Archive for the ‘Interviewing’ category

Finalist in an interview? Here’s how to break the tie.

June 28, 2012

This article offers some interesting thoughts on how to draw a final decision your way, if you are one of two or three finalists for a job.

How to Break the Tie–When You’re One of Two Great Candidates.



How to Explain a Low GPA

June 12, 2012

A GPA below 3.0 is generally considered “low.” A low GPA is not a job-killer, but it is something that you should be prepared to explain.

This brief article has some helpful tips: How to Explain a Low GPA

How To: Master Your Skype Or Phone Interview

May 3, 2012

The importance of phone and Skype interviews has skyrocketed in recent years. Most companies like to verify that a candidate is worth their time before bringing them to the office for an in-person interview. Phone and Skype interviews are popular with entry-level job candidates because many of them are still in school or currently employed—making it difficult to slip away for an interview.

Amy Levin-Epstein spoke with professionals and compiled a list of tips on how to ace both the phone and Skype interview.

Here are a few of the tips I found most important.

Skype Interviews

  • Avoid technical difficulties. Triple check your Internet connection before your interview begins. Make sure that your speakers and microphone work. Call a friend on Skype and do a sound check.
  • Know proper web cam etiquette. Look at the camera and not the screen so that you are making eye contact. Sit up straight and don’t sit too close to the camera. Use the camera to check out what you look like on screen before the call so you see how they’ll view you.

Phone Interviews

  • Stand up and smile. According to career trainer Frankie Picasso, “When you stand up, there is more energy in your voice and the physical act of smiling makes you instantly sound friendlier and relaxed.” Personally, I like to pace slowly when I talk on the phone and I feel it gives me a more natural and confident tone of voice.
  • Don’t drive & interview. The best thing about a phone interview is that you can have your notes out in front of you. Take advantage of that! Also, you should be fully focused on the task at hand.
  • Go hands-free. Use a headset so that you are free to take notes or gesture as normally would. This will help you sound more comfortable and natural when on the phone.

General Phone & Skype Tips

  • Get rid of distractions. Make sure that you’re in a secure, quiet place. Make an announcement and put a sign on the door to let your family or roommates know you are not to bothered during that time.
  • Don’t sound sleepy. Wake up an hour before your interview. People can tell if you just woke up and it sounds unprofessional. Call a friend and talk for a few minutes to get your voice ready.
  • Be succinct. It’s hard to pick up on non-verbal cues in these situations. Don’t babble and stop yourself when you’ve answered the question completely.

For more tips and information check out Levin-Epstein’s articles on skype tips and phone tips.

Calm Yourself! Quick Fixes For Interview Nerves

April 23, 2012

Published on Come Recommended | shared via feedly mobile

Let’s face it: job interviews are stressful. It’s nerve-wracking to be in such a high-pressure situation with someone you don’t even know! You may be afraid of making a mistake, but that’s normal. Luckily, CareerBliss has come up with a nifty 10 ways to calm pre-interview jitters. 

“Anxiety and jitters come from not knowing what is going to happen — basically, fear of the unknown,” said Katherine Walker, Founder and Executive Director of Lifetime Behavioral Health, to CareerBliss.

Here are my top five quick fixes for those last few minutes before a big interview:

1. “Breathe slowly 10 times”

Deep breathing is a known stress reliever for nearly any rough situation. Walker says you need about 10 slow, deep breathes to calm your nerves. Breathe in through the nose and fill your longs, then breathe out through your mouth to release jitters.

2. “Release muscle tension”

Try a progressive muscle relaxation, says Walker. Tense your entire body and then relax each part one by one, starting with your toes and moving all the way to the top of your head. Your focus will be on relaxation, not your nerves.

3. “Visualize success”

This one’s my favorite — visualizing success in any challenge you face, even a job interview, can help you believe in yourself. If you don’t think you can get the job, you probably won’t. Visualize yourself blowing your interview out of the water and sitting at that desk as the new hire.  Confidence is key.

4. “Smile”

Smiling signals happiness to your body — even during times of stress. Calm yourself and simply smile to lift your spirits and ease your nerves. Even if you’re not really happy, a smile can help you feel like the next best thing.

5. “Avoid coffee”

Most of us rely on coffee to keep us awake during the day, myself included. But when it comes to pre-interview nerves, coffee is best avoided. A cup of java will actually make you jittery because of the caffeine. Instead, chew a piece of gum to help make you more alert (just remember to spit it out before your interview).

If all else fails: see “How To: Recover From Interview Blunders.”

6 Things Not To Say During A Job Interview (And The Right Answers)

March 7, 2012

1.  Why are you looking for a new job?

 Bad Answer: My boss is a jerk and the customers are hard to deal with.

Tip: Keep the answer positive, in terms of where you want to go, not what you want to get away from.

Better Answer: I have been promoted as far as I can go with my current employer. I’m looking for a new challenge that will give me the opportunity to use my skills to help my employer’s business grow.

 2. Why do you want to work for us?

 Bad Answer: I’m desperate and no one else will hire me.

 Tip: Before the interview, visit the employer’s website to learn as much as you can about the company. When answering this question, focus on one or two flattering items to explain why you want to join this particular company.

 3. Why have you had so many jobs?

 Bad Answers: I get bored easily.

 Tip: Give acceptable reasons (frequent moves, changes in personal goals, etc.), but focus on the fact that you’re ready for a permanent position now, which is what they are really concerned about.

 Better Answer: When I was younger, I decided to sample a wide variety of careers. That way, when I was ready to choose a career path I would be absolutely certain that I had found the right one for the long-term future. Now I’ve settled on this industry, and that’s why I’m here today.

 Better Answer: When I read the mission statement on your website about giving back to the community, I felt really inspired. I was also impressed with the facts about your growth in the past three years three new locations, and a 40% sales increase. That’s really something to be proud of. I think it would be rewarding to be a part of a company that is such a leader in their industry and in the community.

 4. What are your strengths?

 Bad Answer: I can burp on demand and keep a straight face when telling a lie.

 Tip: Discuss three or four of your strengths as they relate to the position you are interviewing for, and give examples of times they have helped you do your work.

 Better Answer: I have a really good eye for detail, and in the past, I have caught critical mistakes before they happened. When I worked for ABC Company, I helped the company avoid a few catastrophes this way, so they started routing orders through my office to check even though I wasn’t working in the orders department. Of course, I’d be happy to apply this skill in any way you feel is suitable in this company. Another strength I can offer an employer is…

 5. Why should I hire you?

 Bad Answer: I need the money to pay off my gambling debts.

 Tip: This is your chance to reiterate your skills and relate them to the position you are applying for.

 Better Answer: When I read your ad, I couldn’t have imagined a better match for my skills and experience than this job. Now that I have spoken with you, and learned more about your needs, I’m even more certain that I’m the right candidate. I know that I can hit the ground running and exceed your expectations because of my experience with…

 6. What are your short-term and long-term goals?

 Bad Answer: Considering how hung-over I am, my short-term goal is to make it through this interview. Long-term, I hope to quit my job within a couple of years and become a ski bum.

 Tip: Sometimes employers ask this because they want to know whether you are looking at their company for long-term employment or simply a short-term job until something “better” comes along. Other employers want to judge your ability to plan for the future. Most employers do not want to hear that in five years you hope to be retired or plan to start your own business. Your short-term goals should involve getting hired into the right position; long term is where you want to go in your profession.

 Better Answer: Short-term, I’d like to find a position where I can build a solid clientele of return clients. I enjoy building relationships with clients who come back year after year for service and advice. Long-term, I can see myself taking some additional training over the next few years, and applying for a more senior position here once I have the right combination of experience and education.

 Now that you know what answers will work best for you in an interview, don’t be surprised if the next question from your interviewer is “When can you start?”

Answering The Top 5 Tough Job Interview Questions-Hard Job Interview Questions

December 12, 2011

The telephone rings and you have been invited to an interview. You are excited and nervous at the same time. Your mind starts to work in overdrive and you become worried that you will not be able to answer the questions. What do I do now? What questions will they ask me?

There are many questions that can be asked in an interview but some questions are more popular than others or are variations on the following top 5 tough interview questions. If you think about the questions themselves they are not hard but rather need some thought and research. There are no right and wrong answers rather your strengths and abilities need to be marketed to your prospective employer and this is your golden opportunity to be the most successful applicant.

1. How would you describe yourself? This is your opportunity to demonstrate your strength and abilities. Depending on who is asking the question you may need to adapt your responses. If the person asking the question is a human resources manager their views and expectations would be different from a senior vice president. To answer this question focus on what the questioner wants in an employee. Senior leadership want people who are self starters, who look for better ways of achieving results, are capable and responsible. While a human resources manager will focus more on your personal characteristics and ability to work with others. Talk about yourself and your personal attributes and relate them to your accomplishments in previous roles.

2. What are your goals and aspirations? The interviewer is interested in your career direction rather than your desire or dream to become an astronaut. Focus on your career expectations and where you want to be in five years time. What personal goals do you set yourself that will make you a better employee? Consider what you like to do outside of work that can make a valid contribution as a valuable employee.

3. Why do you think you would be right for this role? This question requires some thought and preparation. What are the goals, direction and mission of the company? An employer is looking for an employee who has similar ideas, goals and motivation as the company. Research the company; look at the website, product brochures and what they do in the community. From this information you will be able to craft a response that is compatible and in alignment with the corporate direction and values. Other useful sources of information are current employees, newspapers and magazine articles.

4. What do you think it will take to be successful in this role? The interviewer wants to know what you will be bringing to the role. What skills, abilities or experience can you bring to benefit the organisation? Your response needs to consider and answer what the employer expects of you in this role. Relate past roles and the accomplishments and success you had. After answering this question you want the employer to know that by hiring you, productivity will improve, problems will be solved and that you can create value in the role.

5. Tell me about how you work as part of a team? All employers want to know how you will work as part of a team. Any role in an organisation involves working with other people and you need to be a team player. Yes it is important that you can work on your own and that you are a self starter but at the end of the day you are part of a team. If you have worked in a team environment before describe how it worked and how your skills and abilities contributed to its success. If you are a leader then demonstrate with examples from your previous roles, if you are not then emphasise how well you work in a team. Organisations need both types of people and honesty will bring you credibility.

Jobseekers, be Interview-Ready: Company Research 101

November 22, 2011

Interview Calendar

A question was posted on LinkedIn recently asking hiring managers what their pet peeves were when it comes to interviewing job candidates. Over and over again, respondents indicated that their pet peeve is candidates who come to the interview and don’t know anything about the company.

Jobseekers, there is no excuse.  When you go into the interview, you should know the company’s products, its mission, its history, its industry, its competitors, its strategic goals, and any big projects/products/announcements that have made it in the news.

“But I Don’t Know How To Research a Company!” you say? Here’s how:

  1. Start with the company’s website. Look for an “About Us“,  “News & Press“, “Our Team” sections.  Look for an “Our Services” or“Our Clients” section.  Basically, read everything you possibly can on the company website.
  2. Look at what the company says about itself on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to check out new hire listings.
  3. Go back to the team list you found in step one. Now search each of these names in LinkedIn. How long have they been in the position? Where were they before that? Do they mention any projects they’ve been involved in? What groups do they belong to? Have they asked or answered any questions in LinkedIn Q&A? Have they contributed to any group discussions? Do they have a blog?
  4. Google the company name and click through to some of the links. This is a scavenger hunt, of sorts. You won’t know what’s good until you find it. Skip through to the third, fifth, seventh and tenth pages. Look for articles that mention the company in terms of industry trends and developments, new products, customer service experiences. If you have more time, read more articles.
  5. Go back to the google search page, and toggle on the NEWS tab. Search the company again. Look for press releases, industry analyses, financial analyst reports, controversies, praise, mentions by journalists. Often you’ll find more illuminating information from the financial and industry analysts  who talk about an annual report than you will from the report itself.
  6. Reset the time parameters, and look for news articles about the company from a year ago, two years ago, five years ago.
  7. Search the company name together with “merger” or “acquisition”. Has the company acquired other companies or been acquired? Is there any news about how smoothly (or not so smoothly) this went?
  8. Search the company name together with the title of your target position. You may be able to find out who the incumbent was before you, some of the projects they were involved in, any PR (negative or positive) that they attracted.
  9. Do it again, using the title of the person you will be reporting to. Is your soon-to-be-supervisor new in the position, or was there somebody in the position before him/her? How recent was the change? This search should be done both in Google and in LinkedIn.
  10. Search the company name together with the word “convention”, or “trade show”, or “conference”. Look for any presentations, keynote speeches, whitepapers. At a minimum, you will learn which industry associations and events the hiring company deems valuable.
  11. Search the company name together with keywords from the job description. Use one keyword at a time: Research. Marketing. Project Manager. ISP.  This is a great way to find clues to the goals and challenges that you will be facing that are specific to your target position.
  12. Search the company name together with the word “case study”. IT companies love to create case studies of their success stories. Check out what problems these vendors helped your target company to solve. Match this information against press releases announcing a different vendor for the same solution, which is often a clue that a mega-project went bust.
  13. Use to search for the company and any of its employees on twitter. Check out their twitter streams. What are they talking about? What are they excited about?
  14. Google “who are COMPANY’s main competitors“. Look for entries from sites such,,, and
  15. Use to research the company culture.

Organize Your Information

The amount of information you will uncover will vary depending on the company’s size and years in business. For smaller firms, you might not get much more than their stated business goal and the names of its founders and executives. That’s fine, that’s more than you knew before. Try other search engines like bingPipl is a great tool for doing a deep search on people’s names. For most mid to large-sized companies, the information will be so voluminous that it will be overwhelming.  Organize your findings by the questions you want answered:

  • What is the company’s product/service and target clientele?
  • Where does the company say it is heading in the next five years? What are its goals, values, mission?
  • Has there been any events recently that confirm or contradict those values, mission, goals?
  • Who are its main competitors? How does the company stack up against these competitors?
  • Has there been a lot of staffing changes recently? Is this because the company is growing, or is it an indication of potential trouble?
  • What are the company’s main challenges? Pain points? Risk exposures?
  • What are the company’s main competitive advantages?

If you want to position yourself as the solution to their problem, think like a marketer. Do your market research. Understand who the company is, what its challenges and pain points are, where they are going, and how you can contribute.  Then, be ready to demonstrate your insights in your interview.