Situational Interviews…Are you Ready?

You’ve landed the interview, and prepared for the questions that will likely be asked of you. However, the interviewer has asked you a few situational questions that you didn’t and couldn’t prepare for. How do you react and answer them?

Many times people are asked behavioral questions in interviews, such as “tell me a time when you had to deal with x” or something of that nature. Situational questions are more along the lines of “how would you handle x”.  They are hypothetical questions to see how your mind works, and how you would respond to the given issue. Employers are looking at your analytical and problem solving skills.

When you’re caught off guard with a situational question, your mind can wander many places trying to quickly think of a response and the answer that the interviewer wants to hear. It is ok to take a moment to gather your thoughts, but don’t take too long. Depending on what position you are interviewing for, you may have to respond to a customer or to the issue rather quickly.

Employers want to hear genuine and honest answers. It is great to think through the problem and answer thoroughly, but also tying in your answer to a similar experience in the past. When you initially start talking, you may not even know that you’ve experienced a similar issue. It may pop in your head while you’re going through the steps of solving the hypothetical issue.

When you are tying a personal story into the hypothetical situation, remember these three steps: explain what the problem was; explain what you specifically did to resolve/mitigate the issue; and explain the results of your effort. If you don’t have a person story you can use, simply address that although you haven’t experience anything similar to that issue, this is what you would have done in that situation.

The main reasons employers ask situational questions are because they want to know how well you’d fit into the company culture and how well you handle change and respond to problems. Just remember to stay calm and think about how you would or have dealt with that issue in the past. Remember, there are no wrong answers, so be yourself and trust your problem solving skills.

Laura Nelson, LEED GA – Business Analyst

BlueFire HR

snelson@bluefirehr.com

 

Ahh… I have an interview! What do I do?

You’ve landed an interview with a company. You’re nervous, but excited at the opportunity. Although interviewing can be stressful and exhausting, here are some tips for having the best interview possible.

Before the interview:

  1. Research the company. Go beyond just browsing the company website. If they have a blog, read a few recent or popular articles to better understand the business. Knowing more about the company than just what they do is important and will help you formulate answers that show you took time and truly care about the position.
  2. Dress to impress. Although many offices are leaning more towards the business casual dress code, you still want to look as professional as possible. This is where the research comes into play as well. If the company is casual, you may not want to show up in a full suit; it’s good to be safe but also know your audience.
  3. Prepare questions. Have at least 3-5 go to questions that will allow the interviewer to provide more about the business, position and culture so you can understand if the position is a good fit.
  4. Prepare answers. Many interviewers ask situational based questions. Have a few answers/stories prepared for questions such as occasions. Also, have answers for the strengths and weakness questions. (Look for our next blog on situational questions).

 

During the interview:

  1. Arrive on time. It is a safe bet to arrive between 10-15 minutes before your interview. If you arrive more than 15, the interviewer may feel pressure that you’re there too early. Showing up late to an interview may be construed as not caring or not taking the position seriously. If for some reason you are running late, even by a few minutes, let the hiring manager know. Rule of thumb, if you are early you are on time, if you are on time you are late.
  2. First impressions are key. No matter if it is the receptionist, an employee in the hall, or the interviewer, you always want to greet everyone with a good attitude and be polite. Creating a lasting and positive first impression can make or break an interview. Firm handshakes are a must!
  3. Be yourself and stay focused. Be authentic, polite, energetic and focused. You are qualified for the position you’re interviewing for, that is why you’re there. But a huge factor in hiring is if you are good fit for the company culture. Being yourself will show you and the interviewer if this position is a right fit, and if you would be content working for the company. Stay focused on the questions being asked. Sometimes when we talk we just ramble on due to nerves or a variety of other reasons. Try to stay on point and answer the questions in depth.
  4. Ask questions. You prepared questions in “Before the interview” phase, so now is your chance to ask them. Bring a notepad with you to write down the ones you want to ask, and any questions that pop into your head during the interview.
  5. Sell yourself. You may not be interviewing for a sales position, but you need to sell yourself. Convince the interviewer that you are a great fit for the job. A good question to ask at the end is if there was anything that you’ve said that would give them doubt you aren’t good for the role. It may be a little bold, but it shows confidence and that you truly want this position.

 

After the interview:

  1. Thank you notes. Remember to get business cards from all the people you interview with, or at least get their information. Tailor each thank you note to the specific interviewer and provide a personal touch of something you discussed. And it is okay and probably preferable to send it through email. It is more efficient and effective.
  2. Follow up. In the interview, if they gave a specific timeline of when you should hear, do not jump the gun and contact the company before then. If it has been a bit of time after, reach out and discuss that you are still very interested in the position, and the next steps moving forward.

We’ve all had great and some not so great interview experiences, but hopefully with these tips, every experience from now all will be a little better than the one before. Practice makes perfect, and interviewing is no exception.

Laura Nelson, LEED GA

Business Analyst

BlueFire HR
snelson@bluefirehr.com

 

Is your resume ready?

Is your resume ready to do the talking? When is the last time you updated it? If you haven’t done so in the last few months, even if you are not looking for a job or a promotion, it is now out of date.

You should continually look at your resume and update it, tailor it to what you might be looking for, highlight recent accomplishments, and most importantly get past the front door (or HRIS gate).

What if you get a call about your ideal job today? You need to be able to send your resume as soon as possible. The recruiting cycle moves much quicker now and you don’t want that door to close.

What we see frequently with clients we coach is the fact that they are missing major elements from their resumes, thus the potential to be skipped over as the ideal candidate.

ALL individuals should have the following elements in their resumes, NO matter the experience or place in a career path. Check out your resume and on a basic level make sure it has the following:

  • Name, Address, Phones, Email, LinkedIn Profile, etc.
  • Objective
  • Executive Summary
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications, Awards and Memberships.

Frequently we have seen individuals with 10 plus years’ experience and their education is first on their resumes and there is no executive summary. This is a rookie mistake. Even those individuals just out of school should have an executive summary outlining accomplishments, major skills, and technical expertise at the least and NEVER put your school first unless you are applying for an entry level job or an academic position or program.

Check out BlueFire HR if you are interested in a resume evaluation, interview techniques, or sign-up for an executive coaching package. We want you to get your ideal job, fulfilling a large aspect of your life.

www.bluefirehr.com

773-793-1362

snelson@bluefirehr.com

Are You Ready for a Change?

Are you wondering if you need to make a change? Is your career not giving you that zest anymore? Are you dragging yourself out of bed each day dreading going to work? Maybe it is time you ask yourself, “Where do I want to go?” …. But what on earth do you do first?

First step is to ask yourself, “What does my ideal job look like?” Everything, from what time you want to start, if you want work from home privileges, and even what your ideal team looks like or even the culture? Many of us stay in the same industries, but try to think out of the box and ask yourself, “Can my skills translate to another industry and does that seem like something that will meet my needs?”

It doesn’t mean you are a failure because you want to try something new. Think of ‘Goldie Locks and the Three Bears’. It took her several tries to make anything work and she did find what satisfied her in the end. Companies changes, you change, your priorities change, and sometimes we need so take that leap of faith.

If you are thinking about making a change start by answering these following questions:

Do I like what I am doing?

Do I want to stay in the same location? Or do I want something closer to home?

Am I willing to relocate?

Do I want to make a complete career change?

Do I still like my industry?

Once you start to answer those questions create a list of three to five people that have made changes, are in your career, and/or in the career that you might love. Ask them what they like about their jobs, what you should consider, and anything that will help you create clarity on what your next move might be.

Over the next month we will be covering what you need to do next. Give yourself time on this is journey that will help get you to more happiness.

snelson@bluefirehr.com