An Effective Job Interview Follow Up Email/Letter

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If you are one of those people who do precisely nothing after a job interview other than wait for the recruiter’s decision, then you certainly aren’t alone.  In fact, much to the dismay and disgust of employers, the vast majority of interviewees do absolutely no job interview follow up.  Not only is this perceived as being downright ill-mannered though, but job seekers deprive themselves of some incredibly valuable opportunities by not doing so.

Even though you thanked the interviewer for their time and consideration before you left the interview, it’s still considered to be good form to write a thank you email/letter after the event.  This is something that you need to do as soon as you possibly can after the job interview, however, because your timing here could be absolutely crucial in terms of putting your name at the forefront of the recruiter’s mind just when he or she is making that all-important hiring decision.  When you create your job interview follow up letter though, you shouldn’t just be thinking about thanking the interviewer, but also about:

  • Re-emphasizing how and why you are the perfect fit for the role
  • Filling any gaps that you might have left during the interview itself and/or
  • Correcting any blunders that you might have made

Even with the best will in the world, when recruiters sit down to interview what might be dozens of candidates, they all start to become a bit of a blur.  Of course, interviewers do take notes during a job interview so that they can assess each of the candidates fairly, but unless someone comes across really strongly or something is said that makes them stick in the interviewer’s mind, it can be hard to tell them apart after the event.

When you write your follow up email after the job interview, therefore, your first aim should be to remind the recruiter of who you are by referring to something memorable that came up during the course of your discussion.  It could be something that the interviewer brought up or that you yourself raised, but either way, when the interviewer reads your letter he is likely to remember the conversation and the person he was talking to at the time.  You might, for example, begin your letter with something like, “I am writing to thank you for the opportunity to meet with you earlier today, as well as to say, once again, how impressed I was to hear about your organization’s nomination for the coveted Company of the Year award.”

The bulk of your follow-up letter after the job interview, should then be devoted to reinforcing the match between what you have to offer and the role that you have just interviewed for.  In fact, you could start your second paragraph by telling the interviewer explicitly that your meeting reinforced your desire to work for the company, as well as the added value that you believe you could bring to the role.  How you follow on from this though, will depend on whether you merely wish to reiterate how your skills and experience match up to certain elements of the job, whether you need to address any concerns or weaknesses that the interviewer might have raised, whether you need to bring in something that you forgot to mention during the interview such as some relevant experience or a particular skill or qualification that you left out, or whether you want to correct a misunderstanding of some kind.  Whichever is the case, use this opportunity to really sell yourself all over again by making direct links between what you can do and the problems or issues that the recruiter is facing.

All that remains then is to close your letter with a final vote of thanks and a call to action.  You might invite the interviewer to contact you should he or she require any further information, for instance, and then remind them of your contact number.

Interviewees clearly have no way of knowing just how much of a close call it sometimes is between them and the next candidate, but when two candidates are very closely matched during a job interview, a perfectly-timed follow up email/letter can really make a difference in terms of making one stand out over the other.

Interview Questions to Ask Employers (and Those to Avoid)

questions to ask at an interview

No matter whether your job interview is one-to-one, with a panel, or a group, there should always come a point towards the end, when you are invited to ask your own questions of the interviewer.

Always, always, always take this opportunity, because having a list of interview questions to ask employers:

  1. Shows that you are genuinely interested in the position and in the organization.
  2. Shows that you care about your career.
  3. Gives you a further opportunity to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in your field.
  4. Lets you demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the position and the company in advance of the interview.
  5. Gives you a chance to develop a sense of rapport with the interviewer in what is typically a more relaxed stage of the interview.

Many employers/recruiters actually frown upon candidates who don’t ask their own questions at the end of an interview, so it would be a mistake to see this as something which is optional.  Do, however, think carefully beforehand about the interview questions to ask employers, because if what comes out of your mouth are enquiries such as “What exactly does your company do?”, “How soon will I get promoted?” or “Are you going to carry out a background check?” then you can bet your bottom dollar that your application isn’t going any further.  Ask the interviewer something that has already been discussed or anything personal, or mention money, transfers or the availability of other jobs in the organization and your fate will also be sealed before you leave the room.

So, if asking your own questions during an interview  is so important but there are all these no-go areas, just what are you supposed to ask?  Here are a few ideas for interview questions to ask employers, to get you started:

  • What would a typical day/week/month in this role look like?  Not only will this help you to clarify the tasks and responsibilities of the role that you are applying for and the expectations of the company, but it will also give you a good idea as to how much variety the position offers.
  • What type of training and induction do you provide?  This will help you to gauge whether you will be expected to hit the ground running or whether the employer has a plan or process in place for introducing you into the role more gradually.  It will also give you an idea of how committed the organization is to the development of its staff.
  • What would success look like in this role?  This is a really important question in terms of understanding the company’s expectations of the roleholder and asking it will give you the opportunity to assess whether you think your skills and experience would be a good match.
  • Who would I be working with?  Clearly this will give you a feel for whether you would be working alone or as part of a small, medium or large team.  The response to this question should tell you whether there will be other people that you can learn from or whether you are going to have to be more self-sufficient.
  • How would my performance be assessed?  If the answer you get to this question suggests that there is no proper performance appraisal process in place, you might just want to walk away, or at the very least consider your position carefully.  People who work for businesses that don’t have formal processes in place for evaluating their staff often suffer from a lack of professional development, not to mention being exposed to the arbitrary whims of their managers.
  • What type of challenges do you expect the department to face during the coming year?  This is one of the interview questions to ask employers, which will not only give you some useful clues in terms of what you could be up against should you take the position on, but it will also tell whether the organization is a forward-thinking one or not.

As you can see, there is absolutely no reason to sit there in silence when an interviewer invites you to pose questions of your own and there are many extremely revealing questions that you can ask.  Do prepare the interview questions to ask employers in advance though, and don’t rely on your memory.  It’s far too easy for all those great questions to completely escape you when nerves have got the better of you, so write them down and take them with you to the interview.

Keeping Job Interview Nerves at Bay

interview-questions-and-answers-nerves

Great!  All that hard work you put into your resume has paid off and you’ve got the job interview.

If you’re anything like most people though, the initial euphoria will probably turn to job interview nerves, with stomach-churning anxiety as the fateful day draws ever closer.

Job interviews are enough to turn even the strongest and most confident of people to jelly, and of course the more you have riding on the job, the more nervous you are likely to be.  What can you do though to keep those butterflies under control and those knees from knocking so that you can actually concentrate on blowing the interviewer away with all your great skills and experience?  Here are a few tips to help you overcome job interview nerves and stage fright, both before and during the event.

Before the Job Interview

  1. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to induce pre job interview nerves it’s not being prepared.  Spend as much time as you can in the run-up to the interview on researching the company, studying the job ad and job description and on making sure that you understand precisely what the recruiter’s pain points are and how your skills and experience can help to address them.  Pay particular attention to the skills and qualities that the company is looking for and prepare your “stories” to demonstrate how you have used these to the benefit of your current or past employers.
  2. Practicing your interview technique in advance will enable you to talk with much greater confidence about your work experience and what you have to offer, so be sure to enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to role play your job interview with you.  Alternatively, practice on your own so that you get used to telling your stories.
  3. Do a dummy run to the interview location so that you know exactly where you are going, how long the journey will take and where you can park when you get there.  Setting off blind on the day of the interview will only add to your anxiety.
  4. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep the night before your meeting is due to take place.  Take a nice relaxing bath to calm your nerves before retiring and then breathe in positive thoughts and breathe out negative ones as you drift off to sleep.  Don’t be tempted to use alcohol to calm you down or make you sleep as it’s likely to leave you feeling less than sharp in the morning.
  5. Lay out your clothes and anything else you need for your job interview the night before so that you don’t have to fret about finding things or making yourself late.
  6. Eat breakfast to ensure that mind and body are firing on all cylinders. A nice kaya toast perhaps? 😉
  7. Aim to arrive at the interview location early so that you can take a walk to get rid of some of that nervous energy.
  8. Keep reminding yourself that your interview is a two-way process and that it’s as much about you deciding whether you want to work for the company as it is about whether the company wants you on board.
  9. Keep things in perspective.  It’s a job interview you’re attending, not a funeral.  Even if you don’t get the job, things could be far worse.
  10. Smile to yourself on the way to the job interview.  You probably won’t feel much like smiling, but even a forced smile will make you feel more positive and confident.
  11. Remind yourself that the interviewer isn’t an ogre and that he or she wants you to succeed, not fail.
  12. Act as if, or in other words, fake it ‘til you make it.  This is probably one of the most effective ways to get through any kind of situation that causes you anxiety or discomfort, and basically it’s about play acting.  When people feel confident their body language is very different than when they’re nervous.  They walk with an air of authority, look people directly in the eyes and talk with assurance.  They don’t slink into a room as if they hope not to be noticed or chew at their fingernails or fidget.  Pretend that you are that confident person or think back to a time when you genuinely felt filled with self-assurance and then behave as you did then.  It doesn’t matter if in reality you’re quaking in your boots because nobody else knows what’s going on inside of you.  Just fake it to begin with and before you know it you really will feel like that confident person you want to be.

Hope these tips help keep those job interview nerves in control!

Can’t Decide On What To Wear To A Job Interview?

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Now, you might think that if you’re old enough to be attending a job interview, then you’re old enough to take a call on what to wear to the interview. However, dressing for interviews does require a bit of careful consideration if you are going to make the best possible first impression.

First of all, let me just start by saying that although job interviews are about finding the candidate who is best suited to the role in terms of skills, qualifications and experience, like it or not you will be judged on your appearance as well.  While you don’t have to be the best-looking candidate in the running (unless of course you are trying to find work in an area such as modeling), it is absolutely vital that you turn up for your meeting looking smart, professional and appropriately dressed.

Although work attire has tended to become a bit more casual than it used to be years ago, it is always advisable to aim for a look which is slightly smarter than the average company employee is wearing when you attend an interview.  So first and foremost, you need some sort of a benchmark and a sense for what is normal at the company/department you are interviewing with. If you’re not sure what the normal dress code is at the company you’ve applied to, then try to find time beforehand to take a drive or a walk past to check out what the other employees are wearing.

Other than that, here are a few essential tips to ensure that how you look sends all the right messages, during a job interview.

What To What To Wear To A Job Interview – Tips For Men

  • Go for a suit or coordinating pants and jacket in a conservative color such as black, charcoal grey or navy.  Stick to solid colors rather than opting for checks, stripes, herringbone patterns or the like.
  • Choose a long-sleeved white shirt and a tie which is conservative both in terms of color and design.  Avoid gimmicky ties with cartoon characters or anything that shows your allegiance to a particular group or association.
  • Shoes should be smart, clean and well-polished (no open-toed sandals please!) and socks should be dark in color and should coordinate with your suit or pants.
  • Belts and briefcases or portfolios should be in good condition.
  • Any tattoos or piercings should be covered up or removed.  If you get the job and others have tattoos and piercings on show, then is the time to ask whether this is acceptable.  Do bear in mind your role, however.  If you are regularly mixing with clients or customers whose professional culture is different from that of your own employer, you may be well-advised to keep them under wraps at all time in the workplace.
  • Go easy with the aftershave. That’s the last thing you want to draw attention to at your job interview.
  • In terms of jewelry, stick to just a wedding ring if you wear one, or a single decorative ring, and don’t have any other jewelry on show.
  • Make sure that your hair is neat and tidy and that your chosen style looks professional.
  • Always ensure that your fingernails are clean and neatly trimmed.

What To What To Wear To A Job Interview – Tips For Women

In some ways, the greater choice that’s available in women’s wear makes it harder for them to get it right than for men.  For women too though, conservative should be the watchword.

  • Skirt or pants suits are both fine, as are coordinating skirts or pants and jackets.  If you do decide to opt for a dress, then make sure it is very simply-styled and teamed up with a smart jacket.
  • As with men’s suits, go for solid, conservative colors such as black, grey or navy.  Bright colors or fancy patterns can be highly distracting.
  • Choose a smart blouse or top of a coordinating or contrasting color.  White is always safest.
  • Always avoid anything which is tightly-fitted or revealing.  Hemlines should be just above the knee at their shortest and necklines should never be low enough to expose the cleavage.
  • Shoes should be smart and in good condition.  While heels are perfectly acceptable, don’t go for anything too high or that would be better suited to a night club.
  • Accessories such as belts, briefcases and purses should coordinate with your outfit and be in good condition.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum as again this can be distracting for the interviewer when your aim should be to keep him or her focused on what you are saying.
  • Make sure that your hairstyle is both neat and professional-looking, for your job interview.
  • Don’t go overboard with make-up and whatever make-up you do choose to wear, keep it natural-looking.
  • If you wear perfume, stick to just a dab.  Remember, your choice of scent may not coincide with the interviewer’s tastes and you don’t want to go triggering any allergies.
  • Ensure that fingernails are clean and well-manicured.  Try to avoid false nails that look like talons or brightly-colored nail polish.

Remember, appearance does matter when you attend job interviews but it’s not a fashion show.  Stick with plain, simple, classic and conservative styles and you won’t go far wrong.

Hopefully these tips on what to wear to a job interview were useful!

Do You Hold Yourself Truly Accountable for Your Work?

performance at work

Ask most employees what they think is meant by being accountable for their work and they will probably tell you that it’s about fulfilling the basic requirements of their job and taking responsibility when things go wrong.  Actually though, true accountability in the workplace is much more than this and in fact it speaks of a person’s whole attitude towards their job.

It’s probably fair to say that most employees think of themselves as little more than small cogs in big wheels; people who have very little say and who have very little control over anything that happens.  They see themselves as being distinct and separate from the businesses they work for and, as has been demonstrated by numerous employee engagement surveys, they don’t feel committed to their organizations.  Don’t get me wrong, many of them work very hard for their employers, but still they lack what I will call “an owner’s mentality.”

Imagine for a moment that you own a big personal stake in the company that you work for, or even that you own the business outright.  You’re still doing the same job as you’re doing now, but in this scenario how you perform in your role directly affects the business’ success, as well as your own personal situation.  Wouldn’t you put in just that little bit more effort?  Wouldn’t you be more interested in understanding precisely where your role fits in in the organization so that you could work to make more of an impact?  Wouldn’t you be more proactive, think more strategically and take more initiative when you spotted opportunities that could make a positive difference?  Wouldn’t you work harder to find solutions or to meet deadlines or to please clients?  I’m prepared to bet you would, because it would be in your own interests to do so.

Being truly accountable in the workplace is about “owning” your role and treating it as though it were your own personal little business that either succeeds or fails based on how you perform.  Why though, would you want to make such a personal investment and go to all that extra effort for a business that doesn’t actually belong to you?  Why would you want to work harder just to line the pockets of the real business owners?  Because in this instance too, it’s in your own interests to do just that.

Employees who hold themselves truly accountable for their work and who have an owner’s mentality stand out amongst their peers and they rise like cream to the top of their organizations.  By being fully responsible for their own roles, they don’t hold their managers back but instead make them look good, which of course pays off when it comes to performance appraisals.  They might not receive a very big share in the profits in the same way as the real business owner, but in working towards the organization’s success, they are duly rewarded for their efforts and they do end up receiving higher salaries.  Just as importantly though, workers who possess an owner’s mentality typically gain far more satisfaction from their work by feeling more involved.  Now if that doesn’t encourage you to look at your job from a slightly different perspective, little else will!

Tips for Job Interview Practice

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Practice, as they say, makes perfect, and yet how many people do you know who actually bother to do any job interview practice before squaring up to an interviewer?

These same people will rehearse a wedding speech or spend hours going over a presentation until the material sticks and they can deliver it confidently, but when it comes to job interview practice they might just do one quick rehearsal in their heads and hope that it all comes out right on the day.

Although job interview practice isn’t the same as rehearsing a pre-prepared speech, it does provide several of the same advantages.  First of all, it helps to give you greater confidence.  Secondly, by telling your interview “stories” out loud, it helps to fix them in your mind so that you can repeat them more easily and convincingly and so that you can better remember the key points that you want to get across.  Thirdly, the more often you tell your stories, the more natural your delivery becomes.  Finally, it helps you to become more aware of things like your body language, the speed at which you talk, your tone of voice and any tendency to “um” and “err.”

There are several ways that you can go about practicing for a job interview.

1). You can prepare a list of questions and then sit in front of a mirror to answer them so that you can pay attention to things like body language.  This tends not to be the best option, however, firstly because you only have your own opinion of how well you answered the questions and put yourself across, and secondly because you are likely to be so conscious of your own body language that you won’t behave naturally.

2). You can enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to play the role of the interviewer and, if possible, video record the interview.  This can actually be a highly effective way to get in some practice, but you do need to choose your role-play partner carefully as the aim of the exercise should be to take it seriously and make it as realistic as possible.  Provide your partner with a list of questions and ask him or her to assess you on:

    • How well you get your key skills and experience across
    • Whether you provided sufficient evidence to support your qualification and suitability for the role
    • How interested and enthusiastic you seemed about the job
    • Whether you asked enough relevant questions of the interviewer to enable you to make an informed decision as to whether the role and the company are right for you
    • Whether your body language put across the right messages
    • Whether you spoke with confidence, as opposed to coming across as aggressive or arrogant
    • The speed of your speech (often when we are nervous we think we are talking much faster than we actually are) and whether it was clear and intelligible
    • Whether you spoke too much or not enough

Listen to your partner’s feedback and watch the recording of your interview to establish whether there is anything about your performance that needs polishing up.  You might also find it helpful to carry out mock interviews with several people to get different perspectives.

3). A third option which may be worth considering, particularly if the job that you are applying for is of great importance to you, is to hire a career coach or an interview coach to help you prepare for your meeting.  Although clearly this would mean making a financial investment, a good professional coach who is familiar with your field or industry should be able to help you hone your interview skills so that you give the best possible performance.

Although it has to be said that there’s nothing to beat the personal interaction you get when you do job interview practice with somebody you know or a professional, if you don’t have access to either then you could make use of today’s technology to help you out.  Online tools such as Perfect Interview show videos of professional interviewers asking tough questions which you have to answer on webcam in order to get instant feedback on your performance.  One of the big downsides to this type of tool, however, is that clearly it can’t take into account all the specifics of the job and the company that you are applying for and to.  In terms of the more general interview questions that employers typically ask, however, it can provide some benefit.

4 Types of Interview Questions and How to Respond

common-interview-questions

Knowing what types of interview questions to expect is absolutely crucial if you are going to be able to prepare thoroughly and come across confidently during your meetings with recruiters.

Although it might seem as though there is no rhyme or reason to the questions that interviewers ask, in fact they generally fall into one of four main categories, namely general, situational, behavioural and downright oddball.  Here is an explanation of each type of question, along with tips on how to deal with them.

General Job Interview Questions

General questions are basically designed to find out more about candidates.  Essentially they are just fact-based questions which are typically asked at various stages throughout the course of an interview.  However, it is worth mentioning that a great many recruiters like to start interviews off with the old favorite “Tell me about yourself.”

Now, although “Tell me about yourself” ought to be simple enough to deal with, many candidates fall into the trap of rambling on about everything from their hobbies to where they went on vacation and what their dogs’ names are.  In some cases, they even quite inadvertently slip into providing recruiters with information which could very easily be used to discriminate against them, such as their ages and how many children they have.  When interviewers invite you to talk about yourself though, they don’t want to know your entire life story, and in fact the only thing they do want to hear is about you in a professional sense.  Give them a potted history of your career to date, and even bring in your aspirations for the future, but leave out the personal stuff as far as possible.

The other types of general job interview questions that you might face could relate to any of the following areas:

  • Things that you have included in your resume.
  • Your current job and why you want to leave it, your relationships with your current boss and colleagues, the things that you like most/least about it and so on.
  • Your career aspirations for the next 3-5 years.
  • What you know about the company you are interviewing with and why you want to work there.
  • What interests you about the position you are applying for.
  • What you have to offer the company.
  • Your greatest strengths and weaknesses.
The most important things to keep in mind for these types of interview questions are:
  1. Keep your answers focussed on and revolving around the key requirements to perform well in the job.
  2. Show the interviewer how you are a good fit for the company culture and how there is a match between your career goals and what the company has to offer.

Situational Job Interview Questions

Situational interview questions are designed to elicit how you would deal with certain work-related situations, and clearly the questions themselves are going to be centered around the type of situations that you would actually have to deal with in the role that you are applying for, or which would require the same skills and competencies.

Essentially, situational interview questions are hypothetical questions which normally begin with “What would you do if…”.  If you can think of a time when you found yourself in a similar situation, however, then use your experience to form the basis of your response and to tell a story which demonstrates the key skills, capabilities and personal qualities that you brought into play.  If you can’t think of a relevant experience, then simply tell the interviewer how you think you would react or behave, but again, be sure to bring out the skills and competencies that you genuinely possess and are needed for the specific job.

Clearly, to be able to answer these types of interview questions effectively, not to mention being able to anticipate them, you need to do your research and form a clear understanding of which skills and qualities would be most important in the role that you are applying for.  If the job advertisement describes the role as being dynamic and fast-paced for instance, you might intuit from this that requirements and deadlines are likely to change.  One of the situational questions that you might be asked, therefore, could revolve around what you would do if you were part-way through a project and the deadline was suddenly brought forward.

Behavioural Job Interview Questions

Behavioural interview questions are similar to situational questions but rather than being hypothetical, they ask you to draw on your direct experience.  Generally, they begin with “Describe a time when…” and the reason that interviewers find them so useful is because in most cases the ways that people have behaved in the past tend to be a fairly good indicator of how they will behave in the future.

As with situational questions, you need to prepare in advance for behavioral interview questions so that you attend the interview armed with relevant stories which demonstrate not only what you did, but how you did it, what skills and qualities you needed to use to handle the situation, what results you achieved and how these benefited your employer.  When recruiters put together both situational and behavioural questions, they tend to focus on the skills, knowledge, abilities and personal traits that would be especially important in carrying out the role, so think carefully about situations that you have dealt with in the past and which will help you to demonstrate that you possess the most relevant ones.

An effective format to  prepare and answer such questions, is the Challenge, Action, Results approach:

  • Challenge/Context: What was the situation or circumstances you faced?
  • Action: What did you do to deal with the situation?
  • Result: What were the results that followed? (Quantify wherever possible)

Oddball Questions

The final type of question that you might find yourself faced with in a job interview is the downright oddball question, and while it might seem totally nonsensical for an interviewer to suddenly ask something like “How many golf balls does it take to fill a Boeing 747?”, “Why is a manhole cover round?” or “If you were a superhero, which one would you be?”, these types of questions are in fact asked for a reason.

Although oddball questions aren’t relevant to all types of interviews, when employers are recruiting for positions which require strong problem-solving abilities or high levels of creativity, random questions such as the ones above can give them enormous clues as to how you would try to fathom out the unfathomable or how inventive your mind is.  In addition, they can be a great way for interviewers to see how well candidates cope under the stress of a difficult problem.

The main things to remember about oddball interview questions are that:

  1. There is no way you can properly prepare for them, because of course you have no idea which ones are likely to come up.  The best that you can do is to take a look online at some of the ones that companies such as Microsoft and Google are so famous for asking, simply to practice a particular way of thinking.
  2. With the notable exception of the one about the manhole cover, there is hardly ever a “right answer” to these types of questions, or at least not one that the interviewer is likely to know, so don’t fret about whether your response is correct or incorrect.  The main purpose of the exercise, as I have said, is so that the interviewer can see the process that you use to work out an answer, so don’t be afraid to think out loud and don’t let yourself get phased by the oddball nature of the question.

As you can see, far from being random, the different types of interview questions that you are likely to face are all asked for perfectly logical reasons.  Do your research into the position that you are applying for and the company that you are applying to and not only will you be fully prepared for the meeting, but you should also be able to pre-empt some of the questions.

Oh, and for those who are still wondering, manholes and manhole covers are round because no matter how a cover is dropped, it can’t possibly fall down the hole and injure anyone underneath.

Different Types of Job Interviews and How to Handle Them

interview-questions-and-answers-types

So, you’ve had the call from the recruiter to invite you for a job interview, but did you remember to ask what kind of interview to expect?  What’s that?  You didn’t realize there were different types of job interviews?  Then read on…

Although most people tend to think of job interviews as face-to-face meetings which take place between a single interviewer and a single candidate, in fact these one-to-one interviews are just one of three main types of job interviews that you might have to face.  As the structure and format of each type is quite different though, and as each interview style comes with its own different set of considerations, the first thing to remember is to ask the recruiter up front what type to expect so that you can prepare yourself accordingly.

Types of job interviews: One-to-One Format

The format of a one-to-one interview, as you are probably aware, is pretty straightforward.  Basically, there is you and usually a member of the HR department or the hiring manager in the room and nobody else.  The interviewer will have prepared a set of questions which he or she delivers to all of the candidates, so that they can all be assessed against the same set of criteria.  During the course of the interview, the interviewer will take notes so that he or she can score you in terms of your suitability for the role.  Usually in this type of interview there are no nasty surprises and the interviewer will generally try to put you at your ease and behave as normal.

Types of job interviews: Panel Format

The second type of job interview that you might come across, especially if you have applied for a higher level job, is the more formal panel or board interview.  In this case, rather than just being faced with a single interviewer, you will normally meet with a panel of three or more all at the same time.  Typically the panel members will include the hiring manager and perhaps a designate from HR, a manager from another function who you may have to interact with if you ultimately take up the role and/or one or two existing members of the team that you hope to join.

Just as with a one-to-one interview, a panel interview normally involves each interviewee being asked the same set of questions, but in this case each interviewer is likely to have compiled their own questions to assess your performance in relation to the things that are most relevant to them.  While the hiring manager might focus on how well your skills and experience match with the duties and responsibilities of the role, for example, a prospective colleague might be more interested in your team-working abilities.

The questions that you are likely to be asked in a panel interview will probably be very similar to those in a one-to-one interview, but one of the major differences between the two types of job interviews is that the former is typically more stressful simply because the pace is faster.  Those who take part in panel interviews sometimes complain that they feel as though they are being bombarded with questions and that they have little time to consider their responses.  Thorough preparation, therefore, is all the more important if you know you are going to be faced with more than one interviewer, and it’s probably also worthwhile to make a brief note beforehand of the key points that you want to “sell,” as these might not be so easy to remember in the heat of the moment.

Here are a few more tips to remember about panel interviews:

  • Don’t let yourself be rushed.  If you need to take a second to compose your response to a question, then do so.
  • Try to catch each of the interviewers’ names and don’t be afraid to use them when replying to them directly or referring to them.
  • Make direct eye contact with each interviewer as he or she asks you a question, but then look at the other interviewers too as you reply so that they all feel included.
  • Do be aware that those who conduct panel interviews sometimes take on specific roles, as in the “good cop, bad cop” scenario.  If you find yourself faced with one panel member whose attitude and manner leaves something to be desired, don’t let it ruffle you, don’t under any circumstances rise to the bait and don’t take anything they say personally.  The role that he or she adopts is aimed purely at testing your response, so just treat it like a game and let it go over your head.

Types of job interviews: Group Format

The final of the 3 types of job interview that I am going to talk about here is the group interview, and this particular format is becoming more and more common in industries such as retailing where businesses often need to take on large numbers of staff all at the same time.  The two main reasons that they are used are:

  1. Because they are more cost-effective for recruiters, and
  2. Because they allow recruiters to assess how candidates interact with one another and so how they are likely to perform as part of a team

Group interviews involve a number of candidates (typically anywhere between around 10 and 25), as well as a number of interviewers.  Sometimes they begin by asking candidates to introduce themselves to the rest of the group, but more often the group will be divided into pairs, with each person having a few minutes to find out as much as they can about their partner with a view to making the introduction on their behalf.  Thereafter, there is likely to be a combination of the interviewers talking about various aspects of the role and the company and various question and answer sessions.  If the role involves customer service for instance, the interviewers might go around the room asking each of the candidates to provide an example of what constitutes good or bad customer service.  In other cases they might leave it to the candidates themselves to volunteer responses, and of course the interviewers will be paying careful attention to who speaks up and who doesn’t, as well as to things like whether candidates try to talk over one another or only interject at an appropriate moment.  In some cases, interviewers will also be looking to spot those candidates who demonstrate the potential for supervisory or management positions.

Another element of group interviews that candidates need to be aware of though, is that sometimes they involve role-play exercises.  In an interview to recruit retail sales assistants, for instance, one person might be assigned the role of an angry customer while the other is asked to play the sales assistant and to respond to the complaint as they would in real life.  Alternatively, candidates might be given a work-related task to complete as part of a group, with each group then having to present its results to the others.  Again, the way that group members interact and each individual’s communications skills will be assessed as the task is performed.

Although many people tend to think of group interviews as being easier than one-to-one or panel interviews because the focus of the interviewers isn’t entirely on them as an individual, it is important to remember that your personal performance is being observed.

Again, here are a few tips for making the very best impression in group interviews:

  • While you should always listen to the other candidates when they are talking and should never try to dominate the conversation, it is important that you contribute rather than just being an observer.
  • Be confident, but not aggressive.  Remember, the interviewers are going to be assessing how well you work as part of a team.
  • Be conscious of your body language as this can be especially telling in group situations.
  • Acknowledge the contributions that other candidates make and don’t be afraid to praise them.  Yes, you are in competition with the other people in the room, but if a recruiter has chosen to conduct a group interview then there will be more than one position up for grabs and it is vital that you are seen as a team player.
  • If you experience a personality clash with one of the other candidates, never let it show.  Remain professional at all times.
  • Don’t forget to keep an eye on the interviewers as you will often be able to pick up on valuable expressions of approval and disapproval.
  • Just as with one-to-one and panel interviews, group interviewers will expect you to ask questions of your own, so make sure that you have some prepared.

There you have it. You now know about the various types of job interviews.

Perils of Giving Your Boss the 2-Fingered Salute During Your Notice Period

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So, that great new job offer in Singapore is in the bag and you’ve just handed in your resignation letter.  It’s time to kick back, relax and just coast your way through to the final day of your notice period, right?  Wrong!

We all know how important it is to make a great impression when we start a new job, but what many workers fail to appreciate is that how they behave in that period between handing in their notice and actually leaving the company is every bit as vital.  Treat it as a rest period during which to recover before moving on to your next role, do nothing more than make a half-hearted effort to tidy up a few loose ends or worse still, take the opportunity to stick two fingers up at your boss while you’ve still got the chance and you could be facing the repercussions for years to come.

Before I come to a few useful tips to bear in mind while working out your notice period, there are a couple of things which are worth mentioning in relation to resigning from a current position.  First of all, before you even think about sitting down to compose your resignation letter, always make sure that you have a written job offer from your new employer in Singapore.  Offers made verbally over the telephone can easily be rescinded, leaving you high and dry.  Also, as a mark of common courtesy, do let your current boss know that you are going to be moving on before you present him or her with your resignation letter.  Particularly if your departure is unexpected, it will help to ease the blow slightly, and it also leaves the door open to negotiations and counter offers.

Once the deed is done and your resignation letter has been handed over, the first thing to remember is that you are still an employee of your current company right up until the last day.  It doesn’t matter how bitter you feel about your employer or how anxious you are to move on, the organization is paying you right up until the end and you have an obligation to perform your role to the same (hopefully high) standards that you have always upheld.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will just disappear under the radar now that you have resigned or that anything you do after handing over your resignation letter won’t count, because it will.  In fact, the chances are that your employer in Singapore is likely to keep an even closer eye on you than usual during your notice period and as your behavior during this time is going to be the last thing that is remembered about you, you need to make sure that you make a great parting impression.

The attitudes that employees choose to adopt when they are on the way out of an organization truly define their levels of professionalism.  True professionals try to make the transition between their own leaving and the starting of their replacements as smooth as possible.  Their aim is to ensure that the company suffers no disruption or inconvenience as a result of their departure.  Not only do they make sure that their work is up-to-date and that their managers, colleagues and co-workers are fully briefed on the status of their projects, but they actively help to train their own replacements so that they can pick up easily where they themselves leave off.  In essence, they demonstrate their accountability and their commitment right up to the very last moment in the job.

Particularly if you don’t feel very well-disposed towards your employer during those final few weeks, you might be wondering why you should bother to leave on a good note.  Don’t forget though, that not only might you want your current boss to act as a reference for you, but there is even a possibility that you might encounter him or her again at some time in the future.  For the sake of putting in that last little bit of effort, is it really worth taking the risk that your boss might spot your resume in a pile of applications and reject it because of the way that you behaved when you were on the way out?  Who knows, as inconceivable as it might sound at the moment, you might even want to return to your present organization a few years down the line, so it is vital not to go burning any bridges.

Finally, however much animosity you might feel towards the company in Singapore that you are leaving, unless you choose to negotiate an earlier leaving date, never go before your notice period is up.  Not only will it create an extremely poor impression if you leave your boss in the lurch, but you could be sued/penalized for breach of your employment contract.

Job Interview Preparation: Essential Research Topics to Ensure You Crack It!

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Succeeding at a job interview is about convincing the recruiter that you are the best possible match, both for the role and the company.  In order to be able to do that though, you need to do some job interview preparation. There are a number of things that you need to have an in-depth understanding of and that you will need to research in advance.

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Make sure you do your homework before a job interview

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 1 – The position – Presumably you wouldn’t have applied for the job in the first place if you didn’t properly understand what it entailed, but be sure to revisit the job advertisement and get hold of a copy of the job description (if you haven’t already done so) before you attend your interview.  Both of these will give you tremendous clues as to the skills and qualities that the recruiter is seeking, not to mention giving you a steer in terms of the organization’s culture, priorities and pain points.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 2 – The company – Even if you are not asked directly what you know about the company that you are applying to, demonstrating your knowledge of the organization will show the recruiter that you are sufficiently enthusiastic and committed to have done your homework.  More than this though, if you properly understand where the company has come from, where it is now and where it is going, you will find it far easier to present yourself as someone who can provide relevant solutions to their concerns and issues.  Here are some of the areas that you need to research:

  • The company’s background and history
  • Its offerings – what type of goods or services does the organization supply?
  • The organizational structure and business ownership
  • What differentiates the company from its competitors
  • Where the business is located
  • How many people it employs
  • The organization’s financial status
  • The company culture
  • The business’ strategic plans – what are its shorter and longer term objectives?
  • What the company values
  • The challenges that the business is currently facing

Check the company website, social network pages, online employee reviews, online and published news reports and press releases, articles, trade journals, magazines, periodicals and the company’s annual report, as well as using your network of contacts to really dig deep.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 3 – The industry – The company that you are interviewing with doesn’t operate in a vacuum, so find out what’s happening within the industry as a whole.  What are the current trends and what are the greatest challenges, threats and opportunities within the industry?

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 4 – The interviewer – Few interviewees think to check out the person who is going to be interviewing them, but in fact knowing something about the interviewer’s background, their achievements within the company and any special areas of interest that they might have will give you clues as to how you can best relate to them and how best to create a rapport. Often a quick Google search can provide lots of interesting insights about a person. Also have a look at any social network profiles which are available.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 5 – Yourself – It’s actually quite surprising how many job candidates turn up for interviews without being absolutely sure in their minds as to what they have to offer and how their offering can benefit the recruiter.  Study your resume and prepare yourself by making direct links between your skills, talents, experience and personal qualities and the tasks and responsibilities of the role and the recruiter’s concerns.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 6 – Common interview questions – Although it’s far more useful to study the recruiter’s published requirements to work out which areas the interview questions are likely to focus on, it can also be helpful to research some of the most commonly-used interview questions to give you an idea in terms of how the interviewer’s enquiries might be presented.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 7 – Salary ranges – Although salaries and benefits are things that you should never raise at the first interview stage and that you should avoid discussing until after you have received a firm job offer if at all possible, if the recruiter pushes you to find out your current or expected earnings, the easiest way to avoid talking specifics is to limit the conversation to the general salary range for a similar position in the same geographical area.  Various websites provide salary ranges for particular types of job by region, so always be sure to get a feel for what’s reasonable so that you are prepared if the subject does come up.

The Non-Cheat’s Way to Predict Job Interview Questions

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job interview questions in Singapore
You can predict interview questions

Job interviews can be pretty nerve-wracking experiences, and not surprisingly so when you bear in mind that things like promotions, higher salaries and better developmental opportunities, depend on how well interviewees perform. Another reason why they are so terrifying though, is because candidates typically have no idea what they are going to be asked and they are afraid that they are either going to be completely wrong-footed, or left sitting there like lemons with nothing to say.

What if I were to tell you then, that with a little bit of effort and research, you could fairly reliably predict the type of job interview questions that will come up? In this, the first of a whole series of articles on job interviews, you can find out how to do just that.

Okay, let’s start with the fact that interview questions are never asked completely at random. After all, what would be the point in that? What typically happens when companies have vacancies to fill is that the people in HR and/or the hiring managers sit down and look at the role description for the jobs in question. They take into account the nature of the tasks and responsibilities that the roleholder would have to deal with, the skills they would need to possess to be able to do the job successfully and the personal qualities that would help them to be more effective in the role. Any half-decent recruiter will also consider the culture of the company so as to try and draw in applications from those people who would be more likely to fit in and share the same values.

Once all of this information has been assembled, they would then create a job advertisement which would probably include a few words about the organization itself, a job description, a person specification and instructions on how potential applicants should go about putting themselves forward for the position. Around the same time that the job advertisement is put together, those who are going to be involved in conducting the interviews, review the ad itself, as well as the job description, and design a set of questions which is explicitly aimed at establishing who would be the best fit for the role.

There’s no trickery involved and none of the questions are designed to catch candidates out. If the role involves lots of customer-facing activity, therefore, then you can bet that a good proportion of the questions will seek to establish how much experience each of the candidates has in this area, how they have handled certain challenging experiences involving customers in the past and what the outcomes of those experiences were. Alternatively, they might involve hypothetical scenarios which call upon candidates to explain how they would deal with these situations if they were to encounter them. In each case, the questions themselves would give interviewees an opening to talk about the skills and qualities they have used or would use to deal with these situations and so to demonstrate their suitability for the position.

Look carefully, therefore, at the job tasks and responsibilities as they appear in the job ad or job description and think about the skills and qualities that would be required to succeed in the role, and the questions that you are likely to be asked will become self-evident. Sometimes job advertisements are not very descriptive/informative. For such cases, have a look at more detailed descriptions for the same role, posted by other companies. You can also consult an occupational database (such as Career Compass or O*NET) , to get a general idea of what a particular job is all about.  This, however, isn’t where your preparation should stop.

The same role in the same company can look completely different depending upon the organization’s priorities at any given time. A business that’s going through tough economic times, for example, might expect quite different things from certain of its staff members than it would if it had just won a huge new contract. Ambitions to expand, mergers and reorganizations, strong competitors and a whole host of other things can change a business’ priorities enormously, and they can change the expectations of staff beyond recognition. For you to be able to understand where those priorities lie and what types of things your job interview questions are likely to focus on, you need to research the hiring company thoroughly. Ask yourself what the main issues are, that are facing the company and the industry at this moment in time, who the organization’s main competitors are, what they up to and what the hiring company is doing to try to stay ahead of them. Then look for answers on the company website, in press releases and news reports, in trade journals and on relevant online discussion forums to find your answers.

Also, think about how these concerns are likely to affect the recruiter’s idea of what success would look like in the role that you are applying for. Would it, for example, mean more emphasis on saving the organization lots of money as opposed to trying to bring in new clients or customers? Would it mean earning the company the reputation as the best in customer service rather than delivering high volumes of sales? Again, if you can get to the bottom of the recruiter’s current situation and uncover the pain points that the organization is experiencing, you can more easily work out the direction that the job interview questions are likely to take.

Another thing that interviewers could very well query are aspects of your own resume, so take a good, hard look at this too. Are there any gaps in your work history that they might want to explore for example, or are there any skills or achievements that they might want you to back up with explanations? Study your resume through a recruiter’s eyes and see whether there is anything that you would want to query in his or her position.

Predicting interview questions, or at least the most important ones, really isn’t that difficult. It just takes a bit of time and research and for you to think like the recruiter. Most of the clues are actually right there in the job ad, and those that aren’t can easily be found elsewhere. If you do your homework thoroughly at this stage, you’ll be able walk into the interview feeling fully prepared and brimming with confidence.

Feeling Overwhelmed at Work? Act Sooner Rather Than Later & Seek Help From Your Boss!

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Many people feel overwhelmed at work from time to time, and of course with so many employees taking on additional tasks and responsibilities in the wake of lay-offs, the past few years have seen more and more employees struggling to manage their workloads.

Sadly though, what many people do when they start to feel as though they are sinking under the weight is to go into ostrich mode.  Rather than facing the situation head-on and dealing with it, they simply try to put it to the backs of their minds in the hope that it will somehow resolve itself.

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Don't Go Into Ostrich Mode When You're Overwhelmed

The trouble with any situation that makes us feel snowed under or out of control is that it provokes fear and, if we let it, that fear can paralyze us, or at the very least cause us to procrastinate.  Like with debt problems though, the longer we leave it before we try to get to grips with the situation, the more it spirals out of control and the more difficult it becomes to fix.  Another problem though, is that the shame and humiliation that most people experience when they feel as though things are getting on top of them, can stop them from seeking the very help and support they need.

Recognizing the feelings of being overwhelmed early so that they can be nipped in the bud is absolutely key to taking back control and turning the situation around.  You may already have noticed that despite working longer hours you seem to be getting less done, and that you are permanently in a state of nervousness and anxiety.  Do nothing and not only will the symptoms of stress continue to worsen, but in no time at all you are likely to start missing deadlines or making silly mistakes.  For the sake of your health and your job, you need to take action before these things happen.

Now, while I could suggest at this point that you invest in a decent book on time management to help you get back on track, if you have already reached the stage of feeling overwhelmed by your workload you’re not going to have the time or the clarity of mind to read it and take it in properly.  I could also recommend some relaxation tips to help you de-stress, but these still won’t help you in terms of managing your workload.  What I am going to suggest, therefore, is that you either approach your mentor if you have one, to find out how he or she has dealt with such situations in the past, or do the very thing that most people would avoid at all costs and speak directly to your line manager.

Although the thought of approaching your line manager to discuss your workload might seem like a terrifying prospect, it’s well worth remembering that if you let the situation continue unchecked, you’re going to end up in your manager’s office anyway to answer to missed deadlines or errors – far better that the meeting take place at your request than his or hers.

The second thing to remember is that the purpose of talking to your boss is not to whine about your impossible workload or to dump the problem on his or her desk, but rather to seek your manager’s help and advice on how to organize your projects and assignments so that you are able to get them in on time. Ideally what you want is for your boss to walk through your outstanding workload with you and help you to create targets and an action plan that both of you are happy with.  Do make sure that you walk-in with some ideas and solutions of your own as well. Treat it as a professional/personal development exercise and an opportunity to learn from someone who is more experienced than you.

Although many people would think of approaching their bosses in this way as being a demonstration of weakness or failure, I think the reverse is true.  It takes strength and courage to face up to feeling overwhelmed at work and by proactively seeking help at the earliest possible stage you are demonstrating ownership of the problem and a sense of responsibility. Keep in mind the important thing is that you don’t let the same issues crop-up again and that you continuously improve at what you do.