your cooperation. It'll help us to keep your system working well. We expect to be in your office at about 3 p.m., and out by 5 p.m."

    • Don't offer advice unless asked. This can be tough, particularly if we have experience that we think might benefit another person. Use respectful expressions such as "One potential option is..." or "One thing that helped me in a similar situation was X. I'd be happy to share more about my experience if you think it'd be helpful to you" instead of "You should do X."

    • Look for common ground instead of focusing solely on differences. What might you both be interested in (e.g., making the experience as nondisruptive as possible)? One way to begin discovering commonality is to share your underlying intention -- for example, "My intention in sharing this is to help you succeed on this project."

    • Remember that change is stressful for most people, particularly if your activities affect them in a way that they aren't scheduling or controlling. Our routines can be comforting in the midst of what appears to be a chaotic world. So if you're in someone's space or need him to do something on your timeline, provide as much information as you can about what you'll need from the person and when. If you can, tell him how what you're doing will benefit him.

    • Work to keep a positive mental focus. One of the choices we always have is how we see or experience any given circumstance. Many people who are considered skillful and successful, including professional athletes and cultural leaders, work to maintain a positive mind-set. Ask yourself, "What's great about this?" or "What can I learn from this?" to help maintain a positive state. Don't forget to adopt a variety of stress reduction practices that work best for you.

    • Understand that most people, including you, have a unique, often self-serving, agenda. This isn't necessarily bad, because it helps us achieve and protect ourselves. Just don't assume that someone will know or share your agenda, so talking about what's most important to you and asking what's most important to others, can help build a solid foundation for conversation.

    • Improve your listening skill. Most people think they listen well, but the truth is that most of people don't listen at all -- they just speak and then think about what they're going to say next. Good listening often means asking good questions and clearing your mind of distractions, including what you're going to say next, whom you're meeting with next, or what's going on outside. When someone makes prickly comments or complaints, there's often a concern or fear lurking. Like a detective, ask questions that get to the bottom of someone's real concern or agenda. Only then can you have a truly rich, beneficial conversation.

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Find out what your strenghts and weakness are before you start looking for a new job

    Psychometric testing, in conjunction with mock interviews, will identify your professional strengths and weaknesses.

    IDENTIFYING your job strengths can be done with a pencil and paper, but, if you are contemplating a change of career, and are uncertain of what area you would like to work in, it might be time to consult a career counsellor.

    Recruitment consultants routinely deal with clients who want to change jobs, or their work practices, and, in certain cases, will recommend a professional, such as a career counsellor, or occupational psychologist.

    By using psychometric testing, career counsellors and occupational psychologists help people to identify what they like, and what they are good at. There are a number of psychometric tests and questionnaires on the market. The type of tests a person should sit are decided by the career counsellor, or by a staff member of his/her company’s human resources department.

    “Psychometric testing is widely used in recruitment. It can let a company know a lot about the personality and particular skills of a job applicant,” says occupational psychologist, Jona Walter. Ms Walter says psychometric testing is undertaken in conjunction with an interview to assess skill levels, and takes between 20 minutes and an hour to complete.

    Tony Spencer, MD of Careers Transition Services (CTS), says psychometric tests are designed to show inconsistencies in the subject’s answers: if someone lies in a test, it will be spotted. “It’s easy enough to go for the answer which you think an employer will want you to go for, rather than choosing the answer which first pops into your head,” Mr Spencer says. “But if you do that, you will generally be caught out, either in the test itself, or later, at interview stage.”

    For example, if an applicant for a demanding sales job seems to be an extrovert according to the psychometric test results, this will be exposed or verified in an interview. Good interviewers should be able to spot inconsistencies in answers, says Mr Spencer, whose company uses four psychometric tests.

    The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is not often used in recruitment, but is commonly used by career counsellors assessing personality types and leadership skills. CTS also uses the Occupational Personality Questionnaire, which is an extensive set of questions designed to examine working traits.

    The questionnaire gives a potential employer, or the career counsellor, an indication of the type of management system best suited to the applicant. CTS also use the Career Path Finder test, to gauge the interests of the applicant. This test is used regularly by human resources departments. “If you are going for a job as a finance director, then it would be important to have good numerical reasoning skills. But you’ll find some accountants aren’t strong in this area,” says Mr Spencer.

    Helping people discover what they are good at is easier with psychometric testing, says Mr Spencer, and you should undergo it if you are contemplating a change of career. Mr Spencer works, daily, with people who want to change careers. He identifies three questions which must be answered honestly if a client is to move in the right direction. “What do I like doing? What do I want to do? What are my needs? Once these questions are answered in an honest way, decisions about career will be a lot easier,” he says.

    Answering these questions can take time, depending on the individual. Mr Spencer gives an example of someone working in management, with a background in engineering, who is dissatisfied with his/her job. One of the first questions to be answered is what she/he likes. From this point, it will be easier to find out what the person wants to do.

    “The person may have been promoted into a managerial role years ago, and it just creeps up on them that they really don’t like dealing with people that much and don’t like their job. It may take a bit of time, but he or she could discover that the best solution is to go back to working as an engineer, even if it requires a drop in salary,” says Mr Spencer. Mr Spencer cites the example of a scientist who wants to become a journalism. It may take years to become established as a science correspondent, but it has to start with a few small steps in the right direction.

    “At least he knows what he wants, and it may take years to achieve it, but once he makes a decision to pursue it he can start moving in the right direction towards his goal,” says Mr Spencer.

    Because many people are uncertain of the career they want, a career counsellor is of benefit. Sitting a psychometric test, and answering a lengthy set of questions in as short a time as possible, is off-putting to many job candidates, who may fear the outcome of the test.

    This fear is their personality will be obvious in an interview. If applicants have lied in the psychometric tests, a good interviewer will notice inconsistencies in the answers. Otherwise, the wrong person may be hired.

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Do you Have What it Takes to be a Manager?

    GETTING a promotion into management is exciting, but do you really know what you’re letting yourself in for?

    For the fortunate few, getting things done effectively, without enormous fuss and tension all round, comes naturally.

    For the rest of us it requires training, practice and concentrated effort. The good news is that managers who consistently outperform their peers share a number of identifiable characteristics and skills which the rest of us can work on.

    Research conducted by over the past three years has identified 17 core competencies of good managers use-fully categorized under three main headings.

    Managing self:

    They have a clear understanding of the job to be done and are good at setting themselves challenging but achievable goals
    • They get things done, are efficient, reliable and meet deadlines
    • They constantly monitor their own performance and welcome feedback (they are more interested in identifying any shortcomings than in receiving praise)
    • They are technically competent for their jobs and keep up-to-date on technical developments
    • They can be creative as well as analytical in their search for solutions
    • They use time efficiently; avoid time wasters and concentrate on productive activities.
    • They create a good balance between work, play, family and rest
    Managing others:
    • They are good at establishing team goals and getting others to sign up to them
    • They work with their teams to set challenging yet achievable goals
    • They give regular feedback, address problems in a constructive way and seek continuous improvement
    • They consistently acknowledge good performance in others, both publicly and privately
    • While retaining responsibility for standards and outputs, they delegate interesting as well as routine assignments as much as possible
    Interpersonal skills:
    • They can be assertive in one-to-one situations, yet always respect the other person’s position. They are active listeners and follow up on agreements
    • They are confident in groups, good at expressing their ideas and establishing rapport
    • They enjoy the trust of superiors, peers and subordinates. They generally have warm and open relationships, with a good balance between working relationships and friendships, and are widely regarded as being loyal and supportive to management and colleagues
    • They do not shy away from difficult situations, but seek to diffuse them by looking for win-win positions and long-term solutions
    • They develop and maintain wide networks of contacts, both within and outside their organizations, to which they can turn for information, advice or support in various situations
    It’s most unlikely that any individual fits this profile to perfection, but here are some of the features which are frequently found in really exceptional managers.

    They are excellent at prioritizing and switching quickly between tasks - they are simply better than others at keeping a lot of balls in the air.

    They seldom lose sight of the bigger picture, the overall objectives, but at the same time they constantly home in on crucial components, no matter how small.

    Their ability to focus on minutiae in a timely way can appear uncannily intuitive and is usually associated with strong analytical skills. But research indicates it is typically supported by thorough preparation.

    Exceptional managers do not procrastinate. Unlike most of us, they are probably more diligent about doing their less enjoyable tasks than the pleasant ones.

    They are skilled at assessing and managing risk and therefore avoid wasting time and effort on “hopeless” causes. For the same reason, they are good judges of how far they can stretch their teams - building confidence, morale and expertise in the process.

    Successful delegation of authority and responsibility is probably the single most challenging skill which sets excellent managers apart from good ones. Good managers recognize that delegation is crucial to giving themselves the time needed to be truly creative.

    Excellent managers have a similar outlook - but they also believe delegation is crucial to the stimulation and development of team members so that they can be truly creative.

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Resigning From Your Job

    Leaving your current employer can be emotionally difficult, especially if you have forged friendships and invested time and energy giving your all. Follow these tips when giving notice of resignation:
    • Formally thank the company for the opportunities they provided. You can do this in your letter of resignation, by email and/or in person.
    • If asked why you are resigning, stress the opportunities that lie ahead, and avoid negative comments about your time there.
    • Ask if there is anything you can do to ease the transition. Your goal is to leave on good terms and avoid ‘burning bridges’.
    • A letter of resignation can be given before or after you verbally resign, but be sure to present one. Inform the company of your last day of work. Notice expected is usually spelled out in the original terms of employment. If not, offer a minimum of two weeks, or negotiate a time-frame before submitting the formal letter.
    • If you are asked to extend your last day beyond the agreed-upon notice period, do so only if it works with your new start date.
    As for any leave you have accumulated, you have three choices. You can take it before giving notice; you can ask for monetary compensation in lieu of taking the time off; or you can sacrifice it. Keep in mind, you may not have significant holiday for at least 10-12 months in your new role.

    Before you leave, obtain the agreement of colleagues to be future referrals for you. Do not forget to offer your help in exchange. Professional networking is crucial to advancement these days, so be sure to collect contact information.

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    Managing the Job Offer

    Congratulations, You Have Won the Job!

    A job offer can be tendered a number of ways. An employment offer presented by phone is generally followed by a formal letter or contract sent via email or post. If you verbally accept a phone offer, you are not bound until you sign and mail the formal offer letter or contract of employment.
    And keep in mind, most verbal job offers are provisional, pending satisfactory references and background checks.

    Refrain from signing a job offer letter until you are satisfied with the outcome of salary negotiations, the benefits package, conditions of employment, etc. Take your time. Consider the job offer in its totality, and if it falls short, negotiate further if you can. Once you decide to accept the job, mail, or scan and email, a signed copy of the offer letter or contract within two days, keeping a copy for yourself.

    A job offer made during an interview does not have to be accepted or declined on the spot. Request a couple of days to consider it, and tell them when to expect your answer. However, if you are sure the job offer is right for you, and the terms are satisfactory, feel free to accept it there and then.

    Negotiating Job Offers

    Once you receive the job offer, salary negotiations can begin, and terms of employment can be determined.

    If a recruitment consultant is representing you, your total compensation package will be negotiated on your behalf. It is the consultant's responsibility to negotiate the job offer favorably, getting you best possible package whilst satisfying the company's needs.

    If you are negotiating directly with the organization, have a clear and realistic idea of what you want regarding compensation and benefits. It is advisable to research salary ranges for roles similar to yours, so you know what is realistic and what not to accept. If you feel you are worth a higher salary, and the company has a range it must stay within, use benefits, such as additional holiday, further education, bonus opportunity and so on, to enhance the job offer.

    Tips for Discussing Job Offers

    • Allow the company to raise the topic of salary.
    • If asked to name the salary you want, defer this discussion until the job is fully defined. If pressed to respond, provide a range. For example, “Without yet knowing what the job fully entails, I’m looking for something between $X and $Y per year.”
    • You may wish to consider a lower salary than you currently earn if the job will advance your career in an attractive time-frame.
    • Avoid discussing your personal needs.
    • You are entitled to ask for a couple of days to consider the job offer.

    Multiple Job Offers

    If you are lucky enough to receive more than one job offer, compare the answers to these questions:
    • What are the reasons to join the company?
    • Are my values in line with those of the organization?
    • What opportunities for promotion and career development exist?
    • What are my responsibilities for the first year?
    • Will I do well in the role?
    • What does the total compensation look like, including salary, benefits, etc?

    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Behavioral or Competency-Based Job Interviews

    The theory: past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior

    A behavioral interview is considered the most challenging type of interview to master. The theory behind behavioral interview questions is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

    These interview questions relate to how you handled various situations in former jobs, and can often be tough to answer. Behavioral interview skills require advance preparation and practice. How would you answer some of the sample interview questions below?

    • Can you describe a time you used persuasion to convince someone to see things your way?
    • Can you describe the coping skills you used during a stressful situation?
    • Can you tell me about a time you used presentation skills to influence the opinion of others?
    • How did you handle having too many tasks due at the same time?
    • Can you describe a time you had to deal with conflict?
    • Can you tell me about a difficult decision you made last year?
    • Can you give me an example of failing at something you tried to accomplish?
    • Can you describe a time you showed initiative and took the lead?
    • Can you explain how you dealt with a very upset customer or co-worker?
    • Can you give me an example of a time you motivated others?
    • Can you tell me about a time you delegated effectively?
    • Can you describe a time you missed an obvious solution to a problem?
    • Can you describe a time you anticipated problems and developed preventive measures?
    • Can you tell me about a time you had to make an unpopular decision?
    • Can you describe a time you set your sights too high or too low?

    Monday, October 7, 2013

    Top Interview Techniques

    Set yourself apart with strong interview skills
    A winning face-to-face job interview can take you from candidate to new hire. Good preparation takes the pain out of the process. As you get ready, follow these tips:
    • Know your Resume
    • Know your potential employer
    • Interview styles

    Bring Your Resume to Life

    The person interviewing you generally uses your Resume as a guide to learn about you and your abilities. It is up to you to transform yourself from a piece of paper to an exciting candidate with a track record of adding value to organizations.

    When going through the interview questions and answers, be prepared to tell two-minute success stories that demonstrate the competencies you are asked about. Good interview preparation starts with the SOAR model. SOAR helps you tell crisp success stories, and works for both behavioral and competency based interviews.
    S = Scenario

    O = Ownership

    A = Action

    R = Results

    S = Scenario

    Practice makes perfect. Using the SOAR model, rehearse success stories until they flow easily and naturally.

    Begin by briefly describing the scenario to set the scene for the listener. For example, this interviewer is interested in learning about your experience managing a small team.
    Question: “Tell me about a time when your team members were not working well together.”
    Answer (Set the scene): “I was managing a group of five marketing people who generally worked on separate accounts. In this case, they needed to work as a team for a national launch of a new product. When a critical deadline was missed, I discovered that 2 staff members were keeping vital information from one another, and were creating tension in the wider group.”

    O = Ownership

    At this point, demonstrate your influence in the scenario. Use an appropriate pronoun so the interviewer is clear about your role. Continuing the example,
    “It was my responsibility to immediately resolve the situation as the revised deadline was one day away.”

    A = Action

    Present the actions you took sequentially and identify key steps without excessive detail.
    ”I called a quick staff meeting and reassigned the task to two people I knew worked well together. I gave the team members in conflict separate tasks that required no collaboration. I also made appointments to meet with each of them later that week.”

    R = Results

    Give the outcomes of your actions.
    “The new deadline was met and tension was eased, as soon afterwards, the issue between the team members in conflict was addressed and resolved.”

    Know Your Potential Employer

    Interview preparation is not complete until you thoroughly research the organization. Look for trends, study financial, know about recent developments. Do not forget to check out the competition!
    Do research by reading industry publications, annual reports, company websites and marketing material, talking with your networks and so on. Learn as much as you can, and use the information to develop insightful questions.

    Interview Styles

    Companies and recruitment agencies use different interview styles or a combination of styles to screen candidates. Each style uses unique interview question and answer techniques. Learn to recognize them so you can handle whichever one you encounter. The most common styles are:

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    Tips on Phone Interviews

    Follow these essential tips when preparing for a phone interview

    These days, phone interviews almost always precede face-to-face interviews. Recruiters conduct telephone interviews with job seekers at all levels. Phone interview questions and answers can take over an hour.

    If you are invited to a phone interview, prepare in advance, and follow these phone interview tips:
    • When it is time for your phone interview, pick up the phone before voice-mail kicks in.
    • During the phone interview be positive, friendly and professional.
    • Based on the job description, prepare and refer to a list of key messages to get across, and questions to ask. Most recruiters ask if you have questions about the job or the organization. Saying no shows a lack of interest.
    • Find somewhere private and quiet to talk where you will not be disturbed. Have your Resume or resume in full view, a pen and paper to take notes, a copy of the job advertisement, your day-timer or calendar, and a glass of water just in case.
    • Fully charge your mobile phone!
    • Speak clearly and at a relaxed pace (some people rush their words when nervous or excited).
    • At the end of the conversation, thank the caller for his / her time, indicate how much you enjoyed learning more about the position and the company, and ask about next steps.
    • If the phone interview is wavering, hide your feelings and stay upbeat.
    • Immediately follow up the phone interview with a thoughtful thank you note, reiterating your fit for the position and your excitement about being considered.

    Initiating Your Own Calls

    Most job postings discourage phone calls. However, many job seekers use the telephone to request applications, seek further information about vacancies, check in with recruiters, and to network. Be professional and cordial whenever you make calls such as these. And when networking, pay attention to social cues, and reciprocate whenever possible.

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    The Art of Employment Applications

    Make sure your answers highlight your fit with the position

    Standardized application forms ask the same questions of multiple candidates, making it easier for employers to compare applicants.

    Generally designed to be filled out and submitted on corporate websites, employment applications request background information such as contact information, education, career history, professional honors and employment references. Job applications also ask why you are applying, why you think you are right for the role, and why you left previous positions.

    When completing application forms, strike a positive, confident note. Answer questions in a way that highlights your fit with the open position. Take your time and type carefully. Avoid referring to any career mishaps in your past.


    • Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the job description and do research on the company before beginning the application.
    • If the software allows, read the complete application form. If you can only move forward one page at a time, read each page from top to bottom before you start. This will help you put the right information in the right place, and in the case of narrative answers, prevent you from repeating yourself.

    Answering Questions

    • All employment applications require brief factual answers as well as narrative answers. It is wise to compose a draft of each narrative answer to get it just right before pasting it into the job application.
    • Describe yourself in a way that reflects the needs of the employer. When possible, give actions and quantifiable results, as opposed to lists of responsibilities.
    • Use phrases that correspond with key words in the job description.
    • Convey your knowledge of the industry and the organization.
    • Answer all the questions on the form; omissions may automatically rule you out.
    • Make sure answers on the application form tally with information on your resume, Resume and cover letter.
    • Briefly note gaps in your career history (time out for study, family care, travel, etc.)

    Guidelines and Tips

    • Ask your professional references for permission to use them. If possible, let your references know beforehand when they might be called.
    • Have someone look over your draft answers before finalizing them.
    • Print a copy of the application form before you submit the final draft.
    • Most applications for employment allow you to paste in or upload a covering letter.

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Targeting Your Cover Letter

    Introduction—Why you are writing

    The first section of cover letters for job changes should clearly state why you are making contact. If responding to an advertisement or posting, start this section by stating where you saw the job and the date it was advertised. Also include a job or reference number. For example:
    “In response to your ad for a Structural Architect (ref. 2354), posted on Monster 14 September 2013, I would like to express my interest and detail why I’m the perfect fit.”
    And, remember… when responding to advertisements, follow instructions! Pay attention to whether you should be making personal contact, emailing or mailing your information, or filling out an application on the company website.

    If writing to an individual referred to you by a network connection, indicate where, or from whom, you got the individual’s name.

    Body—What you have to offer

    When writing a resume or Resume cover letter, the second section should convey why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

    Begin by reading the advertisement carefully to identify keywords and the selection criteria for the role. If you can, have conversations with recruitment consultants or company recruiters to learn what they deem most important.

    Next, match each trait they are looking for with an example of how you have successfully handled something similar. For example, if the company is looking for a marketing professional with experience launching new products, describe a multi-channel product launch you managed. Did you hit the deadline and budget? Did product sales exceed expectations? Did you overcome any market pressures? Give concrete examples of positive outcomes to illustrate your skills and expertise.
    If your cover letter is for a personal or networking contact, keep it a bit more personal. For example,
    “I have taken the liberty to attach (or enclose) my Resume which details my experience providing import/export services to India. Our mutual friend John Doe told me that your company specializes in providing similar services to South American countries. I was wondering if you have ever thought of expanding into the Far East/Chinese markets? Would you be open to a conversation on the matter?”

    Conclusion—How to follow up

    Conclude your cover letter by sincerely restating your interest in the job. Provide contact details so you are easy to reach. For example:
    “I look forward to discussing how I can help take COMPANY to the next level. I can be reached at (mobile number).”
    A proactive conclusion might look like:
    “Based on my proven successes, I am anxious to bring similar efficiencies to COMPANY. I will call you early next week to follow up, and answer any questions you may have.

    Your Name

    Your mobile number”

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    The Online Resume

    The Digital Difference

    Follow these tips to when writing an Online Resume

    The rules for writing Resume to post Online differ from those used for hard-copy Resume. An Online Resume format needs to open on any and every computer. The following Resume tips will help get you started:
    • For Online use, make a Resume that is sharp and short—about 1½ pages. If recruiters or potential employers are interested in knowing more, they will contact you.
    • Your Online Resume needs to work across multiple computer platforms, operating systems, software packages and so on. Your Resume might even be opened on a smart phone. So, save your Online Resume in an older version of Microsoft Word®, or even better, in plain text format.
    • Eliminate italics, underlining, and bold text when using a digital Resume format.
    • Use appropriate keywords and phrases.

    Using Keywords

    These days, companies and recruitment agencies use keyword tracking software to screen Resume received via email, or uploaded to databases. Therefore, it is essential to include the right keywords when writing Resume. Use words you find in the job description or position posting. Include common industry terms as well.

    Name and Contact Information

    Lead off with your name, contact address, phone, and email address. If you have a professional looking website, include the URL. For Resume written in plain text format, put your name and contact details in the top left corner of the page, with one bit of information per line.

    Career Objective

    This section simply states the job you are seeking. Use a maximum of eight words or give the job title.

    Summary Paragraph or Profile

    More senior people may choose to write a career summary or profile instead of a career objective. This is the second or third element of an Online Resume, and is a keyword-rich paragraph highlighting career expertise.

    Work experience

    You can list jobs in reverse order, or describe work experience by function. When describing past positions, include words found in the description of the job you want. Keep achievements specific and use metrics whenever possible. Use more detail for your most recent position.


    List your latest and highest academic degrees and include professional qualifications and training.

    Where to Send Your Professional Resume
    • Register with Online employment sites that have Resume builders and databases.
    • Register on websites of targeted companies.
    • If responding to a job advertisement or lead, email your Resume to the employer, if possible. A little research can often uncover the right person’s email address. If you go this route, make sure you are an excellent fit for the job.