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This section of our site is dedicated to providing the "job seeker" with advice and useful tips. If there is a topic you would like covered or a question that you need answered, please contact us and we will try to respond as quickly as possible.

This Month's Feature ArticleThis Month's Feature

Jobs get won or lost during the interview.  There many things to consider so that you are prepared. How you conduct the interview is as important as your technical qualifications for the role.

  Check out this month's feature article.  Click here!

The following contains a selection of topics dealing with everything from contemplating changing jobs to accepting a new position.  If you don't find it here, check our Archives.

 

List of Topics

What do hiring Managers look for in a quality candidate?

What questions should you expect in an interview?

How to know when it's time to move on?

Self-evaluation in a tight job market.

Why IT candidates fail the interview?

Rules for answering interview questions.

What do hiring Managers look for in a quality candidate?

  • Focused individuals!
  • People that can add value to an organization
  • People who are organized with their thoughts
  • People who communicate well with thoughts, ideas and concepts.
  • People who possess team spirit.
  • People who exhibit flexibility in the job.
  • People who display commitment to the job.
  • People who are on time for the interview.
  • People who do not complain in the interview.
  • People who display no anger or resentment to past employer(s).
  • People who display confidence.
  • People who demonstrate ability to follow instructions.
  • People who have an educational background or comparable experience.
  • People who exhibit entrepreneur abilities.
  • People who demonstrate proactive vs. reactive abilities.
  • People who offer creativity and versatility in the job.
  • People who offer innovative ideas.
  • People who offer leadership abilities.
  • People who communicate well - oral, written and interpersonally.

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What questions should you expect in an interview?

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your short or long term goals?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How do you prioritize your work?
  • What are you looking for in a position and company?
  • What is it about our company that interests you?
  • Describe the ideal job.
  • Describe the most difficult boss you've ever worked for.
  • What is your greatest accomplishment during your career?
  • Describe your qualities as a team player / manager / etc.
  • Where do you want to be in five years with your career?
  • How do you plan to get there?
  • What are your salary requirements? (give a range)
  • Be prepared to describe specific industry knowledge, computer or software experience.

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How to know when it's time to move on?

Itís likely that your grandfather worked for the same company for most of his adult life. In his day what was valued was loyalty, security, and a steady paycheck. Now people think nothing of changing jobs every few years. In many fields itís almost expected. And more and more people are doing major career changes in mid-life, not just moving from job to job within the same industry. How do you know when itís time to move on? What are the clues? Here are a few.

Boredom. No matter how many new projects you take on or how many new clients you bring in you just canít seem to get excited like you used to.

Burnout. The work is still interesting but you are exhausted. Too many hours, too much travel, too much pressure. If your health is suffering thatís a sign that shouldnít be ignored. Sometimes our bodies know better than our minds.

Wanting more. You have gone as far as you can where promotions are concerned but you are craving more responsibility, authority, or variety in your work.

Ethical or value issues. If who you are on the inside doesnít fit with what you are expected to do everyday, or if you donít respect the people you work for, then itís doubtful that you are going to be satisfied where you are. Think about moving on.

Negative thoughts or behaviours. Youíre hoping to be included in the next round of layoffs; you are constantly challenging management's decisions and directive; when asked to do something your first thoughts are why you can't do it.  These are all signals that it might be time for a change.

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Self-evaluation in a tight job market.

Marketing yourself in a tight economy doesnít happen by chance. Whether you are currently in a job or looking for a new job either within your company or with another company, you must strengthen your professional tools. Today is not the time to be complacent with so many unexpected layoffs. As you look at yourself, what areas could you improve upon to market yourself if you had to . . . next week? Technical skills? People skills? Knowledge base? Image? Itís hard to be objective about ourselves, but itís prudent in todayís environment. Consider a coach to assist you with sharpening your skill set.

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Why IT candidates fail the interview?

Despite your glowing resume, years of experience and magnetic personality, you failed the interview.  You did your best, but even your new suit couldn't get you that elusive offer letter.  Before you get down on yourself, consider that you likely made the same mistakes as many technical candidates. 

Don't Be Critical
Erika Buckley, director of Human Resources for The Mediacentric Group, says that many candidates criticize the interviewing company's network design or development tools.  Keep in mind that you are criticizing people with whom you hope to work, including your new supervisor.  You are not at the company's office to do free consulting or fix anything.  Instead of offering corrections to what may not be perceived as wrong, explain how you can work productively in the current environment. 

"Many technical candidates rate themselves superior in every skill set," Buckley continues.  This not only shows arrogance, but also makes it hard to accurately determine how you would fit into the existing staff.  Instead, you should:

  • Be honest

  • Not be afraid to say what you don't know

  • Be enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn new skills

  • Explain how your background has prepared you to meet the challenge 

Don't Be Vague
Another of Buckley's annoyances is a candidate who is vague when asked about specific interests.  While you may just be trying to sound agreeable and sell yourself as a team player, companies look for specific areas to hire.  Remember to: 

  • Be up-front about what you most enjoy in your current job and what responsibilities you could do without 

  • Look the interviewer in the eye while asking plenty of questions about both the company and your role 

  • Act interested when given the answers 

Don't Come Unprepared
Many candidates fail interviews because they failed to prepare properly.  Review the company's Internet site and position advertisement before going on an interview.  As Buckley explains, "Especially infuriating questions resulting in immediate rejection are anything close to: 'So, what does this company do, anyway?'" 

Don't Hedge When Negotiating
Don't let money and financial considerations shut down the interview.  According to Buckley, candidates rarely asked for more vacation or other benefits in place of negotiating salary.  If you're already talking about an acceptable salary range, you may be able to secure an extra week of vacation to seal the deal.  Put accurate compensation expectations on your application, if requested by the employer.  "Too often, candidates list a ridiculously high expectation or they list lateral (same salary as they currently make) when that's not what they actually expect," says Buckley.

Don't Forget to Respond According to Position Type
If you've been in a technical position and are interviewing for management, expect more hypothetical questions about how you delegate and manage different situations, rather than focusing on hard skills. 

When interviewing for flex employment or contract work, be prepared to explain how you can be immediately effective.  While permanent candidates have the luxury of expected ramp-up time, you'll have no such luxury, especially for a short-term contract. 

On the other hand, interviewing for permanent work implies that you plan to stay awhile.  "When asked for long-term career goals, I had a candidate respond that he'd like to stay with a company for more than nine months," explained Buckley.  While this answer might be acceptable if interviewing for a nine-month contract, keep away from such answers when interviewing for a permanent position. 

Landing the Job
Don't make the common mistakes outlined above.  Arrive at your interviewing company on time, dressed appropriately and feeling confident that your experience will fill the bill.  But remember to exude confidence -- not arrogance.  Be sure you have researched both the company and job position, and are prepared to negotiate.  Know how to answer, as well as ask, the right questions.  Follow these guidelines and you should sail through the interview and land the job

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Rules for answering interview questions.

  • Keep it brief - don't ramble
  • Stop talking when you have said enough
  • Listen Carefully - answer the question that is asked
  • Don't be modest (selective veracity)
  • Don't exaggerate
  • Talk in concrete terms - refer to achievements
  • Never defend or argue a point of view during an interview
  • Make the connections for the interviewer- i.e., the position responsibilities and your background

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