Please read the four attached articles and complete the attached class notes form. What new tips did you learn from the articles? How will you incorporate the tips into your next interview/job search? The Best Way to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses in a Job Interview.docx Weaknesses Interview Questions.docx Interview Question(1).docx Is it Cheating(1).docx 4 Ways to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” That Actually Sound Believable By: Aja Frost A job interview is all about presenting your best self—which is why answering “What is your greatest weakness?” is pretty difficult. There’s no other interview question that feels like more of a trap. If you’re too honest, you might scare the hiring manager and blow your chances of getting the position. But if you’re not honest enough, you’ll lose credibility.
Well, the first thing to keep in mind is why the question’s being asked—and it’s not to trip you up. Instead it’s to see if you’re self-aware enough to recognize a flaw, and then self-motivated enough to fix it. Today’s feedback on your weaknesses is tomorrow’s feedback on an important team project that’s not coming together. Answering this question can be a great opportunity to highlight how you’ve overcome a challenge in the past—or are actively working to do so now. After all, everyone has areas that could use improvement, but if you can describe how you’ve mitigated yours, you’ll seem strong, capable, and in charge of your professional development. OK, that’s great, you’re thinking, but what do I actually say? To help you out, I’ve rounded up the most common, cliché, and fake-sounding “biggest weaknesses,” along with some suggestions for what to say instead. 1. Instead of “Perfectionism,” Say… “I tend to get caught up in the little details, which can distract me from the ultimate goal.” You might be a perfectionist, but your interviewer has heard this answer a billion times (and from plenty of people who aren’t actually perfectionists, I might add). However, by presenting the symptoms, rather than just naming the affliction, you’ll sound much more sincere. Follow this answer with an example, such as: When I was a junior web designer at Harold’s Hats, I was asked to revamp our size guide and make it more fun and visually interesting. Unfortunately, I became so fixated on finding the perfect font that I missed the deadline. Next, describe how you’re working to solve the issue. (Hint: This answer will work for almost every perfectionist.)
These days, I break each project down into mini-tasks, each with their own deadline. If I spend too long on an individual thing, I set it aside and move on to the next one. Usually, by the time I come back to the imperfect piece, I can be more objective about whether or not it needs more work. 2. Instead of “Overly High Standards,” Say… “It can be difficult for me to gauge when the people I’m working with are overwhelmed or dissatisfied with their workloads.” Saying that you expect too much from your team will score you an eye roll or two from your interviewer. Instead, explain how your delegation skills could be better. After providing an example, say something along the lines of: To ensure that I’m not asking too much or too little from my team, we have weekly check-ins. I like to ask if they feel like they’re on top of their workload, how I could better support them, whether there’s anything they’d like to take on or get rid of, and if they’re engaged by what they’re doing. Even if the answer is “all good,” these meetings really lay the groundwork for a good and trusting relationship. 3. Instead of “Workaholism,” Say… “I need to get much better at knowing the difference between working hard and working productively. It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that long hours in the office mean I’m getting a lot done. But unsurprisingly, I actually do my best work when I’m not super tired or stressed.” Let’s face it: In today’s office, workaholics get pats on the back, not admonitions to take it easier. Claiming to be one (whether it’s true or not) sounds like you’re bragging. Next, tell your interviewer about a time when you pushed yourself too hard and the results weren’t good. Then, prove you’re managing the issue by saying: I’m making a huge effort to work smarter, not longer. I’ve begun responding to emails in batches so I don’t waste hours every day sorting through my inbox. I write down five goals every morning so that I’m focused on the priorities. I try to take my meetings outside so that I get some fresh air and exercise while we talk. These productivity changes have helped me compress the amount of work I accomplish into fewer hours—which also means I can produce higher-quality work. 4. Instead of “Public Speaking,” Say… “I’ve heard that more people are scared of public speaking than death. Well, I wouldn’t say my fear is that extreme, but I definitely find it challenging to present my ideas in front of a crowd. As you can imagine, this has proven to be a career obstacle.” Public speaking didn’t used to be such a common answer, but it’s definitely getting more popular. You can still use it, but flesh out your answers with examples so that your interviewer knows you’re being truthful. Then explain what you’re doing to get better, like so: I recently joined the local Toastmasters club. We meet every Friday night, and it’s actually become one of the things I look forward to each week! In addition, I regularly volunteer to speak at team meetings. Even though they’re small, they’re definitely helping me feel more comfortable sharing my ideas. All of this experience has made it far easier to explain to a room that, say, we need to invest in big data software. Whatever you choose to talk about, the trick is to sound genuine and to end things on a positive note. Rehearse your response so that you can give it easily, and more importantly, concisely—if you spend too much time talking about your flaws, it’s easy to dig yourself into a hole. Get past the “weakness” part of your answer as quickly as possible, so you can get back what’s most important: your (many!) strengths. Interview Question #1: Tell Me About Yourself You can expect to hear “tell me about yourself” in nearly every interview you’re in. While it strikes fear into the hearts of many job candidates, here’s a trick you can use to dazzle recruiters with your amazing response. It’s called the P.E.N. framework, and it’s the best way I’ve found to tell recruiters about yourself. P.E.N. stands for Passion, Experience, and Next. Start by telling the interviewer what you’re passionate about, and make sure you choose something that’s closely related to the job you want. Recruiters want to hire people who enjoy their work, so let them know what you enjoy. Then, summarize your experiences that are related to the job you’re applying for. You should do this briefly without going into too much detail. This will give the recruiter context for the rest of the interview. Finally, tell the recruiter the type of experience you’d like to get next. Your answer should be straight off the job description for the role you’re interviewing for. Here’s what it looks like when it all comes together. This is an example of how a candidate for a marketing job might respond to “tell me about yourself.” PASSION: “I’ve always loved finding creative solutions to challenging problems.” EXPERIENCE: “When I was in college, I worked on our yearbook staff, where I led a project to create the first-ever online version of our school yearbook. I also had a summer internship where I created the social media sites for three non-profit organizations. “When I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, I went to an advertising agency where I developed marketing campaigns for clients, wrote project briefs for our agency teams, and managed cross-functional groups that included people from insights, graphic design, project planning, and client relations. I’ve been working for that agency for five years. During that time, I’ve been promoted from Assistant Account Manager to Senior Account Manager. I also won the agency’s award for the most creative marketing campaign.” NEXT: “Now, I’m looking for a role where I’ll have more responsibility for finding creative solutions to increasingly challenging problems. I really want a role that involves identifying marketing campaign ideas and managing cross-functional project teams.” As you can see, the P.E.N. framework gives you a clear beginning, middle, and end to your response. It makes it easy for a recruiter to understand what you enjoy, what experience you have, and what you want to do next in your career. Now, think about your passion that will make you great at your next job. Then, add a summary of the experiences you have that are the best fit for the position you want. Finally, end with what you want to do next, which is to get a job exactly like the one you’re interviewing for. For more tips on answering interview questions, check out my book called Amazing Interview Answers. It includes 44 of the most common interview questions along with advice for answering each question. If you’re a college student, check out my other book, Interview Prep Playbook. It includes set-by-step instructions for building your job hunting strategy, polishing your resume, and preparing for interviews. Good luck with your interviews and getting your next dream job. About the Author: Richard Blazevich is the author of Amazing Interview Answers, Interview Prep Playbook, and That’s a Bullseye. For years, he’s led campus recruiting efforts for the marketing department of a multinational consumer products company. In that role, he’s interviewed hundreds of candidates for a wide variety of jobs. He’s also led interview workshops for career development offices and student organizations at some of the top universities in the United States. Richard is a senior director of marketing with over fifteen years of experience. He received an MBA with an emphasis in Marketing and Business Strategy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Montana State University. Amazing Job Skills The Secret to a Winning Resume: Is This Cheating? A great resume is the first step in getting the job you want. Many employers require that you submit a resume with your initial application, and they use it to decide whether you make it through their initial screening process. That’s why getting your resume right is so important. The secret to writing a resume involves job descriptions. In job descriptions, employers tell you exactly what they want to see. All you have to do to move your resume to the top of their stack is use key words from job descriptions to polish your resume. Finding the job descriptions should be easy. Typically, employers will include them on the websites where their job openings are posted. If not, you can contact your targeted employers to see if they’ll send you their job descriptions directly. Once you have a few job descriptions for the types of jobs you want, start circling key words like “analyze data, conduct research, and manage timelines.” Then, put as many of those key words on your resume as possible. Most employers love seeing words from their job descriptions repeated back to them on resumes. It shows that you understand the type of work to be done and you have experience doing it. Obviously, you should only include experiences on your resume that you have actually done. You should never lie on your resume. That could have severe consequences. Plus, it’s just plain wrong. You should, however, include your experiences that most closely match what employers have listed on their job descriptions. More than ever, employers are using software programs called application tracking systems (ATS) to filter through resumes. Many employers only look at resumes that make it through their ATS software’s screening process. This job description trick is your ticket for getting the ATS software to choose your resume. If the software program uses a job description for its search criteria, which is often the case, putting key words from the job description on your resume will increase your odds of getting selected. If you already have a draft of your resume, put it next to your targeted job descriptions. Check to see how well your bullet points match the duties on those job descriptions. If the job descriptions say that you’ll be developing training programs, your resume should list any experience you have developing training programs. If the job descriptions say that the employer wants someone to design brochures, your resume should include any experience you have designing brochures. Typically, people write their resumes based on the amount of time they’ve spent on the tasks in their previous jobs. Most employers don’t care about your time allocation on previous jobs. They care about the relevant experience you’ve gained. In their job descriptions, they tell you exactly what experience is relevant. You just have to repeat it back to them on your resume. You should go through your work history and think about experiences you’ve had that are most closely related to the duties for the jobs you want. Write your experiences in brief phrases that match the job description language as closely as possible. Is that cheating? As a corporate recruiter, I don’t think so. I consider it taking initiative. If a candidate puts forth the effort to customize their resume in a way that shows their experiences related to the job description duties, that’s the kind of person I want working at my company. Again, we don’t care how much time you’ve spent on all the tasks you’ve ever done. We care about the experiences you gained that are related to the duties on our job descriptions. Using this trick will make it easy for us to see your relevant experiences and select you for the next stage of the process, which is the job interview. For more tips about job hunting, check out my book Interview Prep Playbook. It includes everything you’ll need to know about creating a winning resume and becoming amazing at answering interview questions. It’s available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats. About the Author: Richard Blazevich is the author of Amazing Interview Answers, Interview Prep Playbook, and That’s a Bullseye. For over 15 years, he’s been a corporate recruiter for a Fortune 100 company. In that role, he’s interviewed hundreds of candidates for a wide variety of jobs. He’s also led interview workshops at some of the top universities in the United States. Richard received an MBA with an emphasis in Marketing and Business Strategy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Montana State Un
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