Tag Archives: Job interview

10 killer job interview questions that will knock you out!

It’s unfair to provide you with an encyclopedia of interview questions and expect you to become proficient in their use without overloading you with information. This is not productive, particularly when our objective is to get you to adapt to interviewers and a range of interview questions.

It’s unlikely that memorising answers to 100 interview questions will get you through the interview process. At interviews, you must be able to think clearly and adapt and modify your responses quickly rather than respond verbatim.

The following sample questions will assist you in answering a range of generic interview questions that are not necessarily behaviour based. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and it is likely you will encounter questions not mentioned in this book. The point is that authors of books that detail every question conceivable are doing you a disservice. I am more concerned about your ability to think on your feet, to expect the unexpected, and then to be able to answer that question to the best of your ability.

I know this is easier said than done because it requires composure, confidence, a rational thought process and experience of interviews. However, this can be managed with practice and interview experience. Seek to attend as many interviews as possible to practice your responses and to learn from them each time. You will find that you will grow in confidence with each occasion and become more adaptable at interviews. Practice with friends and family if possible.

Here are 10 killer questions to get you started;

1. What have you been criticised for in the past four years?
Reply: Provide an answer that is not so serious or trivial that it will disqualify you.
‘I offered some ideas I thought were constructive but was told not to rock the boat.’

2. Did you agree or disagree with the criticism and why?
Reply: ‘Agreeing with some of the criticism is a better response than agreeing with none of it at all.’

3. Where would you like to be in five years?
Reply: ‘I’d like to be in your job.’

4. How do you expect to get there?
Reply: Be clear and specific as to how you will meet the requirements and responsibilities to your career plan. Avoid common answers like ‘hard work’ and ‘attending courses’.

5. What would you like to change in this job to make it ideal?
Reply: ‘I don’t think it should be changed, I do think it has to be mastered and that is a challenging and exciting opportunity.’

6. How would you describe the most or least ideal boss you worked for?
Reply: ‘I can adapt to any style, particularly to someone who can give me enough directions, so I have a specific idea of what’s expected from me and then enough restraint not to hover over me every step of the way.’

7. What activities in your position do you enjoy most?
Reply: This question is designed to reveal your dislikes. The interviewer will make reference to the opposite of your answer when describing the activities you enjoy most. The best way to answer this question is think about how the activities you enjoy most can reveal your dislikes. You can do this by simply applying the opposite to your answer. For example, the opposite of ‘being part of a team’ is ‘bad morale’.

8. How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Reply: Combine your answer to convey strengths in both ability and personality such as: determined, likable, and successful.

9. How would your subordinates and peers describe you with three adjectives?
Reply: Answer with the same as for question 8 and smile.

10. What would you do if you detected a peer falsifying expense records?
Reply: ‘Report it’.

In my next article I will unleash the next 10 killer questions that will knock you out for six during the interview…

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How becoming a maze runner improved my job search…

maze 1

Most of us have seen the movie Maze Runner…young boys pitted in a futuristic experiment where they are conditioned to fear the maze. They are gripped by obstacles, threats and unrelenting fear to navigate  a maze that would eventually take them to the other side, and free them from their current surreal incarceration…and so the the story goes.

So what has this got to do with job search…have I completely lost my marbles and my expertise in practical job search techniques? Just stick to the routine I hear you say…keep with the script!

In my book, How to Find a Job in 6 Weeks, I discuss managing the myriad of employment agencies and their respective consultants during your job search. Just like another famous movie western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, it’s precisely what your going to encounter. Some employment agencies and their consultants are terrific at managing the relationship with applicants…and some are just plain terrible.

There are reasons for such a diversity in the level of service…and it comes down to one thing only…care factor. The better employment agencies care about you as a person and also help manage your career aspirations. They understand they are dealing with an important and sensitive issue around your professional and career advancement. Looking for a job can effect family, income and social status along the way. Dealing emphatically with these needs rather than just a name on an application form is what makes the difference. Some of the excuses you hear are centered around time versus effort and reward. That is, employment consultants can’t respond to every applicant personally because they are time poor and don’t have the resources. They need to get top candidates in front of clients quickly and strike while the irons hot… so they can make commission. It’s an economic reality driven by highly incentivised agents and the pressures associated with hitting targets. Understanding this reality will help you better manage your job search so that you don’t get too frustrated with the lack of care and attention you may receive as you navigate the job search maze.

On the flip side, the are employment agencies that manage the job search process much better and will dedicate some time in assisting with your career aspirations. They understand every candidate is a marketing prospect and a potential client in the future. They are just not spending time with you for the sake of it…they are fully aware of the future benefits of a satisfied job seeker with their business. In some cases, I have met employment consultants that really care about you as a person and genuinely try to provide whatever assistance they can to help you achieve you objective.

maze 2

So what does this mean to you as a job seeker? Here are some tips to help you manage your aspirations when dealing with employment agencies:

  1. Choose employment agencies you want to deal with when registering for work that are closer aligned with your values and career expectations…employment agencies compete heavily for recruitment assignments that are often outsourced by companies to multiple agencies
  2. Understand that not one employment agency has a monopoly on the job market or sector, and they don’t have a bucket load of jobs to tap into
  3. You should seek feedback after you have invested time in a recruitment process and been unsuccessful…you may be denied feedback…however, you have a right to some clarity if you can get it because it will assist your learning and help you develop your job search skills
  4. Unless you have been treated unfairly and there have been breaches to your rights…if you have not had a good experience, just move on and don’t let it get to you as more opportunities will present themselves in the future.
  5. Build good relationships with employment consultants that share your values and are prepared to respect and assist you along the way.

Employment agencies…friend or foe? As you navigate the job search maze and just like the maze runner…there is a new beginning when you finally get there. Keep your spirits up and focus on overcoming the obstacles in front of you in the best way you can. Job search is a temporary process and eventually we all find jobs and move onto the next chapter in our career.

 

5 Things to Tell Your Friends about Job Hunting…

 

5 critical success 2

5 critical success factors

Let me provide you with a reality check and a quick snap shot on the fundamentals around job search. Yes, everyone in the career and recruitment game has a theory or a view around the key steps to finding a job.  I have read most of them and I find them to be much the same with slight variations. The following are the foundations mentioned in my book that were developed through my own personal experience.  I can break it down into 5 key critical success factors:

  1. Successful job search skills knowledge
  2. Strong financial management initiatives
  3. Flexible and open career re-assessment
  4. Mental toughness and a strong belief system
  5. Managing your current job.

Successful Job Search Skills Knowledge

Key Success Factor Number 1

Your very first objective when you have lost your job is to get another job. Now that may sound a bit straightforward but it isn’t. To get another job today requires special knowledge and skill.

This is because in most situations, redundancy falls during times of economic slowdown, rising unemployment resulting in fewer jobs and greater competition. Labour economists call this an ‘oversupply of labour’ and this will cause an imbalance in the labour market favouring employers. That’s right – employers can pick and chose whomever they like and they know it. I think that competition is a key word here, because just like any other competitive scenario, nobody remembers who came second.

Your job search knowledge must consist of the following areas of competence:

  1. Ability to tap into the hidden job market
  2. Successful behavioural interview skills
  3. Good letter writing ability with a marketable resume
  4. Strong belief in yourself and mental stamina.

Successful job search skills knowledge is critical and my book focuses heavily on this key area. I have covered all of the above areas of competence in separate chapters so that you can easily move from one key activity to another. Your ability to network with others and perform well at interviews will be paramount.

Your ability to write good covering letters and have a well-written up-to-date resume is equally important.

Strong Financial Management Initiatives

Key Success Factor Number 2

Money management is certainly an area of great stress during redundancy or loss of job. This is because your comfort zone has been taken away from you. The weekly or fortnightly pay you have relied upon is no longer there and you are concerned about where your next pay is coming from. I have seen this scenario cause great stress to people with debts, mortgages, and young families particularly where there is only a single income earner.

I have always felt a correlation with money management and the ability to focus on getting a job. If you can take the pressure of monetary matters away from you for a short time then your ability to focus on job hunting improves significantly. The distraction of money worries does not help you focus on interview performance and getting that job. You may become desperate and make the wrong career move in the name of security. You must focus on managing your money immediately after a job loss and here are 10 financial tips to get you started:

  1. Speak to your bank about lowering your mortgage repayments immediately. You will find that over the years you have probably increased your repayments either deliberately or through interest rate reductions. Pay the minimum amount possible for now and forget about paying your house off sooner. That is not a priority now and you must review your financial objectives.
  2. With your redundancy payment pay-off credit card debt either in part or full and decrease the number of bills and interest you must pay monthly.
  3. Eliminate all unnecessary spending. All those nice things to have such as pay television, domestic servants, magazine subscriptions and memberships should be reviewed.
  4. If you have money tied up in investments such as shares or fixed interest term deposits, withdraw this money either in part or full and create a buffer zone for emergencies. Hold this money in an everyday ‘at call’ account for psychological security. This buffer zone will make you feel more secure and comfortable and allow you to focus on job hunting.
  5. Watch your spending and don’t behave as though you are still employed. This is the toughest part because it involves changing your lifestyle and habits. Holidays, clothes and any other regular purchases such as household items and entertainment expenses must be slashed. Believe me, they are not important now and you will survive until things are back on track again.
  6. Be economical with controllable household utilities expenses such as gas, electricity, telephone and your food budget. I managed to save $150 a month on food for my family by just watching for price specials, comparing prices and being more selective.
  7. Create a strict budget that is achievable and try to work within it. It will help you stick to targets and operate within set budget guidelines.
  8. Apply for social security payments. The money will not be enough to live on but it will stretch your savings further buying you more time for job search.
  9. If your finances become too tight prepare to refinance your home as the last resort. Again, this is not a preferred option but the key to job success is time.
  10. Talk about the prospects of borrowing money from family only if necessary. You will need a very supportive family for this and be prepared to pay them back when you get a job.

Flexible and Open Career Re-Assessment

Key Success Factor Number 3

My advice in this instance is get out of your comfort zone whatever you do! Too many people I have helped in their career transition have hindered their job search prospects by sticking to old beliefs and methods of approach. It has to do with familiarity and what people know best, a type of comfort zone holding you prisoner within an electric fence. Once you have lost your job your life will change from despair to opportunity.

I say this because it’s a perfect opportunity to try something new and different. That’s right, you have nothing to lose now and you can experiment and try new ideas and concepts. Stretch yourself and become excited with the thought that everything you have always dreamed of doing outside your steady and regular job has now arrived. It is time to try to test new ideas, experiment with new concepts or see where your hobbies will take you. I commenced writing my book to keep me busy when I lost my job.

Key success factor 3 is about open career re-assessment. To sit down and analyse your career options carefully rather than focusing on getting back to your regular day job or profession that you have been working for so many years.

It is time for a break and a re-assessment of your career wants and needs. In this book I dedicate a chapter to career options. I recommended that you consider a variety of options such as:

  • Starting your own business or franchise
  • Developing a new concept, idea or invention
  • Consider going back to school and undertaking further studies
  • Develop your hobbies into a potential income source
  • Try a new career in a totally different industry and/or profession
  • Take a sabbatical and enjoy the beautiful pleasures of the world.

Whatever you decide to do, flexibility in thought and total career re-assessment will enable you to increase your options in life. When you are in career transition mode I can easily teach you job search skills and how to apply them, however, your view on life and how you exercise your career options is a thought process that only you can act upon. Life is all about increasing your options and then picking the best one for yourself.

Don’t limit yourself when you lose your job, open yourself to all possibilities and explore your opportunities to their fullest. Would you believe I was motivated to write this book when I was between jobs? I had always wanted to write a book about assisting others achieve better employment prospects but I always thought it too hard and time-consuming.

The truth was that I had never written anything substantial before and just the thought of commencing it made me feel uncomfortable. I had some spare time up my sleeve and I decided to give it a try, each day I wrote two or three pages and my intensity and confidence grew each time. I also enjoyed it immensely and thought about writing as a new career. I reassessed my career options and was willing to try and experience other things, so can you!

Mental Toughness and a Strong Belief System

Key Success Factor Number 4

Losing your job is one of the toughest events that can happen to you in life. All of a sudden your standard of living, prosperity and your perception of yourself is challenged. Not easy thoughts to deal with on a daily basis.

If you have a family with young children and a mortgage like the majority of us, then matters can get worse because others dear to you and reliant upon your steady employment are also affected. There is nothing like coming home to your partner and informing them you no longer have a suitable job and watching their jaw drop all the way to the ground in a split second.

I learned very quickly that being sorry for myself was not going to help me and what had happened in my previous job was over and done with. I could not change the past but I could ensure that the present and future be better managed with a new way of thinking. The best way to get another job is to stay focused and challenged, to be mentally tough. If you cannot do this for yourself then do it for your loved ones who rely on you. Many authors describe this situation of downward spiralling anxiety and depression as ‘learned helplessness’. You believe that no matter what you do, nothing can help you out of your current situation, and that you are destined for doom and failure.

This is not true, learned helplessness will not get you another job, but mental toughness and a strong belief in yourself and your abilities will. All situations are temporary and you are just entering a trough in your life cycle. Soon it will get better and you will enter a resurgent growth stage and rise towards a new peak in your life.

However, you must believe in your abilities strongly because your belief system will control your thoughts and actions. A belief is nothing more than a feeling of certainty about what something means to you. In this book we discuss belief systems in more detail and expose how you can better control your beliefs towards positive thinking. These are beliefs that can help provide you with energy and a form of mental toughness to keep you going in a positive direction.

Managing Your Current Job

Key Success Factor Number 5

I have made it very clear in my book that good jobs are hard to find today and that the oversupply of good candidates ensures that employers have the upper hand at recruitment. This is what we are dealing with in the new millennium and sometimes we may lose sight of this and feel that the grass is greener on the other side.

Working as a professional employee relations practitioner for many years, I have seen many people leave good jobs simply because they were not good at managing or keeping their current employment. I don’t mean that you should give up better opportunities, far from it. I am referring to those who have left their employment in difficult circumstances or were not entirely happy with their workplace circumstances at the time. It is easier for us to lose our composure rather than think a situation through rationally during difficult circumstances.

The grass is not always greener on the other side. All businesses have their political issues, difficult people to get along with and peculiarities that don’t always make sense, and perhaps, some companies are more prone to this than other. The key is to better manage your career and your job whereas you can rationally think through those difficult moments and ensure you continue to maintain positive relationships in the workplace. All things pass in life and sometimes it may be nothing more than a difficult phase the company is going through. If you are being counselled for poor performance, have a hard look at yourself and determine whether there is genuinely room for improvement.

You may find that you can turn it around with a dedicated personal approach and commitment. If someone is making your life miserable focus on better managing others in the workplace and see if you can change the situation by adopting new and different strategies to better manage this person. There are many courses, books and mentors in the workplace that can assist you overcome difficult situations through their own experiences.

How to avoid being swindled at the job interview?

Swindled

Job Interview Swindler

It can happen to the best of professionals. The company representative or recruiter will create an illusion of grandeur unsurpassed with promises they can’t keep. They feed on your hunger to be wanted, loved, and appreciated for every little bit you stand for. And you say to yourself, “my boss does not treat me like this…these guys must be great to work for.” It’s a facade that is well presented and immaculately served to you on a platter in a way that you can not see the rotting truth underneath.

Yes my dear friends, it has happened to me also. Sucked in by the charisma of the moment and the adrenalin rush that overwhelms you straight after. We are taken off to a place, la la land, where we think we’re in such demand that we are now invincible. At this point, we are blindly about to be swindled! The only catch is  your career is at stake and your future prosperity is about to take a nose dive. Oh yes, lets not underestimate the costly mistake you have made by choosing the wrong job,  Your boss turns out to be totally opposite to his projection and profile and is a psycho in waiting with massive mood swings. The organisational culture is sick and suffering from the ravages of primal behavior and fear. You have gotten yourself into a fine mess and your strategy now turns to exiting the business before you are jettisoned yourself.

It did not have to be like this and precautionary action could have been taken prior to accepting the job. There are a number of things you could have done before accepting the job offer as part of your job search routine. It’s about stealth researching and getting underneath the nose of the bullshit you have been told at the interview to find out the truth. Research is more than just reading the annual report or articles in the press. Anyway, most companies pay to be written up well as part of their marketing strategy. You need to go deeper and talk to people in the industry who know the machinations of the company.

Speak to people who understand the industry you are about to enter and their views about the company you are about to join as an employee. You will find out the stuff  between the lines and what is underneath the cracks. What is the leadership team really like and how are their values and behaviors? What about the culture of the workplace and are the employees happy? Has employee turnover been high and why? Do they have a good safety record, and if not, why are people being hurt? Always remember that good companies are judged by the way they behave when things are not going well with an employee, and not just when they are performing magnificently. I say this because we all have our difficult moments in work life and rough patches at times. We are not made perfect and organisations that can help you when the chips are down, and get you back on your feet performing at the right level, are better to work for than those that will spit you out.

Then it gets really tough and you want to find out more about your boss and your bosses boss. We are considering not just their projection and profile but how they manage people in the workplace. What is their management style really like and how do they generally behave in difficult circumstances? What would their direct reports say about them and describe their attributes altogether? Finding this out will be worth its weight in gold as it may prevent you from making a costly career decision later on. Remember, you are making a fundamental decision at an interview. To choose the company you want to work for for many years to come, progress you career and grow your capability during this time.

There is a website you can research company reviews by past and current employees that remain anonymous, at glassdoor.com.au with over 4 million review so far. I wish I had knowledge about his web site previously before accepting job offers. It would have rounded off my research nicely and assisted me before getting swindled at the job interview!

 

‘Jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs’ – Job Myth of Fact?

Interview Outfit 1

Interview Outfit 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what are the secrets to job success? Do jobs really go to those that are good at getting jobs?

Lets bust this job myth open and uncover some key ingredients that elite job hunters use in their skill set to propel them to the top of the pile.

How critical it is today for employers to ensure they can achieve a quality match during the recruitment process when screening possible candidates. Your projection and profile may be the only thing left standing when applicants of equal ability are key contenders for a job. Your ability to align with corporate values and mission statements is essential. Companies will want you to be an extension of their corporate profile and you will be measured on your ability to fit the mold.

If you can obtain information on the corporate values of the company you are attending an interview for and can translate that into your profile, then you have a definite edge.

Research the founder of the company and what type of person they are. See if you can obtain articles on the company and write-ups on the CEO. Is the company older, traditional and more conservative or is it a new, vibrant and an entrepreneurial business? Do your homework and get that edge on other candidates.

You will be asked questions at interviews that seek to project your personal, business and professional profiles. Employers are always interested in your profiles as part of trying to establish a key match. For example does your professional profile match the organizational profile and corporate culture? Here are questions you may encounter that focus on your profiles:

  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. How would people you work with describe you?
  3. How would your superiors describe you?

During the interview process, try wherever practicable to reflect on your personal and professional profiles in your responses to interview questions.

Personal Profile

Professional Profile

 

Reliability

Drive

Honesty

Motivation

Pride

Communication skills

Dedication

Team-player

Analytical skills

Energy

Listening

Confidence

Integrity

Determination

During the interview, it is good practice to add to your personal and professional profile by reflecting on your business profile. Your business profile is an indication of your work ethics. Companies are always interested in the prospective candidate’s work ethics and will consider various behaviours such as getting to work on time and working late if required.

Interviewers will test your ability to get tasks done more efficiently and economically by thinking of improved ways of doing things. Companies also have rules and standards called procedures and they expect employees to follow these rules all the time whilst performing their daily activities. The bottom line is about money and companies are profit-making organisations, so your ability to contribute to business profit growth will be considered positively by employers.

Build your business profile into your answer to interview questions wherever possible. The following is a list of the key business profiles you should consider:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Economy
  3. Procedures
  4. Profit

So there you have it…what elite job hunters practice as their key ingredient for success…they have a self awareness of their projection and profile and how it translates into a compelling business profile. Its about seeking a quality fit with the organisation and its culture. This is how jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs.

15 Power-words to Apply to your Resume

The Power of Yes

Power words to apply to resumes

Below are a few words to get you started that can be used to commence a phrase when describing your achievements in your resume. They are words employers like because they reflect leadership qualities and solutions based initiatives. Try to think of other words that may reflect your personal achievements to use in your resume.

Negotiated

Instrumental Represented

Developed

Initiated

Designed

Achieved

Introduced

Coordinated

Managed

Contributed

Influenced

Successfully Ensured

Coordinated

 Power phrases to apply to your resume

Below are some phrases I have used in my resume that can be applied to your own resume to reflect key achievements. Achievements are important because they reflect what you are capable of professionally and they also demonstrate your potential. Achievements need to be true and credible, so don’t just use everyday achievements. Focus on milestones, projects and your own key initiatives that have brought about a benefit or change to the company. Power phrases can be used to describe achievements where you have:

  1. Reduced costs of a specific process
  2. Completed a major project on time
  3. Lead a team of others in achieving a major goal
  4. Introduced a personal initiative or implemented an idea. 

Below are some examples of power phrases I have used to demonstrate my achievements:

  • Managed business downsizing and redundancy program eventually leading to business closure for a large automotive components manufacturer and successfully negotiated redundancy conditions with the union.
  • Formulated and implemented comprehensive strategic competency based training model for a division of a large blue chip Australian company.
  • Managed a department of up to five diverse human resource professionals and several key contract and facilities providers.
  • Contributed to financial year budget cost-down process by reducing the HR budget by 10%.
  • Lodged successful tenders for $50,000 in training funding to deliver a broad range of industry specific competency based programs at the workplace.
  • Achieved approximately $200,000 productivity savings by negotiating and implementing three key productivity items resulting from enterprise bargaining negotiations.

14 point sanity check for detecting Psycho Babble at work

Psycho (Imelda May song)

If it wasn’t so funny it would be serious, very serious. The bearers of bad behavior are alive and well strutting their stuff day in, day out…in a mixture of disguises. They know when to turn it on and off, almost to perfection, as they trance around the workplace manipulating in subversive behavior  Their goal…control, authority and power at your expense. So how can this be and why do they get away with it?

 “The number one aim of a corporate psycho is to protect themselves.”

To understand the answer to this question there must be an acceptance that such people really exist and survive in organisations through a web of complex partnerships and cultures that have developed over time. That’s right, they don’t play alone! There is a support network that may not encourage their bad behaviour, but are aware of it, and how it impacts on the morale of employees. In just about every company I have worked in as a human resources professional, I have encountered this kind of subversion culture in some form or another. In some workplaces psycho babble can be described as;

  1. Protected species
  2. Anointed ones
  3. Untouchables
  4. Dragons
  5. Clicks
  6. Political animals

It’s not easy determining if one of your colleagues is engaged in psycho babble. The 14 point checklist below may assist in early detection. However, this is just a snapshot and more detailed assessment is required.

  • Superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Need for stimulation and prone to boredom
  • Pathological lying
  • Conning and manipulative behaviour
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallow emotional effect
  • Callous lack of empathy for others
  • Parasitic lifestyle and taking credit for other people’s work
  • Poor behavioural control
  • Promiscuous sexual behaviour
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Inability to take responsibility
  • General irresponsibility

The 5 Emotional cancerous behaviours of fragmented people are:

  1. Criticizing
  2. Complaining
  3. Comparing
  4. Competing
  5. Contending 

It not easy trying to deal with a corporate psycho because they may have the favour of their boss and their wrong doings are filtered. My only advice is that eventually they will unravel themselves and expose their rear guard. So sit back and watch them implode into a frenzy of all sorts.

Perhaps you want to take the quiz…this is a screening measure to help you determine whether you might have been a victim of workplace psycho babble. Answer the following questions based upon the your boss’s behavior during the past 6 months and good luck!

http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/workplace.htm