|PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW
Thorough preparation is critical. It is great for your confidence
in the interview room and it leaves a very positive impression with the
- Get the logistics right. Time, location, interviewer's
name and position title.
- Do your research. Find out as much as possible about
the company: size, scope, location of branches and offices, financial/share
performance, range of products and services, etc. The company website
and annual report are two very good sources.
- Do some more research. Make sure you have key data
in your head about your existing and most recent employers.
- Do even more research. Ask former co-workers to tell
you about your professional traits. What did they most admire? Try to
find some faults as well. This leaves you more prepared for questions
such as "what are your greatest faults" or "if I were
working with you ...".
- Prepare questions. The employer will be trying to
work out whether you fit the available role. You should also take the
opportunity to ensure that the company is right for you.
- Practice (see below). Take time to run through some
of your answers. Don't over-rehearse, but make sure that you are coming
- Present yourself well. Find out what the company
culture is regarding business dress. If in doubt, go more formal, not
less formal. Make sure you are well groomed on the day.
| What you should practice
When practicing for an interview, you should focus particularly on the way you answer questions.
Remember: expect unexpected questions. It's fine to pause for thought. It's also acceptable to admit you don't know the answer.
- Be descriptive. Don't just answer "yes" or "no" to questions. But also avoid "over-answering." Make your answers colorful but not lengthy.
- Sell yourself to the interviewer, but without exaggeration or telling lies. You are there to market yourself, "blow your own trumpet" and explain why you'd be right for the role. But don't come across as arrogant.
- Avoid making negative remarks about your current employer, or past employers or colleagues. This will only reflect on you in the interview.
- Be determined. Make it clear that you want to get the job, even if you are given information in the interview that sheds a new light on the role. Be positive, and then evaluate the opportunity again when you are away from the interview. Don't burn your bridges.
- Have positive body language, and maintain a good posture.
| PREPARING FOR A BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW
| Many employers are aware that employing somebody on the basis of
two short interviews can be a risk if they do not ask the ěrightî questions
in an interview. Thatís why ěbehavioralî interviewing has become very popular
with many managers.
What is behavioral interviewing?|
It is a style of interview that forces you to answer questions that demonstrate your competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) by giving specific examples from your past experiences. The focus of the interview is less about what you can or could do, and more about what you have done in specific situations in the past.
Prior to the interview, the interviewer will define the competencies for the position, and will then develop a series of questions that allow him/her to find out if you have those competencies. Behavioral interviewing is based on the assumption that your past performance (in previous roles) is an excellent predicator of your future performance.
What sort of questions should you expect?
If your interviewer decides to conduct a behavioral interview, you can expect questions that will focus clearly on how you handled situations in the past, such as:
- Give me an example of how you have Ö
- Tell me about a situation where you Ö
- How did you deal with a situation in your past role where you had conflict with Ö
How should you prepare for a behavioral interview?
You can best prepare by taking the following steps:
- Look closely at the position you are applying for. Get hold of a job description. What specific skills are the employers looking for?
- Analyze your past work experience and background. Match the skills that you have with those the employers are looking for. Donít forget competencies that you have developed outside of the work environment (eg, leadership or organizational skills through not-for-profit activities, etc.)
- Now identify specific examples/situations that demonstrate those skills. You need to be able to explain an entire situation ‚ tell a story to show how you actually used a particular competency. It pays to illustrate the level of involvement you had in resolving a situation, and to quantify the results. If there are situations where you applied a competency but things didnít work out, use them as examples and explain what went wrong. What did you do to resolve it?
- Try the PAR approach to answering questions. State the problem
you faced. Outline the action you took to resolve the
problem. And then explain the results you achieved.
| RESIGNING FROM YOUR JOB
Taking on a new role encourages people to look ahead ‚ planning the next months and years of their lives. So with a new job offer in hand, itís not surprising that some people put little time or effort into making sure they resign from their previous job on a good note. Here are our tips Ö
- Prepare: Think of resignation as you would a job interview. Put time and thought into it. Prepare what you are going to say, in what order, and to whom. You can do serious damage to working relationships if you tell the wrong people first (even in confidence) and somebody influential finds out second hand.
- Be honest: Donít withhold the truth from your employers and colleagues. Tell them up front that you are leaving.
- Be succinct: Whether telling your boss in person or in writing, get straight to the point. Explain why you are leaving, but try to avoid expressing negative feelings.
- Be flexible: If you can, negotiate a finishing date that suits your employer as well as you. Cooperate fully in handing over the files, documents, projects and clients you are working with prior to leaving.
- Be realistic: If your resignation is coming ěout of the blue,î expect a reaction from your employer. Allow time for the reaction to your news. If your manager becomes aggressive, confrontational or upset, donít respond with similar behavior. Revert to your prepared comments.
- Be diplomatic: If you think it is important to express your negative experiences, do it face to face. Donít do it in writing. Again, use your prepared comments rather than doing this off the cuff.
- Be appreciative: Thank your employers for past training and other opportunities. Thank your colleagues for what you have learned from them. Accentuate the positives ‚ find something good to say.
- Follow up in writing: Always send a letter of resignation to confirm ‚ in writing ‚ when you are leaving the organization.
- Donít burn your bridges: You might need to rely on your previous employer for references, advice or even a job! You also never know where people from your current place of work may end up in five or ten yearsí time.
- Look after number one: Make sure you know what you are entitled to when you leave, such as unused vacation or sick time. Get someone senior in the company to give you a reference.
- Keep in touch: Be proactive about keeping in touch with the valuable contacts and friends you have developed in this role.
- Dealing with a counter-offer: If you receive a counter-offer, take time to consider it. Has anything really changed? Is this what you really want? Think about the reasons you decided to take the new position in the first place. Given that you have already resigned, will it be easy for you to continue working in the same company? If you are seriously considering accepting the counter-offer, think about the impact it may have on your relationship with your new employers ‚ you may deal with them again in the future.
| THE RISE - AND RISE - OF YOUR CAREER
In some respects building a successful career is no different from any other project. Clear goal setting, thorough planning and effective execution are key ingredients in the recipe for success. Though expert advice can help you with the process, in the end it is up to you to formulate objectives, develop a plan, and follow through to realize your career goals. While you may enjoy your share of luck, success seldom falls in your lap. Furthermore, if you ignore the basic principles of career management, an unexpected setback could badly damage your long-term prospects. Here are six steps towards success in your career:
- Take a good look at yourself. Understand your needs.
What is important to you? What are you passionate about? A career spans
many years. It can be hard to maintain enthusiasm, excitement and energy
unless you believe in what you are doing. Look for the right balance
in of career, earnings and fulfillment. Are you aiming for the top or
is family more important? What are your unique talents and abilities?
It makes sense to play to your strengths.
- Research career options and prioritize. Discover
what skills and experience various careers require ahead of time. What
is a good fit for you with your skill set?
- Map a path from where you are to where you want to be.
Think strategically and long-term about your career. Donít place too
much emphasis on compensation early on. It may be more important to
develop the skills and experience to ěset you up.î Your action plan
should build upon your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Establish
firm bases for the future. If the platform is secure, you can usually
survive a mistake or setback.
- Donít ignore ongoing training. Acquiring the additional
skills, knowledge and education needed for your new career is fundamental.
Also consider getting some unique experience which will help differentiate
you in the market place.
- Market yourself. Donít take an overly conservative
or narrow view. Consider start-ups and smaller organizations where you
will get more responsibility. But always target companies that are excellent
at what they do, and that place importance on developing staff, particularly
at the beginning of your career. Donít forget to network! A well-developed
list of professional contacts can open doors for you.
- Seek ongoing career management. Continue to examine,
evaluate and refine. The marketplace can change quickly. Be prepared
for unexpected opportunities as well as setbacks. Donít ignore the value
of mentors. Establish at least one quality mentor in the field you hope
to pursue. Also, use advisors and experts often. Their experience, advice
and influence may prove invaluable.