Struggling with Situational/Hypothetical Interview Questions? Check this out.

Posted in Articles, BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

I typically do not recommend “how to” articles to job candidates unless I come across something that is novel and may be helpful to job seekers.  I found a FREE e-book on LinkedIn that may be useful for jobseekers who are not comfortable or may have trouble answering with behavioral or hypothetical questions during an interview.  

For those of you who may not know what I am talking about, a behavioral, situational or hypothetical question that a hiring manager may ask during a telephone or face-to-face job interview is something like “Tell me how you overcame adversity in your life” or “If you disagree with your supervisor on a work-related issue, how would you approach your supervisor with your concerns.”

While the job marketing appears to be tighten in the favor of job candidate and salaries are on the rise, questions such as the ones mentioned above, have become commonplace during job interviews. The goal of these questions is to determine how a job candidate thinks on his/her feet and whether or not you have the requisite problem solving skills required for a job offer.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

The Job Search: Managing Interview Questions

Posted in Career Advice

There are countless interview question anecdotes and horror stories on the Internet. Moreover, urban legend suggests that jobseekers should expect to be asked “off-the-wall” or ridiculous questions during face-to-face job interviews.  While

this may occur during some interviews, generally speaking, interviewer questions are usually carefully crafted and intentionally designed to offer insights into a prospective employee’s capabilities and future on-the-job performance. To that point, it is important to point out that invitation to participate in face-to-face interview typically means that a job candidate possesses the requisite knowledge and technical skills to perform a particular job function. That said, the real intent of a face-to-face interview is to determine whether a prospective job candidate has the personality/ temperament to fit in and excel in an organization’s existing work environment or culture.  And, because of today’s highly competitive and selective job market, it is imperative that job candidates anticipate and prepare for possible interview questions before taking part in face-to-face job interviews.

Although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which questions will be asked during face-to-face interviews, jobseekers are likely to be asked some variations of the following questions.

  1. Describe how you overcame a particularly disappointing time in your life
  2. What are your greatest achievements?
  3. Why are you looking for a new job?
  4. Why are you interested in this company and not our competitors?
  5. What are your strengths?
  6. What are your weaknesses?
  7. What can you offer this company/organization
  8. Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?

It is apparent that none of these questions has anything to do with a prospective employee’s technical or job-related competencies or capabilities. They are intentionally designed and asked to help to gauge a jobseeker’s self awareness, interpersonal communication skills and the ability to think quickly on his/her feet.  While some jobseekers may not take these questions seriously—usually those who don’t get job offers—appropriate responses to them could mean the difference between a job offer and unemployment.  Therefore, it is vitally important for jobseekers to carefully think about possible responses to these questions before upcoming face-to-face interviews. To that end, it is not unreasonable to write or “script” appropriate responses to these questions in advance of scheduled interviews.  While this may seem unreasonable or overly excessive to some job seekers, experienced hiring managers can easily determine a job candidate’s level of interest in a particular job based on his/her answers to these questions.

It is important to point out that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to any of these questions. However, it is important to be selective with the responses that are offered. For example, a would-be customer service representative may recognize that he/she—like many other customer service representatives—has trouble dealing with unhappy or angry customers.  Because dealing with unhappy or angry customers is part of a customer services representative’s job, it is probably not a good idea to mention it when asked about possible weaknesses. Instead, choose a weakness that can possibly be viewed as strength related to a particular job. While being a “pushy” person may be off-putting or viewed as a weakness, it may be a highly desirable trait for salespersons. In other words, be selective and strategic when identifying possible weaknesses to hiring managers. More important, be certain to identify possible weaknesses that are work related rather than personal in nature.

Finally, when answering interviewer questions, be careful not to divulge more information than is necessary or required.  Answer questions as openly and honestly as possible but keep responses short, to the point and do not overly embellish or improvise responses. Job candidates who improvise responses generally do not know the answer to a question and tend to drone on to cover up their lack of knowledge. If you don’t know an answer or cannot think of a good response to a question, sometimes it is better to say “I don’t know” or ask for the interviewer for help with the question.  Asking for help, signals to the interviewer that a job candidate, if hired, would not hesitate to ask his/her superior for help to solve a potentially deleterious or pressing problem for the organization.

Although most of the questions asked during a face-to-face interview are asked by an interviewer, job candidates are expected to have questions too! This shows a prospective employer that a candidate has prepared for the interview and is seriously interested in the company or organization that he/she may join.  For example, it is not unreasonable to ask “how the organization is performing?” or “what is the future direction of the company?” or “how does this job fit into the grand scheme of things?” By asking questions, job candidates let interviewers know that they have done their “homework” and would likely entertain a job offer if proffered by the company or organization.

Although an inevitable part of any job search, face-to-face job interviews are always fraught with anxiety, tension and uncertainty.  One of the best ways to reduce the intensity of these feelings and improve outcomes is to take ample time to prepare for them. And, as discussed above crafting responses to potentially difficult interview questions is an essential part of this preparation.  There is universal agreement among career development professionals that being prepared for face-to-face interviews helps to reduce stress, improves interview performance and increases the likelihood of job offers!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!

 

How NOT To Answer Tough Interview Questions

Posted in Career Advice

One of the more popular seminars that I present at national meetings is “Interviewing Tips and Insights.” The material that I present has been gleaned from over 25 years of interviewing for jobs. And, not surprisingly, many interview mistakes and guffaws that I point out to participant were made by me during actual job interviews. 

As part of the presentation, I put together a list entitled “The Top 10 Interview Questions That You Hate To Answer.” The list is composed entirely of questions that I have been asked during job interviews. I review the list and offer suggestions about crafting answers to those seemingly mindless and irrelevant questions. However, it is important to note, that while they may seem mindless and meaningless to you, they do offer insights into a person’s personality, ability to think on their feet and problem solving abilities. Consequently, it is vital to consider some the questions that you may be asked and to craft potential answers to them before your next face-to-face.  

To that end, I found a YouTube video produced by Careerbuilder.com that offers examples of frequently-asked interview questions and how NOT to answer them. While the video is hilarious (and a bit over-the-top at times) it offers some good insights and ideas on how to better prepare yourself for those difficult-to-answer interview questions.

 

 Until next time..

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

 

Preparing for a Job Interview? Yeah,There's An App (s) For That!

Posted in BioJobBuzz

It had to happen sooner or later and it did. There are now apps that jobseekers can download to their Apple and Android smartphones to prepare for job interviews. Gadget-savvy, Bob Tedeschi wrote a review of three of these apps in today’s NY Times.

The most popular jobseeker iPhone/iPad app was released last month by none other than Monster.com and is called “The Monster.com Interviews” app (go figure). The app is free and most useful for those jobseekers lucky enough to have been invited to participate in a face-to-face job interview. There are features in the app entitled Pre-Interview, Tips and Tricks and Post Interview. While I have not evaluated the app myself its reception by reviewers has been decidedly lukewarm. Monster.com says it is working on a similar app for Android phones but the company did not offer a timeline for the product.

Another app, which according to Tedeschi may be a better choice, is Interview Questions and Answers by SwipeQ ($2, Apple and Android). Unlike the Monster.com app, this one offers 150 common interview questions with sample answers and strategies to divine responses to difficult queries. Tedeschi suggested that the sample answers may be a bit esoteric at times and sometimes inexplicably crafted for those in the financial services industry (gee I wonder why). In any event, this one may be useful for inexperienced interviewees who need some help coming with answers to questions like “Tell me about your weaknesses” or “Describe how you overcame a particularly adverse situation.”

Finally, there is another interview-focused, free app for Android phones called Job Interview Q&A developed by Stanislav Bardyuk. This is an ad-driven app—that Tedeschi found overly intrusive—and offers questions and answers to common interview questions. Unfortunately, the quality and grammar of the answers to the interview questions that it offers were deemed lacking.

Of the three apps, the Monster.com app gets the highest marks. This is not surprising since Monster.com is the largest and most visited job board on the Internet. One of the more interesting features of the Monster.com iPhone app is the ability to make a video of a practice interview and watch yourself answer the questions offered by the app. While this may sound silly and a waste of time to some, it is important to remember that it is generally the face-to-face interview that determines whether or not a job offer will be forthcoming. And, there is a reason for the old adage:  “Practice makes perfect.”

For those of you who may be interested in other jobseeker and resume apps, check out a post on the Job Omelette blog entitled “10 Must-Have iPhone Apps”

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

A New Wrinkle to Difficult Interviewing Questions

Posted in Career Advice

With unemployment high and the economy showing little sign of improvement, finding a new job has become increasingly challenging. And, not surprisingly, the types of interview questions that hiring managers are beginning to ask prospective job candidates are becoming more intricate and complex. I found interesting examples of this at the  “You’re the Boss” blog sponsored by the New York Times.

In the article, a person who owns a small retail business revealed that he always asks job candidates to describe their most stressful customer experience in previous jobs. The question helps him to ascertain how prospective new employees might cope with difficult situations. Also, it tends to reveals whether or not they speak honestly about their own actions and what their attitudes may be towards customers. Another question that he frequently asks is “Why did you really leave your last job? Were you fired? Did you hate your boss? This is devised to determine whether or not a candidate is being truthful. If the answer is their leaving was “mutual” the owner posits that there is usually more to the story than is being divulged. On the other hand, if the response is “It was time to move on” a follow up question usually is “What does that mean?”

Other examples cited in the post include:

What am I going to hate about you in the next 6 months?

What haven’t I asked that you want me to know about you?

How will we both know in six months that you are succeeding?

Why did you apply for this job?

None of the questions is illegal, improper or out of bounds during a job interview. Consequently, I advise jobseekers to add these new questions to their list of difficult-to-answer interview questions. And, perhaps more importantly, think about legitimate responses to them before your next job interview.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

The Job Slog: Several Challenging Interview Questions that Mid Career Bioprofessionals May Have to Answer

Posted in Career Advice

There is no question that job opportunities for recent life sciences undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are becoming increasingly difficult to find. While this is troubling, older, mid-career bioprofessionals who may be looking for new jobs and challenges are having a rougher go of it. This is because older employees generally cost more to hire and many employers mistakenly believe that seasoned employees make lack the drive and technological skills as compared with younger, less experienced jobseekers.

Whether or not these assumptions are true, the interview questions that older job candidates may be asked are likely to be different than those offered up to younger prospective employees. To that end, there was an informative “how to” blog post written by Shelbi Walker of Back to Work, Inc that offers older professionals some responses that older job candidate can use to answer challenging questions that they may encounter during a face-to-face job interview.

I listed some sample questions and acceptable possible responses to them below:

1.  You appear to be overqualified for this position. Won’t you get bored?

Suggested Responses:

“You are an excellent company. You deserve excellence in employees."

“Experience is a great premium today.”

“There is a greater return on your money if I hit the ground running. Less training time.” 

“I always like for additional work to do to prevent from getting bored.”           

2.  This company is on the fast track. Do you think that you can keep up?

Suggested Responses:

“I have stayed on top of the latest development in our industry and am computer literate." (Use this opportunity to showcase any training classes or courses you have taken.)

Also, consider hitting this question head-on by stating politely that you have not noticed any slowdown in attitude or energy. 

3.  This isn’t exactly the type of job you have done in the past. Can you tell us how you will transfer your skills?

Suggested Responses:

"I have viewed your website and read everything about your company.” (Then, draw some analogy to a previous area of expertise, and relate it to the new company’s product or service).

4.  I noticed that you have been out of work for over six months. Can you explain this break in employment?

Suggested Responses:

"I explored some other options but they weren’t for me.  I feel that I have many more years of productivity left to work in this industry."

“I am looking for something different. I am fortunate to be in a position to take time to make sure this job is right for both of us. "

"I used this time to brush up (or learn) a new skill, and now I am ready to contribute my knowledge and expertise to an exciting company like yours."

5Why do you think you are qualified for this job? I don’t see where you have experience that would match our business needs

Suggested Responses:

"My excitement at learning new things never diminishes. With my work experience, I know I will be a quick learner." Take this opportunity to point out any skills you have added to your repertoire. Identify a skill you have, and align it to something you would need to do on the new job.

6.  Your resume indicates you have worked at a lot of different places. Can you comment on that?

Suggested Responses:

“Each of those positions broadened my knowledge and skill base."

“It does appear that way, but, in the last 10 years, the economy has been such that mergers have forced a number of us to realize our potential in various environments." (Always turn a perceived negative into a real positive!)

7.   You were with your last company for 19 years. Can you change the way you did things?

Suggested Responses:

"I am looking for change!"

"My last company underwent many changes during that time, and I enjoyed trying new things and ideas." (Give examples whenever possible.)

8.  I see you have been a consultant. Does that just mean you were out of work?

Suggested Responses:

" My old company brought me back on contract to complete several projects, which I did — and now I want to see if there is something more exciting out there. "

“ I understand lots of people are calling themselves consultants while they look for a new position. " (Laugh — sometimes, it’s OK to insert a little bit of levity.)

9.  What salary are you looking for (the implication that is may be too high because you have been in the workforce so long)

Suggested Responses:

Never respond with a specific dollar amount. Affirm that you have vast skills and experience. Indicate that you are either willing to start over to show them what you bring to the table or deserving of top dollar.

Alternatively, ask the interviewer what dollar amount is allocated for the position in this year’s budget. And, finally ask the interviewer whether or not they are offering you the job since you are discussing salary requirements!

While I can’t guarantee that you will be asked any or all of these questions at your next job interview, they are food for thought!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

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