Two Dumb Job Interview Questions

 

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You will be tempted to laugh at these two questions when asked in an interview. You shouldn’t laugh in the person’s face, but smiling while answering may cause hemorrhaging of the pleasant kind.

Ready?

1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

A job seeker  under 30 would laugh. Many of them are not looking to stay anywhere five years right now. For the rest of us, we’d be remiss to think that a job will last five years without understanding the full scope of the position. If you have done your research on the position, it is a good time to offer a contribution statement that would include a five-year projection. When appropriate, you can ask the interviewer how do they see the position evolving in the future.

2. What interests you about our company?

I see that smirk. You saw that they were hiring. What they are really asking is, “What did you find out about our company?” They expect that you have done your due diligence in researching, networking, and provide well thought out answers. They want to hear that you went to the company website to find out about their product and services. Or that you have sought out information about who will conduct your interview (it might be a team, panel, or group).

Yes, chuckle if you must, but the reality is you must be prepared to redirect questions to focus on the solutions and contributions you bring to the table. If you haven’t already, sit down and list what your core competencies are and how they add value to an employer.

 

Maybe you need help to prepare to answer these questions.  I can help.

The Myth of the Guaranteed Job

Editor’s note: This was written by Sam Peters, who also writes for a new blog,  http://theeducationupdate.com/. Sam recently published an article on Verticle.com about how job seekers can find jobs on Twitter.

These days graduates everywhere are discovering that there is no such thing as the guaranteed job. Getting a degree from a top-notch school, having a friend of the friend of the CEO, interning for a company for a year—these used to be tried and true methods for landing a solid job with upward mobility and benefits. Throw in a historic recession and the collapse of several economic engines and the picture isn’t quite the same. Unemployment rates are high, competition is fierce, and companies aren’t looking to hook people up because of ‘entitlements’ anymore. The people who may hire you are themselves worried about job security. They can’t take risks on presumptions of quality, such as paper degrees and a wife’s cousin’s friend.

That’s why people searching for jobs need to take extra measures now. Engage in some reputation repair so that your online presence won’t be tainted with comedy sketches you made in college. Learn new software skills, become proficient in social media, make yourself a jack-of-all-trades. If you can pitch yourself to multiple company niches, it’s far more likely someone will want to bring you on board. They’re thinking, “Well, even if he/she doesn’t work out in this department, we can move ‘em on over to another department, because there are skills here to be molded and utilized.”

The myth of the guaranteed job was at one time not a myth at all, but a reality. In the past, getting a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a good school did pretty much guarantee you a fairly legitimate job directly out of school. Your degree acted as a sort of resume, a calling card. These days, employers are looking for people with work experience, so even if you have a good degree, it’s better to have internship experience as well.

There was a time when a solid internship alone was enough to land a job. Now, unfortunately, more and more companies are unable to guarantee their interns future jobs with the company and, worse, many of them simply use the ‘intern’ handle as a way to get free labor. This isn’t an across-the-board trend, but it’s certainly something to consider when you decide investing time into an internship. At the very least, look closely at the company and dig a little bit into their history.

It’s not time to despair. Yes, it’s harder to get a job than it used to be, especially for college graduates and even people with Masters and PhDs. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Nor does it mean there aren’t things you can do to bolster your standing. Get proactive about your employment reputation and build a solid foundation.

Patience is a Virtue of an Impressive Hire

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“The waiting is the hardest part…” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

How you wait matters. Whether it is the interview or an informational interview, your prospect co-workers watch for character clues as everyone in the office has an interest in the next hire. The first impression counts so remain cognizant of what you do while waiting for a meetings. Waiting can drive you nuts! It’s part of the charade that employers play sometimes, but many times, they are busy. Here are my suggestions on how to handle the pre-meeting tarrying.

1. Smile don’t smirk

Not smiling is not so bad, but the angry look is an awful disposition to have for a business meeting. Smirking appears as a sense of entitlement air. You’re lucky that someone agreed to meet with you. What you don’t say speaks volumes of things you can’t take back. A “happy to be here” smile is good, but not the infamous Cheshire cat grin.

2. Mind your business

In spite of the loud, concentration breaking conversations the receptionist has on the phone, mind your own business unless you are encouraged to join in.

3. Alert, not anxious

Be ready to stand when approached without dropping everything on the ground. This is one of the important moments because it is probably your first impression with that person. On the other hand, habits like cracking your knuckles, tapping your feet, or any kind of noise is annoying. It is NOT a good look if you are wondering into space while someone is shaking your hand. What could be more important than the meeting?

4. Read, and relax but don’t wander

People fall asleep if they wait more than 15 minutes. I have seen it happen at many levels; however, sleep is not the issue. Bring an industry related magazine, a self-improvement Bring something to read while you wait. book, or read what is available. I had a boss who left out several magazines to see if they would pick up People, TIME, Newsweek, or the Enquirer as she believed you are what you read. Relax, but don’t go to the beach in your mind just yet.

5. Tempered, and timely

You have heard all the advice about being on time, but not enough about having your game face on. Leave the attitudes at home! This advice does not stop here. Every now and then, someone will say or do something offensive. Being even-tempered is as important as having good professional judgment. Don’t be the cause for something crazy being said.

Any of these things are potentially disqualifying offenses. You do your part in presenting yourself in the best light. Overall, just be S-M-A-R-T!

 

Image courtesy of Office.com

 

30 for 30 Suggestions to Keep Your Resume In Top Fiscal and Physical Condition in 2012

 

 

There are hundreds of posts around the web that can cover a lot of ground for resume tips. I am offering a few to help jump start your job search for 2012

1. Great networking conversations will result in updating your résumé if you had a great conversation. Think about it

2. Grammar, spelling, font consistency, and correct alignment is the bare minimum to perfection

3. Take off the address and zip code

4. Forwarding a paper résumé is rarely requested, but if you must, then use  resume paper  (non-white, and not too pretty)

5. Understand the words and its meaning you use. Know the difference in using assured, insured, and ensured

6. One resume, one job. Second job, needs customized resume

7. One résumé, one phone number, one email address

8. E-mail addresses should use your name: markdyson@competitiveresumes.net not moonshine@gmail.com

9. Use active verbs when describing your job duties (i.e. tackled, orchestrated, executed). A thesaurus is a writer’s best friend

10. Try not to use an active verb more than once

11. Show that you are a perpetual learner. Include your training and continuing education classes

12. Don’t write when you feel anxious, desperate, or too emotional. Find clarity, then come back and write. It’s normal, but manageable

13. Keep several versions of your résumé active and circulating (i.e. one management, one non-management, one career changing)

14. Correct and proper preposition usage is essential such as “…before meeting (before the meeting)…”

15. Use Dropbox to keep copies of your résumé

16. Irrelevant job and experience will only inspire unwanted and useless scrutiny. Build around relevant facts

17. Your résumé, your voice, and your vernacular

18. What problems did you solve? What measures prove your claims?

19. The bold, italics, and underline functions have very rare use when writing resumes. Refrain from using them unless you are listing publications, movies, and news articles you created

20. Avoid clichés. Stay away from vague job descriptions (e.g. Team player, excellent verbal skills, experienced working in a fast paced environment)

21. Leave off “References upon Request” off of your résumé. It is often asked for when filling out an application

22. Awards are great. Team awards are great. Special cash awards everyone in the company received is not that special

23.  Use a “Core Competencies” or “Key Competencies” section between your Summary and Professional Experience section. These are specific skills related to your prospective job

24. Don’t inundate your résumé with acronyms without defining the term once in full

25. Don’t lie or hype your résumé. Stick to the facts, results that you can demonstrate and describe

26. Highlight your accomplishments, results, and impact (Measures that use % and $)

27. Max 2 pages for private/civilian industry and 4 pages (or more at times) for federal

28. Proofread, proofread, and proofread. Then, let someone else proofread, like an English major

29.  Exclude the passive voice, include active voice (use the online tool polishmywriting.com for help with this)

30. Make sure your résumé speaks the language of your industry. Don’t fake, it will show during your interview, if not before then

31. It is your marketing document, not a flyer, nor an obituary

32. Unload unnecessary words such as all, ultimately, and every. Use quantitative results instead

33. Establish value, not vanity. Better to show that you are excellent, dynamic, and great than saying it. What did you change, fix, or resolve?

34. Consider that others want this job as much as you. They are the competition! Your résumé must stand out by its content, not by fonts and features alone.

35. Keywords are necessary and effective when sprinkled, not poured

36. Write a short description and  get to the point, but avoid commentary. Just the facts.

Although I gave you several bonus suggestions, you can still add a few in the comment section. Or maybe you hate one or more suggestions I listed, let me know!

 

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