Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Interviews

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to job interview.

From Standard to Stand-Out

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Turning “Good” Interview Responses into “Great” Ones

From Standard to Stand-Out -- Turning "Good" Interview Responses into "Great" OnesAs a professional recruiter, I am often struck by how many job seekers answer common interview questions in the exact same way.  Technically, there is nothing wrong with giving an “OK” answer that 4 out of every 5 people will give.  It’s safe.  But for the job you WANT, your response to every question should help you Stand-Out and offer the hiring manager a taste of your ‘unique value proposition’.

Here’s an example of a common question that you can turn from a Standard response into one that Stands-Out!

The Situation: You are asked by the Hiring Manger to describe your experience with a tool / skill you do not have.  How do you tackle this?

The Standard Response: “It’s not hard… I can learn it.”

Consider this:

  • “I can learn it” is a nice sentiment, but you’re asking the hiring manager to essentially ‘take your word for it’ with no facts, figures, or scenarios to provide them context. “Trust me” isn’t a strong value proposition.  Give the hiring manager a map of how you’ve handled a similar challenge in the past and come out on top!
  • The skill is clearly a pain-point, or the hiring manager wouldn’t be asking about it. Sometime, somewhere, this manager had a bad experience with someone lacking this skill.  A Stand-Out response will acknowledge the skill as an important one, and offer a ‘sell-message’ outlining your past success learning new skills.

How does this help you stand out from other candidates who can also ‘learn it’, or worse, those that “have” it!  Here is a better way!

The Stand-Out Response: “I can see why that is important to you.  I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with that exact version; however, as an Analyst at XYZ Company, I was faced with learning a similar tool with very little ramp-up time.  I reviewed training on my own time, collaborated with co-workers, and attended industry events to come up-to-speed and producing with the tool within 4 weeks.  Before leaving that company, I even had the opportunity to train new users on it.  Would that approach work in your environment, Ms. Hiring Manager?”

Here’s the framework:

  • Acknowledge the need is an important one
  • Provide a specific time and place where you learned/used a very similar skillset
  • Outline how you used your own initiative to learn it
  • Outline the success you had in learning it
  • Get the hiring manager’s acknowledgement that your approach would work in their environment.

That’s a response that a Hiring Manager can take to their boss or HR to argue in favor of hiring YOU over someone who has the skill.

Do you have an interview question that you’d like a recruiter’s perspective on?  Add a comment – we would love to take your response from “standard” to “stand-out”!

10 Reasons to Take a Face-to-Face Interview with a Recruiter

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

10 Reasons to Take a Face-to-Face Interview with a RecruiterA recruiter asks you to come in for an interview but you have so much on the go. What do you do? Should you blow them off? After all, you’ve already sent over a resume and had talked to them over the phone about what kind of work you want. What more could a face-to-face interview possibly do for you?

Face-to-face interviews with recruiters are more than you may think! Here are 10 reasons to take that interview and increase your chance of getting the next job you’ve been wanting.

  1. Your Recruiter Will Remember You in the Future. Science shows that we remember faces far easier than we remember emails.  🙂
  2. Face-to-Face is Second-to-None. There is simply no technological replacement for face-to-face interaction… including Skype/video interviews!
  3. Get Across What Your Resume Can’t. Communication is over 90% non-verbal.
  4. Your Recruiter Will Better Understand You. Inevitably an unknown skill or strength of yours is going to come out in a face-to-face meeting.
  5. It Will Help Your Recruiter Sell You. Recruiters are not only interviewing you, but also working to provide the strongest presentation of your skills and attributes to the end client. You have a mutual objective.
  6. Its great practice! In today’s business market, IT skills are not enough.  We should use every opportunity available to hone communication and networking skills.
  7. It’s Efficient. Relationships are built more quickly, strongly and efficiently in face-to-face meetings. Recent surveys have shown that it takes five Skype/video meetings to equal one face-to-face meeting.  It’s a safe leap to surmise that the number of emails required to do the same would be incredibly high, and very likely still not reach anywhere near the same level of rapport.
  8. Build Trust. Face-to-face meetings foster a greater sense of trust and commitment to honesty. People are able to “dehumanize” written email communication.  Most people are committed to doing right by others, face-to-face meetings foster relationships which allow for the humanization of the communication, therefore resulting in more people doing the “right thing”.
  9. You will learn something valuable. It is almost impossible for two professionals to communicate without learning something. Recruiter and contractor meetings/interviews offer a great opportunity for each to learn about the others profession and craft.  We are working together in the end!
  10. Meeting with people is FUN! Approach these sessions positively and with enthusiasm and hopefully it will be remembered as a very positive experience.

Communication is Key for a Successful Job Interview

Making the Most of That One Big Chance to Make a Lasting First Impression

This guest post was provided by the good folks at Effortless English

Making the Most of That One Big Chance to Make a Lasting First ImpressionThere is a good chance that you have had at least one job interview, and probably more than that, where you review your performance and feel frustrated that you could have given some better answers to the questions put to you.

Trying to anticipate the sort of questions you are going to be asked will help you to prepare for the process and stop you from freezing in the headlights when you get thrown a curve ball question.

Rise above the crowd

Of course, it is not just about rehearsing some carefully crafted stock answers to certain questions, as your interviewer will probably have come across these responses many times before. To get the job or even be considered for the job, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd and make it easy for your interviewer to remember you and mark you down as a potential candidate for filling the role.

As this resource demonstrates, the mindset that you need to adopt is that you are not applying for a job as such, but selling yourself in the style of sales presentation. Your pitch might well amount to the same thing as submitting your application for a position, but the mindset and approach are different.

If you are trying to perfect your English and want to come across as grammatically correct as possible, the fundamental point being put across by the Effortless English service in the link above, is that to present yourself in the best possible light, it is not a case of sitting down and laboriously going through a set of rigid grammar rules, it is much more a case of learning to think English grammar.

There is a difference between the two learning methods, and that can definitely come across in a much more personable way when you are sat across the table from an interviewer, and trying to sell yourself as the best candidate they have seen.

Good listening skills are essential

The art of listening is also often grossly underestimated when it comes to coming across as a strong candidate.

Some consider listening to be one of the most important communication skills that you can possess, and it could be argued that one of the most powerful ways to make a meaningful connection with another person, is to listen.

This is an attribute that can serve you well in an interview process. Yes, you are expected to do a lot of speaking and provide convincing answers when being interviewed for a job, but just as important is knowing when to stop and listen to what is being said to you and what is specifically being asked.

Listening doesn’t just mean interpreting the words being spoken. It also means non-verbal as well as verbal communication skills.

Your ability to listen successfully hinges greatly on the extent to which you are able to accurately perceive and understand the verbal and nonverbal messages being portrayed to you in the interview process.

Many companies put a lot of emphasis on good communication skills, and if you are able to demonstrate this ability in abundance during your interview, by the way you speak, listen and present yourself, you will be increasing the odds of getting the call to say the job is yours.

Top 10 Job Interview Tips (Video)

Even the most seasoned independent contractors can polish up their job interview skills. The problem is, you’ve heard all of the same tips by now. Boring advice such as “Be prepared”, “Stay positive,” and “Demonstrate your accomplishments” may not be cutting it. Instead, you need to differentiate yourself. Thankfully, Michael Spicer from BBC Three created this light hearted, fun video of job interview tips you haven’t heard. (Note: Please don’t actually consider these suggestions with interviewing at Eagle.)

Even the Best Recruiters Aren’t Always Technical

How to Deal with Recruiters Who Have No Clue What They’re Talking About

How to Deal with Recruiters Who Have No Clue What They're Talking AboutGreat recruiters at staffing agencies are pretty awesome. They find opportunities that fit your skillset, coach you through the application process and can provide helpful knowledge about a client to increase your odds of winning a contract. As great as they are, though, they sometimes won’t know or understand every detail of the role for which they’re interviewing you, nor will they be completely versed in your technology. After all, if they were that capable, they’d be applying to same positions as you! Even when interviewing with a client, you may end up in a situation where the hiring manager doesn’t know exactly what they’re talking about. As former Ford executive Lee Iacocca once said, “I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.”

Independent contractors need to be prepared for these situations. Interviewers without proficient understanding of your role may ask questions that don’t make sense or use improper terminology, but you need to refrain from being discouraged or rude. Instead, when you recognize you’re meeting with somebody lacking technical knowledge, take a step back and consider some of these tips:

  • Figure out what they’re looking for. Depending on the stage they’re at in the recruiting process, recruiters may not even care too much about your technical knowledge. Especially in your first meeting with a new employment agency, the goal may simply be to determine if you’re an ethical independent contractor and to understand how you would fit in with their clients.
  • Focus on what’s happening in the moment. As already mentioned, don’t let yourself get discouraged about an interviewer who doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about. Stay in the moment and put 100% of your attention into the questions they are asking. (see the previous point)
  • Tell good stories and brag about yourself. Even though the interviewer may not understand everything you tell them, continue to take the opportunity to talk about your experience and outline your accomplishments. Your goal here is not only to demonstrate your range of knowledge, but also let the recruiter see the enthusiasm you have for your job.
  • Don’t overdo the bragging. While you do need to demonstrate your expertise and experience, over-explaining experience using complex terminology to somebody you know doesn’t understand is going to make you appear as arrogant, not helpful. Know where to draw the line and when to stop.
  • Volunteer some information. Again, without coming across as arrogant, feel free to add new details to the interview. As a technology professional, you’ve been to many interviews for IT roles and know the common questions. If something hasn’t been asked, weave it into your answer or volunteer it at the end of your job interview. You can also include it in your follow-up email.
  • Help them learn. Like every good professional, your recruiter wants to learn and get better their job. This is a fantastic opportunity for an independent contractor to add value and build a relationship within a staffing agency. During the interview, provide them with a little bit more knowledge that will help them with future interviews. This could be explaining a technology in a bit more depth or just passing on a resource where they can seek more information in their own time.

There is no arguing that a recruiter, hiring manager, or whoever else is interviewing you for a specific contract, better have a solid understanding of the project and specific tasks that will be required of you. There is not, however, a need for them to know the ins and outs of your role — that’s why they’re seeking the subject matter expertise of an independent contractor.

Have you been interviewed by a recruiter who wasn’t sure what they were talking about? How did you handle it? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Do Your Part to Have a Successful Job Interview

Every recruiter here at Eagle has a story of an interview gone wrong. We’re confident that recruiters at every other employment agency and within any other company’s HR department have a few of their own horror stories as well. Vice-versa, most job seekers and independent contractors also have stories of their own where they messed up a job interview or client meeting.

Bad interviews happen no matter who you are, but the good news is there are many techniques and skills you can learn to minimize these occurrences. Sure, a bad interviewer or shabby recruiter could play a big role in the disastrous meeting, but following the job interview tips provided in this infographic from Company Folders will at least ensure that you’ve done your part.

Graphic Design Interview Tips
Learn More Graphic Design Interview Tips

What to Do When You Miss Your Job Interview?

This post by Joe Issid was originally published on the Monster Career Advice Blog

miss-your-interviewI’m sure we’ve all had some version of the same nightmare: you wake up disastrously late for an important meeting but, try as you will, you simply cannot get your legs moving fast enough to get you there on time. I must have had dozens of these dreams while I was a nervous student around exam time. Fortunately, as an adult, these types of fear-inducing events happen with far less frequency. Having said that, there are few meetings that are as crucial to your future prosperity as a job interview, which can certainly leave the best of us feeling anxious. So, it should stand to reason that all efforts are made to show up prepared and on time.

But, unfortunately, sometimes the universe conspires against you and forces you to unexpectedly and inexplicably miss the interview without providing any advance notice. If this nightmare scenario has befallen you, don’t fret too much. Here are some ways to help you recover.

Gather yourself

Before making a breathless and panicked phone call to your interviewer and begging for mercy, take a beat and think of your options. Admittedly, accidentally missing an interview does not reflect well on you so it is critical that you don’t compound the issue by making an emotional and disorganized appeal. Do your best to formulate a game plan, which should certainly include a reasonable explanation for your absence (more on that below). However, you should try and reach out as soon as possible as the longer you wait, the less credible you may sound. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the issue.

Be contrite

Make no mistake about it: this is 100% your fault and you should be unequivocal about taking ownership. Without assigning any blame to outside parties, you need to offer your sincere apologies and assurances that this type of behavior is extremely uncharacteristic. If you come across as trying to deflect responsibility, it will reflect poorly on you and make the interviewer feel even more distrusting. It may certainly hurt your pride to apologize so effusively but it may just be your one saving grace.

Be pro-active

Rather than passively hoping the interviewer will forgive you and reschedule the meeting, take pro-active measures to ensure that you can get your foot back in the door. You should follow up all verbal communications with an email (and vice versa). You should also offer additional insights into your candidacy for further proof of your seriousness; for example, I would suggest providing additional references or offering to perform additional interview steps as a means of demonstrating that you are dependable and industrious. Let’s face it, you are now going to have work harder than any other candidate to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job.

Work on your excuse

I’m going to be honest: it is extremely hard for a recruiter to forgive a candidate who misses an interview. (Of course, if you endured a personal emergency or something wholly unforeseen, most interviewers should certainly be sympathetic.) In all likelihood, though, you will certainly have an uphill battle on your hands – especially if you have a weak excuse. To wit, if the interviewer demands an explanation, you are going to need to provide something quite compelling to get yourself back in the running. So, if you missed
the interview because you overslept or forgot to put the interview in your calendar, do yourself a favour and come up with something better. This is a rare instance where telling the truth may not be in your best interest.

Remain professional

Look, it may be that you have simply blown this opportunity. Try as you might, the interviewer may no longer be interested in your candidacy. While this is regrettable, it isn’t hard to understand why. In such a case, I would advise you to take your lumps and move on. Don’t lash out at the interviewer and do not take to social media to voice your displeasure. You should retain a strong sense of professional decorum and remain contrite in your communications. You never know when another opportunity may arise so keep all your options open by keeping your emotions in check.

You Have a Job Interview… Now What???

Cathy Marks By Cathy Marks,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

You Have a Job Interview... Now What???It’s important to work with your recruiter and obtain enough information to put your mind at ease before an interview with a client for an IT contract. You want to gather as much information possible about the client and technology project to ensure you arrive at the interview without stress; you need to make a perfect first impression.

Here is Some Information Required for Job Interview Prep:

  • Location: Ensure you have the correct logistics for the job interview. Correct client address, floor number, and parking if available. View the location on Google Earth. This will allow you to picture the building before you get there.
  • Date, Time and Duration: Reconfirm you have the correct date and time for the interview. Ensure you have saved enough time so you are not be rushed during your interview.
  • Job Description: Obtain a detailed job description from your recruiter. If the job description is vague, work with your recruiter to identify people who have worked in this role in the past and learn what their responsibilities were.
  • Hiring Manager Details: Ask who you will be interviewing with — is it a panel interview or just one person? Research your interviewers and gather information about their titles, group they work in, and their previous experiences. Also ask your recruiter about the hiring manager’s interview style and what questions they have asked in the past.
  • Company:  Research the company with whom you have a scheduled job interview. Know the size of the organization, their main focus, their mission statement and look for any latest news and updates.
  • Your Resume: Know your resume and make sure you can speak of examples from your resume. Cross-reference the job description to your resume and make sure you have all the skills required, or at least, at a minimum, skills that are comparable.
  • Interview questions:  There are a lot of questions that can be found online; however, refrain from memorizing questions and answers as you will sound robotic during an interview. Instead, write down some of your own examples so they are top of mind.
  • Seek Advice: Ask your recruiter to identify potential flaws in the communication style, they will be honest with you and you will appreciate the honesty in the long run. For example, you may have a habit of saying too much so they will advise you to slow down and be clear and concise. Use the below STAR method when describing examples so you don’t lose the hiring manager with too many details about an IT project that they have little interest in.
  1. S = Situation   (Describe the situation: general/specific)
  2. T = Technique   (What approach did you use?)
  3. A = Action   (What action did you take?)
  4. R = Result   (What was the result of your action?)
  • Prepare Questions:  You always want to have a couple of questions for the end of the interview. If your questions have already been answered by the time it gets to that point, it’s okay to say so.
  • Plan what you are wearing: Lay out your attire the night before and make sure you have a nice crisp shirt/blouse to wear. Don’t dress casual too any interview.
  • Be positive: Last but very important, be positive and have fun. It’s better to speak about a glass half full than a glass half empty. Smile — it goes a long way.

Once a job interview has been completed, it’s also important to follow up with your recruiter. They will want to hear how your interview went and if you are interested in the role. It’s also important to let your recruiter know if you have other interviews or offers in progress so they can push the hiring manager for feedback.

Never Say These 6 Words in an Interview (Video)

Independent IT contractors spend a lot of time in interviews — with clients, with recruiters, with end-users — and each of these interviews are often when you’ll set a first impression. Due to the high-pressure nature of them, especially job interviews, we tend to use vocabulary that comes easily and naturally to us. This is when words sneak into our sentences that affect how a listener perceives us.

It takes intensive practice and comfort to avoid all stutters and small miscommunications, but this video from BI Success suggests 6 words to start eliminating in your vocabulary which will make you sound smarter. This is not only great advice for job interviews, but also for your everyday professional life.

Be Confident, Not Arrogant, in Your Next Interview

Be Confident, Not Arrogant, in Your Next InterviewLast summer, we shared stats from a survey of Eagle’s recruiters identifying “Arrogance” as one of the top traits that drive them nuts in an interview. Other surveys have also revealed that being conceited is a simple way to move onto a recruiter’s do-not-call list.

The challenge with advice like “Don’t be arrogant,” is that people rarely know they’re guilty of it. In fact, in many situations, a recruiter may be mistaking a candidate’s nervousness or confidence for egotism. How, then, can you ensure that in your next interview you appear confident and knowledgeable, but not so over-confident that you shed arrogance? Here are a few areas of focus:

It starts when you walk in the door.

Your body language and other small nuances can affect how clients and recruiters think of you from the moment you arrive. For example:

  • Arrive early — Failure to arrive on time can send the message that you think your time is more important than theirs.
  • Dress simply — Of course you need to look professional, but over-dressing can give the wrong impression.
  • Be aware of body language — Looking somebody in the eyes and smiling (not too much, that’s creepy) goes a long way compared to frowning and looking bored. Remember to pay attention to simple gestures. Pointing or crossing your arms can inadvertently give off a condescending vibe.
  • Remember names and past discussions — These small talking points show somebody that they’re more than a potential paycheck, but you value the relationship.

Have meaningful 2-way discussions

You and your skills are the topic of the interview, but, as you already know, this meeting isn’t all about you. Show the interviewer you’re not self-centred:

  • Let them speak — Interrupting an interviewer is insulting, shows little respect, and screams arrogance.
  • Ask questions — This demonstrates that you’re open to learning new things and that you’re not a “know-it-all.”
  • Keep it positive — There will be disagreements and clarifications, but disputing everything an interviewer has to say or getting offended too easily will take the interview in the wrong direction.
  • Avoid overly-technical jargon — Great recruiters understand your skills, but if they knew everything you know, they’d be taking your contracts. Speaking to them too technically can appear as belittling or as an attempt to prove their ignorance.

Sell all dimensions of your experience

You are the common denominator in all of your successes, but you weren’t the only factor. Recruiters and clients know that there’s more to your success than just you, and they want to make sure you know it too.

  • Give examples of collaboration and team work — Talk about the other people on the team and why they were important.
  • Give credit to others – It can come across as far-fetched if you were the “hero” on every
  • Admit error – It’s also unbelievable that you never made a mistake. Identifying them and explaining how you fixed them is a humbling trait.
  • Don’t be too humble — Sorry for the contradiction. If you’re too humble, an interviewer may read that as fake and forced, trying to hide your arrogance.

Perception is everything. Even the most humble people can appear to be arrogant with the wrong cues, often stemmed by nerves or trying too hard. To simplify this entire article follow this one piece of advice: Always be polite!

These tips can be used in all interviews, with clients and recruiters, as well as meetings with any team. Is there anything you would add? Are there any other clues that cause you to find somebody as arrogant? Please share them in the comments below!