Job Interview Tips

Job Interview Tips

By Thad Peterson, Monster Staff Writer

Like many career advice experts, Steve Fogarty, staffing partner at Waggener Edstrom, says candidates should research a company thoroughly before an interview. And if the company is a private firm, that’s not an excuse to skip doing your homework.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and finding a way to gather information on a company “distinguishes the great candidates from the good candidates,” says Fogarty.

Consider Fogarty’s company, a large independent public relations agency. He says that if someone were trying to find out about Waggener Edstrom, the candidate could take a number of steps. In addition to simply visiting the company’s Web site, joining a trade organization like the Public Relations Society of America would almost certainly give someone interested in his company exposure to people who work there.

Fogarty offers a less conventional method as well: “People might be able to find a press release that one of our PR people has written and contact that person and say, ‘I saw your press release. It looks really good. Would you be open to me asking a few questions? I’m doing research on your company.’ That’s a way to get information.”

What else can you do to improve your chances at the interview? Try these tips from Fogarty:

Be Concise

Interviewees rambling on is one of the most common interview blunders Fogarty sees. “You really have to listen to the question, and answer the question, and answer it concisely,” he says. “So many people can’t get this basic thing down. You ask them a question, and they go off on a tangent. They might think you want to hear what they’re saying, but they didn’t answer your question.”

Provide Examples

It’s one thing to say you can do something; it’s another to give examples of things you have done. “Come with a toolbox of examples of the work you’ve done,” advises Fogarty. “You should come and anticipate the questions a recruiter’s going to ask based on the requirement of the role. Think of recent strong strategic examples of work you’ve done, then when the question is asked, answer with specifics, not in generalities. You should say, ‘Yes, I’ve done that before. Here’s an example of a time I did that…,’ and then come back and ask the recruiter, ‘Did that answer your question?'”

Be Honest

Somehow, candidates get the impression that a good technique is to dance around difficult interview questions. “If you don’t have a skill, just state it. Don’t try to cover it up by talking and giving examples that aren’t relevant. You’re much better off saying you don’t have that skill but perhaps you do have some related skills, and you’re happy to tell them about that if they like.”

Keep Your Guard Up

According to Fogarty, you can split recruiters into two schools. There are those who are very straight-laced and serious, and candidates had better take the process seriously as well when dealing with them.

“Then you have recruiters like me,” he says, chuckling. “I’m going to be that candidate’s best friend when they call me. My technique is to put them at ease, because I want them to tell me everything, and a lot of candidates mess up in this area. They start to think, ‘Oh, this guy is cool. I can tell him anything.’ And then they cross the line.” And that can take a candidate out of contention. Remember: Always maintain your professionalism.

Ask Great Questions

Another of Fogarty’s interview tips is to come ready with good questions to ask. He says nothing impresses him more than a really good question that not only shows you’ve researched the company in general, but also the specific job you’re hoping to land in particular. “That makes me go, ‘Wow, this person has really done their homework. They not only know the company, but they know the role.'”

5 Common Interviewing Errors

5 Common Interviewing Errors:
1. Talk Too Much:
Sell yourself instead of telling your story. You want to make your point in an impressive, short, concise and precise way. Most people give long explanations instead of interesting, relevant power packed examples. Few people really practice interviewing. Prepare yourself by rehearsing interviewing on tape and on video. It makes a big difference.
2. Not Meeting Expectations:
It is your job to project what the company wants not just in experience and logic but also in attitude and emotion. Anticipate the company’s expectation of your attitude. Enthusiasm is the most important attribute you can exhibit, even more than expertise. Make them want to talk to you, to listen to you, to be with you. Ask not what the company can do for you, ask what you can do for the company. Telegraph why they should want you technically and personally. Use words and body language and voice to convey your message. And Smile: the powerful silent communicator.
3.Job Requirements Not Known:
How can you sell when you do not know what they want to buy? The #1 mistake salespeople make: They sell before they know exactly what is wanted. It is your job to meet the company’s needs, as exactly as possible. Find out what they want and why they want it, then you’ll know how to match your experience to their job. If you do not know, find out. You can always ask questions like: What are the 3 technical skills you want for this job? What are the most important 3 things you want this person to get done the 1st 3 months?
4. Jump To Conclusions:
We often make assumptions, filing in the spaces with common sense rather than checking it out first. Do not presume, qualify what they want before going into sell mode. Wanting to tell your story instead of wanting to fill their need. Thinking you know instead of asking. All these behaviors add up to skipping steps that can cost you an opportunity.
5. Disorganized Approach:
Impressions count. Fumbling around in your briefcase is not appropriate. Always be ready with a crisp copy of your resume. Have your reference list prepared in case you are asked and always have pen and paper ready. Besides these obvious issues: Have you practiced your interviewing skills? Are you well prepared for this specific interview / company? Do you have your presentation down pat? When I ask people this question: If the President of your company asked you for a meeting, what would you do? Almost everyone agrees they’d have a practiced, rehearsed and polished presentation with facts and #’s memorized.
And don’t forget to take additional clean resumes with you to the interview!

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4 Things Recruiters want from Job Seekers

I recently read a U.S. News story that talked about the recruiter’s wish-list for job seekers. With a 6.7 percent national unemployment rate, I’m certain there are millions of job seekers out there who’d like to know what recruiters desire when it comes to hiring.

The story’s writer, Arnie Fertig, explained how the Association of Career Professionals International – New England, which is an organization of the Boston area’s “top-tier career coaching and related professionals,” conducts a forum every year. During the forum, recruiters discuss the latest hiring trends, and according to Fertig, this year’s event offered much insight for today’s job seeker.

Below are the four key takeaways from a recruiter’s wish-list for job seekers:

Know Your Market

Fertig writes that  Mary Truslow, senior recruiter at the management consulting firm Communications Collaborative, a subsidiary of Pile and Company, believes job seekers should not only know their market but how to talk about it. Fertig supports this point with a quote from Rick Kunin, technology recruiting practice leader at Edelman & Associates. Kunin said:

A lot of candidates don’t bother to do their homework. If I send them the name of the company and the job description in advance, I expect them to read it and spend some time online researching. The people that haven’t done that are generally the people we aren’t going to go much further with.

This is a reasonable wish. If you’re applying to work for a company, you should know something about the business (and why you desire to work there). Knowing your market is also helpful because you’ll be able to not only better understand how this particular company fits into the marketplace, but you can explain to the recruiter how you, if hired, will benefit this employer by making it more successful in that field.

Just like in grade school (and any level of schooling, really), you most likely will fail the course if you skip out on homework. Be sure to pass the initial screening by conducting background research.

Don’t forget to Spellcheck

Fertig adds a points from Atarah Levine, a senior sourcing specialist at Monster.com. Levine constantly reads resumes, and, Fertig writes, “stressed the importance of not only spell checking but having someone else read your résumé before you submit it to make certain your grammar and spelling are correct.” Levine is quoted as saying she’s witnessed the spelling mistake of “manger” instead of “manager” countless times.

I don’t have to tell you how much one misspelling on a resume can cost you. Believe me, I’ve been there. If you skip out on editing and proofreading your resume before sending it you might as well have not applied. The recruiter is bound to click “delete” anyway.

Don’t forget to spellcheck, and as Levine suggested, have someone else read over your resume. Oftentimes we proofread and proofread again, and everything looks okay. But having someone else comb over the document can point out errors our eyes grew accustomed to. Another good rule of thumb is to take a break away from your resume before proofreading it again to give your mind time to relax. When you return you will be more focused and able to spot mistakes.

Focus on the Contributions

“Paul Edelman, managing director of Edelman & Associates, emphasized the importance of being prepared to say what you have done and how you understand its larger value to an employer. He spoke of the dichotomy between what he termed “tasky” and “goal-oriented” employees.”

Fertig includes Edelman’s example of explaining someone his/her duties working at FedEx, saying “I picked up boxes over here and delivered them over there.” This, Edelman explains, is a task.

Dig deeper when explaining your work experiences, focusing on how you contributed to the business’s mission and goals, and not solely listing the actual tasks you completed. Sure it’s great to hear that you worked on a marketing campaign, but the recruiter wants to know how this affected the employer.

Focusing on how your experiences and accomplishments benefited an employer shows the recruiter that your skills and talents are an asset to a business. (And can ultimately become the same for his/her company).

Honesty is Key

In the story, Fertig quotes Truslow as saying, “Be honest! We ask questions and we want honest answers.”

This wish is pretty straightforward…and appropriate. Would you want to work hard tailoring your resume, submitting an application, researching a company, and completing multiple interviews only to discover at the end that the position you’ve been working toward is nothing like the job description? Or that the salary ends up being much lower than what was offered to you? Do you want to be lied to or misled? I doubt it.

We want employers to be honest when dealing with us, so we must return the favor. How many other candidates are you interviewing? When can I expect to hear back? We want honest answers to these questions and more. And although, unfortunately, sometimes expectations are not met, it is still very important to be completely truthful when interacting with a potential employer.

Truslow explained it best when Fertig quoted her saying, “…in the end, the truth comes out, so it is better to just be up front and honest about it.”

5 Critical Elements of Any Resume

5 Critical Elements of Any Résumé  By Catherine Conlan, Monster Contributing Writer

Whether you’re a freshly minted graduate or a professional with decades of experience, your résumé should include five critical elements. Including these five parts will help you clarify your thinking, focus on key skills and accomplishments, and craft a résumé that will help you stand out from the crowd.

If you’re searching for a new job, check your resume and make sure it has these five critical elements:

An Engaging Summary Vicki Bacal, owner of The Resume Specialist in St. Louis Park, Minn., reminds job candidates that a résumé objective is “frowned upon. It has been for over 20 years.” Instead, kick your résumé off with a section that briefly summarizes your professional qualifications. “The objective used to tell the employer what the candidate wants,” Bacal explains. “The summary is focused on what you, as a candidate, can do for the employer. This is the feel-good section. It’s equivalent to the handshake. Highlighting soft skills here gives your resume a core of humanity.”

Proof of Expertise “Core competencies” is a good title for this section if you have two to five years of experience or are switching careers. For people with longer work histories, “professional skills” might make more sense. Job seekers applying for trades or technical positions can use “technical competencies.” This section where you list your skills, knowledge and experience, Bacal says.

Relevant Experience This is the section most people focus on, but they end up paying more attention to job duties and descriptions than accomplishments, Bacal says. You should include results, effects and contributions made at your former jobs, along with the company name, job title and years (not exact dates) of employment.

Education Highlights Institution, dates attended and the degree or certification you received are listed in the education section. Professional development, continuing education, on-the-job training and other nontraditional education should be included here as well.

The Final Touch It’s possible there are other things you could add to your résumé that don’t quite fit in any of the other sections. For a technical position, this could include experience with proprietary or customized software. For an executive position, you could include leadership activities. If there are major awards, recognitions and accomplishments that deserve a little more attention than a detail in another part of the résumé, they can go here.

There will be differences in some of these sections depending on whether you’re a recent graduate, changing careers or looking to move up in leadership. If you have a question about whether you should include something, Bacal suggests writing “so what?” after it. “If you can’t answer it, then take it out or rewrite it.” As an applicant, “my overriding concern is, how can I differentiate myself from all the other people applying for these jobs? How you do it is to point out the frosting on the cake, not just the cake.”