Questions and Answers with Career Expert Vicky Oliver
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Vicky Oliver is the author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest challenge job-seekers face in job interviews?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The biggest challenge the job-seeker has is making the case that she is the right candidate for that particular job at that particular company at that particular time. Job specs sometimes have very wide ranges, too, in terms of salary level and experience. A company may be looking at candidates from several different fields. When they’re comparing apples and oranges, it’s very tough!
To the extent that you can find out this closely guarded information, you’re better off. If you know someone who works at the company, ask her: What types of candidates are being considered? Do they have X experience or Y experience? Is your company looking for specialists or generalists?
If you know what fields your company is combing for candidates, you can position yourself more intelligently. “I don’t have a lot of Y experience, but I’m long on X, and I did work at Y organization for two years, so know I can pick up that aspect of the job quickly. Plus I cost less than those with Y experience…”
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What is one key to success for phone/Skype screening interviews?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| With Skype, you need to think about how you look. I would dress the same as if you were going to the interview in person, but with one caveat: don’t wear any patterns as they can create a moire effect [a visual perception], which can be dizzying. Try to do a practice Skype interview with a job-hunting buddy before you have your first real one. Sometimes there is a certain “shock” to seeing yourself on screen like that. Practice seeing yourself so that the shock doesn’t hurt your confidence level.
With phone interviews, recognize that hiring managers often use them to screen out applicants. Be careful about any questions pertaining to your salary requirements. Salary should be the last thing you discuss, not the first, and you can’t get hired from a phone interview. You can only get eliminated from the consideration pile. So don’t price yourself out.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||How has job interviewing changed in the last five years?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| You can do a lot more research on the particular person who is interviewing you, and she can do the same on you. Everyone checks each other out on LinkedIn and Twitter, if applicable. Hiring managers now sometimes ask if they can see your profile on Facebook.
Your LinkedIn profile IS your resume — in addition to your real resume. Make sure your online profile shines. If you’ve ever lost a job, get recommendations from your former colleagues and have them post them online on your LinkedIn profile.
Endorsements, a relatively new LinkedIn feature, can also really help you. Try to have the endorsements reflect the same skills you’ll need for the job at hand. LinkedIn organizes the endorsements based on how many people have endorsed you for that particular skill. So you may list your skills in a particular order, but once the endorsements come in, the order changes.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make in interviews — and what can they do to avoid it?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The biggest mistake job-seekers make is taking the interview too casually. Let’s say it comes through a family friend, and the job candidate doesn’t really prepare for it. The competition is too steep, and there are too few jobs out there to be cavalier.
Do your homework. Practice your responses to typical interview questions. Try to think about any stumbling blocks you might have [lack of experience; too much experience; unemployed, etc.] and what an interviewer may ask you about them, and how to best answer. People talk a lot about canned answers, but the biggest mistake is generally lack of practice.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||In a competitive job market, how can job-seekers stand out from the competition?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Excellent follow-through. Recognize that the interview is only the first step — not the last. You’re on a campaign to land the job, and the campaign isn’t over until you prevail.
Write a thank-you note. Follow up with your executive recruiter. Design a communications campaign that reaches those who interviewed you. Don’t be a pain, but contact them just enough to stay top-of-mind.
Vicky Oliver is a Manhattan-based job-interview consultant, and the bestselling author of five career-development books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions. She’s been featured and interviewed widely in the business media, including Fox News, Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Forbes, Fortune, CareerBuilder, and many others.
See her article on Quintessential Careers, Seven Things Not to Say on Your First Day at the Job.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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