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How to ace behavioural job interview questions
(1)

1) Take a blank piece of paper and write down between 10-20 examples from your education, work experience, community work, charity etc of where you added value in a positive way.

2) Now using the STAR format write out the Situation, Task, Action, Result

Example 1

"Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it."

Situation

My role as project manager was to ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget.

Task

My last role involved combining three office spaces into one. With a tight deadline of 90 and dealing with multiple contractors from different companies I knew it was going to be a struggle to complete the job in time. I set the goal of having everything completed within 80 days to give us 10 days at the end to make final corrections.

Action

By dividing all the different contractors into three main teams and having three project managers controlling the three teams I was able to create a more efficient and effective work timetable and ensure that downtime was kept to a minimum.

Result

As a result of this more efficient working time we completed the job on time and reduced costs by 15%. This new way of dividing contractors into smaller teams has now been implemented into standard work procedure and seen a reduction in overall costs.

Example 2

(Question is asked to a student or graduate)

"Tell me about a time during school when you displayed good leadership skills."

(Situation) "As a senior member of the debating team, (Task) I noticed that the team performance and moral was being deteriorated due to fighting between two members of the team. (Action) I decided to speak one on one with each individual away from the groups in order to create an environment where they could trust me and open up to me with the issues. (Result) After speaking with both individuals I was able to convince them to meet face to face and sort out the issues with me as the mediator as opposed to getting teachers involved. As a result the two individuals were able to sort out their differences, shake hands and our team was able to function again as a complete team working together.

As you can see from both examples, the key to interviewing success is simply preparing for the questions and having a mental outline to follow when responding to each question. Preparing stories or examples that illustrate how you solved the problem or how you performed in an outstanding way will help you respond to any behavioural question that comes your way.

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How to handle the telephone interview (and reach the face-to-face interview stage)

So you've found an ad for your dream job and submitted a thorough and thoughtful application. What's next?

If your application makes it through the screening round, the process of securing the job is likely to involve a series of interviews, initially on the telephone, followed by a number of in-person, face-to-face meetings. Many people underestimate the importance of the initial telephone conversation: the recruiter's goal is to determine your suitability for the role, so if you don't make a great first impression, you're unlikely to proceed to the next round of interviews.

Most of the time, you'll receive a phone call from the advertiser (this could be a Recruitment Consultant or someone from the company's HR/Recruitment team). There's usually no warning of the call, so be prepared to shift into interview mode quickly. If you happen to miss the call, it is common courtesy to return the call promptly (which is also likely to help your application).

While the phone interview is relatively informal, this is still an interview. A few points to consider:

1. Be proactive. You could consider contacting the advertiser proactively - either from the details in the advertisement or through your own research into the company. This leaves no doubt about how keen you are about the role. Not all advertisers encourage this approach, particularly for roles which are likely to attract a large volume of applicants. Be prepared to be told to apply online and don't be overly pushy if this is the case.

2. Don't rush. You won't be judged for taking the time to consider the question and answer it properly. Stay calm, composed and think your answers through. If you've reached this stage, it means the recruiter genuinely wants to understand who you are and discover why you're suitable for the role. This means that even if you have a lot to say, the recruiter is unlikely to hang up on you and you don't need to worry that you're wasting their time.

3. Be direct in your answers. Being cagey or not giving the full answer doesn't help your cause. Remember that you are competing with other candidates and will likely to be asked the same questions as they are. Listen carefully for clues about whether your answer is on the right track. For example, if the recruiter needs more detail or is confused about your response, she may try to ask the same question in a different way.

4. Listen. As the saying goes: "You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice more than you speak."

The conclusion of the call will usually be close when the questions end, and either a description of the role or being asked if you have any questions comes up. Simply enquiring about the next stage or a couple of questions about the role itself (team size, how this position fits into the team, etc.) will also be a good way for the interviewer to determine how keen you are and serve to leave them with a good impression. Both of which are key in hopefully securing your first stage interview.

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Should I have an objective statement on my resume? Are there other ways to make my resume stand out from the crowd?

Replacing the Objective Statement with a Qualifications Profile on your resume

Does your current resume begin with a generic objective statement telling the reader what type of jobs you are looking for? Let me guess that it reads something similar to this:

"I am seeking the opportunity to expand my skills, knowledge and experience in a challenging professional environment. I am honest, reliable, eager to learn and open to tackling a range of tasks. I am a strong and empathetic team player and always complete tasks to a high degree of quality and to deadlines"

If this is how your resume begins, it's time to make changes. In the competitive job environment where hiring managers may receive upwards of 500 applications for a single position, an objective statement is more likely going to lead to your resume being deleted. From a hiring manager's perspective, they are not interested in a non-specific, all-purpose statement that adds no value to the resume and provides them with no reason to want to hire you. You may have the best skills and be the perfect fit for the job however, you may never get this opportunity because your resume has already been deleted.

What is a Qualifications Profile?

A great way to introduce yourself on your resume is by creating a qualifications summary or career summary. Rather than telling the reader you are seeking an opportunity to expand your skills, rather promote what skills you actually can bring to this specific role. A targeted resume including a targeted profile will encourage the reader to continue reading the resume as opposed to pressing the delete button. For example, if you are applying for an IT job that requires programming skills, list you're programming skills within your introductory profile. That way, the reader will straight away be interested to read on as they know that you have skills that are required for this position.

How long should my Qualifications Profile be?

The last thing you want to do is turn your qualifications profile into an essay! Statistically, a hiring manager will only spend between 15 to 20 seconds when initially reading your resume. If they open your resume and see a half page profile they are more likely to be turned off as they won't be bothered to read all this information. A well written profile should be no longer than 2-4 sentences. It needs to be targeted and present value.

Final thought:

When you begin to write your new resume, don't forget the number one rule. Your resume is a marketing document. The more you can showcase your skills and achievements the greater chance you will have of being selected for the interview stage.

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