Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Interviews

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

Smart Questions to Ask at the End of a Job Interview


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There’s a piece of age-old, sound advice that all recruiters will give when they’re providing tips for a positive job interview: Be prepared to ask questions at the end. Although implied, the advice isn’t always specific enough to remind job seekers that the questions need to be smart. For example, asking your interviewer “Will I sit by a window” or “Can I bring a plant to put on my desk” may be questions that could help you make a decision to take the job, but they will not give the client a reason to think that you’re better suited for the position.

Instead, it’s important to be prepared to ask questions that show your interviewer that you’ve put some thought into the situation. You want them to know that you’re genuinely curious about the role and whether you will succeed. This infographic from Business Insider will help you prepare with 7 smart questions you can ask at the end of every job interview.

Smart Questions to Ask at the End of a Job Interview

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Follow-Up Emails


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What you do after an interview can have a major impact on whether or not there will be a second interview, you get introduced to the client or if you get the job. One of the simplest ways to do this is with a follow-up email to your interviewer, thanking them for their time and clarifying any questions.

In last month’s quick poll, we asked independent contractors how often they send follow-ups. As usual, we’re sharing the results below. If you’re not sending follow-up emails, perhaps it’s time you start!

How often do you send a follow-up email or note after a job interview?

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Follow-Up Emails

The Secrets to a Perfect Interview Follow-Up Email


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It should be no secret to you that a quick follow-up email after an interview is a valuable action to take after meeting with a recruiter or client. In fact, some would argue that it no longer differentiates you from your competitors, but puts you on the same level. It may be more accurate to say that failing to send a follow-up would differentiate you in a negative light.

Still, too often this task gets missed by independent contractors. Or, if it does get completed, the follow-up is not always as valuable as it could be. There are many factors to consider when sending an interview follow-up email and this infographic from The Sales Pro Blog sums them up nicely. It reviews the basics of a follow-up email, why they’re important, what they should accomplish, when to send them and what to avoid. Do you send follow-up emails after every interview? Do you believe them to be important? Share your knowledge below.

Click Image to Enlarge

The Art Of The Interview Follow Up Email
Source: Interview Follow Up Email Infographic

 

Contractor Quick Poll: How Often Do You Send Follow-Up Emails?


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An common piece of advice provided by job search gurus is to always follow-up after an interview. Hand-written notes and cards have been recommended for decades and since the internet came around in the last 20-30 years, emails started to take their place (though some still believe in the power of a pen and paper).

Even with all of the preaching of interview follow-ups and research indicating their advantages, we still do not see independent contractors taking advantage of this quick and simple task. To get an understanding how important it is in to those in our industry, we’re asking about it in this month’s quick poll:

Interview Questions for QA Engineers and Software Geeks


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Interview Questions for QA Engineers and Software GeeksPreparation is key, especially for interviews with recruiters and clients. The more prepared you are before going into a meeting, the more likely you are to provide detailed answers that highlight your experience. Without it, there’s a good chance you will stutter, forget vital details and fail to appear as the true, smart IT expert that you know you are.

Some would argue that completely preparing for an interview is impossible because you will never know what kind of curveballs the interviewer will throw at you. While it’s true, you can be guaranteed a surprise or two, there are some surprises you can avoid by doing a bit of research. The good news is, if you’re a QA Engineer or some other software geek, we may have done the research for you.

This web page from TechBearmers lists links to a variety of interview questions for all sorts of technologies. If you’re preparing for an interview and looking for questions about Python, Linux, QA, AngularJS, JavaScript, PHP or others, the we highly recommend checking it out today.

Are you looking for common interview questions for a technology not listed here? Let us know and we’ll work to put something together in a future post.

4 More Job Interview Tips for Independent Contractors


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Graeme Bakker By Graeme Bakker,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The infographic below from CollegeAtlas.org contains some great job interview tips for anybody searching for a new job, including IT contractors. It was published here on the Talent Development Centre last year and I recently came across it again somewhere else, proving that it’s clearly been helpful to thousands of job seekers around the world.

On top of the stats and tips provided in the graphic below, I’d like to add a few extra interview tips that are often overlooked by contractors, based on feedback we recently received from hiring managers:

It starts in the lobby

One of the most important things to keep in mind is starting the interview “in the lobby.”  Sometimes people forget how important it is to make a good first impression with EVERYONE they meet along the way to the interview.  Be pleasant and kind to the receptionist and smile at anyone who makes eye contact.  A pleasant demeanor, matched with your skills goes a long way.

Be enthusiastic

Make sure you present an enthusiastic front when interviewing.  You want to make sure that the hiring manager knows that this is the role that you want.  Make sure to always come to an interview with knowledge of the company you are interviewing with.  See what news alerts they might have released.  Know what is going on with the company and the sector that you will work in and always come with questions.

Your Introduction

Prepare your introduction.  Every interviewer is going to ask you to “tell them about yourself.”  You want to be prepared and not stumble with um’s and ah’s when speaking about yourself.  This is your moment to make a good impression and start the interview the right way.  Write down your introduction and study it before you arrive, be confident.

Stay still

Nerves are something that everyone experiences before an interview.  Your hands might get sweaty and you might be bouncing your knees and that can be distracting to you and the interviewer.  Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and slow down.  Place your hands on your lap or in front of you on the desk.  Make sure that there is nothing for you to fidget with and maintain eye contact.

34 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview

From Visually.

How to Prepare for a Job Interview


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Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

How to Prepare for a Job InterviewMaking it to the interview stage in the job search process is exciting and stressful at the same time. It means you’ve been shortlisted and the chances of you getting the job have increased; however, a blown interview destroys those chances together.

Remember when you are invited for an interview, the client already thinks you have the right qualifications for the job based on your resume. You need prepare properly so you can demonstrate these qualifications in the interview and back-up what’s in your resume. Here are a few simple ways you can prepare and significantly increase your chances of winning that job.

Before a Job Interview or Phone screen

  • Research the company’s website and find out useful company information. Extend that search to social media and investigate LinkedIn profiles, especially of the person who is interviewing you. Glassdoor may also reveal company’s specific interview process. Understand the company’s mission and try to find a way to work your knowledge of it into your responses.
  • Prepare questions in advance to discuss during or at the end of the interview. We always want to impress a recruiter or a hiring manager so prepare questions that demonstrate your knowledge and interest the company. Since you have already been looking into the company and looking on the LinkedIn profile of the hiring manager you can start by saying, “I did some research on the company and saw that you have worked at this company for <# OF YEARS>. What is your favorite thing about the company? How did your role evolve? This gives you a chance to build a rapport with the interviewer and the company.
  • Prepare a few interesting facts that you learned about the company through your research. Perhaps the company has won some awards that are important to you or their top-line company objectives/goals. Are they active in the community? What is their company story? Be prepared to discuss these facts if you are asked what you know about the company.
  • Convey in all of your answers how you were successful in your previous jobs. To do this you must provide concrete examples of how you succeeded. Instead of saying, “I was often told I was the one project manager that saved the company money” you could say, “I was able to decrease the budget by 20% saving the company $2M over the first 6 months of the project.”
  • Remember, quite often, a hiring manager will hire someone with the likeability factor. If there are 2 technically strong candidates in the running, the candidate that demonstrated a higher likability factor will likely be the candidate to get the job. They are always looking for someone who is the right FIT for the role. You need to connect with the interviewer. You can do this by being confident and try to interact as if you are already working together. Smile often, avoid any nervous gestures (easier said than done), maintain eye contact and actively listen to the interviewer. The key is that you don’t get too comfortable but be natural and try to have a great conversation by being yourself.
  • Show enthusiasm. Show them that you really want this role. Give them examples of why you are excited for this role. For example, “I am so excited about this role because it give me exposure to working within an AGILE environment and I want to put my SCRUM certification to good use.”

Other Interview Tips

In addition to these preparation tips, always remember these basic interview skills that will ensure you appear professional:

  • Dress for success – strong presentation
  • Always give a firm handshake
  • Make consistent eye contact
  • Make sure you answers are concise and thoughtful, but always relevant to the questions asked (don’t go off track, stay focused).

After you have completed the interview it is always imperative to follow up with a Thank You email. This allows to you maintain interaction with the interviewer, provide any additional information and reiterate your interest/excitement in the role. Check out this helpful link for some additional tips on writing the “Job Interview Thank You Email”.

Preparing for a Successful Client Interview


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Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Preparing for a Successful Client InterviewGot an interview coming up with a client?  It should be a piece of cake, especially if you are a professional contractor.  Most contractors go on 5-6 interviews a year, so it should be a breeze and just a little prep should be needed, right?  Think again!!!   Preparing for a contract interview should be taken with as much care as preparing for a full-time interview.  Although the client will often ask similar questions, the contract interview tends to happen at a much quicker pace and as such, it is important for a contractor to relay their skills and value proposition to the prospective client in the first interview (often…the only interview).  A complaint I am hearing from clients recently is that contractors are showing up to interviews unprepared and sometimes even uninterested.

If a contractor is working with an agency to secure their next contract, the agency should be able to provide you with details about the role, why it is open and who the interviewers are.

Preparing for an interview for a contract role goes beyond knowing about the project and the client.  It is being able to clearly demonstrate your value proposition to the client and why you would be the best person for the role.  In order to do this, candidates must really know what they have put down on their resume and what value past experience will have to the potential client and the project.

Clients tend to focus on the following when interviewing contract candidates:

  • Provide examples of where your past project experience is similar to the upcoming project – What value can you bring to the project? Any lessons learned?
  • Describe the project in detail. A common complaint from clients is that contractors often skim project details. This gives the client the impression that the contractor does not know the work they had done and also gives the impression that some the details found on the resume were fabricated (i.e. you did not actually do the work and added in key words into your resume in order to be selected for an interview). Project details that clients are most interested in are:  role in the project, size of the project team, stakeholders who were involved, technologies used, value of the project, what stage you entered the project and was the project implemented on time/budget.
  • What type of style do you have in relaying the information. It is critical that when recapping projects to a client that you know all the details and can relay them with ease (and not struggling to remember).  Not being able to recall past projects is a potential sign that the project was not important or again, the project was embellished on the resume.
  • Be professional when speaking about past projects. We have all worked on a project that has not gone well.  When speaking about the project, focus on your role and the skills you brought to the project.  Clients will select a candidate who is more positive about past experience, rather than dwelling on the negative sides of a project.
  • Ask questions about the current project. Go prepared with a copy of the role description and show interest in the role.  Clients have sometimes chosen a less qualified candidate as they showed more interest in the project than someone who came across as less “excited” – ie. “been there, done that”.

Just like past employment/projects follow a candidate, especially in a small market, so do bad interviews.  Clients will pass along information to other potential hiring managers within their organization about contractors who have come in for an interview along with their biases.  It is really important to keep in mind that when interviewing with any organization, especially large ones that hire many contractors such as the Banks and Telcos, to always be prepared and to leave a positive experience with the interviews.

Adjust Your Communication Style for a Successful Interview


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Adjust Your Communication Style for a Successful InterviewRecruiters will be the first to tell you that everybody is different. They meet thousands of people throughout their careers, all with diverse personalities and backgrounds. As such, the best recruiters excel at understanding you and how to work with you in order bring you the right projects. Topping the list of a person’s unique qualities is your communication style.

By knowing an individual’s preferred communication methodology, recruiters convey the right information and minimize misunderstandings. A skill this valuable shouldn’t be limited to recruiters. Because you’re bound to come across recruiters, clients and team members who are brutal at communicating, you too should perfect the art of adjusting to others’ communication styles.

A common time when communication fails is during an interview, either with a recruiter or client. It’s often a first meeting and, as such, there is no past experience for the parties to fall back on. If an explanation comes across poorly, that first impression has a more severe impact on their decision to hire you. Let’s examine four common styles of communication. By understanding them, you can identify which your interviewer prefers and adjust what you say to match their style.

Director

A Director likes to have control and wants to get things done as quickly as possible. They’re fast-paced and goal-oriented and have no time for small talk. While they may come across as impatient and insensitive, they’re just focused on achieving that end-result. If you find yourself interviewing with a Director, refrain from long, wordy explanations, and answer their questions directly. Provide straight-answers and back-up your experience with quantitative facts.

Socializer

The Socializer is the extreme opposite of the Director. Usually an extrovert, this person is all about relationships. They’re also more likely to make decisions based on their gut feelings. If your recruiter or client is a Socializer, then don’t brush them off when they ask about your weekend, and take the time to hear their stories (even if you think they’re boring and irrelevant to your work). You want them to leave the interview with a good feeling about you. Finally, because this group tends to have a short attention span, you will also need to ensure all of your strengths are clearly and simply articulated.

Thinker

The Thinker is a very analytical problem solver. It will take them longer to make decisions and they will want to make sure they have all of the facts about you. For this reason, you can expect a Thinker to ask more questions and dig deeper.  This is also the person who is most likely to catch you lying, so while we never recommend it, definitely don’t try it with a Thinker. For a successful interview with a Thinker, answer questions to the point, similar to a Director, but feel free to go into more detail, with more examples to back-up your experience.

Relater

A Relater is all about the warm, fuzzy feeling. They are very people-oriented and nurturing individuals who value relationships. Because of this, brushing off conversation, showing a colder side of your personality, or trying to play hardball in negotiations is going to leave a bad taste in their mouth. Instead, work at building a relationship with your recruiter or client and provide examples of your team work, showing your willingness to work and get along with anyone.

This high-level overview of communication styles is just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of if you buy into the traits above, you at least need to understand that everybody is different, and the more you can adjust to their styles, the more successful you will be — in interviews, at work, or your personal relationships. If you disagree with our communication styles, we encourage you to take some time to learn more on the topic to find a model that works for you.

Things Recruiters Love to Ask and Hate to Hear


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The best place to seek interview advice is directly from those who conduct them each day. As such, in order to bring you the some fresh information and an interesting perspective, we asked our recruiters a few questions about interviews. Rather than looking for the standard advice, we dug a bit deeper to help independent contractors understand recruiters’ unique methods and experiences that form the interview.

Things Recruiters Ask…

Things Recruiters Love to Ask and Hate to HearFirst, we asked recruiters for some of their favourite questions to get a candidate to think outside-the-box. Here are some of the top interview questions for IT contractors:

  • How did you save money, make money, or change a business process that did both in your past job?
  • What is your Achilles heel?
  • What have you brought to the “Project Management” field from your Bachelor Degree in Arts History, Education?
  • What is the one thing that people misunderstand about you?
  • What sets you apart from your peers?
  • Tell me about your biggest failure and how it made you successful in your career?

Things Recruiters Hear — the Little White Lies…

Next, we set out to learn about some of the fibs they hear most often, and where they tend to be most skeptical about candidates. They pointed out that junior candidates tend to be the bigger culprits, and that is occurs less in the IT industry than others. Regardless, these are the most common little white lies that recruiters hear (though some they didn’t learn were lies until it was too late):

  • “I left on good terms.” “We had a parting of ways.” — This can be seen as code for “something was brewing, and I was fired/I quit”
  • When asked about weaknesses, most candidates give a canned (bogus!) answer.
  • “All my projects are on-time, on-budget and to scope.”
  • Over-exaggerating responsibilities
  • Experience with a specific technology
  • Yes, i am very interested in this role
  • Current salary
  • Why they are looking

…And the Other Stories

Finally, if you want to understand why some recruiters question you or seem like they have little trust, remember that they have seen and heard a lot. Here’s what recruiters say are the more extreme lies they’ve been told:

  • “The candidate said they worked at a company where they have never worked.” (These things are easy to verify and destroy your reputation.)
  • “A candidate with a fake resume – entirely fake – showed up for a face-to-face interview with me hoping I’d pass him along to a client.”
  • “That the candidate had relocated for a role, when in fact they were commuting 3 hours EACH WAY every single day for a contract…. you can’t hide that kind of exhaustion from a client.”
  • “A candidate said they couldn’t make the interview because someone stole their car (…it was a lie)”
  • “They couldn’t make the interview as they were “sick” but I later found out they were in another province and didn’t want to tell me.”

Understanding a person, their background, and what influences who they are is a tactic sales people often use to persuade a client into buying their product. The same is true for IT contractors looking to sell their skills to a recruiter. Hopefully this brief insight into a recruiter’s mind gives you one more tactic during your next interview.