Dr. Randall Hansen is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home page of The Career Doctor.
If you have any career- or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue (07/19/02):
- Wondering about the latest methods of job interviewing
- Searching for an environmental job while stuck in retail
- Using a SWOT Analysis to your advantage in interviews
- Enlisting proper etiquette for sending thank you notes
|Q:||Zari writes: Would you please be kind enough and let me know what the newest methods of employment interviewing are. If it is possible please send me some articles about this matter.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The types of job interviews a job-seeker can expect really depends on the company the job and even the hiring manager’s preferences. Certainly one of the trends we’ve seen is an increase in the use of phone interviews to conduct the initial screening of job candidates. Other than that trend it really varies by company and industry.
Most employers will use some form of traditional or behavioral interviewing styles while others may also use panel interviews stress interviews or case interviews.
As a job-seeker the key to interviewing success is research and preparation. You need to research what type(s) of interviews and interview questions to expect take the time to prepare and practice responding to those types of interview questions (being careful not to memorize answers) research the employer and industry develop a few questions to ask the employer dress appropriately for the type of job and company and then arrive at the interview on time and ready to be brilliant.
In the interviewing resources section of Quintessential Careers we have a large collection of interviewing resources including an interview tutorial interviewing quiz and numerous articles on all aspects of interviewing.
And the latest article published on Quintessential Careers may be of most interest to you: The Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Preparation by Louise Giordano a career counselor at Brown University.
|Q:||Mike writes: I am a 26 year-old male college graduate that majored in sociology with a minor in business and communications. As I have found out jobs in this major are scarce without further education and frankly I do not have the time or resources to go back to school. I am currently working in a retail sporting goods job that I dislike. My heart is telling me to pursue something that truly makes me happy instead of working for corporate money-hungry executives. I really want to pursue an environmental job but without a major in biology or a related field this seems impossible. Please I am lost. What can I do?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You’ve taken the first small step of a potentially long process. You realize that retail is not for you and it’s time to make a change. Excellent. And ideally we should all be working in an area where we have a passion — something we really enjoy doing every day. Unfortunately as you have found many people are not working in those ideal jobs/careers.
To help avoid another mistake let me first have you analyze why you are looking at an environmental career. I actually want you to start back six years ago and examine why you chose your major and minors. You know you don’t ever want to do retail again but now examine your interests and passions. What interests you about an environmental career? What kind of research have you done? What kind of further education or skills do you need to acquire for the type of job you are seeking? Can you combine your interest in the environment with your educational background and skills?
Besides conducting research online or in your local library I would suggest you conduct some informational interviews with local (or national) environmental professionals. Contact your college’s career and alumni offices to find alums who have environmental jobs. Informational interviews are great ways to build a network of contacts in a new career field to learn more about a specific career and to gain valuable information about the training education and skills required. And don’t forget about volunteering as a way of breaking into a new career field.
Depending upon the types of jobs you are seeking you may need to go back to school. Changing careers is never easy but with the proper planning and research you can do it.
Please read my article The 10-Step Plan to Career Change which should help get you focused on what you need to do.
There are also quite a few good environmental career and job sites on the Web such as the Environmental Careers Organization and Cyber-Sierra’s Natural Resources Job Search. You can find descriptions and links to these and others in our Jobs in Agriculture Zoology and the Environment section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Raju writes: I want to know for a interview what should a candidate tell about SWOT analysis.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me give a quick explanation of a SWOT analysis for those who don’t know the term. A SWOT analysis is a strategic tool used by businesses to help examine their current situations and plan for the future. SWOT stands for strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis focuses on the internal and external environments of an organization (or job-seeker) examining strengths and weaknesses in the internal environment and opportunities and threats in the external environment.
If done correctly a SWOT analysis can be a great tool for self-awareness planning and preparation. For job-seekers considering a career portfolio a SWOT analysis makes an ideal addition.
How can you use the information from a SWOT analysis in a job interview? Let’s take the SW first. You need to be able to show the employer your strengths not only from your vantage point but also from the needs of the employer – show how your strengths match with the employer’s needs. You also need to know your weaknesses because a favorite interview question is ‘what’s your greatest weakness.’ Identify your weaknesses but don’t stop there; make a plan to turn your weaknesses into strengths — or at the very least neutrals. Finally you need to be able to capitalize on the opportunities within your career field while recognizing and overcoming the threats.
There is so much more you can do with a SWOT analysis. Please read our article Using a SWOT Analysis in Your Career Planning published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Kathy writes: I contacted a company to see if they had any positions available in the field that I am interested in (fashion design). Someone responded with a description of a position that opens up every now and then that I thought I would be interested in and she told me to send my resume. I went to a job fair and found out that that person was there representing her company and introduced myself. I am no longer interested in that position. Should I still write a thank you letter of some sort and what should I say?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: One of the key rules of job-hunting is don’t burn any bridges — you just never know when you’ll run into someone again. The person who is recruiting for that position today may be in a situation in the future where she is hiring for a position that better suits you. Another key rule is it never hurts to follow good business etiquette.
Job-hunting is all about building your network of contacts and using these contacts to help further your career just as you might help those same people (or others in your network) further their careers.
So yes of course – write a thank you letter. How long does it take to write a thank you letter? Just think about the payback you could receive from such an easy and courteous gesture if not now somewhere down the road. And you’ll stand out from the crowd because amazingly very few job-seekers make the effort to send thank you letters.
The content of the letter should be short and direct. Thank the woman for her time and interest for discussing the company and the position. Then simply state that since the job fair your career goals have shifted and you are no longer interested in that position. You could even describe the new job interest you have- – who knows — perhaps her company is also hiring in that area or perhaps she knows of another company that is hiring for that type of position.
Want to see what a good thank you letter looks like? We have a bunch of them in our Sample Job Interview Thank-You Letters section of Quintessential Careers.