Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Prepare for Your Next Interview

1. Determine their goals for the position. This should come up during your research into the company and into the position. If possible, talk to others who work for the company. If you are unclear on this point, include it in the questions you ask at the interview itself and be prepared to incorporate it into your answer.

2. Show you have the skills needed for the job. Based on the goals you have identified in step one, determine how your skills and experience support those goals. If necessary, refer back to your "60-second commercial" for a list of skills you possess.

3. Articulate shared values. Again, this should come up in your research. Look at the company’s mission statement and regular business practices. Explain why these are in line with your own values and goals.

4. State your interest in the position. Be enthusiastic about the opportunity to work for this company and/or within a certain team. Be sure that the interviewer is clear about the fact that you want this job.

The most important aspect of this exercise is to make you comfortable in identifying and articulating the skills you possess. Even with a prepared answer, it is important to be flexible within the script itself. You may need to modify the specifics based on the situation.

If an important issue comes up during the interview, be prepared to adapt your answer accordingly. For instance, if the interviewer stresses the need for a certain skill, you will want to address that, even if it was not one of the skills that you included in your original script.

What Employers Want

While many jobs require a unique set of skills, there is a pretty standard set of qualities that most employers want in an employee. Increase your chances of landing the job you want by highlighting your "soft" skills as well as your technical skills in the interview. Employers look for a variety of strengths, including:

Communication: You can communicate clearly and concisely both verbally and in writing. You recognize that communication is a two-way street and are able to listen and interpret effectively, as well.

Leadership: You take the lead and assume the responsibility to get things done. You don't have to be a manager to be a leader; it is a valuable skill in any job.

Problem-Solving: You can analyze and identify a problem and develop effective solutions. You explore new and innovative ideas in addition to tried-and-true solutions.

Confidence: You know and like yourself. You recognize your strengths and know what you can accomplish.

Flexibility: You can "roll with the punches". You adapt easily to new situations and are open to new ideas.

Energy: You are a hard worker. You are willing to put the time and effort into accomplishing your objectives.

Identify your skills and recognize their value

Tell me about yourself.
That is usually one of the first things that an employer will say in an interview. What he/she is really asking is what qualifies you for this position. Your response will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so your best bet is to prepare your answer in advance.

Think of your answer as a 60-second commercial in which you sell yourself. Know the job description for the position you are going for and tailor your comments to match. Your script may vary slightly depending on the position, but the foundation will always be based on your skills.

Assess yourself.
The first step in composing your commercial is self-assessment. To get started, it may help to review your resume. Look at the jobs that you have held and decide what skills you used for each.

Make a list of at least ten of your strengths and skills. Use active words that reflect what you have done. Include both job specific skills, such as your ability to use a computer, and your "soft" skills, such as your ability to organize or your attention to detail.

Evaluate how each of your skills will be useful to the position you are seeking. Decide which seem most relevant. Write them down. These will be the basis of your commercial.

Compose your message.
Now, you are ready to put your commercial together. It will help to write down exactly what you want to say, so that you can practice and be sure not to miss any major points.

Start with a brief introduction of yourself. Include your name and your usual line of work. Then, state what position you are seeking. This part may vary depending on the interview. Next, you will get into your skills. Start with your job skills and work into your "soft" skills.

Sell your experience.
Employers are interested in what you have done. Use action words to tell them. They are clear, concise and direct – all strengths that impress employers in an interview. Strong words include:


Know the value of your skills.
Salary negotiation usually won't be an issue until a job offer has been made. However, it is important that you know the standard pay range for the position you are seeking. Consider where you fit in that range based on your skills. When the time comes to discuss salary, present your case. You may say something like "With the education and experience I bring, I would expect to start at the higher end of that scale."

Remember, your skills and experience are the basis of your negotiations. The employer is not interested in your personal finances or the number of children you are trying to support. It’s not about what you "need", but about what your skills are worth and why.

Preparation is key to a successful interview

Does the idea of going to a job interview make you feel a little queasy? Many people find that it is the hardest part of the hiring process. But it doesn’t have to be. The more you prepare and practice, the more comfortable you will feel. Increase your odds of landing the job you want by brushing up on your interview skills.

Prepare before you go.
Find out all you can about the company before you go to the interview. Understand the products that they produce and/or the services that they provide. It’s also good to know who the customers are and who the major competitors are.

Practice makes perfect.
It will also make you feel more confident and relaxed. So, practice your answers to common questions. Make a list of questions to ask, too. Almost all interviewers will ask if you have questions. This is a great opportunity for you to show that you have done your homework and have put some thought into your questions

Make a great impression.
The interview is your chance to show that you are the best person for the job. Your application or resume has already exhibited that you are qualified. Now it ’s up to you to show how your skills and experience match this position and this company.

The employer will be looking and listening to determine if you are a good fit. He/she will be looking for a number of different qualities, in addition to the skills that you possess. To make the best impression, dress appropriately; sell your strengths; arrive early, by about 10-15 minutes; be enthusiastic; shake hands firmly; be an active listener; sit up straight and maintain eye contact; ask questions.

Say "thank you".
After the interview, follow up with a thank-you note. This is a chance for you to restate your interest and how you can benefit the company. Your best bet is to try to time it so that the note gets there before the hiring decision is made. You should also follow up with a phone call if you don’t hear back from the

Look your best at your next job interview

When you go to a job interview, you want to convey that you are professional and ready to go to work. That doesn't mean you always have to wear a formal business suit, but it does mean that you should always look your best.

When choosing your outfit, follow these guidelines to make the best impression:

-Wear clean, neatly pressed clothes.

-Avoid anything tight-fitting or clingy.

-Select a dress or skirt that is no more than two inches above your knee.

-Select pants that are the appropriate length. Your pants should cover the ankle, but not drag under the heel of your shoes.

-Select a tie that, when knotted, reaches the middle of your belt buckle.

-Clean and polish your shoes. Before your interview, double-check that they are free of mud, debris, and scuffs.

-Avoid too much jewelry and too many accessories.

-Remember that it is usually better to be over- dressed, rather than too casual, when you go to an interview.

Clothing is not the only aspect of appearance that is important; it is equally vital that you be clean and well groomed:

-Take a shower or bath.
-Avoid fragrances entirely.
-Brush your hair and teeth.
-Clean your fingernails.
-Avoid alcohol, onions and garlic, both that day and the day before.

Create Great Cover Letters

Your cover letter tells an employer a lot about you, good or bad. Think of it as a sales pitch. It’s primary purpose is to show why your skills and background are a perfect match for the position for which you're applying. It is not the place to present all of your experience, that should already be showcased in your resume.

As your first opportunity to make a great impression, a well-written letter shows that you are serious about your job search. Highlight one or two of your skills or accomplishments that show that you are the right person for this position.

While there is no set format or template, here are some more tips for creating a letter that employers will read:

Keep it brief. Cover letters rarely need to be longer than one page. You can usually sum it up in about four paragraphs:

1. Introduce yourself and explain why you’re writing.

2. Lay out your key skills and accomplishments.

3. Explain why you want to work for the company.

4. Thank the reader, invite him/her to contact you and lay out your follow-up plans.

Personalize. Avoid generic greetings such as "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam". Address your letter to a specific person, and make sure the spelling is correct.

Sell your skills. Don’t just rehash your resume. Highlight the skills that are most relevant. Illustrate how they relate to the position.

Clarity is key. Be very direct; write clearly and concisely. Don’t make the reader have to work to figure out why you’re writing or speculate at how your skills match the position.

Be proactive. State how you can be reached and give specific information about your plans for follow-up. Once you've said it, do it; follow through.

Review, review, review. Always take the time to review your letter. Double-check for typos; don’t rely on spell-check. If you have time, ask a friend or colleague to look it over as well. Make your changes and review again.

Ask the right Questions While Applying for a Job

When you interview for a job, you are also interviewing the company to see if you want to work there. Most interviewers understand this and will ask if you have any questions. Be prepared to ask four or five relevant questions, such as:

*What are the primary duties of this position?

*What do you consider the most important skills or traits for someone in this position?

*How would you describe a typical day in this position?

*What is the standard schedule for this position?

*Why are you looking to fill this position?

*How would you describe your management style?

*What are the short and long-term goals for this position?

*Do you expect significant organizational changes in the near future?

*What are the prospects for advancement in this position?

*What are the next steps in the hiring process?

How to Investigate Work from Home Job Listings

Work from home job postings are everywhere. There are listings for data entry jobs, research positions, multi-level marketing opportunities, and a variety of other ways to make a lot of money fast. In fact, there are so many of them that work at home schemes are on the National Consumers League's list of Top 10 Frauds.

Unfortunately, most of those positions aren't what most people would consider a "real" job or any kind of job at all. There are no benefits, no hourly wage or salary, only a promise of making money. Sometimes these opportunities are supposedly so lucrative that fees are charged to give you the listings, provide you information on getting started, or to set up your business.

Just Say No
The simple answer to the question of whether you should pay for work from home job listings, in a word, is no.
Despite what the work at home ads and companies might promise you, legitimate employers pay you, not the other way around.

Typical Work at Home Scams
Review these typical work at home scams to research the type of opportunities that are legitimate before you waste time applying.

Too Good to Be True
Take a look at these sample work from home ads:

$1000 A Day From Home
Automated - No Sales
Cash Money Every Day
Get Paid Paid Daily via ATM
With this one, you don't have to do much other than go to any ATM machine to collect.

Work from Home Part Time
Earn $10K or more a month
This ad had a disclaimer in a tiny font at the bottom of the page which said there is risk involved and you might not do as well. The "might not do as well" part was repeated at least four times in the disclaimer.

If you think about it logically, the chances of making money doing a minimal amount work simply aren't high - other than, perhaps, for the people making money scamming others. Think twice before you click on anything that sounds too good to be true - it is.

Find Company Information
If you're still not sure, and remember, companies can be very creative about how they advertise their opportunities because they want you to think that the position is legitimate, there are places to research work at home companies.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Enter the company name or the web site into the Better Business Bureau search box to find out whether there have been complaints and whether the company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau. I entered the name of a company I was interested in and found there had been seven complaints, all of which were unresolved and discovered that the company's record was unsatisfactory.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC provides information on commission actions. For example, operators of online malls that disguised themselves as legitimate business opportunities settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they were actually illegal pyramid schemes.

Scam.com: Work at Home Scams
The Work at Home Scams Bulletin Board has information on work at home scams and registered users can post questions about scams. There is also a MLM/Pyramid Scams bulletin board.

Finally, be wary and be careful. Despite the best efforts of computer systems and staff, it's hard for job sites to stop work at home scams from being posted. Posters are creative and sophisticated and are continually coming up with new ways to advertise their information.

Avoiding Employment and Work at Home Scams

One of the questions I get asked most often is how to tell whether a work from home job posting is a scam or a legitimate job. There are warning flags. In addition, there are sites that can help you determine what's a real work at home job and what isn't.

Scams can also be an issue when looking for jobs that don't involve working at home. Job sites try to police the listings, but, it's hard to catch all the bad listings in a timely manner. Be careful when reviewing postings to make sure that you're not taken advantage of by unscrupulous job posters.

Evaluating Job Listings

Check Out the Job Listings
If it isn't listed in the job posting, find out if there's a salary or if you're paid on commission. For work at home jobs, ask how often are you paid and how you are paid.

Ask what equipment (hardware / software) you need to provide.

You Won't Get Rich Quick (Really)
Avoid listings that guarantee you wealth, financial success, or that will help you get rich fast. Stay clear of listings that offer you high income for part-time hours. They will do none of the above.

Hang on to Your Money
Do not send money! Legitimate employers don't charge to hire you or to get you started. Don't send money for work at home directories or start-up kits.

Check References
Ask for references if you're not sure about the company's legitimacy. Request a list of other employees or contractors to find out how this has worked for them. Then contact the references to ask how this is working out. If the company isn't willing to provide references (names, email addresses and phone numbers) do not consider the opportunity.

Think Twice
If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it is! Also, read any "offers" you get very carefully. One candidate for employment got a very detailed job offer from an employer. The only problem was that she hadn't applied for the job and buried deep within the lines was a request for her bank account information, so the employer could pay her. It was a scam, of course, but with some of the well-written ones it can be hard to tell.

Work at Home Jobs To Avoid

Assembly Jobs - No, you can't make lots of money assembling craft kits or any other type of kits. You can waste money on a package to get you started though.

Data Entry Jobs - You'll see lots of listings for data entry jobs. They are usually either positions posting ads or a sales pitch for a kit that will get you started.

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) which involves recruiting new people, and more new people, to sell the product. If all you are doing is trying to find more people to do what you're doing, keep in mind that there are probably thousands of other people attempting to do the same thing. Most of them aren't getting rich. Also note, that MLM isn't a job with a paycheck - it's starting a business, with no guarantees.

Online Businesses - Do you want to start your own online business and get rich? Be very wary of these type of ads too. What you will do is end up paying for a guide to working at home which duplicates information you can find free.

Posting Ads - There are lots of ads saying workers are needed to post ads on online bulletin boards and forums. You don't get paid to post, rather you may get paid if other people sign-up.

Processing Claims - In order to get "hired" you'll need to buy equipment, software and pay for training.

Stuffing Envelopes - Believe it, or not, there are still people saying that you can earn $3 or $4 per envelope to stuff them. You can't. All major companies have postage machines which stuff, sort and meter mail.

The winner in the scam contest are the sites that offer to sell provide you with information on only legitimate work at home jobs - for a nominal fee, of course. Don't do it!

How to Find Out

How do you find out if the posting you are responding to is legitimate or a scam? Check our Work at Home Scam information to research companies before you apply.