Interview help: Do you have any questions for us?

If you’re applying for jobs or will in the future, go read this Lifehacker article, The Interview Question That’s Always Asked (and How to Nail It) by Jefferson McDowell, now.

You should memorize and practice these responses.

In addition, before the interview, review what’s important to you. What do you need to be fulfilled in a position? Autonomy? A team atmosphere? A place to grow with potential for internal advancement? Scheduled feedback? The opportunity to continue learning? Mentors? There are no right or wrong answers. The easiest way to figure out your priorities are to think about why you are leaving your current position. Or if you’re a new graduate, what you loved or hated about your pre-professional jobs.

Now look at those priorities and match them up with the job description and what you know from your research about the company.

Is there a way to convey your priorities while also, as the article points out, meeting the needs of the organization? The more prepared you are for your interview, the more you will appear as a strong candidate and increase your chances of being hired.

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Applicants Beware!

I hope in sharing my story, some of you will avoid the same situation.

Like lots of recent graduates, by July 2005, I was freaking out and applying for any position that I was even remotely interested in. Unfortunately, using Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and a few others meant, I was also unwittingly applying for job scams.

Below is a word for word email I received from “Grey Marketing Team” (to my knowledge, they are no longer in existence).

Dear Aurora,
I have recently viewed your resume online and feel you may be qualified for our Advertising Department Assistant position. We are Grey Marketing Team, a national management and marketing firm. We assist companies in maximizing their marketing dollars by developing advertising, sales, and marketing campaigns.
We are currently seeking an Assistant to our Advertising Department to help our Creative Team develop print, internet, radio and television ads for our clients. An Advertising Department Assistant’s responsibilities would include the following:
Working with in house creative team
Assisting on sets and shoots
Acting as a liaison with production companies, photographers, etc
This position offers direct hands on experience working with clients. We offer the following:

Starting Salary of $41,600
Quarterly and annual bonuses
Top benefits package including medical, dental, 401k, tuition re-imbursement, paid vacation and holidays, and paid holidays
Rapid advancement opportunities

The person we are seeking must fit the following description of the five “B’s”
Be a self starter
Be motivated to succeed
Be willing to travel occasionally
Be a team player
Be willing to learn and educate himself or herself

If you feel this position is for you please apply online at: www.greymarketingteam.com

Go to the “employment” section

Select the “Advertising Department Assistant” position

Fill out the application.

Once you have filled out the application completely I will contact you for an interview.

Vonda Dixon
Director
Human Resources
Grey Marketing Team

Surprise, surprise, I applied and was granted an interview. When the HR Director I spoke with sounded really young and told me the dress was business professional, I got an uneasy feeling. But I brushed it aside. I arrived for my interview at a nondescript building in St. Louis. As I found the suite, I noticed a lot of people wearing backpacks and business suits, which I thought was odd. The suite looked like any other office suite, only everyone in the office was young, really young. I interviewed with three people who couldn’t have been older than 25.

They asked the standard interview questions and others that were really off the wall. Like super powers and wishes. The entire process lasted about an hour and a half. At no point did we discuss what I would actually be doing for the “company.” The interviewers talked about a second interview, which would be going out with one of their employees “in the field” for a day and that I would be hearing from them soon.

When I got home, I researched the company and realized it was more door-to-door sales and less actual advertising or marketing work. I decided I would not be going into “the field” with one of their employees for any amount of money. Apparently, soon meant less than 24 hours later. I got a call from the woman I interviewed with. I politely turned down the second interview and was barraged with “you’ll regret not taking this opportunity.”

The more I’ve talked to recent graduates in the last seven years, the more I’ve heard about these kinds of job scams. Positions likes these are preying on the eagerness of young graduates and unfortunately, seem to be becoming more and more popular.

You can avoid job scams by throughly researching the company you are applying to, which you should be doing for your cover letter anyway! This includes a standard Google search, verifying phone numbers, addresses and general details. You should also check out the scam websites and search the key words used in the ad. Also, misspelled words and bad grammar are dead give aways that something isn’t right.

Similar scams include: Steel Town Promotions

Have you encountered a job scam of your own?

Accessories speak louder than words

Image from: http://verymerryvintagestyle.blogspot.com

By now most of you know that what clothes you wear at the office and to an interview give your coworkers and the interviewer insight into who you are. We’ve previously talked about the dress code at the office and what additional items to bring with you to an interview. But what about your accessories?

According to this Daily Worth article, these seemingly tiny details add up. Diamond studs and a classic watch convey classy, quiet power. Mixing metals and a bold color palate make you a fashionable trendsetter. Statement earrings, layered bracelets and vintage cocktail rings communicate glamor.

For men, it isn’t quite as simple. Colored or patterned socks, a creative (but subtle!) tie, cuff links, watches and belt buckles (again, subtle!) can help show your personality.

Just remember there is a fine line between tasteful and obnoxious in accessories.

Jump the hoops

Image from: http://www.negotiationlawblog.com/uploads
Most of us are taught by our parents and teachers to think for ourselves. Many of us are taught to question when requests are illegal, impractical or illogical. No one explains that when you enter the work force, you ought to throw most of that advice out the window. You need to show you can follow directions and that you meet minimum qualifications.

During the application process, you will likely jump through more hoops than you ever could have imagined. Yes, you do have to fill out the same piece of information three times, in three different places. Yes, you do have to include your high school education information even if you graduated 20 years ago if the form requires it. It’s frustrating, but if you want the job necessary. Getting angry over the hurdles or defiant about the process reflects poorly on the applicant.

I’d like to think that all these hoops are to make sure you can follow directions. That you’re a good candidate who won’t question the status quo. That you aren’t lying. But the reality is an application, interview and subsequent tests are the only ways employers have to gauge whether or not you would be a good fit or would steal all the office equipment. They are trying to look out for the company.

Just grin and bear it. Hopefully, you’ll land an interview and can show the company you have the skills they require, are friendly and truly want to work for them. Good luck!