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Old 12-02-2012, 05:36 PM   #1
Hidden_Mickey
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Any recruiters out there?

Hi,

I'm looking for a job for the first time in 16 years, and need some advice. I started my search in July. I know my interview skills are rusty, and that competition is fierce due to the economy, so I wasn't expecting to get a job within a few weeks, but I am wondering if I am doing something wrong.

I have encountered behavioral interview questions, which I don't recall from the last time I interviewed. I am trying to be flexible and agreeable, when questions regarding tasks or salary come up. I read that they do this to see if you will take a stand. What is that about? Am I being too agreeable? Does it make me look desperate? I think in this economy, I don't have the luxury of being pushy or picky about salary or tasks.

Each time I speak to someone and get a new question, I work on the answer later, if I felt I could have answered it better.

For example, the question, "What do you not like about your current job?" or "What task do you like least in your current job?" What is the purpose of this question? Basically, any way you answer that, they can turn it against you. In my last interview, I answered honestly and the agent told me later the interviewer didn't like my response. How can you answer that diplomatically without being vague or complaining about a task? I mean, I do a lot of things I don't care to do, but, I do them to keep my job to keep a roof over my head and feed my family. Just because I don't care for a task doesn't mean I won't do it. I don't think that answer would be an appropriate response though!

I knew this wouldn't be easy, but sometimes I feel like they are playing games, trying to get you to say something that will make you tank the interview. I wonder if competition is so fierce, they are just looking for an excuse to strike you off their list. Nobody is perfect! I know I am a good worker, but not the best "salesperson" in an interview situation. I'm so frustrated.

I have gone on interviews through an agency, and later they told me the company went with someone else, but didn't give me any feedback, and when I call to ask if they have any new listings I would be a match for, they just say no, sorry.

Ugh! Thanks for letting me vent.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:25 PM   #2
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How exactly did you respond to the question about what you didn't like about your current job/task you didn't like?

Generally you need to be honest but figure out a way to put a positive spin on it. For example, I hate pulling together a weekly communication because no one reads it but it does give me an opportunity to work on my writing skills or I've been trying to talk to the audience to figure out why they dont read it.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:31 PM   #3
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I answered that I didn't care to work with large spread sheets because I don't have a background in accounting, but, I learned a lot working with them, am more comfortable with them now, and tested well on Excel. It's not that I can't use Excel, just that it's not something that I enjoy. Big deal. Any job could ask you to use Excel, and I wouldn't have a problem with it. I don't expect to enjoy every task I have to do.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hidden_Mickey View Post
I answered that I didn't care to work with large spread sheets because I don't have a background in accounting, but, I learned a lot working with them, am more comfortable with them now, and tested well on Excel. It's not that I can't use Excel, just that it's not something that I enjoy. Big deal. Any job could ask you to use Excel, and I wouldn't have a problem with it. I don't expect to enjoy every task I have to do.
What type of job were you interviewing for? Would it be something that you would have to use Excel a lot for?

I will say that I can see what they weren't thrilled with your response. Having a background in accounting and Excel really have little to do with each other and to me it would seem like you don't understand the value Excel has across many professions. I manage a customer satisfaction program for a retailer, I use Excel everyday to analyze information we get and to do reporting on data that has nothing to do with accounting.
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:05 PM   #5
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I agree I would not use Excel as a example of something you dislike. I'm a VP and hire all sorts of administrative and sales positions. Excel is a large part of any position. I would not hire someone who said they disliked working with Excel or any software application.

I also wouldn't answer anything that indicated I didn't enjoy group projects, working with people, etc. The answer I get most often is filing. It's obviously something everyone dislikes.
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:29 PM   #6
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I'm not a recruiter but IMO in job interviews you should always stay positive with your responses. I would avoid specific tasks you don't like doing because you never know if they'll want you to do those type tasks in the position they are trying to fill. Plus, they don't want to hire people who they think may be a complainer - even though that's what they are asking for with the question - LOL!

So - if they ask "what didn't you like about your last job?" An example would be, "Well, there were a lot of things I loved about my last job - the people I worked with, the work environment, the tasks I worked on - and I learned a lot from working on a variety of projects (insert examples that may be similar to the position you are applying for). If I had (emphasis here) to pick something I didn't like it would probably be that I was sometimes assigned tasks that were challenging because I wasn't necceessarily trained in the skillset needed for the project, however, I am self motivated and I used the opportunity to learn something new. So even given the challenge, in the end, I'm glad I was able to learn new skills."

If they ask "name an area where you are weak." I'd say something like "one area where I try to constantly improve is that I sometimes am a little bit of a perfectionist. I want to do the best job I can and I have learned that sometimes that may slow a project down and so it's a balance between doing the best job I can and finishing a high quality project." This shows that you are aware of your "weakness" but that your "weakness" is that you really try to do a good job.

Then if there are things that you hate doing, enough not to take the job, then you should try to figure that out when they give you an opportunity to ask questions. When they ask you if you have any questions, ask "what are the main projects the person in this position would be working on on a daily basis?" "what type of software programs would the person who fills this position be using?" If they say "excel" and you know you would hate working with Excel then you can always turn down the job offer if you get it. Also, when asking questions you can always nod your head at the answers they give and say "great, that sounds exactly like what I want to be doing" or something to reaffirm you would fit the position!

See if you can find someone who can test you by throwing out a lot of negative type questions and see how you can spin them into positives!

Good luck!!

Last edited by loveshak22; 12-02-2012 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hidden_Mickey View Post

I have encountered behavioral interview questions, which I don't recall from the last time I interviewed. I am trying to be flexible and agreeable, when questions regarding tasks or salary come up. I read that they do this to see if you will take a stand. What is that about? Am I being too agreeable? Does it make me look desperate? I think in this economy, I don't have the luxury of being pushy or picky about salary or tasks.
Oh - and I hate questions about salary!

Definitely be flexible about tasks (we all have to do things we don't like). However, with salary I think you should really think about what would be a deal breaker for you. I'd stay as general as possible by saying "I'm open to negotiate my salary if I am extended a job offer." However, sometimes they get really specific in an interview (which I don't think is always fair) and if that happens then you need to be prepared. However....I still say be as open as possible and avoid specifics in the interview unless they ask a question where you have to give a firm answer on your salary range. I try to research similar positions online and talk to anyone I may know working in the field so if they ask "How much are you looking to make" and you say "I'm open to negotiate my salary" and then they say "well can you be more specific" you can then say "Well from my research of the salary for someone with XX numbers of experience like myself and to be comparable to my last salary I am looking to make X$'s, however, I would be willing to discuss this if I am offered a position."
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:37 PM   #8
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OK, update. I'm an Administrative Assistant. I am not an Excel whiz, but, then, I'm not an accountant. I was trying to say that I struggled with it, but learned a lot and now feel more comfortable with it. OK, so, maybe I didn't express it well. We all have bad interviews and move on. I'm disappointed in myself, but, I can't dwell on it.

Back to the funky questions... I had 2 people ask me what year I graduated college. I know they can't ask your age but this is a sneaky way to ask it. I answered honestly, and let it go, but, I really wished I had made a comment. What would be a polite way to say "none of your business", or do you just have to answer that type of question?

Next oddity:

I did a phone interview (set up via an agency) in July that I bombed. It was my first interview in a looong time, I was nervous, and it did not go well.

I went on an interview (set up by a different agency) in September. I thought I did well, although not perfectly, considering it was my first in person interview in many years.

Today I went to 2 different agencies for a screening interview. Guess what? The first one wanted to set me up with a phone interview with the one I did in July, and the second one wanted to send me to place I went to in September! How weird is that? In this economy, why is it taking so long to fill those positions? Aren't there tons of good people to choose from? I understand the firms using different agencies to maximize their exposure, but, over the course of several months? Of course, I had to admit that I had interviewed with those firms already so that took me out of the competition for those jobs, and both agencies said they had nothing else for me. Call back in January. OMG, the waiting and lack of resolution since July has been killing me, and I know this is a slow time of year for hiring so there is no end in sight. I am so frustrated. I am embarrassed every time I call the agencies to follow up. The longer I am unsuccessful, the more I fear they will think I am unhirable. I know I am a good worker, but I am not outgoing, and have never been good at interviewing. Thank you DIS people for letting me vent.
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pakey View Post
I agree I would not use Excel as a example of something you dislike. I'm a VP and hire all sorts of administrative and sales positions. Excel is a large part of any position. I would not hire someone who said they disliked working with Excel or any software application.

I also wouldn't answer anything that indicated I didn't enjoy group projects, working with people, etc. The answer I get most often is filing. It's obviously something everyone dislikes.
Ha! Filing was the very first thing that popped into my mind.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:32 PM   #10
loveshak22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hidden_Mickey View Post
OK, update. I'm an Administrative Assistant. I am not an Excel whiz, but, then, I'm not an accountant. I was trying to say that I struggled with it, but learned a lot and now feel more comfortable with it. OK, so, maybe I didn't express it well. We all have bad interviews and move on. I'm disappointed in myself, but, I can't dwell on it.

Back to the funky questions... I had 2 people ask me what year I graduated college. I know they can't ask your age but this is a sneaky way to ask it. I answered honestly, and let it go, but, I really wished I had made a comment. What would be a polite way to say "none of your business", or do you just have to answer that type of question?

Next oddity:

I did a phone interview (set up via an agency) in July that I bombed. It was my first interview in a looong time, I was nervous, and it did not go well.

I went on an interview (set up by a different agency) in September. I thought I did well, although not perfectly, considering it was my first in person interview in many years.

Today I went to 2 different agencies for a screening interview. Guess what? The first one wanted to set me up with a phone interview with the one I did in July, and the second one wanted to send me to place I went to in September! How weird is that? In this economy, why is it taking so long to fill those positions? Aren't there tons of good people to choose from? I understand the firms using different agencies to maximize their exposure, but, over the course of several months? Of course, I had to admit that I had interviewed with those firms already so that took me out of the competition for those jobs, and both agencies said they had nothing else for me. Call back in January. OMG, the waiting and lack of resolution since July has been killing me, and I know this is a slow time of year for hiring so there is no end in sight. I am so frustrated. I am embarrassed every time I call the agencies to follow up. The longer I am unsuccessful, the more I fear they will think I am unhirable. I know I am a good worker, but I am not outgoing, and have never been good at interviewing. Thank you DIS people for letting me vent.
I am sure you are much better than you think!! We are always our harshest critics so don't think about what you did wrong and look at a lot of the questions you knocked out of the ball park! Focus on your positives! I bolded the sentence that I agree with most in your quote above. Don't overthink everything you say because you'll start questioning everything. Focus on being prepared for the range of questions you might get (which you are doing) and staying confident

I am sure you are great and you need to show the people interviewing you that!

As far as "what year did you graduate" - that's a tricky one. I don't like that question because, like you guessed, are they trying to determine your age? I don't know that I have good advice for answering that one other than maybe smiling (or chuckling over a phone interview) and saying confidently "19XX, and that gives me over XX years of experience for this position."

Good luck! I'm sending you good vibes because interviewing and looking for jobs is so stressful
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