Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What a Company Wants to Know - 6 Kinds of Interview Questions

Take a walk through the business careers section of any bookstore or library, and you will see lots of books on the subject of job search.  And entire books devoted to interview questions  –  1000's of interview questions with 1000's of answers. 

What's a job seeker to do?  Memorize 1000s of answers to 1000s of questions.  Or  --  and it’s a much better alternative  --  understand that there are 6 basic areas in which you’ll be questioned. 

The key to answering questions in your interviews is to recognize that all questions asked actually fall into a half dozen general categories.   

Same set of questions asked in multiple ways, over and over.  That’s why it often feels like you’ve been answering the same question over and over, because — you have!

A Strategy
So, a strategy is to first understand what interviewers are trying to find out in each of these areas.  Here's what they want to know:

6 Categories of Interview Questions

Category 1.  If you can do the job   – Interviewers will ask about your job or work experience. 
  • They want to know if you have the experience and skills necessary to perform the functions of the job, and to perform at the right level - senior, mid-level, junior, entry. 
  • A job seeker will be asked "technical" questions about their profession.  Sometimes, you'll be asked to provide a presentation on a topic designed to demonstrate that you have the right experience.  (Hint:  Do so, but don't give away the store.)

Category 2.  If you have enough knowledge to do the job -  Interviewers will ask about your education and training.
  • They want to know if you have the necessary education to understand the task(s) required by the job.
  • They want to know that you have a high or detailed enough understanding to be able to communicate information about the task.

Category 3.  If you have the strengths required to do the job -  Interviewers will ask what strengths you have and how they have facilitated your performance of these job functions in previous jobs.
  • They want to know about technical, people interaction/management, communication, leadership, team building, conflict resolution strengths.
  •  They want to know if you have actual physical strengths  -  stamina if it is a stressful, demanding job or actual physical strength if the job involves physical activity.
Category 4.  If you have weaknesses that will prevent you from doing the job at all, or from doing it well.    Interviewers will ask about and probe your technical expertise and experience and your education and training.
  •  They want to know if you have actual - and enough - experience, no experience, experience in the wrong areas, hands-on experience, managerial experience.
  •  They want to know if there are "sensitive" areas from your past that will come back to haunt you, and potentially them as your employer.  These can include poor attitudes, problematic temperaments, arrests, crimes, frequent litigation, lies, job hopping.
  • They want to know if you have poor people skills, no / too little actual "hands-on" management experience, no/too little experience working with customers.
  • They want to know if you have too little education to understand the job or grow the job/department/contract/company.
  • They want to know how you handle conflict, turmoil, stress, deadlines, unreasonable deadlines and too-short time frames.

Category 5.  If you can work with people in the way their organization’s culture deems correct to get the job done -  They will ask about how you typically interact with people in and connected to the organization.
  • They will ask about how you manage upwards.  How do you communicate, support, and interact with superiors in the organization?
  •  They will ask about how you manage downwards.  Is your method of reward and recognition, development of subordinates, and discipline and punishment within the bounds of how the organization does things?
  • They will ask about how you interact with and manage relations with those supporting the organization, such as vendors, suppliers, sub-contractors, and public and governmental entities.
  • They will ask about how you interact with, communicate with, and manage relations with customers.

Category 6.  If you can fit the organization culture  – Are you a good fit in their day-by-day work-a-day world?
  • They will ask about your values and ask for examples of you "living" these values.
  • They will ask about your work style.
  • They will ask about how performance was rewarded / penalized in previous organizations you worked with and gauge your reaction in describing it. 

Preparation is the Answer
An interview can go on for a couple of hours, multiple times, if a candidate is asked back 2 or 3 or 4 times - sort of a progressive interview.  And a candidate can be asked 100's - often feels like 1000s - of questions.   
Question:  How do you manage to not only make it through the interview but shine?  
Answer:     Preparation.

To prepare for your upcoming interviews, first do some homework.  Think of it as preparing a foundation of facts and work examples (accomplishments) from which you will answer the myriad of questions in each of the 6 areas.  Identify pertinent facts and examples per area that illustrate your strong performance and abilities in each area.  Here's how:
(1)  Think through each of the categories above.  Decide the story you want to tell about you in each of the 6 areas.
(2)  Prepare to talk about each category.  Assemble a foundation of facts about your performance, background, experiences, education and training  in each of the 6 areas.
(3)  Identify examples of you performing in each area, illustrating strengths and accomplishments.

The big Advantage
If winging it is not recommended  --  and IT IS NOT --  and preparation is key, then preparing in the manner suggested here will provide a foundation for you from which to best handle interview questions.  You won't be thrown by an off-the-wall question and you will be able to be consistent in the information you reveal.  YOU will come across as a competent, prepared candidate - even the candidate to beat!

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tab of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To Vacation or Not To Vacation? . . . . . The Real Co$t of That Week Away

To Vacation or Not To Vacation . . . . . That Is One Question?  But, not the only one.  The bigger question is what is the real Co$t of that week away?  The article below discusses 3 questions to answer before deciding to go on a vacation.

Question 1:  To Vacation or Not To Vacation?
It's summer-time, and people take vacations --
    - People in companies that you want to meet and network with take vacations.
    - People who delay your interview by 2 or 3 weeks because they are on vacation. 
    - People who want to hire you but the hiring manager is . . . you guessed it . . . on vacation!

What do you as a job seeker do?  Join the club and take a vacation yourself, or keep on plugging away at your search?

Like the December holiday season, summer is a tricky time of year for job seekers.  It can be a challenge to keep your search moving forward when the people inside companies you need to meet are unavailable.

Some job seekers believe it makes sense to stop searching for awhile, and start back up again in the fall.  However there is a cost to doing so.  Job seekers who take time away lose the advantage that job seekers who keep going gain.

The Competitive Advantage
Many of your competitors will choose to slow or stop their search entirely for awhile, making for fewer people competing for positions.  So keep on networking, applying, and attending.  While it may take a little longer to secure those networking meetings or interviews, by staying in the game, the advantage is yours!

Question 2:  The REAL Co$t of that Summer Vacation?
It gets frustrating when it seems everyone you need and try to meet is unavailable.  Everyone you call is  . . . you guessed it . . . on vacation!

So, what's a job seeker to do?  Might as well take a week off and go on vacation too.  After all, it’s only a week!  Right?  
Why?  Because that week off will actually cost you 3 ! 

In reality, that week off  –  and away from your search  –  will actually cost you three!   Yes, that's 3 - weeks away from your search.   And, probably more!
1.  First, there is the week (if not more) before your vacation that you spend getting ready to go on vacation.
2.  Second, there is the week of your vacation.
3.  Third, there is the week after your vacation which you spend trying to get back into the swing of hunting for a new job.

What happens during that 3-week period that slows your search?
1.  You fall out of the productive habits that you painstakingly put into place to organize your job-search-business day.
2.  You begin to fall off their - your network's - radar screen.
3.  Your pipeline begins to dry up.
4.  The biggest cost of all - lost opportunities!
The biggest cost of time away can be real $$ that you don't get the opportunity to earn due to missed leads and opportunities while you're away.  Time away slows your search:
  • Hinders your networking, and 
  • Takes you out of the geographic vicinity if an unexpected interview happens to pop up!  
  • Feeding your pipeline, the "life line" to finding that next opportunity, slows or stops altogether!  Remember, you generate leads to jobs and people by your daily - that’s daily  -  job search activity.
So before planning that trip, consider the REAL COST of time away away and decide if time away is worth the cost.

Question 3:  Vacationing Anyway? -  Then Be Smart About It!
     Still not convinced? 
           Determined to take a vacation anyway?
                Then be smart about it.  

If you are determined to take your summer vacation while you are still searching for a job, put into place plans to keep your job search moving forward from a distance.  Here’s how:

1.  Research the area you’ll be visiting.  Identify prospective employers, staffing firms, and network contacts who can be helpful to you in providing leads to opportunities - in either the geographic area of your vacation or back home in your home town via their long-distance contacts.

2.  Keep your search going back home.  Advise hot employment prospects that you will be out of the area for “ __X__” period of time, and attempt to step up your interviews.  Who knows - you might get an offer using this technique, before you vacation (which is the best way to vacation, isn’t it!?).

3.  Network from afar.  With today’s technology, you can network via your computer and phone from whatever corner of the earth you’re on.  So, set aside a part of each vacation day – maybe an hour or two in the early or late hours of the day   – to stay in touch and connected!

The Best Time to Vacation 
We've all experienced it - that freedom you feel during the time between finishing one job and starting the next. 
  • Choice 1:  Well, your job search is your job right now.  And, you can experience that same sense of freedom if you delay that vacation until after you have received your next job offer but before you've begun your new job.  And you'll have a lot to celebrate!  
  • Choice 2:  But, if you prefer not to delay, or have travel plans that commit you to travel -mid-job search, be smart about advance planning so that you search is still viable when you return from your vacation.  
The choice is your. Whatever you decide, plan and take pains to keep your search momentum moving forward.  Either way - have a great vacation!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nancy’s Nine Cardinal Rules of Interviewing

Hundreds and probably 1000's of rules, guidelines, and guides have been written about how to interview.  these 9 Rules of Interviewing listed below can ruin your chance of getting the job!
9 Rules to Stay in the Game!
Some are helpful; some are less helpful, some are not.  However, ignoring

Rule # 1    Never answer a question you don’t understand.

Rule # 2    When an interviewer asks you a question, figure out the purpose behind the question and then answer accordingly.

Rule # 3    Do not answer any question in a self-deprecating way.

Rule # 4    Exhibit a positive and appropriate attitude, manner, and energy level for the corporate culture  in which you are interviewing.

Rule # 5    Learn to listen to what’s being said, and for what’s not being said.

Rule # 6    Get comfortable with silence.  If the interviewer has stopped talking, don’t fill the void unless you have something meaningful to say that will help your candidacy.

Rule # 7    Sell what they’re buying!

Rule #8    Identify any skeleton(s) in your past and prepare an answer that puts it in its best light.

Rule #9    Never, never, never wing it!

Bonus Rule: Don’t ignore these Rules!  

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles Archives tab of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub