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Posted July 16, 2016 by

10 most tricky HR questions for students

Interview photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

You know what the problem is when you graduate and start the interviewing process? You have perhaps half a dozen, perhaps twice that number of interviews under your belt. The people sitting there behind those big desks staring at you steely-eyed? They have done hundreds. That means they know the tricks, they know the strategies, and they know how to make you stumble. If you want to stand a chance at beating them at their own game, you have to be prepared.

Why should I hire you?

This one catches people a lot. They are afraid they will either come across as too arrogant or that they will not push themselves enough. The thing is that is not really what the question is about, and both those traps can be easily avoided if you realize that.

This is not about you telling them how amazing you are. This is about you showing how much you know about them (which is everybody’s favorite topic). So show them that you know what the position entails and what skills will be required. After you have done that you can modestly admit that you have those skills (preferably with a few examples of where you’ve used those skills as showing is always better than telling).

Why is there a gap in your work history?

You have been unemployed for six months because you needed some time to chill out and get your priorities sorted. Or you spent some time living on a beach seeing if it is really true your skin turns green when you drink too many mojitos. Or you lived in your parents’ basements and played video games. Fantastic! You do not necessarily want to tell them that though.

Instead, talk about how you used that time to make yourself a better person. Talk about freelancing work you did, social outreach, or how you spent your time searching for the perfect job (which is obviously the one you are interviewing for right now). Put a positive spin on things by showing how much you grew as a person.

You have been fired from your last job. How did it make you feel?

You have to demonstrate that you can take a blow without becoming either angry or resentful. So even if you are, burry that deep and instead tell them about how you used this as an opportunity to improve yourself so that nothing like this can ever happen to you again.

What is your biggest weakness?

A nasty question! There is no doubt about it. You better prepare to meet this one every so often, because a lot of HR managers have this one in their repertoire and like to throw it out there to see how you react.

The right way to go is to remember that strengths and weaknesses can be different sides of the same coin. So if you have a weakness, admit it and then explain to them how in some situations it can be a strength. Alternatively, take your greatest strength and admit when it might actually be a weakness. That way you show you understand yourself.

Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?

This one is as much to see how you handle being put on the spot as to see if you will be honest. Remember, everybody is bound to have bad experiences occasionally. We are all human. So they are not going to believe you when you say ‘no, never.’ Instead think of something that did go wrong then admit that it was at least partially your fault and explain how you learned from it and how you will be better next time. That shows both humility and wisdom.

Do not bag on your previous employer! That will raise all sorts of red flags. Yes, it they might be bad people, but this person sitting opposite you will not have a better impression of you if you decide to tell them that.

Frustrated businesswoman screaming photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Tell about a day when you messed up at work

Another one of those situations where you have to be honest and admit you have done something wrong. After all, nobody is perfect, and if you are not willing to admit you have screwed up you can wave the job you are interviewing for good-bye. Just like with the last question the trick here is to show what you have learned.

How would you deliver bad news to a colleague?

Here is your opportunity to demonstrate empathy and your ability to deal with a stressful situation in a grownup manner. So do not suggest you would send them a text or first let everybody in the office know so that you can all have a laugh. Instead, show them how diplomatic you are.

Will you be out to take my job?

Okay, here you can lie. ‘No’ is the correct answer. ‘I doubt I could do it as well as you’ is a good follow up.

How did you prepare for this interview?

Here is where you demonstrate that you care enough about the job to actually have researched the position (you did research the position didn’t you?). So tell them how you went to the website and read this that and the other. Here you get to show off some of the things you learned, including talking a little bit about the industry as well as what their company specifically does.

Where would you really like to work?

‘Here’ is the right answer. Now you can be a bit honest and suggest that you want to ultimately move into another area in the company, but whatever you do, do not say another company name! That is a fantastic way to close the door on any opportunity to work there.

Last words

The most important thing to remember is that there will be other interviews and however many ‘no’s you get you only want one ‘yes’, so don’t get too stressed out. You will get there in the end. After that, you will have to go through the hard work of keeping the job. That is not exactly easy either, but at this moment, that probably feels more like a ‘wish I had that problem’ problem.

Need more interview tips? Visit our blog and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Dante Munnis, guest writer

Dante Munnis, guest writer

Dante Munnis is a blogger and idea maker from Stockholm who is interested in self-development, web related topics, and success issues. He shares ideas for students living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance, you can get in touch with Dante via Twitter.

 

Posted June 25, 2016 by

The #1 student job search mistake

As an Associate Career Services Director for the University of Michigan and the CEO of Break into Tech, I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of students during the job search while trying to launch their careers. And it’s an area I’m particularly proud to support, having leveraged my own student experience to land roles at Apple, LinkedIn, and startups.

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

But the one thing that shocks me time and again is that 95% of students make the same mistake when it comes to landing a job. And no, it’s not a bad resume, or a poorly written cover letter or even weak interview skills. Instead, it’s that most basic trait:

Humility.

Yes, humility.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Huh? How hard could it be to act humble?”

But here’s the real deal. That same confidence is a handicap. Because it blinds students to just how hard it is to stay humble in a world where everyone always has to be on, to constantly present their best self.

As evidence, allow me to submit my experience as a Michigan alum working at LinkedIn:

  • Every single day during application season, I’d received at least one email from a current student who wanted to work in Silicon Valley
  • Usually, those emails started out: “Dear Jeremy, I’m XXX and I’d really like to work at LinkedIn…”
  • Eventually I’d get on the phone with these students, and they’d spend the first 15 minutes of the call telling me about themselves, and the last 15 minutes asking me if I could help them get a job.
  • Then, I’d never hear from them again.

On the other hand, about 2-3 times a year, the sequence would go very differently:

  • I’d get an email from a student well before application season that said: “Dear Jeremy, As a a Michigan student, I was so excited to come across your profile today. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was to find someone who’s walked your path. I know you must be really busy, but would you ever have a few minutes to share your story with me?”
  • When I got on the phone with them, we’d spend 15 minutes talking about my experience, followed by 15 minutes of them asking me for my advice about really tricky career questions.
  • Then they’d follow-up the next month to wish me a happy holiday or update me on campus. And they’d continue to do that each month with cool articles they found or little tidbits of school news.
  • Then, only when application season finally rolled around, would they ever ask for support during the application process.

And sure enough, about 2-3 times a year, I’d write an internal recommendation for a student, basically guaranteeing them an interview.

Now, any guesses which students I went to bat for?

Hopefully that illuminates two things about the job search:

BUT

  • You’ve got to network in the right way – the humble way.

Which means no:

  • Waiting until application season to reach out – you need to build relationships in advance; not at the last second.
  • Focusing all the attention on yourself – you need to build a real relationship; not just a transaction.
  • One shot networking – you need to build a relationship over time, not in a single phone call. This aids your job search.

So consider yourself warned. Yes, humility is critical to your job search success. But don’t assume it’s going to be easy. Instead, make it a priority and work hard at it. And then you can avoid the biggest mistake that’s trapped so many others!

Jeremy Schifeling, CEO of Break Into Tech

Jeremy Schifeling, CEO of Break Into Tech

Need more help networking and figuring out how to build great relationships on your way to finding a great entry-level job? College Recruiter can help. Keep reading our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Jeremy Schifeling is the Founder + Chief Nerd at Break into Tech, a site for anyone who wants to land an awesome tech job, no matter their background. Get a free guide to the seven ultimate secrets that took Jeremy from school to Silicon Valley!

Posted August 05, 2015 by

Create a Cover Letter That “Does You Proud”

Jimmy Sweeney

Jimmy Sweeney, President of CareerJimmy

Rhonda sat down at her desk to draft a cover letter for a job she really wanted—director of a preschool. She had recently completed the training for Preschool Director Certification and had five years of experience working in two different schools as a teacher. Now she was eager to move into a position with more responsibility and opportunity.

She stared at a picture of her grandfather on her desk. He had died just months before but his words still rang true for her. He was someone she looked up to all her life. In fact, his influence prompted her to work with young children so she could pass on to others the love and care she’d received from him.

“You’ve done me proud,” he’d said with a big smile when she received her credential. (more…)

Posted August 03, 2015 by

Six Ways You Can Increase Your Chances Of Getting Your Dream Job

Green road sign with a blue sky gradient background.

Green road sign with a blue sky gradient background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Getting your dream job, whether it’s being a software developer for Apple or a sketch artist for Disney, can be difficult these days, considering the economic realities the world faces. Nonetheless, you can increase your chances of getting your desired career position with these six simple, but powerful methods. (more…)

Posted February 06, 2015 by

Write a CAN DO Cover Letter!

Jimmy Sweeney

Jimmy Sweeney, President of CareerJimmy

During tough economic times job interviews are difficult to land, and some of them more so than others depending on the industry that interests you. Your cover letter must show who you are as a person, as well as a professional. Be sure to add examples and statements that communicate clearly that you’re someone who is eager to work hard, meet expectations, help advance the company’s bottom line, get along with colleagues, and promote harmony wherever you are.

I call this a CAN DO cover letter because it lets the employer know that you can do the work required of the position he or she wants to fill. (more…)

Posted January 01, 2015 by

Out With The Old, In With A New… Cover Letter!

Jimmy Sweeney

Jimmy Sweeney, President of CareerJimmy

Say good-bye to the old and hello to the new! There’s something special about a bright new beginning, an opportunity to start fresh. And there’s no time like the present––January 2015––to create a cover letter that will lead you to the job you’ve only thought about.

You’re not the only one eager to start over. Employers want to pair qualified job seekers with quality jobs. Help them look good and help yourself at the same time by creating a job search cover letter that will place you front and center. How can you do that? By following the proven strategy outlined below. (more…)

Posted October 29, 2014 by

8 Qualities That Make You The “Great White” of Leadership

Great white shark, South Africa

Great white shark, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The workplace today is nothing like how it used to be 10 or 15 years ago. There have been a humongous amount of changes in the market, not to forget the demands at the workplace that have changed drastically as well. One has to handle the complex environment, manage and lead the team in the right direction using different techniques and strategies that were not common before. While there is a variety of leadership qualities and styles, the most successful leaders share some specific traits. Following is a list of 8 highly effective traits that make you stand out as a leader: (more…)

Posted August 20, 2014 by

Recent Graduate, Don’t Believe You’re Entitled When Searching for Jobs

It is a mistake for any recent graduate searching for jobs to think he or she is entitled to employment opportunities.  In the following post, learn job seeker types that are not attractive to employers.

We all know people who feel entitled. This is especially true of recruiters. We meet them at networking events and meet-ups. We listen to their stories; we hear all about their unsuccessful job search efforts. We empathize. We want to help…

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Posted May 05, 2014 by

Applying for Recent College Graduate Jobs? Cover Letter Tips to Create the Right First Impression

If you want to create a good first impression when applying for recent college graduate jobs, writing a cover letter is a good idea.  The following post has cover letter tips to help you achieve this goal.

Writing a cover letter for your dream job, but don’t know where to start? It’s a common problem. Many people are so intimidated by having to write a cover letter they skip it completely — which can be a mistake: It’s your first opportunity to make a stellar impression with anything but your resume, which can be

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Posted April 23, 2014 by

Will GPA Matter When Applying for Jobs for Recent College Graduates?

Making good grades is emphasized in college, but how much will GPA matter when the time comes to apply for jobs for recent college graduates?  Find out in the following post.

You have permission to put down the books, stop cramming for that test and go out with your friends. According to Google, your GPA can wait. (Click here to tweet this thought.) That’s right, in a recent article on the NY Times, Lazlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, revealed that: GPAs

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