Archives – October, 2013
On Halloween, you expect bizarre things to happen. In a job interview, not so much. But even job interviews can be nightmares.
No tricks here. Check out the following real examples of outlandish answers given during job interviews, as well as strange questions asked by candidates and interviewers alike.
7 Bizarre Answers From Candidates
1. “Why did you leave your last job?”
“I have a problem with authority.”
2. “Why are you looking for a job?”
“My parents told me I need to get a job so that’s why I’m here.”
3. “Why do you want to work for us?”
“I saw the job posted on Twitter and thought, why not?”
4. “What are your weaknesses?”
“I’m really not a big learner.”
5. “Why are you leaving your current job?”
“I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes.”
6. “Is there anything else I should know about you?”
“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.”
7. “When can you start?”
“I need to check with my mom on that one.”
These questions asked by candidates are just plain odd
1. “What is your company’s policy regarding Monday absences?”
2. “Can we wrap this up quickly? I have someplace I have to go.”
3. “If I get an offer, how long before I have to take the drug test?”
4. “What do you want me to do if I can’t walk to work if it’s raining?”
5. “Can I have a tour of the breast pumping room? While I don’t plan on having kids for 10-12 years, I will definitely breast feed and would want to use that room.”
6. “So how much do they pay you to do these interviews?”
7. “If this doesn’t work out, can I call you sometime?”
But these questions asked by interviewers are even stranger
1. “What song best describes your work ethic?”
2. “What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?”
3. “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?”
4. “What kitchen utensil would you be?”
5. “If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which one would it be and why?”
6. “How many quarters would you need to reach the top of the Empire State Building?”
And don’t ever act this way during an interview
1. A candidate blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her.
2. During the interview, an applicant’s friend, who was waiting in the lobby, interrupted to ask “how much longer?”
3. A candidate ate all the candy from the interviewer’s desk candy bowl during the interview.
4. An applicant sent his sister to interview in his place.
5. A job seeker hugged the candidate at the end of the interview.
6. The candidate alerted the interviewer to his limited availability on Friday, Saturday and Sunday because this was his “drinking time.”
7. Job seeker tried to explain an arrest: “We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig.”
If you fear your job interviewing skills might scare off an interviewer, contact Career Services to arrange a mock interview. With practice you’ll ace the interview and avoid scaring off the interviewer and the job offer that’s waiting for you.
October 29, 2013
Networking. It’s the one word that collectively makes most job seekers cringe. But cliché phrases such as “not networking means not working” exist for a reason. When it comes to job searching and career exploration, networking is the number one tool. It’s the key to unlocking doors you won’t find through job fairs, on-campus recruiting and online job boards.
Networking opportunities exist all around you. Here are five outlets for sneaking networking occasions into your life.
1. Work at networking events: If you are a member of a professional association, don’t just attend the conference. Volunteer to help organize the meetings and conferences that everyone is attending. You likely won’t have to pay to attend the event, can be privy to the guest list and make connections with other volunteers.
2. Volunteer at “non-networking” events: Instead of running in the 5K, serve on the committee to help organize it. Is the organization you volunteer for coordinating a fundraiser? Join the group to help plan it. Look for joining opportunities through your place of worship, child’s school or other venues where you can work alongside other people.
3. Look for disguised networking events: Book clubs, exercise classes, moms’ groups/play groups. The reason for gathering isn’t to network, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Knowing that you already have something in common with others in the group makes these outlets less intimidating.
4. Break the elevator etiquette rule: Or strike up a conversation with the person you see every day at the bus stop. There are one-to-one networking opportunities around you every day. It won’t work every time, but you’d be surprised how often it does. Are you going to land a job interview through engaging in small talk on the elevator? Maybe not. But you might land an informational interview – which could lead to a job offer down the road. You’ll never know unless you try.
5. View family and friends from a networking perspective: It’s time to look at aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends in a different light. Do they know you’re job searching? Do they know the industries you’re interested in? Because if they don’t know, then you don’t know connections they may have to those industries.
Talk to a career counselor about developing your networking strategies. It’s a part of job searching that can’t be ignored.
October 22, 2013
Once your informational interview is set, it’s time to consider what questions you want to ask.
The worst question to spring on someone? “So, can you tell me what your job is like?” First, you should have some basic knowledge about the profession before meeting with someone. Second, this particular question encompasses a lot of ground. Asking open-ended specific questions keeps the interviewer from feeling overwhelmed and helps you learn more about the profession. You’re talking to someone doing a job you might want to do someday. Make the most of this opportunity.
Here’s a list of sample questions to consider asking:
Questions about the job
- What kinds of tasks do you do on a typical day or during a typical week?
- What tasks take up most of your time?
- What do you like about your job?
- What things do you find challenging or frustrating?
- Skills that I really enjoy using include (fill in blank). Do you use these skills in your job?
- What characteristics should a person working this job have?
- Do you usually work independently or as part of a team?
- What is the typical career advancement path for this job?
- What advice would you give to a new professional entering this field?
- My research showed that an issue this field is facing is (fill in blank). In your opinion is this true?
- How is this profession changing?
- How is technology affecting this field?
Questions about working conditions
- What are your typical hours per day and per week? Are these hours typical for this job?
- Does this career require or include travel?
- How does this career affect other aspects of your life (family time, leisure time, etc.)?
- Is this job typically done in an office?
- As a male or female, would I face any unique challenges in this job?
Questions about training and education preparation
- What educational background is best suited for this job?
- Are there particular courses a student might take that could be beneficial?
- What are some examples of out-of-class experiences that would be helpful (volunteering, internship/co-op, campus clubs or organizations)?
- What is your educational background?
- What previous work or other experience helped you prepare for this field?
- When did you decide to work in this profession and why?
- What other careers did you consider beforehand?
- What general advice would you give to help people prepare?
- What resources would you recommend for me to learn more about this profession?
Questions about other careers and contacts
- What careers would you say are similar to this profession?
- Can you suggest others I could talk to in this profession? Do you have their contact information?
- What resources would you recommend for me to find additional contacts?
- Is there any other information you’d like to share with me?
- May I contact you in the future with additional questions I might have?
Type your list of questions before the meeting and bring the list with you. Additionally, bring a notebook to write down information you learn; but, don’t focus on writing everything down during the interview. Doing so is distracting and takes away from the conversation. Rather, write down your answers and reactions to what you learned immediately after the meeting.
Send a thank-you note to the person with 24 hours after the meeting. Reference specific items you talked about in your conversation. Keep in touch. If you take specific actions as a result of the meeting (select an academic program, volunteer, obtain an internship) be sure to let the person know.
Finally, pay it forward. When you are an established professional and someone contacts you to request an informational interview, say yes.
October 14, 2013
Last week’s blog post talked about excuses people often use for not setting up informational interviews. Now that any excuses have been eliminated, it’s time to contact people and request a meeting.
Before doing so:
Remember the primary objective is to learn information about a profession. This isn’t a job interview. Your goal isn’t to impress the person as a candidate to hire.
Research the career field. Even though you’re trying to learn about a career, don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking general questions such as “so what does a dental hygienist do?” You can learn the answer to this question quite easily through career exploration sites.
Check your calendar. Most informational interviews take place during regular business hours. See what days and times work best for you but remain flexible to accommodate the interviewer’s schedule, too. When scheduling a meeting, allow enough time for transportation, knowing you’ll want to arrive 15 minutes prior to the meeting.
Check your wardrobe. A business suit won’t be necessary, but business casual attire sends a positive and professional message. Ladies, does your closet have a nice pair of pants or skirt and top you can wear? Guys, do you have a collared shirt and pants (not jeans)?
When you have the name and contact information for someone it’s time to reach out. An email or letter is the best first approach. Check out the following sample email that can you can easily adapt to fit your specific needs. Notice the three important components: 1. Name of the person you’re writing; 2.The reason you’re writing; 3. Clarification that you aren’t requesting a job interview.
Ms. Ann Johnson
Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry
Dear Ms. Johnson:
Hello, my name is Jane Smith and I’m a student at Central Piedmont Community College. Julie Rhodes, whose daughter is a patient at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry, suggested I contact you.
I’m in the process of researching career options of interest to me and am considering the dental hygiene field. I’m not seeking a job interview, but was hoping I might be able to meet with you to discuss your work in the profession and preparation for it. Speaking firsthand with someone in the field provides the chance to obtain valuable insight and perspective.
I understand your schedule is busy and would appreciate 30 minutes of your time. I am happy to contact you to inquire what days and times are convenient for us to me.
Thank you in advance and I look forward to speaking with you.
After sending the email, give the person about one week to reply. If you don’t hear back feel free to resend the email or consider calling if you also have the person’s phone number.
You: Hello, Ms. Johnson?
You: Hi, my name is Jane Smith. I’m a student at Central Piedmont Community College. I don’t know if you received an email from me last week? Julie Rhodes, whose daughter is a patient at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry, suggested I contact you.
Professional: Okay, how can I help you?
You: I’m researching career options and am considering dental hygiene. I was wondering if you might be able to meet with me sometime for approximately 30 minutes to talk about your experience in the field?
Professional: Oh, sure I’d be happy to do that.
You: Thank you so much! Is there a day and time that works best?
Professional: Could you come to the office this Thursday at 3:00?
You: That would be perfect. Thanks again and I will see you then.
Once the meeting time’s established, it’s time to think about what questions to ask. We’ll provide a long list next week.
October 7, 2013
Someone in this conversation might be learning about a career they're interested in.
Career exploration sites like O*Net and the Occupational Outlook Handbook provide a wealth of information about what it’s like to work in thousands of careers. Career counselors are very knowledgeable about a variety of different professions.
But information interviews are the best opportunity you have for determining if a career path might be a good fit for you. An information interview is a meeting where you talk to someone working in a career of interest to you. By asking questions and engaging in conversation over the course of 20 minutes to an hour, you learn about what a day in the life of the employee is really like.
So what’s keeping you from scheduling one? If you’re like many people, it’s likely one of the following reasons.
1. “I don’t know anyone working in the careers I’m interested in.” You might not, but chances are someone you know does. Start asking friends and family if they have any contacts. Additional resources include advisors and professors, coworkers, professional associations and social media outlets such as LinkedIn.
2. “No one is willing to take time to talk to a student.” Everyone was once in your shoes. Most people enjoy talking about their career path and job(s). The phrase “If only I knew then what I know now” is a guiding philosophy that encourages others to speak about their work history.
3. “I’m shy, so talking to complete strangers intimidates me.” If you’re an introvert it’s understandable that talking to people you don’t know requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Embrace who you are (introverts have a lot to offer!) and don’t let shyness be an excuse. Talk to a career counselor about developing a networking strategy for introverts to help you feel confident.
4. “I don’t know how to request an informational interview and I don’t know what questions I would ask.” Our blog will be covering this topic over the next few weeks, so check back for more information. In the meantime, google “sample information interview requests” and “questions to ask during an informational interview” for some helpful hints.
5. “What if they ask me questions about my interest in the field? I don’t want to sound stupid.” Take time to do some research. Prepare for the meeting by using the career exploration sites mentioned above to learn about the profession. Write down what interests you. Don’t forget to research yourself, too. What work values, skills and interests do you have that you believe connect you to this particular career?
6. “I don’t have a resume prepared.” That’s fine, because you won’t need it. An information interview isn’t a job interview. It’s an opportunity to have a conversation. Period.
7. “I don’t have the time.” If you have time to grab a cup of coffee, you have time to do an informational interview.
Next week we’ll talk about how to set up an informational interview. Should you call or send an email? What should you say in your request? Check back for answers to these questions!
October 1, 2013