Monthly Archives: May 2015

Instagram May Hold the Key to Interview Success

Posted: May 28, 2015 at 9:12 pm

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It used to be the case that everybody flocked to Facebook to post everything from where they went on vacation to what they ate for lunch. While that’s still the case for many, there’s no question that the social action these days has moved over to Instagram. In fact, Instagram is so popular most companies have a profile these days – and so do their employees. That makes this social messaging app a fantastic way to research a company, and the executives you might meet at a job interview.

Here’s how to use Instagram to wow the company you’d like to work at, and elbow out the competition.

Find out if the company has an Instagram account. This one is easy! All you need to do is Google the company’s name and Instagram. For example, I’m a big fan of the women’s lifestyle website Pure Wow. Type in Purewow Instagram into the Google search bar, and wah-lah! It’s the first search result. Of course, it’s a possibility that the company you’re researching doesn’t have a profile. If that’s the case, you’re not out of luck. Read on!

Find out if the company’s employees are on Instagram. Head over to LinkedIn, or the company’s About Us page to find the name of some key employees. That might be the chief executive, or people who work in the department you’d like to be part of in the future. After that, it’s the same drill as above. Head over to Google, enter the employee’s name and Instagram. It should bring up their account right away if they have one. Assuming their account is public, scroll through to see if they’ve snapped any photos of themselves at the office or on a corporate outing. Just remember to keep your hands off the heart button, particularly if it’s deep in their archive. That can be…a little weird.

Check to see if the company’s office location carries a geotag. If it does, that means you can check out all the photos taken at that location. It’s likely that those photos will tell a really unique story about the company, and the people that work there.

Look for a company hashtag #. It’s very common for employees to tag their work related photos with a company name. As is the case with a geotag, you’ll probably find great images of everything from the office to corporate events. However, you may also find the photo stream filled with images posted by fans if the company is also a very popular brand. While scrolling through fan photos may be a bit of a slog, those Instagram posts may provide an interesting point of conversation as well. That’s particularly true if social media is key to their marketing strategy, and a point of pride at the company.

How To Use Your Intel! After spending so much time looking at other people’s photos, you would probably like to know the best way to use that information to your advantage during an interview. You may not be aware that two of the most common (and important) interview questions are What do you know about the company? and Why do you want to work here? Recruiters will inevitably be confronted by a sea of candidates serving up boilerplate answers. However, you’re now in a position to wow them with your attention to detail and enthusiasm. If you discovered that they host monthly employee parties, let them know you think the company culture is great. If they have philanthropic initiatives, flatter them by expressing your admiration and support. You get the idea!

When heading into an interview, it’s always a confidence builder to feel prepared. And if it’s a job that you really want to land,  you should always go the extra mile. There’s no questions that this is one fantastic way to impress, and leave the other job candidates in the dust.

 

The 10 Most Common Interview Questions

Posted: May 15, 2015 at 8:41 pm

interviewMost job seekers have had the experience of sweating through at least one difficult interview. Recruiters can take great pride in turning up the heat with unexpected inquiries. For example, Google is notorious for popping questions like How many cows are in Canada?  No matter how unique a job interview might be (and the job interviews at Google are certainly that!), it is much more common to encounter interview questions that get asked over and over again. While these questions may seem simple or obvious, it’s easy to bungle them if you fail to prepare. We’ve listed ten of the most common asked questions below so you can avoid potential pitfalls, and impress your recruiter.

1. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? Keep it short and sweet. The company has already reviewed your resume and credentials. That’s why you’re sitting in their office! Highlight a few key accomplishments or experiences that position you well for the available job, and try to keep it under three minutes.

2. What do you know about the company? Make sure you’ve researched the company and their mission thoroughly, and convey your enthusiasm for both when responding.  A failure to do so demonstrates an absolute lack of preparation (laziness!!!!), and a lack of interest in the company. Your recruiter should be crystal clear that there’s nothing more you would like than to work for them.

3. Why do you want this job? It might be true that you need a job, any job. However, the person interviewing you doesn’t need to know that. A smart job candidate will convey why they’re a perfect fit for this specific job with enthusiasm!

4. Why should we hire you? Your prospective employer is basically asking you to sell yourself, so do it. Let them know you have the skills, that you have a proven track record of delivering results, and that you’re superior to any other candidates under consideration.

5. What’s your greatest strength? Pick a professional quality that is most relevant and specific to the available job. If possible, back it up with an example at work that allows you to really shine.

6. What do you consider to be your weaknesses? Tread carefully in these waters. You don’t want to come across as completely obtuse (No weaknesses here!), but you don’t want to name a weakness that will cost you the job (I have a terrible time completing projects!). Pick something fairly benign like a skill that might be rusty from infrequent use, and assure them that you’ll actively work to improve that weakness.

7. What other companies are you interviewing with? If you’re interviewing with other companies in the space, let them know. Frankly, it makes you look like a more attractive prospect. If not, keep it vague. Let them know you have resumes or interviews pending without naming names.

8. Why was there a gap in your employment? Don’t panic if you’ve been laid off, or even fired. Let them know that you were let go, but segue into what you’ve been up to in the interim. If you volunteered, that experience is a fantastic thing to share with a potential employer. If you just needed a break, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Let them know you took time to rest and recharge, but now you’re ready to get back to work!

9. How much do you want to be paid? If at all possible, give them a range rather than a specific number. This gives your hiring manager something to work with, and you haven’t priced yourself out of a job.

10. Do you have any questions for us? First and foremost, this is a great opportunity to discover whether this job and company actually is right for you. Additionally, the nature of your questions can signal the seriousness of your intent to a hiring manager. Inquire about new products, or company growth for example. Be curious, be engaged, and be relevant – and you’re sure to impress.

6 Tips To Paying Off Student Loan Debt

Posted: May 8, 2015 at 11:02 am

When students enter the hallowed halls of higher education, they’re usually too young to understand how much that education costs and what it’s going to take to pay it back. Most graduates will be paying off their loans for years after school has become a distant memory. However, you may be able to get the student loan debt paid off earlier if you’re organized, aggressive, and willing to sacrifice in the short term to be free of debt in the long term. Here are six tips to help get you started.

  1. Know How Much You Owe. Student loans can be a lot like medical bills. You’re never quite sure how much you owe until the letter arrives in the mail. If the grand total takes you by surprise, then at least take comfort that you’re in good company. Graduating students frequently discover they owe thousands more than expected.
  2. Get Organized. After figuring out how much you owe (and to whom), set up documentation. Keep track of the lender, balance, and repayment status for each of your student loans. It’s much easier to attack those balances when you can see them clearly laid out.
  3. Don’t Miss Payments. We know what you’re thinking – Thanks Captain Obvious! However, it’s easy to lose track of what needs to be paid if you have multiple loans. Details such as grace periods can vary loan to loan, and one missed payment can have a disastrous impact on your balance.  Consider setting alerts in your personal calendar so those monthly payments go out on time.
  4. Keep Your Contact Information Current. Most students are on the move after graduation. Jobs, relationships, or the desire to travel may mean more than one change of address. It’s absolutely critical to keep your lenders in the loop so documentation regarding your loans doesn’t get lost in the mail.  Late fees can accrue, and your accounts can easily wind up in credit and collections because you failed to have your mail forwarded properly. The loans don’t go away just because you didn’t open the envelope, although wouldn’t it be fantastic if they did!
  5. Select the right repayment option. Lower monthly payments might seem more appealing, but you could be shelling out a lot more in interest over the life of your loan. Keep that in mind before you sign on the dotted line.
  6. Pay early if you can. If your salary allows you to pay more than the minimum, then start by targeting the loan with the highest interest rate first. As you pay off each loan, reward yourself to stay motivated before moving on to the others. It’s hard to maintain a plan of attack if you’re constantly feeling deprived.

Of course, you can begin an aggressive repayment plan with the best of intentions – but life happens to everybody. If you’re confronted with an illness or unemployment, there’s no need to go into a tailspin. There are options such as deferment where you can delay payment of the principal and interest of your loan, and forbearance where you can stop making payments or reduce your monthly payments for up to a year.

Best Time of Day for a Job Interview

Posted: May 1, 2015 at 12:36 pm

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There seems to be a lot of chit-chat online about the best time of day for a job interview. Don’t be first! Don’t be in the middle! Don’t be last!  Uh, okay, guys. That was helpful.The only real argument in favor of a specific time comes from Psychology Today. If an interviewer sees too many strong candidates in a row early on, they may dock the rating of another candidate later in the day simply because they’re concerned about handing out too many high ratings. Simply put, it’s better to be interviewed in the morning. However, the reality is that job seekers typically have little control over the time of their interviews. If you’re lucky enough to have a choice, then here are the pros and cons of interviewing at each time of day.

Early Morning Pros

  • Assuming that everybody’s had their coffee, the morning tends to be when energy levels are highest on both sides of the interviewing table.
  • If you have multiple appointments or other obligations on the same day, it’s unlikely you’ll experience delays.
  • Those who interview first thing in the morning may benefit from a slight ranking advantage.

Early Morning Con

  • Meeting with an executive instead of HR? High level executives may have a lot on their plate for the day, even if they’ve attempted to carve out time just for your interview. You might be rushed through your interview so they can get to work.

Late Morning Interview Pros

  • At this time, most people have settled in for the day. Executives have probably cleared their desk in preparation for your interview, and the odds are good that you have their full attention.
  • Strong candidates may have the benefit of extra time as the interviewer has the opportunity to extend your meeting into their lunch hour.

Late Morning Interview Cons

  • As the day marches on, it increases the likelihood that your time with an interviewer will be interrupted.
  • The executive conducting the job interview might become distracted by hunger, or need to cut your interview short for a lunch meeting.

Afternoon Pros

  • You have more time to prepare for the meeting.
  • Hunger and distractibility is unlikely to be an issue.
  • The last candidate interviewed is the one who will be fresh in the interviewer’s mind at the end of the day. That may confer a slight advantage over other job candidates.

Afternoon Cons

  • Both you and the interviewer might be tired at the end of a long day.
  • It’s possible an earlier candidate stole the show before you got there.

What about the best day of the week?

  • If you have the opportunity to pick and choose, try your best to lock down a meeting on a Tuesday.
  • Steer clear of Mondays and Fridays, and any dates that wrap around a holiday break.

Ultimately, fretting over the day and time of your interview is splitting hairs.  Your job experience and performance during the interview will determine whether or not you land the job, and that is pretty much that!

Looking for more guidance on your job search? Check out MyJobHelper for job search advice, tips and exclusive research.