Tom Sweeney

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Archive for August, 2015

Surviving The Personality Test

Posted by sweens on August 26, 2015

Article by:  Tara Weiss

If you thought you were done with tests once you graduated from college, you’re wrong.

Companies are increasingly giving job candidates personality tests as part of the hiring process. But they’re not trying to discern whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert. These are specific evaluations–often 200 or more questions–that attempt to get to the heart of your personality, values and the things make you successful … or not. Hiring managers say these tests more accurately predict whether a candidate will be successful instead of solely relying on a face-to-face interview. Plus, they’re standardized so everyone gets the same questions unlike in a job interview.

But don’t worry–it’s not like humans are taken out of the equation. Face-to-face interviews are used in conjunction with the personality tests. With so many seemingly qualified candidates applying for jobs this is another way to find the right one. One reason hiring managers and organizational psychologists like them is that candidates can’t charm a personality test.

Business Basics: Surviving The Personality Test

But can you cheat? Psychologists say absolutely not. The test designers can tell if a candidate is trying to give answers they think the manager wants to hear. “People have no idea what employers are looking for because with personality tests there are no right and wrong answers,” says John W. Jones, president and chief psychologist for IPAT, a company that develops personality tests.

Their recommendation for prospective employees: View it as an extension of the interview and be totally honest.

“If people try to game the system, we jokingly say the person faked their way out of a job,” says John Weiner, vice president of products and services for the testing firm, PSI.

“It’s possible to distort your answers but not possible to create profile [employers] want.”

Most personality tests are given at the same time as the first round of interviews. Glenn DeBiasi, vice president of human resources for Alex Lee, a Hickory, N.C., food holding company, has been giving them for 10 years to everyone from clerks in the grocery store to top-level executives. “Some people are better cut out for the work and the culture,” says DeBiasi. “The better we can do with fitting someone with a job and the culture here, the better it is for the company and the applicant.”

At Alex Lee, all candidates are given similar variations of the test, but what they’re looking for is different for each candidate. “To be a successful computer geek versus someone out there selling the products requires different personality traits,” says DeBiasi.

For instance, to find out about a candidates work ethic they might ask: How often have you had to give up your leisure time to work. Or: If you have plans on a Friday evening and your employer has an important deadline to meet would you cancel private plans?

Try to decipher this one: When I was a child, people thought I was really cute.

“That identifies good salespeople, because they think they’re fabulously cute,” says Robert Hogan, founder of the test design firm Hogan Assessment Systems.

Another sample question: I take a different way home from work every night

“That gets to a candidate’s creativity,” says Hogan. “The really good ones will say, yes and I feel really guilty when I don’t.”

Murray Barrick, a professor of human resources at Texas A&M University says candidates are more likely to be honest and admit their faults when they’re not dealing with a person. “It leads to more honesty when you’re sitting down with a piece of paper,” he says. “If you’re looking someone right in eye you’re not going to say, ‘I give my best 90% of the time.’ “

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How to Recover from a Car Crash Job Interview

Posted by sweens on August 26, 2015

Article by:  Sophie Deering

Had a bit of a car crash job interview?

At this point you probably wish the world would swallow you up whole, but don’t fret, it’s happened to the best of us. After all, we’re only human and unfortunately things don’t always go exactly to plan.

You may feel like you’ve blown your chances of landing the job, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. It is possible to rectify faults after an interview, but it’s important for you to weigh up whether the error is notable enough to be acknowledged or if it’s best to just move on.

In the heat of the moment it’s tempting to do some urgent damage reversal, but don’t rush into things in a fluster. Take the time to cool down, identify what went wrong and then make a plan about how you can counteract the mistakes made.

Here are a few tips for turning a bad job interview around.

1) Don’t overthink things.

Reliving every little detail of the interview over and over again in your mind isn’t going to change anything, so save yourself the torment! You’ll only make yourself panic more and chances are that some of the things you’re worrying about weren’t even picked up by the interviewer.

The exception to this is if you missed out some crucial information when answering a question and feel that it will make a significant difference to your chances of being hired. In this case there may be something you can do about it.

2) Look at the full picture.

Sure you may feel that there were isolated moments of the job interview which could have gone better, but what was the overall tone? If as a whole you feel that it actually went well, then it probably isn’t worth confronting any mistakes you made and it may even help you to look at the negatives in a more positive light. It’s easy to be self-critical under stress, but the areas you excelled in will probably outweigh your downfalls, so don’t beat yourself up.

3) Send a follow up email.

Resist the urge to apologise for any mistakes you feel you made in your interview, as this will only flag up errors that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

It’s always recommended to send a thank you email after attending a job interview, so why not kill two birds with one stone? If there’s anything that you feel strongly about sharing with your interviewer, such as relevant experience or an overlooked responsibility in a previous role, now is your chance to slip it into conversation.

Before acting, it’s important for you to assess whether the issue is really worth addressing. Is it a make or break situation? If so, you can bring it up as a bit of an endnote to your thank you email; just keep it short. The best way to spin it is that it wasn’t a mistake and rather an after thought that you felt would be relevant to add after reflecting on your conversation.

4) Learn from your mistakes.

Use all of your mistakes as a learning curve. Sometimes these blunders have to occur so that you know what to work on in future, so turn those negatives into positives! If nerves were your downfall, perhaps there are some techniques you can try to calm yourself down ahead of an interview in the future. Whereas if it was a lack of preparation that caused the problem, make sure you do all the required research ahead of your next one! A friend or family member may even be willing to help you practice. Now there’s an idea!

5) Keep calm and carry on.

A lot of the time we don’t recognise our mistakes until we reflect back at an interview once it’s over, however if you notice that you’ve slipped up while you’re still in there, it’s essential that you don’t get yourself in a flap! Remain poised and focus on answering the next question to the best of your ability. If there’s something you forgot to mention, wait until later on to bring it up as you may be able to fit it in with another question being asked. You still have the chance to turn things around, even if you think you’ve let yourself down earlier on, so don’t give up trying.

The same goes for your job search in general. Just because this particular interview didn’t go as smoothly as hoped, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to nail the next one! Put it behind you and move on. The more interviews you go for, the more confident you’ll become.

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Four Ways To Figure Out What’s Going Wrong With Your Job Search

Posted by sweens on August 25, 2015

Written By:  Elena Bajic

You’re good at what you do and have plenty of experience, but for some reason, your job search has stalled. The problem probably isn’t your background, especially if you’ve got a solid track record. More likely the problem has more to do with how you present yourself, both on paper and in person. An example of how this works can be seen with the consulting firm Deloitte . They employ about 50,000 professionals – most of them accounting, auditing and tax professionals—and they receive about 500,000 applications a year.

With high competition, every step in the application process matters; opinions are formed at every step, and each interaction is an opportunity to impress or be eliminated from the process.

With that in mind, your best bet is to diagnose the problem and hone in on what needs to change for you to get interviews and get hired. Here are four of the main reasons a job search goes south, and how you can overcome them:

  1. You can’t get a first interview.
    The problem here is your cover letter and resume. A great cover letter can set you apart, giving a glimpse into your personality and motivation for the work—things that can’t be gleaned from a resume. You cover letter should show your personal interest in the specific position for which you’re applying. If you have a special qualification or quality that would make you perfect for the job, this is the time to talk about it. One thing you don’t want to do is summarize your experience—let the resume take care of that; the cover letter is the place for information that isn’t on the resume.

As for the resume, make sure you are using it to outline your achievements, not just list your responsibilities. As much as you can, quantify what you’ve accomplished, like the percentage revenue gain or increase in productivity. The resume needs to clearly—and quickly– show your strengths right at the top, especially those that match the job for which you’re applying. Make sure you’re using key words and phrases from the job posting, to show how well you match the required skills.

2. You can’t get past the first interview.

Time to brush up on your interviewing skills. Start by making sure you research the company, the person with whom you’re interviewing and the job itself. Your confidence and ability to give smart answers to questions during the interview is based, in part, on that information.

Prepare and rehearse a two-minute elevator pitch about yourself and your experience and answers to some common interview questions.  Be very upbeat and positive during the interview, using strong eye contact and a firm handshake. Don’t ask about salary, benefits or vacation time—not at this juncture. (That comes later, when you’re close to receiving an offer.) Most important, ask insightful questions. Your interest in the company and the job will be judged by the quality of the questions you ask.

  1. You can’t get past the second round of interviews.

There’s usually one overriding reason for this: confidence. When you’re nervous or doubting yourself that shows in your body language, but you will inspire confidence in your abilities if you act confident. At Ivy Exec, our recruiters often time work with candidates, preparing them for each step of the process. If you lack confident, faking confidence with “power poses” can really help improve your performance. Try striking a power pose for a few minutes before your interview, and practice acting self confident in front of a mirror.

  1. You made it to the final rounds but didn’t get an offer letter.

During negotiations over salary and benefits remind those doing the hiring how the company stands to profit from your skills and experience. When it comes time to talk turkey, make sure you’ve done your research and that you know what your skills and experience are worth in the current market.  Remember to look at the big compensation picture—don’t focus only on the base salary. Compensation can include valuable options that aren’t related to salary, including a flexible work schedule or tuition reimbursement. And if the role you’re applying for suits your long-term career goals, that may trump your short-term financial goals.

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