Category Archives: Articles (Candidates)

How To Avoid Discrimination When Hiring

As a boss of a potential new employee, it’s almost certain that you will have good intentions when going through the hiring process. However, everyone, no matter your gender, race, age, or religion has preconceived notions about certain things. We all as human beings prejudge. In the business world, this is unacceptable and employers should act as if completely unbiased. For this reason, it’s very important to avoid discrimination when hiring a new employee. In order to be sure that you’re doing this, you should consider the tips in this article.

Before seeking a new employee, get up to speed on federal and state laws regarding discrimination. This will help you to ensure that you’re abiding by the laws when going through the hiring process.

When you’re considering a new employee, make a detailed list of the qualifications needed for the position. When you look at applications and resumes of individuals applying for this position, consult your list of requirements to see if the applicant meets all of them. Also, to better ensure that you’re being fair, cover up the name of each applicant while initially making the decision as to whether the person should have an interview or not. Names can lead to preconceived notions about an individual. For instance, if you envision a man for the position, you may look at “Susan’s” resume with a negative attitude to begin with. If there was a bully in your elementary school named “Ned” and he picked on you all the time, an applicant with the same name may have a lesser chance at an interview. You won’t mean to prejudge, but sometimes it’s a human response.

When interviewing applicants for the position, have at least two other people (besides you) interview them. Make sure that your small group of interviewers is a diverse group of people. You want to have a good range in age, have both genders represented, and have different racial groups represented if possible. Get the other interviewers’ honest opinions about the individual and that person’s qualifications.

Make sure that you and the other interviewers focus on the answers to the questions rather than the overall appearance of each applicant. It’s a great idea to have each interviewer ask questions of each applicant and write down the responses. It’s helpful if the interviewers get together ahead of time and make sure that their questions are different. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re asking the same basic questions of each applicant. Their responses may trigger other questions, but the original questions should be the same for each applicant. This will help to ensure fairness during the interviewing process.

By sarah carter

Employee Empowerment Challenges

Do you have thoughts about the challenges inherent in employee empowerment? Employee empowerment is a strategy and value that I support.

I’ve sought ideas for effective implementation my entire consulting career. In my core beliefs, when managers and employees experience the power of employee empowerment, they want to live that way, too. The challenge is in the details.

Many companies talk about  employee empowerment as their desired relationship with their employees. But employee empowerment is much harder to carry out in the daily work environment. Not every employee can contribute to every decision and there is always a manager or director you report to who may have a different vision for a program or project.

Overall company decisions may influence your work area and even your daily tasks. The current economic situation may also infringe upon your feelings of empowerment as company leaders make decisions with which you disagree – or worse, without you – for the good of the overall company.  It’s a wonder to me sometimes, how any company gets empowerment right. These are some of the factors that make empowerment difficult:

  • Managers need to release power to employees. This is hard when you’re still responsible for the results – or maybe you just like being in charge and making all of the decisions. Some managers feel safer in charge.
  • Employees miss deadlines, plan and work on pet projects and neglect the contribution you most need from them. Excuses and “not  my faults” can drive you crazy.
  • Boundaries of decision making are the biggest challenge. Where does my decision making leave off and yours begin? Unfortunately, rather than addressing this persistent issue in empowerment,  most organizations navigate this problem hit-or-miss. This leaves employees unwilling to make decisions, unempowered when their decisions are over-ridden, and managers who ask, “Why won’t the people who report to me act empowered?” Right.

Okay, those are some of  my thoughts about employee empowerment. What is your experience of employee empowerment from a managerial or employee point of view? Is employee empowerment worth the commitment and trust?

The Best Answer To Job Interview Questions Part 5

20) If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?

When the interviewer asks “If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?” he or she wants to know what your perception is of what others think about your qualifications and abilities.

Best Answer

I’m sure if you asked my friends that question they would say you should hire me because I have the skills outlined in the job description and I bring 10+ years of expertise to this position.  Words they’ve used to describe me are:  hard working, professional, trusted and a team player.

21) Is there a type of work environment you prefer?

I can be flexible when it comes to my work environment.  What is the environment in the Engineering department here at RRS, Inc? (Once they’ve described the work environment, include key phrases they’ve used when you describe your preferred work environment).

22) Is there anything else I can tell you about the job and the company?

It’s your turn! As the interview comes to a close, one of the final questions you may be asked is “What can I answer for you?” Have interview questions of your own ready to ask. You aren’t simply trying to get this job – you are also interviewing the employer to assess whether this company and the position are a good fit for you.

Here are questions to ask the interviewer so you can ensure the company is a good match for your qualifications and interests.

Interview Questions to Ask the Employer

  • How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
  • How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
  • Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
  • What is the company’s management style?
  • Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
  • How many people work in this office/department?
  • How much travel is expected?
  • Is relocation a possibility?
  • What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected?
  • What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
  • How does one advance in the company?
  • Are there any examples?
  • What do you like about working here?
  • What don’t you like about working here and what would you change?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
  • What can I tell you about my qualifications?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

Interview Questions NOT to Ask

  • What does this company do? (Do your research ahead of time!)
  • If I get the job when can I take time off for vacation? (Wait until you get the offer to mention prior commitments)
  • Can I change my schedule if I get the job? (If you need to figure out the logistics of getting to work don’t mention it now…)
  • Did I get the job? (Don’t be impatient. They’ll let you know.)

23) Tell me why you want to work here.

A typical interview question, asked to ensure that you are seriously interested in the job and the company, and to find out how much you know about the company,  is “Why do you want to work here?”

The best way to answer this question is, first of all, to be prepared and knowledgeable about the company.  Spend some time researching the company (the About Us section of the web site is a good place to start) so you can talk about the benefits of working for this employer.

Compare your goals with objectives of the company and the position, then reiterate why you would be an asset to the employer.  Let the interviewer know what you can do for the company, if you get a job offer.

Even though the question is about why you want to work here, you still need to convince the interviewer that hiring you will benefit the company.

Here are sample answers you can use to frame your own response:

  • This company is internationally known for its (widgets), and my experience in the (marketing/planning/production/etc.) of (widgets) has me intrigued by the opportunity this position presents.
  • The businesses in this area are known for their commitment to the community, and I would like the opportunity to participate in making this a better place to live.
  • I am a (widget) connoisseur, and would love the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for (widgets) with customers.

24) What are you looking for in your next position?

You can begin your answer with this question:  Tell me, Mr./Ms. Interviewer, what is a typical career path at OPL for someone with my skills and experience?

(Based on the answer you can then respond to the original question using the phrases from the answer to frame your response).

What is important to you?  Two things are very important to me.  One is my professionalism at work; the second is my family life.


25) What are you passionate about?

When you’re asked what you’re passionate about during a job interview it’s a good opportunity to share what is important in your life.  It’s also an opportunity to show your dedication and what’s important to you.

Your response doesn’t need to be work focused, but do be sure that what you share isn’t something that could potential cut in to your working hours.

For example, you don’t want to say that you’re a mountain climber with the goal of climbing Mountain Everest or that you’re getting ready for the Tour de France or looking to spend the winter skiing in Aspen.

Sample Answers: What Are You Passionate About?

  • One of my greatest passions is helping others. When I was younger, I’ve enjoyed helping mom with household repairs. As I grew older, that habit grew and I desired to help others as well. I like helping people find solutions that meet their specific needs.
  • I’m passionate about painting.  I take an evening art class once a week and try to find time each weekend to paint.   Painting is a good way for me to relax and even though I don’t have much talent, I do it enjoy it.
  • I lost my father to pancreatic cancer and ever since then, I have spent time volunteering to help raise awareness and funding for cancer research. I volunteer for PanCan, the advocacy group, and I’m part of their volunteer network. One of the things I’m passionate is to assist in finding a cure, however I can.
  • I’m passionate about making a difference. When I’m involved with a project at work I want to do my best to achieve success.  I feel the same way about what I do in my personal life.
  • I’m an avid skier and I like to spend weekends and vacations on the ski slopes.



The Best Answer To Job Interview Questions Part 4

16) How much do you expect to get paid?

Before you start talking pay (and salary negotiations) with a prospective employer, you need to find out how much the job (and you) are worth.  You will need to take the time to research salaries. That way you will be prepared to get what you’re worth and to get a job offer that’s realistic and reasonable.

Salary Negotiations

Once you know what you should be earning, how do you go about getting it? Start by being very patient. When interviewing for a new position, do your best not to bring up compensation until the employer makes you an offer. If you’re asked what your salary requirementsare, say that they are open based upon the position and the overall compensation package. Or tell the employer you’d like to know more about the responsibilities and the challenges of the job prior to discussing salary.

Another option is to give the employer a salary rangebased upon the salary research you’ve done up front. Once you’ve received the offer you don’t need to accept (or reject) it right away. A simple “I need to think it over” can get you an increase in the original offer.

And if you’re ambivalent about the position a “no” can bring you a better offer too. I turned down a position I knew I didn’t want, regardless of salary, and received three follow-up phone calls upping the compensation package. Be careful though, if you do definitely need that new job there’s a risk that the employer may accept your declining the position and move on to the next candidate.

Negotiating a Raise

If you are currently employed and want a raise, start by being prepared. Gather your salary survey information, recent performance appraisals that document the job you’re doing, and any other relevant information. Be aware of company policy regarding compensation. Some employers are limited by budget constraints and can only give raises at certain times of the year, regardless of the circumstances.

Have a clear idea of what you want.  Determine the salary range you’re looking for and justification for the increase and have both ready to review with your supervisor. Be flexible. Would you consider an extra couple of weeks vacation instead of a raise? I know someone who has regularly taken time-off instead of money and now has six vacation weeks a year… Then, ask your supervisor for a meeting to discuss salary. Present your request, supported by documentation, calmly and rationally. Don’t ask for an immediate answer. Your boss is mostly likely going to have to discuss it with Human Resources and/or other company managers.

Despite your best efforts, there may simply not be enough money in the budget to increase your salary or compensation package offer. The company may also not want to create inequities by paying one person more than others in a similar position. In that case, you can at least know you tried. Plus, if this is a job you really think that you’re going to love, consider whether the company culture, the benefits, and the job itself are worth it – regardless of the salary.

17) How would you describe the pace at which you work?

When you’re asked to describe the pace at which you work, be careful how you respond.  This is another question where faster isn’t necessarily better.  Most employers would rather hire employees who work at a steady pace.  Someone who is too slow to get the job done in a reasonable time frame isn’t going to be a good hire. Neither is a candidate who works frenetically all day.

Options for answering this question include saying that you work at a steady pace, but usually complete work in advance of the deadline. Discuss your ability to manage projects and get them done on, or ahead, of schedule. If you work at a job where you have set criteria (i.e. number of calls made or responsed to) that measures accomplishments, discuss how you have achieved or exceeded those goals.

18) How would you describe yourself?

Review sample answers to the interview question “How would you describe yourself?”  When you respond, keep in mind the type of position you are interviewing for, the company culture, and the work environment.  Your answer should help show the interviewer why you’re a match for the job and for the company.

  • I’m a people person. I really enjoy meeting and working with a lot of different people.
  • I’m a perfectionist. I pay attention to all the details, and like to be sure that everything is just right.
  • I’m a creative thinker. I like to explore alternative solutions to problems and have an open mind about what will work best.
  • I’m efficient and highly organized. This enables me to be as productive as possible on the job.
  • I enjoy solving problems, troubleshooting issues, and coming up with solutions in a timely manner.

19) How would you handle it if your boss was wrong?

The question “If you know your boss is 100% wrong about something, how would you handle this?” is asked to find out how you deal with a difficult situation.

Best Answers

An answer that works well is:  “It depends on the situation and the personality of the supervisor.”  To elaborate, give examples:

My present supervisor does not like to have his authority questioned.  He’s fairly new on the job and almost all of the people he supervises have been on the job longer than he has.  He’s never bothered to learn the procedures, how things are done or how the computer system works.  But if any of us tell him that how he wants something done won’t work, he gets extremely angry.  So, I never tell him he’s wrong.  Never.  Whatever he tells me to do, I smile and say “okay.”  Then if I know a way to get it done that will work, I do it that way, give him the results he wants and never tell him I didn’t do it the way he told me to.  He got the results and is happy.  I saved myself the stress of being yelled at and gave him what he wanted, so I’m happy.

My prior superviser was more easy-going and if I told her “you know, I think it might work better if I do what you asked in such and such a way,” she say “okay, try it.”

If I were a new hire on a job, I would probably not question a supervisor because I might think I didn’t know enough.  Except on the new job I’m going to.  The director has admitted that she’s new on the job and there are alot of things that a secretary does that she doesn’t know how to do, so she will be depending on me to know how to keep the office running.

20) If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?

When the interviewer asks “If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?” he or she wants to know what your perception is of what others think about your qualifications and abilities.

Best Answer

I’m sure if you asked my friends that question they would say you should hire me because I have the skills outlined in the job description and I bring 10+ years of expertise to this position.  Words they’ve used to describe me are:  hard working, professional, trusted and a team player.








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The Best Answer To Job Interview Questions Part 3

11) Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?

Review sample answers to the interview question “Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?” Be careful answering questions about previous managers. You don’t want to come across as difficult, and you want to cast any past experiences in the most positive light possible.

  • I had a rocky start with a manager once, because we had different expectations for the flow of the workday. Once we talked about it, we realized that our goals were very compatible, and we were able to work very successfully together for several years.
  • I have found that if I take the time to talk with my manager at the beginning of a project, we can all get off to a great start on the same page.
  • I would say that I have never really had a problem working with anyone. I try to find our common ground, and get along with everyone’s different personality.

12) Have you gotten angry at work? What happened?

When the interviewer asks “When Was The Last Time You Were Angry? What Happened?”  he or she wants to know if you lose control.  The real meaning of the word “angry”, to an interviewer, is loss of control and it’s important to know how you handle situations when you’re angry.

Best Answer

Anger to me means loss of control.  I do not lose control.  When I get stressed, I step back, take a deep breath, thoughtfully think through the situation and then begin to formulate a plan of action.

13) How do you handle pressure?

A typical interview question, asked to get a sense of how you handle on-the-job stress, is “How do you handle pressure?”  Examples of good responses include:

  • Stress is very important to me. With stress, I do the best possible job. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive.
  • I react to situations, rather than to stress. That way, the situation is handled and doesn’t become stressful.
  • I actually work better under pressure and I’ve found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment.
  • From a personal perspective, I manage stress by visiting the gym every evening. It’s a great stress reducer.
  • Prioritizing my responsibilities so I have a clear idea of what needs to be done when, has helped me effectively manage pressure on the job.
  • If the people I am managing are contributing to my stress level, I discuss options for better handling difficult situations with them.
  • I find that when I’m under the pressure of a deadline, I can do some of my most creative work.
  • I’m not a person who has a difficult time with stress. When I’m under pressure, I focus, and get the job done.
  • I find it exhilarating to be in a dynamic environment where the pressure is on.
  • I find a past pace to be invigorating, and thrive when the pressure is on.
  • I’ve done some of my best work under tight deadlines, where the atmosphere was very stressful.
  • I’m the kind of person who stays calm under pressure, and handles stress fairly easily.

It’s a good idea to give examples of how you have handled stress to your interviewer. That way, they get a clear picture how well you can work in stressful situations.

14) How do you measure success?

I evaluate success in different ways.  At work, it is meeting the goals set by my supervisors and my fellow workers.   It is my understanding, from talking to other employees, that the GGR company is recognized for not only rewarding success, but giving employees opportunity to grow as well.  After work,  I enjoy playing softball, so success  on the field is catching the winning pop-up.

15) How long do you expect to work for this company?

Review sample answers to the interview question “How long do you expect to remain employed with this company?”  When you respond, be sure to frame your response so that it’s positive.

I’ve heard applicants say that they only want the job for a short amount of time or are planning to relocate or go back to school.  Responses like that aren’t going to impress the hiring manager who is looking to hire a long-term employee.

Sample Answers

  • I believe that this company has the capacity to offer me a rich and satisfying career, and I would like to remain employed here for as long as I am having a positive impact.
  • I would like to pursue my career here for as long as I have the opportunity to.
  • I would like to remain employed here for as long as my services are needed.





The Best Answer To Job Interview Questions Part 2

6) Describe your career goals.

The overall theme for each of the answers below is: have you thought about the impact of your decisions at the time you made them – or do you have a reactive response to most situations.  Far too often, a person’s career appears to have happened by chance.  In todays fast-paced, ever changing world of work, employer’s want to know if they can count on you to make good decisions, not knee-jerk reactions.

Start with your graduation from college and explain the rationale behind each of your career moves.
When I graduated from college, I was immediately recruited by the ABC Company.  As my resume reflects, I received two promotions and then a recruiter contacted for the position at the XYZ Company.  I’ve been there for the past 4 years and have learned a great deal, while making significant contributions to my department.

Also, explain the thinking process that went into make each of those decisions.

For my first job, I was happy to know I would be working in a job that utilized my education.  It was exciting to know that within just a few weeks of graduation, I had my first paycheck.  My thinking behind the XYZ position centered on the fact that they have a global presence, it was a definite promotion and positioned me to be a viable candidate for the marketing position with your company.

How many hours a day/week do you need to work to get the job done?
I use my time efficiently at work and, for the most part, it’s not the number of hours I work; but how effective my time has been to accomplish the job.  I’m sure my references will tell you I was more than willing to put in the time to be sure the job was completed as quickly and as professionally as possible.

If you stayed with your current company, what would be your next move?
The upward mobility at my current company would most likely be in the global marketing department.

How do you measure success?
I measure professional success by the standards of the company for which I work, the feedback I receive from my peers, supervisors and subordinates.  Personally, it is to know I’m regarded as a good husband, father and member of society.

Describe your dream job.
As a child, I dreamed of being the starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.  When I realized I did not have a fast ball, or a change -up; I concentrated on my skills in marketing because I realized it is an area where I not only can make significant contributions, but I enjoy using my talent in a corporate environment.

7) Describe your work style.

When you are asked about how you work during an interview, it’s important to impress the interviewer with your comptentency and accuracy, rather than just your speed.

Here are sample answers to the interview question “How would you describe your work style?”

  • I am very focused on my work, and consequently, am able to work quickly.
  • I keep a steady pace, and check my work as I go along, to prevent mistakes from snowballing.
  • Because I am very organized, I am able to accomplish a lot in a limited amount of time.
  • I’m organized and efficient and I’m able to multi-task very well.
  • I’m always on top of my projects, but I do welcome input and will consult with team members to ensure we’re all on the same track.

8) Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?

When the interviewer asks “Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?”  he or she wants to know if you’re a team player or would rather work on your own.

Best Answers

I am equally comfortable working as a member of a team and independently.  In researching the LMN company, your mission statement and the job description, I could see similarities to my previous position where there were some assignments that required a great deal of independent work and research and others where the team effort was most effective.  As I said, I’m comfortable with both.

In high school, I enjoyed playing soccer and performing with the marching band. Each required a different kind of team play, but the overall goal of learning to be a member of a group was invaluable. I continued to grow as team member while on my sorority’s debate team and through my advanced marketing class where we had numerous team assignments.  I’m very comfortably working on a team, but I can also work independently, as well.

9) Do you take work home with you?

Do you take work home with you is a tricky question, be ready.  The longer the answer, the bigger the hole you’ve dug.

Best Answer

When I need to, no problem.  I realize the importance of meeting deadlines and getting work done on time.

10) Give some examples of teamwork.

A typical interview question to discover how well you would work with other people is “Give some examples of teamwork.”

Sample Answers

In my last postion, I was part of a software implementation team.  We all worked together to plan and manage the implementation schedule, to provide customer training, and ensure a smooth transition for our customers.  Our team always completed our projects ahead of schedule with very positive reviews from our clients.

I was part of team responsible for evaluating and selecting a new vendor for our office equipment and supplies.  The inter-departmental team reviewed options, compared pricing and service, chose a vendor, and implemented the transition to the new vendor.

In high school, I enjoyed playing soccer and performing with the marching band.  Each required a different kind of team play, but the overall goal of learning to be a member of a group was invaluable.  I continued to grow as team member while on my sorority’s debate team and through my advanced marketing class where we had numerous team assignments.



Quote of the week!

“People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”

–Linden Wood

The Best Answer To Job Interview Questions Part 1

1) Are you the best person for this job? Why?

A typical interview question, asked to get your opinion, or to validate the interviewer’s opinion, on why you would be the best candidate for the position, is “Why should we hire you?”

The best way to respond is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job.  Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position.


2) Are you overqualified for this job?

Joyce Lain Kennedy is the nation’s first syndicated careers columnist.  Her work is distributed by Tribune Media Services and appears in more than 100 newspapers and web sites. In addition, Joyce is author of eight career-related books including Job Interviews for Dummies, where you can read additional excellent interview advice, Cover Letters for Dummies and Resumes for Dummies.

Keep in mind that you can customize these answers to fit your particular circumstances and the job you are applying for.

Joyce Lain Kennedy’s sample answers to the interview question “Are you overqualified for this job?”

  • Overqualified? Some would say that I’m not overqualified but fully qualified. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?
  • Fortunately, I’ve lived enough years to have developed the judgment that allows me to focus on the future. Before we speak of past years, past titles and past salaries, can we look at my strengths and abilities and how I’ve stayed on the cutting edge of my career field, including its technology?
  • I hope you’re not concerned that hiring someone with my solid experience and competencies would look like age bias if once on the job you decided you’d made a mistake and I had to go. Can I present a creative idea? Why don’t I work on a trial basis for a month — no strings — which would give you a chance to view me up close? This immediately solves your staffing problem at no risk to you. I can hit the floor running and require less supervision than a less experienced worker. When can I start?
  • I was proud to be a charge nurse but I really like getting back to working with patients.
  • I’m flattered that you think I’m headhunter bait and will leap to another job when an offer appears. Not really. This job is so attractive to me that I’m willing to sign a contract committing to stay for a minimum of 12 months. There’s no obligation on your part. How else can I convince you that I’m the best person for this position?
  • I’m here because this is a company on the move and I want to move up with you. With more than the minimal experience to just skim by, I offer immediate returns on your investment. Don’t you want a winner with the skill sets and attitudes to do just that?
  • My family’s grown. And I am no longer concerned with title and salary — I like to keep busy. A reference check will show I do my work on time, and do it well as a team member. I’m sure we can agree on a salary that fits your budget. When can we make my time your time?
  • Downsizings have left generational memory gaps in the workforce and knowledge doesn’t always get passed on to the people coming up. I could be an anchor or mentor — calm, stable, reliable and providing day-to-day continuity to the younger team. For my last employer, I provided the history of a failed product launch to a new marketing manager, who then avoided making the same mistakes.
  • As you note, I’ve worked at a higher level but this position is exactly what I’m looking for. You offer opportunity to achieve the magic word: balance. I’m scouting for something challenging but a little less intense so I can spend more time with my family.
  • Salary is not my top priority. Not that I have a trust fund but I will work for less money, will take direction from managers of any age, will continue to stay current on technology and will not leave you in the lurch if Hollywood calls to make me a star. And I don’t insist that it’s my way or the highway.


3) Describe a difficult experience at work and how you handled it.

There is no right or wrong answer to questions like “What are the most difficult decisions to make?” or “Describe a difficult work situation / project and how you overcame it.”  These are behavioral interview questions designed to discover how you handled certain situations.  The logic behind these type of questions is that how you behaved in the past is a predictor of what you will do in the future.

Give concrete examples of difficult situations that actually happened at work. Then discuss what you did to solve the problem.  Keep your answers positive (“Even though it was difficult when Jane Doe quit without notice, we were able to rearrange the department workload to cover the position until a replacement was hired.”) and be specific.  Itemize what you did and how you did it.

The best way to prepare for questions where you will need to recall events and actions, is to refresh your memory and consider some special situations you have dealt with or projects you have worked on. You can use them to help frame responses. Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved a difficult situation.


4) Describe yourself.

You walk into the interview room, shake hands with your interviewer and sit down with your best interviewing smile on.  Guess what their first question is? “Tell me about yourself.”

Do you “wing it” and actually tell all manner of things about yourself?  Will you spend the next 5 minutes rambling on about what an easy-going, loyal, dedicated, hard working employee you’ve been?  If this is the case, you stand a good chance of having bored your interviewer to death thus creating a negative first impression.

Because it’s such a common interview question, it’s strange that more candidates don’t spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer it.  Perhaps because the question seems so disarming and informal, we drop our guard and shift into ramble mode.      Resist all temptation to do so.

Your interviewer is not looking for a 10-minute dissertation here.  Instead, offer a razor sharp sentence or two that sets the stage for further discussion and sets you apart from your competitors.

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Give them “your synopsis about you” answer, specifically your Unique Selling Proposition.  Known as a personal branding or  a value-added statement, the USP is a succinct, one-sentence description of who you are, your biggest strength and the major benefit that a company will derive from this strength.     Here is an example of a Unique Selling Proposition:    “I’m a seasoned Retail Manager strong in developing training programs and loss prevention techniques that have resulted in revenue savings of over $2.3Million for (employer’s name) during the past 11 years.”

What a difference you’ve made with this statement.  Your interviewer is now sitting forward in her chair giving you her full attention.       At this point, you might add the following sentence:  “I’d like to discuss how I might be able to do something like that for you.”    The ball is now back in her court and you have the beginnings of a real discussion and not an interrogation process.

Be Specific

The key is that you must lead with your strongest benefit to the employer.  Be specific and don’t wander about with some laundry list of skills or talents.  Be sure to put a monetary value on your work if at all possible and be ready with details when you’re called upon.  Give an estimated value to the $$ you’ve either helped to make or save for your employer.

Be Prepared

When you walk into an interview, remember to always expect the “tell me about yourself” question.  Prepare ahead of time by developing your own personal branding statement that clearly tells who you are, your major strength and the clear benefit that your employer received.  The advantages of this approach are that you’ll quickly gain their attention and interest them in knowing more.  You’ll separate yourself from your competitors.  You’ll also have a higher chance of being positively remembered and hired.


5) Describe your best boss and your worst boss.

With the question “Who was your best boss and who was the worst?” the interviewer is trying to discover if you assess blame or carry a grudge.

Best Answers

  • I’ve learned from each boss I’ve had.  From the good ones, what to do, from the challenging ones – what not to do.
  • Early in my career, I had a mentor who helped me a great deal, we still stay in touch.  I’ve honestly learned something from each boss I’ve had.






6 Tips for Dealing With Age Discrimination

An increasing number of laid-off employees are claiming that they were unfairly dismissed because of age.

In 2008, workers filed 24,582 complaints of age bias with theEqual Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC).  That’s up from 19,103 in 2007 and the highest level of age discrimination charges documented in records dating back 12 years.

“When economic times are bad and people are losing their jobs, there tends to be an increase in litigation activities because people are  looking for a reason to explain why it is that they are affected rather than someone else,” saysRae Vann, a partner with  Norris, Tysse, Lampley, & Lakis, which describes itself as a “management-side labor and employment law firm.”

Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, it’s illegal to discriminate against anyone age 40 or older in the workplace with  regard to hiring, layoffs, promotions, pay, and benefits.

Here’s what you should do if you think age is playing a role in your workplace woes:

Refute stereotypes

If you’re still employed and are an older worker, you should make an effort to negate stereotypes that seniors are less flexible and energetic than younger workers or that they are uncomfortable with technology. “You really need to show that you are better than your colleagues, whatever age they may be,” saysCathy Ventrell-Monsees, an employment discrimination attorney and president of Workplace Fairness, an employment rights nonprofit organization. Taking a few classes to keep yourself valuable is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.

Collect evidence

If you think you were laid off or denied a promotion unfairly because of your age, you will generally need proof. “The individual has to demonstrate that they are over age 40, performing their job in an acceptable fashion, and were replaced by a more highly paid younger employee while the older employee was let go,” saysEric Dreiband, a partner at the law firmJones Dayand former EEOC general counsel. “Typically, the proof involves statistics that demonstrate that the overall plan to lay people off tended to affect workers over age 40 disproportionately.” Collect documents that indicate you performed at least equally as other employees on the job. “Keep a record of performance evaluations and gather what evidence you can to see if you were treated differently than similarly paid workers,” says Ventrell-Monsees.

Know the time limit

An age discrimination charge must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects workers ages 40 and older who work for companies that have at least 20 employees. Some state and local laws extend the filing limit to 300 days.

Carefully consider buyout offers

Workers can be asked to waive their right to pursue age discrimination charges in exchange for a buyout, severance pay, or an early retirement incentive offer. “Oftentimes those types of agreements are accompanied by or include agreements not to sue the company for claims that could have been raised at that time,” says Vann. You may want to consult an attorney if you think you were singled out because of age. Employers are required to give workers at least 21 days to consider an offer, which increases to 45 days for a group layoff. After signing the contract, employees have seven days to revoke it. Make sure that you have a legitimate claim before passing up the cash. “If you have a court case and you don’t win, you miss out on your severance agreement,” cautionsMichael Campion, a professor of management atPurdue University. “In seven years you might get money, or you might not get any more than you did in your severance.”

Try internal routes

If you still work for the company, try voicing your concerns to your supervisor or the human resources department. “When an older worker confronts the differential treatment from the supervisors, sometimes they don’t even realize at the time that they were treating the older worker less favorably,” says Ventrell-Monsees. Sometimes you can correct the situation internally without going to court.

Think logically about your layoff

Older workers are especially vulnerable after a layoff because it generally takes them more time to find a new job. The typical   laid-off worker age 55 and over was unemployed for 28.6 weeks in July, compared with 23.4 weeks for younger workers, according to   theBureau of Laborstatistics.

“Everyone who gets let go is mad, and they all think they are getting ripped off,” says Campion. But that doesn’t necessarily mean   that you were a victim of age discrimination or that you should pursue a legal remedy.

Try to think logically about whether you have solid proof that age played a role in your layoff.   “I’m in my mid-50s, and not a day goes by when I don’t make a joke about aging,” says Campion.   “It’s funny until you lose your job and then all of sudden age is not funny.”


By: Emily Brandon

Unlocking the “Employer of Choice” Dilemma: Six Keys to Success

Deanne DeMarco

Companies around the globe are starting
to experience labor shortages and are having a difficult time retaining quality
workers. The competition for key talent is quickly becoming a battleground.

One answer lies in your organization’s
ability to have a culture where people actually want to work—in other
words, you need to become an employer of choice. Numerous studies have
discovered that corporations that are viewed as a great place to work outshine
their competitors in retaining talent, market share, behavioral success, and
bottom line.

Employers of choice have corporate
cultures where the working climate is supportive and genuinely appealing—often
referred to as a “warm climate.” Many corporate objectives state the desire to
be an “employer of choice” and delegate the sole task to the human resources
department. Unfortunately, corporate officials overlook the basic issues needed
in creating a supportive corporate culture. The result is a company with
improved benefits, which on the surface makes sense; however, good benefits
alone do not create an employer of choice.

Regrettably, many companies have cold
climates versus warm ones. And while the Baby Boomers have tolerated cold
climate organizations as “just the way it is,” Generation X workers are putting
their foot down: either the company’s climate changes or the Gen-Xers change

When given the choice, Gen-Xers want to
be a part of companies with a warm, pleasant, and supportive climate and reject
a cold, stressful, unpleasant one. They want to work for companies that display
loyalty, pride, trust, respect, strong relationships, and open communication.
When at work, they want to feel supported, included, challenged, rewarded, and
encouraged to think up new and diverse ideas. They abhor such things as
defensiveness, blame-game tactics, alienation, and managers being closed to
ideas. If you want to keep Gen-X workers on your team, you need to create an
inviting climate.

What exactly influences the company’s
working cultural climate? Two things: 1) The attitude from the top filters down
into the organization, which includes the parent organization’s political
situation and organizational systems, and 2) Effective communication and
leadership skills of managers and team leaders. That is why you may have a
company with a cold climate and a corresponding culture, but you see pockets
within that company where people think it’s a great place to work. Everyone
wants to work in a certain person’s department because that manager created a
warm climate.

But having “pockets” of warmth within
your company isn’t enough. Corporate officials must ensure a warm climate
permeates every department and touches every employee in order to retain
quality talent, improve productivity, and reap bottom line success. Following
are some suggestions to help you accomplish precisely that.

Key # 1: Be Descriptive:

When you communicate with others, describe situations without judging the right or
wrongness of something. For example, when someone comes up with an idea that
you don’t like or think won’t work, the cold and natural response is, “No.
That’ll never work.” But such a response breeds defensiveness and resentment.
To communicate warmly, a better response would be something like, “Let’s talk
more about that idea. What do you think the impact of your suggestion would be
on our sales department?”

Managers need to involve employees in
decisions and demonstrate a safe environment, even with opinions contrary to
their own. When you’re descriptive and specific, you’re encouraging a
conversation about the idea and not shooting someone down. And if the idea
really won’t work, your conversation will bring that to light in a natural and
non-confrontational way.

Key # 2: Engage Your People:

Many companies say they solve problems as a team, but in reality the manager
proposes a solution, and that’s it. No one challenges the manager, either
because they know from past experience not to, or because the manager doesn’t
ask for feedback in an open way. Rather, he or she states the solution and then
asks, “Does anyone have a problem with that?” Of course, no one raises a hand.
Employees are not actively encouraged to submit ideas, counter suggestions, or
speak honestly. Gen-Xers want to give their input and opinions. And when you
hear them out, you’ll likely have a better solution and will foster a warmer
climate in your group.

Key # 3: Collaborative Style:

When managers communicate with a pre-conceived end result or action, they make people
withdraw and create distrust. For example, a manager may gather the team
together to brainstorm a new marketing approach. The manager enters the meeting
with an idea for the new marketing message. Even though the team collaborates
and comes up with a great idea, when the final marketing piece is revealed, the
manager’s marketing message is the one featured. In this case employees will
feel manipulated. When managers act spontaneously and collaboratively without
hidden agendas and motivations, employees develop feelings of ownership, pride,
and enthusiasm for corporate goals. So always put any pre-conceived ideas aside
and let the group synergy work.

Key # 4: Take Heart:

Employees want managers who have empathy for their situation. Realize that many Gen-Xers
are marrying and having kids a decade later than the Boomers typically did. So
Gen-Xers are in the workforce in high-profile jobs, and they have the added
responsibility of a baby at home or aging parents who need their help.
Additionally, since most Gen-X families are two-income households, when a
family emergency comes up, there’s no one at home to take care of it. The
employee needs the time off. When managers convey a lack of concern or respond
to time off requests in an angry manner, they create resentment in their
employees. Remember, Gen-Xers value productivity more so than hours spent on a
job. Get assurance that their deadlines will be met (they will meet
them), and then let them attend to whatever they have to do.

Key # 5: Fairness Rules:

Fairness is a fundamental building block in creating a supportive culture; it creates
diverse thinking and ideas, and sends the message that each employee is as
important and valuable as the next. Gen-Xers want to feel that they are valued
and respected in the company. In order to make that happen, managers need to
drop any “status and favoritism” practices they may have. If your company is to
keep up with the times and stay competitive, managers need the workers’
perspective on the marketplace and their opinions on corporate products and
services. So value the ideas and opinions of employees. Seek differences in
opinion, engage in open dialogue, and recognize and support everyone’s point of

Key # 6: Be a Facilitator:

Facilitation is more than just running a meeting. It’s about asking the right questions. One
of the most powerful questions in the facilitative approach is the “what”
question, as it helps the conversation focus on discovery. “What” questions
help with identifying issues and probing for details. They also get the other
person involved with the discussion. Unfortunately, many leaders use questions
that begin with the word “why,” which often prompts defensive behavior from
others. “Why” questions are often interpreted as criticism, whether intended or
not. To avoid this, change your “why” questions to “what” questions. Instead of
asking, “Why did you do that?” ask, “What are the reasons behind your actions?”
or “What caused you to act that way?” Using a facilitative approach can help a
team solve problems, make effective decisions and improve work processes.

Reaping the Rewards:

As you make these changes to improve your corporate climate, you’ll quickly notice
a marked improvement in your workforce. Employees will be happier at work, more
productive, and eager to advance the organization’s mission and goals. And
remember, working in a warm climate isn’t just for Gen-Xers. All your employees
will feel a greater sense of job satisfaction, regardless of their age or
generation identification. In short, a warm climate may be just what your
company needs to improve profits and long-term growth.