What are you looking for in a job?

To answer this successfully you need to understand the company well enough to link the job’s positive qualities to your own personal criteria.

Be careful not to say things which are inaccurate or not part of the job specification otherwise your answer could be used against you as ammunition.

For example, it’s counter-productive to say you are looking for a role balancing the project budget if the job description doesn’t involve any financial responsibility. Equally, don’t say you want to progress to a Programme Manager or Director because those opportunities are not common, unless the job description says-so.

A good answer could be:

I want to be part of a vibrant team whom I have a good synergy with. This makes it easier to share expertise and resources to achieve a common deliverable.

Click here to download the complete “Interview Preparation Guide”.

How to Pass Job Interviews From a Communication Point of View

How to Pass Job Interviews From a Communication Point of View

Job Interviews are intimidating for many candidates, but this could change if you think about them from a communication process point of view.  Sometimes, looking at an issue from a different perspective may change your reaction and the expected outcome. Instead of approaching interviewers like crime investigators, think and prepare with the communication process in mind. Here’s how:

 

You are the sender

As you sit before those menacing individuals, remember you are the center of interest. You are the guest of honor in this auspicious ceremony. Everyone is here to listen to you as you showcase your communication skills in an interview. Transmit that important message about your strengths and virtues. Send out positive signals on why you are the best candidate for the job. Even if you don’t get the job, let the panel members remember there was a confident and capable candidate before them.

Craft your message to convince and impress

As a sender, prepare the message you will deliver before the material day. Don’t forget that you are a significant part of the message. You have been shortlisted for the interview because your academic qualifications are in tandem with the requirements. Validate the content in your papers by proving you have communication skills for job interviews. Anticipate the questions to be asked and gather the right information. Package yourself attractively and win the interviewers over from the moment you step into the interview room.

Clarity in communication in mandatory

Now that you are the message to be delivered to the panel and you are also the sender, do not transmit mixed signals. If you have not researched well on the pertinent organization, dressing well for the occasion will not save you from disappointment. Proper dressing and information gathering are complementary communication skills in an interview. Further, demonstrate intelligence, initiative and creativity. This is what clarity in the interview process entails.

Watch your Non-verbal cues

Communication experts opine that 55% of all communication is non-verbal. The interview panel will be interested in what you don’t say as much as in what comes out of your mouth. You may not announce loudly to the panel members that you lack confidence, but they will decipher this from your gestures, pitch and tone of voice, sitting posture and general appearance. Many people, when asked to comment on how to pass job interviews, emphasize academic and professional papers at the expense of non-verbal communication. This is a grave mistake.

Know your audience and what it is looking for

Your audience or receiver is the panel and you must offer it the information it is looking for you to have a viable chance of getting employed. The people in front of you want to know why you think you can fill the vacancy and deliver expected results. Remember the panel is interested in how the pertinent organization will be more productive and you must prove you are the right person to help achieve desired results. Summon all your communication skills for job interviews to bridge this information gap.

Respect non-verbal feedback from your audience

Your non-verbal communication is as important as that of the interviewing panel. In any communication process, the sender and the receiver are indispensable. Moreover, the roles of sender and receiver are interchangeable. Decipher the tone and pitch of each of the speakers. Watch how they express themselves as you answer questions. Only then will you will realize when your time is almost up or when your message has reached its destination.

Listen

An often forgotten element of communication is listening. Listen to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Don’t rush to answer questions if you have not understood them. Seek for clarification where necessary. Practice role-taking. Allow questions to be asked fully before you answer.

Make use of these tips on how to pass job interviews today and you might be luckier in your quest for a job next time you appear before a panel.

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews: Part 2

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews: Part 2

Money

Unless asked, refrain from asking about money/salary or any other job perks at the interview. If you are asked any salary related questions by the interviewer, then by all means answer appropriately.

What you want to avoid is to be seen as only wanting the job for the money. Even in a sales environment where salary and bonuses are a huge motivating factor; interest in the company and product are vitally important and are very appreciated.

Nerves

We all get nervous prior to an interview even the interviewers. Nerves are good, it means adrenalin is pumping which will help you focus and think on your feet.

Avoid using negative coping mechanisms such a drugs and alcohol to calm your nerves. Instead, you can look to Bach natural flower remedies, deep breathing exercises or positive affirmations to help you feel really confident.

Openness

Especially to other people’s opinions. This is particularly important if you are in a group interview setting and you have to deal with other people’s opinions as well as your own. It is important to be able to express yourself without alienating others.

With certain interview techniques, some very emotive questions may be asked just to see how you react. Be honest but fair and if in doubt use something like the ‘sandwich technique’ where you say something positive prior to saying something controversial (or negative) and then follow up with something positive or neutral at the end. This will ensure the interviewers are under no illusion that you can handle opinions in a balanced way.

Preparation

Like all things in life, preparation is key to success. Please don’t go into an interview thinking you can wing-it!

You may want to consider some of the following:

  • Working out the travel times to the place of interview
  • Research on the company and position
  • Presentation (if required)
  • Your interview questions to ask interviewers
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Getting a good night sleep the night before
  • Eating something at least 30 minutes prior to the interview
  • Keeping hydrated (good for the brain)

Quirky

Now this is an interesting one and really depends on which industry you are going for an interview in. I have had clients in the past who are very individual and quirky in their appearance and lifestyle. They are keen to show their true selves at an interview, but unfortunately this can go against you. So if you fall into this category please be aware of the industry you are trying to get a job in.

If you are going for a job in the fashion or media/music industry individuality is crucial, it would be perfectly acceptable to show piercings, tattoos, modern hair cuts and hi-fashion clothing at your interview. However if you are going for a role in an industry slightly more conservative, for example, the pharmaceutical or banking industry, sporting a Mohican or wearing fetish stilettos to your interview would not be advisable.

If you are unsure of your interview ‘look’, check out the company’s website, have a look at the photos of the staff (even if it is just stock footage), this should give you a feel for what they expect of their personnel. If there are no clues from the website, by all means check back with the recruitment agency or ask a reliable friend for advice on your attire.

Resist

Resist the urge to tell the interviewer(s) your whole life story. Nerves can play havoc with self censorship and you might feel the urge to share that really ‘funny’ story when you were really drunk on B52 cocktails in Turkey and ended up at a nightclub waving your pants in the air….

Resist the urge to be really, really honest, saying that you only want the job is because you need something to pay the bills, this is not acceptable.

Resist moaning and complaining especially about your previous or current employers (or role). Warning! Many industries are small, and the chances of your interviewer knowing someone at your old or current place of work is very likely – so you could find your self slagging-off their best friend.

Smile

Smiling instantly builds rapport with the interviewers, and don’t be put off if they don’t smile back. You may have found yourself in an old fashioned interview technique of god cop – bad cop. Ensure your smile is genuine – a fake smile will be spotted a mile away.

Take your time

Don’t gabble your words and if you feel like you are rushing, then ask for a few moments to gather your thoughts or better still ask if the question could be repeated at the end of the interview so you can buy yourself some time to think.

Understand what is expected of you

Will there be a test? Will there be a group interview with other candidates? Will you be interviewed by a panel of interviewers? Will you being attending a lunch etc. These are all important aspects of the interview that you know before you step into the interview….remember ask and gather the information that you need.

Value who you are

High self esteem is important and body language and grooming will do well for you here. There is nothing wrong with saying how good you are at something, how successful a project was or what fabulous process you implemented in you current role.

The trick here is to be confident without being arrogant. Interviews are a great opportunity to tell the world how good you are and why you are the right person for the job. No one else can do that for you, so get comfortable in talking about yourself in a positive way.

Wading in

You might find a combination of nerves, and enthusiasm might cause you to wade in with answers before the interviewer has even finished the question. STOP. Slow down, let them finish and then take a few seconds to think about what you are going to say. It’s better to take a few moments and seem thoughtful, than to rush in and regret what falls out of your mouth.

X-rated

It is absolutely totally unacceptable to use expletives (swear words) during your interview. This may seem like common sense but I am always amazed, or rather shocked at some of the language used during interview process. If you are someone who has a natural habit of using strong language in your everyday dialogue, then please be aware of this and self censor accordingly. Some interviews can be very laid back and even if the interviewer uses mildly offensive language, please do not follow suit.

You

It is important to bring an essence of you to the interview. It is very likely that all the candidates for the interview will say roughly the same thing in their responses to interview questions. What’s important is bringing your own experiences to the interview so they get a sense of you, who you are and how you will fit into to the organisation. It is also vital that you know your strengths and weaknesses.

Be careful here, if asked what your weaknesses are, make sure they are relevant to work (no need to say you cry every time you watch a Disney film) and also end it on a positive note.

For example, “I like to have things organised really well so spend extra time on planning and preparation, some may think this is a weakness because of the time I spend doing this, however it can also be considered a strength since good preparation work is vital and saves time in the long run“.

Zest for life

It is important to show you have a life outside of work; the key here is to make sure you have a good life-work balance. It’s absolutely fine to show you are sociable, but take care you are not describing yourself as a party animal. The interviewers will unfortunately have visions of you rolling into work with hangovers or not being focused on your work.

If asked about your hobbies please feel free to express what you do. Team sports are good, as are hobbies or interests that are very different from your working subject. If you love your work so much that you don’t have any outside interests it might be advantageous to consider bringing some balance to your life and discover some outside interests.

And finally… always thank the interviewers at the end, ask when you would hope to hear from them and say that you are still very interested in the role, even if you are not. It is better that you make the decision if you want the job, rather than the interviewers deciding if they want you!

Why are you leaving your job?

Don’t say anything negative about your previous or current company, manager or co-workers. A negative response will make the hiring manager think you’ll speak badly about them too.  Equally, don’t mention anything related to being under-paid, over-worked, under-appreciated, or give the impression that you’re job-hopping.

The best approach is to say something concise and positive. For a Project Manager Job a good response could be:

I really enjoyed working at my current company, for the last four-years I have delivered multiple projects from procurement to deployment, and I have developed many strong business relationships.  I am looking for more management responsibility, but the opportunity for growth in this area is limited. I feel leaving my job is the next step to achieving my goal.

Click here to download the complete “Interview Preparation Guide”.

Have you ever worked as a Project Manager at a Digital Agency?

If you’re applying for a Digital Project Manager and you have limited experience an ideal answer could be as follows:

Project Management is my core competency and as a hobby I occasionally set myself personal projects. I hand code demo websites to sharpen my skills in HTML, CSS and Java Script.

I’ve always kept up-to-date with the changes in the web development industry too. When the industry started to move away from hand-coding to Content Management Systems I taught myself Drupal and Word Press.  I’m also capable of setting-up dedicated web servers and configuring SQL databases.

This mean I can better communicate with the Web Development Team at a technical level and give more detailed explanations to the stakeholders.

Click here to download the complete “Interview Preparation Guide”.

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews: Part 1

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews: Part 1

Interviews are inevitable part of job hunting but they don’t need to be something you dread. With the right amount of preparation you can stand out from the other candidates and give yourself a much better chance of getting that job.

Ask

If the letter inviting you to an interview is rather vague, don’t just accept it. It will be time to ask some questions, so give HR a call and ask for a few more details. It’s advisable to have names and job titles of your interviewer(s) and what the interview agenda will be. Get as many facts as you can since all information will help you focus in the right areas for your interview. The added bonus for requesting this information is that the HR department will remember your high level of professionalism which will give them a very good first impression of you.

Always prepare at least 3 questions to ask at your interview. These should be appropriate to the role or to the company – but don’t try and be clever in asking a question to catch out your interview panel, it will put them right off you. Good question areas are: the products and/or services provided by the company, training procedures and career progression.

If you think you have the confidence to ask questions during the interview as opposed to just at the end please do so, it will demonstrate you are engaged in the interview process and are interested in the role. Take care not to interrupt the interviewer with your questions though, always be patient and let them finish talking before jumping in.

Body language

Even if you are nervous, anxious or scared out of your wits, a positive body language will do you well and boost your confidence no end. A firm handshake, an honest smile, holding your head high and shoulders back and making eye contact, will all be remembered by the interviewers as you being a positive and likable candidate.

You may want to take notice of some of your habits you have when you are nervous or being slightly economical with the truth, for example, picking your nails, fiddling with your hair, rubbing your nose, scratching your face etc. The interviewers may not pick up on what these habits represent, but it will definitely distract them. Its better that they listen to what you have to say as opposed to being mesmerised by how often you stick your finger in your ear!

What is your ‘listening look’? For many years I used to frown when I was concentrating on what someone was saying – unfortunately their perception of me was that I was angry with them. Now that I am aware I do this, I have changed my ‘listening look’ by relaxing my face to avoid that frown.

What do you look like when you concentrate? Do you look angry, bored, confused? How can you check? You can ask someone who’s opinion you trust and get then to talk to you. Concentrate hard on what they are saying and then get them to give you feed back on how you look. You can discuss any adjustments that need to be made to change your ‘listening look’ to something more positive.

CV

Ensure you have a copy of your up-to-date CV with you at the interview. It is unlikely you will need to refer to it, but it will make you feel more confident having it with you. Make sure you are well versed on your CV; there is nothing worse than trying to remember where you worked 5 years ago and fumbling around in your head to recall what you did.

Dipping

If you find yourself in a situation where the interview has dipped and the mood has taken a down turn – stay calm. Humour can help here but don’t go too crazy, just put on a smile and explain how nervous you are and be positive. Take a deep breath and carry on. Showing your honesty and the appreciation of the situation with a positive spin will be acknowledged and appreciated by your interviewer(s). Remember there is nothing wrong in saying you are nervous, they are probably nervous too.

Enthusiasm

If there is one thing I enforce more than anything else to my clients it is this: be enthusiastic about the job! Even if it sounds like the dullest job on the planet, you can still show enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is highly infectious and it’s something that companies cannot train. Given the choice between 2 candidates – one with skills and no enthusiasm and one with hardly any experience and bags of energy and enthusiasm – the job will mostly likely be offered to the enthusiastic candidate. Remember: companies are happy to invest time in training for the job role, they won’t want to bother training someone to have a positive attitude.

Friendly

It is important that the interviewers realise that you will fit in with the team or department. Showing you are approachable and friendly is just as important as having a strong skills set in the job itself.

Grooming

Yes first impressions do count. Ensure you have the simplest of things sorted: Clean polished shoes, freshly laundered and ironed clothes. If you are a smoker avoid having a quick ciggie right before the interview as the smell will linger, if you are desperate though, make sure you have mints or mouth freshener to hand. Avoid very tight fitting clothes or clothes that will irritate you.

Ladies: Take care on the jewellery and make-up, a classic look is best. I have interviewed ladies with glitter lipstick and wearing enough jewellery to put Goldsmith’s to shame. Avoid showing to much skin even on a hot day (that includes décolletage!). Make sure there are no holes in tights/stockings and it’s always a good idea to pack a spare pair discretely in your bag – just in case.

Gentlemen: Ensure your aftershave is not going to knock out a rhino at 20 paces; less is best. Facial hair is OK as long as it’s neat and tidy. Avoid ‘builder’s cleavage’ when you bend down, so ensure your shirt is tucked in well.

Homework

Make sure you have done your research on the company and the role as much as you can. Try and remember a few facts about the company, as it will be highly likely they will ask a few questions in this area at the start of the interview. By making a little effort in your research, you will gain a lot of head way at the interview. I am always amazed at the number of candidates who do not bother doing this.

Intuition

Your preparation can in some instances go against you, especially if you have done prep work weeks in advance of the interview. Be ready to be intuitive with your answers and tweak your responses accordingly, rather than regurgitating what you have rehearsed and sounding like a robot.

Just one more thing”

This is what I call the Columbo technique. For those of you who missed out on the fabulous 70’s detective series, our genius detective Columbo would ask loads of questions to the prime suspect. He would then leave the room, the suspect would then relax and then Columbo would suddenly reappear and say the classic line “..just one more thing ” and then deliver the killer question while the suspect was completely off guard.

This can happen to you at the end of the interview. So if you think everything is drawing to an end, please stay in interview mode until you actually physically leave the building…you never know, they could ask that make or break question as you are shaking their hand good bye.

Killer skill set

Don’t just think of qualifications and experience when preparing for your interview, chances are you will have a fabulous skill set too. It is very usual for all of us to play down what we do so well. If you made a list of all your skills most, if not all, would be transferable to anything you decide to do.

Remember soft skills are just as important as hands-on skills. So if you are an excellent negotiator, good listener, a natural leader or you just have the ability to brighten a persons day, then remember to mention this and prepare examples where you can illustrate your excellent talents.

Luck

I have put luck in this list as a number of my clients insist that getting the job is more about luck than it is about anything else. I don’t agree, if you have done your preparation, dressed according, have a positive attitude with lots of enthusiasm you will definitely be short listed or better still offered the role.

What is your biggest weakness?

This is a question which comes up in all job interviews. Do not answer with a cliché response like “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist”.

The best way to answer this is to select a weakness which isn’t a critical skill necessary for the job and then counter act it with a positive step you’ve taken to solve the problem.

An ideal answer for project management role is as follows:

In the past I used to struggle slightly with public speaking. A few years ago I went on an acting course where I built my self confidence. At my last workplace I did several presentations and no longer felt nervous and received lots positive feedback from colleagues and management.

Click here to download the complete “Interview Preparation Guide”.

The Monopoly of Agile

The Monopoly of Agile

By no means is agile a new concept in the business world. It has been introduced more than a decade ago and has since changed the way people around the world approach work and project management. However, while agile is still spreading over to new areas, a natural question rises – what is next? Have we now reached a point in time where agile itself will be innovated upon? Or will agile become a monopoly practice? Let us explore.

Over the years, agile has grown from a small movement in the developer community into a mass trend that brings results and productivity to every team it touches. Various applications of agile methods exist today and as the idea spreads further more are coming about. At this point there is really no questioning of the possibilities and value that agile approaches bring to the right teams and because of that most are starting to consider agile as one of the traditional project management approaches instead of a novelty.

Due to this acceptance, agile is now being applied in fields that would have never even considered the practice before – accountants, marketers, government officials and even families are using it to manage their tasks in the most effective ways. Which is something that could not have been even imagined couple of years ago, when agile was seen as designed and helpful solely to developer teams creating specific software products. However, as more and more true life success stories regarding other agile applications surfaced, this perception has changed significantly.

Due to this new acknowledgement and applications that we have in the agile field, the number of practitioners is ever growing as well. Furthermore, it is not only that the number of new practitioners is rising, the number of the experienced and knowledgeable people is rising as well. Agile community is now for the first time ever filled with such a big base of people that have over 5 years of experience in the matter and truly know and understand the practice to its core. Which means they are the ones that know firsthand what are its main benefits and shortfalls.

So will the changes come? Or will agile become the monopoly practice? Well, the premise for change is there already. Agile has been used for quite a while now and for all of that time it has been tweaked and improved to fit the requirements of each team applying it. Whether it was small things, like modifying the concept of backlog or bigger things, like mixing two different approaches to come up with a new one, the agile community has already witnessed change in search of the best process.

The case with monopolization is a bit different, until recently agile was still fighting for its place under the sun. However, once that place was established, it started to become more and more of a monopoly. At the moment, agile is easily swallowing up any and all similar practices, almost not letting them see the light of day, before they are gone. It is simply easier for people to refer to a methodology as agile, thinking they are describing it as something new, while in reality they are dooming that practice for extinction while established and tested agile applications hold their place, withholding innovation and progress.

The only thing that can change this monopolization is people. To be more precise – the ever-growing agile community. Within this community, there is enough knowledge, experience and need to bring the best out of agile. Most importantly, there is enough practitioners who are not afraid to innovate and search for the absolute best solutions, which means that agile applications can not only be tweaked and reworked, but that agile itself may be innovated upon and changed for something even better. While this change may still take years to come, the community already has the capacity to understand and innovate away from the monopoly. Therefore the time to step up and realize the potential in new and different approaches is now!

Why do you want to work here?

This is a question which comes up in all job interviews. Avoid answers like “I need a job” or “I need more money” or any response which benefits you.

The employer is trying to see how well you will integrate into the culture of the workplace.

I recommend you research the company’s website and publications first and find something unique which has compelled you to apply that fits directly with your personal beliefs, values or expertise.

A good answer could be:

I heard about your charity division which trains disadvantage kids into a career in software development. I personally give back to my local community too by volunteering my time to teach kids to code. In a way I felt your company and I share the same fundamental goals and values.

Click here to download the complete “Interview Preparation Guide”.