Posts filed under ‘Advice’

The Interview Dress Rehearsal

curtain1I’m not one of those people who is great at talking on my feet. There’s something about the way I am wired that makes it difficult for me to act suave and say intelligent things under pressure. I’ll never be a politician, or an actor, or anyone behind a news desk. But I can overcome this “flaw” in certain situations with just a little bit of practice. It’s best to borrow a friend to help you out and ask you random questions to put you on the spot (although I must admit, I’ve had to resort to talking to my cat in the past). Here’s a bit of inspiration to get you thinking about potential questions.

Now don’t start memorizing answers to all of them. Obviously, that’s just ridiculous and you never know what the interviewer will ask. But I’ve found that if I concentrate my efforts in a few areas, this helps me draw out examples and provide some pretty solid, respectable answers.

  1. First and foremost, be prepared with your elevator pitch!
  2. Think of several examples of things you do well. Previous projects, situations that were difficult, times in which your boss or others absolutely raved about your work.
  3. Be prepared by remembering a time when things did not happen as you wanted them to happen and how you overcame this. (this will answer those annoying questions related to challenges, weaknesses, etc.)
  4. Give some thought to what your personality type is like and how you work with others – are you a very independent worker? Do you need others around for motivation?
  5. Since you’ve done lots of research on this company and know all about what they do (you did that, right?) give careful consideration to forming a brief description of them in your own words, one that preferably gives the company a bit of an ego rub while you’re at it.
  6. There are plenty of on-line resources for finding out what your salary range should be. Come prepared to tell them what you’d like to be making, as long as it falls within the parameters of the position, of course.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget that you also must (and I mean MUST) ask questions of the interviewer. Your inquiries should be smart, and show knowledge that you understand their business and have given some serious thought to how you can help them succeed.

All done? Take a bow. Then practice again. If you’re like me and end up resorting to using the family pet as your “audience”, I promise he won’t mind.

March 4, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Will Grad School Solve Your Job Woes?

I was inspired by this recent posting on Penelope Trunk’s blog  advocating against using grad school as a solution in a time of economic crisis. I can relate to her points completely, which is why I have yet to pursue my own graduate studies even after numerous visits and discussions with local universities. All of my hemming & hawing has ultimately led to the decision that it would not be financially worth my while to get a Master’s Degree…yet.

Of course, there are always fields where a degree will pay off. I am thinking specifically about an occupational therapist I know who travels around the country getting her housing and meals paid for while also receiving a decent salary. This seems to be an excellent solution – she saves thousands of dollars and is financially secure, even with her student loans, which she is rapidly paying off. But, not all of us want to be an occupational therapist, or spend years of our lives living in poverty while getting that degree.

I think I’ll take Penelope’s advice and keep learning within my own world, waiting for the educational model to adjust to the 21st century workplace.

February 6, 2009 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

Last but not least…Tip #5

Stay Positive

Yeah, I know. Easier said than done. There is a lot of negative press out there right now and if you keep watching CNN and reading USA Today, pretty soon you’ll start looking for the four horsemen to come barreling through the streets. Which is why I’d like to end on a happy note and share a few positive news stories about Pittsburgh’s economy and job market. Chin up!

pollyanna3

January 12, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Tip #4: Be A Chatterbox

chatterbox1Talk to people – anyone at all

You never know who will be able to help you land your next position. I truly mean this. Say someone invites you to an event for zoologists, but you are really looking for a job in computer science. Go. One of those zoologists might be married to the HR Director at Google – you just never know. In Pittsburgh, I think this is especially important. Our city is small, and closely knit, which makes it easier to make some great connections. Unfortunately, this also means you sometimes end up meeting the same people over and over again, which is why it’s good to get out of your comfort zone.

This is also true for you college students who think you don’t have time to network. In fact, this is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Don’t wait for employers to come banging on your door – leave campus and get out there and meet people! You’ll find that a whole new world awaits full of individuals and ideas that you would have never encountered if you kept to the circles you already knew.

Last but not least…Check back for Tip #5 on Monday

January 9, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment


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