Six Key Interview Answers Employers Need to Hear

Peter Vogt, Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Six Key Interview Answers Employers Need to Hear Six Key Interview Answers Employers Need to Hear

During the typical job interview, you’ll be peppered with many interview questions. But do you really understand what the interviewer needs to know?

“Most [candidates] have no idea why a recruiter asks a particular question,” says Brad Karsh, a former recruiting professional for advertising giant Leo Burnett and current president of career consulting firm Job Bound. “They tend to think it’s a competition to outwit the interviewer.”

The reality is that employers have neither the time nor inclination to play games with you, especially when hiring. Your interviewer is not trying to outguess you — he’s trying to assess your answers to six key questions:

Do You Have the Skills to Do the Job?

According to Karsh, the employer must first determine whether you have the necessary hard skills for the position, e.g., the programming knowledge for a database administration job or the writing chops to be a newspaper reporter. “By really probing into what the candidate has done in the past, an interviewer can tap into hard skills.”

But the interviewer is also looking for key soft skills you’ll need to succeed in the job and organization, such as the ability to work well on teams or “the requisite common sense to figure things out with some basic training,” says Terese Corey Blanck, director of student development at internship company Student Experience and a partner in College to Career, a consulting firm.

Do You Fit?

“Every organization’s first thought is about fit and potentially fit in a certain department,” Corey Blanck says. That means the interviewer is trying to pinpoint not only whether you match up well with both the company’s and department’s activities but also whether you’ll complement the talents of your potential coworkers.

Do You Understand the Company and Its Purpose?

If the organization fits well with your career aspirations, you’ll naturally be motivated to do good work there — and stay more than a month or two, Corey Blanck reasons. “I don’t want someone to take the position because it’s a job and it fits their skills,” she says. “I want them to be excited about our mission and what we do.”

How Do You Stack Up Against the Competition?

You’re being evaluated in relation to other candidates for the job. In other words, this test is graded on a curve. So the interviewer will constantly be comparing your performance with that of the other candidates’.

Do You Have the Right Mind-Set for the Job and Company?

“I’m always looking for someone who has a can-do type of attitude,” Corey Blanck explains. “I want someone who wants to be challenged and is internally motivated to do well.

Corey Blanck points out that an employer can’t train for this essential trait. “But you can hire for it,” she says. “And if you don’t, you’ll end up with a lower-performing employee.”

Do You Want the Job?

Most employers know better than to believe everyone they interview actually wants the position being offered. They understand some candidates are exploring their options, while others are using an interview with a company they don’t care about to hone their interview skills.

So you have to prove you really want the job, says Al Pollard, senior college recruiter for Countrywide Financial. “I use the ditch-digger analogy,” he says. “Many of us can dig ditches, but few are willing to — and even fewer want to.”

Articles in This Feature:

Top 10 IT Skills in Demand in 2016

Top 10 IT Skills in Demand in 2016
coding and coffee

Top 10 IT Skills in Demand in 2016

 by Keith Robinson @ Resource Central

 

It will come as no surprise to hear that the 2016 IT Market globally is “hot”. In fact, it’s ‘white hot’.  Salaries are increasing, employee turnover is ‘on the up’, the classic post-recession candidate move towards Contractor status is in full swing – and, as always, we have ever-present core skill shortages, verging on the acute.

 

1. IT Architecture

* 42% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

The term “IT architect” encompasses a wide range of specialists, from enterprise architects to cloud architects, so recruiters say it makes sense that IT architecture expertise is in demand as companies move forward with all sorts of technology-driven projects.

 

2. Programming/Application Development

* 40% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

Despite fears that programming expertise is a commodity that can be obtained cheaply offshore, programming and application development continue to be among the most sought-after skills in enterprise IT.

Demand for Programmers and Developers is springing up in new areas, too, thanks to the rise of Mobile and the emergence of the ‘Internet of Things’. As an example, in the Automotive industry, some cars now come off the assembly line with a million lines of code – and this is just one evidence of how programming’s footprint is widening

 

3. Project Management

* 39% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

With almost half (46%) of the Forecast survey respondents expecting their technology spending to increase in 2016, it’s no surprise that project management remains a top five skill: More spending means more projects — and that means more people will be needed to manage those projects.

 

4.  Big Data

* 36% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

The surge in interest in using data to drive business has pushed demand for big data skills from No. 10 in last year’s Forecast report to No. 4 today. Moreover, in the Forecast 2016 survey, big data/analytics was No. 1 on the list of technologies that survey respondents said they were currently beta-testing or using in pilot projects, with 23% saying they were engaged in such initiatives.

 

5. Business Intelligence/Analytics

* 34% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

Holding steady in the top 10 skills list is another data-related area of specialization: BI and analytics.

 

6. Help Desk/Technical Support

* 30% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

The recruiting model for Help Desk/Technical Support seems to be to find prospects recently graduated from college/university (people with a well-rounded education) in the belief that if candidates have ‘natural’ customer service skills and the ability to communicate, companies can then educate them on the tech skills.

 

7. Database Administration

* 25% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

Demand for Database Administrators remains high thanks to the ever-increasing interest in big data, BI and analytics. Employers want people with extensive backgrounds in database administration and a deep understanding of data reporting tools and technologies such as Oracle, SQL, DB2 and Hadoop.

 

8.  Security/Compliance/Governance

* 25% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

Although security expertise slipped from No. 4 on last year’s list of the 10 hottest tech skills, make no mistake about its importance: Security professionals are in demand and can command high salaries. Exactly 50% of those who participated in our Forecast 2016 survey said they plan to increase spending on security technologies in the next 12 months, and security was No. 2 among the most important IT projects that respondents have underway. Compensation for security pros keeps going up because demand for talented people is strong, and because security specialists play a critical role in most organizations.

 

9. Cloud/SaaS

* 25% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

Research firm IDC predicts that more than half of enterprise IT infrastructure and software investments will be cloud-based by 2018. Specifically, spending on public cloud services will grow to more than £100 billion by 2018, according to an IDC forecast report.

 

10.  Web Development

* 24% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months. * Last year’s ranking: No. 5

Web development continues to crack the Computerworld Forecast list of the top 10 most in-demand IT skills because organisations have come to rely heavily on the Web as a channel for connecting with customers, clients, partners and employees since they built their first websites a decade or two ago, IT leaders say. While they don’t need Web developers to establish a Web presence anymore, they do need people with the ability to ensure that their sites are open and ready for business.

So IT Recruitment will continue to remain a tough recruiting market and salaries will continue to go up with demand. A further ‘dark cloud’ is that in Europe we’re seeing a slow down of the East to West talent migration that helped ease the skill shortage in the western economies – leading to an equivalent increase in the growth of BPO IT functions in the Central & Eastern Europe Regions.

 

Are there any ‘silver linings’? In our experience, the way to fulfil your requirements remains hiring an expert recruitment team with the dedicated resource to deliver an agreed planned yet intense activity, be it shortlisting candidates for you or engaging with the candidates to gauge interest and ‘fit’.   

2016 Job Seekers – Things you need to know

Written by Dawn Rasmussen


2016 Job Search: The new year is just around the corner, and a lot of people are making forecasts about hiring trends.

There are a few people that I trust on their predictions, and Laurie Ruettimann, a well-respected and leading-edge thinker, speaker, writer, and consultant within the human resou2016 job searchrces space, is one of them.

She recently prognosticated the top recruiting trends for 2016. You can read about them here: http://laurieruettimann.com/2016-recruiting-trends/

What she predicts is exactly what I have been seeing on my end when working with job seekers.

As employers have been gradually adding jobs or loosening hiring freezes, it’s become a seller’s market for job seekers.

But before you start rubbing your hands together gleefully, exclaiming, “Laissez les bon temps roulez!” (“Let the good times roll,” for those of you who haven’t been to New Orleans before), there are few things you should know before considering a job move.

Know your value, but don’t piss off recruiters or hiring managers during a 2016 job search. They have long memories, and also talk amongst themselves.  So yeah, you might be courted by multiple employers to come work for them, but don’t tease them if you really have no sincere interest. And be smart before you try to play them off of each other.

Most industries are becoming even more incestuous during a 2016 job search. Because everyone is feeling safer about making a job move now that things are relaxing more in terms of available opportunities, it doesn’t mean that people are going far.

So to the point above about how people talk?

Yeah, that.

Remember that you should always treat everyone with respect because you never know who might be the decision maker. They are making moves too, and you could find yourself talking to a person you ticked off when they worked at a different company.

Continue to be frustrated with applying online.  No technology service provider has completely figured out how to use software to make the hiring process easier.

So while employers are still bumping into themselves trying to create a “glorious candidate experience”, the problem is that for the job seeker, it’s still the proverbial black hole. And people are still frustrated with the lack of the human touch.

But there is a solution, and I’ll keep hammering this home til the last breath escapes my body:

At the end of the day, you can try and go through the “front door” of formally applying online, but people hire who they know.  That’s where a cultural and chemistry fit happens.

So quit clicking send endlessly and getting mad at your computer screen hang times.

Get out there and network the hell out of your network.  It will make a big difference in your 2016 job search.

– See more at: http://www.pathfindercareers.com/blog/2015/2016-job-search-what-every-job-seeker-needs-to-know/#sthash.XFK8Df6e.dpuf

Top 5 Staffing Industry Trends for 2015

The biggest disruptions are the ones you don’t see coming. Resolve to get ahead of them this year (with a little help from us).

As a dedicated staffing industry professional, you may have set goals for 2015 — but have you considered how some of the recent developments within the industry may affect them? By being aware of this year’s biggest staffing trends and resolving to do something about them, you’ll add value back to your business and truly make a name for your firm as 2015 gets into full gear.

Trend No. 1: The War for Talent is raging.

Demand for talent is up, unemployment is down — and key skills are going to be harder than ever to find. It’s time to show up for battle with the right ammunition.

Resolution for 2015: Show the skills gap who’s boss. How? By building a stronger employment brand, paying employees a fair wage, creating training opportunities for your employees and promoting from within, investing in necessary job skills, and taking better advantage of candidate referrals.

Did you know? 2 in 5 candidates see a skills gap in their particular industry, according to Inavero and CareerBuilder’s 2014 Opportunities in Staffing Study. Despite this, many believe staffing firms can help overcome that gap. Thirty-seven percent of candidates are also noticing that the skills gap limits employment opportunities, and 33 percent recognize their skills are different than what is needed by most employers.

What this means: Talking frankly with your clients about what skills gaps they are witnessing will help you understand their challenges as well as reaffirm your importance as the partner in helping them overcome the gap. And coaching your candidates who have similar, though not-quite-there skill sets on what they can do to be more desirable to employers within their industry will help everyone involved.

Trend No. 2: Demographic shifts are creating a diverse, multigenerational workforce.

Millennials. Baby boomers. Gen X. The silent generation. (Coming soon: Generation Z.) Your workforce, whether you realize it or not, is a spectrum of generations and with that comes variations in work styles, habits, motivations, values, strengths and more.

Resolution for 2015: Find out what makes your workers tick — from the silent generation to the social natives. While it’s true you definitely shouldn’t brush with broad strokes when it comes to leading your workforce, recognizing that different generations may have different needs will help you better understand and lead them. Successfully lead your multigenerational workforce by respecting varying communication styles, foreseeing potential culture clashes and correctly interpreting your employees’ signals.

Trend No. 3: Building a talent pipeline that “re-recruits” talented workers is essential.

Getting candidates’ attention has gone from hard to harder — not to mention sustaining that attention for more than mere seconds. Today, you need to keep your candidate flow strong with a continuous and thoughtful recruitment process rather than a one-and-done strategy (which really isn’t much of a strategy, now, is it?)

Resolution for 2015: Capture more candidates and reduce drop-off by continually engaging your potential talent. The key to workforce planning is all about creating and nurturing a database of pre-qualified candidates so they’re ready to be contacted and called in to interview at any moment.  An easy-to-find, branded talent network will help you capture and re-engage more candidates over a longer period of time, as it works behind the scenes to send members targeted job alerts when your new positions are posted.

Did You Know? 65 percent of candidates are likely to accept a future staffing firm assignment.

What this means: It’s great to see how many candidates are willing to accept a future assignment with staffing firms, and the reason for a majority that’s not likely to accept a future assignment is about wanting permanent work. Despite misconceptions about reasons behind candidates’ unwillingness to accept future assignments, for a majority of candidates it’s not about the pay or recruiters or other factors, but about wanting a permanent/full-time job.

Trend No. 4: Smile, you’re on camera.

Video and social is everywhere. Your candidates and employees are seamlessly integrating social media and interactive video apps into their everyday lives, and as the lines between work and professional lives have blurred, they expect their professional lives to be interactive and engaging, too.

Resolution for 2015: Amp up your employment brand. A whopping 91 percent of candidates have said a potential employer’s brand plays a big part in whether or not they apply to a job. As an employer, you have a multitude of resources at your fingertips to help build your brand. By embracing video and social, you have the opportunity to amplify your recruiting, training, onboarding, employee communications, and even performance management and recognition efforts.

Did you know? Two-thirds of staffing firm clients use social media to some extent for recruiting.

What this means: A third of clients never use social media for recruiting purposes, and another 27 percent do so rarely (monthly or less).

Why it matters: Knowing that about half of clients are regularly using social media creates the perfect window for staffing firms to persuade potential clients of the firm’s social media savvy and resulting success in recruiting. With social media affecting most aspects of business today, there are few clients who don’t know that they ‘should’ be using social media, but many don’t have the time to do it, creating the perfect selling opportunity for your staffing firm to fill that gap.

Trend No. 5: Smartphones are everywhere — and candidates expect a mobile-friendly experience.

Technology continues to dominate the way candidates search and engage: Once candidates decide to apply, they expect to be able to act immediately — be it on a PC, tablet, smartphone or other mobile device. If you’re not mobile-optimized, you’re likely going to lose a lot of potential candidates to your competitors whose sites do make it easy for candidates to apply on their mobile devices.

Resolution for 2015: Create and execute a mobile recruitment strategy. There’s no sense in fighting against the rising tide: 71 percent of staffing firm candidates have searched for a job on a mobile site, and those statistics will only increase as we move into 2015. And having a mobile recruitment strategy isn’t just about keeping up with the Joneses. It gives your company three distinct advantages: It increases applications, reduces candidate drop-off rates and strengthens your company’s brand.

Did you know? Candidates aren’t the only ones using mobile.  65 percent of clients correspond via text with someone from their staffing or recruiting firm and 44 percent review applications submitted by from their firm via their mobile device.

What this means: Client smartphone ownership continues to grow in 2015, with now more than 9 in 10 having a smartphone. Clients are using all those smartphones to heavily interact with their staffing firms.

Why it matters: Not having a mobile-optimized website is no longer an option. But beyond the website, building all of your client-facing systems to work well on mobile is imperative to make usage as easy and efficient for your clients as possible.

Recruiting Isn’t Business; It’s personal

Author: Greg Mannon

With global talent shortages, growing skills gaps and increasing competition for qualified individuals, talent acquisition has become much more challenging in recent years. Further complicating the process is that the workforce has never been more diverse.

With five distinct generations in the workplace, each with their own unique wants, needs and expectations, as well as changing attitudes toward work among all generations, trying to attract candidates in this dynamic, ever-changing talent pool can be incredibly frustrating.

And the companies that continue to use a standard message to engage with their desired candidates will only fall further behind.

Personalization and Aggregation: A Delicate Balance.

channelRelevance_592x368In this jobseeker’s market, with employers scrambling to hire the best talent before their competitors do, the same old recruiting techniques no longer work.

Rather than posting a job description and expecting the perfect candidate to walk through the door, employers must actively identify, engage and build relationships with those individuals.

This entails creating a unique message for each type of candidate you seek, and using the right channels to ensure that messaging makes it to the right audience.

Taking such a targeted approach will put the focus of recruiting back on people, rather than process, enabling companies to connect with candidates on a personal level and better attract top talent.

So, what’s the best route to take to get to that point? The key is to leverage data; and with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day, there’s plenty to go around. Through resumes, cover letters, social profiles, “likes,” blogs, comments and more, today’s candidates leave a trail of information that can be used to learn a great deal about them.

The challenge lies in aggregating such data and using it to tailor your recruitment marketing activities in a way that drives engagement and leads to your next great hires.

Candidates Are Consumers, Too.

3980730952_de790a4326To do this effectively, recruiting teams can take a page from their colleagues in the sales department.

Salespeople understand the need to leverage consumer data to find their ideal customers, in order to uncover their purchasing habits and preferences and deliver on-point, personalized communications to get the sale.

How can recruiting take a similar approach?

By adopting the technology solutions that enable recruiters to aggregate relevant data about their candidates, identify what is most meaningful to them, and present targeted content that encourages them to apply.

Leveraging the same tools and techniques salespeople use enables recruiters to deliver the personalized experience so crucial to building relationships with candidates. One of the most effective approaches is the use of sales demo solutions, which enable candidates to select the topics most important to them.

Presenting candidates with a list of topics via email about the company, including career development, location, work/life balance, company awards, culture and more, and having them rate their level of interest in each one, provides the insight into what a candidate values most.

An automated demo solution can then provide relevant content on the topics in which the candidate is most interested, showing how the company can deliver the work experience they seek.

Conversations And Conversions: Rolling Out the Recruiting Red Carpet.

content-personalization-with-marketing-automationBut getting candidates’ interest through an automated pitch is only half the journey. It is then up to company recruiters to build the personal connections that can convert the most qualified talent into their newest employees.

Leveraging the data about the factors most important to candidates will equip recruiters with in-depth knowledge necessary to creating a personalized approach.

This allows them to have more meaningful, targeted conversations about the company and how it can help them meet their personal and professional goals.

Once again, the right technology solution is crucial to making this happen. Today’s candidates want the red carpet treatment, from their first interaction with the company through to the offer and onboarding. As such, employers must leverage the platform that can facilitate this process, treating each candidate like a customer and delivering a one-to-one experience throughout.

And just how salespeople know they must move fast to maintain the customer’s interest, recruiters will benefit from the solutions that enable them to move candidates through the pipeline just as quickly.

This includes being able to conduct key aspects of the talent acquisition process on their mobile devices, thereby allowing recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate candidates and share feedback where and when it is most convenient.  As a result, employers can deliver a high-touch experience throughout the candidate lifecycle, while building deeper relationships with the people they want to hire.

As recruiting the best candidates will only become more challenging, adopting the solutions that can not only streamline key steps in the process, but make them more personal, is key to success. By creating a personalized candidate experience, recruiters can increase interest in their company and be seen as an employer of choice.

Rather than relying on traditional job descriptions or one-sided emails, creating a recruitment marketing strategy around the preferences of the candidate and providing a highly personalized and engaged experience throughout will give companies the competitive hiring advantage they need.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMZAAAAJGEyOTJhMjE5LTA2MGQtNDA2Mi04NTNiLWIyZDI0ZjJiODE2NwAbout the Author: Greg Mannon currently serves as a solution consultant for TalentObjects by Lumesse. His innovative and creative approach in recruitment strategy, candidate experience, and outside the box sourcing techniques has won him several awards throughout his career.

Greg’s mission is to help companies create successful strategies that bring in the best talent and keep them coming. He is a full-time father of three and a volunteer firefighter.

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregMannon or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

How to Make a Tight Labor Market Work For You

How to Make a Tight Labor Market Work For You

It’s an employee’s market – at least when it comes to jobs. Unemployment is at its lowest in seven years and many companies are scrambling to fill positions for skilled workers.

According to a recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), 35 percent of the economists surveyed reported their firms had seen shortages of skilled labor during the quarter ending in July. And earlier that month, the National Federation of Independent Business said that 44 percent of small businesses looking to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for positions they were trying to fill.

With so many Americans still struggling to find well-paying jobs, what’s going on here?

One factor fueling the tight labor market is a shortage in actual skilled laborers. As more and more work becomes entwined with computers and other technology, jobs that once required little or no training now call for workers with technological skills or other specialized training.

The recovery has also been stalled by a lackluster growth in wages. The NABE survey found that only a 49 percent share of companies were anticipating wage increases in the next three months, up a meager three percent from the April poll. This might suggest that companies aren’t offering the right incentives to lure workers.

But even though employers may not voluntarily be offering desirable salaries or perks, this doesn’t mean they aren’t available. In some ways, skilled workers are in an enviable position. With fewer competitors, they have more leverage to negotiate a better salary.

Of course, not all industries are facing shortages, so it’s important to do your homework beforehand. As long as you’re well informed about the position and can make a convincing case for your value, you should definitely try to get as much as you think you’re worth.

But pay is only part of it. A little imagination can yield perks and benefits as attractive as a high salary – things such as flextime, job sharing, or opportunities for career advancement down the road. Maybe the company has offices in a different city where you’d love to work eventually. Maybe they can offer a pay increase after a six-month period or tuition reimbursement.

Sometimes a tight labor market can put a coveted job at a company of your dreams within reach. In this case, it’s not the high salary, so much as your foot in the door that counts. The key is to look for solutions and alternatives without being pushy, greedy or unrealistic.

As always, don’t discount things such as work place culture and the personality and working style of your supervisor. No matter how prestigious or lucrative a job is, it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not happy. Use this opportunity to find a job that fits all of your requirements – personally, financially and professionally.

Benefits of Using Recruiters

Here are the TOP 10 Reasons you should use a Recruiter / Headhunter in your job search:

  • You will be in a smaller select pool when you work with a Recruiter. If you match the qualifications of a job the recruiter is working on, you are automatically in a smaller pool of candidates, therefore raising your chances of being the chosen one vs. being 1 of 200 resumes.
  • Headhunters are involved in about half of all senior-level job changes, according to a study by the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment. Your recruiter will likely know the human resources manager or hiring manager directly, so instead of being another faceless resume in a stack of eager applicants, let the recruiter do the leg work for you and become your cheerleader.
  • Recruiters only get paid when you get hired. A recruiter’s number one goal is to get you hired and until that happens they will do their best to educate you, prepare you, and coach you through all aspects of the interview and hiring process.  A headhunter’s services are free to job seekers, and the placement fees are paid to the recruiter by the company who hires you.
  • Recruiters provide no-cost advantages such as strategic career guidance, history on the company and the job you are interviewing for, detailed resume analysis, and suggestions on navigating the interview process.
  • You will have a “promoter” by working with a Recruiter who specializes in your industry. In presenting your resume to a potential company, the recruiter promotes your strengths and assets to the employer. The recruiter will also help the person meeting you to connect the dots between your work experience and the open job.
  • A Recruiter can help improve your interview skills. Job seekers who use the services of a recruitment firm are better prepared for job interviews and have the inside scoop about the company, as well as the expected skills and the intangibles that the hiring manager desires in a candidate.  Because your recruiter has probably worked with the hiring manager and the company on prior placements, your recruiter will very likely know specific questions and/or topics your interviewers will ask once you speak with them.  Think of it like knowing the exam questions prior to taking the test.
  • Headhunters have access to unpublished or hidden jobs not yet advertised or posted on the Internet.  There are a few companies – particularly in Technology – who prefer to keep some of their prized job openings out of view to the general public.  They do this for various reasons, but if you don’t have access to these jobs or know they exist, you certainly can’t interview for them.
  • Good Recruiters have a ton of industry contacts.  If you work with a seasoned Recruiter, they will know dozens (hopefully hundreds) of hiring managers who work within your field.  If you don’t get the first position you are interviewed for, your recruiter will likely have a few more in mind or know of several more that will open up in the future.
  • You can get great information through your Recruiter. A savvy recruiter can provide great insights about trends in your field and in your market, as well as provide a barometer of how much you should/could be earning and other compensation criteria, professional must-have skills, and pass along background on a company’s culture.
  • Confidentiality can be crucial.  In the new world of social media, it’s not a far-fetched possibility that your current employer could discover you are actively looking if you’ve posted your resume to every job board on the web.  In a perfect world, your employer wouldn’t take it as a negative, but it would certainly lead to some awkward moments in the office.

The Right Recruiter can Kick your Job Search into High Gear.

 

By: Corporate Dynamix

Prepare yourself… For your next interview!

STAR Interview

STAR Interviewing Response Technique for Success in Behavioral Job Interviews

One strategy for preparing for behavioral interviews is to use the STAR Technique, as outlined below. (This technique is often referred to as the SAR and PAR techniques as well.)

Situation or

Task

Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Action you took Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did — not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Results you achieved What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

QUINTESSENTIAL PARTNER INTERVIEWING RESOURCE:

Types of Interviews

All job interviews have the same objective, but employers reach that objective in a variety of ways. You might enter the room expecting to tell stories about your professional successes and instead find yourself selling the interviewer a bridge or editing code at a computer. One strategy for performing your best during an interview is to know the rules of the particular game you are playing when you walk through the door.

  1. Screening
  2. Informational
  3. Directive
  4. Meandering
  5. Stress
  6. Behavioral
  7. Audition
  8. Group
  9. Tag-Team
  10. Mealtime
  11. Follow-up

The Screening Interview

Companies use screening tools to ensure that candidates meet minimum qualification requirements. Computer programs are among the tools used to weed out unqualified candidates. (This is why you need a digital resume that is screening-friendly. See our resume center for help.) Sometimes human professionals are the gatekeepers. Screening interviewers often have honed skills to determine whether there is anything that might disqualify you for the position. Remember-they do not need to know whether you are the best fit for the position, only whether you are not a match. For this reason, screeners tend to dig for dirt. Screeners will hone in on gaps in your employment history or pieces of information that look inconsistent. They also will want to know from the outset whether you will be too expensive for the company.

Some tips for maintaining confidence during screening interviews:

� Highlight your accomplishments and qualifications.

� Get into the straightforward groove. Personality is not as important to the screener as verifying your qualifications. Answer questions directly and succinctly. Save your winning personality for the person making hiring decisions!

� Be tactful about addressing income requirements. Give a range, and try to avoid giving specifics by replying, “I would be willing to consider your best offer.”

� If the interview is conducted by phone, it is helpful to have note cards with your vital information sitting next to the phone. That way, whether the interviewer catches you sleeping or vacuuming the floor, you will be able to switch gears quickly.

The Informational Interview

On the opposite end of the stress spectrum from screening interviews is the informational interview. A meeting that you initiate, the informational interview is underutilized by job-seekers who might otherwise consider themselves savvy to the merits of networking. Job seekers ostensibly secure informational meetings in order to seek the advice of someone in their current or desired field as well as to gain further references to people who can lend insight. Employers that like to stay apprised of available talent even when they do not have current job openings, are often open to informational interviews, especially if they like to share their knowledge, feel flattered by your interest, or esteem the mutual friend that connected you to them. During an informational interview, the jobseeker and employer exchange information and get to know one another better without reference to a specific job opening.

This takes off some of the performance pressure, but be intentional nonetheless:

� Come prepared with thoughtful questions about the field and the company.

� Gain references to other people and make sure that the interviewer would be comfortable if you contact other people and use his or her name.

� Give the interviewer your card, contact information and resume.

� Write a thank you note to the interviewer.

The Directive Style

In this style of interview, the interviewer has a clear agenda that he or she follows unflinchingly. Sometimes companies use this rigid format to ensure parity between interviews; when interviewers ask each candidate the same series of questions, they can more readily compare the results. Directive interviewers rely upon their own questions and methods to tease from you what they wish to know. You might feel like you are being steam-rolled, or you might find the conversation develops naturally. Their style does not necessarily mean that they have dominance issues, although you should keep an eye open for these if the interviewer would be your supervisor.

Either way, remember:

� Flex with the interviewer, following his or her lead.

� Do not relinquish complete control of the interview. If the interviewer does not ask you for information that you think is important to proving your superiority as a candidate, politely interject it.

The Meandering Style

This interview type, usually used by inexperienced interviewers, relies on you to lead the discussion. It might begin with a statement like “tell me about yourself,” which you can use to your advantage. The interviewer might ask you another broad, open-ended question before falling into silence. This interview style allows you tactfully to guide the discussion in a way that best serves you.

The following strategies, which are helpful for any interview, are particularly important when interviewers use a non-directive approach:

� Come to the interview prepared with highlights and anecdotes of your skills, qualities and experiences. Do not rely on the interviewer to spark your memory-jot down some notes that you can reference throughout the interview.

� Remain alert to the interviewer. Even if you feel like you can take the driver’s seat and go in any direction you wish, remain respectful of the interviewer’s role. If he or she becomes more directive during the interview, adjust.

� Ask well-placed questions. Although the open format allows you significantly to shape the interview, running with your own agenda and dominating the conversation means that you run the risk of missing important information about the company and its needs.

The Stress Interview

Astounding as this is, the Greek hazing system has made its way into professional interviews. Either employers view the stress interview as a legitimate way of determining candidates’ aptness for a position or someone has latent maniacal tendencies. You might be held in the waiting room for an hour before the interviewer greets you. You might face long silences or cold stares. The interviewer might openly challenge your believes or judgment. You might be called upon to perform an impossible task on the fly-like convincing the interviewer to exchange shoes with you. Insults and miscommunication are common. All this is designed to see whether you have the mettle to withstand the company culture, the clients or other potential stress.

Besides wearing a strong anti-perspirant, you will do well to:

� Remember that this is a game. It is not personal. View it as the surreal interaction that it is.

� Prepare and memorize your main message before walking through the door. If you are flustered, you will better maintain clarity of mind if you do not have to wing your responses.

� Even if the interviewer is rude, remain calm and tactful.

� Go into the interview relaxed and rested. If you go into it feeling stressed, you will have a more difficult time keeping a cool perspective.

The Behavioral Interview

Many companies increasingly rely on behavior interviews since they use your previous behavior to indicate your future performance. In these interviews, employers use standardized methods to mine information relevant to your competency in a particular area or position. Depending upon the responsibilities of the job and the working environment, you might be asked to describe a time that required problem-solving skills, adaptability, leadership, conflict resolution, multi-tasking, initiative or stress management. You will be asked how you dealt with the situations.

Your responses require not only reflection, but also organization. To maximize your responses in the behavioral format:

� Anticipate the transferable skills and personal qualities that are required for the job.

� Review your resume. Any of the qualities and skills you have included in your resume are fair game for an interviewer to press.

� Reflect on your own professional, volunteer, educational and personal experience to develop brief stories that highlight these skills and qualities in you. You should have a story for each of the competencies on your resume as well as those you anticipate the job requires.

� Prepare stories by identifying the context, logically highlighting your actions in the situation, and identifying the results of your actions. Keep your responses concise and present them in less than two minutes.

The Audition

For some positions, such as computer programmers or trainers, companies want to see you in action before they make their decision. For this reason, they might take you through a simulation or brief exercise in order to evaluate your skills. An audition can be enormously useful to you as well, since it allows you to demonstrate your abilities in interactive ways that are likely familiar to you. The simulations and exercises should also give you a simplified sense of what the job would be like. If you sense that other candidates have an edge on you in terms of experience or other qualifications, requesting an audition can help level the playing field.

To maximize on auditions, remember to:

� Clearly understand the instructions and expectations for the exercise. Communication is half the battle in real life, and you should demonstrate to the prospective employer that you make the effort to do things right the first time by minimizing confusion.

� Treat the situation as if you are a professional with responsibility for the task laid before you. Take ownership of your work.

� Brush up on your skills before an interview if you think they might be tested.

The Group Interview

Interviewing simultaneously with other candidates can be disconcerting, but it provides the company with a sense of your leadership potential and style. The group interview helps the company get a glimpse of how you interact with peers-are you timid or bossy, are you attentive or do you seek attention, do others turn to you instinctively, or do you compete for authority? The interviewer also wants to view what your tools of persuasion are: do you use argumentation and careful reasoning to gain support or do you divide and conquer? The interviewer might call on you to discuss an issue with the other candidates, solve a problem collectively, or discuss your peculiar qualifications in front of the other candidates.

This environment might seem overwhelming or hard to control, but there are a few tips that will help you navigate the group interview successfully:

� Observe to determine the dynamics the interviewer establishes and try to discern the rules of the game. If you are unsure of what is expected from you, ask for clarification from the interviewer.

� Treat others with respect while exerting influence over others.

� Avoid overt power conflicts, which will make you look uncooperative and immature.

� Keep an eye on the interviewer throughout the process so that you do not miss important cues.

The Tag-Team Interview

Expecting to meet with Ms. Glenn, you might find yourself in a room with four other people: Ms. Glenn, two of her staff, and the Sales Director. Companies often want to gain the insights of various people when interviewing candidates. This method of interviewing is often attractive for companies that rely heavily on team cooperation. Not only does the company want to know whether your skills balance that of the company, but also whether you can get along with the other workers. In some companies, multiple people will interview you simultaneously. In other companies, you will proceed through a series of one-on-one interviews.

Some helpful tips for maximizing on this interview format:

� Treat each person as an important individual. Gain each person’s business card at the beginning of the meeting, if possible, and refer to each person by name. If there are several people in the room at once, you might wish to scribble down their names on a sheet of paper according to where each is sitting. Make eye contact with each person and speak directly to the person asking each question.

� Use the opportunity to gain as much information about the company as you can. Just as each interviewer has a different function in the company, they each have a unique perspective. When asking questions, be sensitive not to place anyone in a position that invites him to compromise confidentiality or loyalty.

� Bring at least double the anecdotes and sound-bites to the interview as you would for a traditional one-on-one interview. Be ready to illustrate your main message in a variety of ways to a variety of people.

� Prepare psychologically to expend more energy and be more alert than you would in a one-on-one interview. Stay focused and adjustable.

The Mealtime Interview

For many, interviewing over a meal sounds like a professional and digestive catastrophe in the making. If you have difficulty chewing gum while walking, this could be a challenge. With some preparation and psychological readjustment, you can enjoy the process. Meals often have a cementing social effect-breaking bread together tends to facilitate deals, marriages, friendships, and religious communion. Mealtime interviews rely on this logic, and expand it.

Particularly when your job requires interpersonal acuity, companies want to know what you are like in a social setting. Are you relaxed and charming or awkward and evasive? Companies want to observe not only how you handle a fork, but also how you treat your host, any other guests, and the serving staff.

Some basic social tips help ease the complexity of mixing food with business:

� Take cues from your interviewer, remembering that you are the guest. Do not sit down until your host does. Order something slightly less extravagant than your interviewer. If he badly wants you to try a particular dish, oblige him. If he recommends an appetizer to you, he likely intends to order one himself. Do not begin eating until he does. If he orders coffee and dessert, do not leave him eating alone.

� If your interviewer wants to talk business, do so. If she and the other guests discuss their upcoming travel plans or their families, do not launch into business.

� Try to set aside dietary restrictions and preferences. Remember, the interviewer is your host. It is rude to be finicky unless you absolutely must. If you must, be as tactful as you can. Avoid phrases like: “I do not eat mammals,” or “Shrimp makes my eyes swell and water.”

� Choose manageable food items, if possible. Avoid barbeque ribs and spaghetti.

� Find a discrete way to check your teeth after eating. Excuse yourself from the table for a moment.

� Practice eating and discussing something important simultaneously.

� Thank your interviewer for the meal.

The Follow-up Interview

Companies bring candidates back for second and sometimes third or fourth interviews for a number of reasons. Sometimes they just want to confirm that you are the amazing worker they first thought you to be. Sometimes they are having difficulty deciding between a short-list of candidates. Other times, the interviewer’s supervisor or other decision makers in the company want to gain a sense of you before signing a hiring decision.

The second interview could go in a variety of directions, and you must prepare for each of them. When meeting with the same person again, you do not need to be as assertive in your communication of your skills. You can focus on cementing rapport, understanding where the company is going and how your skills mesh with the company vision and culture. Still, the interviewer should view you as the answer to their needs. You might find yourself negotiating a compensation package. Alternatively, you might find that you are starting from the beginning with a new person.

Some tips for managing second interviews:

� Be confident. Accentuate what you have to offer and your interest in the position.

� Probe tactfully to discover more information about the internal company dynamics and culture.

� Walk through the front door with a plan for negotiating a salary.

� Be prepared for anything: to relax with an employer or to address the company’s qualms about you.