Facing a job interview The interview is usually the last and the most important stage of hiring. It offers both you and the employer the opportunity to meet one another, exchange information and come to tentative conclusions about working together. You may have to face one or more interviews in a particular company, which again depends on a particular company. Highlights List all the requirements like salary, job profile, hours, travel etc. before the interview. Do proper research about the company. Study industry trends in which you are planning to enter for this you need to read a lot. Dress to project an image of confidence and success; your total appearance should be appropriate for the job. Carry all the related material like your resume, references, degree certificates etc. Greet the interviewer/interviewers with a firm handshake. It conveys confidence and respect and do not sit unless you are asked to do so. Don't forget to thank them While responding, be upfront and honest and think for a moment before you say anything. Always be positive and project your willingness to work and study new things. If you are not able to answer some question, admit it; do not try to fudge an answer. Listen to the question carefully. Let the interviewer complete his question before you reply. If you have not heard the question clearly ask the interviewer to repeat the question. If you have any questions or clarifications, you can ask the interviewer after the interview is complete. Thank the interviewer(s) for his/her/their time and for seeing you. While leaving the room, express your enthusiasm for the job. Use the interview as a learning experience. Take notes on what you would like to improve on after you leave the room. Send a follow-up letter to thank the interviewer, and stress points in your background that qualify you for the position. If you are not contacted within the specified time, call to restate your interest. If you do not get the job, you may want to ask the interviewer for some constructive criticism or recommendations for future interviews. If you are consistently passed over for positions, try to identify potential problems; then seek guidance for improvement. Fifty Standard Interview Questions It is not enough to have solid answers only for the above questions. You need to be prepared for the full spectrum of questions that may be presented. For further practice, make sure you go through the required mock interview (see the "Competitive Interview Prep" Section) and for further review, look at some of the following questions: 1. Tell me about yourself. 2. What do you want to do with your life? 3. Do you have any actual work experience? 4. How would you describe your ideal job? 5. Why did you choose this career? 6. When did you decide on this career? 7. What goals do you have in your career? 8. How do you plan to achieve these goals? 9. How do you evaluate success? 10. Describe a situation in which you were successful. 11. What do you think it takes to be successful in this career? 12. What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life? 13. If you had to live your life over again, what would you change? 14. Would your rather work with information or with people? 15. Are you a team player? 16. What motivates you? 17. Why should I hire you? 18. Are you a goal-oriented person? 19. Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them. 20. What are your short-term goals? 21. What is your long-range objective? 22. What do you see yourself doing five years from now? 23. Where do you want to be ten years from now? 24. Do you handle conflict well? 25. Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How did you resolve it? 26. What major problem have you had to deal with recently? 27. Do you handle pressure well? 28. What is your greatest strength? 29. What is your greatest weakness? 30. If I were to ask one of your professors to describe you, what would he or she say? 31. Why did you choose to attend your college? 32. What changes would you make at your college? 33. How has your education prepared you for your career? 34. What were your favorite classes? Why? 35. Do you enjoy doing independent research? 36. Who were your favorite professors? Why? 37. Why is your GPA not higher? 38. Do you have any plans for further education? 39. How much training do you think you'll need to become a productive employee? 40. What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have? 41. Why do you want to work in the _____ industry? 42. What do you know about our company? 43. Why are you interested in our company? 44. Do you have any location preferences? 45. How familiar are you with the community that we're located in? 46. Will you relocate? In the future? 47. Are you willing to travel? How much? 48. Is money important to you? 49. How much money do you need to make to be happy? 50. What kind of salary are you looking for? The truth is that most interviewers are seeking individuals who are able to personally present themselves well in a face-to-face interview. They are seeking to recommend those who will be a good reflection upon themselves and their selectivity. So most interviewers naturally gravitate to specific "critical success factors" that have worked for them consistently. The Personal Connection Technique At the very beginning of the interview, when the introductions are being made, concentrate on looking directly and solidly into the interviewer's eyes, giving them your sweetest and most endearing smile. I tend to think of it as a "shy smile," or, if we can venture into the bounds of cuteness, a "cute smile." The bottom line is to make it a warm and friendly smile. • Candidate Interview Questions • Can you tell me more about the position and the type of person you are seeking? • What are the measurements for success within your organization? • How are you measured as a manager? • What can I do to make you successful? • What will be the measurements of my success in this position? • HR • Can you tell me more about the position and the type of person you are seeking? • Tell me about an employee in your organization who is considered to be an outstanding employee. What makes that person special? • What would you consider to be exceptional performance from someone performing in this position in the first 90 days? • How does my background compare with others you have interviewed? • I feel my background and experience are a good fit for this position and I am very interested. What is the next step? Nonverbals Many interviews fail because of lack of proper communication. But communication is more than just what you say. Often it is the nonverbal communication that we are least aware of, yet speaks the loudest. Following are the top five nonverbals, ranked in order of importance, when it comes to interviewing: • Eye Contact - Unequaled in importance! If you look away while listening, it shows lack of interest and a short attention span. If you fail to maintain eye contact while speaking, at a minimum it shows lack of confidence in what you are saying and at worst may send the subtle message that you are lying. Do not just assume you have good eye contact. Ask. Watch. Then practice. Ask others if you ever lack proper eye contact. If they respond that they did notice, ask if it was during speaking or listening. Some people maintain excellent eye contact while listening, but lose eye contact when speaking. Or vice versa. Next, watch yourself on videotape. It does not necessarily have to be your mock interview; in fact, if you were videotaped informally (that is, you were not aware you were being taped), this will provide even stronger evidence. Then sit down with a friend and practice until you are comfortable maintaining sincere, continuous eye contact. • Facial Expressions - It continually amazes me how many college students are totally unaware of the sullen, confused, or even mildly hysterical expression plastered on their faces during the entire course of the interview! It is almost as if four years of college has left some students brain dead or worse. Some interviewers (not myself, of course) have been known to hang humorous labels on these students, such as "Ms. Bewildered" (who looked quizzical during the interview) or "Mr. Psycho-Ax-Murderer" (who looked wide-eyed and determined to do something, although you dare not ask what). Take a good, long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Look at yourself as others would. Then modify your facial expressions--first eliminate any negative overall characteristics that might exist, then add a simple feature that nearly every interviewee forgets to include--a smile! Not some stupid Bart Simpson grin, but a true and genuine smile that tells me you are a happy person and delighted to be interviewing with our company today. You do not need to keep the smile plastered on for the full interview, but remember to keep coming back to it. Think about it--who would you rather spend thirty minutes with? • Posture - Posture sends out a signal of your confidence and power potential. Stand tall, walk tall, and most of all, sit tall. I don't say this to offend the "short people" of the world--in fact, I am under 5'5", which is a full seven inches shorter than your proverbial 6-foot IBMer. Height is not what's important, posture is. When standing, stand up straight. When you are seated, make sure you sit at the front edge of the chair, leaning slightly forward, moving within an overall range of no more than 10 back or 20 forward, intent on the subject at hand. • Gestures - Contrary to popular belief, gestures should be very limited during the interview. So please don't use artificial gestures to try to heighten the importance of the issue at hand (pardon the pun). It will merely come off as theatrical. When you do use gestures, make sure they are natural and meaningful. • Space - Recognize the boundaries of your personal space and that of others. If you are typical of most Americans, it ranges between 30 and 36 inches. Be prepared, however, not to back up or move away from someone who has a personal space that is smaller than your own. Hang in there, take a deep breath, and stand your ground. For most of us, merely the awareness of our personal space is enough to consciously prompt us to stand firm when speaking with someone. If you have a smaller than average personal space, make sure you keep your distance so that you do not intimidate someone who possesses a larger personal space. P.S. If you want to have fun at a social gathering, step inside the personal space boundary of a friend. With some practice, you can back them up around the entire room without them even being aware of what is happening. But beware. It can also happen to you. The Compelling Story example of a compelling story was told to me by a recent grad, who answered my question about her organization skills by telling me how she planned and organized the alumni dinner during homecoming weekend, including full details of the management of twenty different student volunteers and coordination with six different campus departments. The event was a resounding success, but there were several challenges which she needed to overcome. And each of these challenges provided a compelling story of its own, as she was able to show her ability to plan, organize, and develop a team toward eventual success. In the end, she received a personal letter of recommendation from the President of the university, which she presented to me as validation of her extraordinary efforts. One additional side note: never interrupt or finish a sentence for an interviewer. Even if they talk extraordinarily slow, be patient. Remember, they are the one who holds the ticket for admission. 1. Tell me about yourself. My background to date has been centered around preparing myself to become the very best _____ I can become. Let me tell you specifically how I've prepared myself . . . 2. Why should I hire you? Because I sincerely believe that I'm the best person for the job. I realize that there are many other college students who have the ability to do this job. I also have that ability. But I also bring an additional quality that makes me the very best person for the job--my attitude for excellence. Not just giving lip service to excellence, but putting every part of myself into achieving it. In _____ and _____ I have consistently reached for becoming the very best I can become by doing the following . . . 3. What is your long-range objective? Where do you want to be 10 or 15 years from now? Although it's certainly difficult to predict things far into the future, I know what direction I want to develop toward. Within five years, I would like to become the very best _____ your company has. In fact, my personal career mission statement is to become a world-class _____ in the _____ industry. I will work toward becoming the expert that others rely upon. And in doing so, I feel I will be fully prepared to take on any greater responsibilities that might be presented in the long term. 4. How has your education prepared you for your career? As you will note on my resume, I've taken not only the required core classes in the _____ field, I've also gone above and beyond. I've taken every class the college has to offer in the field and also completed an independent study project specifically in this area. But it's not just taking the classes to gain academic knowledge--I've taken each class, both inside and outside of my major, with this profession in mind. So when we're studying _____ in _____, I've viewed it from the perspective of _____. In addition, I've always tried to keep a practical view of how the information would apply to my job. Not just theory, but how it would actually apply. My capstone course project in my final semester involved developing a real-world model of _____, which is very similar to what might be used within your company. Let me tell you more about it . . . 5. Are you a team player? Very much so. In fact, I've had opportunities in both athletics and academics to develop my skills as a team player. I was involved in _____ at the intramural level, including leading my team in assists during the past year--I always try to help others achieve their best. In academics, I've worked on several team projects, serving as both a member and team leader. I've seen the value of working together as a team to achieve a greater goal than any one of us could have achieved individually. As an example . . . 6. Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved? Yes, I have had conflicts in the past. Never major ones, but certainly there have been situations where there was a disagreement that needed to be resolved. I've found that when conflict occurs, it's because of a failure to see both sides of the situation. Therefore, I ask the other person to give me their perspective and at the same time ask that they allow me to fully explain my perspective. At that point, I would work with the person to find out if a compromise could be reached. If not, I would submit to their decision because they are my superior. In the end, you have to be willing to submit yourself to the directives of your superior, whether you're in full agreement or not. An example of this was when . . . 7. What is your greatest weakness? I would say my greatest weakness has been my lack of proper planning in the past. I would overcommit myself with too many variant tasks, then not be able to fully accomplish each as I would like. However, since I've come to recognize that weakness, I've taken steps to correct it. For example, I now carry a planning calendar in my pocket so that I can plan all of my appointments and "to do" items. Here, let me show you how I have this week planned out . . . 8. If I were to ask your professors to describe you, what would they say? I believe they would say I'm a very energetic person, that I put my mind to the task at hand and see to it that it's accomplished. They would say that if they ever had something that needed to be done, I was the person who they could always depend on to see that it was accomplished. They would say that I always took a keen interest in the subjects I was studying and always sought ways to apply the knowledge in real world settings. Am I just guessing that they would say these things? No, in fact, I'm quite certain they would say those things because I have with me several letters of recommendation from my professors, and those are their very words. Let me show you . . . 9. What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have? The key quality should be leadership--the ability to be the visionary for the people who are working under them. The person who can set the course and direction for subordinates. A manager should also be a positive role model for others to follow. The highest calling of a true leader is inspiring others to reach the highest of their abilities. I'd like to tell you about a person who I consider to be a true leader . . . 10. If you had to live your life over again, what would you change? That's a good question. I realize that it can be very easy to continually look back and wish that things had been different in the past. But I also realize that things in the past cannot be changed, that only things in the future can be changed. That's why I continually strive to improve myself each and every day and that's why I'm working hard to continually increase my knowledge in the _____ field. That's also the reason why I want to become the very best _____ your company has ever had. To make positive change. And all of that is still in the future. So in answer to your question, there isn't anything in my past that I would change. I look only to the future to make changes in my life. In reviewing the above responses, please remember that these are sample answers. Please do not rehearse them verbatim or adopt them as your own. They are meant to stir your creative juices and get you thinking about how to properly answer the broader range of questions that you will face. Top Ten Critical Success Factors With all the different questions being referenced, you may wonder what exactly the employer is looking for. And I will tell you. Following is the list of the top ten critical success factors that nearly every employer is seeking: 1. Positive attitude toward work 2. Proficiency in field of study 3. Communication skills (oral and written) 4. Interpersonal skills 5. Confidence 6. Critical thinking and problem solving skills 7. Flexibility 8. Self-motivation 9. Leadership 10. Teamwork Interview Skills When you get to the interview stage in a selection process it means that the company/organisation is interested in you as a possible employee. The interviewer wants to hire someone and will be doing their best to give you an opportunity to present yourself as a strong candidate. Employers value candidates who are prepared and focussed. By being prepared, you will be able to anticipate possible questions, demonstrate that you want the job and present yourself as being confident. And for more information you may visit the C&E website (www.qut.edu.au/careers) or the Career Planning website. Types of Interviews Notes Screening interviews - Many employers have screening Find out as much as you can about the organisation, the interviews on campus. Often short, the purpose is to person(s) interviewing and the situation of the interview. determine who will be invited for a second interview. Apart Anticipate questions they may ask and prepare answers for from checking your technical competence, they often consist these. of open questions to ascertain those personalities, which would fit into their corporate culture. Arrive on time Telephone screening interview - Often used where the Dress appropriately. There is no rule that fits all positions. organisation is some distance from the university, or used by If in doubt, dress up. In most situations a ‘collar and tie’ is local companies wanting to screen people quickly. appropriate for males, while in some situations a suit is expected. For females, a skirt, blouse and jacket are usually Unstructured interviews - These rely on open questions required, with a minimum of jewellery. such as “tell me about yourself?” or “what are your career goals?” Even thought he interviewer seems unfocused, you First impressions are important. First impressions are should be very focused. Although you can’t control the formed in the first two minutes. Once formed, impressions direction of the interview, you control the content. are hard to change. Be confident and not too aggressive or passive. Rehearse possible entry routines. Panel interviews - A panel of interviewers will generally Shake hands firmly while making direct eye contact. take it in turns to ask questions. Focus on the person who Avoid limp or bone-crushing handshakes. asks each particular question. Take along a portfolio with original documents to offer Behaviour-based interviews - These interviews assume to the interviewer(s) after you meet them. that by describing your behaviour on a past situation, they can predict how you will behave in the future. Questions Sit comfortably and don’t fidget. Hold on to something if will be like “tell me about a time when you…” Each you are nervous, eg. The chair or your other hand. question requires a detailed, highly specific answer from your past. They may focus on issues such as leadership, Maintain eye contact and keep all interviewers involved in problem solving, initiative, teamwork etch. Your responses the process with your confidence and enthusiasm. need to include the situation, what was required of you, your actions, and what you learnt from them. You need to Use the opportunity to illustrate the skills you possess and prepare a range of stories, which exemplify your actions in a how you can assist the organisation. range of areas. Prepare questions to ask if the interviewer(s) give you the Stress interviews - These consist of questions and opportunity. They could include information about the job situations designed to place you under stress to see how you (eg. training, expectations) and/or timelines about when react. Recognise the behaviour for what it is, and thwart you can expect an answer regarding employment. their attempts by staying ‘cool’. Deep breathing and Leave the interview in a positive frame of mind. Express checking the question again before answering are useful your interest once again in the position. techniques. Send a thank you note to the interviewer(s), even if it is a Sequential interviews - These are conducted short one. consecutively by different individuals in the organisation. Interviewers compare impressions and notes after the some of my most valuable attributes were that I could interview. always be counted on to get a project done on schedule and that the details had all been taken care of.” Desk-top videoconferencing - Often interstate or overseas companies will use this method for initial interviewing. You have to learn to do the difficult task of interacting with a Research the organisation camera and not a screen. Researching an organisation can yield big dividends during an interview. Read annual reports, recruiting brochures and Individual - Sometimes the interview is conducted by just information held at C&E. Research can reveal problems or one person. Spend time to ensure you build up a rapport challenges the organisation is facing and can enable you to with this person before you launch into answers. select, in advance, appropriate experiences you should describe in the interview. Learn what you can from your Situational - This is the term used when interviews are research then weave the information you’ve gathered into held on site in the actual building or environment where you the interview. will eventually be employed. It sometimes helps the interviewer to assess your fitness to the work environment as Overcoming objections well as the usual other reasons for interviewing. An objection is not a rejection, it is a request for more information. If the employer states “you don’t have enough Assessment Centre - Many organisations are now using experience”, they are not rejecting you. In fact, they could assessment centres where a group of maybe 8 students at a totally sold on you but for this one concern. Your task is to time operate in a space for a number of hours. During this sell yourself and overcome that objection. Do not take the time they could be asked to form teams and compete, move objection personally, and do not become defensive. into pairs and do role plays, give spontaneous or planned presentations, do tests, have interviews, have discussions, The first step in overcoming objections is predicting what problem solve in groups, etc. There could be up to four they will be and developing appropriate, effective response observers together with the facilitators. to them. The objection may be that you don’t have the right coursework background. A way to deal with this is to Key Interview Skills convince the interviewer(s) that you learn quickly. Active Listening Master the art of story telling Using stories to sell your skills is a highly effective interview Active listening can be defined as high level listening in technique. In less than three minutes, you can tell a story which your entire attention is focused on the person that will make interviewers remember you favourably. speaking – your body, your face, your eyes, all confirm you Employers believe that the best predictor of future success is are listening. Active listening is important for two reasons. past success, so tell stories that vividly describe your First, employers are attracted to active listeners. Active successes. Don’t be concerned if your stories are not highly listeners are better liked and perceived to be better impressive, as long as the experience demonstrates your employees. Second, through active listening you’ll pick up effective use of a particular skill. clues that the interviewer is consciously and unconsciously giving you. You can then process the clues to determine Practice telling stories. Begin by recalling 5 – 10 experiences what the employer is really looking for. Use your body that you are proud of or feel good about. These experiences language to show that you are truly listening. Be relaxed, can come from school or college, hobbies, volunteer work, but don’t slouch. and jobs. In your mind recall the experiences, write 100 – 300 words about each one, practice giving a 1 and 2 minute Control the content, not the version of each. With the longer version you can add details that provide a greater richness and make each story more interview memorable. The shorter the versions that the most effort because you must decide which information is more crucial. Let the interviewer control the question while you control Then, tell your story into a tap recorder. When you play it the content. Controlling the content means that you will be back, ask yourself, is it a well-told story? Is it interesting? deciding what to say and which examples to give. Develop Does it create word pictures? a game plan and know the points you want to cover and the experiences you want to describe. Look for the earliest In stories that demonstrate hoe you solved a problem or opportunity to present the information in the interview. overcome an obstacle, create before and after pictures that highlight your impact on the situation. Not all stories have to Let others speak for you. be success ones. It is often more effective to include When you’re answering questions in an interview, let unsuccessful ones so long as you learnt from the situation. others build you up by saying something like, “My boss felt banking – indicate the strengths you were able to develop as Questions Commonly Asked a result of your major. e b “ Tell m a o ut yo urself” o “ D yo u feel yo u di d the best wo r k at Most people hate this question. By preparing for it and university that yo u were capa ofble knowing what a wonderful opportunity it offers to sell yourself, you should look forward to it. It is the most doing?” frequently asked question during interviewing. It usually If you worked hard at your studies, a person might say, “I serves as a bridge to go from small talk to the real interview. worked very hard and really took my studies seriously. I To answer it, briefly describe your education and your graduated with a 5.2 GPA (or with honours). Even the work history. Briefly describe interesting aspects of your classes I didn’t do so well in grade-wise, really taught me education or a job and look for opportunities to share something” or “I worked hard and got good grades, but I accomplishments. Add in your personal interests. also wanted to balance my education. I was active in [eg debating, sports, volunteer work].” If you were a poor hat r “ W is yo u gr e atest strength?” student, you could admit to a lack of focus at the time, adding that you are very focused now. If you got your best The question asks for your number-one strength, skill, or results in your major, or individual subjects, mention those asset and requires you to analyse yourself. You should have rather than your overall GPA. several strengths in mind and share the one you feel is the most appropriate for the position you are applying for. Begin with a brief statement, and provide a clear example. h l “ Wy sho u dI e mploy yo u?” This question is often asked at the end of an interview and hat r reer go a “ W are yo u ca ls” allows you to summarize your strengths. Since this is a summary, you can discuss points that you’ve already This question tests whether you’ve determined your career covered and add new ones. Sell yourself. Be prepared to goals and whether your goals match the organisation. Sound take up to 4 minutes. Try to focus on everything you have definite and express your goals based on what you know learnt about the job, your future boss, and the needs of the about the organisation. company. With such limited time, you must cover only those points that will have the greatest impact. You can h l e o s “ Wy wo u d yo ul i k to w r k for u ?” create that impact by describing a combination of personality If the question is asked at or near the beginning of the first skills, transferable skills, and technical skills. interview, you have an opportunity to describe what you know about the organisation. If the question is asked after hat r “ W are yo u we aknesses?” the interviewer has described the job and the company in This is an opportunity for the interviewer to find out how detail, you could mention positive points that you had aware you are of yourself as a person. Use no more than discovered on your own, as well as some mentioned by the two words to describe your weakness (shy, quiet). Provide interviewer. This might include the reputation of the the answer in three parts. For example: 1) Sometimes/some company or department, its rapid growth, or your personal people say that I am (quiet) 2) the good aspect of that is that affinity with some of the concepts presented by the I (listen well or when I do say something it usually makes a interviewer. signification contribution to the conversation) 3) but I know I need to work on (being a bit more outgoing). o “ D yo u prefer to wo r ki n dividually or as part of a te a m?” The best responses depend on what you know about the job and how you see yourself in the position. If the organisation is looking for a decisive person, you would emphasise your individualism and independence. If most work is done by committees and task forces, emphasise your ability to work as part of a team. If you are not sure, describe how you enjoy both aspects. h r “ Wy di d yo u choose yo u major?” To answer it, recall your reasons for choosing your major and then give only the most positive ones. Demonstrate forethought and planning ability. Indicate that the decision was made after considerable thought. If you are not using your major – a psychology major now looking to get into Identify 3 to 6 attributes which are unique to you and which Asking Questions you can refer to and demonstrate. Select them from this list Employers like being asked questions. In fact, most are or add in your own and think how you can model these disappointed if you don’t ask thoughtful questions; they may characteristics during the interview: even interpret a lack of questions as a lack of interest. Giving the interviewer a chance to answer your questions makes the interview interesting and makes you seem more Assertive interesting as well. Asking questions also gives you the Cheerful opportunity to gather useful information and clear up any Conscientious confusing issues. Cooperative Decisive Each of the following questions could be appropriate at any Diplomatic time: ) Could you describe your management training Discreet program? Energetic ) What types of people seem to do well in this Enthusiastic department/company? Flexible ) If I’m as effective as I think I would be, where could I Friendly be in 5 years? Goal-oriented ) Is there anything else I should know that would help Hard-working me understand the position? Honest ) What are the main opportunities you see for this Humorous department/company in the next three years? Inquisitive ) What are the challenges that have to be faced? Insightful ) What are the timelines for the selection process? Loyal ) When would I reasonable expect to be contacted? Open-minded ) Is the company able to deal with technological changes Optimistic in the next five years? Patient ) What type of growth do you foresee in the next few Persistent years? Why? Practical ) Does the company promote personal and professional Productive growth? How? Real Reliable Resourceful Projecting Your Personality Responsible Thorough On a conscious and subconscious level, employers will be Trustworthy evaluating your personality and asking “Do I like this person? Self-confident Will we work well together?” When considering two Sincere people with equal qualifications, the one with the more pleasing personality will always be hired. In order to adequately sell yourself, you need to know your personality skills. These include being cooperative, effective under stress, and energetic. During an interview you should not merely rattle off claims Record Your Progress to each of these characteristics – you should demonstrate Keep track of your interviews by logging down the key each one. In just twenty minutes, a perceptive interviewer details of each interview and some private comments about can accurately assess you in each area – both by what you how you went, and where you might improve. say and what you are. The famous saying, “you actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying”, is especially applicable to the ways in which employers asses a job applicant’s personality during the interview. THE VIRTUAL INTERVIEW Practicing for the interview means practicing several behaviors - not just answering questions. You must dress well, watch your body language and posture, practice your manners and eye contact as well as practice answering questions correctly, smoothly, and with confidence. The practice questions below, in one form or another, account for a large percentage of interview questions. With each question, you are given a series of choices as to how you might answer the question. When you select an answer, you will learn whether your answer is correct-and why. Answering these questions will help you polish your interviewing techniques. The questions and answers in this exercise are generic and, in many cases, must be tailored to your individual situation. Still, the logic behind the answer remains essentially the same. 1) Why are you the best person for the job? a) "I've held a lot of positions like this one, and that experience will help me here." b) "Because I am good at what I do." c) "Our discussion here leads me to believe this is a good place to work." d) "You need someone who can produce results, and my background and experience are proof of my ability. For example..." 2) If asked a point blank question such as: Are you creative? Are you analytical? Can you work under pressure? etc. What is the best way to answer? a) Answer yes or no. b) Answer yes and give a specific example. c) Answer yes and give an explanation. 3) Tell me about yourself. a) Outline personal data, hobbies, and interests. b) Give an overview of your personality and work habits. c) Give three specific examples of your personality traits and accomplishments. 4) What was your GPA? Why is it low? a) My GPA is 2.8. basically because I had a lot of fun in college. b) My GPA is 2.8 because I held a full time job while in college, working my way through school. It is not reflective of my ability to do the job. c) My GPA is 2.8 which I don't think is too low, at least compared to my friends. 5) What are you looking for in a position? a) "I'm looking for an opportunity to apply my skills and contribute to the growth of the company while helping create some advancement opportunities for myself." b) "I'm looking for an organization that will appreciate my contributions and reward my efforts." c) "I'm looking for a position that will allow me to make enough money to support my lifestyle. I am a hard worker and will give a concerted effort to earn the money I need." 6) What do you know about our organization? a) "I've done a little homework and here is what I know about your organization...(cite examples)" b) "Everything I've seen and heard makes me want to be a part of this organization. I understand your industry is ________ and your primary customer is __________. A particularly exciting part of your business appears to be _________ ." c) "I know enough to know this is an exciting place to work. It appears to be fit for my career goals." 7) What is a weakness? a) "I get really frustrated with my co-workers when they whine about everything." b) "I don't 'toot my own horn'. I like to go in and get the job done and I don't dwell on who gets credit." c) "I don't think I have a weakness." 8) How would you characterize your work style? a) "I am a very driven person. I make a list of what needs to be done and then tackle the items until I've completed the job. b) "I show up whenever I'm scheduled to work." c) "I haven't held a job yet so I don't know what my work style will be." 9) What are your strengths? a) "I am good at giving constructive criticism to my coworkers. This honesty is something I'm very proud of and have found essential to having open working relationships." b) "I consider myself to be very consistent. I have proven myself to be someone who can be counted upon to do what is expected." c) "I would have to chose between two skills. I am very proud of my determination and ability to get things done. At the same time, I am very proud of my analytical abilities and problem solving skills. These skills combine to give me a unique ability to solve problems and then implement the solutions." 10) How would co-workers describe you? a) "They perceive me as a leader. The people who have worked with me learned great deal and accomplished in many cases more than they thought possible." b) "My employees would tell you they got direction when they needed and the room to work when it was appropriate. I believe a measure of a good manager is how much he is able to get done through others." c) "They perceive me as someone who cared about t them personally and had high expectations. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping others do their best. My former employees would highlight three of my priorities which are to build loyalty and a team environment, obtain results and develop people." 11) What did you like and dislike about college? a) "I didn't like the tremendous about of homework some professors assigned us. I liked those professors who realized I had a life outside of class." b) "I liked the opportunity to be involved on campus. It was a small campus that allowed students to take responsibility, organize events and be a part of the planning team. I can't really think of anything I disliked, college was a wonderful experience." c) "I liked having Wednesdays off. I think the thing I disliked most was living in the dorms." 12) Are you willing to relocate? a) "No." b) "I'm open to opportunities within the company so if that involves relocation I would consider it." c) "I'd move, but I know your headquarters is in Alaska and that's too cold for me." 13) What are your short term goals? a) "Short term, I just want a job." b) "Bills are beginning to pile up. In the short run I need to find work so I can keep up with my obligations." c) "Short-term, I'd like to find a position that is a good fit and where I can contribute to a company's bottom line. The position we are here to discuss today would appear to be such an opportunity. Could you tell me more about it?" 14) Where do you want to be in 5 years? a) "I haven't really thought that far ahead but I think I'd want your job." b) "If selected I would hope to meet my goals and take advantage of opportunities to learn so I will be considered for other positions within the company. I hope to build my career with a company such as this one." c) "Long term, I hope to start my own business." 15) Describe a situation you've encountered with a difficult customer. a) "In my last job I dealt with customers at a retail store. One customer wanted to return an item she had obviously bought several years ago, which was against store policy. I talked to her calmly and explained our policies and encouraged her to shop and I would exchange the item however I could not give a refund.". b) "I rarely encounter a difficult customer because of my excellent customer service." c) "I had a customer once who claimed her steak was not cooked correctly....I picked up a knife and cut it open and explained that's the way it's supposed to be." 16) Before we go any further, what kind of money do you need to make? a) "I feel I am worth at least $30,000." b) "My salary requirements are negotiable. Your firm has a reputation of compensating employees fairly and I trust you would do the same in my case. I am very interested in finding the right opportunity and will be open to any fair offer when I do so." c) "Money is not very important to me. I need to be able to pay the bills but the work environment is far more important to me." ANSWER #1 Question: Why are you the best person for the job? a) Incorrect: May denote an inability to sustain consistent performance. Experience is good, however, "a lot of jobs" is not. b) Incorrect: This is a confident answer but too vague. You will be expected to support your answers with examples and you must be diplomatic. This may come across sounding arrogant. c) Incorrect: This is a pleasant, flattering statement but sounds self serving. Always position your answering with some give and take. Describe what you can offer the employer. d) This is the best answer. Acknowledging the need and giving a supported answer is the best tactic here. ANSWER #2 Question: If asked a point blank question such as: Are you creative? Are you analytical? Can you work under pressure? etc. What is the best way to answer? a) Incorrect: Unsupported answers are often viewed as not credible.Even a closed-ended question normally requires some explanation. b) This is the best answer. A brief, specific example supports youranswer well and says you are confident, well prepared, and genuine. c) Incorrect: Specific examples offer a much ANSWER #3 Question: Tell me about yourself. a) Incorrect: Normally interviewers want to know about your work habits and demeanor. Detailed information about your personal life is rarely appropriate. b) Being vague will not set you apart from the competition. When all is said and done, you must be memorable and believable. An overview likely will not accomplish either. c) This is the best answer. Examples are proof of your ability and a sign of confidence. Giving a clear concise example will be more memorable and set you apart from the group. Before the interview, think the needs of the job and how your personality could be a fit. ANSWER #4 Question: What was your GPA? Why is it low? a) Incorrect: This doesn't describe your skills and abilities and sounds like you had a bit too much fun in college. b) This is the best answer. This shows you have given some thought to your college GPA and are aware of what influenced it outside of the classroom. The more involved and busy you were during college the more likely the employer will accept a lower GPA c) Incorrect: This has a bitter sound to it. Perhaps you should set your standards higher. This answer doesn't show much motivation, sounds like you are willing to be average. Be careful to steer clear of negatives which will exclude you from consideration. Go to question #5 ANSWER #5 Question: What are you looking for in a position? a) This is the best answer. This answer shows ambition, willingness to work for opportunity, and a desire to work for a dynamic organization. In this response you have energy and confidence. b) Incorrect: This is a one-sided answer. The interviewer may perceive this as an unwillingness to give and work hard for the good of the organization. c) Incorrect: It is alright to be money motivated to some degree, but be more subtle. Most interviewers are looking for people who are willing to work hard and get the job done. Such a concentration on financial rewards will not look good in most cases ANSWER #6 Question: What do you know about our organization? a) Incorrect: Doing your homework is good. This approach however, denotes a lack of confidence in the knowledge you have and leaves a lot of room to ramble. A concise answer is better when possible. b) This is the best answer. Although this takes a little preparation, this level of knowledge and precise presentation will do wonders for starting an interview on the right foot. c) Incorrect: This is the right answer if you don't know anything. Remember, when distinguishing yourself from the competition, there is no substitute for preparation. ANSWER #7 Question: What is a weakness? a) This is the best answer. This answer diplomatically states the importance of looking at someone's individual capabilities and determining if they apply to the open positions. It also identifies two critical skills applicable to almost any position. b) Incorrect: It is good to be driven but not good to be one dimensional. Describing yourself as a "driven person" may say to the interviewer "this person runs over people and may focus completely on results and not on the appropriate tactics and developing people". c) Incorrect: It is important to be compassionate to understand the value of people. It is also important to acknowledge the importance of the bottom line and getting results. Being one dimensional give too much of an opportunity to miss what the interviewer is looking for. Go to question #8 ANSWER #8 Question: How would you characterize your work style? a) Incorrect: Most people want a manager who is driven, but they also need to know that others can work with you. A bit of compassion is advisable. b) Incorrect: Extreme dedication only to people may indicate a lack of toughness or willingness to focus on results when necessary. Some attention must be paid to the importance of the bottom line and making a profit. c) This is the best answer. Really understanding people and working hard for results are important. This answer delicately balances the two with clear attention given to bottom line results. ANSWER #9 Question: What are your strengths? a) Incorrect: While this answer may be true, it may also send a red flag saying you are critical of others. It would be much better to simply say (and give an example of) how well you work with others. b) Incorrect: This answer is not a bad answer but it lacks energy and creativity. Consistency is good, but it has nothing to do with action and solving problems and could exclude you from consideration. c) This is the best answer. This shows you have given some real thought to your strengths and highlights not only the skills you have, but also of what use they are to the employer. ANSWER #10 Question: How would co-workers describe you? a) Incorrect: In most cases this is not the best response. It sounds as though you are a task master and rule with an iron hand b) Incorrect: This is not the best answer in most cases. While this may be true it could give a signal that you do not get involved as a manager. This opinion could exclude you if the interviewer does not agree with you. c) This is the best answer. This answer depicts a manager who cares about people but is keenly focused on productivity. This answer give clear examples of important aspects of one management style which is largely accepted. ANSWER #11 Question: What did you like and dislike about college? a) Incorrect: This sounds as though you are opposed to hard work and are looking for the easy way out. b) This is the best answer. It is positive, demonstrates your ability to juggle several things at once and shows your commitment to get involved. c) Incorrect. You may sound like you can't get along with others living in the dorm and that a 5-day a week job could overwhelm you. ANSWER #12 Question: Are you willing to relocate? a) Incorrect: This answer portrays youth and inexperience and will ensure you don't get a job if it requires relocation. b) This is the best answer. It leaves the options open without making a definite decision. c) Incorrect: This answer is deadly. It definitely closes the door to any opportunities with this company. Go to question #13 ANSWER #13 Question: What are your short term goals? a) Incorrect: Will "any old job" do. b) Incorrect: This may be true--but no employer wants someone who has family or creditor problems or who sees the job under discussion as simply a paycheck. This answer implies a one-way relationship with this potential employee and little interest on the part of the job seeker to become part of the company long term. c) This is the best answer. This answer alludes to "giving" as well as "getting" AND it refocuses the discussion on the job opening. ANSWER #14 Question: Where do you want to be in 5 years? a) Incorrect: This answer might be true but it could very easily threaten the interviewer. b) This is the best answer: This answer suggests both a desire to move up and an understanding that the exact pace of movement is subject to many factors. Reassuring the interviewer of a desire to stay with a company is always a good idea. c) Incorrect: This answer might also be true--but it says that you intend to learn on the job and then become a potential competitor. Few interviewers would look forward to training their competitor! ANSWER #15 Question: Describe a situation you've encountered with a difficult customer. a) This is the best answer. This answer is clearly explains a situation and the action you took to resolve the situation. b) Incorrect:This is unbelievable as anyone who has had a job has probably dealt with a difficult customer. If you really have never encountered this, then you need to think of a difficult situation in class, in the dorm or elsewhere during college. c) Incorrect: This is a very aggressive answer and inappropriate. ANSWER #16 Question: Before we go any further, what kind of money do you need to make? a) Incorrect. It is acceptable to be money motivated to some degree, but be more subtle. Most interviewers are looking for people who are willing to work hard and get the job done. Such a concentration on financial rewards will not look good in most cases. b) This is the best answer. It shows a willingness to work with the organization to determine a fair salary. If you have done your homework you know about how much that would be annually. c) Incorrect:This is a one-sided answer. The interviewer may perceive this as an unwillingness to give and work hard for the good of the organization. INTERVIEW SKILLS BEFORE THE INTERVIEW Learn about the company and its operation. You'll impress the interviewer if it is obvious you've done some research. It will also help you develop good answers to the interviewer's questions. Information you should know about the company prior to your interview: Organizational structure Name of the interviewer Divisions/departments that interest you Areas they are eliminating Products/Services Training Programs Size of company Career paths How long have they been in business Types of clients Growth in the past and future potential Job description & job title New products and services they are developing Employee benefits Geographic location of home office, branches, stores Resources for this information: Company's annual report Literature produced by company Information interview Inside source Professional journals (library) Magazine articles Peterson's Guides Moody's Industrial Manual (library) National Job Bank National Trade and Professional Associations Colorado High Tech Directory (library) Dunn's Employment Opportunities Directory (library) Standard & Poors Industry Survey(library) The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America (library) Walker's Manual of Western Corporations (library) Ward's Directory of the 51,000 Largest U.S. Corporations (library) Prepare answers to typical interview questions. Study and practice your answers. Memorize the name of the person who will interview you .Nothing could be more embarrasing than forgetting their name or calling them by the wrong name! Decide what you will wear. Check out the section titled "Interview Dressing" for some pointers. Be sure your outfit is ready to go. Find out exactly where you are going, where to park, and how long it will take to get there If you are travelling in an unfamiliar city, it is a wise idea to do a dry run prior to your interview time. Drive to the business, park, find the escalator and time how long all this takes. This will alleviate any undue stress the day of the interview. Get a good night's sleep Arrive 15 minutes early .This not only shows that you are prompt it also gives you a chance to gain your composure. Be friendly to the receptionist/secretary....they often are asked their opinion! DURING THE INTERVIEW Start it off like a winner. Offer your hand, and give a firm handshake, a pleasant smile and a positive confident attitude. Introduce yourself. Be comfortable. Take a seat facing the interviewer, however, slightly off center. Be sure you are not facing into direct sunlight or some other uncomfortable situation. Listen attentively. Look at the interviewer directly, but don't get into a stare down! Sit up straight. Try to relax. It's okay to take a few notes if the questions are lengthy, or you need to remind yourself of something you want to stress. Avoid nervous mannerisms. Pay attention to nervous mannerisms you might have such as clicking your pen, jingling change in your pocket, twisting your hair, biting your nails. Control these impulses! Everyone is nervous to some extent, the key is to appear calm and collected. Speak clearly. Use good grammar and a friendly tone. Never answer just "yes" or "no" to a question. Always clarify, expand on your answers. Be sure not to ramble on. Be positive and enthusiastic. You want to outshine all other candidates so "turn it on" during the interview! No matter how sterling your credentials are, you won't be hired if the interviewer isn't sold. Pump up your enthusiasm prior to the interview. Never whine, gripe or complain about past employers, jobs, classes etc. Ask pertinent questions. Be prepared to ask a few questions. Do not monopolize the interviewer's time, particularly if you know they have appointments scheduled following your interview. Do ask thoughtful questions. Don't ask about salary and benefits, this can be discussed when the company is definitely interested in you! Here's a sampling of questions you might ask. What are the company's greatest strengths? In what areas it the company trying to improve? Who will I report to? Could you give some examples of projects I would be working on? How much travel is involved? Will relocation be required? What kind of assignments could I expect in the first 6 months? What products (or services or stores) are in the development stage? Is this a new position or will I be replacing someone? What is the largest single problem facing your company now? What qualities are you looking for in a candidate? What characteristics do successful employees in your company share? Is there a lot of team work? Describe the advancement opportunities. What growth areas do you foresee? Will I be encouraged to attend professional conferences? Could you describe your training program? How frequently are performance appraisals done? How do you feel about the company? Could you describe possible advancements within the company? What is the next step in the interview process? What is the company's management philosophy? What would a typical day be like? How much contact is there with management? Is this job a result of increased growth or expansion? Watch for cues the interview is over. Don't linger if you sense the interviewer is done interviewing you. When it is over, stand up, thank the interviewer for their time and shake hands firmly. Don't forget to express interest in being hired. Say you are impressed with the company and would like to work there. Be sure to find out the next step. Ask the interviewer when the decision will be made, when you can expect to hear from them. This way you won't be left hanging. THE INTERVIEWER'S HIDDEN AGENDA The following are some typical concerns interviewers have, which you need to address when answering questions. Be sensitive to these concerns, answering all questions in the most positive way to build psychological leverage and position yourself for the offer. Does the applicant have the ability to do the job? Can he or she manage people? How does he or she relate to people? What kind of a person is this? A leader? What strengths does he or she have that we need? Why has there been a number of job changes? In what areas is he or she weak? How will this affect performance? What contribution has the applicant made? What are his or her ambitions? Are they realistic? Does she or he have growth potential? How is the chemistry between us? How will other interviewers react? Should this person get an offer? AFTER THE INTERVIEW Say thanks. The next day write the interviewer a brief note reiterating your interest in the job. Spell his or her name correctly! Follow up. If you haven't heard from the interviewer within the time frame indicated at the close of the interview, call them to relay a polite reminder that you're still interested in the job. Ask when they plan to make a hiring decision. If you aren't hired... If you continue to be interested in the company, it pays to keep in touch with the interviewer. Often, through persistence, you may be offered a position at a later date. Chin Up. Gear up for your next interview. After all the more interviews you tackle the more polished you become. You may want to contact the interviewer who rejected you and see if you can get any pointers on what to improve before your next interview. INTERVIEW DRESSING DO'S Dress conservatively Check out what management wears and dress similarly without overkill Practice good grooming Do have clean, neatly styled hair Do have clean hands and trimmed nails Do carry a portfolio or briefcase with extra copies of your resume Do bring a clean notepad and pen that works Do wear basic hosiery (no textured hose) Do wear shoes you can walk easily in DON'TS Don't wear torn, soiled, wrinkled clothing Don't dress casual Don't wear a lot of jewelry (Men should avoid earrings) Don't wear a lot of cologne Don't wear athletic shoes Don't eat spicey, offensive smelling foods prior to the interview Don't wear sexy clothing Don't wear "cutsey" ties (i.e. a flashing Mickey Mouse tie) Don't chew gum or smoke Don't wear a mini-skirt Don't wear heavy make-up Don't carry a purse AND a briefcase WRITING A RESUME What is a resume? A resume is a concise written statement which highlights the qualifications and skills you possess as a result of your life experiences. It communicates a maximum amount of relevant information through a minimum number of words. A resume is a printed synopsis, a capsule biography designed to persuade an employer to grant you an interview or to request your formal application. Who should have a resume? Everyone! In today's tough job market, the average individual changes jobs at least once every 4-6 years. The primary tool used by almost every employer to weed out prospective employees is the resume. The resume is your entry ticket to the job game. When should I begin putting my resume together? Now! A resume is something that grows and changes as you do. It's never too early to get started. A well-prepared resume is a necessary tool for effective employment seeking. The time and effort devoted to resume preparation is a worthwhile investment in your future. Another major advantage to developing your own resume is that the very discipline required to collect, analyze, and prepare your data for writing provides the opportunity for necessary self-assessment. In addition, you will be better prepared to interview effectively with your educational and employment history at your fingertips. Where to start? Think of your resume as an advertisement. Before you write the advertisement, you must know what the product is that you are selling. You are the product! Make sure that you can clearly state what the benefits of this product are: your skills, abilities, competencies, motivation, and potential. Start by sketching your past work and educational experience. Do not worry about form, that will be covered later. The important thing is to create a pool of information on which to draw. The best resumes are those that target the employer's needs. Do a little research into the employer's needs. This can be done through the job referral itself, annual reports and other publications by the employer, and publications in the Career Services Library . Creating Your Resume The Resume Heading: You do not need to title this document as a resume; it should be readily apparent that it is a resume. The heading should consist of your name (which should be in bold capital letters), your address, phone number (including zip codes and area codes), and e-mail address. The ease with which a potential employer can contact you is vital. If you are in a transition period, you can list a current address and a permanent address. Career or Job Objective: This is a brief statement telling the reader what type of position you are seeking. Don't leave it to the employer to assume anything. They don't have time to guess. An objective is favored by most resume advisors. Sample Objectives: "A position in real estate management or development, requiring financial, analytical, and communication skills." "Entry level position in a consumer goods manufacturing company." "A position requiring a combination of editorial, research or administrative skills in a non-profit or research organization." Education: Whether educational experience is discussed first will depend on the individual. The education of a recent college graduate with little experience will make up the bulk of the resume. The resume is read from top down, therefore, put the most impressive or relevant data first. Normally, the further along one is in his or her professional career, the less importance will be given to their additional credentials and more importance will be given to specific accomplishments and experiences. Under the heading of education list the institutions you have attended, after high school, names and dates of degrees conferred, special certificates, and majors. Grade point average (GPA) is a concern of many employers; you do not have to list it, but if it is impressive you should. Examples are GPA in major or senior year. Courses should not be listed by name and number. Your transcripts will define these specifics. Honors and extracurricular activities may be better if listed under separate headings. See examples listed at the end of this pamphlet. The Content or Body: There are three basic resume formats: chronological, functional, and a combination of the two. All of these formats combine the previous headings in various order, so as to present the information in an appropriate manner depending on the individual and type of position you are seeking. The following paragraphs will discuss each format and the pros and cons. Examples are given at the end of this pamphlet. Chronological Resume The chronological resume lists most recent experience first, then the rest follow in reverse order. Pros: When the name of your last employer is an important consideration; When staying in same field as prior jobs; When job history shows real growth and development; When prior titles are impressive; In highly traditional fields (education, government). Cons: When work history is spotty; When changing your career goals; When you have changed employers too frequently; When you wish to de-emphasize age; When you have been doing the same thing too long; When you have been absent from the job market for a while; When you are looking for your first job. Compiling a Chronological Resume 1. Start with present or most recent position and work backward. 2. Detail only the last four or five positions, or employment covering the last few years. 3. You do not need the complete date, year and month are sufficient. 4. Do not repeat details that are common in several positions. 5. Within each position listed, stress major accomplishments and responsibilities that demonstrate your full competency to do the job. Use action verbs. 6. Keep your next job target in mind, as you describe your prior positions.Emphasize accomplishments that are most related to the position you are seeking. Education is not included in the chronological order. A general rule is, if it is within the last five years, it should go at the top of the resume. If earlier, it should be placed at the bottom. Functional Resume' If the functional format is used, you will need to identify several functional or topical headings under which you will describe all elements of your work experience that give evidence of development of these particular skills. For example: editorial and writing, research, administrative, and organization. These are major skill areas. One may describe, under a single heading, experience gained in more than one job. No attention is given to when or where these experiences were obtained, nor is it important to even identify, by name, the employers. In fact, "pure" functional resumes have no dates or organizations identified. See the example of a functional resume, attached. Pros When you want to emphasize capabilities not used in recent work experiences; When changing careers; When entering the job market for the first time; When reentering the job market after an absence; If career growth in the past has not been good; When you have had a variety of different, relatively unconnected work experience; When much of your work has been free-lance, consulting, or temporary in nature. Cons When emphasizing a management growth pattern; for highly traditional fields; When you have performed a limited number of functions in your work; When your most recent employers have been highly prestigious. Combination of Chronological and Functional Resumes The functional resume effectively communicates what your skills and competencies are, but fails to communicate where and when you acquired these skills. This is its major limitation. Many employers seek to know the context of your skill development. The combination resume highlights your skills in functional categories as well as answers the questions of "where" and "when?". Experience: This is the most important part of the resume and usually the most lengthy. Job title alone will not do. You should describe your actual responsibilities, make your positive assets known, express your duties in terms of your accomplishments and use action words. Stress the benefits that your previous employer derived from your contributions and your strong points in terms of benefits to future employers. If your job experience has only been part time or limited to summer jobs or volunteer work, do not short change yourself. Think about the positive aspects, the skills used and accomplishments. Begin with your current or most recent job and work backwards. Make sure all your time is accounted for, do not leave time gaps. Be sure to list all your work experience, whether paid or unpaid. Employers like to see volunteer and community work. List the job title, company name, location, duties on the job and dates of employment. If it is a job you went to each summer, just list the years and note below the years, "summer". Other Optional Sections: Honors/Awards This section would include any honors or awards received pertaining to your academic career, sports, and job related. Also include any scholarships you may have received. Extracurricular Activities List any clubs you belonged to during your college career or subsequently. If you held an office, be sure to include that. No dates are needed in this section, only the organization's name and your office if you held one. Any professional organizations related to your career look good to an employer. Also in this section list any sports that you played competitively. during college. Computer Skills List computer programs you know how to operate. Special Certification List any certification (i.e. CPR, First Aid) pertinent to the career you are pursuing. References At the end of your resume you should include a page titled, "References". You should have at least 3 references. You will need their name, title, address, and phone number typed on this sheet of paper. Be sure to let your references know you are using them! If the companies ask for letters of reference, contact your references, ask them to write a letter on their stationary, and mail it to you or the employer depending on instructions given by the employer. References should be people who are familiar with your abilities, either in college or at work. Use former employers or college staff. The higher up in the organization, the better. Do not use personal friends or relatives. Wording Remember that an employer usually only skims a resume, spending 40 to 50 seconds on it. For this reason it is important to avoid long sentences and paragraphs. When describing experience, concentrate on achievements and accomplishments, not assigned duties. Wherever possible, qualify results with figures: "increased membership or sales by X%.", "reconciled budget of $X.00" Also keep in mind the following hints: Do not use personal pronouns. The subject of every section is "I", and it becomes redundant. Start sentences with verbs that convey action. Use an outline format. Short sentences-even fragments. Delete repetitive statements. Avoid abbreviations. Use the vocabulary of the field for which you are applying, not from the field from which you are coming. Whenever possible, refer to specific quantitative qualifiers or results. Be sure to use correct voice and tense in you wording-past and present tense depending on employment situation. Be consistent once you have chosen a style and format. Always write in the employer's interest. Appearance Now that you have created a product with which to market yourself, we come to the final and one of the most important aspects of the resume: Appearance!! Your resume must be aesthetically pleasing to hold the readers attention as long as possible. The following are suggestions to help you with this area: A resume should not look like a page out of a novel. The use of margins and white spaces is very important in creating a positive visual presence. Spacing is important to allow important items to stand out. Boldface, underlining, and capitalizing should be used sparingly and consistently, to help the reader key into those areas you believe are important: skill areas, job titles, or workplace. Indenting helps to separate different type of information and makes reading easier. Only use letter perfect type and triple check for typos and spelling errors. Guidelines to Remember: A resume should be one page in length-two only if necessary. A resume should be professional in appearance. A resume should be typed or printed on (8 1/2" X 11") white bond or off-white colors. A resume may have underlined or italicized words for added emphasis. A resume should not contain a photograph. Gimmick resumes should be used with care and good taste. Important credentials should be presented first Specific information on work experience should be included. Do not use unusual type styles. Have good quality copies made. If you need additional Common Interview Questions Please note: This is an HTML version handout. For a more recent version in printable Acrobat format, click here Questions asked by skilled and well prepared interviewers always have a purpose regardless of how irrelevant to the position they may seem. It is important to realise that the purpose of many questions is to test out whether you have the specific qualities and skills required for the position. There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer to such questions, rather interviewers are seeking evidence of such qualities as your motivation, energy, attitudes, initiative or maturity. An example of a seemingly irrelevant question could be "Tell me how would you go about buying a car?" In this situation the interviewer is not concerned so much about what car dealer you would go to or the order in which you would go about doing this, but rather about the sort of approach you would use. Do you plan? Do you give up easily? Do you seek assistance from other people? How do you budget your time and money? The following are examples of some of the more difficult questions you may be asked in interviews. The guidelines are intended only to stimulate your thinking. They are not model answers. You will not necessarily be asked all or even many of these questions in one interview. The questions as set out here are not in priority/sequential order. Please note that these questions are in addition to those that relate to specific job competencies e.g. research skills, writing skills, technical knowledge, customer service skills etc. Look carefully at the job description or analyse the role carefully to identify the skills the interviewer is likely to focus on. Question 1 "What do you have to offer us?" Guidelines - Answer in terms of the skills and personal qualities you have relevant to the job. You may refer to your academic qualifications, relevant sections of university courses, experience in the workplace, leisure activities or personal qualities. Question 2 "What has prompted you to apply for this position?" Guidelines - Explain why you are interested in the organisation. If you have had a long-term interest in them, say so. If location is significant, you could mention this after talking about your interest in the firm. Try not to focus on what you will get from the organisation, but the qualities you will bring to them. Answer: You could mention that you see the position as offering challenge, a chance to learn new things and to enhance and develop skills and abilities necessary for the position. Question 3 "What do you want from us?" Guidelines - This is a good time to talk about training or promotion opportunities giving some idea of long-term career plans. There may be aspects of the organisation's work that really interest you, and you may wish to move into another area of that organisation later on. The interviewer is probably trying to assess your enthusiasm and ambition. Question 4 "At the end of the first year, if you got this job, how would you measure your success?" Guidelines - In your preparation for the interview you would have developed a good understanding of the duties and personal attributes listed in the job description, as well as finding out about the goals and objectives of the organisation. Think about tangible results you might be able to achieve on the job that contribute to those goals and objectives. The interviewer is not so interested here in what tasks or duties you plan to have completed, but how you go about planning and assessing your own performance. Are there any practical ways you currently measure your success in part-time work or study e.g. sales figures, grades, feedback from your supervisor or lecturer? Question 5 "What appeals to you about this job?" Guidelines - This is similar to Questions 2 and 3, but you may want to focus more closely on the specific duties outlined in the job description or what your understanding of typical tasks for this kind of job would be. Again, cover the kinds of skills, interests or knowledge from previous study or work that you would bring to the position. Back to Top Question 6 "What are your long-term plans?" Guidelines - If you are flexible about your long-term plans say so, however, it pays to give a general picture of what interests you now, and how you see that developing. You should not commit yourself to a long-term period with an employer if you do not honestly feel that you can do so. At this stage you may not be in a position to know how long you would see yourself staying in any one job. On the other hand, you are keen to put to work the skills that you have developed. Avoid 'I don't know' and a shrug of the shoulders, as an employer is usually trying to assess how motivated and interested you are! Question 7 "What do you see yourself doing in five years from now?" Guidelines - Similar to Question 6. Your answer will give evidence of whether or not you are the sort of person who plans ahead. Remember that fewer and fewer employers expect all their employees to make a life-long career in their organisation. You may want to express a desire to progress as rapidly as ability and opportunities allow within the organisation, or what you would like to do on a broader scale. Question 8 "How long do you expect to stay with us?" Guidelines - Do not commit yourself to a specific time unless you are quite clear on this. Indicate you anticipate staying in the position for as long as it takes to learn the job and to gain experience in it, and that you then hope to move on within the organisation. After making a comment yourself, you can always turn this question back to the employer and ask how long they would expect you to stay with them. Question 9 "Tell us about yourself" Guidelines - If this is asked at the beginning of the interview give a quick run down of your qualifications and experience to date, then ask whether the interviewer(s) would like you to expand. If the question is asked towards the end of the interview and you have already talked a lot about yourself, then this is the opportunity for you to elaborate on any positive points and put across any messages you have not had the chance to give so far. Question 10 "Why should we appoint you?" Guidelines - Answer in terms of the qualifications, skills and interests that you have which are relevant to the position, i.e. summarise your suitability. Where a job description is available before the interview, make sure you have studied it thoroughly as part of your preparation for the interview. Your reply should be based on the required skills outlined in the job description. Do not compare yourself with other applicants even if you know some of them. If you are invited by the interviewers to compare yourself with other applicants, politely state that you are not in a position to judge others, and leave that side of the interviewing to them! Back to Top Question 11 "Have you applied for other jobs?" Guidelines - Be honest. This question is often used during graduate recruitment. Your approach to job hunting indicates how you approach challenges. Employers are aware of the competitiveness of the job market. They would be most surprised if you indicated that you have not applied for other jobs and may question your initiative or motivation. If you are not a student/graduate participating in a university recruitment programmer, you may wish to approach this question more carefully. The interviewer may be looking to ascertain how focused and clearly defined your job objective may be. Question 12 "How do you handle pressure?" Guidelines - Give examples of situations where you have been under pressure and ways in which you have positively handled it. Remember this is a typical example of a question where there is no one correct answer. The employer is more interested in whether you have developed strategies for coping under pressure rather than in what these strategies are. Question 13 "Aren't you over qualified for this position?" Guidelines - This is a leading question. If you have been called for an interview it is unlikely the employer considers you greatly over qualified. Otherwise they could not justify the time spent interviewing you. Do not apologise for your degree. Rather state your willingness to start at the bottom and work your way up, your enthusiasm for the organisation and your desire to develop a broader range of skills. Emphasise skills such as fact finding, analysis, your capacity to acquire new knowledge quickly, rather than the specific content of your degree. Some employers are more interested in what you can offer in the 'practical hands-on' sense than in the 'academic' sense! Question 14 "What are your major strengths and weaknesses?" Guidelines - Once again the employer is seeking to ascertain how mature you are and your awareness of yourself as a person. If you have a job description, you may find it useful to focus on where you see your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the tasks listed. Remember weaknesses can be turned into strengths. Talk about the strategies you use for dealing with that weakness, or its positive side e.g. taking time to make decisions may slow you down, but on the other hand you are not impulsive. Listing too many weaknesses will type you as very negative. You may have to admit that you do not have a particular type of experience called for however you may be able to give evidence of your ability to determine the skills required. Don't bring up too many weaknesses - one or two will suffice! Question 15 "How much do you know about our organisation?" Guidelines - Your answer will reveal the amount of homework you have done before the interview. For example, if the company has products in the market place look for these at points of sale. Use your initiative to find out as much as you can about the organisation and during the interview cite ways in which you have gone about finding out this information. Back to Top Question 16 "How much do you expect to be paid?" Guidelines - This question is generally more common in the private sector when you have applied for a position with no identified salary scale. Where the salary range is unknown it is very important to investigate comparable rates elsewhere before you attend the interview. Never discuss salary until the end of the interviewing procedure, when they have actually offered you the position. If the question is asked before the offer, reply along the lines that until an offer is made, you feel any discussion of salary is premature. You might also add that as a reputable organisation, you expect that they will be paying a fair and competitive salary for the position. When an offer is made talk about a range rather than a fixed figure. Since the employer created the position, they will already have some figure in mind. Find out what that is, use your salary research, and don't undersell yourself. Question 17 "Have you any questions for us?" Guidelines - It is important that you do have questions for the following reasons: • In order to make your own assessment of the job you need to find out as much as possible about what the job is really like, or more information about the organisation; • To show your serious interests in the position and preparation for the interview; • To further outline achievements and skills not covered so far in the interview. This is a good time to ask the employer what skills they consider to be the most critical for the position, and whether they see a gap in the skills you have to offer. This will give you an opportunity to identify skills and/or experiences which have not yet come up during the interview. Question 18 "Why did you choose to major in ...?" Guidelines - Avoid the impression of aimlessness or uncertainty. It is fine to major in a subject because of your interests. However be willing to talk about this interest. Show evidence of knowledge, positive attitude towards study, and an understanding of skills and knowledge you have gained. Question 19 "What do you do in your spare time?" Guidelines - This is generally asked by employers seeking a fuller picture of you or to help you relax during the interview. Finding out about your other interests and leisure activities gives employers another opportunity to uncover skills and abilities which may not have been discussed. Other activities also give employers a chance to assess your enthusiasm, curiosity and quality of life. Question 20 "What are the most important considerations for you in choosing a job?" Guidelines - Answer in terms of job objectives, training, experience available or future prospects. Do not answer in terms of pay or overseas travel or other indications of self rather than job interest. Back to Top Question 21 "How do you get on with other people?" Guidelines - This question is asked to find out more about your social and interpersonal skills. Quote examples of past participation in teams, committees or community organisations. Avoid discussing reasons why you do not get on with certain people. This is a good opportunity to give evidence of any situations which you may have had to use skills of negotiation, motivation or conflict resolution. Question 22 "Tell us about a project or piece of research you have worked on while at university". This is a question commonly asked at graduate recruitment interviews. The interviewers are not particularly concerned about which research/project you choose to give as an example, but are more interested in finding out the steps you took in completing the project/research. By examining 'why' and 'how' these steps were taken, the interviewers can get an idea of some of the skills you possess, and assess your ability to solve problems. Skills identified in your answer may include: preparation and planning, team work, time management, organising and researching. Interviewers may also ask you to elaborate further on this issue by asking questions such as 'what did you learn from this project' and 'why do you consider this project to be an achievement'. Finally 1. Remain flexible in the interview so that you hear and answer the actual questions that are asked rather than the ones you thought or hoped the interviewers would ask. After interviews are over reflect upon any of these and other questions you were asked. Think about the ways in which you could improve your answers so that when such questions are asked in the future, you will be able to answer them more competently. 2. Keep in mind that answering interview questions with general responses is not making the most of your opportunity. Interviewers want to hear evidence of your abilities. By being factual in your approach you can reveal your skills without appearing to be "boastful". Illustrate your answers with concrete examples wherever possible. Graduates with no full-time work experience will be able to use as their examples their participation in sports, voluntary committee work, casual employment or university studies to give evidence of initiative, administrative, research or communication skills. 3. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Get a friend or family member to ask you some of the questions listed in this handout and practice your answers until you feel comfortable with your response. However, be aware of developing pat answers and listen carefully to the questions. 4. If you feel you would like more assistance, a Careers Adviser is available to discuss informally/confidentially with you ways in which you can improve your skills in handling these and other interview questions. Also, you can sign up for one of our many workshops run throughout the year in order to gain more practice in interview skills. TOUGH QUESTIONS When invited for a job interview, we expect to go through the familiar chronological set of questions and we are generally well prepared for such a classic exercise. But what about those unexpected and confusing type of questions such as: "So...tell us about yourself" Er!...about me!...sure I am a Hard worker...there's nothing wrong with me...While this may be seen as an easy one, quite a few solid candidates blundered on this simple question. The reason is that we are not accustomed to sell our abilities and competence like a product. For those who have given it some thought, this is the right opportunity to talk about your strengths such as your enthusiasm, leadership, self-confidence and reliability, with a few anecdotes supporting your points. What would you say is your strongest quality? You certainly have numerous qualities and since you have to choose only one be careful as it will also reflect your values. Some might say honesty, others reliability or sense of leadership, but whatever it might be, be ready to make reference to a situation where you have demonstrated such a strength. What interests you most about this position? Your education, training and experience background as well as your accomplishments should provide good references for answering that question. Do not hesitate to stress the fact that this would represent a dynamic move, while giving you the opportunity to grow, to increase your responsibilities, your know-how and possibly to reach new goals. Do you work well under pressure? Everyone will say yes but it would be more convincing if you could provide examples of situations when you have remained cool under fire. Be careful not to choose a situation of crisis for which you were the one responsible! If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be? Why? Your answer to such a question could turn positive if you choose a feature related to your attitude and determination. Comments such as "I am sometimes impatient with slow performers" or "Being very demanding on myself I sometimes expect too much from others" are good. Keep in mind that most interviewers will use the information you give to raise even more incisive questions. Interviews should never end leaving a doubt, a negative element, a failure or a "limited" success. Every situation as regrettable or painful as it might have been, has served you positively. Those lessons of the past have helped you developing your know-how and have contributed in some way to your achievements. Why do you want this job? Think carefully about this question. Stress the positive aspects which have attracted you to applying for this position. Do not mention the negative aspects of your current job or the job in question. What qualities do you think will be required for this job? Their advertisement for the job may help you a little bit, but you should also think of the other qualities that may be required. These may include leadership ability, supervisory skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving, analytical skills, etc. What can you contribute? This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your previous position(s) which are relevant to the new position you are applying for. Why do you want to work for this company? Emphasise the positive reasons why you want to join their company, but avoid aspects such as more money or shorter hours. These would not endear you to a prospective employer. What do you know about this company? This is your chance to impress the interviewer with your knowledge of their company. Give them a run down of their products/services, sales figures, news, company figures, customers, etc. What interests you about our product (or service)? Again, your research into the company should aid you in answering this question. What can we (the new company) offer that your previous company cannot offer? Tread carefully here! Again do not mention money. Stress opportunities for personal growth, new challenges, etc. You have not done this sort of job before. How will you cope/succeed? Say that you are the sort of person who aims to succeed at everything you do and that you are very determined and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Why should we employ you? The answer to this question will be based on your previous experience and achievements which relate to the company. At the end you could add that you think there is a good fit between you and the job, and do ask the interviewer for their opinion. How long do you think it would be before you were making a significant contribution to the team/company? If you think that you could contribute from day one then say so. Then turn the question round on them and say how soon would they expect it. How ambitious are you? Would you compete for my job? Depending on the position you are applying for you may want to sound fairly ambitious, but do not look as if you are after the interviewer's position. What do you like and dislike about the job we are discussing? Likes: stress things such as a new challenge or the opportunity to bring fresh experience to the company. Dislikes: Imply there is nothing to dislike about the job, which is why you are so interested. Why did you choose a career in …? Be positive about your reasons. If you have changed careers make a logical argument as to why you did so. Why are you changing careers? This question will only be asked if you are making a radical change in your career. Always stress the positive aspects of the change rather than the negative aspects of your previous career - you do not want to come across as someone who is moving just because you hate your old career. Say why you think you will be good in the new career - this should come from your experience and achievements, stress the transferable skills you have, such as leadership ability, etc. How much does your last job resemble the one you are applying for? What are the differences? The interviewer is trying to see how well you would fit in to the position you are applying for. So you should stress the similarities rather than the differences. When it comes to discussing the differences it will help your case if you can show that either you have done something similar in the past or that you can quickly pick up the new skills. What do you think of the last company you worked for? You should stress the positive aspects of your last company saying that they were a good company to work for. Tell them about the training you received or the work related experience you gained. Why did you join your previous company? Did they live up to your expectations? Why are you leaving now? Always be positive about your reasons for joining and leaving a company. Be very careful that you do not say anything negative about your present employer. If you do, the new company will wonder what you will say about them when you leave. You might want to stress that you are looking for a new challenge and that you feel that the company who is interviewing you fits the bill! Explain the organisation structure in your last company and how you fitted into it? This sort of question may be used to find out whether your old job is at a comparable level to your new job. If the new job being discussed would be a step up the ladder you will need to show that you are ready for a more demanding position. You may be able to show that you have already had many of the responsibilities and the necessary skills which would be required for the next step. How would you describe yourself? / How would others describe you? Pick your best attributes and achievements from your career. Do you consider yourself successful? You should say you do. Pick some work related achievements that are in line with the position that you are discussing. What was your greatest success? How did you achieve it? You should pick an achievement which is related to their needs. What has been your biggest failure? Try to pick a failure which you were later able to correct or something that is not really important. How could you improve yourself? Do not mention anything negative about yourself - the interviewer is looking for a chink in your armour. Did you feel you progressed satisfactorily in your last job? If you progressed faster than normal you should say so. If growth was not as good as expected then be careful how you phrase this. Are you a leader? State how you have successfully acted as a leader, giving examples of your successes. How do you handle criticism? Your answer should be along the following lines: "I always think that it is important to get feedback on how I am performing so that I can improve any areas which my manager/supervisor highlights. Do you have regular staff appraisals and a staff development plan?" What sort of manager are you? / What makes a good manager? You should say that it is someone who listens to other people and can delegate whilst maintaining overall control of the task at hand, bringing in the project on time and to budget. Good planning skills are essential. Do you work well with others? Or are you a loner? Some jobs mean that you have to work very closely with other people whilst other jobs mean that you are largely working on your own, so you need to say that you are happy in both situations. Do you need other people around to stimulate you or are you self-motivated? You need to say that you are self-motivated. Are you accepted into a team quickly? Hopefully you can answer a resounding "Yes" to this question. Can you act on your own initiative? You should say that you can. You could ask how much responsibility you would have. More questions • Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life? • What motivates you to put forth your best effort? • How has your education prepared you for a career? • What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful in this career? • How do you define or evaluate success? • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours? • What qualities should a successful manager possess? • Describe your most rewarding college experience. • Why should I hire you? • If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for? Useless Interview Questions • What are your future plans? • What are your strengths? Weakness? • If you could be any animal, what would it be? • How can you contribute to this company? • What kind of a manager would you be? • Will you do anything necessary on the job? Even if "useless" is an exaggeration, these questions cannot measure a candidate's qualifications for a job. Fifty Standard Entry Level Interview Questions • Tell me about yourself. • What do you want to do with your life? • Do you have any actual work experience? • How would you describe your ideal job? • Why did you choose this career? • When did you decide on this career? • What goals do you have in your career? • How do you plan to achieve these goals? • How do you evaluate success? • Describe a situation in which you were successful. • What do you think it takes to be successful in this career? • What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life? • If you had to live your life over again, what would you change? • Would your rather work with information or with people? • Are you a team player? • What motivates you? • Why should I hire you? • Are you a goal-oriented person? • Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them. • What are your short-term goals? • What is your long-range objective? • What do you see yourself doing five years from now? • Where do you want to be ten years from now? • Do you handle conflict well? • Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How did you resolve it? • What major problem have you had to deal with recently? • Do you handle pressure well? • What is your greatest strength? • What is your greatest weakness? • If I were to ask one of your professors to describe you, what would he or she say? • Why did you choose to attend your college? • What changes would you make at your college? • How has your education prepared you for your career? • What were your favorite classes? Why? • Do you enjoy doing independent research? • Who were your favorite professors? Why? • Why is your GPA not higher? • Do you have any plans for further education? • How much training do you think you'll need to become a productive employee? • What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have? • Why do you want to work in the _____ industry? • What do you know about our company? • Why are you interested in our company? • Do you have any location preferences? • How familiar are you with the community that we're located in? • Will you relocate? In the future? • Are you willing to travel? How much? • Is money important to you? • How much money do you need to make to be happy? • What kind of salary are you looking for? Interview Questions You Can Ask • Why is this position open? • Where is the person now who was previously in this position? • Would you describe a typical work day and the things I'd be doing? • What duties are most important for this job? Least important? • How would I be trained or introduced to the job? • Where does the position fit into the overall organizational structure of the company? • What are the department's goals for the year? • Who are the other people I'd be working with and what do they do? • Can someone in this job be promoted? If so, to what position? • How will I get feedback on my job performance? • If hired, would I report directly to you, or to someone else? • Has the company had a layoff in the last 3 years? How long was the layoff? Was everyone recalled? • Is this company owned by another corporation? • What major markets does this company compete in? • Could you give me a tour? I'd enjoy seeing where your people work. • What could I say or do to convince you to offer me the job? • Who will be my boss if I get the job? • May I see a written job description for this position? • What specifically do you need me to accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days? • What do you like best about working there? • What do you like least about working there? • What are the company's goals for the next 2 years? 5 years? • How is success measured in this corporation? • What is the best track record of (title of position you are applying for)? • Why is the position open? • What are the prior problem areas in this position? • Where do you see this position leading over the next 2-3 years? • What are the next steps in this interview process? How many people do you plan to hire? • To whom would I be reporting to if I am hired? Tell me about the organizational structure. • How are people evaluated in your organization? • What role does your company play in developing the employees? What type of training is available for someone in my potential position? • What did you like most about the person who previously held this position? • What are the greatest challenges facing the person in this position? • What kind of support does this position receive in terms of people and finances? • How will my performance be measured and how is successful performance usually rewarded? • Can you describe your organizational culture? • What do people seem to like most/least about working here? • Would it be possible to meet the people who work in the department? • Do you encourage participation in community or professional activities? • How does the company intend to remain competitive? Behavioral Interview Questions Tell me about a time when you... • Worked effectively under pressure. • Handled a difficult situation with a co-worker. • Were creative in solving a problem. • Had to deal with an irate customer. • Surmounted a major obstacle. • Prioritized the elements of a complicated project. • Lost (or won) an important contract. • Had to fire a friend. • Missed an obvious solution to a problem. • Persuaded team members to do things your way. • Anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures. • Were forced to make an unpopular decision. • Were tolerant of an opinion that was different from yours. • Were disappointed in your behavior. • Were unable to complete a project on time. • Had to make an important decision with limited facts. • Had to adapt to a difficult situation. • Delegated a project effectively. • Set your sights too high (or too low). • Got bogged down in the details of a project. • Made a bad decision.