Stand Out from all the Other Job Applicants!

A graphical representation of a table surrounded with identical figures.Have a job interview coming up?  Great!  Now, put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes for a moment.  When looking out into a waiting room full of candidates, what does the interviewer see?  If the job posting worked, it is quite likely he or she may be looking at a room full of clones.  After all, these are people who probably all have the same degree, who all have similar work experience, who all have the same license, certification, or other required credential, who all are professionally dressed, who all have neatly prepared resumes, and who all are polite and well-spoken.  Everyone in the room – including you – meets the same basic requirements for the job or else they wouldn’t be there, right?

So, what makes you think you’re anything special?

This is a problem marketing professionals have struggled with for years! When you purchase facial tissue, do you research all the products available and then stress out over the decision of which brand to get?  Probably not.  For many people, a tissue is a tissue is a tissue.  You likely either just buy what you always do or grab whichever one happens to be on sale this week.  For the makers of facial tissue, this situation is a nightmare!  Their challenge is to convince you that out of all the tissue choices available, their brand is the one you want.

To this end, they spend millions of dollars on advertising, product design, and physical appearance.  They try to convince you their tissue is softer and thus gentler on the nose.  It is more absorbent, stronger, and comes in attractive colors.  Maybe it also contains aloe, packaged in a prettier box, is a convenient size, etc., and therefore the one you should purchase.  They look for and tout anything which favorably separates their product from that of the competition. Continue reading

Behavioral or STAR Job Interview Questions: Are You Ready?

Woman talking to a young person at a career fair.Are you ready to answer “behavioral” type questions on your next job interview? Also known as targeted selection, situational, or STAR questions (STAR will be explained later), these types of questions are now very common.  They may be popular, but they are also quite different from the typical questions you might expect to hear.  First, the interviewer asks you to recall a real, past situation involving certain conduct or behaviors.  You then share the details of that experience.  The idea here is that your past behavior will serve as a predictor of your future behavior.

Examples of such questions might include:

  • Describe a time which you had to handle an angry customer; what happened and what was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you worked with someone who came from very different cultural background than yourself.

It is natural to be nervous during an interview, making it difficult to quickly recall such situations. This is especially true when trying to think of experiences which you would be willing to share!  Therefore, giving some forethought to these types of questions will help greatly.  No, you don’t want your responses to sound overly rehearsed.  However, thinking about such questions and situations in advance can give you some ideas upon which to draw. Continue reading