Some Basic Tips on Job Interviews - Part II



More Questions in the Interview

After looking over my first post on the job interview I realized there were some things I wish I had added. As I related in that first post, I was in charge of hiring for five years at a regional industrial controls company that was spread throughout the southeastern part of the United States. I'm going to toss out a few more things to prepare for before you go into that interview room. Plus, some "old school " ideas on finding a job in today's terrible economic/employment meltdown.

Another question(s) that I always asked was one that I dreaded myself when I was interviewing for a job. "What are your weaknesses " is a question I always asked. I didn't do it because I wanted to see the interviewee sweat. I knew they were already nervous. But, I asked them this for one basic reason; I wanted to see if they were honest. Now, other people may say they had different reasons. Mine was I wanted to see them admit they had weaknesses. Hell, we all have weaknesses. Anyone who says they don't is a liar or an egomaniac. If the interviewee says he "can't think of any" or "he/she doesn't have any," that told me a lot about that person. That wasn't a deciding factor in my hiring them. But, it certainly did not put them in a good light. Some people gave great answers. One I remember is a young woman telling me her biggest weakness is that she was impatient . She said she had trouble with people who weren't as demanding in doing their job as quickly and as well as she did. That may sound like BS to you. But, it was the kind of thing that told me this lady could think on her feet under pressure. I didn't hire her for that particular job. But, I remembered her and hired her about two months later for another job. Of course, "what are your strengths " is another that would catch people by surprise. Most people didn't have much trouble answering this question. Everyone seems to know what they are good at doing. Sometimes, I didn't even bother to ask this particular question because of that fact.

Another question I had was one concerning problem solving. Problem solving is always a good indicator of what kind of employee this person might be. I asked the interviewee, "Over the course of your career, you certainly have had conflicts with either your boss or a co-worker. How did you resolve that conflict?" Now, there is no way the interviewee could convince me they had never had conflict with someone if they have been in the workforce for at least five years. If they told me they never had conflicts, it told me they were being dishonest or couldn't answer the question. Most of the time, it was the latter of the two. You see, one of the most important qualities a potential employee must have is his ability to get along with other people. You want to know if they have social skills that will enable them to resolve any future conflicts in the work environment. It also tells me if that person can work with others, including his boss. This is an area you need to be prepared to answer. Most employers still ask this question during the interview.

There are some things you need to stress during the interview if the interviewer doesn't bring them up. Always make sure you let your potential employer know you have had great attendance and have been punctual throughout your working career. If you do not have those qualities, I suggest you keep quiet about it. If you are asked about your attendance with other employers, you need to be able to explain why your attendance was poor. This is very, very important to employers. Showing up for work, showing up on time is considered part of your job description in every job in America. If you don't show up to do your job, you aren't of much value to the employer. In most cases, this is cause for termination. Something else; say for example if the interviewer asks "Did you have good evaluations with your last employer? " Don't answer this or any other question with a simple "yes" or "no." If you say no, you must certainly are going to have to explain that one. Even if your answer is yes , be prepared to tell why your evaluations were so highly rated. Better yet, bring some copies of your evaluations with you and present them. If your evaluations are poor, do not criticize your former employer. That reflects badly on you as well. It also makes the interviewer consider you would do the same to his company.
Now, some more don'ts I left out in the previous hub on this subject. Don't use slang or profane language when in the interview room. There is a time and place for everything. This isn't the time to use four letter words in front of someone you just met. As I stated in the previous hub, know something about the employer. That is vital. Just as vital is asking questions about the job. Just don't sit there and not bother to ask questions about the job. I guarantee the interviewer is waiting on you to ask questions. Don't act like you already know everything about everything. Egomaniacs have a tough time getting a job. If they get one, they don't usually keep it for long. One final thing; when the interview is over, don't just shake the interviewer's hand and walk out the door. Make sure you thank the interviewer for his time. Let him or her know you greatly appreciate them taking the time to interview you for the job. That speaks volumes about how much you want the job. Also, remember the interviewer is human just like you are. He has been in the same position you are sitting in that interview chair. Everyone has, at one time or another, been looking for work. Just because you unemployed or underemployed, doesn't make you less a person than that interviewer or anyone else.

Finally, I stated at the outset of this hub I was going to talk about some "old school " ways of looking for a job. Now, I encourage you to continue to doing all you do now insofar as companies as Monster.com and others of that nature. Use every conduit available to you, including the classifieds in the Sunday paper. But, what most people are not aware, even if a company doesn't advertise they have jobs available, that does not mean they don't have open positions. I don't think I am going out on a limb by saying that 80% of companies that say they are not hiring still have positions that need to be filled. Now, there are a number of reasons they don't advertise those positions. It may be they are in a financial crunch. It may be that someone has asked human resources to save a particular job for a relative. It may be they are waiting for better economic times. Regardless of the circumstances, that company is hurting by not filling that position. During the late 70s, I got laid off from a job I had in the chemical processing industry. This was during the Carter recession days. There weren't even minimum wage jobs available most of the time.

What I did was go to every company in that chemical processing field and ask to fill out an application. Invariably they told me they were not hiring. I would still push the matter. They would usually let you fill out an application if you push them on it. After I filled out the application, I would ask if I could speak to a supervisor over the type of work I do. 90% of the time, that isn't going to happen. So, I asked if I could speak to someone in human resources about potential future job opportunities. I would estimate the chances of that happening at about 50%. It really depends on the receptionist or whoever greets you when you walk into a company. Human resource personnel are more apt to talk to you. After about the 8th company (which had not advertised about any jobs, remember), I got an interview for a job that paid almost as much as the one I had lost. Two days later, I was hired. It wasn't as good a job as the one I had lost. But, I had a job when most couldn't get minimum wage jobs at McDonalds. It's a bit nerve wracking to walk into a company that doesn't advertise any jobs being available. But, if you are truly wanting work, you'll do whatever you have to do. These are truly times that try men's (and women's) soul. You have to get out of your comfort zone in regard to seeking employment. Be brave, be confident and be tenacious . You will find that job you seek. Always think that way. I wish you all the very best.


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