Preparing thoroughly for a job interview is a no brainer, but it’s not always obvious what direction your research should take. Here are some handy tips on what you should be looking for and where:

1. What you need to research
Finding the information you need should be a step-by-step process. You should look to categorise your research as follows:

• The organisation – start with the essentials: the company’s history, its product lines, recent developments and details of any new projects or innovations.
• The sector – what are the main trends and developments taking place in the industry? Who are the main players and where does your employer sit within this ecosystem?
• The people/ culture – the culture of a company will usually start with its founder or CEO and filter down. Find out as much as you can about the people running the organisation, their background and values. Make sure also to research the person (or persons) who will be interviewing you for a better idea of the kind of questions you’ll face.
• The role – review the results of your investigation against the job specification. Can particular skills be deemed more important given what you now know about the employer?

2. Where you need to research
The web is a good place to start your research; here’s where you should be looking

• Company website – your first port of call. As well as the ‘About us’ section, be sure to scour the bios of the key decision makers. Skim the annual report for details of the firm’s strategy and future ambitions.
• Financial information – publicly listed companies will allow you to download details of their recent earnings and financial health. Registries like Companieshouse.com store details for smaller, private companies.
• Social media – LinkedIn and Twitter can be great ways to check up on what your employer is thinking and doing and to get a feel for the culture. Read updates and postings, and check out the profiles of the key stakeholders.
• Industry news sites/ blogs – these can be great for gossip on what the company is up to and for noting wider industry trends.

3. Who you can talk to
Those connected with the employer can usually offer a deeper insight into the culture of the company and what it takes to work there:

• Speak to current/ former employees – reach out to your network for first-hand testimonies of working with the organisation. Work through your LinkedIn connections or tap your alumni network.
• ‘Insider’ websites – sites like Glassdoor or chat rooms are useful for getting a warts-and-all impression of the firm and how the application process works.
• Ask HR – employers will usually provide information on the structure of the interview and who you’ll be meeting, so don’t forget to ask for it.

Of course every industry and employer is different, but the list above should provide a solid framework to build your research around. Information will differ from place to place and will sometimes be out of date, so remember to vary your sources as much as possible.

Reference: Abintegro News

If you’re heading to an interview or an appraisal you may be asked to talk about your strengths, but many people are confused about the difference between strengths and skills. That’s because it IS confusing: people all over the internet are defining skills, clarifying strengths, underlining the differences and at the same time using them synonymously.

Skills are often described as something you learn how to do through repetition for which there is a best practice or a set way of doing something like coding in a given language or swimming a specific stroke. Strengths, on the other hand, are defined as things we are naturally good at and didn’t really have to learn, or softer, rather more intangible character traits, such as social intelligence, courage, honesty and curiosity.

However, the latter examples are frequently referred to specifically as ‘personal’ strengths. Unlike skills and other strengths these are difficult, if not impossible, to measure objectively, but they are important and should be included in your full list of strengths.

So personal strengths aside it’s the ‘other’ strengths that cause the most confusion; the ‘naturally good at’ strengths. Take languages as an example: the ability to speak French may be a skill, but the ability to learn languages relatively easily is a strength; someone that presents well could be considered to have good presentation skills, but many may say presenting is one of their strengths. What about something you didn’t know how to do a year ago that after some training you’ve found yourself to be particularly good at? Sometimes the difference between the two seems a very blurred semantic line.

However, the new focus on strengths in strengths-based interviews may shed some light on what we all really mean when we talk about a strength.

Competency-based interviews, which could be called skills-based interviews, ask what you can do and what you have done; strengths-based interviews ask what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. That enjoyment combined with proficiency is what gives you the energy and flow that strengths-based interview questions are really seeking to discover in a candidate.

If we start from a point where every ability, in which competence can be objectively measured (so that excludes personal strengths), that adds value is a skill then every skill that we know we are good at and we enjoy is a strength.

Skills vs strengths: it doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s just a matter of asking yourself “am I good at this, do I enjoy it and does it add value?”

Source: Abintegro News

For many of us, what we say is punctuated and disjointed by those little ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ that get unwittingly sprinkled through otherwise well-constructed sentences.

”I was like… planning to like say that, but ummmm he just… like said it before me.” They are verbal crutches, with ‘like’ being particularly common amongst younger people.

Though certainly not the most criminal of linguistic lapses, this habit can be a drawback in professional life, detracting from the value of what is being said and often detrimentally affecting the listener’s perception of the speaker’s eloquence. It is something especially important to be aware of when it comes to job interviews or speaking in front of groups of people.

Here’s how to rid yourself of this small, but annoying verbal tic:

1. Be aware of it
The first step in kicking any unwanted habit is awareness. Make a mental note whenever you catch yourself ‘umming’ or ‘liking’ – try and work out whether there are particular triggers or environmnts that set you off. Get a friend to monitor things for you, or set your smartphone to record during high-pressure situations such as meetings or public speaking events.

2. Slow down
Speed is often a key factor behind those ‘um’ or ‘like’ eruptions. We feel the need to speak fast so that people won’t lose interest in what we’re saying or jump in and steal our thunder. Our brains struggle to keep up and we look for ways to plug the gaps.

Try slowing things down. As the bestselling author and bloggist Seth Godin points out, the fastest speaker in the room is not necessarily the one who’s heard best. Have confidence in yourself – if what you’re saying is important people will listen.

3. Allow the silence in
However slow you go, accept that there will be natural pauses in your speech from time to time. There’s no need to cram something into every gap – some of the most effective public speakers, Barack Obama for instance, deliberately leave long pauses between words to add gravitas. Breaking up your speech like this can actually build suspense and help focus others on what you’re saying.

Practise embracing these silences when they come along by resisting the temptation to fill them and letting them run their course.

4. Don’t expect miracles
Ridding yourself of a lifelong habit is a marathon not a sprint. Don’t berate yourself if you find yourself slipping up occasionally; the fact you’re noticing what you’re doing is itself a sign of progress. When you catch yourself ‘umming’ or ‘liking’ use it as a signal to take a deep breath and slow down.

Like any big adjustment it’s a gradual process but, with a little hard work and perseverance, there’s no reason why you can’t come out, tic-free, within the space of a few weeks. The cleaner your speech becomes, the more confident you’ll begin to feel when speaking and this will hopefully stop new tics cropping up in their place.

 

Source: Abintegro News

You may be a highly competent Skype or FaceTime user by now, but interviewing for a job over video can still be a fairly daunting experience.

There are essentially two forms of video interviews: the live versions and the taped or on-demand format. The latter require you to record your answers in your own time and send them back to the employer to review at their leisure.

The growing popularity of video interviews has added an extra layer of professionalism to the process. Transmitting from a dimply lit room with a fuzzy picture and crackly sound really isn’t going to cut it.

Whether technophile or phobe, here are some handy tecchy tips to help you through the experience.

1. Invest in the right equipment
If you want your transmission to have that professional look you can’t really rely on your built-in laptop camera and microphone. If you’re serious about looking more movie star and less slightly pasty amateur invest in an external HD camera, a high quality microphone and some lighting.

2. Set the scene
Preparation is everything. You can’t afford just to power up your laptop on the day and hope for the best. Think of it as staging your own mini production – you are the director, cameraman and lighting director all rolled into one.

• ‘Recce’ a few potential locations: you are looking for a quiet, bright, uncluttered space with a neutral background where you won’t be disturbed. Bathroom or car are NOT viable options!

• Make sure your face is fully visible; for the best view, position the camera at a good height so that it’s looking down at you from a slight angle – your looking up is always more flattering. For a simple, but effective lighting solution position two lights in front of you on either side of the screen – ordinary lights can be clamped to the screen.

3. Foresee potential problems
While technical glitches can happen, they still reflect badly on you and are best avoided.

• Make sure you have good power supply and that your battery is fully charged just in case you have to move location.

• If you’re interviewing live check that your internet is running at a good speed. Make sure you’re not doing anything that could affect the video quality like downloading.

4. Don’t forget those last-minute safety checks
Those final minutes before the interview are crucial. If you’re interviewing live it’s a good idea to log in early to give yourself time to get ready and deal with any issues.

However, make sure you don’t accidentally start transmitting before you’re ready – put the microphone on mute and pop a post-it note on the camera screen just in case. Then give the camera lens a wipe to remove any smudges.

The trick to a successful video interview is to approach it as you would the traditional, face-to-face version, while not underestimating the differences. Some will be more confident using technology than others, but time taken to properly prepare will truly make all the difference.

Source: Abintegro News

While undoubtedly a useful platform for building contacts and future career opportunities, at worst networking events can bring back uncomfortable memories of the first day of school or college.

If you find yourself dreading official networking events, assessment centres, team building events or even just after work drinks, the good news is that there are steps you can follow that can go a long way to reducing the stress of the occasion.

1. Know your audience
Doing some homework on the people you are likely to meet can help you find common ground and know which topics might help generate conversation. Do you share a particular hobby or have you both worked overseas?

2. Be interested
Showing interest in the people you talk to will naturally get the conversation flowing and create a positive vibe. Asking questions can be an easier option for the less socially confident too as generally people love to talk about themselves meaning the conversation takes care of itself. Preparing a list of questions can be helpful in case you have a tendency to go blank, but make sure they don’t sound overly rehearsed.

3. Give others your full attention
If you really want to connect with people and ask pertinent questions you need to actively listen to them. That means maintaining eye contact rather than looking around the room or over their shoulder, responding appropriately and making sure your phone is on silent.

4. Watch your group etiquette
Mingling between groups is expected at networking events, just so long as you enter and exit with care. When joining a group, wait for a break in conversation before taking your chance to speak. It’s also polite to let the rest of the group aware that your are leaving, rather than slinking off unannounced.

5. Check your body language
If you are nervous in a social setting you may want to practice your body language in the mirror. Keeping your arms unfolded and maintaining an upright posture can prevent your coming across as defensive or even aloof.

6. Dress for finesse
Paying close attention to the way you look can provide the finishing touches to the professional impression you are trying to create. Make sure your hair looks good and your clothing is neat and unblemished – avoid loud colours or overly tight clothing. Have a friend check you over if you’re not sure.

If your event has gone smoothly, it’s standard practice to follow up new introductions with a quick email or message on LinkedIn. Do it before the dust settles and you’ll have a handy stepping stone for your next sales pitch or job enquiry.

 

Source: Abintegro News

Unfortunately, interviewing for jobs is not something that necessarily gets easier with age. However experienced we are with the process, there will always be one or two questions that are able to get under our skin and rattle us.

Here are some of the main offenders you’ll be hoping to avoid…and how to handle them when you inevitably encounter them:

1. Where else are you interviewing?
A favourite with inquisitive hiring managers and an extremely tricky one to answer. Start reeling off lists of names and you risk sounding desperate or less than focused on this particular employer; fail to mention anyone and it may appear that nobody wants you.

A good middle ground is to say you’ve had interest from similar organisations without mentioning them by name. Make sure to add that this is the role you really want.

2. What has annoyed you most about previous bosses and co-workers?
Handle with care. Whatever happens, resist the temptation to air grievances and badmouth any previous employers. You don’t want to come across as ‘difficult’ or hard to please.

Appear to consider this carefully and then come up empty handed. Remember only the positives as this in turn presents you as a positive person. Remember too that any ‘issues’ you have may be characteristics of the interviewer!

3. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Loaded, with a capital ‘L’ – you don’t want to be marked down as a risk taker. Offer an example of where you tried a change in direction and it came off. It’s about demonstrating initiative and creativity rather than audacity.

4. What are your salary expectations?
Most of us get uncomfortable discussing money during an interview. Above all don’t be cowed into giving a low figure that you can’t retract. The diplomatic option could be to say that your priority is finding the right role before you come to think about salaries.

5. What’s your biggest weakness?
A favourite of interviewers through the ages. Resist the old, disguising a strength as a weakness tactic, like claiming to be “too much of a perfectionist”. Consider an aim to improve your presentation or networking skills, giving details of how you plan to do that, or instead, offer something that you’re actively working on but that doesn’t necessarily compromise your day-to-day work, like learning a foreign language.

6. When was the last time you made a big mistake at work, university or school?
A real minefield. What they’re really trying to gauge is whether you’re someone who possesses the understanding to learn from his or her mistakes. Try to give an example of a smallish error (where the consequences weren’t horrendous) and how you have adapted your way of doing things since then.

The key to answering these curveballs is to understand what they’re there for and not get flustered. Remember that it’s not personal, and the interviewer is not necessarily looking to put a black mark against your name. They’re more likely to be looking for reasons to hire you and will be reading between the lines to find the positives. Stay calm and hold your ground – with a bit of luck, you should come out the other side in one piece.

Source: Abintegro News

The application form is often the first hurdle you’ll encounter in the application process, and it’s also one of the most important to get right.

Here’s a selection of common questions you may well find yourself facing, along with advice on how to tackle them:

Motivation
Motivational questions are a staple of most application forms. The employer wants to know that you are choosing them for the right reasons and that your goals align with theirs. They want to see you demonstrate a good fit. Examples include:

1. Why do you want to work for us?
2. What interests you about this particular sector?
3. What do you think you would enjoy most about working here?
4. What are your long-term career goals?
5. What you hope to achieve over the next five years?

You’ve got to show you’ve done your research, and your enthusiasm for working for the organisation has got to shine through. But to make your enthusiasm believeable they need to see that alignment between what they are offering and what you want to achieve. You’ve got to make it about them, but enough about you too.

Experience
Many employers are phasing out experience or competency-based questions in favour of strength-based questions (see below). However there’s still a strong likelihood of them finding their way onto your application form. These types of questions look for evidence of when you’ve demonstrated relevant skills or competencies. Examples include:

6. Tell us about a challenging experience you’ve had and how you overcame it.
7. Describe a time when you couldn’t meet a deadline. What did you do about it?
8. Have you ever had to explain a difficult concept to someone? How did you go about it?
9. Talk about a time when you went against the grain with a different approach or way of thinking.
10. Give an example of when you worked successfully as part of a team. What was your contribution?

This is about understanding your tendencies, your approach and your response to challenges. Don’t limit yourself to work scenarios, particularly if your work experience is limited, but give genuine examples. Using a set formula like the STAR (situation, task, action and result) or Context, Action, Result (CAR) techniques will help you to structure your answers.

Strengths
As mentioned, strength-based questioning is finding its way increasingly into application processes. These questions seek to gain a sense of your inherent personality traits and the kind of work you enjoy. Examples include:

11. Which kinds of tasks come easily to you?
12. What do you most enjoy doing?
13. What did you find easiest to learn at school or university?
14. Which of your achievements are you most proud of and why?
15. Do you feel more energised at the start of a project or at the end?

The key to answering strengths-based questions is true self awareness. Start from a point of brutal honesty with yourself and then step back to consider how your preferences might be viewed by your potential employer. Do your research to get a feel for the qualities and values that are important to the employer to help you position your answers.

How you approach the application form will depend very much on the type of questions in front of you. However, you should always make sure you answer each question in full (keeping an eye out for sub-questions); and be honest without losing third party perspective on your answers.

On finishing go back over the form thoroughly for spelling and typos, ideally with someone proof-reading after you. Then save a copy for yourself – it may prove useful when preparing for an interview.

Source: Abintegro News
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