Category Archives: Job Search Skills

5 Job Interview Myths That Ruin Your Growth

By Warren Fowler

Only a handful of situations in life are more stressful than job interviews. Sitting in front of strangers who want to expose your weaknesses while you are hoping to get that much-needed job sounds terrifying. Most people feel like they are participating in their own interrogation, which makes them choke or give superficial answers.

The only way to avoid this is to prepare for an interview and be ready to answer even the most demanding questions. However, some professionals don’t get it right because they believe in some common recruiting misconceptions. In this article, we will reveal 5 job interview myths that can ruin your growth.

5 Things to Know Before the Job Interview

There are dozens of misunderstandings related to the hiring process. A lot of applicants use the wrong tactic and reduce the odds of getting a job. That’s why we decided to make a list of the 5 most common job interview illusions. Let’s take a closer look here.

1. It’s impossible to prepare

Interview SkillsThere is no such thing as impossible, especially in terms of job interviews. We know that it’s hard to predict the outcome of human interaction but you have many ways to prepare and reduce the possibility of getting caught by surprise. First of all, you should make a list of frequently asked job interview questions.

Start by identifying the obvious questions such as ‘Tell us more about yourself’. You will hear generic inquiries like this one in all sorts of industries. On the other hand, there are other, more specific industry-related questions. For instance, a recruiter might ask you to predict a few industry trends for 2018. This is where your experience and expertise come into play.

At the same time, you should organize a role-playing session with your friends and exercise answering the questions that you previously identified as most probable. This gives you the opportunity to perfect your feedback on standard questions but also to improve your non-verbal skills.

2.  Overestimating competitors

Some professionals are too afraid of competitors and strongly believe that their skills cannot compete with other people’s expertise. However, you should bear in mind that the average job opening attracts 250 resumes but only 2% of applicants are actually invited for an interview. In such circumstances, the sheer fact that you received a job interview invitation suggests that you can rightfully compete with other candidates, so try to relax a little.

Instead of panicking, you should embrace a different mindset. Keep reminding yourself that you have a lot of professional experience and a broad scope of knowledge and interests. Remind yourself of the biggest career achievements and the times when you proved to be an excellent employee. All these auto-suggestive messages can boost your confidence quickly. That way, you will stop thinking about the qualities of other applicants and begin focusing on your own strengths.

3. Fighting with generalization

The worst thing you can do during the job interview is to talk about generic issues. What you should know is that HR managers take an average of 6 seconds to scan a CV and they rarely ever remember details from the candidates’ resumes. That’s why you need to do your best to present them professional results and qualities. We suggest you focus on 3 aspects of the business:

  • Career achievements: You should always emphasize the most important results of your work. Make it data-driven and tell recruiters about concrete career achievements. For instance, you can say that your former company increased lead generation by 47% since the time you were appointed digital marketing executive.
  • Previous positions: Let them know what your earlier roles and positions in the hierarchy were, as well as the number of employees you were monitoring.
  • Details of work: Try to explain the details of your work and the knowledge and skills you gained. Mention every certificate, software, course, or training you went through in your career.

4. Lack of research

Almost half of the recruiters say that having little or no knowledge of the company is the most common job interview mistake. Candidates usually make such mistakes because they only prepare for the FAQ. But your duty is to conduct a thorough research about the company and find out as many details about it as possible. You should know the names of the most important persons in this organization, products or services they offer, relations with other businesses, company news, etc.

An anchor of your research is the company website but you also need to dig deeper and explore their social media accounts and posts you find via the Google search. Besides that, you also need to follow the latest industry developments, community discussions, and expert opinions. Try to find out who are key opinion leaders in this field and read their predictions and analysis. The more you learn about this company and the niche in general, the higher the chances to get the job eventually.

5. You don’t do the follow-up

An average job applicant would probably say that the interview follow-up deems too obnoxious and pushy. It does sound logical but it’s not true because polite follow-ups actually increase the odds of earning a job. Namely, 42 days is the overall average time it takes to fill a given position. In such circumstances, an interviewee has the right to ask for employer’s feedback. As a job candidate, you should thank recruiters for inviting you to the interview and ask when to expect to make their final decision. It will not only make you stand out from the crowd of other candidates but also give you a post-interview peace of mind.

Conclusion

Job interviews are extremely demanding for most individuals and the only way to present yourself well is to prepare thoroughly. Understanding common recruiting misconceptions is an important activity in that regard. In this article, we showed you 5 job interview myths that can ruin your growth. We hope our suggestions will be helpful for you but don’t hesitate to share your opinion with us in comments.

Author Bio:  Warren Fowler is a marketing enthusiast and a blogger at EduGeeksClub, who loves music. If he doesn’t have a guitar in his hands, he’s probably embracing new technologies and marketing techniques online!

How to get a job with a disability (Infographic)

For people living with disabilities, there are many day-to-day situations which pose a real challenge, such as getting around and trying to negotiate multi-storey buildings. Logistical difficulties such as these also make it harder for disabled people to find work, as employers could be hesitant to hire someone who would struggle with the physical demands of the job. That said, employers who discriminate against candidates on the grounds of disability could be subjected to court action if a case is taken against them.

This infographic from Burning Nights has some sound advice for people with disabilities who are actively seeking employment. There may need to be an acceptance that some jobs are out of the question due to the physical exertion they would involve or the need to travel regularly. Ideally, they would find a job which enables them to work from home and involves relatively little stress. It also helps to work for a company which has a proven track record in being highly accessible for people with disabilities.

If a disabled candidate secures an interview, it’s generally a good idea to at least inform the employer of their disability so that convenient arrangements can be made. For example, the interview could have been initially scheduled for a room several storeys above ground level, but if the employer knew of the candidate’s physical limitations, they could switch it to a ground floor location or even organise a VoIP interview.

Find out how jobseekers with disabilities can improve their chances of securing employment by reading the infographic below.

Getting a job with a disability (infographic)

4 Steps to Improve your Interview Skills

Interview SkillsThe purpose of the job interview is to give the interviewer the opportunity to evaluate your application to determine if you can do the job, whether you will fit in and if you are the best candidate for the position? The interview also gives you, as the candidate, the chance to better understand the job and the organization and determine whether the job will offer you the opportunities you may want for advancement or experience? Keep in mind that even though you may possess excellent office technology skills, the prospective employer will also be evaluating your personality, attitudes, professional appearance and ability to communicate. Your ability to convince a prospective employer that you can make a real contribution to their department or company will depend on how well you prepare for the interview. In addition to reviewing the soft skills required by most employers today, follow the guidelines below to help you prepare for your interview:

Step 1:  Prepare for the Interview?

Research the Company

It’s important to thoroughly research the company and get to know their products and services before the interview.  This will show an employer that you took the time to learn about their company and will help you in your quest towards making a good first impression.  A good place to start would be to visit the company website.  Many companies will provide information about their mission, culture, number of employees, locations, leadership and other statistics such as the example here at Facebook or here at Google.  Requesting a copy of the annual report is another good way to learn about a company.  Some items to look out for include:

  • What are their products and services
  • How profitable is the company?
  • How many employees are there?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Any recent expansions or mergers?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • What are their hiring practices?

Prepare Questions to Ask

Once your research is complete, think of a list of questions you want to ask your perspective employer that may help you determine if the job is for you.  Avoid asking questions about salary, wages, holidays with pay, paid sick days, personal days or time off until you get a job offer. Some questions that you may consider are listed below:

  1. Could you tell me about a typical work day and the tasks I will be doing?
  2. Which duties or responsibilities are most important for this job?
  3. What are the major challenges I will face in this job?
  4. How will I be trained or introduced to this job?
  5. Can you describe the ideal person for this job
  6. Who will I report to in this job?
  7. How many people in your department will I be supporting?
  8. Please explain the opportunities for advancement and professional growth in this department/company?
  9. How soon do you plan to fill this job?
  10. How many people work in the department/company?
  11. What are the department/company goals for the year?

Update your Information

Update your resume with your most recent employment, education and relevant experience. Once updated, prepare copies of your resume, a typed list of your 3 references and their contact information, copies of your certificates, diplomas, letters of recommendation and your portfolio or samples of your work (if applicable.)

Step 2:  Practice Basic Interview Questions

While you’ll never be able to anticipate every single question you may be asked at your interview, you can at least be prepared to answer some of the most commonly known frequently asked interview questions. There are many websites that list these questions and ideas of how to answer them. A good place to start would be job-hunt.org which lists some of the most popular questions and their thoughts on how to answer them.  Some job sites, like Monster.com, also provide guidelines on how to answer common interview questions.  The following list also gives some commonly asked interview questions.

  • Can you tell me about yourself?
  • Can you tell me about your experience?
  • What do you know about this company and why would you like to work here?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • What would you like to be doing in 3-5 years from now?
  • Why did you choose a career as an Administrative Assistant/Office Professional?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • What was your greatest accomplishment in your last job?
  • How do you react to working under pressure?
  • Do you enjoy working independently or as part of a team?
  • Do you require close supervision when you work?

Beware of Illegal Questions

In the United States there is a federal law that forbids employers from discriminating against any person on the basis of marital status, sex, age, race, national origin or religion. Therefore, interviewers who want information on these topics need to phase these questions very carefully. For instance, an interviewer cannot ask what your native tongue is but he/she can ask you what languages you speak and write fluently. It is also illegal for an interviewer to ask your age, if you are married, plan to have any children or what church you belong to. For a complete description of illegal questions and how to handle them, visit Martin Yates blog on Illegal Questions at Knockemdead.com.

Step 3:  The Day of the Interview

Timing is Key

  • Know the date, time and address of your interview.
  • Know the best way to get to the interview and how long it will take to get there. Prepare a map through mapquest or Google maps and do a trial run if time allows.
  • Know the name of the company/business, the job title of the position you are applying for and the name of the person who will interview you.  Write down this information.
  • Read the job description carefully to understand the job duties, salary and qualifications required, etc…)
  • Plan to arrive at the interview 10-15 minutes early.
  • Be prepared to fill out an application by taking with you a separate sheet of past employment, dates employed, supervisor names and phone numbers
  • Review the information on your resume and practice your answers to the basic interview questions.
  • Participate in a Mock Interview and get video-taped if time allows
  • Arrange for child care (if necessary)

Dress for Success

While dressing for success may not always get you the job, it will give you a competitive edge and create a positive first impression.  The following tips will help you make a good, first impression:

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview
  • Shower and shampoo your hair
  • Have a well-groomed hairstyle
  • Wear clean and polished conservative dress shoes
  • Avoid trendy fashions. Dress in the clothes that you would wear on the job
  • Wear clean, freshly pressed clothes
  • Have cleaned and trimmed fingernails
  • Shave
  • Use minimal cologne or perfume
  • Have no visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercing’s for women
  • Brush your teeth, floss and use a mouth wash. It’s important to have fresh breath
  • Have no gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth
  • Use minimal jewelry
  • No body odor
  • Review these Dress for Success tips

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Is it Critical for our Success in Today’s Competitive World?

Until recently, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was a term seldom used by companies, employees or job candidates. Now, it is one of the most common elements in evaluating employees and candidates. And, it is also viewed as an excellent predictor of company success.

Companies, particularly Tech companies, are focusing more on EQ. or Emotional Intelligence, than intellect when selecting or promoting employees. These companies have found that without high levels of Emotional Intelligence, employees are more likely to fail as productive, engaged workers. They also have learned that Leaders with high EQs make better leaders.

In today’s highly competitive world, productive, engaged and high performing employees are critical to company success. These elements of success comprise the basics of EQ, so it’s understandable that a company’s employees have high levels of EQ.

Most successful companies now require a standard of EQ for both job candidates and employees. Since statistics indicate that maximized EQ results in greater company and employee success, it’s now critical that employees attain higher levels of EQ as they progress in their careers.

EQ on-line testing is now standard in most tech companies, with many non-tech companies utilizing ‘’behavioral-based questions’’ and competency analysis to determine the most critical elements of overall job competence, work ethics and emotional intelligence of all employees and job candidates.

Almost 50% of today’s employees are millennials. This group of young employees and job candidates do not tolerate a lack of EQ, especially from their managers or leaders. Millennials generally have achieved at least basic levels of EQ and expect their leadership to be excellent examples of EQ. They are intolerant of old style managers who believe ‘’do as your told’’ is more than adequate for successful employee management.

Millennials are demanding more EQ from their companies, while companies are demanding the same from their employees? Will this create even more confusion or greater results in our economy as it struggles with worldwide competition?  To find out more, read Pierce Ivory’s article on Emotional Intelligence and the Future of Work.

What to Wear at Work – Cracking the Office Dress Code

Whether you’re planning for an interview or starting a new job, knowing what to wear at work can be a challenge even for the most fashion conscious among us.   Today’s flexible,  trendy and digital work environments pose a particular challenge as many people are no longer working in a traditional office setting, so the question is often posed as to whether a dress code is even necessary at all?

So how do you know how to dress appropriately as work environments continue to evolve?  The folks at T.M. Lewin have created an infographic on how to cut through the clutter and crack the dress codes of today so that you can arrive at work both confident and fashionable from head to toe, no matter what work environment you are in.  The infographic below discusses the five business dress types and when it’s appropriate to wear them:

Business Formal – Whenever you need to impress, such as going for an important interview, always dress in business formal clothing.  Women looking to dress smarter and sharper should choose a trouser suit or a conservative length skirt in a neutral, dark color. This can be accompanied by a white collared dress shirt as shown as shown here, modest accessories, dark tights and neutral colored closed toe heels. For men, a two or three piece suit in neutral dark colors with a white or plain shirt is recommended.  You could match this with a solid colored unflashy tie and some accessories such cuff links or a watch.

Business Professional – Dressing in business professional is recommended for meetings with important new customers or giving client presentations.   Business professional for women can be a conservative length skirt in modest colors matched with a solid color top or blouse. Dark or nude tights with neutral colored closed toe heels is recommended. Business formal for men is always dark colored suits in subtle conservative patterns or pressed suit trousers paired with a matching jacket. Accompany the suit with a formal shirt in traditional patterns with a brightly colored or conservative patterned tie as shown here. T.M. Lewin recommends avoiding dressing more than 1 level up from your office dress code to avoid being overdressed.

Business Casual – Business casual is one of the more common, every day dress styles for the office or casual off-site events. T.M. Lewin recommends dressing in business casual even if you work from home as this will not only help get you into work mode but you will always be prepared for that unexpected video conference call.  Business casual for women involves dressing in skirts or trouser suits accompanied with blouses in solid colors or subtle patterns.  Closed toe heel shoes, flats or loafers and use of more casual jewelry is recommended.  Men could wear suit trousers with formal shirts in any color and pullovers with collared shirts. Ties are optional.

Small Business Casual – Every small business  is different when it comes to dress code and often times you may have to wear many hats when working for a small company.  Therefore, having the flexibility and wardrobe to alternate between dress levels may be required.  Generally speaking though, small business casual for women allows for a more casual dress style and even fabrics such as cotton or dark denim accompanied with blouses in a variety of colors and patterns are appropriate.  It is not recommended that men wear jeans unless explicitly stated such as on designated casual days. Even if denim is okay at your company, T.M. Lewin recommends sticking to dark colors, as shown in the infographic below, and straight legged styles.

Creative – Sometimes the way you dress at work depends less on the company you work for but more on the particular department or office environment you work in.  For example, if you work in an engineering or research and development department, the dress style may be extremely casual and you may have more leeway to wear your most casual of clothes. On the other extreme, if you work in a sales and marketing department where you are interfacing with customers on a regular basis, you will spend most of your days wearing your business professional outfits.  It’s best to take note of what the majority of other employees are wearing, notes T.M. Lewin,  but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, stylish and trendy according to your own particular personality and style.

tmlewin_whattoweartowork_x2_v03-1Infographic courtesy of T.M. Lewin.