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

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.

From Standard to Stand-Out


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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


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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.

Top 10 Job Interview Tips (Video)


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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.)

Deciphering 3 Common Recruiter Calls and Emails


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By Brendhan Malone (Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle) and Graeme Bakker (Recruitment Team Lead at Eagle)

Deciphering 3 Common Recruiter Calls and EmailsRecruiters know that contractors get tons of calls and emails throughout the day.  Recruiters also know that time is valuable and we want to make the process of finding your next contract as stress free and smooth as possible.

Once you’ve decided on your staffing agency with the best candidate experience, it’s important to know exactly what your recruiter is looking for when you receive these common phone calls or emails:

Scheduling a Phone Interview:

When a recruiter calls or sends an email about scheduling a phone interview they just want to make sure these three things are a go:

  • You’re available to do the phone interview at the time the client has provided.
  • You will be in a location with no distractions or phone issues.
  • Let the recruiter know if you want to touch base to discuss anything prior to the phone interview. Reply with a couple times that you are available to prep and the recruiter will appreciate being able to work around your schedule.

Interview Feedback:

When a recruiter calls or emails you for interview feedback, this is why they’re doing it:

  • They want to know if it was positive for you and if you’re still interested in continuing with the process. If you are positive about the interview and more excited about the opportunity, your recruiter wants to relay that information to the client.
  • If you have negative feedback or any questions/concerns about the interview, your recruiter wants to know about it. This way they can answer any questions you might have or smooth over any concerns you have going forward with the process.
  • Eliminate any surprises. The recruiter wants to confirm the possibility of any other offer or opportunities on the table.  Are you more in favour of this role that you interviewed for than another?  Would you accept this opportunity should they come back to us with an offer?  The recruiter wants to make sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

Resume Review:

You’ve received a call and/or email from a recruiter about a role.  You’re interested in the role and are qualified for it.  You just sent the recruiter your updated resume, so why does the recruiter need to chat with me?

In this competitive MSP driven job market, what is in your head NEEDS to be on the resume.  The person first seeing your resume and determining if it should go on is very rarely the technical manager responsible for hiring.  Recruiters know we can leave nothing to chance in this environment.

  • Recruiters know that if you are a front-end developer, you have experience with HTML and CSS. We might not be that technical but we know that!  If you have 10 years of development experience and 8 years of HTML and CSS experience it needs to be in the resume!
  • We know it can be frustrating to answer basic questions about your skills and then add it to your resume, but recruiters are doing it for your benefit. They know that if they don’t correctly put where you have had this experience send your resume won’t get past the gatekeepers and over to the hiring manager.
  • If you get back to the recruiter with a couple minutes to chat and answer those questions you will have the benefit of knowing you are hitting all the marks described in the job description. As an added bonus, your staffing agency will l have an updated resume on file that is correctly updated.

Understanding what’s inside a recruiter’s head may not always seem simple, but it’s easier then you may think. In the end, we all share the same goal of getting you placed into the right contract. This insight into these three common conversations recruiters have with you will let you stop trying to read between the lines and focus on your business.

You Have a Job Interview… Now What???


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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.

Be Confident, Not Arrogant, in Your Next Interview


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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!

34 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview (Infographic)


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Sure, every client and recruiter is different, and they’ll all have unique interviews, but there are some constants that you can expect in nearly all interviews. For those, we recommend this infographic from CollegeAtlas.org. It will help you prepare, understand the most common mistakes, and give you some helpful tips so you can rock your next one.

34 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview

From Visually.

The Importance of Contract Duration on Your Resume


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Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

The Importance of Contract Duration on Your ResumeAs an independent contractor, there are things in your career that you can control and things you can’t. The duration of individual contracts on your resume is widely interpreted by recruiters and clients to be a bell weather of your proficiency as a consultant. While there is certainly no specific science behind it, it is one of the first things evaluated when your resume is being assessed. Most recruiters are trained to look for the shorter term contracts and to dig for information on why that particular contract was so short.

3 Months (or Less): What happened?

The perception of short contracts as red flags on a person’s resume can lead to distrust and misunderstanding and while you might not have been able to control the duration of the contract, you need to ensure you manage the perceptions attached.

Does that mean you don’t accept shorter term contracts, or leave them off your resume. The whole point behind using contractors is to perform a piece of work that requires either specialized skills or skills that the client might not currently have among their employees. And these needs are not always attached to multi-year programs. Throughout a career as an independent, it is normal to have a variety of contracts with different terms and outcomes. So here are some simple ways of handling questions and concerns connected with short term contracts.

  1. Don’t hide them: I’ve stated before that trying to hide things on your resume will only lead to bigger problems. I’ve met countless numbers of contractors who have tried to do just that. And ultimately, numbers don’t add up or they forget which version of resume to use and this leads to bigger questions and ends up eroding your credibility. Instead, be prepared to explain why the project was short and what was accomplished in that timeframe. I’ve also talked about managing your references and it never hurts to have a reference who will talk to your performance on a short project.
  2. If suitable, brag about it: Short contracts can be extremely challenging! Going in and grasping what needs to be done and then finishing by delivering a solution in just a few weeks or months is an accomplishment…and actually more closely reflective of the talents of a senior consultant.
  3. Does the recruiter understand your skillset: Some skillsets and roles for which you have developed a specialty are typically performed in shorter periods of time. Preparing a business case, assisting in the preparation of an RFP, performing an audit are all examples of work that doesn’t entail long term contracts. Make sure your recruiter “gets it” and really has a grasp of what it is you do.
  4. Finally, if it was bad, admit it…but in a positive way: People get fired, let go, laid off all the time. There is definitely an impression of contractors being “elite” but even elite professionals can run into projects that aren’t a fit. Talk about the challenges you faced on the project and what went wrong… and what went right! Feeling guilty about a contract that went wrong is normal but don’t forget to look at what you delivered. And evaluating a bad contract can have positive impacts. It may indicate to you what kind of roles or environments you are better suited for or areas where you could use improvement or further training.

Managing a career in independent contracting is full of challenges and how your resume appears to a recruiter or client is just one of them. Short term contracts are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Just be prepared to discuss them with confidence and treat them as just one more skill in your professional portfolio. And remember, if you are not sure, seek the assistance of a professional recruiter. More often than not, they will be able to offer solid advice and talk you through the challenge.