Are Employers Trying to Trick You In the Interview? Helpful Answer to a Popular Difficult Question

Are Employers Trying to Trick You In the Interview? Helpful Answer to a Popular Difficult Question

 

There is a lot of advice about how to ace the job interview.  The book, How to Reinvent Your Career, lists many helpful tools, site links and examples to help with this.

One of the main things that employers want to find out is if you are a positive person that has the ability to overcome challenges.  Jobs.AOL.com had an interesting article about how to answer questions about your greatest weakness.  Some may look at these questions as tricks in order to get you to say something negative about yourself.  Others may look at these types of questions and answers as a sort of game.

Jobs.AOL did give some good advice about how to handle these types of questions. They suggested that it might not be a good idea to say your greatest weakness is that you work too hard.  They also thought it is not a good idea to say you don’t have any weaknesses.  So how do you answer this without looking weak?  They suggest, “Pick a real weakness from your occupational tool set that you know has no bearing on the job you are interviewing for. The interviewer will acknowledge that you were honest with them, and will likely consider your “greatest weakness” to be meaningless to him. You should also mention that you are studying or taking a class to improve in this area. For example, a computer programmer might say that she wishes to improve her public speaking skills and is attending Toastmasters for training. By including your plan for overcoming this “weakness,” you have actually turned your answer into a pseudo-strength: You recognize your faults and set a plan for self-improvement. A very good quality.”

Have you Googled Yourself Lately? Why LinkedIn and Google are Important for Your Job Search

If you are looking for a job, you probably have looked at getting on LinkedIn and some other social networking sites.  If you have created a LinkedIn profile, it should show up on Google’s search engine. 

In some recent talks I gave to job-seekers, I asked my audience if they had Googled themselves.  Surprisingly, not as many people as you may think have done this.   In my book, How to Reinvent Your Career, I discuss the importance of Googling your name to see what it displays.   You can be sure that employers will do this.

It is nice that search engines like Google can help people find you.  One way to help improve being found is to be on LinkedIn.  There are other benefits to being on LinkedIn. According to a recent article in WSJ.com, “One of the least recognized aspects of LinkedIn, says founder Reid Hoffman, is the fact that it allows people to help other people.” I personally like the Q&A feature of LinkedIn for this reason.  Not only can you ask a question, but you can offer your expertise and help others. 

According to Hoffman, Linkedin is an important part of the career search.  I agree.  He also asked an important question: “There are millions of other people out there. What do you do to put yourself in the right place for people to find you?”

I often give advice for things you can do to be found.  LinkedIn is high on my list.  However, if you are interested in finding out more ways to be found, check out some of my career videos

How to Get a Job by Understanding  Emotional Intelligence

How to Get a Job by Utilizing a SWOT Analysis

How to Get a Job by Utilizing Camtasia and Powerpoint

How to Market Yourself by Using Social Media

Employers Using Skype for Interviews

If you are looking for a job right now, you may be surprised to find out that your interview could occur through video-related software such as Skype.  In order to reduce costs, many employers are doing more and more through the use of video.  It works out well for both parties.  The prospective employee may actually be able to do their job interviews from home. 

If you are going to be interviewed in this manner, be sure you are prepared.   For a great article on how to prepare for your interview on Skype, check out the following by e.how.com:

Succeeding in a Skype interview takes as much preparation, if not more, than a regular interview.

Succeeding in a Skype interview takes as much preparation, if not more, than a regular interview.
Skype.com
User-Submitted Article

With companies slashing expenses in every which way these days, many are now preferring to interview job candidates online using applications such as Skype. With face to face interaction still intact, hiring managers can eliminate the costs associated with flying out candidates while maintaining the considerable benefits of having a face-to-face conversation.

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • A computer equipped with a webcam, microphone, and Skype
  • Appropriate interview attire
  • As isolated room with adequate lighting, lacking any distractions
  1. First, remember this is a REAL interview! Do not be tricked into thinking that preparation is not required since the interview will be done online. Though there are some tricks to Skype interviews listed below that are not available in an on-site interview, hiring managers will still be choosing individuals that they perceive as most qualified for the job. Thus, PREPARE for the interview in advance. Call the company or asking the hiring manager what would be the appropriate dress for the interview for you to best fit in with the company’s culture (if you do not know already).
  2. If possible, test out your computer set-up days before the interview is set to take place. If possible, use an ethernet cable to access the web; relying on Wi-Fi during an interview is a risk that should be avoided at all costs. Also, make sure there is plenty of lighting in the room, so that the hiring manager can clearly see your face. Free the room of any unnecessary distractions (for instance, a red umbrella or green coat hanging in the background), but it is okay for there to leave non-distracting objects up (such as a clock, a table, etc.). Test the call with another friend to make sure no minor details need to be adjusted (such as the distance between you and the screen).
  3. Try to get the computer’s webcam high enough so that it is eye-level with you. Some laptops naturally require the user to look down at the camera, and that look is typically not as flattering for an interview as the eye-level approach. This can be achieved by a variety of creative means, but if you have some sort of laptop or computer stand, that would be best.
  4. Get there early! Log onto Skype approximately 15 minutes before the interview start time. If the hiring manager is already online, they will be impressed that you have shown up for this virtual interview early. If not, they will still notice you were already online when they got on.
  5. Be professional, but be yourself! Don’t get nervous; demonstrating confidence can sometimes be one of the deciding factors to who the company chooses for the job. Try not to refer to notes (see tip below), however, feel free to write down anything the interviewer might say. Also, it is appropriate to look at the video feed of the interviewer while they are talking, however, it is imperative that you speak to them by looking at the webcam. This will give the impression of eye contact, which is a major selling point in any interview.

Changing Careers: Get The Help You Need

With the recent release of my latest book, How to Reinvent Your Career, I’ve had a lot of people writing and asking me questions about how to make some career changes.  According to an article in the Independent.co, this is a big time for career changers. In that article, author Russ Thorne stated, “If you’re thinking about changing careers, you’re not alone: according to some recruiters, this is the busiest time of year for job changes, prompted by months of summer reflection. However, a total career change demands more than planning a valedictory leaving do: research, networking and training or voluntary work experience will boost your chances of standing on the other side checking out the color of the grass.”

I discussed a many of these ideas in a recent radio interview with Anna Banks.  It is very important to have a plan.  Probably one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to not have goals written down with clearly measurable ways of attaining those goals.

One of the chapters in my book is titled “The Product Is You”.  I often write and speak about how you must see yourself as the product and market your skills.  Part of preparing to do that is to do a personal SWOT analysis.  For those of you who have not taken many business courses, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  Companies analyze these things on a regular basis.  I think individuals need to do the same thing. 

After self-analysis, you must also be sure to find ways to stand out in the crowd.  There is a lot of competition out there for the few coveted jobs.  I recommend reading some of the following articles to help you with social networking to get noticed and find your dream job:

What is an ePortfolio or Career Portfolio and How Do I Create One?

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  When I graduated from high school, I was told to set up a career portfolio.  What is that and how do I do it? 

For a complete explanation for “what is a career portfolio” click here.  The basic definition of a career portfolio is a collection of things that represent your skills and accomplishments.  Like a resume, it contains your education, awards, honors, work experience and strengths. 

There are several ways to develop a career portfolio.  You can find sites where you can pay to upload media you have designed or other things you would like to highlight to potential employers.  There are also a lot of free sites like Linkedin where you can display a lot of your information for others to find you and see your skills and abilities. Many professionals such as educators, journalists, artists and others have used career portfolios for years.  Recently many other types of job-seekers are finding that they want to be able to showcase more of their skills and abilities as well. 

It can take a bit of a time commitment to initially set up your portfolio, but in the end, it will be easier to update and add things once it is prepared. 

Quintcareers.com gives the following examples of things you should include in your portfolio:

  1. Career Summary and Goals: A description of what you stand for (such as work ethic, organizational interests, management philosophy, etc.) and where you see yourself in two to five years.
  2. Professional Philosophy/Mission Statement: A short description of the guiding principles that drive you and give you purpose. Read more in our article, Using a Personal Mission Statement to Chart Your Career Course.
  3. Traditional Resume: A summary of your education, achievements, and work experience, using a chronological or functional format. If you need help developing a resume, visit Quintessential Careers: Fundamentals of a Good Resume.
  4. Scannable/Text-Based Resume: A text-only version of your resume should also be included. More information about this type of resume can be found at: Quintessential Careers: Scannable Resume Fundamentals.
  5. Skills, Abilities and Marketable Qualities: A detailed examination of your skills and experience. This section should include the name of the skill area; the performance or behavior, knowledge, or personal traits that contribute to your success in that skill area; your background and specific experiences that demonstrate your application of the skill.
  6. List of Accomplishments: A detailed listing that highlights the major accomplishments in your career to date. Accomplishments are one of the most important elements of any good job-search. Read more in our article, For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.
  7. Samples of Your Work: A sampling of your best work, including reports, papers, studies, brochures, projects, presentations, etc. Besides print samples, you can also include CD-ROMs, videos, and other multimedia formats.
  8. Research, Publications, Reports: A way to showcase multiple skills, including your written communications abilities. Include any published papers and conference proceedings.
  9. Testimonials and Letters of Recommendations: A collection of any kudos you have received -– from customers, clients, colleagues, past employers, professors, etc. Some experts even suggest including copies of favorable employer evaluations and reviews.
  10. Awards and Honors: A collection of any certificates of awards, honors, and scholarships.
  11. Conference and Workshops: A list of conferences, seminars, and workshops you’ve participated in and/or attended.
  12. Transcripts, Degrees, Licenses, and Certifications: A description of relevant courses, degrees, licenses, and certifications.
  13. Professional Development Activities: A listing of professional associations and conferences attended — and any other professional development activities.
  14. Military records, awards, and badges: A listing of your military service, if applicable.
  15. Volunteering/Community Service: A description of any community service activities, volunteer or pro bono work you have completed, especially as it relates to your career.
  16. References List: A list of three to five people (including full names, titles, addresses, and phone/email) who are willing to speak about your strengths, abilities, and experience. At least one reference should be a former manager. Read more in our article: The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References in Your Job Search.

eHow has a useful article for how to create your online career portfolio for free. 

They also suggest the following tips and warnings:

Tips & Warnings

  • Creating an online portfolio will increase your chance of landing your dream job
  • Always be honest with yourself when displaying your qualifications
  • Give your website address to prospective employers to market yourself
  • Don’t be dishonest because it will backfire!
  • Only give your website to legitimate employers
  • Do not include official transcripts online because it includes your SSN
  • Only give your personal information to only jobs you have applied for
  • Do not include your web portfolio address on your online resume with any online career site such as Monster, Hot Jobs, Vault and Career Path. Read more by clicking here.

The Fox School of Business had an interesting article about how you should spend a moment to Google yourself to see what others might find out about you online.  They reference the following statistics:  44% of hiring managers use google, myspace, and facebook to do online background checks on candidates. Nearly 1/3 of these background checks lead to rejection of a candidate.

Some tips they suggest to create your own online image include:

  1. Join Linkedin.com.  This is a great site that will allow you to create a professional social networking “resume” and allows you the chance to connect to a lot of great contacts.  Your linkedin.com profile will also show up when you google your name.  Use this to your advantage and list all of your strengths, education, and experience using well written short descriptions. 
  2. Start a blog.  Starting a blog is not just for people with uncommon niche interests.  Find a topic you find interesting and is relevant to your professional life and write in it often.  Read other blogs on industry news and comment.  All of these small things will help to create a good social presence for your on the internet. 
  3. Check your Myspace and Facebook profiles.  If there is anything that would give an employer the wrong impression of you, take it down!  Pictures should be professional.  You can stand out from the pack if you use your myspace or facebook page as another tool in your job search strategy.  Not everyone has the attitude of “it’s just a social profile.”  Make sure all privacy settings are enabled so only close friends can see things about you.
  4. For those more web savvy people, start a website or create an online resume.  These can be great additions to your paper resume and you can certainly include a link to your online resume on your paper resume and in any footings or signatures of any emails you send to employers regarding your job search.   You can detail more experiences, share some volunteer experiences and even include pictures, showcase some examples of your work.  Be careful with this though….professionalism is of utmost importance.

A useful student-centered platform for building an eportfolio is available at eportfolio.org.  Once you register, you can set up your portfolio as a student, faculty or institution.  You can then control what goes into your portfolio, who can see it, and can create several versions of it to use based on who you want to view it.  There are fees for this based on how many megabytes of storage you would require. 

In schools, some students are being taught to create web pages using a virtual learning environmental (VLE) that are not as easily accessible outside of the environment in which they are created.  A good alternative for a student who wants a format that is easier to share outside a school environment, would be to get signed up with a free account on Linkedin.  Linkedin has added a lot of features that allows people to showcase more than just work experience.  Users can also import Google Docs presentations, include a WordPress blog, and there are many more options available to update and promote abilities to prospective employers or potential connections.

For an example of a Linkedin portfolio, you can look at mine by clicking here.  To see all of the options I have added to mine, you can send me a request to be linkedin with you.  I accept all invitations.  At that point, you can see how I have incorporated Google Docs, WordPress and other features to display my information.

Top 10 Ways in Which Social Media Can Get You Fired!

According to Proofpoint, an Internet security firm, of companies with 1,000 or more employees, 17 percent report having issues with employees’ use of social media. Furthermore, 8 percent of those companies report having actually dismissed someone for their behavior on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Some other interesting findings from the study:

  • 15 percent have disciplined an employee for violating multimedia sharing / posting policies
  • 13 percent of US companies investigated an exposure event involving mobile or Web-based short message services
  • 17 percent disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies

So, how do you avoid getting fired when using social media? What are the things which will, most probably, get you fired? Here we go with another Thoughtpick fun-fact list with a point:

I have been doing a lot of research on social networking lately. This article does a nice job of pointing out the things you should be concerned about in your present job. However, remember these rules apply if you are looking for a new job as well. Be careful what you put on your social media sites, it could keep you from getting a job.

13 Illegal Interview Questions: Do you know what to do?

 Editor Notes: Most Job Seekers have no idea what an Illegal Interview question sounds like. Here is a list of 13 questions that a job interviewer should not be asking you. Remember the purpose of an interview is to get the job. So it is important that you understand how to answer even inappropriate interview questions.
13 Sample Illegal and Legal Interview via internsover40.blogspot.com

In my book How to Reinvent Your Career I write about interview questions you should be prepared to answer. Remember that there are some things that should not be asked in an interview. I think this writer has an interesting take on this situation. . . however, be sure you know that no one can ask you directly about your:

Race
Color
Sex
Religion
National origin
Birthplace
Age
Disability
Marital/family status

For more advice about how to handle these questions, check out an additional article by Monster by clicking here.