1/21/14

I Have No Experience, but I Have an Interview. What Do I Say?




If this is you, I am sure you have a few questions concerning the interview. And here are my answers:

      1. Is it a mistake?
    Absolutely NOT. If they called you, and asked for your name on the phone and scheduled you for an interview, then it's you they want to meet. Stop worrying and get prepared. They have your contact information from your CV and since they can see in your CV that you have no experience, then they know about your background. 

2.  Should I go?
Absolutely. Even if you don't get the job, at least it will help you get used to the interview environment and do better next time.

3.  What will they ask?
First of all since you don't have any experience, they will skip that and ask questions about yourself, your personality, your studies, your personal projects, any volunteering activities you may have done, just to see if you were interested in doing something else than just going to school, they will ask about any additional courses you attended, what you learnt. Then they will ask about your future goals, why you want to work for their company, what you know about them , if you remember the job ad and if you have any questions about the company, the job or the team.

4.  Should I ask questions?
Of course. Asking questions means that you are interested. You can prepare a few from home, but make sure you don't get too aggressive. Ask the questions during the discussion without interrupting too often and also at the end of the interview.

5. What do I say about myself?
Read the job ad and see what kind of employee they are searching for. What skills and strengths this person should have. Then tell them which of these you have offering examples and arguments. For example, if they are searching for someone with organizing skills, tell them you are a great organizer and how you managed some projects that you and your team had to do in college.

6.  What do I say about my experience?
Focus on what is connected to the job you are applying for - mention that you don't have experience, but that you were part of an internship in the field, you attended some classes connected to the field (make sure you mention those in your CV), that you came to visit their headquarters when they organized some "Open Doors" events, that you have been interested in their jobs for a while and visited their stand during the last job shop where their employees told you a lot about the company, mention any volunteering you may have done (even if not directly connected - it will prove you are not just an ordinary student who cares just about parties and wasting time with friends). Mention anything you find relevant that will prove you did something besides your regular student activities. It's useful.

7.  How long should the interview take?
Between 15 minutes and one hour. Chances are that since you don't have experience they will most probably keep you there closer to 15-20 minutes than to an hour. More useful details about a first interview here and about how long it should take here .

8.  How should I prepare?
Read the job ad carefully (they will ask about it to see how interested and careful about details you really are), prepare questions and read about their company. Why? Please read about it here.

9. What should I wear?
It depends on the position you are going there for. Please read about it here

10.Why did they call me since I have no experience?
Not all positions require experience. Some companies are willing to hire young inexperienced professionals and train them, sometimes even for months for a number of reasons: a fresh perspective, young people are more eager to learn and adapt to change and the last one (not too nice, but it's the reality unfortunately) - young people are willing to work for less money for a while. This can mean serious cost savings for the company. You need to remember that the corporate environment is all about profit not society well-being.

If there is a question that you may have and I missed, please write it to me in a comment and I will reply asap.

Take care,
Geo

1/15/14

Strengths and Weaknesses – What Should I Reply at the Interview?

A lot of candidates, especially those that are preparing for their first interview, ask the following question: "One of my friends has recently told me that during the interview the recruiter will ask for sure about my strengths and weaknesses. What do I reply? Can I prepare somehow for this question?"

Well, first of all, professional recruiters no longer waste their time with such questions that can be found in any recruitment and selection course for students. Professional recruiters prefer open discussions, case studies and of course ask the candidate to tell about specific situations where a certain skill could be found. For example, "Please tell me about a situation where you had a conflict in your team. What happened with your team members? How did you solve the problem?". If the candidate is a good manager, he would have solved the problem in an efficient manner without any further impact on the team. This kind of answer, with all the specific management details, is more valuable than the candidate just telling the recruiter he's a good manager. Answers to such well-known and expected questions like "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" can be prepared well before the interview, even found on the internet (some advisers may tell you what's useful to say and what's not) and the information offered to the recruiter by a shrewd candidate can easily deceive. Moreover, if the recruiter is following certain skills according to the job specifications and the candidate's answer is about others, then the time was completely wasted - better ask directly what I, as recruiter, am interested in.

Coming back to the question - there may still be recruiters who will ask you this question, so thinking a bit about it can't hurt. What should you reply? Clear strengths and weaknesses that are yours and not that you found in a book. Examples may be requested further on so don't lie. By the end of the interview, after several other questions, they will know you did. Also, remember that references can be verified, so additional information about you will be revealed for sure. If you say that you are always on time, but your former manager tells the recruiter during reference verification that you were late for work at least once a week, then you proved a liar and they won't care anymore about any other real skills you may have. 

Also, think about at least 3 of each. Some recruiters will insist that you tell 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses. In my opinion that's a waste of time, but you can prepare. Believe me, under the interview stress, you won't have any ideas, especially if you are a beginner on the market. You will hardly remember what you prepared at home; coming up with new ones will be even harder. Thinking a bit about it won't hurt as I said.

And last but not least, don't mention as weaknesses features that are in fact strengths - like "I am too ambitious". That will make the recruiter ask you to come up with one more and they will be really annoyed - trust me.

Now, what are strengths and weaknesses you may ask. Everybody talks about them but nobody tells you what they are. Well, strengths are positive features about yourself that can help you boost your personal or professional life - like being ambitious, smart, optimistic, organized, having good decision making skills, even knowing Java or Excel. Weaknesses are negative features that can slow you down - for example being impulsive (that's my main one). Being impulsive can affect your team work, can make you say or do things you can later regret. One more thing they may ask and you need to be prepared - how are you improving - think about what you do already or plan to do to make your weaknesses impact your life less, especially professional one - this is the one they are interested in. For example, if you don't know how to prioritize, a time management course can be helpful.

To sum up, you can think about this question and prepare something, but never come up with answers from the internet or details that in fact are not yours.

Take care and good luck with your interviews,
Geo

1/7/14

Should I Apply to All Job Opportunities in My Company?

A lot of employees are attracted by the job opportunities that their own companies open. Wanting to be promoted is a natural desire. The question is - if there are several different opportunities available at the same time, should I apply to all?

The answer is NO. Absolutely NOT! And here's why:

1. they will think you have no idea what you want - you want a career, that's clear, but you have no idea what to choose; you want to try it all out before you decide. This is not OK. The company needs someone reliable with clear decision making skills.

2. they will think that you have no idea what each job is all about - you can't possibly like all jobs and want to do all of them; this means that you haven't bothered to find details about each one before applying;

3. you want to be promoted at any cost and want more money - that's it - you don't really care about the job or the company;

4. you desperately want out of your team or you want a new manager; they will start asking what is wrong with your current team and manager;

5. you have no decision making skills - you can't decide what you want.

Did I convince you? I hope so.
Applying to too many open positions may "help you" lose them all, including to that one you may have been perfect for.

Take care,
Geo

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