Blow Your Interviewer Away: Smooth Responses To Simple Questions

1 09 2015

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An interview often happens to be the only thing standing in between you and your dream job; it’s the make-it-or-break-it phase of your job hunt. If you’ve just been selected for a job interview, you may be wondering how to get past that final barrier to the sumptuous package that lies ahead. Well, it’s not easy to face an interviewer’s barrage of questions, but with adequate preparation, you can definitely increase your chances of success.

It’s important to know as much as possible about the questions that you’re most likely to be asked in your interview. This way, you can strategize your approach from the very beginning. You need to frame razor-sharp responses that precisely address each of your interviewer’s queries.

Here’s how you these 4 common interview questions with a little spunk and pizzazz.

Question 1 – What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

Interviewers ask you this question to gauge the way you think of yourself and also to look out for any self-esteem issues. You need to be sure that your answer is in-line with what you truly believe of yourself and not oversell or underscore your weaknesses. One approach is to be witty about the question. For instance you can reply with, “I learned that it makes no sense for me to work on things that I’m not great at, and it makes no sense for me to think of myself as having weaknesses. These days I focus on getting better at things I’m already good at”.

This will help you come across as an inherently positive individual, which can never be a bad thing. Convince the hiring manager that you can provide value to the team by listing out your previous accomplishments; these can be skills that you developed while working or the crisis situations that you handled successfully in the past.

Question 2 – Do You Think That You’re The Best Person For This Position?

By posing this question, the interviewer aims to understand how you’re different from the other job applicants. In order to pass this test, you need to know what truly sets you apart from the crowd. One way to go about it is by proving that you are in fact different. Deliver a quirky response like, “That’s what we’re here to figure out, I guess! I can’t say that you should hire me or if I’m the best person for this position”. Make sure that your tone is polite and you don’t sound too haughty or arrogant. Being quirky can work wonders for you and ensure that you don’t get muddled with the other applicants.

Question 3 – Where do you see yourself in five years?

This tricky question can cement your interviewer’s approval if answered in the right manner. Almost a staple question at the end of the interview, the recruiter is trying to comprehend your ability to plan and also judge your ambition and willpower. Instead of playing by the books, you can come up with an unusual response for instance, “Exploring one of my passions, undoubtedly—maybe in Finance, or my interest in e-commerce or in an international role. I have a lot of passions!”

This not only presents you as someone willing to think out-of-the-box, but also as a potential employee who isn’t one-note and dull.

Question 4 – Why Should We Hire You?

Interviewers raise this question to find out what you think of yourselves. Instead of replying with a sleep inducing answer listing your capabilities and past experience, why not try something new and more aligned with your personality. You can say something along the lines of, “You have to hire someone, you may as well give me a try”. Again, be very careful with your tone and ensure that you come across as funny and light-hearted rather than rude and obnoxious.

Interviewers across an industry usually rely on a standard set of questions to test aspirants. Instead of being monotonous and clichéd, stay true to yourself and let your personality shine through with each answer.

Photo credit: Ben Rosett

****For this post, Campus to Career thanks Rakesh Singh!!****

rakesh singhAbout the author: As Head of Marketing at Aditi Staffing, Rakesh is responsible for organizational brand outlook. Rakesh, very strongly believes in the golden circle of why, how and what and supports Aditi Staffing’s success by connecting the brand with candidates, clients and the recruitment engineers in the same manner. With over 10 years of experience in various sales and marketing roles including an entrepreneurship attempt in the Digital Display Advertising world, he brings a comprehensive approach to Aditi Staffing’s brand management in the global recruitment market.

 





Innovate. Collaborate. Grow. (Together.)

27 08 2015

 

Sometimes, after careful contemplation, I find that it’s best to write about the things that bug me. You know, the things that keep me up at night. This is not a rant. It’s just an observation. I’d love to get your perspective on the matter…

**********

Think outside the box. Don’t reinvent the wheel. We’ve heard both of these statements in our lives before, probably more than we’d like to admit. Yet, we continue to think inside the box and constantly try to reinvent something that’s worked for centuries. (PS. What if there was no box?)

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This may seem a bit contradictory, but I don’t think we need to sit around, thinking about how we can reinvent the wheel. The wheel exists and guess what – it works!! Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to innovate. Think about how we can make it work better, last longer or how it can be more sustainable. Add chrome rims. Hint, hint…

Challenge: Let’s leverage the abundance of the institutional knowledge we all have, work together to innovate and move forward. Together. That’s the key word. Collaboration isn’t collaboration if you’re not actually working together.

“None of us are as smart as all of us.” – Japanese proverb

The wheel is simply a metaphor. I’m sure the square ones didn’t work out too well in the beginning, but thanks to trial and error, determination and collaboration, we now have the simple machine that has made a BIG impact on every aspect of our world today.

Let’s make the world a little better today than it was yesterday.  

What are you waiting for?

This post was written for LinkedIn, but I thought “hey, YOU might find it to be useful.” Are we connected yet? (Please personalize your request. Thanks!)





How to Answer 15 of the Most Popular Interview Questions

19 08 2015

15-bEven if the prospect of a job interview makes you nervous, with a little preparation you’ll be ready to face even the most meticulous recruiters out there. Instead of guessing what kind of questions you might be asked, here’s a list of 15 most common job interview questions along with some easy tips on how to respond to each one of them.

Tell me about yourself.

This is a tricky classic. Remember that the recruiter already read your resume – say something different. Offer a short pitch of yourself and express what you’re really after when it comes to your career.

Discuss your educational background.

Again, you’ve got this covered in your CV, so say something different – mention specifics: what you’ve learned, what projects you worked on and how is it all relevant to the position.

How did you hear about the position?

This is your time to shine – if someone already working in the industry referred it to you, make sure to mention that. If you simply saw it posted on a job board, say what caught your eye about the offer.

Why do you want this job?

That’s where you need to show your passion for the position – express your interest in the company’s doings and identify key factors that make you a perfect fit for the role.

Why should we hire you?

Now it’s time to sell yourself to the recruiter – emphasize your qualifications, skills and passion for the job.

How do you handle stress?

This is important and you’ll do best if you refer to your actual experience. Do you sweat it out in the gym or have killer prioritizing skills? Talk briefly about your techniques for handling stress.

What are your salary requirements?

Simple – check what the position pays on Glassdoor and just answer. No need to be modest or overly confident here.

What do you know about the company?

This is where you show what you know about the company – and believe me, you should know much more than just the About page info. Know the company’s mission, values and priorities and you’ll nail this question.

What are your greatest strengths?

Be accurate, relevant and specific – always follow up with examples that clearly show those traits.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

Share you track record of previous achievements – if you haven’t experienced a professional success yet, mention those you did in college that are relevant to the competences required for the position.

What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

Talk about something you’re really struggling with and show how you’re on your way to improving it. Don’t act too perfect – that kind of attitude won’t impress anyone.

What type of work environment do you prefer?

Say the truth, but first try to learn whether the company provides the work environment you like. This way you’ll make everyone’s life easier.

What are you looking for in a new position?

Be specific and, ideally, state all the things the position actually offers.

What are your goals for the future?

This is the moment when the recruiter wants to see whether this position is in line with your career goals. If you’re sitting there being grilled, it probably is – just be honest.

Do you have any questions for us?

See if the job is the right fit for you – ask questions about specifics, such as your responsibilities, the number of people in your team or details about the management style.

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Isabel Wiliams!!!****

isabel-wiliams-bigAbout the author:  Isabel Wiliams is a Human Resources Specialist at  BizDB. She’s a passionate educator, lecturing about leveraging the potential of the Internet for business development.





5 Things Recruiters Want to See on Your Resume

11 08 2015

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Today’s tight job market presents job-seekers with a barrage of fluffy blog posts promising “secret” information recruiters “don’t want you to know.” With titles like “This one weird trick will get you hired IMMEDIATELY,” the implication is that the only thing separating your resume from those of the job-seeking illuminati is one crucial piece of information.

The truth, of course, is that there is no special trick. There’s no certain font or magic one-liner that will get you hired. What matters most is whether or not an employer can look at your resume, quickly extract the information they need and follow up accordingly.

When you know what recruiters really want to see, and why, then you’re on the path to getting hired. So, close out all your other tabs and listen up – these are the five things recruiters want to see on your resume:

  1. Continuity

Nobody likes a flake. While opinions may differ on what qualifies a flake – some say frequent job-hopping is bad, while others say it speaks to strong work ethic – all will agree that a flake is a person to be avoided. Employers want someone who is capable of handling the work: someone who will show up, do what’s necessary and not bail or change tracks until it’s done.

Recruiters scanning resumes, then, look for a sense of continuity. It doesn’t matter necessarily which positions you’ve held, how long you held them or why you left. What matters is that all of the things on your resume work together and convey a sense of steadfastness and dependability. Your resume needs to answer the invisible questions hovering above the recruiter’s head:

  • Are you a hard-worker?
  • Can you get things done?
  • Are you the right choice for this job?

The best way to maintain a sense of continuity is to establish a strong, clear …

  1. Career Narrative

Where did you start? Where are you now? What happened in between? Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and recruiters scanning your resume are looking for the same.

  • I started at X.
  • I learned Y.
  • By the time I left, I’d done Z.

Your resume shouldn’t merely be a list of skills and gigs; it should present the reader with a picture of the exciting road that is your career, portraying each entry as a stop along that road, and you as the wandering hero.

Recruiters want to know what challenges you’ve faced, what dragons you’ve slain, how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned. Most importantly, they want to know why this job is the ultimate destination of all your relentless questing, and why they should throw the doors open to welcome you.

  1. An Ongoing Commitment to Personal Growth

Nobody’s perfect, and being introspective enough to recognize your own weaknesses is, paradoxically, a strength. That’s not to say you should fill your resume with things you can’t do or things you aren’t good at – but you should strive to include credible evidence that shows you make a conscious effort to get better, all the time.

It’s up to you to determine what will prove a commitment to growth in the context of your specific field. For some, it may be attending local workshops on your own time. For others, it may be taking on extracurricular projects at work. If you’re in a highly research-driven field like medicine or law, you could probably benefit from a resume which highlights participation in a formal continuing education program.

  1. References, Awards and Recognition

Fundamentally, we are all hard-wired to resist taking risks. It’s an evolutionary trait stemming from billions of years of battling natural selection, which tends to take a firm hand with dumb animals who make a habit of eating weird fruit.

As a result, before you go to see a movie, you look up the Rotten Tomatoes score first. Before you buy a dishwasher, you read Amazon reviews. Before you meet up with an OkCupid date, you camp out in their backyard and watch them from the bushes Google them.

Likewise, recruiters look to external recognition when vetting candidates, because like you, they’re lazy and risk-averse. They don’t want to take a chance on you. They don’t want to give you a shot or take your word for it. To a recruiter, you’re just another weird fruit: You might sustain them, or you might kill them. When scanning your resume, a recruiter wants to feel safe and certain. They want to see that someone else – a former boss, a contest judge, the dean of your college – has already taken the plunge, eaten the weird fruit and can independently verify its awesomeness.

  1. What They Get from Hiring You, Specifically

Tired phrases like “hard worker” and “fast learner” are “a dime a dozen.” They’re squishy and impossible to quantify. They’re just words; even worse, they’re clichés. They hold no meaning, and they don’t set you apart.

So what does set you apart? What makes you not merely qualified for this job, but more qualified than everyone else who’s applying? What puts you in the top 1 percent? Why are you unique? Why are you special? Why are you awesome?

Figure that out, then put it on your resume – because in the end, it’s the only thing that really matters.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum





6 Things You Need To Consider Before Your Next Career Fair

21 07 2015

76463757_24a1858d2e_oCareer fairs can be hard to navigate. The layout and crowded aisles obscure employer booths and, when you do find them, you might only have the time to learn what the company does before other candidates sneak in and introduce themselves. It can be a real war zone.

Without preparation, you could waste time talking to employers who are the wrong fit for your personal aspirations. To make your visit to a career fair as effective as possible, you need to know what positions you’re looking for, the companies you’d like to target, and what you’re going to talk about in terms of your career goals.

Fortunately, technology is here to help. Here are a few job search preparation tactics that can help you excel at your next career fair, using tech:

  1. Understand your interests and personality

Get to know yourself, the environments in which you thrive and what types of job elements keep you engaged. If you don’t know yourself or what you want, it’s not likely you’ll choose a job that’s a good fit for you.

There are several apps and online tools to help with this. For example, my company designed an iOS app called PathSource to help students who have no idea what they want to do explore career options and establish a clear vision.

  1. Determine your income needs.

Determine the salary you need to make to support your lifestyle. That includes student loans, housing, other living expenses, and, ideally, some money to put away for later.

Conduct a lifestyle assessment looking at where you want to live, your industry, and what you need to make using a personalized salary calculation tool. When you visit career fairs, only target jobs that pay enough to support this lifestyle.

  1. Know your education requirements.

Eighty-two percent of 2015 grads looked at the job market before choosing a major, up from 75 percent in 2014, according to a new Accenture study.

Look at the market and availability of jobs your degree applies to. Can you land a job with your bachelor’s, or do most of the jobs available in your field require a master’s or PhD? Explore different areas of study and majors required for your career path before deciding what you’re going to pursue.

  1. Learn what it’s really like to work in your industry.

No matter how much you think you can learn by reading about a job online, nothing will give you more insight than hearing from real employees who work in your industry. Search for interviews with employees at your target companies online. Connect with professionals in your industry and ask if you can set up an informational interview to learn about what they do.

Then, at your next career fair, you’ll have plenty ideas about what to discuss with prospective employers and have confidence you’re pursuing the right opportunities for you.

  1. Let new tech do some of the work for you.

New tools are being launched every day for mobile and wearable devices that make our lives easier. In fact, my company just launched a new app for the Apple Watch that helps you find career fairs in your area and provides all the details about them. You can use it to help you navigate around career fairs in real-time and connect with key employers faster.

  1. Do your company research.

Don’t wander into a career fair or hiring event without specific goals in mind. Always research what companies will be there, which of those you’re going to target, and what you’ll need to make a great first impression.

Research open positions, company news, and other events your target company plans to be at next. The more chances you have to meet with your prospective employers, the more you will learn and can show your interest.

A little extra time spent thinking about what you’re really interested in and preparing for career fairs will pay huge dividends as you search for a job. And you’ll waste less time doing it too if you plan ahead.

What steps are you taking to prepare yourself for your next career fair?

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Aaron Michel!!!****


06f211fAbout the author: Aaron Michel
is the co-founder and CEO at PathSource, a career exploration solution helping students and job seekers make better career choices. To navigate your infinite career possibilities, connect with Aaron and the PathSource team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.





Standing Out (In a Good Way)

1 07 2015

It’s a tough world out there. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every job opening in 2009, there were 6.2 people unemployed. Today, that statistic has gotten better and is now 1.6 unemployed per job (5.4 million openings in April 2015.) Companies are seeking future leaders to take their organizations into the next era vs. hiring “butts in seats.” What does this mean? It means the competition is still fierce and you’ve got to have what it takes to land the job and succeed. Here are a few ways you can set yourself apart from the competition, laying the foundation for future success:

20150630_093135Have a plan

“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” I’ve used my mother’s quote many times before and it still rings true. Plan for success, learning from your setbacks and failures.

 

Things to include on your plan’s checklist:

Share your plan

Prefer to do things on your own? That’s okay. There are advantages to being the lone wolf like being more aggressive or having more strength , but remember that once a wolf is driven from the pack, they may never rejoin a group again. Yes, they survive, but just barely and on much smaller food rations. Where am I going with this?? Share your success plan with your mentor, your teammates and your boss/potential boss. Get their input, adjust where needed and keep them updated throughout the process. Why?? Keeping your head down and working hard might not get you noticed. Don’t be a jerk about it, but toot your own horn now and then!

Follow through

You have the plan – follow it. Do what you say you’ll do. It’s that simple. 

Have a sense of humor and SMILE

We get it. Work is work and sometimes, it’s not fun at all. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a miserable attitude, bringing everyone else down with you. See the positive side of things and smile – to yourself and to others. I’m finding myself smiling right now as I type this post. No one likes a grouch!

Be patient, tenacious but kind

Things take time. Whether it’s waiting on a response from an interviewer or an email from your boss regarding a big project you just submitted, realize that what seems like a lifetime of waiting for you may only seem like seconds to the other party. Don’t give up, though. Be tenacious but kind. Follow up when and where appropriate so you receive the response or input you need. I recently worked with a student who had his heart set on a particular internship with a top company. He did everything right – applied online, submitted his resume, followed up with a personalized thank-you note, reached out via LinkedIn and heard absolutely NOTHING from the recruiter despite every attempt to make contact. He didn’t get that job, but he didn’t give up. Another recruiter from another company remembered him (from his onsite impression and follow up) and offered him an even better internship for the summer.  Don’t get so focused on what’s in front of you that you fail to see the bigger picture.

What did I miss? If you recently landed a job, how did you set yourself apart from the competition in a positive way?

I’d like to leave you with one last resource. An unofficial mentor of mine wrote this fantastic piece for LinkedIn: Work Hard, Be Kind. Check it out.

As always, thanks for reading.





3 Tips for Transitioning to a Full-Time Job

23 06 2015

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Entering the workforce as a full-time employee after just having spent several years of your life in an educational setting can seem like a big switch. After all, there are some definite differences between an office environment and a lecture hall. Plus, working at an ice cream stand near the beachfront every summer for 15 hours a week isn’t the same as working eight hours a day, five days a week.

However, there’s no need to feel like you have to give up everything you know to thrive at work. Work-life integration is the new norm, and these easy tips will show you how your work activities and the things you do during time off don’t have to be entirely separate.

  1. Stay in Touch With Non-Work Friends

Any sort of major change in life can make it harder to stay in touch with people who are nearest and dearest to your heart. As a compromise, some people just focus on making new friends at work. That’s a good goal, because it expands your social circle.

However, be careful not to cut ties with the people who loyally helped you study for that tough French final and even the playmates you had as a child who kept supporting you through college.

One downside to mostly having work friends is you’ll tend to congregate and complain about workplace matters that are stressing you out, whether it’s an upcoming project deadline or a supervisor who seems like he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed every day. Venting can be a good thing, but friends should also help you take a break from work, not rehash things about it.

  1. Know Your Limits

In college, many people had to deal with a workload that was more or less the same as any other person’s in a given class. The nature of academic papers, exams and group projects tend to make people feel like they’re on a treadmill and they have no choice but to keep up the pace. Failing to do so in those cases might ultimately mean failing the class. But now, in the workforce, there’s a good chance things will be different.

Supervisors often give you choices about taking on more responsibilities after you’ve proved yourself. Sometimes it’s tempting to assure them you can do more than is healthy, just because you’re trying to make a good impression.

However, it’s important to know how much you can feasibly do, and try not to go over that limit. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself still trying to get work stuff done outside of office hours or at least spend too much time at home fretting about it when you should be doing something more fun and relaxing to recharge for the next day at work.

  1. Understand What Makes You Happy

Happiness means different things to different people. Maybe you have your sights set on saving up for a biking excursion through France or you get a lot of fulfillment from volunteering to teach English to refugee children once a week. In other cases, maybe your idea of happiness is settling down on the couch with a freshly made bowl of popcorn and a favorite film.

It’s essential to not only understand what brings you happiness but also build time into your schedule to engage in it. In some cases, you may even be able to get colleagues in on the fun. Perhaps if you’re an avid biker who likes to pedal to stay fit, you could send a sign-up sheet around your office to see if anyone wants to join you on your outings. That would allow you to do something enjoyable and potentially help you get to know new people. Exercise is also worthwhile because it encourages good health and can keep your stress levels low, too.

These are just a few tips that can ease your transition into a full-time job. All of them will probably be easier to put into practice if you work for a company that makes you feel fulfilled and valued, so choosing a workplace carefully is important, too.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum








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