The Who, What and Why of Job Interviewing

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By Carole Martin

Interviews can be daunting to the most experienced job seeker, and “terror-ific” for the less experienced. Preparation before the interview can make a huge difference in your confidence level. Here are some basic questions to get you thinking about the process.

One of the questions most frequently asked in an interview is – “WHO ARE YOU?” – or – “TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.”

The answer you give to this question will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Focus is the key or you will wander about in a circle, or dig yourself into a deep hole.

The secret to success with this free-form question is to focus, script and practice. You cannot afford to “wing” this statement, as it will have an effect on the rest of the interview.

List five strengths that you have that would be pertinent to this job. (Experiences, traits, skills). What do you want the interviewer to know about you when you leave? Practice with your script, until you feel confident about what you want to emphasize in your statement. Your script is a way of helping you stay on track, but shouldn’t be memorized, resulting in sounding stiff and rehearsed. You should sound natural and conversational.

One of the most dreaded questions by candidates is – WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS?

This open-ended question and others like; “Where do you see yourself in five years?” throw most candidates off balance. The object of the question is to check for your self-awareness and communication skills.

If you are the type of person who prefers an organized way of life, you may find this question a “piece of cake”. But, if you are among the majority of persons who let life happen as it comes along, you will probably not have a smooth answer without some forethought.

The best answers will come from you thinking about what you want. Most successful business people will tell you that a key success factor is the ability to set and achieve goals. Begin by setting short-term goals. Right now your goal may be “to get a job”. But, what kind of job? And, where do you go from there?

No one can tell you exactly how to answer this question – it will come from what is important to you. However, the more focused and employer-centered you can be about your goal, the better your chances will be of steering the interview in the right direction.

Another among the dreaded questions is – WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU?

This is another broad question that can take you down the wrong road unless you have done some thinking about what to say ahead of time. This question is about selling yourself. Think of yourself as the product. Why should the customer buy?

Develop a “sales” statement. The more detail you give the better your answer will be. This is not a time to talk about what you want. It is time to summarize your accomplishments and relate what makes you unique.

Start by looking at the job description or posting. What is the employer stressing as the requirements of the job? What will it take to get the job done? Make a list of those requirements.

Next, do an inventory to determine what you have to offer as a fit against those requirements. Think of two or three key qualities you have to offer that match what the employer is seeking. Don’t underestimate personal traits that make you unique – your energy, personality type, working style, and people skills.

Completing an exercise around this question will allow you to concentrate on your unique qualities. Like snowflakes, no two people are alike. Take some time to think about what sets you apart from others.

Regardless of what you are asked in an interview, preparation and practice will improve your performance and give you a better chance at competing with the other candidates. Knowing who you are and what you have to offer is vital for success!

Interviewing Tips to Get That Job

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By Marie Magdala Roker

Anyone who is a jobseeker knows that looking for a new job or career is a job in itself. Once you have completed the laborious task of writing your resume and submitting it to various companies, you now have to pass the screen test to get the job. Interviews are the gateway to landing your ideal job. These five tips will help you get on your way to making that job yours.

Tip 1.  Be Confident.

Your first impression is your only impression.  Nothing is worse than a limp handshake, slumped shoulders, poor eye contact or poor communication skills. A potential employer can tell immediately if you are the man or woman for this job by your body language. Although aggressiveness is a turn-off, being passive gives the indication that you are not sure of yourself or your qualifications. Keep eye contact when answering questions or when the interviewer is speaking directly to you. Smile occasionally to show your interest and enthusiasm. Keeping a steady gaze on the interviewer can be disturbing to an interviewer. Look away occasionally. Lean forward to show that you are interested in what the interviewer is saying. Speak in a concise and clear voice. If you have problems annunciating certain words, don’t try to use them in an interview. If this is difficult for you, practice with a mirror and pay attention to your facial expressions.

Other interview killers: Slouching in a chair, crossing your arms, playing with your hair or jewelry, Leaning back in the chair.

Tip 2.  Act as If.

You are what you believe.  Act as if you had the job. What would you do if you had this position? How would you act? How would a person in this position act and speak? What are your responsibilities in this position? What is a typical day like for you in this job? Change your attitude towards yourself and your strengths. If you start thinking that you won’t get the job, you will do small unnoticeable things to sabotage your chances. Great free resource: www.confidenceworld.com.

Tip 3.  Know the Company.

Know the business.  I once sat on a couple of interviews where the interviewees did not do any research on the company. This sends a message that you are looking for any job, not this specific job. Once your interview is scheduled, get on the net and start finding out everything you can about the company. A good place to start is www.hoovers.com, which gives you industry information, top competitors, names of CEO, etc. If you’d like to know what current or former employees have to say about the company, try www.wetfeet.com. Beware of disgruntled postings. Call the company headquarters and ask for the marketing department to get specific information. Weave your research into the interview by stating. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, which mentioned that your company is thinking about XYZ. This lets the interviewer know that you have taken the time to know more about the company. You can ask questions about something you read, but don’t challenge them or you’ll come across as a know-it-all.

Tip 4.  Be Prepared.

Know what to say.  Most interviewers ask the same standard questions about your strengths, weaknesses, former employers, work history. If you are being interviewed by several people, this might be a good cop, bad cop situation. Pay attention to who is playing bad cop, they are looking for signs of weakness and dishonesty. To be well prepared, before the interview, write out all your accomplishments, both personal and professional. List your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest, it’s easier to remember the truth than it is a lie. Extra Tip: Write out situations in which you have demonstrated: leadership skills, determination, stress management, creativity, and flexibility. Be prepared to answer the question: Why do you want this job? If you’re not sure, reevaluate your decision. If you arrive a few minutes early, review what you wrote in the waiting room before the interview. Great list of interview questions: http://www.indiana.edu/~libpers/interview.html

Tip 5.  Ask for The Job.

You get what you ask for.  The most important step in the interviewing process is one most people miss. ASK FOR THE JOB! Most interviewers are waiting for that closure. If you have done everything exceptionally well during the interviewing process, but have not asked for the job, you’ve just wasted an interview. Asking for the job shows the potential employer that you are assertive, confident and right for the job. It might feel uncomfortable, but this is your only chance to ask for something you really want. Make sure your voice is firm and you make eye contact. Think of it as your closing argument, you’ve got to win over the jury. You should also ask the interviewer if he or she thinks you are right for the job. Even if they tell you something unpleasant, think of it as a lesson learned. However, do yourself a favor and ask for the job. You deserve it!

Career Development Interventions

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by Spencer G. Niles, JoAnn E Harris-Bowlsbey

This comprehensive, top-selling text presents theories, assessments, planning tools, resources, and technologies relevant to modern career development in a practical approach that shows theory and research in action. With four chapters devoted to career development in educational settings, it analyzes the various aspects of career development interventions for the elementary, middle and high school, higher education, and community audiences, and provides strategies for implementing career counseling techniques and creating and designing career development programs. The new edition of Career Development Interventions features a stronger emphasis on the elementary school level, up-to-date coverage of the use of technology in career guidance/counseling, including the use of social media for job-seeking, and the addition of new case studies and practical assignments throughout.

 

Also available with MyCounselingLab®

This title is also available with MyCounselingLab—an online homework, tutorial, and assessment program designed to work with the text to engage students and improve results. Within its structured environment, students see key concepts demonstrated through video clips, practice what they learn, test their understanding, and receive feedback to guide their learning and ensure they master key learning outcomes.

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

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By Gayle Laakmann McDowell

I am not a recruiter. I am a software engineer. And as such, I know what it’s like to be asked to whip up brilliant algorithms on the spot and then write flawless code on a whiteboard. I’ve been through this as a candidate and as an interviewer.

Cracking the Coding Interview, 6th Edition is here to help you through this process, teaching you what you need to know and enabling you to perform at your very best. I’ve coached and interviewed hundreds of software engineers. The result is this book.

Learn how to uncover the hints and hidden details in a question, discover how to break down a problem into manageable chunks, develop techniques to unstick yourself when stuck, learn (or re-learn) core computer science concepts, and practice on 189 interview questions and solutions.

These interview questions are real; they are not pulled out of computer science textbooks. They reflect what’s truly being asked at the top companies so that you can be as prepared as possible. WHAT’S INSIDE?

  • 189 programming interview questions, ranging from the basics to the trickiest algorithm problems.
  • A walk-through of how to derive each solution, so that you can learn how to get there yourself.
  • Hints on how to solve each of the 189 questions, just like what you would get in a real interview.
  • Five proven strategies to tackle algorithm questions, so that you can solve questions you haven’t seen.
  • Extensive coverage of essential topics, such as big O time, data structures, and core algorithms.
  • A behind the scenes look at how top companies like Google and Facebook hire developers.
  • Techniques to prepare for and ace the soft side of the interview: behavioral questions.
  • For interviewers and companies: details on what makes a good interview question and hiring process

Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success–At 40, 50, and Beyond

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By Mika Brzezinski

STRONG, WISER, BETTER

An Essential Guide for Reentering, Reinventing, or Rebooting Your Career at Any Age

So many women hit midlife and realize: it’s time for a career change. Maybe you’re yearning to try something new, or you’re sensing that layoffs are coming and you need a backup plan. Perhaps you paused, or downsized your career to raise children, and you’re ready to rejoin the workforce. How do you reboot, relaunch, return to, or reinvent a career at age 40? Or 50? Or 60? And how can you create a career and life that will provide you with purpose and financial security for years to come?

In Comeback Careers, New York Times bestselling author and co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe Mika Brzezinski and her sister-in-law Ginny Brzezinski have teamed up to show you that career reinvention is possible at any age. You have the skills, experience and maturity; it’s time to own them. For this book, Mika and Ginny interviewed dozens of career-changers working in a variety of fields, from finance to academics to art. They share successful relaunchers’ secrets to overcoming obstacles both internal and external and their step-by-step processes and candid advice. They also reveal key strategies from top job coaches, resume-writers, and LinkedIn experts, tailored to the special challenges of mid-career job seekers.

It’s time to rewrite the narrative. You are stronger, wiser, and better at the midpoint, and Comeback Careers is a roadmap to your career reinvention and fulfillment.

Job Hunting Secrets: (from someone who’s been there)

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By Clark Finnical

Many recruiters, HR and hiring managers spread myths, misconceptions and sometimes, downright lies, now its time for job seekers to know the truth. Readers say,

Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. ~ Kathy Burkhardt, Regional Director of Health Information

You can tell the author has walked a mile, or five, in a job seeker’s shoes because this book truly thinks of everything. ~ Kristin Sherry, Career Coach

I’ve consulted for the Labor Department and I’ve never seen a book as thorough, well-researched, and helpful as this one. ~ Chris Largent, Academy Director, University Lecturer & Adjunct Faculty.

I’ve had Lee Hecht Harrison coaching and read articles on job hunting. Your book distilled the best advice in one easy to read and understandable source; for $20 retail, it’s the best deal I’ve come across ever! . ~ Tom Weisbeck, CSP

This book has a lot of great information to help you…read between the lines and the hidden “code” (the runaround) we often get when we begin the application process. ~ Barbara Bermudez, Transcription Manager

You will be surprised to find that a successful job search requires ignoring much of what you are told.

A Critical Interviewing Mistake!

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By Brad Remillard

Candidates more often that not miss one of the best opportunities during the interview to shine, to differentiate themselves, and demonstrate their ability to do the job. What a great opportunity missed!!

In most interviews, the interviewer even sets the candidate up with the opportunity to shine and candidates blow right past it. The interviewer asks the soft ball question, “Do you have any questions for me?” A golden opportunity to shine. The questions you ask can outshine every answer you have given so far in the interview.

However, time and time again, I hear candidates do one of two things:

  1. Answer,”No, not really. Most of my questions were answered during the interview.” What a terrible answer. How did the interviewer answer “MOST” of your questions, when they were asking you questions.
  2. Reply with one or two (occasionally someone stands out and asks three) standard, unimportant, basic no-brainer, no forethought questions such as, “What is the budget?” or “What is your management style?” Again, these reveal the candidate has not prepared and is very shallow.
  3. Actually, there is a third, the candidate sits there like a deer in the headlights trying to think of something to say.

This is your opportunity to ask questions that demonstrate your ability to understand the job and what performance standards will be. Challenge the interviewer, ask “Why” are you doing X, probe deeply into the issues you will face once on board, how they manage, etc. Every candidate knows this question is coming in one form or the other. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is a sign of strength, confidence and demonstrates a depth of knowledge. As a recruiter for almost 30 years, when a hiring manager calls back and says, “This person really asked me some great questions. They made me think in the interview.” I know that person is getting the job.

One component of your interviewing preparation should be questions to ask. Not just questions about the company, but specific questions about the job, ask “why”, ask about communications, ask about past issues, ask about future challenges, ask about people, ask about KPI’s, ask about systems, there are so many issues to discuss to make sure you will be successful.

The best advice I have is ask the same questions you will be asking once in the job to be successful. You might as well know them before you accept the position. Otherwise, it might be a position where you can’t succeed.

Tell Stories To Ace Behavioral Interview Questions

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By Justin Mountford

Behavioral interviewing is a common technique in almost every interview you’ll encounter. It’s also the hardest technique to prepare for. Or is it? Find out how you can simply tell stories and ace any interview you walk into.

Behavioural interview questions are certainly not a “new” interviewing technique, however they can catch you off guard if you’re not prepared. While you can spend time learning a great “canned” response to questions such as “tell me about yourself” it’s much harder to prepare for questions you don’t know.

Or is it?

The real problem with this interview approach for interviewees is that instead of getting nice predictable questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “Why should I hire you” a behavioural interview question could be anything. In fact, you’ll probably never hear the exact same question twice.

This technique is designed to probe your ability to use experience to answer questions in an open ended fashion. Typically recruiters use your answers to predict your future behavior.

How To Prepare For the Unknown?

If you don’t know what the question is how could you possibly prepare?

I found overall the best way to answer these types of questions is to literally tell a story.

As a recruiter I also enjoy listening to a quick story instead of hearing boring robotic answers, especially because a response like, “Yeah, I can do that.” is not going to impress anyone.

But there is a catch! When you tell a story, it should be relevant, convincing and short.

How do you do that?  Be a STAR that’s how.

STAR is a very popular acronym for constructing answers to behavioural interview questions and it suits our short story method perfectly.

Here’s how it goes:

S = Specific situation

T = Task or target

A = Actions you took

R = Results from your actions.

The format of your stories should include a problem or situation, a task or target you set, the action or activity you took, and the outcome that benefited the company.

Keep your story fast paced and to the point. If it’s interesting you might be asked to elaborate even further.

Getting Specific about questions

Before heading into an interview try to work out what the company might value most, are they are startup and want flexibility, or a large enterprise looking for a specific skill, or a non-for profit that looks for core values.

When you’re asked a question try to come up with an example where you successfully “used” methods that are inline with the company values. Such as I “saved money by doing xy”, or “I developed a new abc”, or “I understood the values and worked on a mutually agreed deal”.

Don’t Go Wandering

When you answer interview questions don’t let your answers wander from topic to topic. Remember to tell your story with STAR in mind.

First, describe the situation, then what task you didBusiness Management Articles, actions you took and your actions accomplished. Stay on topic.

Prove You Can Do it!

Behavioural interview questions are a great way to prove that you are the right person for the job by citing exact examples. While you can’t exactly anticipate a question you can recall stories from your career that demonstrate that you have the skill and competencies necessary to be successful.

Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview

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By Thea Kelley

Praised as “Excellent” on Forbes.com, this concise interview guide gives readers proven tips and clear instructions to prepare for breakthrough interviews.

Job seekers will learn to:

  • Identify and communicate their unique strengths, their “key selling points.”
  • Understand why employers ask many of the most common interview questions – and how to answer with confidence.
  • Succeed with video interviews, behavioral interviews and panels.
  • Build an arsenal of success stories.
  • Ace every step – from the first screening to accepting the offer.

“A practical guide to authentic, well prepared interviewing, Get That Job! offers an abundant tool kit of resources – including great answers to challenging questions every job seeker is sure to encounter. Kudos!” – Marie Zimenoff, Director of Career Thought Leaders and the Resume Writing Academy

Heard on The Street – Quantitative Questions from Wall Street Job Interviews

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By Timothy Falcon Crack

THIS IS A MUST READ! It is the first and the original book of quantitative questions from finance job interviews. Painstakingly revised over 23 years and 19 editions, Heard on The Street has been shaped by feedback from many hundreds of readers. With well over 50,000 copies in print, its readership is unmatched by any competing book. The revised 19th edition contains 226 quantitative questions collected from actual job interviews in investment banking, investment management, and options trading. The interviewers use the same questions year-after-year, and here they are with detailed solutions! This edition also includes 210 non-quantitative actual interview questions, giving a total of more than 435 actual finance job interview questions. There is also a recently revised section on interview technique based on Dr. Crack’s experiences interviewing candidates and also based on feedback from interviewers worldwide. The quant questions cover pure quant/logic, financial economics, derivatives, and statistics. They come from all types of interviews (corporate finance, sales and trading, quant research, etc.), and from all levels of interviews (undergraduate, MS, MBA, PhD). The first seven editions of Heard on the Street contained an appendix on option pricing. That appendix was carved out as a standalone book many years ago and it is now available in its revised fourth edition: “Basic Black-Scholes” (ISBN: 978-0-9941386-8-2). Dr. Crack did PhD coursework at MIT and Harvard, and graduated with a PhD from MIT. He has won many teaching awards, and has publications in the top academic, practitioner, and teaching journals in finance. He has degrees/diplomas in Mathematics/Statistics, Finance, Financial Economics and Accounting/Finance. Dr. Crack taught at the university level for over 25 years including four years as a front line teaching assistant for MBA students at MIT, and four years teaching undergraduates, MBAs, and PhDs at Indiana Univeristy. He has worked as an independent consultant to the New York Stock Exchange and to a foreign government body investigating wrong doing in the financial markets. His most recent practitioner job was as the head of a quantitative active equity research team at what was the world’s largest institutional money manager.

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