Job Interview Tips

Discussion in 'Community' started by inlimbo, Jun 23, 2005.

  1. inlimbo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #1
    Hey Ya,

    I love macrumors because it is full of intelligent people with great ideas and wisdom. Not just about apple computers either! Even got some advice on what electric toothbrush is the best!

    I just had a job interview today and got asked those typical, what I call stupid questions. For example: "Describe a situation where you had to deal with confilt within a group?" WTF!!! I hate these types of questions. I created some sort of bad answer to this question, but was wondering if anyone has a standard set (or knows where to get them - website, book etc...) of answers to these types of questions. i.e. describe a situation where u had to lead a team. I know a lot of uni/college students lurk around these forums, so maybe they have invested some time in this area. And theres lots of people who post on these forums who actually have a profession! So maybe they can bestow your wisdom upon me.

    May be youm also have info on writing a great cover letter and/or resume as well. Sorry I just suck at these types of things.

    Cheers
    inlimbo...
     
  2. joecool85 macrumors 65816

    joecool85

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Location:
    Maine
    #2
    The key is to stay calm and focused, as long as you give a reasonable answer, they don't care. Those questions are basically a test of mental stability...to find out if you are crazy or not. At least this is what the GM of my store told me the other day when we were talking.
     
  3. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #3
    Work out what the interviewer is trying to find out with these questions. They don't actually care about the conflict situation. They want to know how you dealt with it, why you took the actions you took and based on that work out if/how you would fit into their organisation.

    I have interviewed people for posts in the past and what I am always looking for is someone who remains calm, who seems to be able to give intelligent well constructed answers and who can communicate well (we test technical skills with a test, although sometimes technical questions can throw candidates so they can get thrown in).

    Do not give one word answers. Do not lie or make something up, it's very easy to see past. Whatever you do don't act like this: (real story from an interview I did):

    Me: "We generally work as a team. Can you tell me about any team based projects you have been working on"

    Candidate: "I have been working alone at my current job."

    This is terrible. Tell me about another situation then! We had pretty much already decided that this person was not suitable so I threw him a bone:

    Me: "Did you have any group projects at University?"
    Candidate: Real answer about group project (i.e. team work).

    This illustrates that a short pause for thought (which is perfectly acceptable) to work out what the question is about and how to translate that to your personal experience goes a long way to giving a good impession.
     
  4. mikeyredk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    #4
    please don't use one work experience over and over and over… etc. it get annoying. it is really about yourself, we could just pick a person with a resume if we wanted but we want a connection. so if a company already has your resume and they are calling you they are interested in something in your resume. if you want to put them on the spot to figure out why, say "what did you find most interesting with my resume?"

    We don't want you to lie but give us something, don't leave a question blank it does reflect negatively at the end when they are counting up the scores.
     
  5. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #5
    Interviewers will always ask several questions where they don't care about the details of the situation but your behaviour. You should have a careful think beforehand about these and have an answer roughly prepared so that you can highlight your strengths rather than have to figure them out at the time. There will be other questions that will make you think on your feet!

    Questions you should always have answers to include (variations on)

    Give an example where you worked in a team (make sure there are a good mixture of 'I did' and 'we achieved' in this answer so that they can see you took responsibility for certain things but aren't taking credit for everything)

    Have you ever worked on a project where there was a setback? How did you overcome it?

    How would you influence other team members to follow your suggestions?

    Give an example of an occasion where you had to work to a strict deadline.

    Your resume should be reasonably short and current. Don't talk about hobbies you had 5-10 years ago (unless of course you won an Olympic medal doing them) but keep it relevant.

    Your cover letter shouldn't rehash your resume but introduce yourself with specific reference to how you could help that particular company.

    Make sure at the interview that you've read up about the company (and its competitors) so that you can ask relevant questions. You may want to ask a question that you already think you know the answer to (if you've done a lot of research). The interviewer may not realise you've done your homework and may mark you down for lack of interest.
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #6
    One more thing I've just thought of. Do a Google search on your name before the interview. I always do this (when I'm interviewing) and you'd be surprised how flustered and nervous some people get when you know something about them. Obviously if you are called John Smith you are pretty safe.

    I might be the only interviewer who does this, but it adds some colour to the interview and can get things going a bit if someone is not talking much.
     
  7. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #7
    Sounds like you had a STAR interview, which is what my company does...

    Our HR division recommends the book: Landing the Job You Want: How to have the best interview of your life by William Byham.

    This is the "bible" for our interview process.

    The STAR process works this way...

    Situation or
    Task
    Action YOU took
    Result of your action

    They always ask in the format you mentioned... "tell me about a time when"...
    - you had a conflict with your boss
    - you improved customer service
    - you had to make a decision with competing priorities

    The rationale is that past behavior predicts future behavior. I disagree with the premise of the process, because it precludes learning and changes in your life.

    Anyway, they want to know specifically what YOU did, not what the team did or "we" did. You have to sell yourself. You are not allowed to take over the interview or direct it in your own way. You will have a time where you can ask questions, but usually at the end.

    I always feel like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption going before the Parole Board when I go to an interview :rolleyes:

    Hope this helps!

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  8. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #8
    I don't personally have a problem with people saying that they did X in the past and learnt (perhaps the hard way) that this was not the best action and telling me that next time they would do Y.
     
  9. iGary Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #9
    The key is you are ALLOWED a few seconds to think about it.

    I don't mind a "hmm let me have a second to think about it" from someone.

    Complete silence, on the other hand...
     
  10. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #10
    I don't either, but that is not what is really brought out in the STAR process in my opinion (and I've been to quite a few). Actually, STAR interviews at my company rarely give you an opportunity to really discuss the actual job and how you are a fit for it. You have to get that in during your few minutes of time at the end (while they are packing up). I have found that most of the STAR questions are irrelevant to the actual job. Of course my company shouldn't be taken as the norm, they are bandwagon jumpers. Everybody else is using this process so we should too...

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  11. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #11
    We are encouraged to build a list of STARs based on job competencies, and we are allowed to bring those "notes" with us and refer to them (I put them on two or three 4X6 index cards).

    If you build a handful of really good STARs (say 8-10), you are able to adapt them to the questions that are asked. Pick your best experiences and put them in the STAR format. The key is to prepare in advance as much as possible for the format.

    You can take a minute or so to get your thoughts together and select the appropriate STAR. If you ask others who have interviewed, you can begin to keep a list of the questions they are usually going to ask and be ready. In our company they have a list of questions under each Job Competency they choose from. We don't have the list, but you can reconstruct it from people who have interviewed.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  12. calyxman macrumors 6502a

    calyxman

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    #12
    I had to deal with these situational questions in a recent interview. They're very easy to conquer. Just be calm, and don't make stuff up. Be very elaborate in your explanation and don't worry if you have to take your time to think of an answer. The interviewers are ok with that.

    Be confident with yourself and your answers (don't fumble with words and sentences), and put some enthusiasm and interest into your communication and you may be cruising to an offer. I did the same in my interview and got an offer the very next day.

    Good luck! :)
     
  13. iGary Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #13
    Luckily I don't work for a large company anymore, and those questions have gone out the door.

    I can usually figure out most people in 20-30 minutes, but maybe I'm being silly. My last three hires are still going strong. Three of our office manager's hires have walked or gotten fired. :eek:
     
  14. mgargan1 macrumors 65816

    mgargan1

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Location:
    Reston, VA
    #14
    on my interview for my current job, my manager looked at my resume, and said, "this is a commercial. I don't care what this says, tell me what you want me to know about you. Then tell me what you don't want me to know about you."

    He went on and wrote down a few words on the board, ie. who, what, when, why, where, how... and he asked me which one was the most important. He then wrote down symbols... ie. !, $, %, ?, and he asked me which was most important.

    He did more of a phycological test on me, and he was just testing how I'd react under pressure.
     
  15. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    #15
    They don't let me sit in on interviews anymore.

    I sank a couple of people who thought seemed great to everyone else by simple technical questions.

    One guy crashed and burned on linear interpolation.
    #2 ran headlong into a fence post problem.

    Neither one recovered gracefully.
     
  16. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #16
    This begs the questions: why are you not sitting in on the interviews anymore? This sounds like exactly what you want: to weed out those not suitable for the job!
     
  17. tobefirst macrumors 68040

    tobefirst

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #17
    Another thing that I think is important and something that I do before every interview, is to do my homework. Find out about the company. It's easy enough on line to find out who the CEO is, what the earnings are, who the major competition is, and from that, you can kind of get a general, overall feel for the company. You don't have to be going in for a business job for this stuff to be relevant, either. At my current place of employment (doing graphic design for a hospital), my future bosses were quite impressed that I could tell them who their CEO was, and that they had had a record year last year.

    It's not necessarily about reciting the specific information you come across, it's about CARING enough about the job (and the company) to invest yourself in it before even working there.
     
  18. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #18
    Thankyou very very very much

    Thanks!!!!

    There is some great information here! I really appreciate it. I guess most of it is common sense - I just feel like a bit of an idiot when I have to answer those questions.

    But I was calm and confident (not overly confident or anything like that - its not my nature). I thought about the questions and gave reasonably lengthy answers. Im sure a lot of people (given the applicants are all students) would just give 1-2 sentance answers. I tried to make sure I got my point across - I fear im a bit incoherent sometimes. :eek:

    Im a uni student and I just finished a semester as a casual tutor for first year business law students and this job was for a similar position but in the economics faculty. Its was weird because they didn't really give us a description about what exactly the job would entail. (Maybe this was done on purpose?) Heres a link to the page. Apparently we just facilitate group study sessions. Though Im still unsure what that involves.

    With those 'group situation' questions I just talked about my experience as a tutor and how I controlled and helped to engage students in tutorial discussions. etc...

    They also asked me about time management. So I spoke about prioritising and the 'task switching' (i.e. when u r doing some work and u get sick of it so you go and do something else that your mind will be fresh on).

    Then with the final "what do you think u can bring to the role" question I just replied that I have experience (most of the other applicants probably would not have such experience - so that why I mentioned this) and that I was approachable. Im not threatening and Im also a student so I can communicate with students on the same level.

    But doesn't everyone give a similar answers? How do u differentiate yourself from everybody else? :confused: Im sure as an interviewer you sick of hearing the sane answers over and over again.
     
  19. mikeyredk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    #19
    I would emphasize your major and what you would gain from this experience and how your past experience will "improve" their company
     
  20. CubaTBird macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    #20
    not to hijack the thread... but.. those sales people at the apple store.. how does an interview go for them? :confused:
     
  21. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #21
    Crap! Just got a call and I didn't get the job. Bullocks. Must have made a mistake somewhere.
     
  22. mikeyredk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    #22
    did you ask why?
     
  23. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #23
    I probably should have. But i figured all she would say is that "You were not suitable". She did say it was very competitive etc...
     
  24. runninmac macrumors 65816

    runninmac

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Location:
    Rockford MI
    #24
    Sorry this is a little off topic but this is in the same boat so...

    I had a job interview a few days ago they said they would call me back before thursday at 6 (at the latest) and well now its thursday at 11:30 so tommorw should I call back and see or should I wait untill monday?
     
  25. mikeyredk macrumors 65816

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