Polishing Your Job Search Skills – Part Two

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Interviews With OFE Staff

This week we are wrapping up the conversation about answering interview questions. There is a lot more to talk about than we have time for on this blog, so we encourage you to get in touch with your Employment Consultant to sign you up for OFE’s job search workshops, or simply to get more specific tips for putting your best foot forward when meeting with an employer.

Here is Dylan Soriano, with the rest of his interview tips! Head over here to read part one, if you missed it.

How do you highlight what you’re good at without sounding arrogant?

A good way to do this is by explaining how the skill(s) was used to positively impact an experience. Alternatively, you can discuss how it will positively impact the job/company in the future.

Example: “My greatest strength would have to be my strong leadership skills. In my last job at Starbucks, my manager praised me for my ability to take charge of situations and support my team which resulted in getting promoted to Assistant Store Manager. I hope to use this skill to continue being a good mentor and support those I work with.”

On the opposite spectrum, how do you highlight what you’re good at when you don’t feel comfortable talking about yourself?

It takes practice and self-awareness to gain the confidence to market yourself to employers. I suggest talking to someone you trust (family member, friend, co-worker, mentor) and ask them to answer the following questions as honestly as they can.

  • What are the things I’m good at? Why?
  • What are the things I’m not good at? Why?
  • What are three words to describe my personality? Why?

By viewing yourself in someone else’s lens, you’ll be able to understand yourself better and gain the confidence to tell other people what makes you unique.

What are some things participants should never share during an interview?

The main thing to avoid is sharing personal identifiers that are not relevant to the job.

Example: Sharing your religious views is okay when you know the company is founded on something similar, and if it allows you to connect with the employer and showcase your fit for their company culture. However, your religious views won’t have a big impact when applying for, say, a Barista position with Starbucks, to use our previous example.

As much as we want to be viewed without judgement, it is sometimes unavoidable that as soon as a personal identifier is shared the tone of the interview shifts and creates potential red flags for the employer. Remember that your first goal is to convince an employer you have the ability and motivation to do the job. It is best not to include anything in your responses that does not directly support that goal.

This is a tricky topic. If you need more clarification or guidance, reach out to your Employment Consultant.

How do you answer questions when you don’t have much experience or have been out of work for a while?

At the beginning of this interview, I mentioned that it is your responsibility to highlight connections between your experiences and personality to what is written on paper, in this case the job description, in a clear and easy-to-understand way. This is why that matters.

You have skills gained from everyday life that can be transferred to the workplace – aptly called “transferrable skills” – that are hard to teach in a classroom, or even in a work setting. That is a huge strength, and you should be conscious about making those connections in your answers.

Example: A parent who has decided to stay home for many years to care for young children can emphasize his or her ability to multitask, to calmly handle high stress situations, or the ability to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently.

Example: A student who is just entering the workforce can talk about their ability to meet deadlines, to learn quickly or maybe his or her naturally high-achieving nature (with an example of a situation where this trait has paid off, of course).

This can be a hard one for some people. What kind of questions should you ask at the end of the interview?

Ask questions that will help you learn about the internal workings of the company so that you can make an informed decision to either continue pursuing the job or not. Remember that interviews go both ways: not only is the employer confirming your skills and abilities, you are also confirming whether that company is the right place for you, your working style, your long-term goals, etc.

I like the question “You asked me ___________. I would like to hear your answer to that question.” This lets me see if my answer was in line with their current practices and values, or if I’ll need to adapt in the future.

At the end of your list, make sure to ask what the next steps are for the interview process (especially if they haven’t said anything before allowing you to ask questions).

Last but not least, what key take away do you share with your participants at the end of class?

  1. Interviewers are people too, so your personality is equally as important as your experiences and technical skills.
  2. Keep job searching even when you have secured an interview to continue the momentum.
  3. Don’t be shy to ask for help and be open to helping others.
  4. Even interview experts fumble, we’re all human!

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INBOX AND TAKE YOUR CAREER FURTHER.

Stay up-to-date on topics that can boost your career, give you a fresh perspective on job searching, and help you meet your goals faster.