Monday, January 31, 2011

Toughest Interview Question

"So, tell me about yourself." What is it about this question that causes so much trouble and strikes fear into the hearts of otherwise competent interviewees? Simple: it's a big open-ended question, the first question, and not many candidates think to prepare for it... so they wing it. Please, everyone, read my lips: you can not afford to wing this question! The interview is on and they are listening! Here are some great DOs and DON'Ts to answer the question:

  • DON'T wing it ... prepare for it and practice it
  • DON'T just list a boring chronology of your work history
  • DON'T use your elevator speech (30-second commercial), it should sound spontaneous, not rehearsed
  • DO summarize your work history or expertise
  • DO mention any relevant credentials or education
  • DO highlight some special qualifications or value you bring
  • DO keep it to about 20-30 seconds max (you can always ask if that answers the question at the end)
Think about it this way...if you had only 20-30 seconds to impress someone of your suitability, what might you say about yourself? Jot down some ideas, practice articulating it so that it sounds natural, and you'll be all set to start the interview well and make a great first impression.

Become a More Confident Job Seeker

Self-confidence can make or break a job or career search. It allows you to have a positive yet realistic view of yourself. With it, you trust your own abilities and have a general sense of control in your life. Without it, you're frustrated and stuck - until you learn that having and keeping it - is really within your own control.

Many job seekers who lack confidence depend excessively on the 'approval' of others in order to feel good about themselves. They tend to avoid taking risks because they fear failure, and generally do not expect to be successful. By contrast, self-confident job seekers are willing to risk the disapproval of others because they generally trust their own abilities. They tend to accept themselves; they don't feel they have to conform in order to be accepted.

Develop personal standards and values that are meaningful to you and do not be dependent on the 'approval' of others. Similarly, if you wallow in "the past has done me wrong", consider that you can become aware of those influences and make a choice to move beyond them.

Are you a Job Hopper?

Changing jobs frequently is a reality of working today. Companies conduct layoffs with higher frequency than ever before. Most employees are not laid off for poor performance. Department consolidation, company relocation, merger and improved profit are just a few of the more common reasons for layoffs.

Changing jobs frequently is a common condition in the 21st century, but interviewers still question candidates about why they left jobs. Your response to this interviewer issue must provide information about why you left a previous position and assurances that you're seeking a long-term opportunity. Whether you changed by choice or layoff, you'll need to provide a reason for leaving each previous job. Candidates often include the reason for leaving a position in their resume so they do not get screened out prior to the interview. Your reason for leaving must be concise and reasonable.

Describe the reasons for your departure directly and succinctly. The longer you speak on the subject the more suspicious the interviewer will become. It is important to express that you've always sought and are still seeking a company where you can make a long-term commitment. Tell the interviewer that this opportunity appears to be a place where you can contribute in the short-term and long-term.

Ten Questions to Ask in an Interview

Asking the right questions to your prospective employer will show them that you are serious in your efforts to work for their company, and that you are organized.
You should stay away from asking personal questions or questions that aren't job related.
Here are some questions you can use:

  1. Why is the position available right now?

  2. How many times has the position been filled in the last 5 years?

  3. What should the new person do differently from the last person?

  4. What would you most like to see done in the next 6 months?

  5. What are the most difficult problems this job entails?

  6. How much freedom do I have in the decision making process?

  7. What are my options for advancement?

  8. How has this company succeeded in the past?

  9. What changes do you envision in the near future for this company?

  10. What do you think constitutes success in this job?