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Most Common Job Interview Questions

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Job Interviewing is all about research, confidence and creating a good rapport. The hiring manager needs to know that you are capable of performing the tasks of the job and also that you will be a good addition to the team.

Without doubt the two most asked job interview questions are “what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses”. Below are some tips on how to answer these tricky questions.

1) What are your greatest strengths?

Few candidates can show up to an interview and answer every question with ease. Preparation is key to a successful interview. If you have to sit and think about what your greatest strengths are during the interview, you’ll risk appearing unsure of your own capabilities and the interviewer won’t be reassured in your ability to perform well in the position. Prior to an interview, you should know exactly what your top strengths are in the workplace. Make a list of all your strengths and then choose the top 5 you want to express in the interview based on the desired skills and attributes for the specific position you are interviewing for. You should always remember to back up the strengths you profess with examples of times you have demonstrated those strengths in the workplace. Use this question to highlight how your attributes will help you succeed in this position.

Tip: Use the job posting as a guide to match your own strengths with the skills and attributes the company is looking for in an ideal candidate. Although you might be a whiz with numbers, there’s no point listing it as your greatest strength if you’ll be working directly with clients and not using any numbers in the position. Be honest and don’t say you’re great at something you’re not, however you should prioritize the key strengths you want to express to the interviewer with the ones they list on the job description. For example, if the job description says the candidate they want is “highly detail-oriented and organized”, then one of the strengths you mention should be your strong organizational skills or that you are detail-oriented.

2) What is your biggest weakness?

This is a tricky question if you’re not prepared. You are trying to land the job, so of course you don’t want to tell employers all of your weaknesses that may make you look bad. On the other hand, you also don’t want to avoid the question, lie and say you have no weaknesses, or give a clichéd response. For example, I’ve heard a lot of candidates say their biggest weakness is that they are a perfectionist in the workplace…really? Although some interviewers will enjoy a joke to this question, most hiring managers want a real answer.

This is a key question you need to prepare for before the interview. Don’t mention any weaknesses that will prevent you from getting hired for the job. Remember the weakness should be work-related so hiring managers don’t want to hear about how you leave your dishes in the sink for over a week. A well thought-out answer can turn this tricky question into a positive. Be sure to back up each weakness with things you are proactively doing to improve on that weakness.

The best way to respond to this question is to either:

a) Mention a weakness that is irrelevant (or at least not critical) to the position you are applying for. In order to be effective, you should already know the key skills and attributes desirable for the position and think about skills that are not essential to succeed in the position. You can even find weaknesses that can actually be seen as strengths for certain positions. For example, if the position requires strong attention to detail you can say that sometimes you are overly meticulous about the details of a project.

b) State a weakness that is only a weakness because you haven’t had the opportunity to develop your skills in that area. For example, you can say that although you’ve taken a course in public speaking, you haven’t had the opportunity to use your presentation skills in your previous position and you’d like to develop your skills more in this area.

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What Do You Do When Your Resume Is Bare?

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

guest-blogging-1One of the first steps in making the transition from student to job seeker is to create a professional resume. At first glance it may seem like you don’t have much to put on your resume, however if you assess your past experiences you’ll realize you have more relevant experience to highlight on your resume than you think. Employers look to your past performance to predict your success in the future. As a student or recent graduate, jobs aren’t the only way you can demonstrate your prior success. Remember that resume writing is all about highlighting your achievements. Don’t forget to include examples and evidence to further promote your value added skills to hiring managers.

6 Things to Include on your Resume as a Current Student or Recent Graduate…

Relevant Coursework:

As a student or recent graduate, employers realize that so far most of your life has been spent in the classroom, learning and studying. It’s beneficial to highlight coursework that is related to the field you’re applying for. This can show employers that you’ve learned relevant material from your studies and that you have thorough knowledge that can be an asset to their company.

Internships:

Of course you’ll want to include any and all student internships you’ve had in the past. It’s always better if you’ve participated in an internship related to the jobs you’re applying for; however having any type of internship can show a level of maturity and responsibility. It also shows that you’ve been exposed to a real working environment and are better prepared to enter the workforce.

Part-time/ Summer Jobs:

Don’t belittle your part-time or seasonal work experience. A job in retail or summer camp may not seem relevant to the field you’re going into, however you learn a great deal of foundational skills by having a part-time job that prepares you for having a full-time position. Employers like to see that you’re mature enough to hold a job and learn some basic skills and work ethic.

Volunteer Work:

Volunteering can also provide valuable skills and promote leadership and cooperation. It’s good to include any volunteering you’ve been part of in the past, as it can also demonstrate maturity, responsibility, team work and cooperation.

Extra-curricular Activities:

Feel free to list relevant extra-curricular activities on your resume. Anything you do on your free time that shows commitment, leadership, team work, etc. You can demonstrate skills you’ve acquired through your extra-curricular activities. For example if you’ve played on a sports team while in school, this can show you’re a team player and able to successfully handle multiple tasks.

Memberships/ Affiliations:

Including relevant memberships and affiliations can help demonstrate your commitment to a particular field of study, issue, or show your success in a certain area if membership is merit-based.

About the Author:

Amanda Ryan is a Program Development Associate & Senior Resume Writer at RedStarResume. Amanda is a highly skilled resume writing expert and career expert who also specialises in creating, writing and developing career content, working alongside student and graduate job seekers and developing career content for newsletters, partners and career websites.

 

Simple Steps to Job Interviewing

Job SearchingMaking the right impression in your job interview is one of the most important steps in your future career. Many people don’t realise that being successful in your interview begins before you even arrive at the interview. Job interviewing requires careful planning, otherwise you will significantly reduce the chance of getting the job. In the current economic climate, competition for jobs is extreme and hiring managers can receive hundreds of job candidates for every job they advertise. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to properly prepare for your job interview.

Research is the key to success

The first (and sometimes most important) thing to do is conduct research about the job and company. With so much company information available online you can easily begin to educate yourself on the company’s culture, philosophy and values. The more information you can acquire the better your chances at impressing the interviewer. With knowledge of the company you can subtlety use this information during the interview (when appropriate). Don’t overdo it though – you don’t want to sound like you’re repeating their whole website!

Practice makes perfect

A great way to practice job interviewing is to role play with a friend or family member. Ask them to question you on your resume and the job you’re applying for to fully prepare you for the interview. Remember the 4 Ws – Who, What, Where and Why. The interviewer will ask ‘Who’ you are, so give them a little detail about your life without overdoing it. Interviewers will also get you to explain ‘What’ your skills are. If you have done your research about the company properly, you will have no problem doing this. Make sure you focus mainly on the skills that the company or job is looking for.

The interviewer will also ask you ‘Where’ you have worked before. It’s worth calling up your previous job (if any) and asking them to write a reference just to back up your claims. Explain the position and the responsibilities that you had with your last job. The final W – ‘Why’ – is the most important of them all. The interviewer will ask you ‘Why’ you want this job. Think of a clever answer for this one. Don’t just say you’re doing it for the money, for example. Say something about bringing and valuable skills to their workplace.

Dress to impress

After completing your research you can begin to plan your attire. Remember that you should always dress to fit the context of a job. If you’re applying for a casual gardening company, a suit might not be ideal, but if you’re applying for a position as an accountant or a banker, then a full suit would be the required minimum.

Final point:

Don’t forget that non-verbal messages are often more important than words, so make sure that you greet your interviewer with a firm handshake. Maintaining correct posture and eye contact are also two very important non-verbal messages as they portray a more confident and presentable image.

© RedStarResume Publicationshttp://www.redstarresume.com/

The Job search market can be a tricky place to navigate. Whether you are just starting out, moving up the ladder or changing your current situation, RedStarResume have all the resources to help improve your chances of success.

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5 Things To Exclude On Your Resume

jobwantedI recently worked with a client who had a 13 page resume! It included every single job for the past 25 years and a full page describing what he was looking for in his next role. The resume even included icons and pictures of the places of employment where he had worked. The document was so large to open that I was scared it contained a virus (no jokes!). He had applied unsuccessfully for numerous jobs before deciding it was time to call upon a resume writing company to analyse his resume.

Knowing what to include in your resume is just as important as knowing what to exclude. Don’t waste time with information that does not add value. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t have time to read through every resume with a fine tooth comb.

Below are 5 things that need to be excluded from your resume:

The word “Resume” or “Curriculum Vitae” or “CV” at the top of the resume:

When a hiring manager or recruiter first opens your resume what is the first thing they see? Is it your name or is it a big bold heading that says “Resume”? When you are applying for a job it goes without saying that you are including your resume… do you really have to spell it out for them? Not only does writing “Resume” at the top take up valuable real estate space on your resume, but it also adds no value to your application.

Objective Statement:

Does your resume have a generic objective statement where you tell the reader what you are looking for in a job? Something similar to “Looking to utilise my skills to gain additional skills and experience”? If your resume reads like this do yourself a favour and delete it immediately. Hiring managers want to know that you your resume is written to target their jobs and that you have the skills and experience for that particular role. Stand out from the crowd by replacing your objective statement with a qualifications profile and highlight to the reader what you have to offer their organisation.

Too much contact information:

How much personal contact information is required in your resume? My advice is to include your name, email address and mobile number. If you have a LinkedIn profile URL I would include this as well. All other personal information such as date of birth, marriage status, number of kids, religion, race, country of birth, passport details etc. are not required on the resume.

Interest and Hobbies:

Unless it can add value to your job application there is no need to include your interest and hobbies within your resume. The fact that you like going on long walks, reading autobiographies and travelling to exotic places will not enhance your resume. Your resume needs to target the job you are applying for and although you may have a long list of extra-curricular activities you like to pursue this list does not belong on your resume.

References:

Your personal and business references do not belong on the resume unless specifically asked. References are typically checked after you apply for the job and are interviewed, and these are supplied to hiring managers on request. There is no need to flood your resume with references. They take up valuable space in your resume and 99/100 times will not even be looked at by the hiring manager. Ensure you have a list of references ready to go, but keep these ready for after you nail the job interview.

© RedStarResume Publications – http://www.redstarresume.com/

Specializing in Executive Resume Writing

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Job Interview Time And I Am Freaking Out

freak-outResume writing and applying for jobs was easy. Now I have been called for a job interview and I am freaking out.

Preparing for the job interview requires you to get a few things in order first before you appear at the official interview. Remember that first impressions are the most lasting and you’ll want to make your job interview the best impression possible so you can maximize your chances of getting the position.

Find below 4 simple tips to keep in mind when you are going to your job interview. Doing each of them right will help your chances of getting hired.

Be on Time:

This cannot be stressed enough. If you can’t make it to your job interview on time, you shouldn’t bother to show up at all. Showing up late not only presents an unprofessional image, but it also tells the hiring manager that you are either not that interested or cannot be trusted to show up. Would you want to hire someone who comes late to a job interview?

The easiest advice is to leave early and allow plenty of time for traffic. If you have not been to the office location before, ensure that you have printed off directions and have a clear understanding of how to get to your destination. The most optimal time to get to an interview is 15 minutes early. This will also allow you to complete any paperwork that may be required. If you do find yourself arriving for the interview extremely early go and find a coffee shop and relax before the job interview. Sitting in the business offices for an extended time is not advised. Imagine being invited to someone’s house for dinner at 8pm and showing up at 6.30!

Dress Appropriately:

Wearing a tattered t-shirt and ripped blue jeans will probably not help you get an office job. Conversely, showing up in a tuxedo will probably not help you land an auto mechanic job either. When you walk through the doors to your interview what you are wearing will impact on the first impression the hiring manager will make. Believe it or not, but how you dress can make a huge impact on your interview.

Elaborate your Answers:

I have sat face to face with many job seekers who have answered all interview questions with only yes or no answers. It goes without saying that none of these candidates got the jobs. When preparing for your interview you need to be able to anticipate the type of questions that you will be asked and prepare answers accordingly. My secret is to write down 10 career accomplishments with specific examples and adapt these achievements into your answers. This way you have examples ready to go, no matter what type of questions are asked.

Ask Questions:

Don’t be intimidated by the job interview. The interview process is much about you finding out about the business and if the business is the right fit for you. Prepare yourself before the interview with several questions that you can ask. Don’t ask about money or benefits, but ask instead about the culture of the business, the organizational future goals, the responsibilities of the job position and other questions that are important for you and your career.

© RedStarResume Publications – http://www.redstarresume.com

Click here to buy the brand new Ebook from RedStarResume “Interview Secrets Exposed” is an insider’s guide on everything you need to know in order to nail your job interview.

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The 10 Biggest Job Interview Mistakes

pass-fail-mediocre-what-grade-would-a-us-employer-or-healthcare-carrier-give-your-hospital-or-clinic-mainIf you’re not used to interviewing, you may not know what to expect. We’ve listened to hiring managers, career experts, job recruiters and even our very own team of resume writers to find out some of the biggest interview mistakes job seekers make! Some are common, while others most of us would never dream of doing. Check the list and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes!

Showing up half an hour late. Hiring managers and interviewers are busy people. If you waste their time by being late to the interview, you’re not going to make a good impression. Many interviewers will discard your application just for being late.

Wearing jeans to your interview. Surprisingly, some people actually wear jeans and shorts to interviews. Even if the industry you’re applying to is casual, you should still wear dress pants and a formal top. Dressing too casual is a sign you’re not serious about the position.

Asking about salary and vacation time during the first interview. Of course we all care about how much the salary is and can’t wait to get those days off, however if you bring this up before an offer has been made, employers will question your interest in the position and think you don’t care what job you take as long as you get a paycheck.

Questionable social media content. Believe it or not, over 50% of employers do briefly check your social media sites. Having revealing photos, being intoxicated or having very bad grammar in your posts may cause alarm for employers. Be sure to clean up your sites before you interview.

Talking extensively about your personal life. You should be personable and provide details about questions asked, however there’s nothing worse for interviewers than candidates talking too much about irrelevant information, keeping the interview from progressing. Try not to bring up too many personal details unless prompted to by the interviewer.

Bad-mouthing a former boss or employer. Ever heard the phrase “it’s a small world”? In many industries, people have worked with many different professionals over the years. Don’t risk making yourself look bad by talking negatively about a former boss or employer who may know or have ties to this new company. If you do this, it also worries employers that you may speak badly about them in the future.

Not doing your research ahead of time. This is one of the most frequent complaints made by employers. Many candidates don’t know much about the company they’re interviewing for, making employers question how much they really want the position. A little research goes a long way. At least check out the website, board members and an annual report before you go for your interview.

Not asking enough questions. If you’re not asking questions, employers don’t think you’re serious about the position. Ask questions that show you’ve done your research and that relate to the position you’re applying for.

Stating that you’re only applying for the position as a last resort. Employers assume you’re applying for other positions as well, but don’t make it seem like you’re applying anywhere and everywhere. Try to limit sharing that you’re looking at other positions unless specifically asked.

Chewing gum or answering your phone during the interview. Believe it or not, some people actually take a phone call during the interview. Needless to say, this will NOT win you any brownie points with interviewers! You should also be sure to spit out your gum before the interview. It’s distracting and takes away from your professionalism.

© RedStarResume Publications – http://www.redstarresume.com.au/

Amanda Ryan is a Program Development Associate & Resume Writing specialist at RedStarResume.

Need the help of a professional resume writer with expert resume writing skills? Contact the team at RedStarResume!

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Job Interview Preparation

Interview Secrets Exposed - CopyPreparing for a job interview can be quite stressful, especially if you haven’t been to one in quite some time. For many, it really comes down to preparation because the better prepared you are, the greater your chances of landing that position you’ve been working so hard to get. In this post, you will discover some important job interview preparation techniques to help you rise above your competition.

Gather and prepare your job search documents:

There are a few documents you’ll need to have on hand when going on an interview, and it will be extremely important to have them all before leaving. Some of those documents include your ID, a completed resume, reference pages, cover letter, reference letters, performance reviews, diplomas, certificates, or anything else that pertains to the specific position you are interviewing for.

Clothing is Vital – select something appropriate for the occasion

When people say that first impressions are everything, it’s the truth. Dress to target the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a framing position in construction, for example, you will not arrive to the interview in a 3 piece suit. Look at what others are wearing within that company and dress accordingly.

Scope out the location:

It’s always better to get the directions sorted out before leaving for the interview. If you’ve never been there before, go there a day ahead of time and search the place out. This way when you leave on the day of the interview, finding it will not be an issue. There is nothing worse than getting lost on the way to the interview and showing up late.

Perform your due-diligence on the company:

Do your research on the company and find out information about what they do, how they are perceived in the marketplace, and any other information that can be used in the interview during the Q & A session. The more information you know about them, the greater your ability to tailor your interview answers accordingly.

Practice Q & A’s

Practice makes perfect! Prepare a list of potential interview questions and answers. Have a friend or family member fire questions at you to get you prepared for the intensity of the interview.

Arrive at least 15 minutes early

Always get to the job interview early. Rule of thumb is to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early. There are several reasons for this. The main reason is to show interest in the company and to show you are on time. The other is there may be a lot of paperwork that will need to be filled out ahead of the interview, so getting there early will help the process move along smoothly.

Final points:

With the current state economy, you simply have to prepare better than the next person in order to nail the job interview. The greater your preparation and research, the greater your chance of finding success. If you do miss out on landing that new job, don’t fret – just learn from it because each time you will get that much better.

© RedStarResume Publications – http://www.redstarresume.com

Click here to buy the brand new Ebook from RedStarResume “Interview Secrets Exposed” is an insider’s guide on everything you need to know in order to nail your job interview.

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