What is your weakness? I do not ask this question any more. Why? This is one of the most futile questions anyone can ask a candidate in a interview, it leads to answers that are often made up, unrelated to the role or just plain daft. It really irks me that there are interviewers out there still asking this very 1990's question. I train interviewers throughout Ireland, in corporates and the public sector, on how to conduct professional interviews and, without fail, because my course doesn't cover this 'dreaded question' the trainee interviewer will actually ask me if they can ask it in the interview, to which my reply is why would you want to?
In 2016 there are much more effective ways of interviewing candidates, using competency and behavioural interview questions, situational and technical questions, that a lot of the old CV led questioning is being left out, along with ad hoc questions like the weakness question.
Today I was pleased to see a great article published on the BBC about this and other cringey areas in an interview
However, if you really think this question will come up, I am here to help with this and many other questions that can make you dread the thought of an interview. Have a look at our interview programmes for more information.
Situational interviews are becoming more prevalent at interviews conducted by a lot of companies in Ireland. They are not too far removed from behavioural interviewing in that your answer can still give a real example but they can be hard to predict.
The questions is hypothetical, a 'what would you do' phrased questions rather than the behavioural 'what did you do'. Below is an example of a situational question with the incorrect and correct answer:
You’re working on a project with a tight deadline but you find that you’re unable to complete your section because your coworkers and your supervisor are unavailable to answer a few key questions. How do you deal with the situation?
“Hey, if they’re not there, there’s nothing I can do about it. If I’m responsible enough to be working on the project with the idea that I’m holding up my end to get us to deadline on time, then I would expect them to do the same.
If I can’t reach them and they can’t help me in the way that they are supposed to help me, then forget them!
Interviewers ask situational questions like these because the interviewer wants to know how you would handle a problem that might actually arise if you’re hired for the job.
Most of their questions are based off potentially real situations and the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to fire you before they even hire you!
If your response includes any sort of passing off the task to another individual in order to absolve yourself of responsibility or as an excuse to cut out early from work…that won't go down well.
“This is a tough one. The first thing I would do is really sit back for a moment and assess the situation. I would look at the project overall and see if there was a way for me to perhaps redirect my focus onto other areas I could work on by myself without their assistance and postpone the parts I need help on until they were again available. If that isn’t a possibility, then I would make sure to exhaust every avenue I have at my disposal to try to get in contact with them.
I actually ran into a similar situation on a project a few years ago where I needed to get some specific answers to a problem before I was able to move forward to the next step. Unfortunately my co-worker who had the answers was in an area where I was unable to reach him in time. I managed to continue working on sections that didn’t require his input and by the time I was done with those, he was back in range and able to answer my questions.
Not only did we make our deadline, but by getting the other sections done first, we were able to focus all our attention on the final segment and really bring it together in a way that exceeded our clients expectations. It was a real win! Staying calm and focused and making sure I was doing everything within my power to make the project a success gave me the ability to figure out how to work around the situation successfully.”
Notice how this answer started off with the hypothetical section explaining what this person would do and then cleverly backed it up with a real example demonstrating a situation where this really happened. It sounds really credible to an interviewer.
These questions are designed to be a little harder to predict but if the interviewer has been trained well they will tend to keep it competency focussed. most desired competencies can be found in job descriptions.
If you have an interview coming up that you know is situational and you are unsure of answering these don't hesitate to get in touch and book an appointment for Interview training.
This article written by Ronal Alsop on the BBC website is really interesting, pinpointing employers expectations of graduate in their interviews and what they find lacking in answer.
Communication seems to be the big bug bear over the last number of years, and in particular how students communicate experience in a way that demonstrates the skills required for the job. There is also a big disconnect between what the graduates perceive and the employers perception:
In a survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, students and employers clearly didn’t see eye to eye on how well prepared the students were in oral communication (62% of students versus 28% of employers); working with numbers and statistics (55% versus 28%); teamwork (64% versus 37%); applying knowledge and skills to the real world (59% versus 23%); and analysing and solving complex problems (59% versus 24%).
There is a debate on whether employer expectations are too high. Also that the curriculum at college needs to address these issues and ensure students are taught soft skills and other skills required by these demanding employers.
This is my favourite time of year! Milkround season is upon us and we are busy getting our training ready to help you succeed in your interviews. So far so good in that there seems to be a well organised milkround campaign in full swing by all the Big 4 accountancy and Top 5 Law firms.
Here are your closing dates for the Big 4 Accountancy Firms for Ireland
KPMG: Wednesday 21 October
PwC: Consulting applications: 5pm Friday, 16 October 2015 All other applications: 5pm Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Deloitte: 5pm, Wednesday 21 October 2015
EY: Wednesday 21 October
What are the interview processes:
KPMG: Prepare a 60 second pitch about yourself including interests, work experience and college. Answer firm related questions and motivation and competency questions. Business Exercise – The Business Exercise lasts for 30 minutes and consists of two questions. The questions may be competency-based, or about current affairs.
Interviews – Following the business exercise, you will complete two one-on-one interviews. The interviews will be with a partner and director and will last approximately 45 minutes each. At the second interview you will be asked to talk through your answers from the business exercise.
PwC: If invited to interview you will join them for a presentation prior to the interview dates.
Before your interview starts, you will do a short 20-minute case study. This will be discussed in the interview itself. They will explore how well you understand their business and services, how carefully you’ve thought about your career choice and professional qualifications (if applicable) and competency questions.
Deloitte: Competency based interview
A day at the assessment centre is the next stage of the process and includes exercises such as a team meeting, a case study and an interview with a Partner or Director from the service line & location you have applied to.
Top 5 Law Firms closing dates:
A&L Goodbody: Friday, 23 October 2015
Arthur Cox: Thursday October 22, 2015
McCann Fitzgerald: Friday 23 October 2015
Matheson: Wednesday 21 October 2015
William Fry: Thursday 22 October 2015
The interview processes:
A&L Goodbody: Competency based interview
Arthur Cox: A group interview then if successful at group stage an individual competency based interview
McCann Fitzgerald: Competency based interview
Matheson: Two stage competency based interview
William Fry: Two stage competency interview process
We appreciate the effort the milkround takes, as along with the demands of final year assignments you may find yourself running round to 4 or 5 different firm event and many interviews. We highly recommed coming in for coaching as soon as possible in the next couple of weeks to make sure you are set up for your interviews in the best possible way.
The first thing any job seeker needs to do is have a strategy. Identify the companies you want to work for, draw up a top 20 list and then follow the Twitter account for the companies that you want to work for. If your dream is to work for Facebook - you should follow @facebook. To find the Twitter account for a company, just go to Google and search for Company Name on Twitter. You may also want to narrow down your search, and find their careers feed on Twitter. There is often a separate careers/jobs twitter feed. For instance, you can follow @facebookjobs on Twitter to learn about job opportunities and job news from Facebook.
Other Twitter accounts to follow are people who work at a specific company you are interested in. A good tip is to follow the Recruitment Manager/s for as many companies as you can, and try and locate their Twitter page. The company recruitment page on their website may provide this information or LinkedIn. Alternatively search Twitter for the person’s name on Twitter, and you will find the Twitter feed of the person that you are looking for. Twellow is a useful tool that offers a profile search of people on Twitter - so if you enter Facebook, you will be able to see people who have the keyword Facebook in their profile. People will list the company they work for in their Twitter profile, so you can then begin to follow Recruitment/HR people working at the company you are interested in. And by following people at companies that interest you - you will give yourself a chance to be the first to know when these companies Tweet out job opportunities.
The other advantage to following companies and people who work for companies is that you can communicate directly with them. Either through a direct message or by mentioning them on Twitter, you can strike up a conversation so that you can stand out in the crowd. Building a network through Twitter can be a very effective strategy and many people aren't doing it aggressively, so it can help you to make a connection.
Companies want to hire employees whom have demonstrated a passion and interest in their company, so by following them on Twitter, you will show you have an interest.
One of the first acts any Recruiter does now, prior to interviewing any new candidate, is look at their Linked In profile to see if they can gain more information. I can't stress enough how important a strong Linked In profile is for candidates looking to move job. A lot of people I interview coach seem to be hesitating to put up a profile, considering it to be too intrusive and too much like Facebook. But it is not Facebook! Linked In is the most valuable recruitment tool on the planet for both candidates and employers alike. Why? Well because it is free! It gives employers the opportunity to search the market for suitable candidates, often from their competitors, for free. It gives candidates the chance to engage with those companies for free too.
But why are recruiters looking at your profile if they have your CV?
Firstly, they are plain nosey, one of the most important attributes for any recruiter is being nosey.
They want to see what you look like too, particularly if the role you have applied to is client facing. If you haven't got a professional corporate picture then you need to get this fast. If you appear in a picture more appropriate to Facebook, such as your wedding picture (trust me I have seen these) or with your children (many examples on Linked In), it will be hard for the prospective employer to imagine you in the workplace. What you see is what you get in their minds, the old adage; dress for the role you aspire to is the best advice for your Linked In picture. But please don't put your picture on the CV, this does look a bit passe.
Secondly, they want to see how many connections you have, this is a problem sometimes, as they may find other people you are connected to that they can reach out to and interview for the same role. However, if you only have a few connections it looks like you are not able to connect with people and in the workplace that may not go down well. Some roles want people to be able to network internally and externally, which is why having more than 50 connections is important.
Thirdly, they may want to see your testimonials, how highly your peers and clients think of you and your work. Always try and get one per job. Validation is key, it can be better than any reference they may take from your current employer. It shows that you can back up what you say on the CV too.
For more information this article http://pmjobs.cipd.co.uk/article/how-your-social-media-presence-can-land-you-a-new-role/ is particularly helpful at explaining the wider issues with social media.
For more help with building a Linked In profile book the Professional interview coaching programme today and let us show you how to get your Linked In working for you.
Another day another dig at the graduate generation entering the workplace. This time a great article on how graduates are dismissing soft skills as being of importance http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2015/05/21/majority-of-graduates-discount-value-of-soft-skills-finds-survey.aspx?utm_medium=email&utm_source=cipd&utm_campaign=pm_daily&utm_term=350523&utm_content=PM%20Daily%20210515-2545-2286--20150521141443-Majority%20of%20graduates%20discount%20value%20of%20soft%20skills%2C%20finds%20survey . There have been countless studies released about Generation Y over the last 5 years and how there may be problems ahead for the leadership of the company in the next twenty years if such skills, such as communication, are not improved and addressed at an early stage in a person's career. All of this of course leads to an emphasis on hiring people with strong communication skills from the get go. So the graduate recruiters are looking for a lot more than how you sound in an interview, they also want this backed up with evidence using competency questions. The growing lack of empathy in this same generation also is a concern highlighted in the article and those with strong emotional intelligence may be on a faster track to success than those without. All of this will need to be demonstrated at the interview stage if you want to get your first step on the corporate ladder. That is where our graduate interview skills training comes into it's own, because not only will you get the latest training in this area you will work with our Graduate Interview Coach who is a specialist in Ireland and has worked with hundreds of graduates to help them get their first step on the corporate ladder.
I came across this interesting article today http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150521-why-loreal-wont-hire-introverts and it highlights some of the recent thinking, used by some recognisable companies, to make sure they hire the right people for their company culture. The rise of the group interview, in recent years, is starting to be an accepted and normal part of a graduate interview and after many years in the doldrums it looks like psychometric tests have come back into favour again as a means to establish personality fit, particularly at senior levels. All of this means that if you are attending an interview in the near future there may be more than just a simple CV led and competency interview for you to contend with. Our interview coaching covers trending angles in interviewing, because, just like fashion, interviewers get bored of asking the same old questions and like to keep it fresh and 'on trend'. We keep ahead of the curve by keeping up to date with this and with a wide network of contacts in some of the largest companies in Ireland, we are kept updated and know what new interviewing tactics are being used and ensure you are up to date with the latest interview techniques.
Interview Coaching in Dublin means having to help candidates enter the world of many of the largest tech companies, as Dublin is a mecca for their HQ's. The Google interview process is one that often elicits an eye rolling response from my recruiter peers, as Google are constantly coming up with new, innovative, sometimes questionable ways, to interview candidates. They are also known as pipeline database builders, stocking their massive recruitment management system with people they deem Google targets, even though they are not ready to hire them, when the time comes they can pounce on them fast (if the candidates are still looking!). So what does it take to get through the notorious Google system? Who knows for sure, as they like to keep candidates on their toes but I found this illustration very funny but somewhat accurate too:
2015 is an exciting year to be looking for a new job in Dublin. After exiting the recession, which stymied recruitment activity in most sectors for the previous 6 years 2015 has so far seen a resurgence of activity across industries and levels.
Entering the first quarter after a bounce in the last half of 2014, recruiters reported a great upsurge of activity from their client base looking to increase headcount at all levels. This has been brought about by confidence in the economic climate by candidates that no longer feel insecure and are now more able to take a chance to progress what, for the most part, has been stalled careers while riding out the recession. Now, particularly at middle management levels, there has been a domino effect of managers departing for greener pastures and their roles requiring back-filling and this has filtered down to more junior levels, as a result.
Positively, more companies are hiring in-house recruiters to join their busy HR teams, as this activity has stretched the skeletal staff employed through the recession and the good news is that a lot of these in-house recruitment roles are permanent, a marked difference from the contractors hired through the recession, companies only hire permanent recruiters if they can see a great deal of recruitment in the pipeline over the next year and beyond.
So now the catchphrase 'candidate market' has returned, this is similar to the 'bull market' used in financial industries. What it means is that candidates have their pick of jobs, instead of 1 or 2 jobs there may be 10 jobs being advertised by ten different companies looking for the same people. That means that you, as a candidate, get to pick and choose your jobs without having to compromise too much. The flow of candidates looking to leave, although increasing is not at recessionary redundancy levels but the quality of the competitors has changed. Instead of those made redundant and unemployed making up a large pool of available candidates during the recession, you may be up against people that have worked solidly and successfully through the recession and are now on the market but looking at options while still in a secure job. This means you will still need to impress and work hard at interview to get the job offer.
Incidentally, although the recruitment world are on top of this shift in market direction some companies still believe it is an 'employers market', which means they hold the balance of power in deciding who they want to hire. This can mean that they take their time and can be too slow in a busy market. They also haven't yet moved on offering higher salaries or sign on bonuses such as seen in the boom years but this will probably start to change in 2016, as a few employers have started to incentivize new joiners. They are slowly seeing that they are losing talented people at interview stage to competitors by being too slow and they will probably pick up speed, as the year progresses (we hope).
Recruitment goes go in cycles, matching the economic cycle and this is my second experience of riding out a recession and entering a candidate market so the vital signs are in evidence and let's hope they continue in this vein for a good time to come yet.
Clare Reed is a leading global expert Interview Coach with over 22 years global interviewing and coaching experience.