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  No Experience Required 2005
  Job Seeking Advice
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Mike Fiszer
Get a good night's sleep before your interview. Believe in yourself!

Be punctual.
Arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow yourself time to collect your thoughts. Take the opportunity to observe the working environment. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be friendly with everyone.

Try to get the interviewer to describe the job and duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the particular job. Your responsibility is to convince them that you are the best person for the job. Since the interviewer may not draw it out of you, remember the points which are important about your experience and skills. Give practical examples or proof right through the interview. Try to paint a visual picture that the employer will remember. The true stories you tell about yourself will put you out in front of the other interviwees. Radiate genuine enthusiasm.

Watch the interviewer for clues on how the interview is going. Is the interviewer's face or body language telling you that your answers are too long, not detailed enough, too boring, etc.? If in doubt, ask the interviewer if more details are needed. Listen carefully to the question and the way it is phrased. If it can be interpreted in more than one way, and if you are unsure what the interviewer really wants you to discuss, ask them.

If the interviewer becomes silent, look for the reason. Has the person run out of questions? Is the person testing you to see how comfortable you are with silence? Is the interviewer finding your answers too short and waiting for you to give more in order to get a better sense of who you are?

If the interviewer outlines an imaginary situation and asks you what you would do if you found yourself in it, imagine yourself in that situation. Give the best answer you can if it is a situation which you have not already experienced and successfully dealt with. In many instances, the interviewer is more interested in finding out how you would react in such a situation, and in your thinking/analytical process than in your final answer. In your analysis, think about which are the most important facts. Watch for a "red herring". Do you need to get additional information from someone else in the scenario before you could make a decision? Do you want the interviewer to supply more detail for understanding a key point? When the interviewer asks about your weaknesses, choose something work-related, but not so serious as to disqualify you. Briefly mention one, always ending on a positive note. Show what you have learned from the experience or what you are doing to change. If pushed for more than one weakness, have another one or two ready to discuss. Also, if asked about any negative employment experience (e.g., being fired, trouble with supervisor), don't criticise past employers. Briefly acknowledge any difficulty and say what you have learned or discuss the positive outcome of the situation. By looking so carefully at weaknesses or negatives, an employer is trying to determine where you might have problems on the job. The bottom line for some jobs may be: "Let's hire the candidate who will do the work adequately while having the fewest serious shortcomings".

Normally, do not inquire about pay, bonuses, benefits in the initial interview. If you are pressed to give a pay expectation, turn it around to the interviewer and ask what the organisation would ordinarily pay a person with your credentials. If you are still pushed, know what pay range would apply to that type of job in that region. You could try to get this information by speaking to people in the organisation before your interview. Good pay information is also available on the Internet.

Practise in a mock interview with another person. Check for quality of information in your answers, and the positive, non-verbal emphasis of your words. By speaking out loud you can "hear" your answers to ensure you cover the topic well. Don't practise so much though that you lose your energy and your answers sound rehearsed. If you do not receive a job offer (especially if you felt the "fit" was very good), you may want to contact the interviewer to get feedback on your performance. It could be
  1. they hired someone with better qualifications. Or
  2. you didn't adequately present your experience and skills, thereby causing an incorrect assessment of your capability.
If the reason is (1), keep going-you'll find the right match! If (2), make changes in your next interview!

The law in many countries restricts what type of questions are appropriate or inappropriate in employment interviews. Following are some of the categories that have restrictions on what can be legally asked:
  • birthplace, ancestry, ethnic origin, place of origin
  • sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status
  • age
  • race, colour
  • religion, creed
  • citizenship education record of offences
  • disability
  • references and membership in organisations
Although it is the responsibility of the interviewer to know the law, this may not always be the case. It is to your advantage to be informed on the subject. You've done the reading and know your rights as they pertain to the interview. Now you're in the middle of one and have just been asked what is clearly an illegal question. What should you do? There is no clear-cut answer. Much depends on you.

  • In some cases, you may be able to answer the "hidden" question. Try to think of what information the employer is trying to elicit. Example: "Do you have or plan to have children?" may be a disguise for "Are you going to be able to work overtime?" or "Will you be requesting time off for school holidays/events?" In this example, your answer should convey your willingness to work overtime as required or make alternate child care arrangements.
  • You may elect to say "Why do you ask?" or "Would you explain how this point is connected to the qualifications for this job?" This may cause the employer to reconsider and/or clarify the question. This may offend some employers, but probably not the majority.
  • If you feel that you should not answer the question (you shouldn't have to after all) or that you are not interested in working for the company, you may state, "I don't feel obligated to answer that" or "That question is inappropriate". If you choose this option, you will either enlighten (the employer may not realize it is illegal and will be happy that you pointed it out) or offend (the employer may not consider you for the job).
OK, how did you do?

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