HELPFUL HINTS FOR JOB SEEKERS
- Take the time to contemplate what is important to you in a job. Knowing what you want is probably the first step to reaching your goal.
- Seek advice and specific information relevant to your circumstances and area of expertise. Changes in the economy can impact more dramatically on some industries than others. Specific skills may suddenly be in demand and you need to be aware of these changes so you can respond accordingly.
- Set a time limit – make a decision from the outset as to how long your personal circumstances will allow you to seek the IDEAL job. Then actively pursue the “ideal” and only compromise if you reach your time limit without having achieved success. At least then if you have to compromise, you will do so knowing that you have given it your best. It would seem that most people who compromise early wonder what would have happened if they had waited!
- Be well prepared. Take a copy of a totally up-to-date, superbly presented resume to an interview. Try to avoid asking people to take photocopies of it.
- Dress appropriately – we all know that first impressions are VERY lasting. A professional suit is the best option. Also, when you look your best, you will feel more confident and will probably project yourself far more favourably.
- Always try to put your best foot forward. Our assessment of you starts the moment you make the initial telephone call – not just during the face-to-face interview.
- Most people don’t enjoy doing tests; however, it is our job to conduct tests as part of the evaluating and screening process. Test results provide us with more information but they are not everything! If you are co-operative, you definitely impress!
- When asked the reason for leaving a company, try to express the problems/negatives concisely and unemotionally and move on as quickly as possible to more positive aspects of the job. Most people don’t want to hear anyone criticising a previous employer as they assume that one day you may be criticising them.
- Most people will want to speak to your previous employers. It is great to have written references, names and phone numbers with you. Also, if possible, try to give referees prior warning that they may be contacted.
- Undertaking additional ‘research’ about a company prior to your interview will really impress a prospective employer. It indicates that you are interested, motivated and using your initiative.
- Accept rejection gracefully. If you thank the people involved for their help, they will really appreciate (and remember) your reaction and courtesy and will be even more motivated to assist you in the future. Please appreciate that no-one likes being the bearer of news that they think may upset or disappoint you.
- Please follow your instincts and NEVER allow yourself to be talked into a job. If you have any doubts from the outset, hopefully you will have the confidence (and right circumstances) to decline an offer. This will allow you to continue searching for a position that you feel more positive about.
- Changing or seeking employment usually requires time and effort. Some people are inclined to accept positions for reasons of convenience; however try not to take the quick and easy way out when job-searching. Your time and effort will be handsomely rewarded.
- Try to adopt a positive mindset and see the experience of securing a new position as challenging and exciting! If you miss out on a job that you really wanted, don’t be too discouraged. It probably means that the right opportunity for you hasn’t presented itself yet and is just around the corner!
SAMPLE JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
“Tell me a bit about yourself…”
Be prepared to talk for a few minutes about yourself. Be logical in how you answer this, starting with high school, uni, your first job… whatever you feel is most relevant to the position you’re aiming for. The most important thing here to clearly communicate everything you want to say to the interviewer.
“Why did you leave your current position?”
You should answer this question seriously and definitely have an answer prepared. Never talk ill of your previous employer or co-workers. It’s okay to mention major problems, or even a buy-out or a shutdown.
“What do you consider your most significant accomplishment?”
A good answer to this question can get you the job. Prepare extensively—discuss hard work, long hours, pressure and important company issues at stake. You may want to tell a two minute detailed story, discussing personal involvement.
“Why do you believe you are qualified for this position?”
Pick two or three main factors about the job and about yourself that are most relevant. Discuss for two minutes, including specific details. You may mention a technical skill, a management skill and/or a personal success story.
“Have you ever accomplished something you didn’t think you could?”
The interviewer is trying to determine your goal orientation, work ethic, personal commitment and integrity. Prepare a good example where you overcame difficulties and succeeded. Prove that you’re not a quitter.
“What do you like/dislike most about your current or last position?”
The interviewer is trying to determine compatibility with the open position. Be careful; don’t say you dislike overtime, like management, or get too detailed. It’s safe to say that you like challenges, pressure situations, opportunities to grow, or that you dislike bureaucracy and frustrating situations.
“How do you handle pressure? Do you like or dislike these situations?”
High achievers tend to perform well in high-pressure situations. Conversely, these questions could imply that the open position is pressure-packed and out of control. Know what you’re getting into. If you do perform well under stress, provide a good, detailed example. Be descriptive.
“The sign of a good employee is the ability to take initiative. Can you describe a situation where you did this?”
The proactive, results-oriented person doesn’t have to be told what to do. To convince the interviewer you possess this trait, give a series of short examples describing your self-motivation. Discuss one example in-depth, describing the extra effort, your strong work ethic and your creative, resourceful side.
“What was the worst/most embarrassing situation of your career? How would you have done things differently with 20/20 hindsight?”
Your interviewer wants to know how introspective you are, and to see if you can learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to talk candidly about your failures, especially if you learned something significant from them.
“How have you grown or changed over the past few years?”
Maturation, increased technical skills and increased self-confidence are important developmental aspects. To discuss these effectively is indicative of a well-balanced, intelligent individual. Overcoming personal obstacles or recognising manageable weaknesses can help identify you as an approachable and desirable employee.
“What do you consider your most significant strength?”
Know your key five or six strengths—the ones most compatible with the job opening. Discuss each with specific examples. Don’t include your management or interpersonal skills unless you can describe specific examples of good management, or how your relationship skills have been critical to your success.
“Deadlines, frustrations, difficult people and silly rules can make a job difficult. How do you handle these types of situations?”
Most companies, unfortunately, face these problems daily. If you can’t deal with petty problems, you’ll be seen as uncooperative. How you overcome these are important. Diplomacy, perseverance and common sense will prevail in difficult circumstances.
“One of our biggest problems is… What has been your experience with this? How would you deal with it?”
Think on your feet. Ask questions to get more details and break the problem into subsections. It is highly likely that you will have had some experience dealing with the subsections. Answer these and summarise the total. If you can’t answer directly, state how you would go about solving the problem. Be specific and show your organisational and analytical skills.
“How has your technical ability been important in accomplishing results?”
A potential employee needs a strong level of technical competence. Most strong managers have good technical backgrounds. Describe specific examples of your technical abilities, and how you resolved a technical issue.
“How would you handle a situation with tight deadlines, low employee morale and inadequate resources?”
Your interviewer is looking for strong management skills. You need to be creative and describe your toughest management task, even if it doesn’t meet all the criteria. Most situations don’t. Organisational and interpersonal skills, handling pressure and good handling of this question are indicative of effective management skills.
“Are you satisfied with your career to date? What would you change if you could?”
Be honest. The interviewer wants to know if you’ll be happy. Are you willing to make some sacrifices to get your career on the right track? Your degree of motivation is an important selection factor.
“What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself five or ten years from now?”
Be realistic! Pie-in-the-sky goals label you as immature. One or two management jumps in 3-5 years is a reasonable goal. If your track record indicates you’re in line for senior management in 10 years, then mention it. If you’ve had a rocky road, be introspective.
“Why should we hire you for this position? What kinds of contributions would you make?”
This is a good chance to summarise. By now, you should know the key problems. Restate and show how you would address them. Don’t be arrogant—instead demonstrate a thoughtful, organised and strong attitude.
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TIPS ON HOW TO DRESS FOR AN INTERVIEW
- It is always better to dress up and be over-dressed, than to dress-down and risk looking too casual.
- Corporate job:
- For blokes, a suit is perfect, and a suit with a tie leaves a strong impression.
- For women, a suit is great.
- Try to stick to the conservative colours like navy, black or dark grey.
- Business casual:
- For blokes, a well-tailored pants, with or without a jacket.
- For women, a tailored skirt or pants without a jacket.
- Long sleeve shirt, (a tie is optional here for men).
- Shoes should be a dark leather, and preferably polished and in good condition.
- The belt should match the suit, and the buckle shouldn’t be too over the top.
- Try to be well groomed with a neat hair style.
There is no doubt that our physical presentation makes a big difference when it comes to our first impression. It is important to not underestimate the power of being well presented, especially in interviews in a corporate style of job, or in an office where business casual is the preferred dress standard.
The first few minutes of the introduction and interview are important in establishing an image of yourself that is desirable to the employer. Matching your presentation with what you want to say and discuss in the interview is essential.
As always, it is a good idea to dress at a level that presents you at your most professional for the particular industry or job type that you’re interviewing for. It shows you’re serious, committed, and it also shows respect for the position and interviews that are conducting your interview.
The way you dress and present yourself is seen as an indicator of your work standards and attitudes. Aside from this, you’ll tend to feel more confident when you look most presentable. Being poorly dressed leads to the interviewer feeling as though you don’t take the position seriously, and you could be eliminated before the interview begins.